I made a last minute decision to head down to Dirt N Dust on the weekend and on the drive down I was totting up the kilometres I’m spending on the road just in the current two weeks.
There was 700km return to Maxi for the races, then 600km for the Burke & Wills campdraft, 250km for the Cloncurry airline hearing, 600km for Dirt N Dust, 300km on Tuesday for the Dajarra Cloncurry council meeting and Anzac memorial unveiling and finally a lazy 1000km return next weekend for the Winton Way Out West festival. That’s almost 4000km in a fortnight and the busy winter period not yet even begun.
But that’s par for the course in a territory the size of Spain and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This was my third Dirt N Dust and it remains one of the must do events of North West Queensland.
This year was the 24th edition and numbers were down on previous years likely due to competing attractions such as the one-off Way Out West and the lingering perception on the coast that the roads were cut off due to flooding.
They weren’t – the floods had long gone and the roads were open but there was one consequence no one liked.
The flies were intense at Maxwelton the previous weekend so I shouldn’t have been surprised they were back again at Julia Creek.
But what I wasn’t expecting was the invasion of the bugs which filled the arena of Dirt N Dust Central in their millions.
They were persistent too.
As I took a photo on the Friday night at the junior triathlon presentation one of the larger bugs manage to find its way down the back of my t-shirt and bit me on the back.
I let out an involuntary scream which scared the living daylights out of the kids I was photographing.
But all in all a minor obstacle and nothing compared to what the athletes enduring in their swim, cycle and run on Saturday.
I take my Akubra off to them and also to the hard-working committee and volunteers that make such a wondeful weekend happen.
I look forward to what should be a bumper 25th anniversary edition of Dirt N Dust next year – Derek Barry