The Far South West

In my last post I mentioned that we were in Eromanga. From there we went to Thargomindah via the pub at Noccundra for lunch.

If you are not sure where these places are, you are not alone. My knowledge was hazy at best until we started planning this trip.

Here is a map to give a bit of context.

The population of Noccundra appears to be 3 – the people who run the pub. It is a beautiful old sandstone building which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Then it was on to Thargomindah, the administrative centre of Bulloo Shire. Don’t let that fancy description fool you into thinking it is anything other than a small country town. The population of 270 makes up the majority of the population of the entire shire which is 350. The area of the shire is 73,724 square km and is only slightly smaller than Scotland.

In terms of interest to the tourist, Thargomindah definitely punches well above its weight. We bought a pass to visit the 3 main attractions – the old hospital, old jail and hydro power plant. These are well-maintained and have displays as well as audio-visual presentations to tell their stories.

Inside what was the main (8 bed) ward of the hospital.

The jail.

The hydro power plant which was the third in the world (after London and Paris) to produce electricity for street lighting began in 1898 and continued until 1951.

It was powered from bore water from the Great Artesian Basin.

Thargomindah lies beside the Bulloo River and the Pelican Point picnic area features some spectacular trees.

As you can see from the map we have now turned eastward and are on our way home.

There will be a couple more posts as we visit more of south-west Queensland.

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Uncharted Territory

Once we left Charleville we were definitely in uncharted territory.

After a stop for lunch in Quilpie, we headed to Baldy Top lookout which is just west of Quilpie. After a short climb to the top we had a spectacular view from some of the highest ground in south-west Queensland.

Then it was on to Eromanga.

The sign says it all.

With an official population of 119 (2016 census) it is not exactly a booming metropolis. However, its latest claim to fame is as the home of Australia’s largest dinosaur – Australotitan cooperensis, aka Cooper.

The Eromanga Natural History Museum is doing an amazing job of preserving and displaying Cooper and friends – other sauropod and megafauna which have been discovered in the surrounding areas. The first stage of the development is open.

Part of Cooper’s pelvis and femur preserved and diplayed.

A replica of Cooper’s front and hind limbs. GMan and I for comparison.

This installation in the main street of Cooper riding a surfboard is a quirky statement about the local ‘hero’ and the distance of the town from the ocean.

Finally, a sunset view.

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Heading West

As we did at much the same time last year, we are on a road trip in our home state of Queensland. The trip began in the same direction, however, it will take an entirely different route after the first day or two.

Our first stop was Roma but we deviated slightly from the Warrego Highway once we got to Dalby. We went via Tara and Surat and saw some different scenery.

We stopped at the picnic area by the lagoon in Tara to have lunch.

A bit further on at Glenmorgan. You probably wouldn’t buy a used car here.

Then it was off to Roma for an overnight stop.

On our way to Charleville we called in to the hotel at Muckadilla, otherwise known as the Mucka Pub, about 40km west of Roma. We had seen a snippet on the television recently about the reopening after a fire 2 years ago. Naturally, it was important to support this business.

Taking a look around.

The welcome committee.

Part of the garden and front verandah.

Plenty of cool spots both inside and out.

Accommodation options will be added soon so we are definitely planning a return visit with an overnight stay in 2022.

Then it was off to Charleville for the night.

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Travel in 2021

I have vacillated for some time over writing this blog post as I do not not want it to come across as insensitive or gloating when so many in this country are struggling with lockdowns in order to limit the spread of the Delta variant of Covid19.

Of course, overseas travel is off the agenda for the time being and the first half of 2021 was very much focused on family matters as my mother was seriously ill and subsequently passed away at the end of April.

We did have trips planned and postponed due to family reasons and border closures but we managed to do some rescheduling and sneak in a couple of short trips.

First up was 4 nights in Canberra. The purpose was a family wedding but we did include a bit of sightseeing, too.

The layout of Canberra means that there is bushland reserves closely interspersed with suburbia and this was a short walk from where we were staying. The view from The Pinnacle Nature Reserve.

A visit to the Australian War Memorial was a must.

Thankfully, the border was open in May and we were able to visit friends and family in South Australia. A friend’s milestone birthday was the catalyst for the trip and we also had a short break in the Clare Valley.

A much-awaited trip to Central Australia for 8 days in June was fantastic and rivalled anything we have seen overseas.

View from the Rim Walk at Kings Canyon.

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A late afternoon view at Kings Canyon.

Reflection at Walpa Gorge, Kata Tjuta.

A full moon, sunset and Uluru.

Last week we spent 2 nights at Dundowran Beach near Hervey Bay. This was a new kind of adventure as we found some pet-friendly accommodation and took our small puppy. She travelled well and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Looking forward, we have 2 trips planned.

Next week we are heading west to Eromanga to the Natural History Museum to acquaint ourselves with Cooper, the new dinosaur. It will be a round trip of 9 nights and while we have been as far as Charleville, the remainder of the trip will all be new territory for us.

At the end of November we are off to Town of 1770, between Bundaberg and Gladstone for a week. We will be sharing our beach holiday with friends.

The flight credits with Jetstar, visit to our daughter in Melbourne as well as a planned camping trip to Ballina, NSW are all on hold and in the ‘one day’ basket.

I hope to get back to posting every couple of days during our trip out west so watch this space for some updates before too long.

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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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