July 2017, Southern Queensland and an unforgettable anniversary
We’re in Miles and following instructions to Kowguran twenty kilometres to the north. It is dry, scrubby, red dirt country. Now some parks are boringly ordinary yet often in an interesting location. This one can best be described as quirky and has been recommended to us more than once. We turn off the highway onto a narrow red dirt farm track. There are plenty of signs to lead the way through the scrub, then a sharp turn around a clump of bamboo and we are out front of Bunker 18, the OFFICE. An underground ammunition bunker. The owner checks us in surrounded by paperwork as his wife potters in the kitchen behind. This is their home.
During World War Two this was an army ammunition storage facility and just out of flying range of Japanese aircraft. Troops tunnelled out the bunkers, lined them with concrete, roofed them with corrugated iron and covered them with earth. In 1986, with an eye for potential they bought the property. They built the caravan park, added railway carriages and turned the bunkers into accommodation. Somewhere along the way they acquired the fuselage of a TAA Vickers Viscount airplane and built a hangar. The plane has had one and a half false wings fitted and three false engines and is now being remodelled to become a unique tourist experience.
The plane is our view from the van as we are in the somewhat tighter area of the park. So tight that we can’t pull our awning out without entangling it in our neighbour’s Toyota. The neighbours on the other side are quite cheery, so cheery that each time we pass they raise a glass and say “Cheers”.
Being dry country, bougainvilleas grow well and any container of size, wheelie rubbish bins, washing machine drums etcetera house these, cacti and other hardy plants. Oh, and the odd artificial flowers for a spot of additional colour.
It’s a peaceful and quiet place, crows caw and the breeze ruffles the gums. Tree hoppers and Apostle birds hop and bounce about in the scrub. There are the tail marks of kangaroos on the walking tracks.
A happy hour fire is lit in the evening and a chap grabs his guitar. After about the fourth song folks go back to talking amongst themselves, where they’ve been and where they’re going and all of that nomadic stuff that travellers do. The guitarist suddenly packs up and sulks off to his van. “Looks like he’s cracked the shits!” Says Mr Cheery who is now onto his umpteenth whisky.
Next morning Trusty the kelpie knocks at the door for a treat. We’ve had sheep, ducks and chooks before so why not a cute little Kelpie. Woody is complaining about the red dirt and feeling ripped off, quite possibly because yesterday was our anniversary. We are far too cramped for comfort though we do have about two hours respite before new neighbours arrive. This place seems to attract interesting folk and there are a number of older volunteers working here for their keep. Our cheery neighbour, whose name is Happy, are neighbours of the ‘meet and greet’ guy who rides a quad bike directing visitors to sites. Our new neighbours are Tight Arse Tuesdays who have only come in from the bush to do the washing. We lie low.