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Savannah Way 2013 Trip Diary - Part Six - The Return Home

Mareeba - Emerald (via Winton and Longreach)

DAY 110 30.9.13   DAY ONE OF THE RETURN TRIP.
Well, I eventually got myself organised, my trusty lieutenant having had to abandon ship, and got the caravan on after only three attempts - those reversing cameras really are no good in shadows for picking up things like towbars and the like - and the fact that it is offset because thatís the only place it could be fitted ........ just as well I have a system for lining up the car with the van with my mirrors, that usually gets me within a couple of metres if Iím straight LOL. Itís really not that bad, I promise. I can get pretty close ..... it would be easier if the Reversing Camera was better.

Left the Rodeo Ground at 10am, and wandered back through Ravenshoe, negotiating a few steep climbs on the way, peaking at 1146m. And as I travelled, I was thinking a bit about the highlights, and yep, the Atherton Tablelands do it for me. If you havenít done it, it is recommended as a must do for your bucket list.

I wound my way back to the Undarra turnoff (Gulf Development Road) and thus commenced the next part of the trip. This was new territory. Apart from an Australian Bustard crossing the road, the trip was pretty uneventful. There were plenty of potential camping spots, but a bit early in the day, and finally about 3.15, a spot on the side of the road about 16kms from the Lynd Junction on the Kennedy Hwy. And what could be better, put the antenna out and Iíve got signal.

I settled down and watched the NASCAR race, and set about preparing dinner. It wasnít as flash as Iíve been having, but it filled the hole. I cooked Breast Tenders (not so tender and a bit darkish on the outside when Iíd finished with them), some Vegetable Nuggets (same deal really) and frozen veges (now you canít do a lot to stuff them up in a microwave, can you ......... can you?)

Thereís a fair breeze blowing outside at the moment, and itís coming from where Iíve just come from. If that keeps up tomorrow, I just might hoist the spinnaker and save some gas .......... but it wonít . It was quite a mild day today, until I got out of the car ..... thank goodness I spent the money on the air con before I left home.

Now I wonder whatís on the DVR to look at tonight, or should I do more editing, or plan where Iím going tomorrow, barring interesting unplanned detours and stuff .........

DAY 111   1.10.13 I spent a bit of time doing some more editing, before pulling out of my camp spot for the night and headed down the road to The Lynd Roadhouse. It seems like I was lucky getting signal last night - it was dodgy at best, and I was assured that I wouldnít get any more until I reached Charters Towers.

I couldnít help noticing that I had a well formed ďrailway trackĒ running beside the road, over creeks, and thru cuttings in the hills - but there was no sign of the actual rails or sleepers. Was this a railway line that was never finished - surely they hadnít picked it all up - they just donít do that sort of thing from old railways Iíve seen elsewhere. I found a local at a truck stop, and he explained to me that a big nickel mine had closed 20 years ago, and they had indeed, taken up all the track ........ amazing.

The Gregory Development road is gradually being developed from a one lane road to a two lane road, and it was on one of the single lane sections that the strangest thing happened. I have a habit of slowing down almost to a stop and getting right off the road, so that oncoming traffic can stay on the bitumen and not throw rocks everywhere. The car coming towards me did much the same, and we were about 100m apart, when an Australian Bustard calmly stepped out and crossed the road between us ....... WTF?

Pulled through a little town called Greenvale - you wouldnít know it was there, except it had a roadhouse and a caravan park. The town is entered through a gateway, and the streets all wind around like our weirdly planned cities (Iím a straight roads and rectangles man - boring, I know) and the housing is neat and tidy .... definitely NOT what you expect in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, Fletchers Creek loomed up in the absence of suitable Gravel pits and metal dumps, and I pulled in around 3-ish, found a spot, and spent the next 3-4 hours editing, before watching the Senna movie I had recorded earlier.

No signal at Fletchers Creek, but you are getting this from Charters Towers, which was only a 43 km drive this morning (2/10/13).
I now need to decide whether I travel west, or continue south. Will let you know when I speak to you next time I have signal.

DAY 112   2.10.13   
I have a washing machine in the van, and somethings gone wrong - I think the brain has got a bit mixed up, or maybe a coin has got stuck in the drain pipe .... whatever, when you need a repair man, you can't get one until you get to Brisbane, or Bundaberg (that's where it was fixed last time). So I bought a new one, current state of the art - you know the type, 20 litre container with a screw on top - you fill it almost with water, add wool rinse, and chuck your clothes in and when you get to where you are going, you wring out the gear, and hang it on the line. Well, I left Charters Towers, and after much haggling with myself, and a couple of arguments later, I set sail for Hughenden. I didn't check the weather, but it's bound to be dodgy at this time of the year. Well I reached a freecamp site at about 1.30, put out the awning, got my hi-tech nylon rope line out, and hung the washing under the awning. An hour later, it's gone from wringing wet to dry. Brilliant.

It's now 4.26pm, and about an hour ago, I didn't like the look of the sky. I now have a thunderstorm over my head, and it's starting to rain. I must admit I felt that I was taking a chance on the weather by heading West again, but it's bloody wet down south as well. Now I haven't seen rain since we got that 100mm dumped on us back in June near Karratha. So I'm gonna go outside and have a look, and remind myself what it looks like.

I feel like I have achieved something, as I have managed to whittle the NT part of the trip to just under 2 hours. Can probably still be trimmed, but can now start some serious production.
I went to bed about 11.30 pm, and a message appeared on my phone - again on the fringe of coverage, and so out with the antenna this morning and plague my readers with more of my inane dribble. Have a great day.

DAY 113   3.10.13    Why do people have to park on top of you, and in so doing, innocently "invade" your space. I am parked up in a camping spot, and when I got here, others were parked over by a (dry) creek. Call me a slow learner if you will, but I have only discovered recently, that if you park East-west, you minimise the amount of direct sun hitting your caravan, and thus making it easier to keep cool-ish. And so I found a spot as close to East-West as I could, behind a building, and with some tree shade, and a good 60-70 metres away from the others. And so imagine my surprise when the next morning, when I go outside, and find plenty of room over yonder, and two caravans parked within 10 metres of me, and neither of them know each other either. Because I work on the road, I run a genset, and sometimes that runs into the night, and I am conscious of that, and so now I am intimidated into shutting down earlier than I want, because you have to be considerate to your neighbours......... PLEASE, give me room ........ RESPECT my space. If this place had been crowded when I got here, I wouldn't have stopped. They don't know that, but not everybody wants to live in a sardine can - that's why we are out here.
Rant over
Good morning everybody. Yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I have some signal (with an antenna), and used the day scouring through the net researching where we've filmed so that I can put a voice commentary to the DVD, and at least sound as though I know what I am talking about. And that really was about it. Today, I upsticks, and head towards Hughenden. I wonder what adventures we will come across today.

DAY 114 4.10.13    Whoo, what am I doing. I set up the dish for the first time since last weekend, and had a look at the weather...... Next week, maximums of 40+ ALL week.

I left my overnight stop and headed towards Hughenden. I enjoy travelling thru these areas of Queensland, and the day was quite pleasant outside the car ...... UNTIL I got to Hughenden - then it got decidedly warmer. I called into the Fossil and Visitor Centre, had a look at the dinosaur skeleton (casts, as the original bones would be too heavy to prop up apparently). There are some amazing fossilised relics there as well. It seems that millions of years ago, there was ocean between the Gulf and the bight, and that there was NO ICE IN Antarctica. It evolved over time, and we had nothing to do with it. So what makes us think that WE can do anything about reversing the trend (that hasnít happened in the past 15 or so years anyway). I always knew it was rubbish. Tax grab ........ . Anyway, back to the story, nobody really knows why or how dinosaurs became extinct but it happened over thousands of years ..........

This area is Dinosaur country, and between Hughenden, Richmond and Winton, they are all making their claim to fame ...... I even bought fuel today from Flintstone Roadhouse .... I donít think the fuel was THAT old.

The town is situated on the Flinders River, which is just a sand base at the moment. I was told I could get water from along the river, but the council had just dug up the pipes doing maintenance. I was assured that I could get water from the other end of the street near the toilets, but the tap was too far from the road, and everything was stained with a bore water type colour. I figured I had enough water for now.

And so out to Mount Walker. This is the lookout that is close to town. No caravans allowed, and so I dropped the hotel off at the gate, and altho the road is sealed, it winds, is narrow, and has a 16% gradient. Yep, definitely leave the van behind. On top of the hill, there are a number of lookout points, all with a bench to sit on whilst admiring the view, and all named according to the area you are looking over. The Sunset Lookout is obviously named and set up because ............... It is all well done.

The town is nice and neat, has a Muttaburrasaurus standing guard opposite the hotel in the main street, and is currently pushing a campaign to buy local. I noticed that many of the stores staff were wearing shirts that were designed with the message emblazoned on them, but with their company name on the pocket. Very nice.

Finally fuelled up, and out of town heading towards Richmond. There is a Rest Area 50km out, and that is where I am stopped tonight, and there is a strong signal here. It is still warm at 10.30 pm, and we are on a grassed plain with a breeze blowing.

Whereís that fan?

DAY 115 5.10.13    It was an early start to get to Richmond. It is Saturday, and it's a long weekend. I had been told about the lake as you enter town, but I was surprised to find a lake covered in small boats, and it was only just after 9am. A fellow traveller had told me yesterday that he was going to Richmond for a fishing competition. It seems that the man made lake has been well stocked with Red Claw yabbies, Barramundi, Sooty Grunter, sleepy cod, archer fish, forktail catfish, gulf grunter, and a number of other species.

I took some video, and then headed down to the Kronosaurus Korner. Richmond is one of the major centres for dinosaur discovery in Australia. I found out later, that one of the most complete dinosaur remains had been found on Marathon Station - just near where I had spent last night at the Marathon Rest Area. This Building is not only the Information Centre, it is also a well presented museum of dinosaur bones (or representations of same) and other fossil materials. It also has a fossil processing laboratory, which features a glass windo so that visitors can watch the technicians at work.

I spent a bit more time having a look around, and then set sail for Julia Creek. I had heard a number of things about the place, and having missed it (along with this entire stretch of highway) in 2010, I decided that it was worth a look. There is an RV friendly freecamp area provided on the edge of town around a spring fed lake. This attracts birds and animals to feed and swim. However today, there was a kangaroo lying beside the lake on the edge of the road, apparently soaking up the sun. However, as I moved slowly past it, it struggled to get up and move, and it was very obvious that it was badly injured. there were another three campers nearby, and nobody seemed too concerned. So I dropped the van, and headed back into town to see if I could find someone to attend to the situation. It was Saturday on a long weekend, and the information centre closes on weekends from October until next season, and the police station was the only option - and they were shut, but there was a phone number, and the policeman responded that he would go out and have a look. Unfortunately, he had no option but to do the obvious. It was upsetting. I couldn't understand that no-one else seemed concerned..

There was nothing much else to keep my interest, and so I again jumped in my car (now there's a song title), and once again headed out of town. I found a truck stop/rest area that I had to myself, and settled down for the night. It is extremely hot out here, and it was 39 in the van when I stopped. Thank goodness for air con and a generator.

DAY 116 6.10.13     I was on the road before 8am. I decided to get moving while it was relatively cool. I had a 66km trip into Cloncurry. The turnoff to Winton was 14 kms before Cloncurry, but I decided that I would prefer to have a full tank of juice, and so the detour was necessary.

I passed a loaded vehicle which had run off the road and collided with a tree, and it occurred to me that there could be someone in the vehicle - we usually just drive by, don't we. I turned the van around and went back, and thankfully, it was empty. There was plenty of claret around, but I got the feeling that the driver was probably ok.

And so, I turned the rig around again, and headed on into town.
My first objective after leaving Cloncurry, was to get to McKinlay. This town had parts of Crocodile Dundee filmed in it, and the Walkabout Creek Hotel is the centre piece of the town. I also just found out that the Buffalo from the movie (which I have been looking for all this trip) is actually stuffed and located in the Adelaide River Pub - and we stayed there for three nights..... there are downsides to being a non-drinker.

Then on to Kynuna. The Blue Heeler hotel is the towns only surving pub, and it was here that the Swagman and Trooper were said to have their last drinks, before the alleged jumbuck nicking accusations. Banjo Patterson is also reported to have drunk at the pub. A few miles out of town, is the Combo Waterhole, which is again believed to be the billabong referred to in the song "Waltzing Matilda". And so you can't just drive past and ignore these things, can you?

I bloody should have .......... Firstly, it is 8 kms in off the road and is part of the Diamantina River channel system. This means that you park up and have a 2.6km return walk to the billabong. That's no problem .... usually ...... it was 2pm in the afternoon, and it was around 36 degrees ........ and it felt a damn sight hotter than that when I got back. And was it worth it?
Let me say this, if you are in the area, do it, but NOT in October. And definitely in the cool of the day. It somehow seems tho, that everytime I get to where I wouldn't mind having a look, it's the middle of the day.
The waterhole had water in it, although not much, and I did startle some kangaroos who were having a drink.

And so I came out of the reserve at about 3 pm, and decided that I would stop at the next rest stop, which was 50km up the road. Queensland is currently doing a lot of roadwork in Western Qld, and the roads are a vast improvement over the old single lane highways. Now I don't know whether it IS because of the soil they are working on top off, but if I want a roller coaster road, I will go to a fun fair. Basically, despite all the road work going on, Queenslands roads out here are not good.

The legal speed limit on these roads is 110 kph, and I am not joking when I say I saw a number of cars leaping around over the humps and bumps in the road. Nine times World Rally Champ Sebastien Loeb would have been proud of their efforts. I have been sitting on about 70 kph, I'm not in a hurry, and I've been getting a fair workout just hanging onto the wheel. When I opened the caravan door, the DVR was on the floor, half the stuff in the caravan was thrown about the cabin, and a container of beetroot had upended itself in the fridge .......... and I was driving CAREFULLY and SLOWLY. Queensland, your roads are S.....

It's alright, I have regained my composure. It was 40 degrees inside the caravan, so I got the genny and a/c going first before repairing the damage. And I finally found out after 5 years where the people who had wired up my system had got it wrong ....... and I fixed that as well.

Tomorrow, Winton ........ and cooler temps ...... 39 instead of 40 ...............

DAY 117 7.10.13 Gee, I hope the weather forecast is right in one way, and hope they got it wrong in another. I mean they have forecast Sunny and 40 degrees for the next week up here, I hope they got the sunny bit right. The 40 degrees, I donít mind if itís 10 degrees cooler ......... You see, I pulled into Winton this morning, and am determined to spend a few days just sitting, waiting for the bank balance to catch up, if you get what I mean. Now there is a free camp area just out of town called the Long Waterhole, and anybody who has been here will be familiar with it .... except that there is not much water. Now that is not a problem, but where I am camped, which is close to trees but really not very shady, is in the middle of what would be a river if it flooded, and bloody boggy if it got wet. Reminds me of My sons experiences at Cave Hill in WA. The video is on YouTube, and Iíll relink it a bit later for those of you want a bit of a giggle - disastrous situations can have that effect in review. Tomorrow, i will go for a drive without the van, and see if I can find a more ďcomfortableĒ spot.

I woke up at my overnight stop, and had to wait for the NASCAR race I was recording, to end, so that I could pack up the dish and get moving. The drive into Winton was pleasant enough, passed a strange little set of hills called the Ayreshire Hills, even stranger saw a couple of sheep on the road - itís cattle country up here - and drove into town about 11.15. From my visit here in 2010, I thought that there was fresh water at the dump point, and I was right. So I filled up the van, and headed out here to the ďwaterholeĒ.

There were a heap of cattle gathered at the available water, and a half a dozen emus were having a stroll around the area as well. I had the place to myself - there was a 4wd towing a camper who had a quick look and turned and left - so I drove around until I found this spot. Did I say last night that it was to be cooler here today - 39 instead of 40 - well, officially, it reached 38.7, but I put my thermometer out under the awning at one point and registered 44. The a/c struggled to keep the van temp down to 32, so I shut up shop, and settled back and watched my NASCAR race.

Tonight it should be about 23 ......

DAY 118 8.10.13 Winton. There is a change to the conditions to camping at the rear of the North Gregory Hotel - it now costs $10 per night (to cover incidentals), no power, no water, no generators. I figure that it's not going to rain for a few days, so I might stay put in my riverbed ........

Also, there are two dump points. there is one on the corner of the Jundah Rd and Landsborough Hwy. Take no notice of your Hema Navigator, it's on the other side of the road in the big truck parking area. The other is at the other end of town by the Recreation Ground.

The camper trailer was back last night, and three vans who were obviously travelling together were camped up the top this morning. They weren't too worried about the lack of shade up there, and the fact that they have all gone this morning indicates that they were just travelling through.

Cooler day today, only 37.6. I opened up a few windows and stayed with the fan until about 2.30pm, and then I succumbed to the air con. What a softy. I wonít mention that I had a nanna nap for an hour during the day as well.

The rest of the day was spent researching the net for information about where Iíve been to put the commentary together. Iíve got to at least SOUND as though I know what I am talking about ....LOL.

Well, I have to decide before Friday whether Iím sticking around for a few more days, or hitting the road. Bathurst this weekend, and I want to be set up to just sit and watch ........ decisions, decisions........

DAY 119 9.10.13 What a day it has been, maybe I should have stayed in bed. I have to say, that my Inawise Tyre Pressure Monitoring System works, and was put to the test again today ....... but I am getting ahead of myself.
I woke up feeling that I really didnt want to sit around, and felt that today, I should move on. But before that, there were one or two chores to do.So I headed into town filled up the car. and noted that there was a really stiff headwind coming from the direction of Longreach. That wasn't promising.
And so I decided to call around and have another look at the Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum. It has grown some since I was here last, and now, I feel as though there is too much shoved in this big shelter that they have. But it is an impressive display, and I am sure would give the National Transport Museum in Alice a shake - I'd love to check that out for myself - not this trip though I don't think.
I travelled through Bladensburg National Park in 2010, but it being late in the day, we didn't go to the homestead, and so that was my next port of call. The road out there is dirt and in great nick, so imagine the shock when something went bang under the car, and I wondered what I had run over - I didn't see any rocks on the road - you know the sort - next thing, the TPMS started beeping in earnest at me, and so I pulled over before I did any damage to the tyre in question. It was the rear wheel, the one with the slow leak in Katherine, but this was no slow leak. It went down like a led zeppelin, and there was a nice cut in the tread thru which the air was escaping. There was nothing for it, change the wheel. The breeze was keeping a bit of lid on the temperature, altho that tends to bite about 2pm.
That done, I drove into the homestead, the wallabies parting like a crowd on the side of the track at a European World Rally Championship race. Dinkum, there were dozens of them, and they just stood in or by the road watching as I drove towards or past them. Apart from the homestead and it's surrounding outbuildings, there is also a shearing shed about 1.6kms from the house. That surprised me, as I thought that this was really cattle country. It seems that the last shearing took place in the early Nineties.
And so back to town to the tyre place. More bad news. There was a nasty cut right through the tyre, and it had nothing to do with the old slow leak. No s/hand tyres of this size - it's partner still had some life left in it, and so a new Bridgestone was fitted.........
I told you I should have stayed in bed ....... I was getting hungry, and decided to try out the local bakery. And so went in salivating for a pastie ....... and they didn't have any. I chose something else and then it got worse .... I decided that I would have an Apple Danish as well ..... Sorry, only Apricot Danish ............
That did it, I went to the local Spar Store, grabbed a few necessities, and headed back to the waterhole to pick up the van. By now it was 12.30, and I had to fight my way through the emus to get to the "hotel". There were about a dozen running around like headless ..... i was going to say chooks .... but these chooks had been on steroids. I have already had an emu run into me out of nowhere, and so I wasn't taking any chances with these blokes, and I was only doing a couple of kph.
Finally, rigged up, back into town, topped up with water, the breeze had dropped, and now sitting in a rest area 116 kms SE of Winton.
It's good to be back on the road again.

DAY 120 10.10.13 Russell Coight, am I racking up a heap of stories for you to use in your outback adventures...........

Today, I got locked in my van ..... well, I went into the van, the door swung shut behind me, and somehow it jammed, and it took some gentle persuasion to get it open ...... screwdriver, vicious kicking .... but I escaped. Then the bloody thing locked me out ........ I figured out that something had gone astray with the bottom lock thingo, and so grabbed a screwdriver, removed it, and all is cool ...... for now.

Then the ďscreamerĒ wouldnít work for some reason, to find the satellite. It relies on a small current from the Set Top Box to power it, and for some reason, it just wasnít happening. I shook the screwdriver at it, and it suddenly co-operated.

I had a pleasant trip into Longreach, and found a spot at the Riverview Freecamp area about 4kms out of town, dropped the van and headed into town for a look around. I like Longreach - we stayed here for a few days in 2010. I spies a Bakers .... aha, that pastie was looking good ...... until I got inside - no sorry, no pasties ......... I ended up trying a Chili Kangaroo Pie. It wasnít the same, but it filled the hole. A bit later doing a bog lap, I spied ANOTHER baker. Iíll try that one later.

And so, Iím all set up. TV works, Foxtel organised, Bathurst - here we come. I can stay for 4 days here at the Riverview camp site, and thatís perfect. Bathurst Fri, Sat and Sunday, and NASCAR Sunday as well. Move out on Monday .......... excellent. And Iíve got signal that works - phone AND internet.

DAY 121 11.10.13 It occurred to me that It had been about 8 weeks since I had had a blood test for my medication, and so that was something that needed to be done. It meant driving into town. Anyone who has stayed here at the Riverview Rest Area in Longreach will be aware of the size of the cleared area. So I was mildly surprised when I hopped in the car and waited while an Emu calmly walked across in front of me.

A couple of hours later, I was doing a few bog laps having a look at back streets and a general look at housing as you do, and found two emus walking across a front yard. It appears that they are not scarce around here.

I was also curious to see that most houses had evaporative air conditioners on their roofs, and so I naturally wondered if the summer season here was low humidity. However the girl who took my blood sample, assured me that it gets incredibly humid here, and that the air conditioners really are of little use in those conditions. Refrigerated is the answer, but I suspect expensive to run, and the evaporative would be great during the dry months.

I also went to the other bakery I mentioned last post, and YES, they had pasties...... It was ok, but I have had better ...... altogether now - Ohhhhh ....... maybe I am just too picky.

Then back home to watch the goings on at Bathurst. Itís interesting that after many years, the apprentice guys from TAFE stopped doing the rebuilding of wrecked cars a few years ago. There have been two major prangs so far, and the teams are working overtime to get the cars back on the track. In the past, the TAFE guys were very much involved, and would have given them valuable ďon the jobĒ training.

Itís on again tomorrow. But if you have been to Bathurst, or are travelling through, and you havenít taken a drive around Mount Panorama, it really is something you should do. The elevation is amazing - not apparent on TV - there are restaurants, great gardens, a playground, and magnificent views, and it is a public road. As you cruise around at 60kph, you do wonder how they AVERAGE over 160 kph on race day. I have posted a link to a video I took a couple of years ago elsewhere. It is also the site of The Australian Motor Racing Museum.

OK, I have NASCAR Qualifying to watch. Catch you tomorrow.

DAY122 12.10.13 I decided tonight, after watching most of the Bathurst happenings, that I would like Fish and Chips for tea, And so, I hopped in the car, and drove the 4kms into town, and proceeded to do bog laps, looking for a fish and chip shop. Longreach has a population of around 3000 people, and I figured that there just might be shop selling the type of fast food that I was craving. There are pubs, the RSL Club, apparently one of the roadhouses ďmightĒ have chips, but essentially, the only fast food place that services the town, is the local Eagle Boys Pizza joint. There is a Chinese next door, but that wasnít what I was looking for.

On talking to the owner, it appears that there have been 3 new food places start up in the past 6 months, but it will be interesting to see who is still there in 6 months time. Because I come from somewhere with fairly ďnormalĒ climate patterns, it is easy to forget that these places are seasonal. Once the wet sets in, no tourists, business ďdiesĒ until March-April the next year. It seems there have been 4 floods in the past 6 years here, but while the the water runs the riverbanks, it doesnít reach the town, and in many cases, the flood waters may have been caused by weather activity some hundred or so kms away, and not a skerrick near the town.

Drought is a major problem over here at the moment. A local farmer says that this last 15 months is the worst build up to a drought that he can remember.

Today went according to plan, with me locking myself away and watching the Bathurst telecast. Tomorrow is more of the same. And then Monday, I expect that I will be on the road again. In the meantime, I am pushing for a good result from Ford, and because of my DJR leanings, I am hoping that Stevie J does well in the Erebus AMG E63 Mercedes. Well done Ford, for committing yourself to another season of support.

DAY 123 13.10.13 Well, as you are well aware if you are a regular reader of this rubbish, today was the day that I had put to one side to watch Bathurst.

There were one or two distractions tho - firstly, we have been having a lot of wind gusts - one up to 50 knots, and the temp reached 39.9C. It could have reached 40 degrees.

And then it occurred to me that the fridge didnít appear to be cooling the food as it should be. Now there is a cooling fan installed behind the fridge, and this is controlled by a thermostat,........ I think. I heard it running the other day, and I have no idea whether it has been working today, but I decided to stick a thermometer inside the fridge..... 16 degrees. But the freezer seems to be working ok. And so I defrosted the fridge and tried again. On Gas - 16 degrees - on 240v - 26 degrees. The car fridge was brought into the van, frozen food in the freezer, and normal stuff in the car fridge. These 3 way fridges seem to struggle in hot temps, whilst the old Engel (a compressor fridge) is brilliant. Weíll see how we get on when we get to cooler weather. It doesnít seem that long ago that we had problems with some stuff freezing in the fridge part ..... something ainít right.

Bathurst finished, I went outside to save the awning, and the sky looks ordinary. A quick look at the local weather radar, and there is a chance of a thunderstorm, and plenty of dust blowing around tonight........ lovely.

Tomorrow, I hit the road again, heading towards Barcaldine, and then, who knows?

DAY 124 14.10.13 Did I mention dust last night? It was a stinker of a night early on, and the breeze was giving us a working out. So I put up the awning - didn't want to lose that again, but with a Genny, you can't run that all night, and so that meant sleeping with the windows open. It meant a cooler nights sleep, it also meant raiding the council yard for a front end loader to shift the dust that accumulated in the van overnight ....... welllll ......
But it was windy, and the van rocked and rolled for much of the night, and there sure was a heap of dirt in the caravan this morning. But the thunderstorm didn't eventuate. But now, with the car fridge, I needed a double cigarette adaptor, so that I could run the fan AND the fridge on 12v overnight. Called into our friendly electronics store, and he was closed for the next few days on personal business - he didn't sound too good when I was in there on Saturday....... why didn't I get the adapter then? - I didn't need it then. It was yesterday (Sunday) when I discovered the fridge problems .......
The other problem I had, was that the step kept blowing away ... I found it under the caravan on one occasion, and about 3 metres from the van on the OTHER side of the van on another. And yet surprisingly, despite the awning threatening to break it's moorings, and the caravan feeling like it was going to take off at any minute, the satellite dish didn't move.... I couldn't believe it.
This morning was as I mentioned before, cleanup time, before hooking up and moving out. Barcaldine was the first point of interest - we missed that in 2010. This town is credited (?) with the birth of the Labor Party I believe. It was the centre where in 1891, the great Shearers Strike took place, where the union and non union shearers conducted one of Australia's earliest and most important industrial disputes.
From Wikipedia - "The dispute was primarily between unionised and non-unionised wool workers. It resulted in the formation of large camps of striking workers, and minor instances of sabotage and violence on both sides. The strike was poorly timed, and when the union workers ran out of food, they were forced to come to terms. The outcome is credited as being one of the factors for the formation of the Australian Labor Party and the rise to power of a pro-Labor Party faction in the Australian Socialist League"
Also of importance in the town, is the "Tree Of Knowledge". The site of the 150-year-old, 10-metre Ghost Gum located in the centre of Barcaldine is a symbol of an important time in Australia's political development. It was used as the meeting place for shearers during their unsuccessful strike of 1891.
The Tree of Knowledge was included in the National Heritage List on 26 January 2006. In April 2006 it was poisoned and did not recover. It was felled on 29 July 2007 but the site remains and a replica of the tree stands in it's place.
I decided to duck out to Lloyd Jones Weir, with the thought I might camp there overnight. Unfortunately, the lack of rain has not helped the area, and although there is water in the creek, it is low and very dirty. The water doesn't quite make it to the weir wall. There was another camper there, but I had lunch and decided to move on.
About 45kms East of Barcaldine is a rest stop at a place called Alice - it's basically a railway siding and has a memorial to Danny Hannay - I have no idea who or why ......... anyhow, that's where I am tonight. Tomorrow, I continue towards Emerald, and I think I know where I am going after that ....... but then again .......

DAY 125 15.10.13 Danny Hannay was an engineer with Queensland Railways for 48 years, and had been responsible for the maintenance of most of the Railway Bridges in Qld. The memorial I spoke of last night was placed down by the bridge that crosses the Alice Creek, and has been named the Danny Hannay bridge in his honour. He was a Barcaldine son.
Just thought I'd mention that, cos there is nothing that I could find on the net, and I was ignorant last night .......... OK OK, that's enuff of the ignorant jokes ......

Today was another lovely day in central west of Qld. After having a look at the above mentioned bridge, I headed towardsthe next town on the map - a place called Jericho. Quaint little joint, some very interesting very old and abandoned houses and buildings. The Masonic Hall is made entirely of Corrugated Iron, but the front is painted to look like bricks. Anyone who has seen the house in Cue which is similar will know what I am talking about. There is a small block, a screen against the fence (roadside), a gate in the middle, and a number of poles with speakers attached to them - a Drive-in Theatre - the smallest one in the southern hemisphere I believe.
From the Barcaldine Council Website -
"It was built by Council and was opened on 26th July 1969 by H.G. Behan. The theatre holds 36 cars plus walk-ins and is perhaps the world's smallest, drive-in theatre. The Theatre still operates today and movies are held once a month by the Jericho State School."

Then on to Alpha ...... again, a small town, WITH a bakery It seems that floods hit the town every few years, the last big one was in 2010, when I think ALL of Queensland was under water, and the waters ran a metre deep through the town. The river had peaked at 3.08 metres. The record was back in 1990, when it peaked at 10.26 metres. Incidentally, Jericho also flooded at the same time...... and still they live on the banks of rivers, creeks, call them what you will.

It was interesting talking to one mature aged resident, who said that she had been lobbying for a freecamp spot in the town, but had been told that it couldn't be done. It was interesting to learn that one counciller was the local caravan park owner. It seems to me that all over the country, people get onto council to follow their own agenda, NOT for the community benefit.

Aha, what's this I see - hills, and I was in the Drummond Range. I love hilly undulating country, and this stretch of road didn't disappoint. I stopped at the lookout, where the air was pungent with the smell of smoke from fires that had been burning for a couple of weeks.

Bogantungan - an unfortunate name in some respects, but a town with a history. There are only three houses in the townsite, and a railway station that functions as a museum these days. It is listed as a campsite in Camps 5. It is hard to imagine that this place once had a population of some thousands with 30 hotels ...... back in the days when the railway was being built from Rockhampton. But it is noted maily these days as the site of one of Queenslands worst rail disasters. On 26 February 1960, The Midlander passenger train, heading east to Rockhampton, passed over the flooded Medway Creek, just west of the town. The bridge collapsed when the train was partly over, with a number of carriages dropping into the water. A total of 4 passengers and 3 crew were killed, with 43 injured.

And so tonight, I am parked up about 50 kms short of Emerald. It has been an interesting day ..... and a car has just pulled up in my metal dump........

It's another day tomorrow.

DAY 126 16.10.10 The car that pulled in last night cruised slowly past the van, and I guess checked that I wasn't some crazy. They pulled up just in front of my car, and I guess went to sleep. They were there when I went to bed, and were gone this morning. I guess some people do need the comfort of knowing others are around when you stop in a lonely area on the side of the road.

And so, I took my time this morning, before hitting the road about 9.30, and just a few kms down the road was the little town of Anakie. It's a a couple of kms in off the main road on the railway line. There is a big area on the corner of the highway which is set up as a rest area, but one doesn't know these things when stopping for the night. Our friends in the car would have seen it, I am sure, but decided to stop near my rig......... I assume, and one mustn't assume.

Anakie - is a cute little town, has a pub, caravan park, school, and you have to stop at the railway crossing to look for trains ....... except that you have to edge onto the track to see, because of the bougainvillea blocking your view down the line ........ the mind boggles. The road to Sapphire heads north from the turnoff on the highway, and the area is known as "The Gemfields", and fossicking areas are available to the public to go looking for Sapphires ....

Only another 44 kms, and I reached Emerald. I dropped the van at the Botanical Gardens park, and went shopping and refilled my gas cylinder. Then out with the awning, my state of the art nylon rope line was strung up, and my washing from my high tech washing machine (tub with screw on lid) was hung dripping wet on the line. A couple of hours later, dry as a bone. Brilliant.

Time for a haircut today and hopefully they'll let me stay another night. You can stay here for a total of 20 hours over a 4 week period. That means one night in a month I guess. We'll see if we get moved on ......

DAY 127 17.10.13 If you have watched the Blues Brothers Movie (and who hasn't), you will recall the scene where Jake and Elwood are sitting in the small bedsit with the trains going past every 15-20 secs. Well, that's what it sounds like sitting here in the caravan beside the bridge at the Botanical Gardens Rest Area in Emerald, except that it is trucks, and not trains. The train track is also along side of us, but only one train that I've seen so far.

I had my hair cut this morning, and I have to admit that I do look half presentable again - if you don't look below the neck that is. And I wondered whether I would be asked to move on, but I figured that I had made an appointment to see the doctor, to get an authorisation to have another blood test following up from last weeks little hiccup, and if I have to have that done tomorrow morning, then I have to stay here tonight ...... Don't I?

Meanwhile, I have been making myself busy doing more editing. It's not a small job, and is time consuming while you wait for the computer to do it's stuff. You see, I have a Macbook Pro, and I have it split so that it runs Mac OR Windows. And altho I have Final Cut Pro (Professional Video Editing Program), I've never really taken the time to learn it. And so I keep updating my Windows program that I have been using for years. The problem is, that altho I am putting ALL of my stuff on external drives, and just using the internal drive for programs, everytime Windows updates, it takes another chunk of my hard drive, and I'm running out of space .......... Stay with me here you PC people.

So I went to Google, and asked if I could delete old windows updates, and the short answer was no, HOWEVER, Microsoft have JUST released an update to it's cleanup tool, that allows you to clean out your system files safely. I ran it, and gained 5.6GB of hard drive. You need about 10% of your drive free for processing, and so now I have over 12 gb free.

See, you DO learn something new every day. Oh, you want to know how to do it? ....... Not telling ........ LOL.

Go to Start - All Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Disk Cleanup. It will calculate how much stuff you can potentially clean out, and there should be a window on the bottom left called "clean up system files". And that's the one you use. Before you do this, (and if it's not there) Update your windows files. If you have any doubts, get someone who understands these things to help you.....

Now how the heck did I get there. Oh yes, I am currently editing three DVDs, all part of the Savannah Way set that may not be ready until next year ...... but wow, when I look back at what we have packed in, it's hard to believe that we have done all that ...... and a whole lot more that there just wasn't room for. And of course it is ongoing, as I work my way ever so slowly home, filling up my hard drives with more video files.

And hey, another train just went past - that's two ...........

DAY 128 18.10.13 I was in a bit of a quandary this morning. I had to go and get my blood test taken, and then I was supposed to leave Emerald. However, a look at the radar showed some inclement weather down the road, not only that, but there was a warning about strong winds and large hail. I decided to stay put, and monitor the BOM site, and things werenít improving.

And itís been rather overcast here today as well. Maybe the season is finally starting to turn. Thereís bushfires in the area that Iím heading to, itís drought out to the West, and some areas are still experiencing flooding .......

As with a lot of you, I look after my mumís affairs, and it annoys me when an institution changes a perfectly good working website, and provides a website that you can occasionally log into, and then when you finally DO get to where you want to go, the link doesnít work, and the site logs you out, and you have to start all over again, but now, it WONíT let you back in ............ And the note on the front of the website tells you that they have fixed most of the problems and are working as quickly as they can thru the remainder ..... and the notice is a week old ....... Arrgggg ......... Ha, THAT cleared my throat.

2.37 pm, and the radar is not looking good. The storms look like they are coming, although we donít get mentioned in the warnings. Be nice if it stays that way.

7.58pm and all is looking good again. Tomorrow, back on the road again, and heading towards Roma, and more adventures to talk about.

 

Emerald - Sydney

 

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Updated 30.9.2013

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