How Much?

As with each of our trips, I kept a tally of what we spent in various categories.

We were away for 22 days and nights and spent a grand total of $3627.07 which included accommodation, petrol, groceries and eating out as well as admission to various sites.

By far the largest chunk was the accommodation which accounted for more than 2/3 of the total. Fuel was less than $500 and we minimised our grocery spending by taking most of our own requirements. There was plenty of space in the car so we had the camp fridge which we actually ran as a freezer, an Esky for chilled food and several small cartons containing pantry items.

So, it is farewell until next time.

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The Last Stop

After a little over 4000km and almost 3 weeks on the road our last stop was Agnes Water and the adjacent Town of 1770. We spent 3 nights here. The time passed quickly as we explored the area, took some short walks and generally soaked up the relaxing atmosphere.

Here are a few photos.

Our home for a few night.

At the anchor from ‘Countess Russell’, an emigrant ship, which sank here is 1873. Thankfully, there was no loss of life as the passengers had disembarked at Rockhampton.

Site of Cook’s landing.

Stunning views in almost every direction.

Sunset over the water – a relatively rare scene here on the east coast of Australia.

I hope you have enjoyed riding along as we explored a little of our home state.

As always, there will be one more post outlining our expenses.

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Magnetic Magic

On our last full day in Townsville we took ourselves off to Magnetic Island. It is a short 14km from the mainland and a quick 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville.

The local buses connect with the ferry so we boarded the bus and headed off to the Forts Walk. This is a moderate 4km return walk to the heritage-listed WWII fortifications. There are plenty of spectacular views in almost every direction.

You are almost certain to see koalas. They were tucked up asleep in the middle of the day.

We rejoined another bus to continue on to Horseshoe Bay on the northern side of the island.

The view over the bay as we sat and ate our lunch.

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Tourists in Townsville

Our outback adventure came to an end with our arrival in Townsville. It was quite a shock to the system because as well as being back on the coast, it was back to city traffic and craziness. This was particularly evident as we arrived at about 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon.

We spent 4 nights with our friends at their home which resembles a rainforest retreat and is an oasis in the midst of suburbia.

With 3 full days at our disposal, we had plenty of opportunities to explore.

Townsville Town Common Conservation Park is is remarkably close to the city but it feels like you are a million miles away. There are trails suitable for walking and bike riding as well as plenty of bird-watching opportunities.

Here are a couple that I managed to capture.

The next day our hosts kindly took us a bit further afield, to Wallaman Falls in Girringun National Park which lies to the west of Ingham.

The route would normally be on the Bruce Highway and then west to the falls. However, we had barely reached the northern outskirts of Townsville when the traffic came to a standstill. Sadly, this was due to a fatal traffic accident and the road was set to be closed for several hours. So, we took the road less travelled and a somewhat circuitous route.

There was even a sign to help us on our way.

We arrived at our destination.

The top of the falls from the lookout across the gorge.

The view of the full drop is rather impressive. Wallaman Falls is the highest single drop permanent waterfall in Australia.

There is a walking trail which takes you to the bottom of the falls but we decided against doing it as we agreed that it was too late in the day to start out on what is quite a lengthy walk. Perhaps we will do it when we are next in the area and plan to reach the park earlier in the day.

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Halfway Hughenden

When we left Cloncurry we turned eastward and headed towards the coast. Hughenden is a convenient halfway point between Cloncurry and Townsville so we decided on staying here for 2 nights. This would enable us to visit Porcupine Gorge which is about 60km north of the town.

An early (7am) start meant that we would not be walking in the heat of the day. Our first stop was the aptly-named Bottle Tree Ridge. This afforded views over the surrounding countryside once we had scrambled up the rocky slope.

A bit further on and we reached Porcupine Gorge. We went to the lookout first. The views are quite amazing and even more so because the approach gives no indication of what you are about to see.

Then it was time to tackle the walk to the bottom of the gorge.

More spectacular views.

Even though it is the dry season and much of Queensland is experiencing drought conditions, there was still some water. Apparently it always has at least a small amount of water as there is an underground spring.

Back in town there were a couple of other sights to see.

The Post Office which is pretty well identical to every other Post Office we have seen in western Queensland.

The Public Library with a nod to the dinosaurs that roamed a large area to the south and west of Hughenden.

Clever use of windmill blades in creating a shaded seating area in the middle of town.

Finally, the historic coolabah tree located on the edge of town which was marked by 2 different parties as they passed this area in search of the Burke and Wills expedition.

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Westward Ho

We had been travelling west (and north) for about 10 days but when we left Winton it seemed like we were really making our way to ‘the Outback’.

Our destination, Cloncurry, is actually about 350km north-west of Winton and was the furthest point from home (1431km as the crow flies).

Some of the scenery after leaving Winton.

About 150km from Winton was our first stop. The Combo Waterhole on Dagworth Station is reputed to have been the inspiration for Banjo Paterson’s “Waltzing Matilda”.

Not far beyond the waterhole we passed through the tiny town (or is that too grand a term) of Kynuna with a population of less than 100. Although we did not stop, I was intrigued to travel this way and see it and its ‘twin’, in my eyes at least, of Mackinlay which is 75km further along.

So far this trip we have essentially followed the same route which my parents took in 1963 when they drove from Brisbane to Darwin with 2 pre-schoolers in tow. I was 5 and my younger brother was 3 when they set out on that adventure. Intrepid is a word that springs to mind as many sections of the route were unsealed, the car, an Austin A60, was a regular 2 wheel drive sedan and there was nothing that resembled a mobile phone at that time. Over the years, I recall numerous references to that trip and many included Kynuna and/or Mackinlay so I was keen to see these places for myself.

Mackinlay is about twice the size of Kynuna but still tiny. We stopped there to eat our lunch and discovered Queensland’s smallest library.

It is also the site of the hotel used in the film ‘Crocodile Dundee’.

Then it was on to Cloncurry where we spent the night. The Royal Flying Doctor Service began here with the first flight in May 1928. We visited John Flynn Place museum which gives an excellent overview of the origins of the service.

When you drive through these areas you can begin to appreciate what this service must have meant to those on isolated properties and even small townships where regular medical services were unavailable.

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Wandering in Winton

Like Barcaldine and Longreach previously, we came to Winton with a bit of a plan. Once again, a 2 night stay meant that we would have a full day available for sightseeing. I hoped that we would be able to make the drive of 110km out to Lark Quarry.

While we were in Longreach I decided to indulge in a little bit of research and pre-planning. As well as Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks there is also the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. I realised that it would be almost impossible to visit both sites in a single day but after reading the information and reviews we were keen to see both.

We booked our tickets at the Visitor Information Centre in Longreach. Since COVID19 it appears that admission to virtually all of the major attractions is limited to pre-booking for a timed entry either online or via a Visitor Information Centre.

We timed our departure from Longreach so that we would arrive at the Age of Dinosaur Museum, 20km south west of Winton, in plenty of time for our 12 midday entry time.

The first stop was the laboratory where the bones are painstakingly prepared.

Some of the bones in display in the collection room.

Finally, a walk through the Dinosaur Canyon included this representation of the dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry.

A present-day reptile.

The next day we drove to Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways which is an area of dinosaur footprints which are approximately 98 million years old and tell the story of a stampede of small (chicken-sized) dinosaurs stampeding as they were being chased by a large predator. It is a fascinating story which has been pieced together by professionals over many years.

The tracks are carefully preserved inside this building.

Some of what we saw. The photo does not really do it justice.

Scenery from the Lark Quarry precinct.

Not far from Lark Quarry we saw a sign to ‘Old Cork Station’. This caught our eye as it is mentioned in the lyrics of the Redgum song, ‘Diamantina Drover’. So we followed the signs and explored some of the ‘dusty Diamantina’. It was certainly an adventure.

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Lounging in Longreach

We planned to spend 3 nights in Longreach in order to visit the 2 major attractions here. Both the QANTAS Founders Museum and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame require a minimum of several hours to gain a worthwhile experience from the visit.

On the first day we visited the QANTAS Museum.

The next day it was off to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame where this statue of ‘The Ringer’ greets you at the entrance.

The museum is a tribute not just to the stockmen but all who lived and worked in rural Australia.

While these were certainly the main reasons for our visit they were not the only highlights of Longreach.

Brolgas, the Tropic of Capricorn marker, the well-preserved railway station and the Thomson River are also worthy of mention.

Finally, individual experiences are what personalise travel and make our trip different from that of those around us.

Visiting the cemetery in Longreach is probably not on the agenda of too many travellers but for me it was an opportunity to locate the grave of my great great great grandfather, William Quinn.

We also met up with friends who also happened to be visiting Longreach at the same time.

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Back in Barcaldine

After our day trip to the Sculpture Trail and Lake Dunn, we still had a couple of things to see in Barcaldine.

The first was the Tree of Knowledge, a ghost gum outside the Barcaldine Railway Station. Barcaldine was the headquarters of the shearers’ strike in 1891 and the tree was the site of the 1892 reading of the Labour Party manifesto leading to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. It was poisoned and killed in 2006.

The remains of the dead tree were removed and preserved and have now been replaced as a new memorial.

The memorial has been thoughtfully designed and incorporates many design elements,including night-time lighting effects.

We had another look in the daylight the next morning.

A closer look at the interior. The suspended timbers were made from recycled telephone poles and are described as ‘the world’s largest windchime’. The size of the structure replicates the size of the tree in 1891 and the varying lengths of timbers mimic the canopy of the original.

The precinct surrounding the tree includes various information boards regarding the role of Barcaldine in the shearers’ strikes of the 1890s. There is also a commemorative sculpture by Milynda Rogers who is also responsible for the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail.

The details on the plaque.

We were driving to Longreach but since it is only about 100km we had plenty of time to visit another attraction, the Australian Workers Heritage Centre which is located in the original Barcaldine State School. Numerous other buildings have been relocated to the site and include a railway station, post office and school. It tells the stories of Australian working men and women with a significant display about the nature of women’s work, both paid and unpaid.

The gardens include a young ghost gum which was propogated from the original ‘Tree of Knowledge’.

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An Artistic Outing

We arranged to spend 2 nights in Barcaldine for the express purpose of having a full day to visit the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail.  I had read an article about this attraction fairly recently and was keen to include it in our itinerary.

Lake Dunn lies to the north-east of Aramac which is about 60km north of Barcaldine.  I estimated that would be about 300km in total but that it was achievable as a day trip.  This was confirmed by the staff at the Visitor Information Centre in Barcaldine when we called in to collect a map of the trail.

The map was invaluable in knowing roughly where to look out for the sculptures along the almost 200km trail.  They have all been created by a local artist, Milynda Rogers, from barbed wire and various items of scrap metal.

There are about 40 sculptures which include birds, animals, insects, machinery and people. Here is a small selection of some of my favourites.

Birds

Koala

GMan and his ‘Flying Machine’

Johnathon Thurston

Returning Soldier – this was my personal favourite.  Despite, or perhaps because, it could only be viewed from a distance, I found it particularly evocative.

We also saw some real life.  A mother emu and her 3 chicks.

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