Too excited to sleep, the almost-birthday boy stayed up very late, sitting around the fire with us and chatting about birthdays past. Finally he drifted off in the swag, and I sat up long after, watching his long strong limbs at rest in the firelight, marveling at the beautiful eight year old he has become.
We celebrated Cassidy’s birthday next to a creekbed in Milparinka: an abandoned mining ghost town in the north-west corner of NSW. We collected old bits of china and glass and other treasures from around the ruins we explored at sunrise as we waited for Dad to make the coffee, followed by presents, pancakes, and then the drive to Innamincka.
There is something about ruins. There is a reckless freedom in exploring the bare remains of buildings without the usual constraints (you can jump out of windows or climb up chimneys), and an unbounded freedom of the imagination to picture what kinds of stories were played out here.
After skittering across the gibber plains and over sanddunes we arrived and set up camp on the Coopers Creek near Innamincka: the ecologically significant system of waterholes where the fateful Burke and Wills expedition played out its tragic ending.
There was a swim in the wide waters of the Coopers, and then some clean clothes before we set off to the famous Innamincka pub for a birthday counter meal, birthday cake and some cool drinks (even a lemonade!! – a big treat around here!).