Our time in Weipa was up, and after packing up the van, we left
the town that had been our homebase for the past three weeks,
and headed back down the Peninsula Development road to Archer
River where we would spend the night, before leaving the van to
travel to Portland Road and Chilli Beach tomorrow.
We had arranged to leave the caravan at the Archer River camp
ground, while we travelled to Portland Roads/Chilli Beach. This
meant travelling back up the Peninsula Development Road about
38kms, where we turned off and headed for the coast. The road
undulated through a myriad of rivers and creeks, crossing the
Wenlock, Pascoe and Brownm Rivers in the meantime. Whilst there
was water in the rivers, none were difficult crossings. We filmed
the Wenlock Crossing, deciding to film the other crossings on
our return. I had decided that I would be putting a documentary
together on our Cape York experience and so the external car shots
were necessary. The road wound it's way through the Iron Range,
passing the Lockhart River turnoff, before arriving at the camp
ground at Chilli Beach. We selected our camp spot, set up the
tent, to secure it, and then drove around to Portland Road. This
was Set up in the 1930s, as a landing place for supplies for the
Gold and Iron that had been discovered in the Iron ranges. When
japan entered the WWII, the Gordon Airstrip was set up, and gun
emplacements setup on the headland. These days, the 250m jetty
that was constructed in 1938 has gone (1970), and all the interconnecting
roads have returned to nature. During the 1960s, a simulated Atomic
Bomb Test was conducted in the forest around Iron Range, when
tonnes of TNT were placed on a tower and detonated.
Today, Portland Roads is a sleepy little beachside hamlet with
just a few locals who consider this place Utopia, and a wonderful
Cafe that overlooks the bay.
We headed back to Chilli Beach to await the arrival of some friends
who had experienced overheating problems, and were having the
water pump and fan clutch replaced this morning in Weipa. However
by 7pm, with no word from them, we assumed that something hadn't
gone to plan, and they wouldn't be arriving tonight. And so we
sat in our camp, about 80m from the ocean, and protected from
a howling Easterly by the trees, before retiring for the night.
We awoke to find that the trees had protected us from the wind
that had blown all night, had breakfast, packed the car, hit the
ignition............. nothing.......... A dead ignition sistem
was not what I wanted at that time (or any other for that matter).
Fortunately a group of campers next to us had some knowledge of
these things, and we managed to get the old girl started. And
so we set sail for Lockhart River Community, and the Gordon Airfield,
which was an Australian/American Airbase during WWII. Two Liberator
Bombers crashed on taleoff on bombing missions in 1942 (November
and December), and a Commercial flight from Bamega to Cairns crashed
in the area in 2005. We drove through the community to Quintelle
Beach, which features a number of Granite Rocks just off the shore.
(See photos). We then decided to film the vehicle travelling thru
some of the river crossings as we returned to the main road, including
The Pascoe River, which is wide and flowing, although at this
time of the year not overly deep. We set up the shot, and I drove
across the river, turned around, and prepared to do the "Video
Shoot", when a party of 7 vehicles arrived on the side of
the river where the camera was. There hadn't been a car in sight
for ages. So I waited for the group to pass, and as I started
to do my thing, a Water Truck working on this section of road
appeared behind me. And so I waved him through, and WTF, another
couple of cars arrived behind the truck. At this point, I could
see us still being here in a couple of hours, and so I followed
the truck down to the riv er. In the meantime, Lesley had no idea
as to what was happening, and so filmed everything that happened.
It so happened, one of the vehicles was our friends from Weipa
who had a few problems getting their vehicle fixed yesterday,
and so were travelling a day later than planned. We at least knew
what had happened, and that they were safe.
We continued our journey onto Archer River, and after turning
the engine off for the first time that day, settled back into
the van for the evening.
We arose to a morning that was trying to make up its mind whether
or not to rain. I held my breath as I turned the key and breathed
a sigh of relief as the battery cranked and the engine burst into
life. We sourced a bolt to secure the battery to the battery case,
and then headed south towards our destrination at Moreton Telegraph
Station. It started raining as we approached Coen (which had signal),
and after checking Emails, Facebook, and receiving birthday greetings
from messagebank, we drove out the southern end of town, and hadn't
gone more than a few kilometres when we wondered whether we had
done the right thing. There had obviously been a lot more rain
than we had realised, and we we found ourselves on a very greasy,
sloppy road. And because we had a 30' caravan behind us, it wasn't
an option to try and turn around on a road that didn't allow that
option. A motorist travelling in the other direction assured us
that this was the worst bit of road, and the conditions would
improve soon. Thankfully, he was right, and it wasn't too long
before we once again saw a plume of dust billowing behind us.
We arrived at Moreton, refuelled, and then diverted into the Lakefield
National Park, taking a detour on our return to Cooktown. We reached
Saltwater Creek Crossing at 4pm, set up the dish, and I settled
down to watch the NASCAR race from the weekend ........ Priorities
....... and Lesley had a nana nap...... and that's the way life
The sun was shining, and the sky was blue this morning... we'd
almost forgotten what it looked like. A quick breakfast, pack
the van, a photo jaunt for Lesley, and I tentatively turned the
key, and the motor roared into life... We set the video camera
up, and I took car and van back across the river, turned it around,
and then drove back for the video capture.... this time with no
interruptions from other motorists. This was a dry creek crossing,
but very picturesque. On the road, a couple more creek crossings
and film shoots, and we found the Red Lily Lagoon which kept us
enthralled with the birds and the vegetation, and then a couple
of kms down the road was the Water Lily Lagoon. By now, the road
was starting to get rough, and the corrugations beyond a joke.
We eventually left the park, and found ourselves winding our way
through the Battle Camp Range, and then into the Great Dividing
Range surrounding Cooktown. At last. a decent road, a great view,
and a couple more creek crossings, and finally, Cooktown, and
an opportunity to catch up with emails, phone messages and Facebook
The fridge is dead ....... again ......... 11 months ago, the
fridge expelled its gas after travelling on a rough road. Yesterday,
we travelled on the worst road we have been on this trip (and
we have done around 5000 kms on dirt) and the fridge died ........
So much for 3 way fridges, this one is going, and it's being replaced
by a 2 way.......... Thank goodness for the Engel. We ran it on
12v today in the van, and it way outperformed the 3 way on 12v.
It's a compressor fridge as opposed to the Element system on the
3 way, which chews electricity like the cookie monster chews cookies
..... or something like that. Compressor fridges are very economical
..... How do I know all this, because I read it on the net .....
:-) After chasing advice from some experts in the field, we packed
up and departed Cooktown about 11am. It was a beautiful day, and
an absolute joy to watch the amazing countryside that surrounds
Cooktown unfold before us, bathed in brilliant sunshine. And then
we reached the Mount Carbine Hotel, and we figured we deserved
a Lemon, Lime and Bitters. The owner has just moved back in after
having the pub under a manager, and was explaining how the grass
had died around the pub. And so I jokingly said that we could
top dress the lawn with the mud we had picked up off the road
at Coen, and he jumped at it, told us to grab the hose, and we
were free to wash the car and van on this patch of dying lawn.
And so we did. The van gleamed, the car shone, and I was drenched.
Lesley insisted on following where I was washing the vehicles
down with a broom, and rinsing as I tried to wash. The end result
was that we had unexpectedly washed the monster and the tug, and
it had cost us nothing. After another drink, we hopped back on
the road, and found a camp spot, set up the dish, and settled
down to watch Hey Hey It's ........ State of Origin Rugby ???
..... Bugger, oh well, Hey Hey is on at 10.30, and I do believe
that Hayden Meggitt just might be playing drums with Ross Wilson
on the show. Gotta watch just in case ........
To Cooktown Pics
We awoke to find that the truck stop we had used overnight, was
indeed a lookout point for Lighthouse Mountain. This is a huge
hill, with a rock standing on top of it which looks uncannily
like a lighthouse ..... funny that. We packed up, and 8kms further
on at Mount Molloy, passed a rest area/campsite with something
like 40-50 vans parked in it. We have used the Camps Australia
5 book on occasion, and generally found that the sites are fairly
well packed (usually by mid afternoon), and that isn't why we
are on the road. We are here to get away from the crush, not be
part of another one. So far, it hasn't taken us long to find an
alternative quieter site to park up.
I noticed a sign on the edge of the road pointing to the Mareeba
Wetlands, and so, as is my want, we turned in and dragged our
house down this narrow road to the wetlands carpark. we entered
their impressive reception area, which looks out over the lagoon,
and were invited to use their telescope if we required. Because
of the wet and the subsequent drenching in the centre of Oz, most
of the birds had gone. But lesley DID get to see her first Jabiru.
We hit Mareeba, and after enquiring at the information centre
and inspecting their excellent museum, we headed out to the rodeo
ground to park up with would you believe, about 170 vans. After
my previous comments, you would think that I am contradicting
myself, but we were going to be here for a few days, and the choice
was tow the van, or commute FROM the van. You can't just leave
a van at a roadside camp and expect it to be there when you get
back. We got a good spot away from everyone, and set up. The amazing
thing is the number of vans, RVs and camper trailers on the roads
up here. I noticed the same thing a few years ago on my NT Trip.
Now there is a rodeo coming up next weekend, and could explain
some of the numbers here, but Lesley (the caretaker) told us that
they are handling nearly double the number of vans compared to
last year. Maybe the recession has something to do with it, or
maybe us babyboomers are all hitting the road together.
Tomorrow there are markets, and when we set out on this trip,
we had decide where possible, to do the markets and hopefully
flog a few DVDs. It seems the markets are either 1 a year, or
at times that that didn't coincide with our itinery. And so now,
I had to improvise on cover (we couldn't work out of the back
of the car - no room) and get flyers printed. One of the tarps
in the car was dragged out, and a test build was done at the caravan
park. I needed a couple more tent pegs and guy ropes, which I
purchased, and by nightfall, we were ready to go. Early night,
up at 5 in the morning.
Bloody hell, is that the time already? We dragged ourselves out
of bed, one last check to make sure we had what we needed, and
down to the market ground. The tarp was erected, (and stayed up
to my surprise), and the tables, DVD covers and stock set out,
and the demos set running on the computer. We didn't sell anything
at the time, but did talk to some interesting people, and I met
some friends of one of my customers from Young in NSW. Also met
Mike, a guy who weas looking for instruction on how to use his
GPS. As he had a Magellan Explorist, I felt that I could be of
some help, and offered to help him on Tuesday. He told me to bring
the DVDs with me, (and subsequently purchased the whole set).
The markets over and done with, we packed up headed back home,
to meet up with David and Susan who came up from Cairns for a
visit. They had done the Bloomfield Track with their camper van,
and we yarned about our experiences since we had last seen them.
Lesley has a girlfriend at Irvinebank, and so we decided to go
out and see her, and look at the unique wooden dam in the townsite.
On ringing up, we found that her friend was in Melbourne with
her sick mother, but her partner insisted we come out anyway.
I have developed a little saying which emanated from this trip.
Roads on the map are rarely like roads on the road. The road on
the map is marked as all the roads in the area are marked, but
it varied between bitumen and dirt, but in a unique way. We found
ourselves travelling through some lovely hilly country before
suddenly finding ourselves in this lovely little town in the back
woods. It's an old tin mining area, and the quirkiness of these
types of towns remains.
We met Alan, and spent some time talking to him as his back yard
was inundated with birds. Then down to the pub for a counter lunch,
more birds, and a discussion with a tour operator/wildlife photographer
who had the same camera as Lesley.
Then a look at the towns museum, before returning via Watsonville,
which has a windmill sitting in the middle of the road. This windmill
came to Irvinebank from the US in about 1919, before being moved
to Watsonville in 1930.
Today, I had more battery trouble, and so I found the local Auto
Electrician, who discovered that the Redarc unit in the car was
faulty, apart from not earthing, which meant that the auxilliary
battery wasn't working when the cranking battery was flat. He
also determined that the Main battery was indeed faulty. Hopefully
tomorrow, I can find a Bosch battery stockist, as there are none
it appears in Mareeba.
Other than that regrouping, and getting ready for tomorrows happening.
We were finally about to depart from Mareeba, but not before driving
about 20kms toward Dimbulah to give some instruction to Mike on
how to use his GPS and Associated Magellan Software. I had parked
the van next to the caretakers bus, where caretaker Lesley applied
the sign writing she had done for me to the caravan. So, on our
return to Mareeba, we called in picked up the van, and wound our
way down to Cairns, where the fridge was to be repaired tomorrow.
As we had done when we had the van serviced and a few repairs
done some weeks ago, we sussed out where the van needed to be
tomorrow, and noted that we could probably get away with parking
it outside the shop overnight. And so after heading down to our
favourite Charcoal Chook place, and grabbing some tea, we dragged
the van back to our intended camp spot outside the shop at about
6.30pm, set up the generator, ate tea, watched telly, turned off
the genny and not having had our evening interupted by the local
sheriff, retired for the night. Now this place is right by the
airport, and on the main drag (Captain Cook Hwy), so the noise
from passing traffic both on the road and in the air was going
to make the night an interesting one..
We woke up to find that we hadn't been arrested for illegally
spending the night in a shopping centre parking area. And the
air traffic had died down about 10pm, and resumed about 6am. There
was a knock on the door at 7.30, and our fridge mechanic stuck
his head in the door and advised us that he was ready to get started
whenever we were. We weren't due in until 9.30, so it was a win-win
situation, as he had sick kids at home, and could probably knock
off early to look after them. We then headed back down to Gordonvale,
where we had another of their delicious pies, and then found ourselves
wandering out along a road to the Goldsborough Valley. Eventually,
we found ourselves deep in the forest at a National Park camp
ground. It was a most unexpected terminus to our journey into
the park, and very nice. Back to Cairns, the phone was dead, the
charger was in the van, and I was expecting a couple of phone
calls. We arrived back at the caravan, to find that the job had
been completed. And so, having no further business in Cairns,
we hooked, up headed back up the steep winding incline to Kuranda,
and then on towards Mareeba. When we reached the turnoff, we decided
to turn south, and drove to a freecamp site we had spotted a few
days earlier. It is set up as a war memorial in one part, and
a camp ground in the other. During WWII, the Tablelands were host
to hundreds of thousands of Australian Troops, and this was one
of the camp areas.
We took a run into Mareeba, and I had a look through the Warbirds
Museum. As the name suggests, this is a museum for old planes
used in this case during WWII. It is run by volunteers, many of
whom either flew or worked on these old girls during the conflict.
Some of the planes are actually used for customer flights. With
a show of some sort coming up this weekend, a couple of the "birds"
were being serviced. The museum is totally different to Oakey,
where the planes are housed in a large building and displayed
as such. This place is more hands on, and the effort seems to
go into the hardware, rather than the presentation if you get
my drift. I also decided that it was pointless having a TV in
the bedroom that could run on 12v, and need to turn on the power
sucking inverter to watch it using 240v. And so I purchased a
12v car plug, which the shop keeper told me "might be a bit
light, but give it a go, and if it doesn't work, we'll make one
up". Well naturally, it didn't work. Ok, back to Mareeba
tomorrow. I had also chased down a Bosch Battery distributor,
who could swap my dodgy battery over in Atherton. And so with
that little job done, we were starting to get back on track. Wednesday
night, time for Hey Hey ...............
16.7.10 Finally got the 12v cable for the bedroom TV sorted
today, and a new base rod for the UHF antenna. It had snapped
off back near Gregory Downs Station back in May, and I hadn't
found a stockist who could help me. And using the shortened remains
of the old one certainly affected the tuning and consequently
the reception, of the unit. We then took a run down to Hasties
Swamp near Atherton, where sadly, the abundance of birdlife wasn't
very abundant. Then on the Lake Tinaroo, which is another dam,
before returning to camp via a lovely little village called Kairi.
I could almost live there. The Tablelands are just beautiful.
And surtrounded by hills, as it is nestled in the Great Dividing
Range. Then, back to editing the "Tip" video. Now down
to 8 hrs of footage to plough through. And I have 22 mins done,
and I haven't reached Weipa. This is going to be the most difficult
project so far I feel.........
17.7.10 Very low key day today. Did a couple of routine
chores, and then hooked up and shifted across to Kairi. We were
only allowed to stay at the Memorial Rest Area for 72 hrs, and
our time was up. We had seen the Lions Rest Area at Kairi yesterday,
and as we needed water as well, decided that was to be our home
tonight. The weather is starting to turn on us, and so we set
up the computers, and I started to sink into the job of editing
my "Tip" footage. I get the feeling this is going to
be a 2 hr DVD somehow. I am 45 mins in so far, and we have only
just started the Telegraph Track. Maybe some of the side trips
will command their own release. Decisions, decisions...... still
a long way to go yet. Depends how ruthless I have to get..........
What a miserable bloody day....... This is not Queensland weather
........ Beautiful One Day, Perfect the next ............ Bulldust.
Except for a couple of days, we haven't got even close to that
since we left the Gulf Country. There is some absolutely gorgeous
country up here, but the cameras don't reflect that when the light
is not good, or the conditions are cloudy and windy and all that
Today we shifted (eventually) from Kairi, and wondered almost
immediately if we had done the right thing. It had been threatening
to rain all night, and I figured that it was about to turn. Fifteen
minutes into the drive, and it started to drizzle, and it basically
didn't let up all day. Waterfalls that we wanted to visit and
walks that were planned (if you believe that) were shelved, as
we nudged our way down through Malanda, Yungaburra, Milla Milla
and finally we found ourselves in Innesfail. We had crossed the
Great Dividing Range, and were on the coast. Apart from lunch
at Yungaburra, and a stop at the Curtain Fig Tree, we had done
and seen nothing, except misty, foggy rain and drive aimlessly
looking for somewhere to camp the night. The scenery is beautiful,
but the wall of mist prevented us from enjoying it.
The forecast for today was Isolated Showers..... Well they got
the showers bit right........ and it's the same for tomorrow.
Let's hope they get it all right, or all wrong and we have a fine
day ......... Good night
Well, the sun is ........ above the clouds somewhere, but it promised
to be a reasonable day, and so we headed north towards Babinda
to have a look at The Boulders. Naturally, got waylayed by a sign
pointing to Josephine Falls, which tumbles down the side of Bartle
Frere, Qlds highest mountain. A 700m walk up a paved pathway,
and the walk was worth it (see video "Waterfalls") Babinda
receives on average 5m (that's 5 METRES) of rain a year, and the
hill gets probably double that, so it's not hard to imagine (well
it is really, I guess) the torrent that roars down this waterway
in the wet season.
And so on to Babinda, where we grabbed some lunch, noting on the
wall of one building, a rain gauge, which tells of the amount
of rain that's fallen in the town during the year. It reached
6 Metres in 1981. That's a lot of water. Then on to The Boulders
NP. As we approached the park, in the distance, a waterfall could
be seen tumbling down the hill, which was Babinda Falls, reachable
only by walking trail. Arriving at the carpark, we walked the
track down to the Boulders Gorge, and were confronted with Huge
Rocks in the river that would have stood 3-6 metres tall. We then
walked back to Devils Pool, which precedes the Boulders, and found
an inocuous looking pool with a torrent of water swirling through
the rocks and over a waterfall, which unfortunately is hidden
from view from the viewing platform by trees. It beats me why
authorities go to the trouble of building these things, and then
allow the view to be obliterated - I know it has to do with conservation
blah blah blah.......... Back at the pool, swimmers could be fooled
into thinking that the water is safe, only to find themselves
sucked into the tow, and GONE. At least 17 People have died in
these waters over the years. Finally, back to Babinda, (which
incidentally calls itself the Umbrella Town) and the freecamp
site where we intended to spend the night.
Another early start as we hit the road for a little town a few
kilometres up the road called Deeral, where we would head for
the boatramp, and join Mark for a guided tour up the Mulgrave
River to hopefully have a look at the abundance of wildlife that
lives there. Friends had done the trip a couple of days earlier
in the pouring rain, and had raved about how good it was. So we
had a perfect day, and as is mother natures way, the wildlife
took the day off. Despite that, we still managed to see a small
Croc (about 1.5m) and a much larger specimen (about 4m) sunning
themselves on the banks, plus a spider city (a continuous web
in the top of the bushes along the river), Azure Kingfishers,
Cannonball Trees (Where the fruit resembles a cannonball, and
was so named by Captain Cook - The irony is, as these fruits ripen,
they explode), and various other tree and shrub species and the
usual Egret. It was a most pleasant experience, and is recommended.
Then back to Innesfail, to do some business, before returning
to Fred Drew Park where we found a spot to camp for the night.
It started out being a sunny day. The sound of a screaming 4 stroke
motor dragged us out of the van to see a Motorised Hang glider
sailing overhead. We had decided that we would stay the day and
catch up on some editing, and when we looked outside an hour or
so later, it was drizzling, and so the day became another miserable
day. And more of the same is forecast for the area for the next
4 days. So tomorrow, we are out of here. Mind you, you are only
supposed to stay here for 24 hours, and we've done 48, so, time
Thursday Report - We got out of Innesfail and headed south, calling
into Etty beach, Mourilyan Harbour, Cowley Beach, Kurrimine Beach
and Mission Beach, before doing some food shopping and then finding
a campspot on a disused piece of the old Bruce Hwy a few kms south
of Tully. We have been looking for cassowary's, which have been
elusive - I don't think they really exist.......... Currently,
things are a bit mundane, but that doesn't mean boring. This is
cane growing country, and the farmers are cutting and carting
cane, and the little railways are in full swing, with cane trains
taking the crop to the sugar mills, and then to the port for export
Today, we went back to Tully which averages 4.5 metres of rain
a year. Replaced the UHF antenna that some scumbag stole in Innesfail,
serviced the car, and finally headed out to Hull Head and Tully
Head, before making camp on another piece of disused old Bruce
Hwy..... and then it started raining - looks like we are going
to have this for the next week.
We left our little spot on the old Bruce Hwy remains, and headed
for Lucinda. This little town is the shipping port for our sugar
pulp, and boasts the longest jetty in Australia, some 5.7 kms
in length. Halifax is the main town in the area, and altho not
large, does boast 2 pubs. We called into Forrest Beach, stopped
at Victoria Plantation where there is a sugar mill, before continuing
into Ingham. It was getting late, and so we headed to Francis
Creek rest Area to spend the night.
We decided to get an early start, and visit the Tyto Swamp, where
apparently there is tons of bird and animal life. It seems that
9am isn't early enough, as the birds and animals had largely left
for the day. It was still an interesting stroll through what we
thought was the swamp land, until we reached ..... you guessed
it, the swamp. Again, signage is not something that Northern Queenslanders
do well. We found a bird hide, and hid, and then after some time,
we left and headed back to the car. Our decision was aided by
the fact that the weather was again rather ordinary. We dined
at an exclusive restaurant (maccas) before towing the van back
to the rest stop we had occupied last night, and decided that
we would head out and tackle the Wallaman falls tomorrow. We had
been warned that the weather could preclude us from getting a
good look at the falls, but we think we will take a chance on
We dropped the caravan off at the Information Centre carpark in
Ingham, and took off for Wallaman Falls. 50 odd kms later, having
driven up a tall and winding narrow road, we arrived at the falls,
and listened to them ....... because we sure as hell couldn't
see them. We had driven through some heavy mist, fog or cloud,
and when we got to the lookout, that's what we saw - heavy mist,
fog, cloud ....... a white wall that sounded like a waterfall.
And so we travelled back down the narrow winding road, and turned
towards Mt Fox, which is reputedly an inactive volcano. can't
comment on that, cos I was driving up a tall and winding narrow
road, and when I got brave enough to take a look, I was looking
straight down a drop of some hundreds of feet. The scenery was
awesome ..... apparently. Before long, the GPS told me we were
at Mt Fox, which was good, because there was no signage to tell
me that. We arrived at a turnoff that indicated that if we wanted
to go to Hidden Valley (which we did), then we should go that
way. The road was a dirt road running around 800m above sea level
through forest country, that hosted a large python which we found
crossing the road - well we thought it was. we snuck back with
cameras to photograph it, to discover that it was probably dead.
We didn't get close enough to test the theory. Onward to Hidden
Valley, which is an important destination if you are travelling
this road to Paluma, which we were. Finally we arrived at this
beautiful quaint little town high in the hills aty 3pm, which
was good, because we had been on the road and nowhere near a food
shop since 10.30, and we hadn't taken the precaution of packing
lunch. And so at 3pm, we sat down to an all day breakfast in the
Then it was time to start back to Ingham, which meant continuing
down the hill to the highway. This involved travelling down a
winding narrow road which hugged the edge of the mountain, with
the drop on Lesley's side of the car this time. About halfway
down, we stopped at a bridge which was built in 1931-2, The bridge
is a stone arch bridge, and looks like it was built 3-400 years
earlier. We then continued on down the Mt Spec range with enormous
drops on the side (people who have travelled in Switzerland, and
NZ will probably call us wooses, but we dont care - it was scary
for (one) of us. Finally, we hit the main road, back into town,
picked up the van, and back to our camping spot for the night.
Was a good day and nearly 300kms covered.
It was 7am as we sat talking to a friend of Lesleys. Ian had called
around to pay his (lack of) respects, dragging us out of a comfortable
sleep, by thumping on the door at 6.50am. A good half hour later
and we were still trying to wake up. Ian is an early nighter,
going to bed around 8pm, and rising about 5am, whilst we are night
people. It didn't seem as tho we had been in bed for long when
he came a'thumping ......er .......... a'knocking. It was great
to meet (on my behalf), and catch up (in Lesleys' case) with her
old mate, who lives in the near neighbourhood.
After he left, we packed up and left Francis Creek for the final
time, and we headed for Townsville. We wanted to have a look at
Charters Towers, but were advised against taking the van on our
proposed route, and so we drove into Townsville, had some lunch,
and headed west. We had decided to have a look at the inland town
first, and then return to Townsville. We called into a rest spot
at Macrossen Park, about 20kms from Charters Towers, and discovered
a rail bridge crossing the Burdekin that we thought worth photographing
and filming. We tossed up whether to make that our stop for the
night, but the time being just 2pm encouraged us to continue into
town to have a look, and we would find somewhere to stay as the
afternoon went on.
The town is a lovely collection of period buildings, and it is
refreshing that our older heritage is being maintained in country
Australia. They seem so keen to rip down the older buildings in
our cities, and replace them with buildings that are ugly and
totally lacking in soul. We are looking forward to going back
into town tomorrow, to spend a few hours exploring the place.
Tonight, we are parked on the side of the road just 6kms out of
town. It will be interesting to see if we get moved on as the
evening drags on.
Falls - Paluma Pics
For some reason, Charters Towers appears not to be recognised
by a lot of GPSs. instead, you need to enter one of the towns
suburbs to be recognised. Which amazes me, because Charters Towers
has been here since the mid 1800s. It appears that even Telstra
are guilty of not being aware of the towns existence.
Today, we went back into town, dropped the trailer off in a parking
area designated for caravans, and took a walk thru the town, photographing
the lovely old buildings in the town. This town recognizes that
caravanners exist, and has other areas dedicated to the parking
of same aound the town centre. It appears that along with pubs
in many other outback towns, that many of the pubs in the town
have been rebuilt after having been destroyed by fire on at least
Gold was discovered on Towers Hill in 1871, and by 1882, the population
reached 30,000 people. The population in 2006 was 7979. During
WWII, 30 bunkers were constructed around Towers Hill. these were
used for storing munitions, and all face in different directions,
so that if one exploded, it wouldn't set off the others.
The lookout on Towers Hill gives an excellent panaramic view of
the town and outlying district. It also has an auditorium built
in, where a film on the town called "Ghosts After Dark"
is screened nightly. Ghosts of characters of the towns history
tell the story of the districts past.
After dropping the generator in to be serviced, we took a run
out to Burdekin Weir, which is a very attractive recreation area
for the locals, allowing fishing, some boating (4hp max) and picnic
facilities. Despite No Entry signs every 6-7 metres on the fence,
there were still 2 clowns over the fence and fishing at the Weir
Then back to the cemetary, to witness the grave of James Kenniff.
You may remember (if you have been following this blog) that the
Kenniff Brothers murdered 2 men in 1902 in the Carnarvon NP area,
and that we passed the site of their capture just outside Mitchell.
Finding that one of the brothers was buried in Charters Towers
just finished the bushrangers journey for us.
Back to town, picked up the Generator, filled the van with water,
and back to our little camping spot from last night. Love Charters
Towers. Tomorrow, back to Townsville.
We left our campsite, having been joined by a recent model Landcruiser,
who parked about 100m away and camped for the night. The cheek
of it, camping within the city limits ....... just cos we'd done
it ..... hehehe.......
The sign said Ravenswood 40kms, and the tourist brochure said
this place was special, an old gold town, and the old buildings
were preserved in classic style. Well, what could we do, we turned
off the main highway, and cruised back in time. Looking at the
few buildings in town, and cruising around the residential area,
it was hard to imagine that this town of a few hundered people
once had 46 hotels, now only two.
The cemetery indicated how hard life had been, with the first
grave as you walk in the gate telling us that the mother died
in 1905 at age 63, and she lost three children in 13 months in
1875-6, the kiddys aged 11 months, 11 weeks and 3yrs 11 months.
Back in town, I tried to get a lady who owned an Austin A30 Countryman
to part with her car - not seriously, how could I, what would
I do with it - but this mint version was a copy of the second
car I ever owned, and which had some amazing memories for me.
We had lunch alfresco at the Imperial Hotel, before wandering
up to the Lookout, which overlooks the open cut gold mine which
keeps the town a living entity.
Curious about what "White Blow" might be, we continued
out the road to witness an amazing Quartz Outcrop, which it is
believed forced it's way through fissures in rock some 300 million
Then it was time to hit the road, and tonight, we are parked outside
an industrial site, whose walls are constructed from 44 gal drums,
about 50kms from Townsville.
We had a visit from the owner of the yard with the 44 gal drum
walls, politely requesting us to "tell you friends not to
camp here again". The discussion was amiable, and altho I
didn't bring up the subject, I figured that a simple No Camping
sign would deter most caravanners. Anyhow, we had packed up by
then, and were on our way back to Townsville.
We arrived in town, and chased up a couple of new covers for my
Lightforce Driving Lamps, before heading down the road to book
into a caravan park some 15kms out of town. We found ourselves
parked next to another couple from WA, and after a natter with
them, headed back into town, to have an elevated look at the place
from Mt Stuart. The lookout is some 600m above sea level, and
gives an incredible view over the town and surrounds. Unfortunately,
smog made the viewing a little more difficult than we would have
liked, but sensational, nevertheless. If the haze lifts tomorrow,
we might take another run back up there and have another look.
Also, it was late afternoon, and the sun in a different position
would make the view more interesting, I am sure.
We headed into town, and took a run up Castle Hill, which is situated
right in town, and has a great lookout which covers all of the
town area. Then back down to have a bit of a look at the town
before finding ourselves back at the park chilling out and getting
ready for our departure tomorrow..
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,