Last days in Birdsville
Saturday night after the races we partied a bit down at the hotel and enjoyed the night scenes around the various stalls that were still open. The boxing tent was in full swing and there was much revelry. We even had a star politician in town for the festivities. One Pauline Hanson, she is pretty popular out here. Allthego couldn’t resist a photo-op.
Our time in Birdsville has come to a close. We did our Sunday morning shift on the pancakes, followed up by some stock taking, packing away and lunch. There was some time on Sunday afternoon for looking around Birdsville! We have been here a week and haven’t seen the cemetery yet. Now Allthego doesn’t mind looking through an old cemetery. A lot can be learnt in a cemetery about the towns past. Birdsville’s cemetery sits between a couple of sand dunes on the outskirts of town on the way to the caravan toilet dump point and the town dump. Allthego suspects it was there before either of these two modern conveniences. The graves certainly indicate this. Life was tough out here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is a strong indigenous presence among the headstones, including a ‘rainmaker’. An early Inland Mission Padre died in 1929 and is buried here. He was 29 and it is thought died of a heart attack while having a swim in the river. The bare earth and sun light flickering in the scattered trees among the sand dunes was haunting. It would have been a lonely place a hundred years ago.
Back down by the Diamantina River at Pelican Point we saw flocks of birds on the Birdsville Billabong. Our grand daughter, Alyssa was wondering why Birdsville was called Birdsville. Well, we think we can confirm it is because there are lots of birds here! Or is it because a shop was built here by two blokes, Percy Bird and George Field. Hence Birdsfield, which later, because of a mailing error, became Birdsville! Who knows! Two young Corellas were hiding high in a tree above us as we gazed across the Billabong.
Down by the river the horses are stabled for the great race and it is also here where it is thought Burke & Wills might have camped on their way north back in the 1860s. There is a tree labelled the “Burke & Wills Tree” with a blaze cut into it with some barely legible markings. Better thinking suggests this is an imposter tree, the work of a later day pleasure seeker! But everybody comes here and takes a photo! Remnants of the 5 or 6 thousand campers are still to found in this area. Many will continue north in coming days for the races at Bedourie.
One of the old buildings remaining in Birdsville is the Court House. Signage indicates it is now only brought into action once a year. The Monday after the Birdsville races! No doubt to deal with matters arising from the rather strong police presence in town during the great race . Much breath analysing going on. There has also been a little unruly behaviour on the town common amongst the campers, some lads got excited and threw some gas bottles on a fire creating some big bangs in the early hours of the morning. Apart from this, things have been calm in town with not much angst being displayed.
After our drive around town and catching the last of the ‘sites’ to be seen we headed back to base for dinner and a good nights sleep before heading for Bedourie the following morning.