18-Mar-2003 -- For the last three years our Rotary Club (Ipswich City) has embarked on a "Western Tour", the idea of one of our members Phillip Charles, where a group heads out west to meet the locals and see the sights.
Although Phillip couldn’t come this year, I and three other Rotary members, Neil McPhillips, David Walker and Ross Forgione (our current District Governor) headed out to Longreach in western Queensland for a one week tour. We intended to try to reach or reconnoiter up to three confluences along the way, but this is the only one we located successfully.
On Tuesday 18 March 2003 we were on our way from Mitchell to Barcaldine when we stopped at Morven for breakfast. The GPS we were carrying was on loan and an older model, but a test showed it was working correctly, so the decision was made to detour off the Landsborough highway about 48km north and risk a dirt road for about another 24km. I say “risk”, as we were driving a BMW and a Monaro (known as a Pontiac GTO in USA, see Photo #5), hardly the right cars for dirt roads!
However, the road turned out to be very flat and except for a few deep tyre tracks, our low clearances gave us little cause for concern. Our road map showed that the confluence intersected with our dirt road, so I had convinced my fellow travelers that we probably wouldn’t have to get out of the air-conditioned cars, an idea that I suspected appealed to them!
However, nothing is ever that simple.
When we arrived at what we thought was the approximate spot we switched on the GPS, only to find it would not give us a reading! We roamed up and down the road with stops of up to 20 minutes as the temperature rose past 30 degrees Celsius and hundreds of flies descended on us. The Australian CSIRO has introduced over 50 species of dung beetles from Southern Africa and Europe in order to increase the amount and rate of burial of cattle dung. A long drought had just broken, and this may have reduced the dung beetle numbers and caused the bushfly explosion.
We were about to give up when the GPS finally came good. We calculated the confluence was about 200 metres south of the road, but it was an easy walk across an almost flat paddock with mostly small sapling regrowth following clearing, with no fences to cross.
Photo #1 shows two logs forming a cross which we declared as the “official” spot of our Rotary confluence. The tree in the distance is the distinctive Bottle Tree, a Queensland native well known in the area.
Our GPS (see Photo #3) showed the longitude of 147 degrees south spot on, but we couldn't improve on the latitude reading of 26 degrees 00 minutes and 01 second east. Close enough!