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BRISBANE to BOURKE

The blog for the 10th - 16th was written by Lesley Bray


10.4.10 At long last, after 12 weeks in Brisbane, the trip was underway. We headed out the Warrego Highway, until we reached Minden, where we detoured around Mountain View Drive, I had spotted this road on one of our weekend trips and was curious to see where it went, so we dragged the van high up the narrow road and found a great view and photo opportunity. Next stop was Toowoomba, lunch time and we passed Big Dad's Pie Shop, hit the brakes and walked back for some Pies with Mushy Peas. Possibly the largest pies we have seen, no wonder the shop was busy. Found a park and had lunch. Oakey was the next place we stopped, the highway bypasses this town these days. We visited the Museum of Australian Army Flying, cost of $6 all up. Their pride and joy was a Bristol Boxkite. Those pilots must have had sheer guts to fly in that thing. It also featured a copy of Baron Von Richthovens Plane (this plane featured in the film "The Great Waldo Pepper". Left Oakey and stopped at the Jondaryan Woolshed which is a huge working historical museum, only thing was we arrived around 3pm and nobody was actually there except us, which was probably a good thing. We quite enjoyed the place and moved on to Bowenville, just shy of Dalby, where we freecamped for the night. The rest spot wasn't exactly as the Camps 5 Book described it, the toilets were actually at another park up the road and the fireplaces were non existent, not that we needed one.

Brisbane to Roma Pic

11.4.10 This morning we got away at 8.20am and headed into Dalby. The thing that gobsmacked us was that this town has parking meters. Visited the information centre which was not very informative, considered going north to Jandowie but ended up spotting a sign to Lake Broadwater in the opposite direction, down the Moonie Highway, and decided to investigate that option. Surprisingly, Lake Broadwater Conservation Park did not have a lot of water in it, this was amazing considering the rain we have experienced. This little corner of Queensland seems to have missed out. The lake has a great camping spot, with all the amenities. Too early in the day for us, didn't want to backtrack to Dalby so followed the Moonie Highway further looking for a back road to eventually take us back to the Warrego Highway. Wanda (the GPS) directed us to turn right along the Ducklo School Road, and then on to the Gulera Road, which ended up at a dead end (not according to her though) at El Kantara Station. Oops have to turn around and go back to the beginning of Gulera Road, which was okay because it was along this road, in the middle of nowhere we found a great letter box and sign on gate, 'Please shut the gate or the Mrs will go shoppin!!'. Back to turnoff of Gulera Road and after passing another brilliant letterbox made up from an old motorbike, came to another intersection. We were not sure which intersection we were at on the map, and which way to turn, so while booting the computer with the detailed GPS map on it, a guy came up behind us and advised us to turn right. Drove past the Daandine State Forest and Braemar State Forest and found Daandine where we turned right and ended up at an isolated little place called Kogan which turned out to be rather interesting. It turns out Hugh Sawry the artist used to live there and they are very proud of that. There is a sculpture there made by Dion Cross made with old tools and bits and pieces, all stuck together with galvanised steel coating. We had a cuppa and lunch at their local park which they call Our Pioneer Park and decided to keep heading west till we found a round up to Chinchilla on the Warrego Highway, but somehow we ended up at Condamine which was a non event, so we headed up the Leichhardt Highway to Miles where we refueled for $124.9 per litre. Beware, the service station at the other end of town was 15c dearer. Moved onto Yuleba where we set up a free camp just after 4pm, had barely pulled up when a council man pulled in beside us to check what we were doing. He gave us a little booklet about the Maranoa region and advised us that nearby Judds Lagoon was a good place to camp. We decided to stay put and check out the lagoon tomorrow.

12.4.10 Left Yuleba at 9am and drove out along Moongool Road to Judds Lagoon. A truly picturesque spot, lots of birds there too, the squawky kind. We drove back through Yuleba doing a tour of the town on the way through. In the booklet that the council man gave us it discussed Native Wells, Cobb & Co rest station and Corduroys - but didn't mention where exactly these things were. Nice glossy book but lacking informative information. We checked out the map on the sign at the Yuleba rest area and headed down the Yuleba-Surat Road, easily finding the Native Wells Rest Site which is maintained by the local aboriginals. Interesting rock wells where the aboriginals could find fresh water. By the time we reached the turnoff to the Carnarvon Highway we knew we had missed the other points of interest, where they were we have no idea as there were no signposts directing us. Pretty pissed off over missing them. We found a gravel road to Surat which was signed posted as having water over it (from recent floods).Not knowing how much water or how deep the mud may be we chose to stay on the bitumen. Later we came across some flood water still lying over the bitumen, and as we drove carefully through it, found part of the underlying road was washed away. We hit it with a giant thud. Luckily we were able to tow the van through safely and checked for damage when reaching dry ground, we found the printer had hit the floor and apparently broken. A later inspection showed that all the loose bits had fallen of, and were easily re-attached. No sign telling us that the road was washed away, really pissed off by this time. Flagged down the next car to warn him about the road, only to find he was a local who said it has been like that for weeks despite many calls to the local council. Reached Surat, parked down by the Balonne River where the hundreds of cuckatoos were going crazy. Ate lunch, walked around the town, chatted to the locals, from whom we found that some things we would like to see were on gravel roads still closed by flood water. We ended up in the Cobb & Co Changing Station Museum which was excellent as well as being free. In the same building was a art gallery, displaying a photography competition. The photos were excellent and entries came from everywhere. Pride of the town is the impressive Shire Hall which has been revamped back to its original colours at much expense. Driving up the Carnarvon Highway towards Roma, we came across a very pretty place called Green Swamp. Naturally we pulled over and took some photos. Next stop was for a stranded girl driving between Roma & St George and had broken down alongside the road. Her mobile was dead, and was not a member of the RACQ. We rang Roma to get her some assistance, and they were sending down a tow truck to pick her up. Bet she joins the RACQ now !! Arrived at Roma and booked into the Big 4 Tourist Park,

13.4.10 I had been looking forward to having a look at the Roma Cattle Sale. Nearly 40 years ago, when I worked at The Katanning Meat Works, some of my bosses had worked in Roma, and it had been an ambition of mine to visit at some time in the future. Today was the day. Roma has on average, 12000 cattle pas thru its saleyards every week. It is the biggest cattle selling complex in Australia. It was interesting to watch horsemen rounding up the cattle, and the non-injurious implements used today to persuade the cattle. The afternoon allowed us to catch up on our shopping.

Roma Cattle Sale Pics

14.4.10 Visited the Big Rig, which is a visual display of the history of the oil and gas industry in Roma. We chatted to a lady in the adjoining Information Centre who told us about the stained glass in St Paul's Anglican church. She told us she would be there at 1.30pm and would open up the church for us. Visited a couple of other things around town and ended up lunching at the Empire Hotel. I know people add garlic to their cooking - these people added ingredients to the garlic. Off to St Paul's where we listened to a history of the church, the lady was very, very knowledgeable and were able to photograph the stained glass windows and leaded glass windows. Outside the church, we saw something move while we were taking photos, only to have a very large goanna waddle past us searching for insects. We then ducked around to have a look at Roma's biggest bottle tree, and the Hero's Avenue where they have planted bottle trees through the town dedicated to soldiers who died in the World War 1.

15.4.10 This morning we visited the Romavilla Winery which is right next door to our caravan park. This winery was established in 1863 and is the oldest working winery in Queensland. Business must be tough because they are subdividing some of the land for housing. What a pity. We found that the business relies heavily on internet sales. We explained that we were not drinkers or potential customers but they were still very happy to allow us to photograph the place which was a very old original building housing some very old wine casks, some of which were huge and covered in thick dust. We brought a bottle of Cabernet Merlot before we left. We topped up with groceries, ready for our trip to the National Park and were successful in finding some printer ink for the printer. We found National Parks and Wildlife to enquire about visiting Mt Moffatt. Thankfully we did, because we were told that Mt Moffatt would be closed for a week from this Sunday. This threw our plans into disarray as Laurie had booked into Takarakka Bush Resort before our Mt Moffatt trip. He phoned the resort and postponed our stay at Takarakka until Monday and Tuesday, so that we could fit Mt Moffatt in on Friday and Saturday before the closure. On the way back to the park we visited the Roma-Bungil Cultural Centre to view the 3D Mural by local artists depicting Roma's history which was actually very impressive, also walked through the Art Gallery in the same building and the display was about Roma's oil history.

Roma Pictures

16.4.10 Left Roma at 8.30am for the drive up to Injune which was uneventful except for the fact that we discovered that the caravan's tail lights were not working. This could turn out to be a major problem out here with nobody with the expertise to repair them or obtain parts. Arrived in Injune and topped up with fuel as there is nowhere else except here for fillup. Paid $143.9 which is fairly expensive (15c dearer than Roma, which is only 90kms away). Took the van to Injune Caravan Park where we left it paying $10 for the night. We are off to Mt Moffatt and cannot take the van with us. Packed up the car for a night out camping. Mt Moffatt is part of the Carnarvon National Park. Finally left Injune at 11am and headed off westwards to Womblebank and then turned northwards. The first interesting thing we passed was a slab hut in the middle of nowhere alongside some old stockyards. Was an excellent photo opportunity. Next stop was Charlies Creek where the reflections in the water were excellent and we came to a turnoff to Mt Moffatt. Someone had scribbled on the sign 4WD. Just around the corner was Coffin Gully which was full of mud and slush which covered the Cruiser in mud. After entering the National Park we stopped at Cathedral Rock which is right by the road side, just a short walk in. This huge rock is so named because of the unusual pattern on the rock. Across the road were some walks so we walked the 850m to see The Looking Glass which is an unusual sandstone formation. Walked back to the main road and took another track to see The Chimneys, which was spectacular. There was yet a longer walk to The Tombs which we would have liked to do but time was running out and we still hadn't found the Rangers Hut to register for camping. Drove to the Rangers Hut, nobody to be found, but we filled in the forms, paid the money, $4.50 per person per night. We decided to drive out to the Top Moffatt camp site, leaving immediately as we wanted to set up camp in the daylight. Very bumpy road with creek crossings. Arrived at Top Moffatt to find nobody else there. There was even a toilet with toilet paper which was definitely a bonus.

17.4.10 Hard to believe it's been a week since we hit the road. We seem to have packed so much in. We packed up and left the Top Moffatt campsite behind us, and we moved to the stockyards at Long Gully (just near the Rangers Quarters). We then had a look at the West Branch Campsite, before going to what was to be the highlight of the day. We entered the 4WD only section, and passed Kenniffs Lookout, before reaching the turnoff to the Rortary Shelter Camp Site and the Top Shelter Picnic Site. The road was rocky, loose in places, and went up......and down ...... and up .....and up.....and up......you get the drift. The Rotary Shelter Campsite is just over 1000m, and affords a beautiful view over the Great Dividing Range. The climb continued to the Top Shelter Picnic Spot where at just over 1200m, further amazing views were available.
Back at the base of the hill, we followed a little used track to the Incineration Site. Now these Kenniff Bros were not very nice characters. They were cattle duffers, and when Constable Doyle and the local Station manager attempted to arrest the brothers, it appears the duffers killed the their pursuers, and then burnt their bodies on a rock near the creek.
Back to the main track, and we stopped of at the Marlong Plain (a surprise given the hilly country), Lots Wife, Kookaburra Cave (another Rock Art sitr) and Marlong Arch, before heading back to Injune. I have tail lights to repair........

Mt Moffatt Section Photos

Blog continued by Laurie

18.4.10 My first problem was to repair the tail lights on the van. It was a simple earth problem in the end, but had me worried for a while. After refuelling at Injune, we set out for Carnarvon NP. We chose to stop at a huge truckstop just 70km up the road, as we weren't expected at Takarakka until tomorrow. We set up the Satellite dish, and watched the motor racing from Wellington, and also worked on some more of our video and photos.

19.4.10 The drive from our truck stop was a pleasant surprise. Leaving our camp site, we immediately began to descend a steep couple of kms, being confronted by huge rock walls and cliff faces alongside the road, We also had to wait whilst slow moving cattle made their way across the road in their own time - this is unfenced station country, and although it is a main road, the stock has right of way.
We reached the turnoff into the Park, and and drove until we came across a memorial to a C47B Dakota aircraft that had crashed with 19 people on board in a severe electrical storm in 1943. We arrived at our campsite in Takarakka Resort, and then set out to do a couple of walks that we hoped might help prepare us for a major assault on the Gorge tomorrow.
We visited Baloon Cave, which is a sacred site featuring some stencilled and engraved rock art, and then took a walk up Mickeys Creek Gorge.
After tea, we joined Guide Simon Ling, who took us spotlighting, finding animals in the trees with remarkable ease.

20.4.10 A pretty uneventful day for us, as we packed up and left the Carnarvon NP and headed back to Injune. Our spotlighting guide Simon, had told us about a phenomenon at the creek crossing the road near the Aircraft crash site memorial. It appears that fish were swimming upstream, and crossing the road (where the creek actually ran across the road) and crows were sitting there picking them off as they made their attempt. So we stopped to observe, and sure enough, what Simon had described was indeed taking place.
Having arrived in Injune, we allowed ourselves to contribute to the service station owners superannuation fund by taking major shares in his fuel supply business, and then settled into the Caravan Park where we again tackled video and photo editing

21.4.10 This was the big day. Had we done enough walking to get ourselves ready for todays events. We would soon find out. Today was the day we were going to tackle The Carnarvon Gorge. Where most gorges have a number of canyons to explore from different entrance points, this gorge starts and ends at the one spot.
And so, at 6.30am, we set out to do the undulating 2.4kms before you hit flat ground and a reasonably easy walk. We had decided to go straight to our chosen furthest point (there was anothe 10kms round trip available on top of that had we decided to go further) which was the Art Gallery, some 5.4 kms away. We achieved that in reasonable condition, and marvelled at this huge wall covered in stencilled and engraved rock art. It was then time to start the return trek, visiting the various gorges we had bypassed on the way in.
The first of these was Wards Canyon. It is only 270m off the track, BUT it was almost a vertical staircase, and to now rapidly tiring legs, this was a real test. The climb was worth it. After passing the waterfall, you entered a virtual fairyland of beautiful green moss covered rocks, tree ferns and KING FERNS. These things only grow near the coast, and only on Fraser Island in Queensland. So for these four examples this far inland, the experience is priceless. A stream running through the centre topped the whole thing off. The place was amazing. Unfortunately, the photos don't do the place justice.
Going down was much easier, but then we had to negotiate the Auditorium. About 600m off the track, you negotiate about a 10m staircase to enter a slot in the rocks, that leads you into this huge cavern, which apart from the gap to the sky, totally encloses you. Awesome.
By now, we chose to skip the Moss Garden, and we dragged ourselves back to the undulating final 2,4kms which totally destroyed this extremely underprepared, unfit persons sense of humour (at least for an hour or so). People bouncing past like they didn't have a care in the world didn't help............. mumble mumble.
Back to the original question. had we done enough preparation to do a 14 km walk, loaded up with cameras, back packs with lenses, water and a little food? No we hadn't, but believe me, we wouldn't change the experience.

Carnarvon NP Photos

22.4.10 We took the opportunity to have a quick look around Injune, taking photos and filming the town, before once again heading out the road towards the Mt Moffatt Section of the Carnarvon NP, this time with caravan in tow. When we reached Womblebank Station, we turned south, and followed the road towards Mitchell. We weren't bothered by traffic, and in fact it was several hours before we saw our first oncoming vehicle..
We arrived in Mitchell at lunchtime, and after a bite to eat and a quick tour of town, we resumed our journey.stopping at Arrest Creek, where we discovered that the dastardly Kenniff Brothers of Mt Moffatt Murder and Incineration fame were finally arrested.
As the day wore on, it was becoming increasingly important that we find somewhere to camp for the night, not easy in a state that doesn't seem to understand the concept of truckstops or rest areas - maybe it feels the standard of the roads will keep you awake. And then, there it was, the first semblance of a truckstop after 97 kms. We naturally, took advantage and spent the night there.

23.4.10 We had spent a night alongside a road that rarely saw traffic whilst we were there. We amused ourselves watching a couple of ants moving crusts of bread many times their size and weight, before once again hitting the road to St George. Unlike yesterday, we passed at least half a dozen vans heading in the opposite direction within an hour of moving off.
We arrived in St George, by crossing the Andrew Nixon Bridge incorporating the Jack Taylor Weir. We stopped to have a look at how the weir worked, and found an oblisk, which showed that Thomas Mitchell had crossed the Balonne River at this point on April 23rd, 1864, exactly 156 years ago to the day. It being St Georges Day, he named the locality St George.
Lesley's Laptop which had died a couple of nights ago needed to be replaced, and so, our first task was to see if that was possible, and yes, it was, not at the local computer store, which doesn't actually sell computers, but at the local Betta Electrical Store.
Lunch at a cute cafe decorated with a lot of retro ........ well some people would call it junk, but it worked.... and then to the local Information Centre to get loaded up with what we should be looking at. We took a self guided tour around town, looking at where the flood waters of a few weeks ago had left their mark, and marvelling at how well the affected area had been cleaned up.

24.4.10 We jumped on the computers to check our emails and update photo files, and then headed into town to have a bit more of a look around. The first thing we saw was this beautifully presented Model T Rod, hooked onto a trailer, out of which was being unloaded a Falcon Ute. The owner was rather perturbed, and was muttering unkind things about Queensland Roads (rather mirroring my own thoughts) and really dirty that the service stations down the road didn't have gas. I deduced that the reason he was so filthy on the world, was that the ute ran entirely on gas, and none being available, ran out. It would seem that the ute was towing the trailer with the Rod in it, but now, it seems the rod became the tow vehicle, and the ute the Towee. He seemed to have the same opinions about NSW roads as me as well. Funny that.
From hot rods to matchbox toys, and one of the locals has a collection of cars that goes back to the beginning of time. We spent a little time having alook, before deciding to travel to an old pub 44 kms out of town for lunch.
The Nindigully Pub is Queensland's oldest hotel located in its original condition and position on the banks of the Moonie River. The license was issued in 1864 after operating as shearer's accommodation for the Nindigully Station. The Gully, as it's affectionately known, brewed its own beer and spirits before XXXX and Bundaberg Rum even existed. Today the boom town of approximately 50 people and 15 houses of the early 1900s have been reduced to two houses, the pub, the old General Store and the Town Hall with a population of six! It sits on the banks of the Moonie River, where campers and caravanners are encouraged to camp, and enjoy the fishing and the pubs facilities.
Driving back into town we took time to have a look at the cotton farms along the road, and detoured to have a look at the Buckinbah Weir.

26.4.10 We packed up and left the "Pelican Rest Caravan Park". we were surprised by the small number of vans using this park It is beautifully presented, fully grassed, caters for big rigs, has cabins, and is not expensive. It's about 2 km out of town whilst there are two other parks within the town boundary. They looked quite cramped to us
First stop was Dirranbandi, where we had a look at the old Railway station,.
Our next destination was Hebel. Here, we stopped and had lunch at the historic store - everything is historic out here. Step into the store, and the wooden floor moves up and down - it was apparently a dance hall in the 1890's. The Woolpack Dining room is attached to the store, and is said to be in it's original state. It was cute, regardless. Then over the road to the Hebel Pub, which features on the cover of a book of Pub Photographs from around Australia. A chat with a couple of locals gave us our destination for a camp that night.
We arrived at Angledool Weir, and set up camp for the night, got some photography and video done, and then sat back for a quiet night.

27.4.10 We arrived in Lightning Ridge, hit the Information Centre, booked into the caravan park, and then went for a cruise around the area. The town has a system of numbered coloured car doors, which you follow with a cheat sheet, which quides you around the towns attractions. We wandered off course and drifted thru the minesites, and immersed ourselves in a look at another world.
The miners are allowed a maximum of two 50x50m claims, and they usually set up camp on their claims. The result is hundreds of mulloch heaps scattered through the bush, with old caravans, buses, shantys, and some more elaborate establishments, surrounded by old wrecked cars, trucks, and machinery. This surrounding the main townsite, and within a few hundred metres of the town boundary.

28.4.10 We continued our tour of car doors, finding the largest opal open cut mine in Australia, where the famous Halley's Comet was discovered in 1986, and valued at $2.5m. Amigos Castle is an amazing structure, built entirely of ironstone, and modelled on a ruined castle in Amigos home town in Norther Italy. Amigo is apparently, a small man, and built the castle entirely singlehanded, constructing scaffolding out of old oil drums cemented together.He started building the castle in the early eighties.
The Astronomers Monument is a weird construction, which was built by obviously, one of the towns eccentric characters.

29.4.10 Fueled up, some shopping, and we headed for what promised to be an interesting day. First stop, and disappointment was Cumbarah, which promised history, and community spirit. What we found was a few houses, no store, no fuel, and not much public infrastructure at all.
And so we set sail for another opal field just down the road, and what a fascinating time lay ahead of us. Off the bitumen and a few kms up a dusty road to Grawin, and the Club In THe Scrub. This is one of only two clubs in NSW without pokies. It runs a whole heap of courses (They were doing computers today), has a library, and a host of other activities to keep the miners occupied. It is built out of logs, and is a great little community centre.
We had lunch, and then took off towards the Glengarry Hilton. Remember the description of the mining accomodation in Lightning Ridge, here it was duplicated, but without the infrastructure of a major town. All of this activity happened in the bush.
From the "Hilton" and onto Sheepyard. There is a store/pub there, and apart from the mines/accomodation, not much else. So imagine our astonishment, when in the midst of all this rubble, we came across the Sheepyard & Community War Memorial. Sitting on the side of a (man made?) lake (named Lake Beard), is the most beautiful War Memorial you could imagine, way out in the scrub, in the middle of nowhere. It appears that many of the locals are Vietnam vets, and people ship in from all over Australia to attend Anzac Day. Aborigines attend the service here, because the memorial recognises the efforts of those who gave war service. A local farmer (who lives within 50kms of the memorial) restored a 1942 Willys Jeep in which he transports the old diggers to the service. Just blown away.
Finally back to Grawin, set up camp, into the club for a Pizza for dinner, a chat with the locals, and call it a day. A phone call to my middle daughter, found all three girls in Sydney for Tanya's birthday tomorrow. A quick chat with all three was a great way to finish the day.
This has been one of the highlights of our travels so far. If you don't get off the bitumen, you miss the best part of Australia.

Lightning Ridge Photos        Sheepyard War Memorial Video

30.4.10 We were tempted to hang around a bit longer, but I have a lot of Queensland to see before October, and so we moved on. It turned out to be a transport day, as we travelled through Walgett and Brewarrina, to find a camp about 47kms out of Bourke.
The excitement for the day came when an inverter we had plugged into a cigarette lighter, blew a fuse, and then when tried in the another outlet, blew yet another fuse. This rendered the fridge, GPS, and Tyredog useless, as well as silencing the UHF. So while we had lunch, I set about solving the problem. It had been 5 years since some of this stuff had been installed, and where had they hidden the fuses, and did I have the right size spares? Got that sorted, and we were away...... or were we.
I mentioned the Tyredog - what is that you ask? Tyredog is a set of valve caps, that monitor the tyre pressures and temperatures, and send the results to a monitor on the dash of the car. I installed it after losing two tyre @ $180 each to punctures and subsequent destruction. Having found and replaced the fuses in the car, the tyredog was now operational (having not been running all morning) and it started to beep at me, telling me that the Right Rear tyre on the caravan had dropped below the pressure warning setting. A quick look told me that it wasn't telling fibs, and so a tyre change was effected. The time wouldn't win a pit stop race, but the tyredog saved me another $180. And it was all a fluke. If I hadn't fixed up the fuses at lunch time, it wouldn't have been detected.


 

QUEENSLAND TRIP VIDEOS 2010

Simpson Desert In Bloom Posted 17/9/10
Waterfalls - North Queensland
Old Telegraph Track - Qld
Gillies Hwy - Qld

Cattle Muster Qld
Gulflander - Normanton - Qld

Sheepyard War Memorial - NSW
Back O Bourke Hotel - before the fire
The Ant Ordeal - Bourke

Mt Moffat - Top Shelter Shed - Carnarvon NP

If you would like to contact me or email your thoughts or comments, please feel free to do so. I would love to hear from you

For more photos, visit Lesley's site. Queensland, Australia

Lesley Bray Photography

 

 

 

 

Updated 28-12-2010

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