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May 3, 2016

4th MAY
After leaving Fairbairn on 15th March, with enough redclaw for the rest of the year, we did not have a lot of freezer room left for “normal meat”!
When we got to Emerald we had to decide whether we were going to come the 100ks east for a week at Bedford then go back westward- we had new credit cards arriving at Barcaldine as the plan was to go to Cooper Creek, Windorah for a few days as we have never spent time at the Cooper.
Decision made- it was east we came. When we got here there were 3 other vans & this was because it was too early for all the “southerners” to be migrating north.
Anyway, knowing how good the showers etc here are decided to use them- were we in for a shock! They were disgusting to say the least. Got any cleaning stuff from the van & decided to get to work. Margaret- already here- came to help & we did as much as we could with our limited cleaning products. Bruce said the men’s was also bad but we certainly were not going there! The 3 men here used the ladies showers for 2 nights.
I then heard that the caretaker was asked to finish a few weeks previously & they did not have one here but the council was supposed to be cleaning the amenity block- it was not happening! Bruce & I had discussion & we decided, because of no firm commitments until early June, that we would tell the council that we would volunteer until then- if they wanted us. This being election week nothing was happening but got a phone call a week later to say that they would like us to help out if the offer was still there. Mind you all we are getting is free power which is fine by us- pension is catching up!
We go into Blackwater (27k) for food once a week. Time filled by cards, reading, me walking, greeting travellers as they arrive (if they report first which they are meant to do) catching up on these blogs.
Anyone who knows Bruce, they will know he is having a great time- talking, talking & more talking.
There is no TV so we have not seen anything since the 14th March at Fairbairn. Travellers with sat dishes, well, setting them up seems to be the first thing they have to do. Some spend hours, literally, getting the correct angle.
Blackwater has all really necessary- Woolies, post office, Drs, optometrist, 2 pubs, newsagent, servos. We get our drinking water every time we go to town from the council. Needed our flu vaccinations so went to make appointment as the shots had just arrived at the surgery. Waited 15 mins & got them without appointment. There are 3 surgeries here we are told, with one of them next to Woolies.
There is only bore water here which is crystal clear but we only use it for all except cooking & drinking. Bruce has had fun as the bore stopped a couple of times & fortunately he knew what to do. We had to close the showers for an hour or so.
A few photos of around Blackwater even though there is not a lot to see, apart from the International Coal Centre- I am sure everyone can afford $2/pp to enter as it is very interesting, especially reading about the many, many unexpected things that coal is used to make.

There is a small Japanese garden adjacent to the Coal centre.

The information centre, in the coal centre, has printed information ready to hand out about this unusual tree in their garden. It is a Madagascar Palm & extremely prickly.

There are 37 flags around the Lion’s Park, each flag representing the 37 nationalities that laboured to establish the coal mines & towns. It is the largest flag display in the world, except for the United Nations building in NY.
The water tower was built in 1967 with the centre being constructed & then the core was built on the ground around the centre. When the cone was first built, formwork was only used on the outside & on removal of the framework the concrete was honeycombed & the cone had to be remade. It took 3 months for the cone to be broken by jack hammers . Explosives could not be used for fear of damaging the central cone. The second cone was hydraulically lifted into position 6 “ at a time over a 48 hour period.

This Miner’s monument is in front of the Ambulance building in MacKenzie St & it depicts a miner testing for gas in an under Tound setting with a second miner resting on his shovel. There is a plaque with names of miners who have lost their lives in local mines.
The coal trains which pass through Blackwater are from 85-125 wagons per train & each holds 84-100 tonnes of coal. they can be up to 1.7 ks long, take 2 kms to stop & run every 20 mins 24 hours a day.
Below is a train passing through Bluff about 30ks east of Blackwater.

This is a photo from 2008 – have not taken one here as yet but all look the same.


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