West, Centre & Flinders – Days 61 to 68 – Homeward Bound

 

We stopped for lunch near a flowering gum tree

We stopped for lunch near a flowering gum treeWe gave ourselves an easy day on Saturday with only 137 kilometres to the steam museum town of Peterborough. This reasonably substantial town is on the main Sydney to Adelaide railway line, which is also the line on which ore mined in Broken Hill makes its way to the smelter at Port Pirie. Peterborough was a major rail town during the days of steam. It now uses its heritage as a tourist attraction.

The day had improved by the time we had booked into the Peterborough Caravan Park but a chilly night followed. Sunday morning was overcast, but as we made our way to Broken Hill the clouds made way for real warmth from the sun.

The restaurant building at the Miners' Memorial.

The restaurant building at the Miners’ Memorial.

We booked two nights at Broken Hill to allow for shopping for the final days to home but also to allow us to do the tourist thing. We drove to the Miners’ Memorial at the top of the huge mullock heap that separates the town from the mining area. We were disappointed to find the memorial buildings closed. The restaurant and adjoining gift shop that was so “in” when we were last there, seemed completely closed and the actual memorial building was closed for renovations as well.

Roadside flowers on the road to Silverton

Roadside flowers on the road to Silverton

After lunch we drove the 24 kilometres to the historic silver mining town of Silverton. Not much remains of the original town but most remaining buildings have been restored and “reading desk” type information signs provide details of restored buildings and some other features. The amount of vacant space between the remaining buildings and relics

With new owners the Silverton Coffee Shop may reopen.

With new owners the Silverton Coffee Shop may reopen.

indicate that it was a substantial town. A coffee shop, still operating on our last visit, is now closed, although the building has been sold. The pub seems to do a good trade and the Mad Max Museum continues to pull in devotees. There are also two or three artists who work from galleries in the town.

 

Silverton's Mad Max Museum

Silverton’s Mad Max Museum

The approach to the Day Dream Silver Mine passes the old smelter flue on the hilltop

The approach to the Day Dream Silver Mine passes the old smelter flue on the hilltop

This visit we did the side trip to the Day Dream Silver Mine, where I did the underground tour. The mine is about 15 kilometres off the Silverton Road. In its day the mine was a rich source of silver with its own smelter sighted on a neighboring hill top to take advantage of gravity to assist the smelting process. The tour visited points of interest on the surface before we donned hard hats with miner’s lights for the underground portion of the tour.

Mining equipment under ground. Visitors can stand at the drill and gain some idea of what it was like to work in the mine.

Mining equipment under ground. Visitors can stand at the drill and gain some idea of what it was like to work in the mine.

The mine was quite deep, descending four levels. There were only a few steps, as the tour followed the sloping shaft that had itself followed the ore body into the bowls of the earth. The irregularities of the floor provided for secure footing and stout hand rails had been installed.

 

 

A display of mining tools in an area where the roof is supported by local timber.

A display of mining tools in an area where the roof is supported by local timber.

Mining tools, both manual and mechanical, were on display in appropriate locations throughout the mine. The guide was an experienced miner with a real gift for telling the mining story. To hear it all right where the underground activity occurred made it all very real. We finished the visit with a mug of tea and fresh scones, baked on the premises.

This photo was taken from the moving vehicle. There were no shoulders on the road to pull over.

This photo was taken from the moving vehicle. There were no shoulders on the road to pull over.

Tuesday was about making distance in an attempt to avoid rain and strong head winds. Cobar, yet another mining town, was our stopover destination for Tuesday evening. The only town between Broken Hill and Cobar is Wilcannia, where we stopped for fuel. After leaving Wilcannia the elevated roadway runs for several kilometres over Darling River flood plains, before entering low hills.

Massed floral displays between Bourke & Cunnamulla

Massed floral displays between Bourke & Cunnamulla

Generally the terrain is flat with only modest hills to provide some variety. Recent rain is evident from water lying beside the road and the abundance of greenery. And wild flower! The sides of the road were covered in masses of purple blooms. The purple is frequently interspersed with a variety of smaller flowers. Periodically the pastures are covered with masses of yellow and white. While watching such natural beauty, the kilometres and hours passed relatively quickly.

More roadside floral displays

More roadside floral displays

For the second day in succession we have driven past endless kilometres of road side gardens. Colours of white, blue, yellow, orange and shades of red have appeared like a planted garden against a background of the greens of grass, shrubs and trees. Periodically patches of white, yellow and red have run out of sight, between road side trees or reached in masses towards the horizon of the open fields.

The drive was between Cobar and Cunnamulla with a brief refueling stop at Bourke, a distance of around 415 kilometres. We saw the first evidence of the amount of rain that has fallen through the area. Up to now all we have seen, besides the rain, has been abundant grass and wild flowers.

Several streams had broken their banks.

Several streams had broken their banks.

The level of water in the Darling at Bourke was the highest that I have seen in several visits. North of Bourke, drainage channels beside the road were full of water. North of the Queensland /NSW border several streams had broken their banks and a few centimeters of water were running across the pavement in two places.

The remaining water over the road was shallow but had obviously been deeper.

The remaining water over the road was shallow but had obviously been deeper.

From Cobar to Burke we were on the final section of the Kidman Way. From Burke we had joined the Mitchell Highway that terminates where it joins the Landsborough Highway at Augathella. But it all seems to be part of the Matilda Way, but I’m not sure where the Matilda Way starts and finishes. But it is a busy road being a link between Southern capitals and both Northern Territory and Queensland and carries a lot of heavy traffic. We met several over dimensional loads, one requiring us to move right off the road.

The weather had been warmer, but the forecast is for rain and reduced temperatures over night and for the next few days. Fairly strong winds were forecast. When they eventuated they were behind us, pushing us along.

The swollen Warrego River at Cunnamulla. Water heading for the Darling River

The swollen Warrego River at Cunnamulla. Water heading for the Darling River

Before we booked into the caravan park at Cunnamulla we drove through town to check the water level in the Warrego River. The water level was well below the bridge but much higher than we had ever seen it before.

The forecast rain caught us at Cunnamulla but the greater part of it fell to the north of us. The rain had passed through by morning but we caught up with the last of it on the way to St George.

Water flooding over the weir on the Bolonne River at St. George

Water flooding over the weir on the Balonne River at St. George

Another 300 kilometres of flat road, some of it a bit narrow but most quite rough, due to periodic flooding, I suspect. The Weir on Wallam Creek, beside the road at Bollon, was overflowing as was the major weir on the Balonne River at St George. All of the excess water is heading for the Darling and the Murray Rivers.

The only disturbance to a peaceful night at the Pelicans Rest Caravan Park was the yapping of two dogs in the caravan next to us, whenever something disturbed them.

Flowering shrubs between St George and Dalby.

Flowering shrubs between St George and Dalby.

Dalby was our destination on Friday, which would have been another 300 kilometre day. But we were there by lunch time so decided to go on a further 100 kilometres to Yarraman. This very pleasant town sits almost at the foot of Bunya Mountains and has a caravan park atop a hill. We had been travelling in sunshine all that day, pushed along by a stiff but a cool westerly, that moderated by evening. But we still needed the heater that night.

On Saturday morning the easterly aspect of our overnight position gave us a brilliant sunrise and a promise of a day with temperatures in the mid twenties.  Saturday was the first day of a long weekend so the road was busy, particularly the lanes leading away from Brisbane. Traffic accumulating behind us made it necessary to keep the rig moving and to pull over occasionally to let our “tail” go by.

We arrived home just before lunch, to start the tasks of unpacking and cleaning and to deal with two months accumulation of dead gum leaves, blown down by winter winds while we have been away.

The promised temperature eventuated. I am back in shorts and all is right with the World.

So ends another trip, shorter in duration than originally intended but not much shorter in distance. We lost about two weeks to wet weather but the days that it did not rain were mostly sunny although sometimes kept rather cool by persistent winds. But we had a good time, saw some new places, met new friends and learned new things.

We can’t ask for much more, can we?

West, Centre & Flinders – Days 33 to 35 – Alice Springs & Rain

Our intention has been to spend just one night at Alice Springs. Now it seems that we are to be here for a week. The main issue has been the uncertainty of weather predictions. We abandoned plans to take the van into the ranges to the east and west of the town in favour of setting up in a central location and doing day trips. Saturday was to have been very windy and it was to start raining on Sunday, continuing into Monday. The strong winds did not eventuate and the rain has been deferred until Tuesday and Thursday. Patience is called for!

And to demonstrate meteorological variability we had a minimum of 3 C on Saturday and a maximum of about 32 C yesterday.

The original telegraph and post office in Alice Springs

The original telegraph station and post office in Alice Springs

Having passed two historic telegraph stations on the way south, we thought we should take a closer look at the restored station at Alice. The buildings were initially well built and have been carefully restored. A restoration of the original office environment, in the original office, has been well done, including sound effects of messages being transmitted by Morse code. Residential buildings have been fitted with furniture of the period and a school room is functional. School children are able to stay overnight, playing the roles of original characters.

Samples of original and replacement telegraph poles

Samples of original and replacement telegraph poles

The tour guide’s spiel covered the explorations of John McDowell Stuart, who made no less than six trips into the area. The telegraph line was built along the route of his final exploration, under the supervision of Charles Todd. The line was built with poles cut locally as they progressed, but termites proved the folly of that option, so the timber posts were soon replaced with telescopic tubular steel posts.

Where I got my warm inner glow

Where I got my warm inner glow

The spiel also included a section on the “Stolen Generation” and included several highly contestable claims. One of the buildings has been used to set up a display on the subject. I guess it gives some visitors a warm inner glow. I achieved my warm inner glow from a cup of coffee and an excellent vanilla slice at the Trail Station coffee shop that also acts as the gateway to the Telegraph Station.

The telegraph line was an important step in Australia’s development as it linked to the newly laid cable under the Timor Sea and ended our communication isolation from the world, particularly from England.

The grave of Rev John Flynn outside Alice Springs. The stone came from The Devils Marbles near Tennant Creek

The grave of Rev John Flynn outside Alice Springs. The stone came from The Devils Marbles near Tennant Creek

In the afternoon we drove out to the near west McDonnell Ranges, pausing at the grave of Rev. John Flynn, and then took another look at Simpsons Gap. There was water in the gap, as usual, and a cool breeze was blowing through.

 

 

Simpsons Gap

The performer in the Gap

We could hear an pleasant vocal sound, not words but a musical tone, from a pure clear female voice, accompanied by a slow drum beat, coming from the gap. As we walked in we could see a young woman, positioned to gain the advantage of the acoustics of the gap. It was a pleasant accompaniment to viewing such spectacular scenery

 

Simpsons Gap

Simpsons Gap

We then headed further out Larapinta Drive and drove the northern section of the Owen Springs Track that leads through historical relics and geographical features to the Stuart Highway. The first cattle station in the Northern Territory was established at Owen Springs. Ruins of station buildings remain. It was getting late in the day so we turned back sooner that we had hoped, so didn’t get to see them. The consolation was that we drove back beside the long stone capped mountain ranges, displayed to advantage in the light of the afternoon sun.

The Bluff at the foot of Trephina Gorge

The Bluff at the foot of Trephina Gorge

We returned, yesterday, to one of our favourite places on the East MacDonnell ranges. Trephina Gorge is yet another gap in the range through which a stream passes, on its way to the desert. The Ross Highway runs between red stone capped mountains and passes at least three other gaps through which streams flow when there is rain. The best known of the gaps are Emily and Jessie Gaps. The other main feature of interest is Corroboree Rock, a striking rock formation where, you guessed it, corroborees were held.

The tallest Ghost gum

The tallest Ghost gum

Trephina Gorge has been cut by the passage of water through red rock that now direct its flow. At least that is the case when it is flowing, which it was not doing yesterday. After exiting the gorge the stream passes at the foot of a huge mound of red stone named The Bluff. From there it makes its way out of the mountains to join those other streams that dissipate into the desert. The gorge also contains the largest Ghost gum in Australia.

Corroboree Rock

Corroboree Rock

There was a final touch of drama as we travelled home. While driving on the gravel road out of the gorge we noticed a continuous trail of fluid. So we were not surprised, just after rejoining the Ross Highway, to see a vehicle stopped part way off the road, with a couple of other vehicles nearby. The fluid trail on the road was transmission fluid. They had damaged something important.

The beauty of the East McDonnell Ranges

The beauty of the East McDonnell Ranges

The vehicle was an aged Ford Maverick and its occupants were a couple of French back packers whose English was inadequate, to say the least. Neither we nor the other vehicles that stopped were able to agree any assistance with them as they preferred to wait for some folk who they had met in the Gorge who were travelling a distance behind them. We can only hope that it worked out for them.

We have been into town on two or three occasions. It is unchanged from last time. Out of town locals wander the streets and seem to be the taxi companies best customers. Security is everywhere, particularly where there are liquor stores. But the commercial centre seems busy and a parking space can be hard to find.

At the caravan park there is an endless procession of arrivals and departures. One night stopovers are common, as visitors restock and head for the scenic areas to the east and west. Much as we had intended. It is hard to detect the colour of some vehicles through the coating of mud that they carry. I suspect that they have come in off the Tanami Track that has had rain in recent days.

So now we wait on the weather. I will deal with that in the next post.

West, Centre & Flinders – Days 18 to 19 – Further West

It is not easy to predict the movements of the travelling public. On our first night at the Longreach Tourist Park the place was near to full. After we arrived, about mid-afternoon, the vans flooded in and flooded out again next morning. But on the second night

Sweeping plains near Winton

Sweeping plains near Winton

occupancy would have been no more than 40%. Perhaps folk had been in to complete the census. Forms were available at the office. We opted to complete it on line and couldn’t even log in. Perhaps we will try again at Alice Springs.

We left Longreach at the start of Day 18 driving towards Winton, about 180 kilometres to the North West.

North Gregory Hotel where legend has it Waltzing Matilda was first performed

North Gregory Hotel where legend has it Waltzing Matilda was first performed

Winton has always been a prosperous place but the drought has taken its toll. There are several empty shops in the main street. But the pubs continue to thrive. The Tattersals’  hotel that occupies a corner had about 20 tables set up for lunch on the pavement and more inside. Many caravans and their towing vehicles were parked in the street. Winton must be a favored lunch stop among grey nomads.

The vacant space was once occupied by The Waltzing Matilda Centre

The vacant space was once occupied by The Waltzing Matilda Centre

As some of you will know, Winton lost its famous Waltzing Matilda Centre to fire a year or so ago. That was a serious blow to the town. But they have bounced back with a new museum called the Qantilda Museum. It is much smaller, as a great deal of history was lost in the fire, but deals with Winton’s two main claims to fame. Winton  is the birth place of Qantas Airways and Waltzing Matilda was written by Banjo Patterson at Dagworth Station to the north of Winton and was first performed in public at Winton’s North Gregory Hotel.

Self explanatory!

Self explanatory!

The “sweeping plains” continue to Winton and beyond. Green as far as the eye can see.  But in most of the pasture there are no cattle eating the lush grass. Drought plays havoc with stocking density and it takes a long time to rebuild a production herd.

 

 

The first real jump up on the way to Middleton

The first real jump up on the way to Middleton

When we came this way last year on our way to The Centre, I said that the road from Winton to Boulia was one of the most attractive outback drives in Queensland and having done it a second time I have not changed my mind. Along the first section, until just past the multiple channels of the Diamantina River, the terrain is fairly flat. Some areas are so green with lush growth that they look like a planted crop. Then  Mount  Booka Booka appears to the left of the road. From there, for the next hundred kilometres or so, the road passes through the Sword Range which is mostly a series of jump ups, or mesas, with their defining crowns of red rock and slopes clad with small bushy vegetation of brilliant green.

A main channel of the Diamantina River almost full of water

A main channel of the Diamantina River almost full of water

Last time through we did Winton to Boulia, a distance of 360 kilometres, in a day. This time, having started the day at Longreach we have broken our journey at the lonely road side pub at Middleton. There was a town of Middleton but it is long gone and only the 130 year old hotel remains. Free camping is available over the road. Most who use the area express their appreciation by patronising the hotel.

Middleton Hotel

Middleton Hotel

We went over for a drink after setting up and then later, went back for dinner. Dinner guests included a couple from Taroom in Queensland on their way to Camooweal to help run the annual drovers festival. An other couple have just travelled the Birdsville Track and were able to give us some good information on road conditions.

An old Cobb & Co coach stands outside the Middleton Hotel

An old Cobb & Co coach stands outside the Middleton Hotel

The Middleton Pub is over 130 years old. The area was first explored by John McKinley who was leading a group searching for lost explorers Bourke and Wills. W Middleton was second in command. The area when opened shortly afterwards was named Middleton in his honour.

The publican and his wife are elderly but are assisted by younger family members. They were most welcoming. The menu was surprisingly extensive but we chose the “house” meal of corned beef with potato, cabbage and white sauce. The serving was generous. The facilities were basic with outside toilets and showers constructed of corrugated iron. The plumbing for the shower looked like a plumber’s nightmare but the rusty shower head was large and hot water cascaded out.

We went to sleep to the gentle lowing of cattle in a yard behind the hotel, probably waiting for a truck to take them to market.

Approaching Cawnapore Lookout

Approaching Cawnapore Lookout

The overnight stay at Middleton produced an unexpected bonus. Soon after leaving Middleton, jump ups start to appear on the horizon. The road turned towards them and as we drew closer the morning sun illuminated the red stone caps and eroded upper reaches turning them to shades of deep red. The green vegetation that clings to the slopes takes on a brilliancy that makes it look painted on.

A path for the fitter leads to the summit if the Cawnpore jumpup

A path for the fitter leads to the summit if the Cawnpore jump up

A picnic shelter marks Cawnpore Lookout, a vantage point that stands above a cutting through the hills. To reach it you must scramble up a steep gravel path but the effort is well worth while. The views through 360 degrees are stunning. Those fitter than I can follow a path that leads to the very top of the jump up for even better views, I imagine.  Accompanying photos illustrate.

A view from the lookout

A view from the lookout

From here the dramatic hills reduce in frequency. The final 80 kilometres or so into Boulia returns to endless green planes with scattered trees. The only dense vegetation lines the many water ways, most of which retain some of the recent rain.

 

Car and van from the lookout and hills to the west

Car and van from the lookout and hills to the west

The Min Min Centre in Boulia

The Min Min Centre in Boulia

We have reached Boulia and are in the caravan park, with the Bourke River only a few metres from the back of our van. Boulia is a small service town at the junction of Kennedy and Diamantina Developmental Roads. The Donohue Highway that leads to Alice Springs via the Plenty Highway branches off just out of town. The town has museum displays of dinosaur fossils and other items relating to the past when where Boulia stands was part of an inland sea. It also has the Min Min Experience, an animated show that tells of the mysterious Min Min Lights.

A full Bourke River at Boulia.

A full Bourke River at Boulia.

Weather has been brilliant. Morning temperatures have been around 10 C with day temperatures in the mid twenties. We experienced some cloud and a few spots of rain on the windscreen as we approached Middleton, but by evening the stars shone from a cloudless sky. But we have had some chilly breezes from east to south west, but they are easy to avoid or you put on something warmer.

Tomorrow we head south for Bedourie and Birdsville.

 

West, Centre and Flinders – Days 5 to 8 – Filling In Time

Keith and Linda. Van packed and hitched and ready to go

Keith and Linda. Van packed and hitched and ready to go

Our original plan, on which we set our departure date, had us meeting Keith and Linda (see previous post) further north, possibly as far north as Airlie Beach. But their progress down the coast was a bit faster than we had anticipated so we met them at Bundaberg, as most readers will already be aware.

 

Near the mouth of the Burnett River at Burnett Heads

Near the mouth of the Burnett River at Burnett Heads

When we parted with them at Burnett Heads we had five days in hand for which we had no predetermined plans. Not a problem! There are always things to look at and places to go.

Beached flood debris on Rules Beach near Baffle Creek

Beached flood debris on Rules Beach near Baffle Creek

We decided to spend a couple of days at Agnes Water/Seventeen Seventy, but a lot of other people had made the same decision. All caravan parks were fully booked. As an alternative we chose Baffle Creek Caravan Park, located about equidistant from Bundaberg and Seventeen Seventy.

If you want other residents to talk to you at Baffle Creek Caravan Park it is best to arrive with a boat on top of your car, or at least have a conspicuous fishing rod on board. This is a fishing area and people go there to fish. We used it as a base for a day trip to Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.

Sand banks in Round Head Creek at Seventeen Seventy

Sand banks in Round Head Creek at Seventeen Seventy

We have visited this area before and I have blogged about it. The day was near perfect. Clear skies and a gentle breeze, although up on Round Hill Head, the headland that stands above the town of Seventeen Seventy, the wind was stronger. We did a couple of walks to take in the rugged scenery and the panoramic views of the ocean provided by this vantage point, before returning to the water side park, near the Seventeen Seventy hotel, where we settled ourselves in a picnic shelter for a leisurely lunch.

A small bay on the ocean side of Round Hill Head

A small bay on the ocean side of Round Hill Head

Boats at anchor in Round Hill Creek

Boats at anchor in Round Hill Creek

The sun sets over the agricultural fields at Biloela

The sun sets over the agricultural fields at Biloela

That took care of the first two days. For the remaining three days we decided to go inland to Biloela via Calliope and the Dawson Highway. We wanted to cross from Miriam Vale to the Boyne Valley, as an alternative road to Calliope, but tales of horrendous road conditions on the first part of that road put us off, so we stayed on the Bruce Highway.

The 70 metre chimney at Mount Morgan gold mine

The 70 metre chimney at Mount Morgan gold mine

We returned to the Queensland Heritage Park at Biloela for the night. In our short trip north in June we had spent a night here so were on familiar tertiary.

The logical path to the Yepoon area from Biloela took us through Mount Morgan. I think we had only driven through this historic gold town previously but our plans for a closer look were made a bit more difficult when we found that the only decent caravan park in Mount Morgan was booked out.

Mount Morgan museum display

Mount Morgan museum display

Mount Morgan museum display

Mount Morgan museum display

Mount Morgan museum display

Mount Morgan museum display

A rear view of Mount Morgan's first motor hurse

A rear view of Mount Morgan’s first motor hurse

The old gold mine, viewed from a vantage point in the town

The old gold mine, viewed from a vantage point in the town

So we booked two nights at Gracemere, a town that is now almost a suburb of Rockhampton, but still close enough to Mount Morgan to make a day trip back. On our way through the town we drove around to get our bearings and to find mine viewing vantage points. We then visited the superb museum in the town. The vast collection of historical memorabilia is divided into categories and themes, with the mine dominating. But other sections contained material related to the hospital, armed forces, scouts and guides, religions, local aboriginal history and more.

We found that a tour of the mine was available on a daily basis so when we reached Gracemere we phoned to make a reservation for the next day.

The head equipment of the shaft that took miners to their work

The head equipment of the shaft that took miners to their work

Gold mining was commenced by two Morgan brothers in 1882 but the scale of operations increased in 1888 when a company was formed and more finance became available. Mining finally ceased in 1990 but there was a period in the late 1920s when the mine was closed for five years, due to flooding to extinguish a fire in the mine shafts.

The pit, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, is now almost full of water

The pit, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, is now almost full of water

But it was a very successful mine for most of its one hundred year life and many fortunes were made. One example of this was Walter Hall who was an early shareholder and director. Some of his fortune was later used to found the Walter and Elisa Hall medical research foundation.  This is just another example of the extent to which gold played such a dominant role in the foundations of Australia.

A model of the Mount Morgan pit displayed in the museum section of the company office

A model of the Mount Morgan pit displayed in the museum section of the company office

Our return to the caravan at Gracemere brought to a conclusion the brief period of filling in days. The next day we travelled to Kinka Beach, south of Yepoon, for our few days with sister Aileen and brother-in-law Colin, before we head west for the main part of this trip.

Preparing for the Cape

All set up for last year's trip to the Centre

All set up for last years trip to the Center

The car went in for a pre- trip service on Monday so I walked down to a local McDonald’s to spend the waiting time reading and drinking their coffee. But I found myself in a construction zone. They are rebuilding the place around the customers. I hid in an outside corner. Thankfully it was a bit warmer than previous days.

To get us started, here is a rough outline of our itinerary as it currently stands.
Days 1 to 3 – Along the road on the way to Airlie Beach. 1000 km in 3 days. Why hurry?
Days 4 to 6 –  Airlie Beach including a half day trip to Whitehaven Beach. We are spending my 75th birthday present Red Balloon voucher. Thanks family.
Days 7 to 10 – Various stops along the way to Weipa
Days 11 to 14 – at Weipa
Days 15 to 16 – Merluna cattle station
Day 17 –  Bramwell Station Stay – an over night stop to break the final run to the top into two days.
Days 18 to 21 –  Punsand Bay. This is as for north as you will find a caravan park with all facilities. The Cape is just a few km away to the east. While here we will do a day trip to Thursday Island and Horne Island.
Day 22 – Bramwell Station again
Days 23 to 25 – Traveling back to the southern Cape area
Days 26 to 40 marking our way home by a still to be finalised route. But we may extended our time on the Cape.

So that is the initial plan. We will keep you updated as we travel.

Sydney 2014 – Day 11 – 27th January – Beyond Katoomba

Another cold night bur no fog this morning – only cloud cover but higher cloud than yesterday. By mid-morning the cloud burned off leaving us with a clear sunny day.

The Court House at the Hartley Historic Village

The Court House at the Hartley Historic Village

The long since unlicensed Newnes Hotel, now a museum and kiosk.

The long since unlicensed Newnes Hotel, now a museum and kiosk.

We went further afield today. Travelling west we passed through the remaining Blue Mountain towns, down the steep Victoria Pass, made a brief stop at the Hartley Historic Village, passed through Lithgow and on to a small place called Newnes. Newnes is at the southern border of Wollemi National Park. It is a very popular camping place, particularly with 4WD owners as a river crossing is necessary to reach the main camping area.

The camping area is surrounded by sandstone topped mountains.

The camping area is surrounded by sandstone topped mountains.

Layout of the processing plant is shown on the information board.

Layout of the processing plant is shown on the information board.

But Newnes has historical significance. In 1906 the Commonwealth Oil Company commenced building a shale oil mine and refinery just down the Wolgan River from the site of the town which was built by the company and named after its Chairman. The product was transported to Sydney by rail over a purpose built railway that joined

Old photograph of the processing plant.

Old photograph of the processing plant.

the Government rail system between Lithgow and Bell. The line ran through difficult country and included two tunnels. The line has been out of commission for many years and the rails removed but one tunnel can be driven through on the way to the second that has become home to a glow worm colony.

Old rolling stock waits for restoring to its original condition.

Old rolling stock waits for restoring to its original condition.

The refinery was apparently quite sturdily built as substantial relics remain. To tour them requires about 2 hours walking over a path not designed for new knees. We started out but it soon became obvious that we would run out of time, so turned back to the car.

 

 

Gates by the road side announce the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa.

Gates by the road side announce the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa.

The Wolgan Valley was the centre of a controversy not long ago when a hospitality company from the Middle East was granted approval to build a rather lavish resort and spa primarily, it seemed, for their own nationals. Some locals and others were not happy with the arrangement and the matter raged on Sydney radio for a while. The resort was built and is operating but it can’t be seen from the road, which incidentally, is now sealed to about 200 metres past the front gate of the resort.

Looking north along the valley from the top of the cutting that descends into the southern end.

Looking north along the valley from the top of the cutting that descends into the southern end.

The valley is beautiful. It is narrow and follows the stream that flows through its centre. The mountains that form the valley rise steeply and are capped with sandstone cliffs that display most attractive colours. Apart from the national park at the lower end of the valley the remainder is farm country with cattle and sheep. Maybe a return visit with the caravan one day so there will be time to do the walk and soak up the history.

 

Wallerang Power Station is powered by local coal.

Wallerawang Power Station is powered by local coal.

 

Ruth on Clarence Station platform. This is part of the currently suspended tourist rail operation.

Ruth on Clarence Station platform. This is part of the currently suspended tourist rail operation.

We returned to Lithgow, pausing to photograph the Wallerawang power station. Lithgow is a coal town and is surrounded by coal mines. Instead of returning via the Victoria Pass we took the Chifley Road to Bell, stopping in to the currently dormant Zig Zag Railway. It is out of commission due to damage sustained during the Blue Mountains bush fires last October. We deviated from the

Hartley Vale from Mt York Lookout.

Hartley Vale from Mt York Lookout.

Darling Causeway that follows the railway between Bell and Mount Victoria to drop down into Hartley Vale, returning to the Great Western Highway at Little Hartley.

We spent the afternoon looking at the iconic lookouts and waterfalls of the western Blue Mountain Plateau. These included Mount York, Mount Piddington, Govett’s Leap and Govett’s Falls and Evans Lookout and drove out onto the Narrow Neck Plateau that divides the Jamison

Govetts Leap Falls and cliff face.

Govett’s Leap Falls and cliff face.

and Megalong Valleys. This last feature was a bit of a dead loss as, after experiencing easily the worst road on this trip we discovered that there is not much to see without embarking on long walks. Walks of various lengths were required to reach the lookout point from the various car parks.

View from Govetts Leap Lookout

View from Govett’s Leap Lookout

 

Another view from Govetts Leap Lookout.

Another view from Govett’s Leap Lookout.

 

So that was our day driving. After a bit of a rest in the sunshine by the van I went for a walk to look for the Katoomba Falls. We had tried to find them yesterday but had turned

The main fall at Katoomba Falls.

The main fall at Katoomba Falls.

back because of steep stairs. They are indeed at the bottom of steep and rather rough steps. The main falls are near the road, only about 300 metres from the caravan park. The Katoomba Creek then runs through a very pretty gorge and over a series of smaller falls and rapids until it plunges over a cliff into the Jamison Valley.

 

The final run of Katoomba Creek before it drops into the Jameson Valley.

The final run of Katoomba Creek before it drops into the Jameson Valley.

 

A Short Northern Safari – Watching the Whales

The Sheathers are mobile again. Ruth’s knee has responded to physiotherapy and the orthopaedic surgeon has given approval, so we have grasped a brief window of opportunity to get away before commercial responsibilities demand my presence in Brisbane. Then, of course, someone decided to call an election for 7th September thus reducing the size of the window by a few days.

This trip takes us up the coast, almost to Townsville and then to Charters Towers and around two sides of the Dinosaur Triangle, including Hughenden, Richmond and Winton. Then we plan to move through to Longreach, the gem areas of Sapphire and Rubyvale and finally home.

Because much of the area is very familiar to us we will be driving straight through much of it to reach the areas of interest. It is mainly about these areas that I will blog.

For years we have promised ourselves a whale watching cruise and although we had encountered a couple of whales while sailing in The Whitsunday Islands a few years ago we had never been up “close and personal” with them. So the first two nights of our trip were booked at Hervey Bay with a whale cruise booked on the intervening day.

There they are. ust under the water.

There they are. just under the water.

It is easy to feel at home in Hervey Bay. God has several waiting rooms in Queensland and Hervey Bay is one of them. But this weekend it was all “Go” as the Whale festival was on. But we didn’t see much of it because while others were parading the streets we were out on the water actually looking at what the shore based folk were celebrating.

Just cruising along

Just cruising along.

We sailed on the “Tasman Venture” and are pleased to report that it ventured nowhere near the Tasman. But it did venture to Platypus Bay which is the long sweeping expanse of sheltered water off the west coast at the northern end of Fraser Island. Whales come in to Hervey Bay as part of their breeding pilgrimage from cold Antarctic waters to the warmer waters of the Coral Sea.

Waving a fin.

Waving a fin.

A strong southerly current runs down the east coast of Australia, often reaching speeds 4 knots and more. The whales have to swim against it as they travel north. I have sailed into that current from Sydney to Brisbane and you certainly know it is there. So it makes sense to me that the whales would turn into Hervey Bay for some respite from the persistent current.

Here is a better view!

Here is a better view!

There were sufficient of them in the bay for us to find and spend time with three pods, two of two and one pod of three. Once you have two whales you have a pod. There can be more than two in a pod, of course.

They are being cooperative today!

They are being cooperative today!

From the first sighting excitement on the boat was obvious. There were around 60 passengers and as soon as the sighting was announced there was a rush to the bow. The Tasman Venture is a substantial catamaran but the shift in human weight caused the bow to drop and the stern to rise but we did not join the whales below the water. But the whales certainly joined us on the surface and gave every indication that we were welcome in their domain.

Another close view.

Another close view.

Pods one and two behaved a little differently at first but then settled into common behaviour patterns. There was much surfacing, venting, rolling and diving and heads popping up to take a look around. The skipper kept moving the boat so that everyone could see but the whales swam from side and from front to back, often swimming right under the boat.

And then there were two!

Swimming away from the boat.

Show business folk say that you should always leave your audience wanting more. Well this audience certainly wanted more and wanted it all afternoon. And we got it.

What ever is going on? Whales often take a look like this.

What ever is going on? Whales often take a look like this.

The third pod contained a seasoned showman. He was the largest whale we had seen, probably full grown, and must have been there before as he knew how to please the crowd. Whales have large fins on their sides called pectoral fins. On a large whale they weigh about a tonne. The showman whale repeatedly struck the surface of the water, sending up showers of spray and continued to do it time after time – almost like a child splashing in the bath.

The under side of a whale's tail.

The under side of a whale’s tail.

Top view of the tail.

Top view of the tail.

Then, with sunset approaching, he appeared to lose interest and started swimming away. The skipper, thinking that the show was over, started to open the throttles on the boat. The increased vibration seemed to warn the whale that he was losing his audience because he dived and breached. A breach is when the whale throws their body almost right out of the water. But he continued with his performance completing about ten breaches in succession. It truly was awesome!

The flapping pectoral fin.

The flapping pectoral fin.

Even the crew were impressed. We heard later that other boats had seen more whales than we did but none that we heard of were presented with the show that we had enjoyed.

It was about an hour’s run back to port through the deepening twilight. We watched the sun set over the land and the lights of Hervey Bay become brighter. The crew served

The start of the breach action

The start of the breach action

drinks and nibblies to help pass the time but there was lots of conversation as passengers discussed what we had witnessed on a rather unique day.

Later, back at the caravan park, we could hear rather loud music and then the even louder explosions of fireworks as the celebrations of the Whale Festival reached their climax.

I took quite a lot of video. AS soon as I have a chance I will put together some material and post it on You Tube.

A Different Way There …. and Back – Post 6

Day 27 – 22nd April – Temora to Corryong – 270 Km

A cool morning, but not quite as cold as the 2C and 4C of the previous two, greeted us as I took the car for a service. With that chore attended to we left Temora at 11.30 am bound for Corryong via Wagga Wagga and Tumbarumba. The run to Wagga Wagga and then along the Tumbarumba Road to where it crosses the Hume Highway is fairly flat but then its character changes abruptly. From flattish open farm country it changes to mountains covered with forest. The first steep hill starts immediately on the other side of the Hume Highway.

Wagga Wagga was a fuel and lunch stop. It appears to be a prosperous regional city with a great deal of commercial building going on. We found a pleasant little park for our break. Having just come from Temora Aviation Museum we did not stop at the aircraft display at the front of the RAAF base at North Wagga but continued on through the small town of Ladysmith (it made me think of apples) and on, after much climbing and descending, to Tumbarumba.

We had not been to this very pretty town before and were not prepared for the sight of it nestled in its valley and expanding onto the surrounding slopes. We were not able to stop for a photo, as there was nowhere for a caravan to park on the steep descent into the town. You cannot see a town properly unless you spend a bit of time in it. And you often have to retrace your steps to get good photographs.

In the centre of Tumbarumba.

In the centre of Tumbarumba.

The earlier part of the road to Corryong was again a series of steep climbs and sharp descents with some really choice spots at which we could have camped if arrangements had permitted. There were about four caravans in one clearing beside a creek. We would have loved to join them.

Further along this road we came across a memorial to lost aircraft the Southern Cloud. This aircraft, an Avro 618 Ten, went missing on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne in May 1931 with 6 passengers and a crew of 2. A search failed to find it and its remains were not discovered until 27 years later when a Snowy Mountains Authority employee stumbled upon it.  The memorial occupies a site on a hill top beside the road, looking across a valley to the mountain side where the aircraft crashed. A number of display boards tell the story.

The mountains of the crash site behind the sign that tells the story.

The mountains of the crash site behind the sign that tells the story.

Ruth walks among the story boards of the memorial.

Ruth walks among the story boards of the memorial.

From this point on the forest dissipated and deep cleared valleys and rolling hills of farmland commenced. The natural vegetation has been replaces with clumps of deciduous species such as maples and poplars. With autumn well progressed the leaves have turned to the lovely colours that precede their fall. The hills and valleys are dotted with sheep and cattle with scattered farm buildings. Smoke rises from chimneys into the still afternoon air. You can almost feel the warmth of the fire side as you drive past.

Entry to Victoria at Towong

Entry to Victoria at Towong

There are many points on the Murray River where you can cross from NSW to Victoria but surely not many as pretty as the crossing at Towong. The river, at this point, is not very wide and the bridge is a simple timber structure, but it has a welcoming appearance that is most attractive. The run from Towong to Corryong is along a valley between grassy hills. Pastures rise from the stream to the crests of hills with a background of tree covered ranges and are dotted with cattle with a few sheep. This town is the nearest of any size to the Snowy Mountain area so it has claimed “The Man from Snowy River” as its own. There are representations of horses and riders all over the place.

Murray River viewed from the Towong bridge.

Murray River viewed from the Towong bridge.

Day 28 – 23rd April – Khancoban & the Snowy Mountains

It is not possible to do justice to this area in a day so it was a pity that overnight rain kept us in until about 11.00 am. But the sky started to clear so there seemed a good chance that we would be able to see some mountains instead of cloud. It was midday by the time that we reached Khancoban so we stopped there for lunch, knowing that there was no food to be had before Thredbo, and we certainly were not going that far.

Khancoban Town Centre

Khancoban Town Centre

We commenced our sightseeing at the Murray No 1 Power Station lookout. You will probably recognise this place. It is the one where the three big white pipes come down the hill carrying the water to drive the turbines and with towers that carry the power lines step up the escarpment like giants. The sun was shining on it so it looked grand.

Murray No 1 Power Station

Murray No 1 Power Station

Towers like giants on the hillside.

Towers like giants on the hillside.

The next stop was at Clews Ridge, named in honour of the late Major Clews who was the main surveyor for the Snowy scheme. The well known (to 4WD people) Major Clews dry weather 4WD track starts from here. A little further on is the Geehi Walls mountain range and then Schammell Spur Lookout. From the observation deck of this lookout a sweeping vista of the western face of the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains greets the beholder. The mountain tops were partly lost in cloud and huge banks of mist rose up the mountain sides. The sight was a bit awe inspiring.

Western Fall of Main Range of the Snowy Mountains.

Western Fall of Main Range of the Snowy Mountains.

We journeyed on to Geehi camping area where the Alpine Way crosses the Swampy Plains River. We stopped to chat to a fisherman in a motor home who had been trying his luck with trout in the stream. He claimed to have had no luck at all.

Geehi Hut at the camping area

Geehi Hut at the camping area

This camping area is the site of huts built many years ago by cattlemen as camps for that part of the year when cattle were grazed in the high country. We saw Geehi Hut where it stands beside the river. It is constructed of river stones set in concrete. This hut has been destroyed by fire but has been restored by NSW National Parks. The hut, and others like it, is left open so they are available as shelter in emergencies. Campers are requested not to use them and this restriction appears to be honoured.

We turned for home, but detoured to the visitors centre at the Murray No 1 power station. It has a very interesting display that sets out the history of the Snowy Scheme and includes a great deal of information for the technically minded. We discovered that there was food to be had past Khancoban, as the visitor centre contains a neat little coffee shop.

Day 29 – 24th April 2013 – Corryong to Mt. Beauty – 161 Km

We changed our minds this morning and changed them back again this afternoon.

The plan had been to travel to Omeo via the Omeo Highway, but while checking road conditions I noticed that a road closure for the Omeo Highway had just been lifted. Snow and rock falls had closed the road in the last few days. After discussions with the police at Tallangatta we decided that prudence ruled it out and that we would have to reach Lakes Entrance via Melbourne.

Plan B became the Bright area. The GPS sent us via Mt. Beauty and the Tawonga Gap. As we drove into Mt. Beauty we saw a sign that said “Omeo 110”. Enquiries produced information that the road is regularly used by caravans so we decided to revert to plan A. So tomorrow we will set off up the road, past Falls Creek ski area, over the Bogong High Plain and on to Omeo.

Murray Valley Highway

Murray Valley Highway

The drive this morning has been along the Murray Valley Highway, so it has been another morning of ups and downs as the road traverses the valleys that host the streams that feed the Murray and the hills that separate them.

From the time that we left Tallangatta late morning we have been following the Kiewa River along the Kiewa Valley. The road follows the foot hills on one side of the river with the golden leaves of maples and poplars lining the stream and with the foot hills on the other side rising to the tree line with the ranges of the Victorian Alps in the background. A truly beautiful sight!

Just before reaching Mt Beauty a rest area provides a fine view to Mt Bogong whith a Lions Club sign pointing out that it is the highest peak in Victoria.

We have a sight in the caravan park on the banks of the West Kiewa River. It is a very pretty spot with lush green grass, rippling clear water and autumn tints. If it was a bit warmer we would sit out for longer to enjoy it.

Our view at Mt Beauty Caravan Park

Our view at Mt Beauty Caravan Park

Day 30 – 25th April 2013 – Falls Creek & the Bogong High Plains

Overnight we changed our minds again. Call it losing one’s nerve, or discretion being the better part of valour, I decided that I did not want to tow the van over an unknown road that has steep climbs, sharp bends and reaches 1,750 meters above sea level. So we decided to stay at Mount Beauty for a second night and do a day trip up the mountain today.

In the 31 Km from Mount Beauty to Falls Creek there is a change in altitude of over 1,500 meters. That means sharp climbs and a winding and, in this case, fairly narrow road. We left town in light overcast weather but about 1 Km below the top we started to encounter mist that became relatively thick cloud by the time we reached the first buildings of the ski resort.

Foggy Falls Creek

Foggy Falls Creek

There was no view and it was not an occasion for a picnic but a bar/restaurant was open so we became its sole, and I think, its first customers of the day.

Weather conditions in mountains can be quite fickle so we decided to press on to see if Rocky Valley Dam could be seen. The dam was half visible and the fog was performing some amazing tricks above the water. As the wall of the dam, which is also the bridge, was fairly clear of fog we drove on for another 20 Km towards the Omeo Highway intersection. This extra distance gave us a good look at the Bogong High Plains.

Bogong High Plains 1

Bogong High Plains 1

 

Bogong High Plains 2

Bogong High Plains

 

Bogong High Plains 3

Bogong High Plains 3

There are a number of walks, or bike rides, some to the sheltering huts that dot the plateau and date back to the days when the area was grazed during the warmer months. Tracks are well marked and often have an information kiosk at the start that gives a variety of relevant information.

At the point at which we turned around to return to Mt Beauty we saw a sign to a camping area just off the road. We went to investigate. One of its purposes was to provide a camping spot for horse riding parties so it had a fenced area to secure horses overnight. Picnic tables were set among the snow gums and there were fire places as well. There was also a wonderful weatherboard toilet which reminded me of the one for which I had to dig holes when a teenager at Bulahdelah.

The Rustic Loo

The Rustic Loo

As we returned to Falls Creek we could see the cloud billowing up over the mountain top, driven by a cold wind that had developed considerable strength by that time. There was nowhere for us to enjoy a sheltered picnic lunch so we headed back down the mountain to the small alpine village of Bogong.

Too cold for lunch here

Too cold for lunch here

Bogong is a small town, built by the electricity authorities during the construction of the Kiewa hydro electricity scheme, where the houses have now been sold to individuals. We had driven into the village on our way up the mountain and thought that we were in a ghost town. There was not a person in site at 11.00 in the morning. During our return visit folk were abroad but town businesses, the whole two of them, were closed for the holiday. Even Bogong Jack’s bar and bistro, that bore a sign undertaking to open at 11.30 am 7 days a week, was securely closed.

Autumn colours at Bogong Pondage

Autumn colours at Bogong Pondage

The town is built down a steep slope, as alpine villages are, to a pondage on the Kiewa River. There quality tourist facilities have been built. The edge of the pondage is lined with poplars and maples which, rapidly turning to their autumn shades looked spectacular against the green backdrop of the native bush. Under SEC ownership the town was a show place with flowers growing in the garden beds. The flower are long gone under private ownership but a sign remains that says “Please don’t pick the flowers”. No doubt as a memorial to better times now gone – just like the flowers.

A Different Way There …. and Back – Post 1

 

Day 1 – 27th March – Home to Bell – 234 km

The early part of our trip has changed. Our visit to the Mount Moffatt section of the Carnarvon Gorge National Park has been cancelled. There has been constant wet weather across the Central Highlands of Queensland to the extent that a number of features in the park have been closed. Because of this  a number of participants pulled out. We were still going in company with the organiser until his wife, who suffers from MS, had a relapse and was ordered by her specialist to rest. So we have called the Mount Moffatt visit off for the time being.

That left us all dressed up with nowhere to go! As we had an arrangement to meet friends at Mitchell we decided to fill in the time exploring the Warrego Highway from Dalby to Charleville.

Ready for the road

Ready for the road

We expected to get away from home by late morning but finally rolled out the gate at a few minutes past 1.00 pm. We took our normal route when heading west – north to Caboolture and then follow the Daguilar Highway to Yarraman where it meets the New England Highway. There we turn south and then south west to Dalby. This time we turned north before reaching Dalby and came to the small town of Bell on the Bunya Highway about 40 km north of Dalby.

Bell CP 1

The amenities block was almost our en suite

Bell is a quiet country town on the Darling Downs. It contains some historic buildings which we will check tomorrow morning. We are resident in the Bell N Whistle Caravan Park. Except for a hand full of permanents we were the only guests. The northern migration of Victorians clearly has not started yet.

Bell CP 2

Perhaps this is the train from which the caravan park got its name

The rain has missed us so far. A storm passed ahead of us near Cooyar but we enjoyed a rainless evening, sitting out until after a very red sun disappeared over the distant, rather flat horizon.

Day 2 – 28th March – Bell to Roma – 307 km

It is normally an easy start when you have been on a drive through site. We did a small tour of Bell before leaving, to get some photos, but then encountered an unexpected problem. The still or image facility on my video camera that I use for most of my still shots that had worked at the caravan park refused duty when I attempted to take photos in the town. So for the time being I am using the camera on my phone or shooting short bursts of video from which I can cut still pictures.

Pictures taken (but later lost. My fault) we journeyed to Roma, refuelled both the car and ourselves and proceeded north west on the Warrego Highway; first stop Chinchilla for some last minute items before shops closed for Easter. Shopping completed we drove out of town for lunch at Chinchilla Weir, before moving on. I lost the pictures of that, too.

We have been hearing about the frantic mining activity on the Darling Downs, but as soon as we reached Dalby we could see the evidence. The highway to Roma is not much different to coastal highways in traffic density. Endless strings of vehicles including many very big trucks. The commercial centre of Chinchilla, which has a Woolworths supermarket, and a McDonalds, was almost like a city mall on Christmas Eve. We were glad to escape back to the relative calm of the busy highway.

We made a stop at Miles to see the well publicised and historic Pioneer Village. A bit pricey at $12 each to see it, but it has been very well done with authentic buildings brought in from their original locations. The buildings are well set up with all the things that I remember from my childhood. It is sobering to realise that your own early years actually reach back into “history”.

Miles Village 5

Village street scape

Miles Village 2

Half size model of Cobb & Co coach

Miles Village 4

I started my education in a school like this one

Miles Village 3

Have you ever heard the expression “Wouldn’t work in an Iron Lung”?

We would have spent the night at Miles but the two caravan parks have beeen converted almost entirely to cabins to capitalise on accommodation requirements for the mining boom. They both looked like building sites, which is what they were. So we phoned ahead to Roma and booked a site. We found later that we had got one of the last available in town. There is a major festival held there over Easter which includes a race meeting and many other activities, so all accommodation is booked out.

Tomorrow we will move on to Mitchell. Roma was only a short stop for fuel on the original itinerary as it is from here that we were to turn north to Injune and then Mount Moffatt, so the activities here would not have impacted us.

Day 3 – 29th March – Roma to Mitchell – 88 km

The cool nights of the west make for good sleeping. We had early morning coffee under the awning. The sun was about to rise, a pale full moon hung in the western sky just above a newly launched hot air balloon that drifted along the horizon. Just part of the rewards of early rising! But I lost those pictures as well.

We have been to Roma before. There was a great deal of evidence of the oil and gas industries when we were here in 2008 but there is a lot more now. The streets of this substantial town are crowded with mining vehicles and equipment in transit to mine sites. Trucks, including road trains, rumble through at all hours.

We called in at the information centre at the Big Rig where there is an exhibition if the petroleum industry and where a light show telling the story of local oil recovery is held most nights. After collecting some information we joined the queue of motorists at the Woolworths service station who, like us, were claiming their discount dockets and then probably joined some of them on the road to Mitchell. We were part of an extended procession of utilities and 4WDs packed with camping equipment some towing trailers with bush bikes, others towing horse floats and the inevitable camper trailers and caravans.

New bridge on the Maranoa River

Mitchell is getting a new bridge across the Maranoa River

The Major Mitchell Caravan Park is on the banks of the Maranoa River opposite the town. Our site was on the river bank on grass. We had a very quiet afternoon, reading and doing odd bits and pieces. Mitchell is known for its mineral baths and we had intended to visit them but in deference to Easter, or to a day off, they were closed. Maybe next time!

Mitchell CP

Settled in at the Major Mitchell Caravan Park

A relatively quiet evening at Mitchell!  At a van just across from us a “would be” country and western singer and friends entertained us for two hours or more. They packed up at about 8.45 pm so did not encroach on our slumbers.

Mitchell main street looking west

Looking west down MItchell’s main street

Day 4 – 30th March – Mitchell to Charleville – 181 km

The 180 km to Charleville follows the Warrego Highway to the Warrego River which flows through the town and frequently floods it. The terrain is mostly open farm lands with some agriculture but mostly grazing lands.  In times past it was Merino sheep territory but is now mostly beef, although there is a thriving export goat meat industry in the area. Many of the road trains were returning empty from moving cattle to somewhere. There is plenty of green grass but an acute shortage of drinking water for cattle due to recent lack of rain.

Morning Tea at Morven

Morning tea at Morven

The road also passes through some bush land made up mainly of the kind of scrubby growth that is common in western Queensland.

We were met at Charleville by temperatures in the low 30s with high humidity. A storm is due through tonight or early tomorrow, so there probably will be no relief until then. Unfortunately the air conditioning in the van is not as efficient as the unit at home.