My new holiday home is a giant right-angled triangle. Yours is too. That’s what Queensland looks like on a map – a right-angled triangle with a little square bitten out of the bottom.
I’ve been channeling my inner cartographer since we shut our borders to NSW, the ACT and Victoria. The rest of the states and territories are thinking about shutting their borders to us. And as for the rest of the world, who knows when you’ll next be getting on a plane to adjust your headrest?
So we’re stuck, (hopefully) safe in the Queensland triangle where the hypotenuse is the Great Barrier Reef. Can’t complain, can we? How ridiculous that I grew up on a beach and never dived the Reef.
Like a lot of Queenslanders, I suspect you take your backyard travel options for granted. I did visit Magnetic Island a lot as a kid – mostly for school camps where I slept in the same bunk beds for theatre and maths camp.
Once when I was walking along the pier into Picnic Bay on Maggie Island, I spotted $10 in the water just beneath the jetty. I raced down and fished the blue note out of the blue water. No one claimed it and to celebrate I bought a blue sarong. I felt like I’d won the lotto. To this day when I walk on a jetty, I scan the water for floating notes.
It’s funny how weird little travel experiences stick in your mind. Like the time I was camping with my dad and we bought a rockmelon in Gatton that tasted like heaven. No rockmelon has ever measured up to that sweet perfection. For years afterwards, if Dad and I cut open a melon, we’d exchange looks, shake our heads and say “Not as good”.
Since COVID-19 has shrunk global travel options, let’s triangulate Queensland shall we?
North to south, it’s abouty 3000 clicks from the tip of Cape York to the NSW border. Thirty hours in a car if you don’t stop. East to west, it’s about 1500km from Brisbane to Birdsville. You need 20 hours to drive a little further to the border, where you’ll nudge the Simpson Desert.
Queensland is larger than all but 15 countries in the world. Isn’t that wild? You have 1.8 million square kilometres and the foreseeable future to explore until your road-tripping odometer stops. If you head to the southwest corner, you’ll hit multiple states and a lot of red dirt.
Cameron Corner is where Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia meet. Haddon Corner is where South Australia and Queensland intersect. The three-corner contest winner has to be Poeppel Corner, which is where Queensland connects with the Northern Territory and South Australia. If you get there by four-wheel-drive, you can celebrate New Year’s Eve three times, kissing every 30 minutes because of the time zone difference in each state.
The highest point of Queensland is Mt Bartle Frere, which is described as a treacherous 1622-metre climb. I don’t know what the lowest point is, but perhaps it’s a metaphorical destination that we’re all trying to avoid given some of dire events in 2020.
Queensland is home to Australia’s smallest town Cooladdi. It’s halfway between Quilpie and Charleville, has three residents and a king burger at the Fox Trap will set you back $16.
The Queensland town with the longest single-word name is Kaimkillenbun – adorably known by locals as The Bun. Soldiers leaving for World War I signed their names on the wall of their local pub. I’ve never been to The Bun, The Isa or to the Stonehenge we have in Queensland but I find myself looking at the map with fresh eyes.
Next month I’m taking my sons on the overnight sleeper train to Longreach to go dinosaur spotting in Winton. I’m expecting a lot of flies matched only by the memories we make. Sometimes the uncomfortable moments make the best travel stories.
As as kid, I broke my toe in Tully and got thrown off a horse not far from Mt Surprise. Things break, you get winded and you eventually come home to tell the tale.
Sometimes it’s a moment of beauty that becomes your travel highlight, such as the first time I saw the sunset at Seventeen Seventy. A golden glow so hypnotising, it brought me to tears. You know those moments where everything feels OK in the world? Everyone is craving that feeling right now. Sandy toes and freedom.
The coastline of Queensland stretches nearly 7000km. That’s a lot of beach walks. Queensland also has 1955 islands and 274 of those islands are in the Torres Strait. Maybe it’s time Thursday Island shared the spotlight with Friday and Wednesday Island? Forget Sunday Island, that’s off the coast of Victoria – you’re not going there anytime soon.