August already, and I wonder where the year has gone. I have packed
so much in since the 4th January. Thank goodness for photos and
video to refresh those memories. Even reading back through the
diary blows me away. Where was I? We packed up, said goodbye to
Tony and Sue (the WA couple), and hit the road south. We travelled
through Brandon, before reaching Ayr. The information centre advised
us that there wasn't a lot to see in Ayr, and so we filled our
water tank and proceeded south.
We had found a problem with our A/C, and were advised by Ibis
that they had repairers in Mackay and Rockhampton, and so we were
making an effort to reach Mackay. But not without Calling into
other places on the way. We arrived in Bowen, had a look at Queen
Bay, and a lagoon situated in the middle of town, which had the
usual water birds present, and a heap of seagulls which we hadn't
seen for some time.
Time was marching on, and so we found ourselves a camp spot a
few kms out of town, and decided we would go back into town tomorrow
morning to do our food shopping.
We awoke to find once again that we had a neighbour sharing our
spot on the roadside. We headed back into town, did our food shopping,
and then headed down to the front beach. Bowen had the distinction
of being chosen to play the part of Darwin in the epic "Australia"
with Nic and Hugh. A complete set had been built on the shore
front, just for the movie. It has all gone, and the area is finally
having some restoration performed on it.
Bowen was also chosen to replace Port Moresby during WWII as a
Catalina base. A memorial has been set up at the Front Beach in
memory of the servicemen from Oz and the USA who served from and
in the area.
It was time to move on, We arrived in Airley Beach, which is a
tourist mecca and access point for the Whitsunday Islands. Having
spent so much time in outback Australia of recent times, and being
spoiled with the retention of much of our historical past, it
really hit home when we arrived in this tourist town with all
of it's trashy (to my mind) front, that we didn't stay long enough
to gain a proper impression of the place. Trying to tow a 30'
van thru the town was a big enough hassle, and the garish buildings
placed on beautiful countryside by developers helped our decision
to turn and skedaddle.
We arrived in Proserpine, had lunch, and departed. We found a
town without character, but it did have a sugar mill.
Midge Point was a disappointment. It promised so much as a great
little holiday or retirement town, but it has been very neglected.
We found a truck stop just outside Bloomsbury, and parked up for
Seaforth was our first port of call, followed by Ball bay and
Halliday Bay.After yesterdays disappointments at the care of the
some of the areas we had travelled thru, today we found well presented
villages. We found our way into Cape Hillsborough NP, and finally
reached Mackay. Apart from the A/C, we had a washing machine that
doesn't work, and so I had also contacted Dometic, who gave me
a repairer in Mackay, and so that is where we headed, to find
that he was off work seriously ill. And so, we will follow up
We had spied a good spot to camp on the way into town, and so
we headed back and settled down for the night.
Tonight, we are in Finch Hatton, which is about 60km west of Mackay.
We dropped into Pinnacle Hotel on the way thru, to sample their
home made pies, and we weren't disappointed. My Steak and Pepper
pie had the appropriate amount of bite and Lesley was happy with
her Steak, bacon and Cheese Pie.
On our arrival here, we dropped the van off at the showground,
and headed out to Finch Hatton Gorge. The scenery in this part
of the country is sensational. We arrived in the carpark and made
the steadfy climb towards Araluen Cascades, the final approach
being downhill, naturally. This means off course that you have
to climb back uphill, before you make the trek back to the car.
This is ok if you are fit, and a bit of a struggle if not. I won't
admit to which class I am in. Having had a look at and taken photos
and video the Cascades, we chose not to continue on to the Wheel
of Fire Falls, as we wanted to get up to Eungella to try and see
some Platypus'. And so we returned to the car, to be rewarded
by the sight of three kookaburras all sitting side by side in
about 60cms of tree space.
We hit the road and headed towards Eungella, and wound our way
up the 4.9km steep incline to the village. We are starting to
get used to driving with a 300m wall on one side, and a 300m drop
on the other. It doesn't make it any easier to grab a quick look,
regardless of which side of the car you are sitting in. The Platypus
sighting area is 5kms beyond Eungella at Broken Creek. Today,
again, they didn't come out to play whilst we were there. There
were about 7 or 8 turtles swimming around however, so that was
the consolation prize. We had a look at a couple of lookouts before
winding our way back down the hill to our camp for the night.
It was time to start heading south. I have to be in Rockhampton
for the weekend, to the air conditioner sorted. It has decided
to run cool air on limited time, and then throws an error message
at me, and it just doesn't heat at all - just another error message.
The Air con guy reckons he can fit it in on Saturday arvo or Sunday.
We called into Hay Point, which is a coal export port, but were
unable to access the viewing platform, and so we moved on down
to Half Tide and Salonica Beach (got some strange names up here),
Sarina Beach and on to St Lawrence. By now we were looking for
a camp spot, and got the surprise of our lives to find the campground
at St Lawrence chockers. There is nothing of interest in the village,
and we hadn't been looking at our Camps Australia guide, but obviously,
this was one of the suggested camping spots. We skedaddled, passing
another 3 vans on the way (it is about a 6km drive in off the
road), encountered another van turning in as we rejoined the main
road, and then found a perfect camping spot about. another 400
metres down the road. Perfect .......…
Another uninterrupted night, and we packed up and moved on South,
arriving in Rockhampton about midday.
lesley had damaged her glasses, and so we went looking for an
optometrist, and to Lesley's surprise, we found one, now occupying
the house where she had lived for a short time in 1985. She had
lived in Rocky for 10 years in a past life. Then it was on to
Mt Morgan to visit my Cousin Desley and her partner Wayne. We
were given alternate directions by a hairdresser in town, and
so we found ourselves attempting a 17% gradient which we achieved
after changing down to first gear (having used up all the others
as we climbed the hill). The only other place I have had to do
that so far is climbing the Flinders Range out of Port Augusta.
We then found that my cousin (who had offered us the use of her
yard to park the van) lived on the side of a hill, and manouvering
the van into the yard was a tad tricky. However, after studying
the angles and a couple of failed attempts, I managed to get the
van into the yard, much to the surprise of the onlooking ladies.
Was never in doubt really ................
After dinner and yarning and all that sort of stuff, it was time
to retire for the night.
We didn't get moving too early, but when we did, we took a run
into town, taking in Mt Morgan's great architecture, swinging
bridges, lookouts, old railway station ...... the town is all
hills, and the lookouts give a fantastic overview of the town.
The town is an old mining town, and if you book a tour, you can
see the old mine, and the towns caves, which apparently have dinosaur
footprints featured ......... We also visited the local weir,
which is used as a recreation area, as well as the town water
About midday, we extricated the van from Desley's back yard, and
headed down the steep, winding road out of the hills down to Rockhampton
(they're ALL steep winding roads up here). I had to have the van
at the Air Con guys house by 1.30pm for him to try and suss out
what was wrong with it, and hopefully fix it. Well, he sussed
(stuffed sensor), but didn't fix, cos he didn't have the parts.
At least we have half of the problem solved. We then booked into
the caravan park at Gracemere.
We decided to have a look at the beaches, which are some distance
from town, about 45kms to Yepoon. The tide was out (as usual)
and so we cruised the coast looking at sand, rocks, and in the
distance, water. There were some nice lookouts where the ocean
was more obvious. We drifted down the coast to Emu Park, and then
having had a look at the singing ship (a monument to Captain Cook
who named Keppel Bay), before wending our way back into town.
We took a detour to Keppel Sands, where every one seems to be
built on a flood plain. Now that is something that happens over
here that I don't understand.
We picked up Lesley's grandson Reece, and took ourselves to the
Gracemere Hotel for dinner. Very nice.
Another steep winding road up the side of a hill, as we climbed
Mt Archer to the lookouts, some 600m above Rockhampton to have
a look at the town and surrounding areas spread below us. It was
hazy, but not so bad that we couldn't get a fair idea of the general
layout of the countryside. There is housing up here, and many
on the side of a cliff (or so it seems). It would give me great
confidence to live in a house with the front door on the ground,
and the back door suspended some 10-15m above the footings ........
Back into town, and after replacing my thongs with a new pair
of sandels, we walked around town, before moving a couple of streets
across to the river. This area was the original site of the town,
and the many old buildings are a testament to times gone by, when
this was the wharf and business area of the town.
And so to the Criterion Hotel. This old lady has played host to
kings, queens, sporting icons, and American Servicemen. It was
also the pub where the towns gentry and news hounds gathered after
a days business. There is a room called the Newsroom (the newshounds
retreat) which now features as a bistro, and it was here that
we dined for lunch. An open Fish burger with salad and chips,
and an open Chicken and Avocado burger with chips and salad (generous
helpings) for $10 each. Outrageous.......
Then to visit a lady that Lesley had worked with years ago, and
her husband, who had his share of storys to tell, We needed to
vote and today seemed as good a time as any. So we found the voting
place, and after being sorely tempted to put the Sex Party as
my first preference (after all the rubbish we've been fed so far),
responsibility kicked in and I voted the way I knew I should.
We then went chsing a lagoon and the birds we hoped it would present
us with, found the lagoon ....... you know the rest ....... no
birds ..... bit like Bayswater Hire Cars really ...... WA readers
will know what I am talking about.
And then, Top Gear. As a mug with a video camera, I am blown away
by the camera, editing and audio ability of the Top Gear team.
To my mind, simply the best team on television.
Tonight, it is raining, and has been for a few hours. Maybe more
of the same tomorrow.
Wow, we had about 2" rain last night, and the ground in the
caravan park is pretty sodden. Lesley had one of her old work
mates call around, and they chewed the fat for about 3 hours.
We then decided to go into town and get a part that will help
my radiator stay in place on rough roads. Somehow, I lost one
of the securing bolts from the top of the radiator, probably on
the Tip Trip.
That done, we went in search of more birds at a couple of the
lagoons that abound in this town. We found a few ducks, and not
much else. We did find how much water there was on the ground
around town tho. We also went looking at some of the magnificent
examples of old Queenslander houses that are found in this Rockhampton.
Tomorrow, we leave Rocky, and have decided to head west towards
Emerald, before looping back around to Gladstone, and eventually
down to Bundaberg.
Mt Morgan and environs Pics
Watched Grant Denyer on Sunrise this morning, reporting from William
Creek. It appears that Lake Eyre is full, and all the birds that
we've been looking for here in Queensland, are apparently at the
lake. I've got a few things to do this weekend, and by the time
we get to Bundaberg, I will have covered most of what I want to
see over here. I need to be in Brisbane by the end of September.
And that leaves about 5-6 weeks of what do we do next ........
you get where I am going with this?
But first things first, we decided it was time to head bacvk into
the bush, and so we left Gracemere, and headed for Emerald. Now
there are some funny names for towns out here, and we passed thru
Dingo, Bluff, Comet, as well as Duaringa and Blackwater. Explorer
Leichhardt marked a tree near Comet, with the inscription "Dig"
. The tree was apparently removed from the property it was found
on and handed to a museum for safe keeping. Curiously, there are
two replicas of the tree in the Signal Stop rest stop in Comet,
one in a cage.
Emerald is a town of 14,000 people, and has a very helpful Information
service. The town provides a free camp site near the Botanical
gardens ( which I imagine would go down well with the local caravan
park proprietors), but if you are towing a van, the road system
is a nightmare in the shopping precinct. The streets are narrow,
traffic is redirected so that you can't turn right into the main
street if travelling West, and parking for bigger rigs is non
existent - very different to what we experienced at Charters Towers.
We decided that we will have a look at the towns attractions tomorrow,
and so, as we do, we decided to head out of town and find somewhere
far from the maddening crowd to spend the night, and again, found
a great spot in what looks like an old roadworks site over the
railway line about 6kms out of town. And it's getting chilly -
about 4 degrees projected for tonight ..... lovely ......…
13.8.10 We hit the road early and arrived at Lake Maraboon
and were immediately surrounded by a flock of at least 30 Rainbow
Lorikeets, which were so tame and anxious for the cake that Lesley
had, that a number landed on her arm and shoulder to try and get
their share. We then crossed the Fairbairn Dam wall and made our
way back into Emerald, where we stocked up on a few supplies,
before making our way to Springsure. Australias worst massacre
happened near here in 1861.
"The Aboriginal resistance to the encroachment of Europeans
was courageous and violent. At Cullin-la-ringo (north-west of
the town) a group of Kairi warriors killed nineteen people in
the largest recorded massacre of whites in Australian history.
It is likely that the massacre was prompted by a combination of
frustration at the loss of land and as an act of revenge for the
atrocities which were being committed with monotonous regularity
by both the whites (who were eager to rid themselves of the Aborigines)
and the dreaded native police who had stolen tribal women. It
is ironic that the massacre at Cullin-la-Ringo was probably as
a result of an attack made on the local Aborigines by Jesse Gregson
who was manager of Rainworth Station. The local Aborigines had
'stolen' 300 sheep (they probably thought they had a right to
them as when Gregson arrived at their camp they invited him to
share their meal) and Gregson responded by shooting a number of
Cattle duffers, the Kenniff brothers overlanded to Springsure
in 1891 after being convicted of stock stealing in northern New
South Wales. They undertook bush work, raced horses and opened
books on the local race meetings, before moving on to more dubious
activities on the Upper Warrego (remember we first met the Kenniff
Brothes when we went to Mt Moffatt, followed by their capture
at Mitchell, and James Kenniffs gravesite at Charters Towers)
The Minerva Hills National Park invited us to have a look, and
so we dropped the van off in the main street, and hit the 4WD
only track to the lookouts, which gave up some wonderful views
of the surrounding countryside. Then back to pick up the van,
and a trip out of town to find yet another Metal Dump to park
up for the night. It had been an interesting day.
We had a neighbour last night, (or at least he had one, as he
was already in the metal dump before we arrived). After a quick
chat, we had a target of 300kms to achieve today, as I have to
be in Bundaberg early on Monday to have the washing machine and
air-con looked at in the van. We arrived in Rolleston to find
a market being conducted in the Rest Area. Mainly plants and baby
clothes, and hot dogs - not a lot of interest for travellers,
or apparently for locals, as the sellers seemed to be talking
mainly between themselves.
We arrived in Bauhinia, which was a service station come general
store, a school, and a few houses spread on what looked like 2-5
acre lots. It seemed that tere was a working dog competition happening
up in the showgrounds, and being that this was for working cattle
dogs, we decided to have a look. It turned out being the Australian
Championships, and is mainly supported by Queensland and New South
Wales Graziers. The championships alternates between the states
each year, and today, Bauhinia had the honour of hosting the competition.
The task was made more difficult for Dog, cattle and overseer,
as the normally hard ground had been turned to a sodden mess by
50mm of rain in the past week, and now looked more like a fresh
potato patch than a competition ring. We managed to obtain a full
rundown on the rules of the competition and other subtleties re
the dogs breeding etc from one of the competitors. The dogs are
either Border Collie or Kelpie, as they have a natural tendency
to round up the animals, whereas the Blue Heeler is more a chasing
Curiosity satisfied, we again hit the road, with Biloela as our
destination. We were by now at about our 300kms for the day, and
with just 300kms left to get to Bundaberg, we decided that we
could still see Gladstone, and get close to Bundy by tomorrow
night. It is wonderful to not have set plans, because you never
know where you are going to be in the next hour, let alone that
And as we approach Calliope, we have found a great little spot
beside the road for tonight, the dish is up, and I intend watching
the Eagles tonight. Nice to see the Dockers supporters brought
back to Earth this afternoon ...... hehehe
- Springsure Pics
4am, and we woke to the sound of a truck stopping almost beside
our van. The engine kept running and no activity was evident,
and so I stepped out with a torch and found flashing lights and
what looked like a semi trailer (it was dark) parked about 20m
away from us. Despite my waving the torch around, (and they could
obviously see me in their lights) there was no contact from them,
other than a conversation over their 2 way radios. After a while,
one of the vehicles moved slowly past us, while the other(s) held
station. About 5am, and the rest of the vehicles slowly moved
past, and finally I spotted a sign on the back of one of them
- Line Marking. It turned out to be a road maintenance crew line
marking and laying rumble strips (hence the slow rate of progress)
at an hour designed to avoid excessive interfence to the flow
of traffic on this outback road. We passed them at 9am, just 2km
down the road, and shared a joke with them as we left them behind.
We arrived in Gladstone and had a brief look around before heading
for 1770. This town is where Lieutenant James Cook, went ashore
near Round Hill Head on Wednesday 24 May 1770 with a party of
men in order to examine the country, accompanied by Joseph Banks
and Dr Solander. Cook's ship, the Endeavour, anchored about 2
miles off shore. This was Cook's second landing in Australia and
his first in Queensland, hence the Town of 1770 being referred
to as the birthplace of Queensland. Agnes Waters is the main townsite
and commercial area. There is some conjecture about the origin
of the name ''Agnes Water''. Some believe the area was named after
the schooner ''Agnes'' which disappeared from nearby Pancake Creek
in 1873. Others believe that the area was named after Agnes Clowes,
the daughter of the first European settlers, Daniel and Rachel
Clowes, who built large stockyards and ran cattle on the miles
of unoccupied coastal country in 1878.
1770 for me, is the most picturesque piece of seaside locality
that I have seen this trip, and would be hard pressed to be beaten
by any other town or area that we have been in. unfortunately,
it has been discovered, and I fear the influx of developers and
tourists will spoil the place.
Finally, Bundaberg, and again we pushed our luck and found a rest
area on the main drag to it's coastal suburb, Bargera, and on
pulling in for a "cup of tea", found our way to bed
without the ignimony of being "moved on".
We awoke without incident, packed up, and drove to the repair
place who were to look at the washing machine. We dropped the
van off, and then just cruised around, making arrangements for
other jobs that were to be done whilst we are in town. Despite
it sounding that we are having a lot of problems with the van,
it must be remembered that this "hotel" has been subjected
to roads and conditions that it wasn't strictly designed to do,
and some of the problems are manufacturing faults on third party
products fitted to the van.
Late in the day, we took a run out towards the port, and found
our way to Mon Repos, which is a turtle rookery. Wrong time of
the year for turtle spotting, but interesting nevertheless. Then
back to the electrical firm where the washing machine wasn't giving
any joy. They graciously allowed us to spend the night in the
van securely locked behind their gates - another dollar saved.
With the washing machine needing parts sent up from Brisbane,
we drove to a camping store, where we ordered an Oztent RV4 tent.
Our camping trip to the tip had finally convinced me that crawiling
out of a tent and rising from ground level was not as enjoyable
as it once was, and having a couple of stretchers sitting on the
roof of the Cruiser not doing anything, I decided it was time
to make the purchase I had been promising myself for nearly twelve
months. This thing is 2 metres long, but takes less than a minute
to set up and pack away, is big enough to use a couple of stretchers
in and still have room, can be stood up in, and ............ We
intend leaving tha caravan at Roma and then spending the next
3-4 weeks on the road doing the Birdsville Races, Birdsville Track,
a flight over Lake Eyre, the Strzelecki Track, hopefully Cameron
Corner, before returning to Roma to pick up the van and head to
Brisbane - That is the plan.
We then drove down to Innes Park, and generally cruised the beaches,
and then we started looking for somewhere close to the Air Con
company to stay for the night. We found a park near the swimming
pool which suited us down to the ground. As we turned in to do
a recce, one of the levelling bars and its fitting snapped off
the vehicle, thus posing yet a new problem for me. Deciding not
to let it get the better of me tonight, I said to Lesley as we
cruised thru the park that the Police would in all probability
patrol this roadway thru the night. No sooner had we pulled up,
and turned off the lights, and a patrol car cruised past - they
didn't worry us all night.
We arrived outside the door of the Air Con company at 7.30am,
dropped the van off, and headed into town for breakfast. The air
con was fixed by 10.30, and so we picked it up, and headed to
Caseys RV REpairs to see if they could help re the Levelling bar
situation. They referred me to a machine shop to straighten the
offending fitting. In the meantime, we replaced the by now very
brittle covers over the shower and toilet, the smoke alarm (which
didn't survive a fall) and a window winder in the kitchen. Amazingly,
things were being done that I thought wouldn't be able to be addressed
until I returned to Brisbane.
We then headed out to have a look at Hummock Lookout. This is
the only hill near Bundaberg, and was once a volcano, and it is
responsible for all the black Volcanic rocks found lining the
shore at Bargara Beach and in cane growers paddocks around the
Having decided that we are going to go to Birdsville, we needed
to start stocking up, and so a visit to the supermarket was in
order, before returning to spend a second night at our little
roadside park that we had found on Sunday night.
Awoke and started repacking the car, setting up the food box for
the start of the road trip once we drop the van off at Roma. Having
done that, it was time to go and pick up the new tent that had
arrived from Sydney, and then back to have the washing machine
re-fitted back into the van. It hadn't been quite as straight
forward as it was hoped, with the PC board needing to be replaced,
and then the drain motor faulting, which meant another part to
be shipped in from Brisbane.
Then across to have the new DVD/Car Radio fitted to the bedroom.
However, once we started pulling the old one out, a test was done
on the wiring, and the outside speakers were creating a hassle,
and so I told the tech to disengage them, as we didn't use them
anyway, and the unit reset itself, and worked better than it ever
had - $349 saved ........ Then we went to make a cup of tea -
no water pump - WHAT? - Back to Casey's RV Centre, where they
inspected the unit and removed a restriction valve, which wasn't
needed as the pump is self restricting. Problem solved - why do
caravan manufacturers do these stupid things?
Then we decided to go back to our park by the swimming pool, and
settled down for the night, relieved that the hassles all appeared
to be over. It's fair to say that I was stuffed........…
Today, we had planned to do the photo and film thing around town,
seeing as how our attention had been placed on other stuff during
the week. But, where the weather had been brilliant all week,
we awoke to drizzle, cloud, and dodgy light. Nevertheless, we
drove into town, where I replaced one of the hoses on my C-PAP
machine @ $19.50, I figured that if this hose and fittings was
that cheap, that I would replace the short, thinner tube that
hooked into my facemask. The price tag was $62.95. That's bullshit.
Shame on you Resmed. The mask is made of a piece of surgical rubber,
and cloth headgear, which would cost just a few dollars to manufacture,
and that costs over $265 - same from all manufacturers. No wonder
our private health fees are so high.
We did the photos, and then hit the road, arriving in Childers
about lunchtime. I posted off the two DVD orders I had received,
took a look at the Childers Historical Complex, and we made tracks
for Gayndah. About 16kms shy of the town, we found a perfect spot
to camp for the night.
Got off to a good start this morning, the sun was shining, and
we arrived in Gayndah, which claims to be the oldest town in Queensland,
and was first settled in 1849. However, I refute that. Apart from
the fact that there are other towns making the same claim, Queensland
didn't exist when Gayndah was first settled. The Eastern side
of Australia was called New South Wales.
The colony of the Moreton Bay District was founded in 1824 when
explorer John Oxley arrived at Redcliffe with a crew and 29 convicts.
The settlement was established at Humpybong, but abandoned less
than a year later when the main settlement was moved 30km away,
to the Brisbane River. Another convict settlement was established
under the command of Captain Patrick Logan. On 10 September 1825,
the settlement was given the name of Brisbane, but it was still
part of the New South Wales territory. The area was opened up
for free settlement in 1838, and in 1839, there were calls to
cease transportation to Moreton Bay. On 4 May 1842, Moreton Bay
was declared a free settlement.
Now, the point of all this - In 1859, Queen Victoria signed Letters
Patent, which declared that Queensland was now a separate colony
from New South Wales. On 6 June 1859, the former Moreton Bay District
was granted separation from New South Wales, and given the name
of Queensland, with Brisbane as its capital city. Gayndah already
existed, and therefore, the first settlement populated after 6.6.1859,
strictly speaking, would have to be the oldest town in Queensland.
Really doesn't matter, does it?
Anyhow, we arrived in the town, and prepared to take a wander
down the street, when I discovered my wallet was missing. And
so, we pulled the van apart, pulled the car apart, and tried to
remember when it was last used. I rang the chemist in Childers,
who confirmed that they had in fact found my wallet, and handed
it in to the police. And so, we headed back to Childers to recover
the missing purse, cos without it, we were stuffed - we would
have to remain where we were until all credit cards, drivers licence,
and associated important stuff was replaced.
We headed back via a different road, (a) because it was 6kms shorter,
and (b) we had been the other way, hadn't we? The wallet recovered,
we decided to return the shorter way, because we had seen a sign
to a bridge, which promised to be interesting. 4kms down a dirt
road thru paddocks, and we reached the Historic Chowie Bridge.
It is a cement rail bridge built in 1908, and had a unique arch
design, crossing a waterway called Deep Creek.
Back to the road, and we arrived back in Gayndah, this time driving
through the town, until we found a metal dump a short distance
out of town, where we set up for the night. In all, we had done
220 kms for a net gain in distance of about 40kms since last nights
Departed our metal dump and made tracks for Mundubbera. Having
arrived in town, we had a look at the weir, and then moved on,
aiming to reach Chinchilla. However, we hadn't counted on stumbling
upon a pioneer homestead that obviously required our attention
and inspection. it was 1847 when the Lawson brothers established
the Boondooma Station. Like most of the stations during that period,
sheep were pastured, thus making wool their main income. Many
of the shepherds employed by the Lawsons were of Chinese and German
origin. As with isolated stations in the early days, the homestead
and surrounding acreage was built with the basic necessities similar
to a small village.Over time, with several changes of ownership,
severe droughts, bushfires and the scourge of spear grass, Hereford
cattle replaced the sheep. Buddy Thomson is a direct descendant
of one of the owners, and when he found that the Wandai Shire,
having purchased the property, were doing nothing to preserve
it, formed a group of people help start to restore the place.
The Friends of Boondooma run a heritage Day and Music Muster each
year, along with other functions to raise money help with the
restoration. It also hosts camping by all types of organisations,
and has been used as a wedding venue.
Having taken a bundle of photos and video, we moved on. The weather
was starting to turn on us, and when we reached the Canaga Pioneer
Hall about 25kms shy of Chinchilla, we decided to pull in and
set up camp. The fact that the Nascar Race replay was due to start
at 4pm had no influence in the decision of course.
We woke to a shitty weather morning. The rain had moved in again
overnight, and I have to admit to wondering what we are going
to find as we venture further west. We packed up, and made our
way into Chinchilla, where we filled our water tank, and chatted
with another couple from Bunbury who had intentions of towing
their van to Birdsville, but were becoming increasingly worried
by the potential of the weather We are set up, so that at any
given moment, we can drop the van, and head off and be fully self
contained camping, even down to the fact that the car is stocked
with food as well as water.
Leaving Chinchilla, our next destination was Miles, where I recalled
that the service station at the western end of town was a good
15c a litre dearer last time we came thru town. He was 10c dearer
today. We arrived in town, and grabbed a pie and pastie at the
local baker, having recently decided to see which town had the
best bakery. So far, it is a split decision between Gordonvale
and Miriam Vale, with a further difference of opinion as to where
Pinnacle stands in proceedings.
Further west, we crossed the railway line to have a look at Jackson,
a small village that has seen much better days. The public toilets
however, were spotless, and fully serviced by the local CWA.
Finally Roma, and we had rung ahead to secure a booking to store
the van at a local caravan park. We manouvered the van into place,
and it being between showers, whipped the new tent off the roof
and opened it up - it took about a minute, because being the first
time, I mucked up opening one side - but 30 secs as claimed is
certainly possible - I must add, that does not include Pegs and
guys. But amazingly quick, nevertheless........ Why do they never
pack as neatly as they come delivered? ....... we WERE trying
to beat the rain - that'll do as an excuse. Tomorrow morning,
a repack of the car, transference of gear between car and van,
and we should be away by lunchtime ....... or Friday .…
The morning was spent preparing and loading the car, and at a
whisker after midday, we hit the road. We were soon reminded of
the condition of Queenslands SE roads, as we were thrown all over
the place, remembering the job we had towing the van over these
roads a few months ago. For all that, it took me quite a while
to catch a van that was being towed at the 100 legal speed limit.
Bet there was a bit of a mess when they got to their destination.
We stopped for a pie at Mitchell, and again, it didn't rate in
the top 3 pie makers so far in our books. Approaching towns from
the opposite direction to where we entered them back in May confused
me a bit, but then, I am easily confused. The weather kept changing
and we just hoped for a relatively calm night, so that we could
ease our way into the new tent.
We found our campspot for the night, and had our first erection
in anger,,,,,,,, the tent guys, the tent. And it was up in a flash
(it HAD to be the tent in that case). It took a fair bit longer
to find all the guy points and tie it down securely, and then
to try and remember how the stretchers went together - it had
been 4 years since they were last used, and as for water proof
bags - rubbish..... I then discovered that tho the tent was designed
to take stretchers, that was standard sized stretchers, and because
of my height, I had longer ones, didn't I. So instead of North/South,
we set them up East/west, which means the first one into bed had
to climb over the other bed to get in or out.
We got ourselves all set up, and then it rained. The tent did
the job, and because it was cold, and dark, and we had nothing
better to do, we were in bed by 8pm. I feel a long night coming
It wasn't as bad as I thought. Lesley however, didn't gell too
well with the stretcher, and had a restless night. It apparently
rained a bit last night, and this morning, the inside of the tent
was wet - I put that down to condensation. We were out of bed
just after six, and took a bit of time to photograph the birds
that were feeding from the bushes near us, before having breakfast,
and packing up. It's a bit of fun trying to keep the dry stuff
dry, and pack the wet stuff so that it doesn't mess up the dry
stuff ...... if you get what I mean - also trying to pack it without
filling the car with mud, for indeed out here at the moment, it
Into Charleville, and the Gully, the waterway that runs through
town, which was dry in early May, was now flowing, and the caravan
park where we had stayed in May, was now a muddy mess by comparison.
We fuelled up, and made our way out to Quilpie, noting the amount
of water on the road. A check of the weather Observations did
not reflect the water present. Also the Charleville pies failed
to make the list, altho the pastie wasn't too bad.
Arriving in Quilpie, we enquired as to the road conditions ahead,
and confirming what we were hearing over the two way, the road
to Windorah is open (and bitumen), but the roads to Birdsville
and the Birdsville Track are all closed. And to quote Top Gear,
On that bombshell, we chose to book into a Motel, get some video
work done, and reassess things in the morning.
The sun was shining, and the day promised to be a beauty. We repacked
the car, did a bit of top up shopping, and cruised quietly out
of town just before lunchtime. We were now on roads we hadn't
travelled before, and were amazed at how green and lush everything
seemed to be. We took our time, stopping to photograph birds,
flowers, and anything that didn't move too quick. Eventually,
we found ourselves a nice open piece of ground about 150m from
the road, and it being only about 3 o'clock, and the weather being
so good, we decided to stop, setup, and allow the tent and other
gear to dry out completely before setting it up for the night.
We found that the tent is a breeze, it took about the 30secs claimed,
but then you spend another 5-10 mins doing the guys and hammering
pegs into concrete like ground (this was supposed to have been
drenched). It actually took longer to set up the stretchers than
the tent. Finally organised, time for a quick nap, tea, some night
time photography of a rising full moon, and again in bed at the
ridiculously early hour of 9pm.
We got a nice sunrise this morning. Again, the cameras got a workout,
and the road which had been quiet all night, was filled with the
sound of a dozen Road/Trail Bikes passing our campsite. We initially
thought it was a plane taking off somewhere in the near vicinity.
The birds were making a din as they went about their morning business,
and so needed to be shot (with cameras of course). Finally after
identifying them with our bird book, it was time for breakfast,
a rethink on packing the car - Bed stuff first, so that the chairs
and tables can be packed after, and come out first. Finally, the
tent, and we were ready to go. 500m down the road, and there was
a rest site on the other side of the road. Sign posting in Queensland
is terrible. There are not a lot of rest areas/truck bays, and
when there is one , there is rarely a warning sign that one is
coming, and very nearly always, no P sign at the area set aside
for the pullover - and I describe it as such, because they are
rarely wider than a car width, and usually on the side of narrow
roads....... So we didn't realise that the rest area was there,
but in hindsight, we were much better off where we were.
The dingo fence was unexpected. I last crossed it between Coober
Pedy and William Creek a couple of years ago (at least I think
it was the same fence). It runs for 5400 kms from South Australia
to Northern Queensland.
Coopers Creek loomed into view, and the rest area there is usually
full of caravans and camper trailers taking advantage of the wide
waterway and the abundant bird life on the banks of the creek.
We stopped and spent some time filming and photographing, for
indeed, that is what brought us here. The wildlife had departed
the Eastern side of the country, and moved to the centre with
all the rain and flooding from earlier in the year. After spending
some time following a nature trail and the river banks, we moved
on into Windorah. This is an outback town in all it's glory -
1 shop, 1 pub, 1 restaurant (owned by the pub I think), and 1
old fashioned service station, with a proprietor who was blind,
and with self help pumps that didin't register a noise in the
building as they usually do, to alert the operator to the fact
that someone wants to use that pump. This guy was merrily filling
a gas bottle, talking about something totally unrelated, and blissfully
unaware that I had been standing at the pump waiting for it to
start for near on 5 minutes. After approaching him and asking
for it to be turned on, it took another two or three minutes to
fire up. And then, I could have told him anything as to the price,
and he felt his way around the Eftpos Machine. It was quite comical,
but very time consuming. You have to remember you operate on Windorah
Time out here.......
The Birdsville Road was opened to high clearance 4WD vehicles
this morning, and so we decided we would start moving in that
direction. But not before going back to photograph the towns Solar
Electricity Grid, which produces something like 360,000 kw power
per year, saving over $100,000 in the cost of diesel that would
be required to run generators.
The country from here on was mainly flat, and very green. Sandhills
were now beginning to run along the road, and the overall effect
was just beautiful. We arrived at the ruins of the JC Pub, which
stood where the town of Canterbury once lived. All that remains
now, are a few timbers, and a small cemetery which eluded us.
We had afternoon tea, and as time was getting on, and the skies
now started look a little worriesome, we got moving, until we
reached the rest area at the Birdsville Turnoff. We decided that
we would strike camp for the night, grabbed a spot by a picnic
table, which would allow us to have a quick pack up tomorrow,
because we didn't have to use our gear which we had packed at
the back to get out first so that the bed gear wouldn't get dirty
and of course we didn't need it DID WE, BUT WE DID NEED THE BED
GEAR WHICH WAS AT THE BACK ON THE BOTTOM ...... hehehe God I love
it when a plan goes WRONG hehehe
We did a basic tent setup, and set up the generator to recharge
batteries, and to operate the computers for a few hours tonight
- these 9pm bed times don't agree with us, we are night people
We had three cattle trucks park right outside the door of our
tent at about 3am. Truckies run their engines forever before they
shut them down for some reason known only to them, and then spend
half the night trying to stand the cattle up in the yruck, and
then start their engine again after having half an hours shuteye,
and run them for another half an hour before moving off. I bet
you don't know how I know this......
an hour or so after the trucks left, we awoke to witness yet another
lovely sunrise, and yes, there were no rain clouds in sight. So,
after packing up, we took the Birdsville turnoff and headed west.
The road was supposed to be open only to 4WD high clearance vehicles
yesterday, but we could see no sign to this point, why this should
have been the case.
We arrived at the turn off to Innamincka, and discovered that
about 50kms down the road was Haddon Corner, the state boundary
corner between Queensland and South Australia - well, when you
are in the neighbourhood ..... After signing the visitors book,
we drove back to the turnoff, and had morning tea.
As we approached a creek crossing (dry), we noticed a number of
hawks circling, and so we stopped and found a dam in the river
bed, with a colony of ducks swimming therein. As we approached,
they took off in unison, and then just circled the area until
they felt it safe to land again. It was amazing to watch the navigation
and communication skills of these birds as they performed their
aerobatics without taking each other out. Amazing stuff. And so
we moved on.
The next rest area took us off the road and up onto a hill, which
overlooked the entire immediate world below us. This was called
Deon's Lookout, after a young (20 yo) lad, who was killed in a
helicopter crash near the area a few years ago. He was obviously
well regarded in the district, as the memorial was supplied by
the Diamentina Community.
Betoota was our next destination, and having run short on bread,
we were looking forward to grabbing something to eat. We drove
into the townsite, to find the only building was the pub, and
that had been closed since 1997 just after the owner died. It
being a big day in town, we decided to find the Betoota Racetrack,
to see if food was available there. The Channel Country Racing
Carnival is on at present, with Betoota today, Birdsville next
week, and then Bedourie after that. We found a heap of caravans
parked around a racetrack, and discovered that was all that was
in the town. We watched one race, left, and ate our sandwich outside
the defunct hotel.
Our next destination was Cuppa Creek, but not before stopping
to have a look at Lake Moonda, which lay to the south, appeared
to have water, but no means of approaching it. You don't try cross
country when there has been this much rain out here. And so Cuppa
Creek arrived, and we chose not to utilise the rest area proper
after last nights truck experience, and instead found a nice little
spot down by the creek, which we are cuirrently sharing with the
entire worlds fly population........…
Bugger, we have a problem. We drove out towards Big Red, apparently
Australias biggest sand dune, and when I went to put the hubs
in, the LHS hub was really hot. And so we abandonded the trip,
and headed back to Birdsville. The brakes have been spongy for
a couple of days, and this could be related. The mechanic starts
at 8am in the morning.
Oh yeah, where are we - we are at Birdsville........ more of that
We climbed out of bed to find the birds weren't as friendly this
morning, and so we packed up and left Cuppa Creek. Not long, and
we were into sand dune country, as the Stoney Desert started to
switch toward what would be expected in the Simpson Desert, just
a few Kilomtres down the road. We had checked Telstras coverage
area, and Birdsville didn't rate a mention, so imagine our surprise
as the phone beeped at me as we crested a Sand Dune about 20kms
out of town. We rolled into Birdsville, and headed straight for
the bakery, and let me tell you, masterchef they ain't. This was
confirmed by a guy following the races as a trader, who had been
coming out here for 20 years, so it wasn't just us.
A visit to the information centre, a hot shower at the caravan
park, and we decided that we would do the town tour mid week.
Our plan was to go out to Big Red, and then on to Poeppel Corner,
the corner peg of Qld, SA and NT. This is 170-kms out in the Simpson
Desert, and so we didn't expect to get back for about 3 days.......
then the wheel problem.
On returning to town, we established that the mechanic was on
tomorrow, and so we came down to the lagoon that skirts the town,
to set up for the night, and then a wander down along the banks
filming and photographing the birdlife.
The plan is to be at the mechanic at 7.45am tomorrow, to try and
get first dibs ..... let's see what happens.
Not a lot to tell really. Parked outside the mechanics door at
7.40am, told him what the problem was, and then walked back to
camp. Final analysys was, LHF Wheel Bearing stuffed, CV joints
needed to be cleaned out, and my front diif had water in it, probably
from the Telegraph track. All up with parts, labour and oil change
- $900. Ouch. still, it could have been a lot worse - we could
have had a wheel fall off in the Simpson Desert - not recommended.
31.8.10 We slowly got ourselves organised this morning, packed
up, and left the site at about 9.50am. We wandered into town,
had a look at the Birdsville Working Museum - one of the best
I have seen - then a drink in the Birdsville Pub, Fuel, one last
check of the net, and we departed once again for the Simpson Desert.
We found ourselves on the opposite side of a lake to Big Red,
watched a couple of guys having a go at it from our vantage point,
worked how to get around to it, and decided we will have a look
at it on our way back. And so we turned around, dropped the tyre
pressure to 16psi, immediately over a huge sandhill, and we were
on our way to Poeppel Corner. At about 4.30, we found a spot to
camp for the night. We reviewed the days bird photo catch, andsettled
down for the night. We have about 115kms tomorrow to reach our
destination, and at the moment, it's all sandhill country....
Looking forward to it.
TRIP VIDEOS 2010
Desert In Bloom
- North Queensland
Telegraph Track - Qld
Hwy - Qld
Gulflander - Normanton - Qld
War Memorial - NSW
O Bourke Hotel - before the fire
The Ant Ordeal - Bourke
Moffat - Top Shelter Shed - Carnarvon NP
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love to hear from you
more photos, visit Lesley's site. Queensland,