|The Barwon River and Barrabool Hills|
|The Barwon River below Pollocksford Road Bridge|
|The Brisbane River, James Cook Bridge from the CityCat|
With it, the climate also changed notably. We were definitely in the tropics as attested by the fields of sugar cane and pineapples which appeared as we neared Bundaberg.
|The Burnett River, Bundaberg as seen from the Tilt Train|
As we neared our destination the creeks and rivers we crossed took on rather a different complexion.
Surprisingly perhaps, the average annual rainfall for Geelong (527mm) is not so different to that of the town of Barcaldine (507mm). Whilst the Otway Ranges cast a significant rain shadow across an area from Geelong to Werribee, reducing the average rainfall of these areas, the upper reaches of the Barwon receive more than double this average rainfall. The other difference of course is in the distribution of rainfall across the year.
|The Alice River, Queensland near Barcaldine|
However, not all rivers in the Outback dry up completely. The Thomson River which flows through the town of Longreach, providing the town's water supply is one such. Rising as Torrens Creek outside Charters Towers, it becomes the Thomson River north of Muttaburra, flowing south and west through Longreach and several other towns, joined on its way by a number of creeks. Just north
of the town of Windorah is the confluence of the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers which then become Cooper Creek - the only place in the world where two rivers meet to form a creek which then "flows" into Lake Eyre.
|The Thomson River, Longreach|
Unlike other rivers and creeks - including the Barwon - the Thomson River does not flow to the sea and Lake Eyre is dry except in times of high rainfall at which point the rivers and creeks burst their banks causing widespread flooding as there is nowhere for the water to run off in such a flat landscape. If the rainfall is high enough then some of the water which would otherwise evaporate, reaches Lake Eyre.
|The Thomson River, Longreach on sunset|
|Naturally forming mud spring near Barcaldine|
|Natural artesian pressure from a bore near Barcaldine|
|Artesian bore near Barcaldine|
For now however, it is back to the south and back to the Barwon where water flows down from the mountains and reaches the sea.
|The mouth of the Barwon River from Ocean Grove|