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WEIPA to TOWNSVILLE


2.7.10 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.

3.7.10 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.

4.7.10 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.

5.7.10 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 should be.....

6.7.10 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 friends.

7.7.10 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 ........

Weipa To Cooktown Pics

8.7.10 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.

9.7.10 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.

10.7.10 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.

11.7.10 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.

12.7.10 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.

13.7.10 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..

14.7.10 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.

15.7.10 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..........

Tablelands Pics

18.7.10 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 stuff..............
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

19.7.10 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.

20.7.10 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.

21.7.10 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 to move.

22.7.10 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 and shipping..

23.7.10 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.

24.7.10 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.

25.7.10 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 that tomorrow.

26.7.10 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 Paluma Pub.
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.

27.7.10 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.

Wallaman Falls - Paluma Pics

28.7.10 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 one occasion.
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 wall.
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.

Charters Towers Pics

29.7.10 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 years ago.
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.

Ravenswood Pics

30.7.10 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.

31.7.10 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..


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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