The map

An unexpected day – Wednesday 8 June

When we were looking for a Queensland tour guide or map, we came across one that was produced by Queensland.com called ‘Great Queensland Drives’. It is more than just a map, with short notes included along the way. To supplement this, I also picked up a magazine about the Matilda Way. Between these two sources, we managed to have a very unusual day driving from Ilfracombe to Emerald.

As we left Ilfracombe, we came to an abrupt halt as the highway was blocked by a rather large herd of cattle that was being mustered by several riders on horseback, one musterer in a truck and half a dozen dogs.

Our first stop was at Barcaldine (pronounced ‘Bar-Call-Din’, in a Scottish accent) to see the Tree of Knowledge. We had heard about it, but the reality was far more impressive than can be imagined. The whole structure is magnificent and creative and, when you stand under the canopy, it is intensely overwhelming.

Other parts of the story of Barcaldine are presented well and it was an amazing experience to participate in and to learn about, including the innovative sculpture using all kinds of tools, and hardware.

We drove a little further and arrived at Jericho, which, of course, is on the river Jordan. I really stopped to see the sculpture called the Silver Trumpeters which is a representation of the story of Joshua’s victory at the Battle of Jericho. It was in a state of disrepair, unfortunately. I was very disappointed.

However, we went into the General Store to see if they had food and discovered a whole room of clay models of all the buildings and houses of Jericho. The detail was fantastic, and the characters had been captured really well. One thing that was represented was a Drive-in theatre and, lo and behold, it still exists in working order. One mural in Jericho attracted my attention because of its clever detail.

The staff there sent us across the road to the local café and we had breakfast. Due to a lack of deliveries arriving, our bacon, baked beans and eggs became bacon, baked beans and chips. The ladies working there were so friendly and we all had a good laugh about the shortfall.

The small village of Alpha was our next stop along the way. It was advertised as a town of murals and that it was, except they were extremely faded and damaged. It felt very sad.

I decided that we could not miss going to at least one of the Sapphire towns, so we went to Sapphire, itself. We had a bit of fun fossicking under controlled conditions and, much to our delight, we actually found a few specimens. They’re probably not big enough to use, but it was a fun experience.

We eventually arrived in Emerald after an entertaining and interesting and decidedly unexpected day.

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