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Day 22. After a very quiet night, an early breakfast we turned west for Gregory Downs. Five years ago we camped by the Gregory River at Gregory Downs and it was just beautiful. About three years ago the Burke Shire Council banned camping by the river but made an area available to camp in town. The stations have all been restocked out here and there are hundreds of young steers in the paddocks, it looks like truck loads have been dropped off every few kilometres. When we arrived at Gregory Downs a new dump pint was being installed by the toilet and free shower facilities. We went for a look at the river. “No Camping on the River” signs were up but we found about ten vans camped there so we went back up town, showered, returned to the river and picked a spot for the night. One of the reasons camping was banned by the river was because people were driving their 4WD’s into the river and washing them. I went for a walk along the river bank and here were three 4WD’s in the river being washed. I asked where they were going and they told me Lawn Hill, 140klms of dirt road. I explained why camping had been banned on the river and showed them the signs. Why would you want to wash your vehicle and then drive 140klms over what is arguably the dustiest road in Australia? This has got to be one of the loveliest camp spots we have ever been to. The water is crystal clear and the bird life is unreal.
Today we traveled 164klms.

Day 23. Had breakfast beside the babbling Gregory River, it was a shame to pack up and leave. From here to Lawn Hill it is all dirt road, there are warning signs up regarding the dust, when you drive through it you are unable to see anything for quite a distance so it is best to stop when you see on-coming traffic and wait for the dust to settle before proceeding. We hadn’t gone far down the road when I caught up with two road trains taking fuel to Century Mine. At first we had a bit of a breeze which blew the dust off to the side of the road but after a while the breeze dropped and the dust from both vehicles just hung in the air. I slowed to about sixty and they pulled in front. I was driving about three or four kilometres behind and was still in their dust, about fifty klms up the road they turned off and the drive became more pleasant. After the Century mine turnoff the road became a bit rougher but a few kilometres from Lawn Hill NP it improved slightly. I stopped to assist a bloke who hadLawn Hill NP stopped at the side of the road. I thought he had a flat but when I walked around to see what his trouble was he was trying to dig a white metal post out of the ground which was jammed under his car. I don’t know how he did it but he had reversed of the only white marker post for about fifty kilometres and it had sprung back up and jammed under his chassis, he couldn’t drive forward and didn’t want to keep reversing because he didn’t know what damage it would do so he had his folding shovel and was trying to dig it out of the ground. I rolled under the vehicle, grabbed the post, pulled it down and told him to drive forward while I held it. We were the first into the camp ground at Lawn Hill National Park so we had the choice of camp spots. We went and registered at the Ranger’s Office and were given loads of information on the park, told when were the best times to do which walks and then we made ourselves morning tea. This afternoon we went on our first walk, Island Stack, a steep climb and then a walk around the top of the stack looking down on the bottom gorge, it was lovely but I don’t think I’ll have Alice for company on any more walks. It is very warm now.
Today we traveled 100klms.

Lawn Hill NPDay 24. We spent the day at Lawn Hill. I went on an early morning walk up around the Top Gorge, back by the creek to Indari Falls, then a climb up to the lookouts over the Middle Gorge and then back, I was by myself, Alice didn’t make it. In the afternoon I went on another walk, Wild Dog Dreaming, it was not as good but helped me work up an appetite.

Day 25. At 8.30 we were down by the creek and hiring our two man canoe. We paddled up the Middle Gorge, sort of. The canoe went in all directions to start, Alice had a single paddle up the front and I had the double paddle down the back, when I talked Alice into putting her paddle down I got the canoe on track. Lawn Hill Creek has carved three gorges though the sandstone here and you canoe on these emerald green waters though red sandstone gorges. At the top of the Middle Gorge are the Indari Falls. These are formed from the buildup of limestone from the calcium in the water of the creek. Once we reached the falls we had to drag our canoe out of the water, drag it thirty mtrs around the falls and put it back in the water in the Upper Gorge. The whole trip took two hours and was well worth it. We then packed up and drove back to the Gregory River without incident. WE now have the same camp spot as we had a couple of nights ago.
Today we traveled 102klms.

Day 26. We left Gregory Downs early this morning, drove back to the Burke & Wills Roadhouse and bought a cap and then headed for Normanton. The countryside around here is very flat, the grass is up and the stations have been restocking. We saw a lot of Brolga dancingBrolgas in the fields on the way into town. One surprise in Normanton was the old Burns Philp building is now the Information Centre and Library. They have done a good job of doing up the inside of the building; it was built in the 1880’s and is now Heritage Listed. I told the lady that we both used to work for BP’s and we were given the run of the place, out the back in the old store rooms and all. We did a bit of restocking, filled the gas cylinder, ran out last night, filled with fuel and left town for the Walker’s Creek Camp Area. There is a big crowd here but we have found ourselves a good spot. A bloke came over for a talk; he is called Lloyd Parsons from Coonamble. By the time Lloyd left we knew all about his family history in the Coonamble area, Oka motorhomes, how to cure cancer (selenium) and how to look after your heart (garlic & lemon), but he was a nice bloke and I’ve learnt something.
Today we traveled 379klms. Filled with fuel 123.87ltrs for $242.66. Klms between fills 929.6klms.

Day 27. We drove into Karumba this morning. Karumba is a good spot if you are a fisherman or want to buy seafood, it doesn’t have much else going for it except it keeps a lot of Victorians warm in winter. Alice bought herself some prawns and a bit of barramundi. We did a bit of grocery shopping, Alice bought a piece of cooked barramundi for morning tea and then we headed back to Normanton for lunch. After lunch we turned east along the Savannah Way and have pulled into a camping area called Leichhardt Lagoon, a camp spot for fishermen who wish to fish in the Norman River on private property. Talking to some people they come every year and stay for months and the fishing is good.
Today we traveled 201klms.

Day 28 We have driven just a little way down the Savannah Way to Croyden. Croyden is one of my favourite towns. It is full of history from the gold rush days. It is the site of Queensland’s last major gold rush after two station hands found gold in a fence-post hole in 1885. Within five years the railway was built and Croydon’s lucky miners were whooping it up in one of the towns 36 hotels. There is not much left here now but the residents are proud to show it off. What is left has been restored and there is a very good caravan park.
Today we traveled 98klms.

Day 29. We had breakfast sitting outside in the caravan park and watching all the galahs flying around. We hit the road about 8.30; it is a lovely day, warm and sunny. We drove to Georgetown and decided to go to the loo; whilst in there I heard a racket going on outside and a helicopter had landed right beside the loo. Alice was stood next to the vehicle covered in all the dust and leaves that the helicopters blades had blown up. We went around to the park and had morning tea, filled with fuel and left. We arrived in Mount Surprise and had in the café and then left for O’Briens Creek. After 40klms of dirt road, plenty of corrugations, we arrived at the O’Briens Creek camp ground. There were a few vans in here, we booked in, got some directions and then left for the fossicking grounds. This area is known for its topaz gem stones. We found ourselves a spot in the creek and a bloke came up and introduced himself as Jerry from the Blue Mountains, he showed us what he had found, which was about 30 stones, and showed us what to look for and where to look. We had no luck and went back to the campground after about 2 hours of trying. It is a very warm night; we have spotted about 5 satellites before turning in for the night.
Today we traveled 296klms. Filled with fuel64.87 ltres for $122.84. Klms between fills 481.8klms.
Me, hard at work in O'Briens Creek.
Day 30. Back to the gem fields bright and early, we found a Smokey quartz in the first sieve full and thought; this is going to be a good day. We only found a bit more quartz, had a talk to a bloke who was born in Wollongong and was the Senior Maths Master at Kiera Boys High School, had morning tea, pack up and left about 11o’clock. We stopped for lunch at 40 Mile Bush National Park and have now camped for the night at Archer Creek camp ground, it is full, about 25 vans, cars, tents and buses in here. When I pulled up I had a bit of trouble putting down the support poles on the Trayon. They were just a bit too long so I dug a small hole and dropped them in there. I just sat down and noticed why the poles were too long, I had a flat tyre. Out came all the tools and I had it changed pretty fast. When I went to put the flat tyre away it would not go in the spare tyre holder, it was just too wide, I let all the air out and me and the bloke parked next to me finally forced it in. It is quite cool as we are now on the Atherton Tablelands.
Today we traveled 193klms.

Day 31. It was a bit cooler than it has been lately but we sat out and had our breakfast. The bloke Milla Milla Fallswho was parked next to me and helped me change my tyre started up and moved away to the other side of the camp area while we were eating, he then came back and told us the van on the other side of him had had his generator going till after 10pm last night and then started it up again before seven this morning and it was just too noisy for him. We got under way as soon as the fly had dried out from the dew and drove to the Millstream Falls for a look. These are reputed to be the widest falls in Australia and are very impressive; they are only a short walk from the car park in the Millstream National Park. We then visited the Information Centre at Ravenshoe and got maps for the Milla Milla Falls Circuit and went to look at Milla Milla Falls. We had lunch here and then drove to Atherton for a look around. We decided to come back to Atherton tomorrow so have parked nearby at Tolga at the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park. This is a large camp site and is full of motorhomes. The Christmas in July Motorhome Rally starts on Thurday and the motorhomes are camped all around the area waiting to get into the grounds at Mereeba.
Today we traveled 113klms.

Day 32. It rained a little last night but was just cloudy when we woke; we had breakfast and drove into Mereeba. I dropped the tyre off to have the puncture fixed and we went for a walk around town. Mereeba is a nice clean looking town, there were little groups of Italian men standing around talking at various places in the main street and it all seemed to have a village atmosphere. I picked the vehicle up and found out the reason we couldn’t get the punctured tyre back into place was because it had an eight inch rim and the spare I had taken out had a seven inch rim. Alice went to the supermarket & I took the vehicle to the auto electricians as I was having some trouble with my rear and brake lights, he soon had them fixed so we filled with fuel and headed north for Mt Malloy where we have now pulled in for the night. We were parked next to a couple last night at Tolga and have parked next to them again tonight, they are nice couple and are on their maiden trip in their vehicle and enjoying being on the road. They are called Shane & Robyn from the Gold Coast. Shane was telling us his father was a carpenter who helped to build Woomera in the early fifties so I got out my Len Beadell cd and we had a listen to his stories.
Today we traveled 68klms. Filled with fuel 63.09ltrs for $113.50. Klms between fills 478.1klms.Me and my Hero, James Cook.

Day 33. Rained last night and we had a bit of wind too. There is a low pressure system off the coast and all the Queensland coast is getting a bit of rain apparently. After packing up we headed for Cooktown. It was a lovely drive up, the scenery changes as you go, there are some really good lookouts and then you come on to Black Mountain. This is just a huge pile of granite rocks covered in a black algae, it is quite spectacular. It is just a shame it is an overcast day because it is a lovely drive to Cooktown. When we arrived we booked into the Orchid Caravan Park which is within walking distance of everything in town. After lunch we went for a stroll around town. Cooktown is the place where Capt. James Cook beached and repaired the Endeavour after holing it on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770. There are monuments and statues to Cook all along the front. It was also the port used by the miners during the Palmer River Gold Rush during the late 1800’s. Tonight we went to Chop Suey Louie’s for tea; it was very nice but after I have had a Chinese meal I always fell that I shouldn’t have had it, tonight was no different.
Today we traveled 230klms.

Day 34. What a night, rain and wind, it was almost cyclonic. We didn’t get much sleep, great gusts of wind kept whipping though our tent and shaking they whole thing around, and there was no letup all night. There were three 4WD’s parked next to us and they had tents up on the roofs of their vans and they said that they hadn’t slept either. We were going to go down the Bloomfield Track to Cairns today but the people in the 4WD’s came up yesterday and said it was very slippery, it would be worse today as there was a fair bit of rain last night. I was told by the van park owner not to attempt the Bloomfield Track as it would be too slippery so we visited the Capt Cooke Museum, which was very good, and headed back to Mt Malloy. An hour or so later Shane and Robyn arrived back from Cooktown and pulled in along side us, we all sat around and had a yak before turning in
Today we traveled 220klms.

Day 35. The weather forecasts say it is still wet and blowing on the coast so we have decided to head west and leave the coastal area. We drove into Mereeba and rang Charles & Faye who had arrived in Mereeba and were at Davies Park, the site for the motorhome club’s Christmas in July Ralley. We drove around there and said g’day, then filled with fuel and left for Atherton. Alice did a bit of shopping and then we had lunch. We have now settled in to Archer Creek camp area, outside of Ravenshoe, for the night.
Today we traveled 153klms. Filled with fuel 69.35ltrs for $124.76. Klms between fills 539.2klms.

Day 36. It was a nice fine morning and we got away about 8.30am. We retraced our steps back out through Mt Garnet and west as far as the Forty Mile Scrub National Park where we stopped for morning tea. We then turned south on the Gregory Development Road heading for Greenvale. We passed about five large road trains carrying ore. We were lucky, most of this road is a single ribbon of bitumen but every time we came upon a road train the road had widened out to a two lane road. We stopped in Greenvale for lunch. This is a mining town; there is not much to it but the Three Rivers Hotel that Slim Dusty sang about. After lunch we were back on the road and have now stopped at the Fletch Creek camp area. This is a fairly large camp spot just north of Charters Towers by Fletch Creek, there are quite a few caravans here and some look like they have been here a while. Charters Towers had record winter rainfall a couple of nights ago and this place is certainly boggy in places and a lot of the camp spots have been ripped up by bogged vehicles.
Today we traveled 406klms.
Charters Towers
Day 37. We drove into Charters Towers early this morning and I must say it is certainly a beautiful and clean town. Charters Towers was a gold boom town between 1872 and 1899, it was the Queensland’s largest city outside of Brisbane and from the look of the buildings it must have been a very prosperous one. There are very few historic city hearts as beautifully preserved as this one with its grand old civic and bank buildings. We spent all morning wandering around then went up to the lookout. There are all story boards up here telling of the gold mining days, it is really well done – a lovely town. We filled with fuel and had a shower at the Mobil Roadhouse and then we drove west out of Charters Towers to the Campaspe Creek Camp Area and have now pulled in for the night. I don’t know how quiet this is going to be, two trains have already passed and blew their whistles for us and with the train track at the back and the road at the front it could be noisy.
Today we traveled 142klms. Filled with fuel 72.88ltrs for $131.11. Klms between fills 566.1klms.

Day 38. Well the trucks and trains ran all night so we had a bit of a disturbed sleep, the trains refrained from blowing their whistles though, so that was good. It was a beautiful clear morning and we drove west heading for Hughenden. It was a beautiful drive, we drove though eucalypt forest most of the way, gums were in flower, wattle was in flower and there was a small red bush in flower along side the road. After we reached Prairie the eucalypt gave way to grasslands and hardly a tree in sight in some places. Hughenden was all closed when we arrived as it was Sunday. We had lunch, visited the Information Centre and headed for Porcupine Gorge National Park. The road was a bit boggy in places because of the recent rains and we arrived about 3pm, set up camp and headed for a walk to the gorge floor. It is not a bad walk down, Alice quit half way, but the walk back to the top is a bit of a slog. They have been working on the camp ground out here and have some really good camp sites, we have now settled in for the night after looking for satellites, spotted two.
Today we traveled 235klms.

Day 39. We drove back into Hughenden this morning had a look around town for a while, did a bit of shopping, filled with fuel and headed for Winton. The wind has come up and it is quite cool, not as cool as the Bunya Mnts where we have heard it snowed. The Gregory Development Road from Hughenden to Winton must be the worst road we have been on this trip, and some roads have been bad. It is so bad that there are signs up telling you to drive in the centre of the road, you would be mad if you didn’t anyway. We had lunch in Winton and discussed weather to stay or not, it was cold and windy, we have decided to push on and we are now camped at the Macsland Rest Area, 24klms North West of Longreach. This is a very good, large rest area which is well off the road with plenty of camping spots.
Today we have traveled klms. Filled with fuel 49ltrs for $89.67. Klms between fills 397.0klms.

Day 40. Today we drove into Longreach, and unfortunately I was not feeling the best, we have decided to end the trip and head home. We went for a quick look at the Hall of Fame, we have had a good viewing on a previous trip, and then hit the road. We are camped in Moreven tonight at the Recreational Reserve. I headed for the showers but was told they were cold, I turned them on and they were boiling hot. Someone might have just been trying to save themselves the hot water.

Day 41. Today we drove through to Blackbutt to Pauline & John’s place. Pauline & John started the trip with us and stayed the first week. Tomorrow it is just 100 kilometres and home so I will end my narrative here.


 

Birdsville Pub
Nappa-Merri Track
Milla Milla Falls
A Trip Around Queensland
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