Arrived in Mount Isa - not the place in the photo which is Lord Howe Island in the Coral Sea.
The extra miles we managed to drive from Barrow Creek meant a shorter journey than planned and we were able to arrive in MountIsa and settle in to the SunsetTopTouristCaravanPark around lunchtime.After so many off-site overnighters our living quarters needed some attention so the afternoon provided a great opportunity to catch up on some household duties - washing, cleaning etc and emptying the toilet, E's favourite job - not! The reason for MountIsa's existence is mining and the main attraction in the town is the excellent Mount Isa Outback Experience. This combines a mining museum and The Riversleigh Fossil Centre.Just to explain though, it's not just any old fossil display. Riversleigh is an area 240km north of Mount Isa which is one of the most significant fossil sites in the world.The display is excellent and it was fascinating to talk to the resident palaeontologist and hear about his work.The highlight of the mining museum is the three hour trip underground to a replica of the lead/copper/silver/zinc mine for which Mount Isa is famous. The mine's now owned by Xstrata for which our friend Avril works as Community Relations Officer in Townsville. (In fact talking of Avril, not long after we met her in London in the 1980s we received news that she'd borne a child. We communicated with Avril and Heather for a number of years, and shortly before we met her in Townsvillle in 1997 Avril told us that Heather was in fact a strapping 6ft 4ins son called Heath.Must have been Avril's handwriting on her Christmas cards!For a number of years Heath worked in the hospital in MountIsa but is now back in Townsville and we look forward to meeting them in a few weeks time.) Getting back to the mining museum, togged up in orange overalls, wellie boots and hard hat complete with Davy lamp we felt quite the real thing! Our visit down the mine was enhanced by the loud and zany Smithy (Mark Smith) a miner who actually works in the mine, had just finished his night shift and does the tours voluntarily because he enjoys it.(Maybe it's something to do with the 'mile below club'!!!!!) He gave us a really informative tour with lots of stories of his mining experiences and the opportunity to work some of the mining machinery.He also gave us some tips on what to do at our next stop, Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Although his dad is from Glasgow he still had trouble understanding E!!, but it might explain why he seemed to take a shine to M, 'the wee Scottish lassie' and made her his Shift Supervisor.After E being targeted by Petrea in KingsCanyon it was time for M's turn! Of the three mining tours we've done in Oz this comes out top and the only one where we had a real hands-on experience.Still don't fancy working down the mines though - it's a real tough job.We were recommended to stop at the butcher in Cammoweal just over the border into Queensland.We bought some meat from the very chatty butcher, who was surprised to see that E held the purse strings for the food. Well, in MountIsa we had the mince as delicious mince'n'tatties and the following night absolutely scrumptious and tender sirloin steak done on the Barbie.If only we'd know that the Cammoweal butcher also has a shop about 500 metres from the camp site!But now we do, we'll be buying some more meat before we move on.Excellent recommendation.