Camooweal isn’t far from the border. We had been told about the bush camp beside the river. (It is a little like Longreach water hole where the vans spread out along the water edge.) We saw the site as we made our way into the town. We needed to fill up with water and empty out the black water before we camped up. Not a lot to the town.
Camooweal was established in 1884. It was to be a service centre to the area but Mount Isa’s growth was greater. Camooweal in now considered to be a suburb of Mount Isa. The local joke is that the Barkly Highway is the longest main street in the world at 188 kilometers long.
There are several different places to camp at the Camooweal bush camp. Up near the bridge, under the bridge, along beside the water, where there are fewer trees so you can get in close or the vast open area near the cattle yards. Enough sites and spots to please everyone.
We chose along the river. We had been told the river contained red claw so Adrian propped the net in.
We had a look around the town then had lunch at the local pub. We sat on the veranda and watched the world go by. There were several small birds hopping around maybe hoping we would feed them.
It had looked like it was going to rain all day and nothing happened until the evening. Some of the vans pulled out when the raindrops started falling. Adrian and I talked about doing the same. The ground would quickly turn into a mud pit. If you didn’t want to stay you would need to get out quick. We decided to stay not knowing when we would be able to leave.
The rain came and came. Soon there were puddles everywhere and it was even tricky to get a 4WD out. We kept a bucket of water beside the door of the van so if you ventured out you could wash the sticky mud off your feet before coming inside. We had our mat down but the water and mud came through it.
Camooweal was gearing up for the Drover’s Camp Festival. It was advertised as a fun filled weekend. Who could miss that? We met up with the couple from the van next door and they were staying for the weekend as they were meeting up with friends from Mount Isa.
A street parade was to be held on Friday night. Some caravaners who had been to the festival last year told us that there were only about 6 floats in the parade so we didn’t expect much. When we arrived at the main street there was a subtle feel of excitement. The police closed off the main road for the parade. We met up with our next door neighbors and waited. A cheer when up when the Parade started. It started with a tribute to the light horsemen. Nice touch.
Then a tribute to the drovers and a man with a goat came along next. Don’t ask me why the man and the goat were there; but a goat is not something you see in most parades.
Ok it did look like the town was trying to clutch at straws, as even the local ice cream van and the postie were in the line up but for me I loved that about the parade. I joined in with the locals as they gave them a cheer when they passed. It showed everyone the support the town had. There were other items in the parade, heaps more than 6 floats. I love the fun of it all. Some of the local business had donated hats and stubby holder and they were thrown to the crowd. Yes I did score a hat and Adrian a stubby holder.
The police opened up the road to let everything through. Some of the big road trains came though. They have taken over from the drovers. The Last droving run took place in late 1970. Now the stock are give a lovely ride to where they are going.
After the parade the police close the road again for a postman run. A team of 4 took part. 2 pushed a cart with a 3rd person in it. They started at one end of the town and ran to the post office picked up a parcel before running to the pub downing a beer before running further down the road to the service station picked up the 4th member to the team who ran with the cart back to the pub. At the pub a team member had to find a postmaster to deliver the parcel. We were standing in front of the pub when they came running. There was a flagged off area going into the pub for the runners but most of the contestants didn’t see it. Instead they ran through the crowed. One man ran past me almost taking me out with him but just in time he sidestepped me. The poor guy didn’t win. It made me fatigued just watching them race.
The day wasn’t finished. An auction started and like a lot of auctions, items went for more than the selling price. The night finished with a large bottle of whisky being auctioned. One of those ones on a tilting frame. The winning bid was for $500, we looked up the price later and the selling price was about $300. I am sure the money went to a good cause. I am not sure what the cause was but like a lot of the small towns the money would have been divided up between different sporting groups or the school. Unfortunately that is the only way some of the small country town sporting groups can survive.
We met up with our ex next door neighbors and their friends at the races (they had moved into town to be with their friends.) I am not a big fan of racing. To me it is a lot of standing around for a few moment of excitement.
Yes I had a bet. A dollar each way (I know, I am the last of the big time spenders.) Adrian asked what I had backed for the second race. I said number 4 but when number 5 ran past the finishing like I thought ‘that name sounds familiar, I looked at the ticket and that was the horse I had backed. My two dollars bet raked in $5.80. By the end of the day, even keeping to my dollar each way I had lost all my wining and then an extra 20 cents. Not so for some of the group, some went home with a big smile on their face.
Throughout the day there was the fashion parade and the children races. The most fun was at the end when they had a novelty race. The horses were auctioned off before the race and the barrier relocated to be 100 meters from the finishing post. The horses were lead into the barrier, as I don’t think they could see very well and everything was set. They were off. The team who won was part of the postman’s run team who had won the night before. Well done. It was a lovely fun day made better because of the people we met.
It wasn’t until after I down loaded my photos for the day that I noticed I had a big finger print on my lens. Sorry for some smudged photos
Adrian had some luck with the red claw. Ok not enough for a feed but at least he had caught one. I cooked it up and cut it in half. Mmm I want more. The Red Claw are different from the yabbies’ we have in WA.
The river was lovely. Three Brolga’s came to eat right in from of us and there were some pelicans as well. Depends on whom you talk to, some like Longreach better and some like Camooweal. It is a tough choice, both are great.
Even without the Drovers Festival or the rain we still would have stayed, lovely spot.
After we left Camooweal I saw a sign that made me laugh. It looked like we were entering an area where the cows eat cars. Beware, be afraid.