Day 1. Friday 20th June.
As everything was packed yesterday there was very little to do this morning, the fridge had to be packed, the house and garage locked and away we went. First stop the service station to fill up with diesel, $202.02 did that and we were on our way. Alice’s sister, Pauline and her husband, John, are doing the first week of the trip with us, so our next stop was Blackbutt to make arrangements for meeting on Sunday. Just after lunch we were on our way to Kilkivin and the South Burnett Traveller’s motor home club chapter meeting at the Kilkivin Bush Camp. This is a great camp spot, good clean amenities and plenty of camp sites, places for camp fires are scattered throughout the park and the cost is quite reasonable. Friday night was spent around the camp fire having a quiet drink and telling lies.

Day 2. Saturday. Today was spent just relaxing, a game of disk bowls was organized, a raffle in the afternoon and more lies around the campfire at night – another tiring day in the life of a grey nomad.

Day 3. We were packed and away by 11am. Met up with John & Pauline in Goomeri did a little bit of shopping and then headed north up the Burnett Highway. First stop, Gayndah for afternoon tea. Gayndah is a small neat town, the main industry here is citrus growing. It has a nice park on the highway with facilities for picnicking and clean rest rooms. After eating we were on the road again, through Mundubbera and Eidsvold to the Ceratodus Rest Area. This is a large camping area with plenty of fire places, bring your own wood though. The toilets could do with a bit of a clean up but it is all free.
Since leaving home we have traveled 420klms.

Day 4. Freezing cold this morning, about 2 degrees, we had breakfast sitting in the sun all rugged up and then hit the road. We drove through Monto and stopped for morning tea at Lawgi Park. There is nothing here but a demountable building, partly vandalized, which once had showers but now only toilets, and a couple of picnic tables. Next stop was Biloela where we filled with fuel and bought bread. Lunch was at Dululu, a large camping area with good amenities. There is a small fee for camping here. Thirty one kilometres further on we turned west onto the Capricorn Highway and have now stopped for the night at the Duaringa Rest Area. This is a large free camping spot just at the entrance to town. Hot showers, for a donation paid at the Information Bureau, clean toilets and a huge camping area. There are about twenty vehicle camped here for the night.
Today we traveled 309klms. Purchased 70.86ltrs @$1.759 per litre, klms since last fuel 575.4klms

Day 5. Up about 6.30 this morning to find the wind up and a cool crisp morning. Got away about 8.45am and headed for Blackwater for morning tea. There is a huge International Coal Centre being built at the old Camp Spot, Emerald.Information Bureau. The whole area is barricaded off and the toilets no longer there. After finding the “Loo” in town we returned to the Japanese Gardens for morning tea. Blackwater is very rich in coal and huge trains can be seen heading for coast loaded with coal for export to Japan & China, most of these trains are over a kilometre in length, some longer.
Our next stop was Emerald, a rich agricultural town to the west of Blackwater. They grow sunflower, grape, citrus, lychees, and rockmelon here. We had lunch, did a bit of shopping, found the internet café and now we are camped in the Botanic Gardens. It sounds nice but we are directly under the Railway Bridge and right next to the main highway into and out of town, should be a nice noisy, exciting night, nobody seems to know what time we can expect a train.

Day 6. Well it was a noisy night. The traffic seemed to go all night and then to be woken by a diesel about 4 metres above your head is most unpleasant, for it to happen twice during the night is doubly unpleasant. W were up at 6.30 and sat outside for breakfast, it wasn’t too cold and was quite pleasant once the sun came up.
I got a bit put out of my routine when packing, a Welsh couple parked next to us showed us their gas stove wind guard. After looking at it and having a bit of a talk we all jumped in our vehicles and left for Anakie and the gem fields. At the edge of town the flap on the roof of the Trayon blew up releasing the steps, which also happen to be the door into our camper. Down it came, hitting the road and ripping it off, all for one pop rivet in the hinge. John and I headed for the hardware shop where I bought a pop riveter and some rivets and hour later we were back on the road. The bottom parts of the steps, where it hit the road were badly bent but we managed to get them serviceable and I’ll replace them when I get home. We drove to Anakie, had morning tea, then to Rubyvale, where we wandered around and looked in a few shops selling sapphires, then finally to Saphire. We have set up camp in the free camping area in Saphire. This afternoon John, Alice and I went fossicking in the creek at the back of our campsite. I don’t know how we have gone yet as I just brought all the washed and sieved gravel back to camp for checking later. It has been a lovely evening, we sat out and had a couple of wines and then cooked out tea outside.
Today and yesterday we traveled 266 klms. Filled with fuel, 41.72ltres for $74.64, 329.5klms between fills.

Day 7. A beautiful morning this morning, crispy cold but the sun soon warmed us up as we had breakfast with Apostle birds running between our feet and pea hens chirping away beside us. We got talking to the couple alongside us who showed us through their Avan Motor Home, very nice it was and the pricing on them seems quite reasonable. We headed back to Emerald and the baker’s shop for bread, did a run around the hardware and camping stores for a cap for John’s water tank. I noticed it missing this morning but we can’t figure out how it got lost. We then drove out for a look at Fairbairn Dam. Fairbairn Dam was opened in 1988 and is the source of water for the huge agricultural industry in this area. We then headed for Carnarvon Gorge National Park stopping for a look at Springsure, beneath the orange cliffs of Mt Zamia, also know as Virgin Rock. Two hundred more kilometres, the last gravel road, we arrived at Takaraka Bush Camp Resort. At $16.00 per head for an unpowered campsite we thought it a little expensive and cut our stay to one night instead of two. Lots of children and lots of noise around the showers and camp kitchen.
Today we traveled 301klms.

Day 8. We left Takaraka Resort at 9am and headed for the gorge. It was a beautiful morning but very cold to start, once the sun got up it was just a beautiful day. The walks all follow the creek bed through the gorge and branch off into different gorges as it gets deeper into the gorge. The length of the gorge is nine and a half kilometres. We all started walking but John had a sore leg and quit early. Alice and Pauline did a bit further but quit and soCanarvon Gorge I just went in three and a half klms to Moss Gorge and was back by 10.45. It is quite spectacular and I will return one day when I have a bit more time to check the lot of it out. At 11am we were on our way, headed for Injune where we stopped for lunch in a lovely little park by the Information Centre. We filled with fuel at the Caltex Fuel Depot and then left for Roma. We arrived in Roma at 3.30 and was it a busy little town, traffic everywhere. We stopped so the ladies could go and look at Ace Drapery No2 store. It is just unreal, he has enough stock for ten stores in there, it is piled to the ceiling, out on the footpath and down a side alley. Boxes and boxes of materials, bolts of material, kitchenware all piled high. There is a Mitre Ten Hardware store next door, John & I went in there. An hour later we were heading south again for Surat and a camp spot by the Bolonne River, there was a good crowd already in by the time we arrived but we found ourselves a spot and had a couple of wines and a restful night.
Today we traveled 333.7klms. Filled with fuel, 66.96ltrs for $123.81. Klms between fills 540.5.

Day 9. We had no sun on us this morning so had breakfast inside before going out to warm upin the sun away from the vehicle. We drove into Surat, filled with fuel, had a look around town and then said goodbye to Pauline & John, they headed for home and we have continued south to St George. What a lovely, clean and prosperous looking town this is. There are gardens and picnic areas all along the river bank, a large shopping area and large beautiful homes and gardens. It is a real surprise and not what I had expected. We had lunch in the park by the river then the lady in the Information Centre directed us to a place on the Balonne River where we have now set up camp.We have it all to ourselves and have parked right on the waters edge.
Today we traveled 144klms. Filled with fuel, 23.96ltrs for $42.86. Klms between fills 173.9.

Day 10. It was a bit of a noisy night, the bridge over the weir makes a racket every time a vehicle hits the expansion joints, and although we were parked quite a distance from it the noise woke me a few times during the night. It was a cool Dingoes, west of St Georgemorning but we had breakfast in the sun by the river bank. We drove into St George at nine but it was too early for the Information Centre so we headed off. First stop was the Rosehill Aviaries, fifty kilometres west of St George and then a 14 drive down a well maintained dirt road. There is a good collection of parrots here but it is a shame to see some of them caged up, it is much more rewarding spotting a parrot in the wild. At the last cross road into Rosehill is a dingo tree, about eight dingo carcasses hanging from a tree at the side of the road. Some people keep sheep around here and dingoes are a menace. We drove back out to the highway, stopped for morning tea at a small rest area and then drove on to Bollon. Bollon is a quiet little town, just a general store, garage, pub, school, and a Bush Nursing Centre. There is a lovely Memorial Park in the centre of town and free hot showers for travelers, so we enjoyed a nice hot shower before making for the reserve by Wallum Creek at the western end of town. It has been a mild evening and we have been sitting outside star gazing and spotting satellites.
Today we traveled 111klms.

Day 11. It took a while for the sun to reach us over the trees this morning so it was a cool start. We drove into Bollon to see if there was a donation box for the camping and showers but was told no donation was required, Alice bought some raffle tickets in a local raffle and we left for Cunnamulla. The landscape is very flat on the run into Cunnamulla with some long straight stretches of road, the roads are in very good condition though. The place doesn’t look as prosperous as St George but there are some nice looking homes here. It has a large, helpful Information Centre and Museum which was very interesting. We had lunch in the park next to the centre, had a drive around town, did a bit of grocery shopping, filled with fuel at the Mobil Depot and then headed west for the opal mining town of Yowah. I was glad to have finished driving for the day by the time we arrived. We found the free camp and set up for the night. There were about twenty vehicles in the campsite, five have arrived today. It is quite a warm night, a northerly breeze blowing, so we sat out watching for satellites again and spotted three.
Today we traveled 394klms. Filled with fuel, 62.03litres for $114.69. 4876.9 klms between fills.

Day 12. Sat out for breakfast in full sun this morning, there are no trees in this camp spot to shade the vehicle. Went for a look at Yowah. The first claim was lodged here in 1897 and the first bore was sunk in 1912, this is when building commenced here. Looking at some of the tin sheds around the place it seems a lot of those buildings are still in use. We had a look in a couple of opal shops and then went to the fossicking area and called in at the Kaleidoscope Mine where we bought a bucket of rocks. We are hoping the bucket contains a few Yowah Nuts. A Yowah nut is a siliceous ironstone nodule, anywhere from 5mm to 200 in size, which when split open can contain a kernel of precious opal, we’ll see how we Caiwarro Homestead, Currawinya National Park.go with our bucket full. We then left Yowah and headed back for the highway and the Currawinya National Park. We arrived at the Caiwarro Homestead site just after one and had a drive around. This is an old station and still has all the old machinery and buildings around the place although they are all in ruin. We signed in for the night to camp and then drove around to the camp area on the Paroo River. It is just a top spot, full of birds. There are pelican, spoon bill, tern, heron, hawk, yellow whistling duck, emu, parrots of various kind, honey eaters of various kind and a few I haven’t identified as yet. I have seen all of these just sitting in my seat by the vehicle. There are other campers here but we are all spread out along the river bank, none of the others are in sight, it’s a great camp spot.
Today we traveled 151klms.


Day 13. We sat by the river and had breakfast while watching the pelicans float past, mirror reflected, on dead calm waterThe Paroo River. After sitting in the sun and warming up we packed and drove south to the other end of the National park. We went in and had a chat with the ranger and then headed out to have a look at the two lakes. The lakes here are both significant bird breeding areas and when they a full they can have thousands of birds on them. One lake, Lake Wyara is slightly saline whilst Lake Numalla is a fresh water lake. Both lakes received plenty of flood water this year and held plenty of water but not a bird to be seen. The thirty two kilometre road to the lakes is only open to four wheel drive vehicles but was quite a good drive, just a few wash outs but tracks had been worn around these. We had lunch at Lake Numalla, head back to the main road and hen south to Hungerford. Hungerford is right on the Qld/NSW border with a gate and the dingo fence on the border, a $10,000 fine for leaving the gate into NSW open, I suppose we have to try to keep those Mexicans out somehow. There is a good free campsite here with showers, we were the only ones here, so when we set up our camp we headed for the showers, when we came out the place was full. A tag along four wheel drive group had arrived. They are on a nine day tour of the outback. We sat and watched them all set up their tents and it was quite entertaining. This is their third night out and most of them had never set up a tent before. Most had new tents, expensive suitcases, loads and loads of gear which they transferred from their four wheel drives to their tents, tomorrow they’ll load it all back in the 4WDs.
Today we drove 130klms.

Day 14. We were up at 7am, some of the 4WDers were packing, some were still sleeping. We sat and had breakfast while we watched the tents come down and the 4WDs get loaded then we packed and left, they were all still hard at it. The publican at Hungerford had told me the road to Thargomindah was a better one than the road from Eulo, I don’t think he has traveled it lately, it wasn’t too bad, most was good but some was a bit rough, 168 klms of gravel and we arrived in Thargomindah. We went straight to the tourist Centre which is housed in the old hospital. The reception was very warm and we were offered a cup of tea, sit down and a good yak to lady running the place. We eventually left, filled with fuel, $1.959ltre, did some grocery shopping, had a drive around town and then headed west. We have camped tonight in Noccundra, population 4, it is very cold so we ate by the water hole and then retired inside.Today we traveled 332klms. Filled with fuel 87.44ltrs for $170.60. Klms between fills 649.6klms.

Day 15. We had breakfast by the waterhole and then had a chat to a couple from Nanango who ere camped along side us. They had blown the turbo on their 4WD and were waiting for the plane to arrive and bring a new one, they were also waiting for a part for their caravan. As we left the plane landed and he was on his way to see if his parts were on board. The Dig Tree, Cooper CreekWe drove back to the highway and then headed west. After about a hundred kilometres the sealed road finished and the gravel road began, it was a very good gravel road though and we just kept up our normal speed. We passed the oil and gas fields on this stretch, there are a couple of fairly large complexes out here. The Ballera Gas Centre supplies 73% of Brisbane’s gas requirements from out here. Pretty soon we ran into the road crews and after this the road began to deteriorate a bit. Once we crossed the South Australian border the road was in good condition again and soon after we reached Innaminka where I filled with fuel at $2.25 per litre. Innaminka doesn’t take much time to have a look around, a pub, general store/service station and they are doing up the Inland Mission building as a museum/tourist centre. We had lunch and backtracked 60klms to the Dig Tree. This is the place where Burke, Wills, Grey and King returned to in 1861 after their trek to the Gulf of Carpentaria only to find the exploration party, who had been waiting for them by the Cooper Creek, had departed the day before leaving instructions to dig for food carved in a tree. The explorers were to weak and ill to carry on but did manage to trek a few miles towards Innaminka where Burke and Wills died of hunger and thirst. King was discovered and saved and Grey had died after being beaten by Burke for apparently stealing flour. It is hard to imagine men starving to death here on Cooper Creek. It is green, the creek is wide and full with lots of pelicans floating up and down, parrots and all sorts of bird life. I have camped as close as I am allowed to the “Dig” tree, about fifty metres away and it is probably the best camp spot we have had so far on the trip, it is going to be hard to beat.
Today we traveled 334klms. Filled with fuel 52.72ltres for $115.19. Klms between fills 406.5klms.

Day 16. I walked around and took a few photos before breakfast, it was a lovely warm morning. After breakfast we packed and drove back to the main road and then up started the Nappa Merrie to Arrabury Road. The first fifteen kilometres of the road were beautiful, just like a four lane highway on the coast only gravel. At the fifteen kilometre mark was the alternate route to Innaminka and the end of the good road, the next thirty kilometres were bull dust and sand. It was good driving as long as I kept the car in the tracks. Mappa-Merri RoadYou never have a road to yourself nowadays, even a remote one like this, we caught up with five 4WDs who pulled over and let me pass, it’s good to be in front with all the dust. After the bull dust there were long stretches of good gravel road but they kept running back into single tracks of bull dust and sand. About sixty kilometres up the road I met a 4WD pulling a caravan coming towards me. The driver waved me to a stop and asked me where he was going, I told him to Innaminka and he said he was going the wrong way then. The five 4WDs caught up and passed and I waited to make sure the bloke with the caravan turned around safely as it was narrow and sandy. He had driven about thirty kilometres the wrong way, when we got to Arrabury we stopped and had a chat then off he went while we had a cuppa. The road from Arrabury the Birdsville Development Road was a gravel super highway, wide and just been graded. There were some washouts in the low areas that had to be watched but we made very good time along this part of the road. We reached the Development road and turned west for Birdsville.
About twenty kilometres along we came to Deon’s Lookout rest area and have pulled in for the night. The lookout is about 50mtres above all the surrounding desert so we can see flat horizons in every direction.
Today we traveled 308klms.

Day 17.The wind came up during the night and started buffeting us around. Our fly was flapping so bad we had to get out of bed, go out and take it off. It is pitch black in the middle of the desert and in a howling wind it was certainly a load of fun getting that fly off and rolled up but we managed and then got back into bed to be rocked to sleep with the wind gusts. The wind was still blowing when we got up, we had breakfast inside and then had a bit more fun folding away the canvas but we were soon on our way. We stopped to look at the abandoned Betoota Hotel and then drove into Birdsville. Everything is so green on the drive in though the desert with lots of water lying around, the Birdsville Racetrack is as green as Eagle Farm. Lots of people and 4WDs in Birdsville, it’s a busy place. We filled with water and fuel, had a chat to a couple from Caboolture with a large American made slide-on on the back of their Landcruiser. Took photos of the Birdsville Hotel and went in and had a drink. I got talking to the barman who is a keen photographer and Photoshop enthusiast. He showed me one of his posters of last years Birdsville Races with no horses, it was hanging in the lounge over the fireplace and was very good. The couple from Caboolture took our photo at the bar and I took theirs and then we went to the Information Centre for a bit of road information to Bedourie. We were told the road was sealed for over half of the distance and was all in good condition so we departed Birdsville and headed for Bedourie. On arrival we went to the road house to book into the Oasis Caravan Park, we were told it was across the road, pick your own spot, there is power if you want it, the amenities were en-suites, just pick which one you want and it’s all free – all caravan parks should have the same policy as the Oasis. We have now settled in for the night after a lovely shower in our en-suite.
Today we traveled 381klms. Filled with fuel 84.5ltrs for $174.84. Klms between fills 571.7klms.

Day 18. We filled with fuel, went to the Information Centre and were told all but 50klms of the road to Boulia was sealed so off we went. The sealed section of the road is just a single lane and if something comes you get two wheels into theBoulia. gravel, this also throws up stones and I now have three “stars” on my windscreen. The best thing to do for on-coming traffic is to get off the road and stop. The first two vehicles that came towards me this morning were road trains loaded with cattle; I got off the road and stopped until the dust had cleared. The next vehicle I met just drove right off the road and went bush, when I passed him he was twenty yards away. The unsealed parts of the road were a bit rough in places but in the main it was a good road. The landscape changed a bit on the drive to Boulia, we drove through red sand hills, clay pans, lots of gibber stone desert and a bit of spinnifex & just before Boulia Ghost Gums. We arrived in Boulia at lunch time and had lunch at the Information Centre, did a little shopping, filled with fuel and hit the road again. The roads are all sealed now but still just a single strip. By mid afternoon we arrived in Dajara. This is just a small town, a pub, service station and general store. It was once the largest cattle rail yards in the world but the advent of the road train stopped that. It is now a quiet, clean, neat town with mostly an aboriginal population. We had a look around the museum, very colourful, everything is brightly painted and set up in the rest area, very dusty, with free showers.
Today we drove 343klms. Filled with fuel 20.52ltres for $38.95. Klms between fills 195.4klms.

Day 19. The wind was up this morning and it was a little cooler. We got away early and headed for Mt Isa. As we got close to Mt Isa we drove into the Selwyn Ranges, this was an interesting drive after our days in the desert. You spot the chimneys of Mt Isa long before you arrive in town and on arrival we found it all a little confusing, but managed to find the Information Centre and then the Argyla Resort Caravan Park, where we were packed in like sardines. We were going to stay two days but have decided on one. We have just rested up and read this afternoon.
Today we traveled 158klms.

Day 20. We were up early but it was very cold, the wind got up a bit yesterday and has brought a cool, southerly change. Alice wanted to see a Dr. so we made an appointment, she then went shopping and I retired to a McDonald’s Restaurant so Icould make use of their internet wireless connection. Every McDonald’s has a Telstra Hot Spot connection, so it is not a bad place to have a cup of coffee and download your email. I uploaded my blog and did some work on the website for work. I then went and found myself a book store. Mt Isa has a great bookstore, Harrison’s Book Country, they carry a good stock, especially Australiana books, and it is a very busy store. I bought “The Dig Tree” by Sarah Murgatroyd and I highly recommend it. I met up with Alice again, took her for her appointment, filled with fuel and then we left town. We had an interesting drive though the Selwyn Ranges and 60 kilometres from town came to the Fountain Springs Rest Area. There are about fourteen of us pulled in for the night. I gave Charles Barton a ring and he told me he used to work just up the road a couple of kilometres at Mary Kathlene uranium mine. Charles has had an interesting working life, he once worked as a grader driver on the Tanami Track, out near Rabbit Flats. He should write a book.
Today we traveled 72klms. Filled with fuel 38.47ltrs for $68.75. Klms between fills 315.0klms.

Day 21. Another very cool morning and we were on the road at 8.45am, an hour later and we arrived at Cloncurry. Alice went for some bread and instructions for getting to the Information Centre, she reckons the cool weather has made the shop assistant a bit cranky, so she got her bread and a bit of crust too. We went to the Mary KathleneBourk & Wills Roadhouse Park, which houses the Information Centre, and had morning tea. Spoke to the lady in the Centre about going to Lawn Hill National Park, came out, rang and booked and we now have two days to kill before we are booked in. We check out campsite book, “Camps 3”, and found a campsite at the Kalkadoon Hotel in Kajabbi on the Leichhardt River which sounded good. We drove out, down 26klms of dirt road, well corrugated, drove across the dry Leichhardt River and arrived in Kajabbi. It will be a long time until it wins Queenslands “Tidy Towns” competition. We looked at the camp ground and decided it would be better to drive the 26klms back out to the main road and find another camp spot. The Kalkadoons were an Aboriginal tribe often compared with the Zulus for their fierce opposition to European settlement in the 19th century. After using guerrilla tactics on the settlers for 10 years, they were decimated in a pitched battle with the local settlers and the Native Mounted Police near Kajabbi in 1884. Kalkadoon bones littered the battleground for years. We drove on to the Burke & Wills Roadhouse and booked in for the night.
Today we traveled 311klms. Filled with fuel 18.22ltrs for $32.76. Klms between fills 133.6.

 

Continued

 

Canarvon Gorge
Dingos in Tree
Crossing the Paroo
A Trip Around Queensland
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