Other sites we did at Birdsville were the Waddi trees which are an Acacia tree that is indestructible – breaks axes, can’t be burnt…but of course makes perfect fence posts and a long lasting timber for sheds and other structures so they were heavily harvested until people realised they were really special, rare and old.
There’s a marked slash tree from the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition in 1861 which marked their trail as they moved through here. The visitor centre is awesome – such friendly people – we plugged laptops into every powerpoint we could find, the boys took over a room and watched DVDs, and there was a good documentary running about some of the people who lived out in this part of the world – a great insight into how people lived and worked and made it through the tough times, dust storms and floods.
The 2010 Birdsville Races were washed out and while the race track was too wet for the horses – so too were the roads, too soggy for anyone to leave – imagine 7000 people stuck in a small town for days – there’s a great photo of many of these outside the pub. Another flood much earlier saw the locals run out of beer with every road closed. After raiding the pub alcohol supplies, the only thing they could find in any decent quantity was crème de menthe and lemonade so a new drink called “green lizards” was concocted and kept the town going.
We copped another bad wind storm – we could check the Birdsville airport weather station on the web the next morning and there was a 74km/hr wind gust at about 3am – combined with wind speeds of 40 and 50km/hr for a few hours. Again the tent took a battering but all four of us bunkered down in the main room of the tent and rode it out. It was the dust that was whipped up that was the worst.