Charleville to Ilfracombe Outback Queensland

Today is Thursday 11th August. I awoke to a motorcycle warming up. I found this at another caravan park, they warm their bikes. They are not thinking of the rumble affecting all the sleeping campers. I have to laugh. I used to ride a bike, I know why they warm up, but they can take them outside and just let them warm. Anyway, my attitude is not negative I just smile and figure it is time to get up. I actually lay there for a while enjoying the incredibly warm bed. The luxury of a cabin.

I start to slowly pack my stuff. I repack my suite case to make it more practical. I am expecting it to get colder. So warm clothes to the top. I had a nice porridge for breakfast then as I was doing my internet, felt like more, yum an egg on toast.

I tried to contact a few schools. One of the campers mentioned to me to go to Ifracome, that it was a really nice town with a pub. So I made that my objective. I went to the local St Mary’s school to find out which pictures were fine for the internet and which parents hadn’t approved. I thought to myself of the times we are in and the fear around children. They would have loved to see their pictures. Yet these days people will say be careful. My personal feeling is it is all fine, however, I respect that this is the way it is today. I had a lovely chat with Louise the lady who decided to bring me to the school. She had such positive feedback from everyone, so I was happy. I asked for a letter of recommendation so that I can encourage other schools to take up this offer.

I had my letters forwarded to the school from Brisbane and was told in the morning they arrived, one is my rego papers, so it is good to have the updated one on the window.

I thanked them and then went to my car to make some phone calls. I rang the school at Ilfracombe and the Principal was keen to have me come. He said he could slot me in between tennis. So I will run a sustainability workshop and a clowning one for the littlees.

It was around 500km I traveled today. I moved through a dynamic country that was constantly changing from white grasses and eucalypts to more rounded trees, to flat plains, to wooded sections. I was amazed at how it changed every 10km. It is an amazing country.

I stopped at Blackall at a nice coffee place. A couple with their two young children were lying on the grass. They said they were from Longreach and really loved it there. They said life is so nice and they know their community. I told them about my adventures traveling around the world and the clowning and they were intrigued. I was intrigued by them and the fact that many country people I’ve met love living in the country. Most city people would think there is nothing to do there, but they have a sense of community and belonging which I don’t think city people understand. I also got chatting to the girl serving coffee. She was from Germany and was here for some months to experience Australia. She decided to come out to this remote area. I guess it is very different from Hamburg. She said in a few months her parents are coming and she is getting excited. She will then fly back to Germany.

After awhile I decided to head off and just do as my kilometers as I could. I enjoyed being in the middle of no-where or they say now here. I thought of my life and it seems that I am returning to places I have been in my life. This road I have been on before but it was half dirt 20 years ago. The road trains are huge, and they take some speed to get past.

I see a lot of 4 wheel drives and trucks, very few little cars like my Suzuki Baleno. I considered myself a bit different. Yet this work I am doing is unique but incredibly joyful. I so am enjoying this adventure. I drove onto Barcaldine. I did ring a school that morning to see if I could teach there. I noticed as I came into mobile range they had rung me 3 times, I guess they had decided to get me in. I did receive a call but went straight out of range, so sadly wasn’t able to jump on it. However, probably not meant to be.

At the servo (service station, petrol) I got $30 worth. I spoke to a bloke with a truck. Told him I’d been driving for 4 hours and was tired. He said he started at 9am. I laughed at myself and asked him if he was tired, he said no, he is used to it. I asked him about the kangaroos as it was getting onto dusk. I saw so many dead kangaroos and I really feel bad about it. I also had one jump in front of me and my heart was pounding. I felt strongly they are sacred animals and I am not going to kill one or indeed any animal, even if it means driving much slower. Anyway, I asked the guy what the thought, if many would be near the road. He said some are, and he then offered for me to drive behind him and he could warn me. I was so thankful and happy to drive slower. So that is what we did for the next 98km until I got to Ilfracome.

I went to the caravan park and to my surprise they are charging $20 for a bit of grass. There is no way I can pay this on my trip. I rang the Principal and luckily he was having a meeting with parents until 6.30pm. He suggested I come to the school. They said I could camp on the oval or behind the school. Deep down I didn’t want to camp as it is such a lot of work setting up. Anyway, to my luck he offered I sleep in the school and shower at the pub. I was relieved I only need to pump up my bed and it is warm inside.

I went to the pub and had a wine. After a long day it felt good. I had a long chat with my friend Jane, catching up on life. I then took some photo’s of the rodeo’s they have here, some spectacular. It was also mentioned to me by the Principal that there are dinosaur bones which I am keen to learn more about.

I ended up having a chat to the publican (owner of the pub), the publican was a woman, who bought the pub at 26. She said she started working there at 16. she knew everyone in the town. She and I went outside and had a good chat. She said the country life is wonderful. She said everyone knows each other and we are like family. She said her mother was very wise and her dad a great supportive father. All her siblings were close. Sounded great to me. She told me she had gone to the school I will be clowning at and was class captain.

I mentioned to her the aboriginal term song lines (ley lines) and she agreed this place was special, an amazing energy. She said it is a great place. I seldom here people in the city say this and I am hearing it more and more in the country. Says a lot for decentralization of cities. Also they are self sufficient and supportive as community, everyone helps each other and they are friendly to each other. Seems like my kind of people. They are trusting me to sleep at the school, that is trust. How many in the city would do that?

We also talked about honesty, she was one for straight up and honest. I said I am the same, I’ve met so many people that are in denial and refusing to face things. She said that was true but here people say it like it is. She said kids grow up free here. They are raised to be themselves not to try and fit in like city kids. She said the kids at the school are amazing, she said ‘you will love them’. I was feeling so priviledged to be here. I have worked in country schools before and loved the atmosphere. She said you have to meet cooky. I thought cooky was a bloke but found out he is 10 going on 90. She said he took his trailer (pulls it) and went to the dump. I smiled calling it a treasure trove. She said he was away all day and his father said where have you been, he said at the dump and then said he had been looking at porno. I had a bemused look on my face, for a 10 year old. The father then said why don’t you let me look and his son says they are going to the cubby for his friends. I don’t know how I feel about that but Jo (the publican) seemed to think this kid was very mature. In fact she said most of the kids are mature in the country. Anyway she encouraged me to interview Cooky so I will do that tomorrow. I’ll be interested to see how wise he is. She said he is very wise. I have met kids on my travels that really stand out, you can see they are very intelligent or wise beyond their years. Jo and I talked about the right of children to be heard. Just because they are not 18 doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. This is there world too. She agreed.

I am at the school now, it is a little school but I noticed many computes. I may see if they are interested in an on-line forum. So may kick it off here. Thankfully I made extra food so am eating the last of my pasta. It is warm here and I am happy to be here.

What a life, I never know what is going to happen. I don’t have a lot of funds so I have to be careful. So far so good.

I also found out today that it is confirmed that I am teaching 4 hours out of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. My understanding is they have bullying issues and there will be indigenous kids. I am keen to meet them. They will let me know if I have accommodation for 2 days. Should be very interesting. I found out here that there was serious bullying at this school last year. Even at the last school St Mary’s they indicated they were having bullying and behavioural problems. So it is the way of the world. Jo and I agreed parenting has a lot to do with it. She said the parents just say anything in front of children. They don’t have them go into the next room. So the kids are exposed to adult thoughts and behaviours. They then repeat them at school. Indeed children are the mirror of society. I believe this to be the case in the London riots and a wake up call. As it is for all of us. If you want a peaceful society then consider ‘being the change’. Lead by example and watch the world change.

Anyway, I have to refine my sustainability program for tomorrow. Will take photos and upload them tomorrow. I will have photos available from my website Travelling Around Australia and will start the photo gallery on this website so you can have a look at this amazing country.

Much love,

A very peacefull happy clown.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.”