Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 30th

Our travelling companions
The day began with an early morning visit to Coles Super Market. The remainder of the morning was spent with a visit to Mt Isa Creative Fabrics and a tour of the Underground Hospital which was originally built in 1942. At that time Darwin had been bombed and it was felt that Mt Isa maybe the next target so a safe hospital was established underground. It fell in to disrepair after WW 2. but has now been reclaimed as a Museum style hospital. It was most interesting to tour the E shaped tunnels/wards. Old furniture, equipment and methods were on display in a simple manner.

The drive north has been through very pretty hilly country with spinefex. ghost gums and rocky outcrops. We experienced our coldest morning at 4.1 deg today which was followed by the highest daytime temperature of 30.1 deg. The evening is pleasantly warm as we are camped amongst Snappy Gums on the side of the road south of Riversleigh towards Lorne Hill.

Bunks in the Underground Hospital

June 30th

Our travelling companions
The day began with an early morning visit to Coles Super Market. The remainder of the morning was spent with a visit to Mt Isa Creative Fabrics and a tour of the Underground Hospital which was originally built in 1942. At that time Darwin had been bombed and it was felt that Mt Isa maybe the next target so a safe hospital was established underground. It fell in to disrepair after WW 2. but has now been reclaimed as a Museum style hospital. It was most interesting to tour the E shaped tunnels/wards. Old furniture, equipment and methods were on display in a simple manner.

The drive north has been through very pretty hilly country with spinefex. ghost gums and rocky outcrops. We experienced our coldest morning at 4.1 deg today which was followed by the highest daytime temperature of 30.1 deg. The evening is pleasantly warm as we are camped amongst Snappy Gums on the side of the road south of Riversleigh towards Lorne Hill.

Bunks in the Underground Hospital

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29th

We have enjoyed today at Mt Isa. Washing clothes was the main aim for this morning. At 1.00 pm John & Geoff joined a tour of an underground mine. Mining in Mt Isa began in 1924 with the primary products being copper, lead zinc and silver. The mines are still productive today.

Eileen and I explored the shopping area and Information Centre. This evening we went to The Bluffs for dinner. A great change to have a fish meal. Geoff is dreaming of catching a barramundie as we go further north.
In memory of lost miners

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28th

Lake north of Dajarra
We left Boulia in bright sunshine and, yes, the day did warm to 20 deg but the evening is quite cool again.

The drive north was most enjoyable. It was flat to begin with but then we entered some very attractive hilly country. We stopped at Dajarra and chatted to the Service Station owner and assistant. Lunch was enjoyed at a very pretty lake. Along the way we found a family of brolga. It is surprising how many brolga birds we have seen. There was wattle in bloom, termites nests and John thought he found a waddi tree--actually a type of acacia which grows very slowly.

Tonight we have settled into a Caravan Park. This is the 3rd park we tried to book a site in. Mt Isa is a busy town at present with lots of visitors.

Family of brolga birds

Monday, June 27, 2016

June  27th

 What a pretty drive through rocky hills, outcrops and mesas. Grass is green and trees are freshly green as well after recent rains. Some areas are very flat and then there are spectacular hills again.. The scenery is fantastic with all the ochre colours of dark brown, soft grey, orange, red, yellow and white. The sky is clouded with every colour of grey.

Cawnpore Lookout was well worth  the climb up the rocky path. The view was remarkable as were all the bright ochre colours. This lookout is exactly on the Tropic of Capricorn.

Looking from Cawnpore Lookout

Middleton Hotel

We stopped at the old Middleton hotel which is still operating. Later we came to the ruins of the old Hamilton hotel.

Boulia is a small town with several coffee shops! The Information Centre provided us with the story of the Min Min Lights for which Boulia is famous. We have to decide for ourselves whether this mythical story is true. Tonight we are camped on the banks of the Burke River at Boulia. There has been a chilly wind all day but no rain!
June 26th

Sunday morning in Winton was quite a buzz as The Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival is currently on for this week. We wandered along the street with all the visitors and enjoyed a cup of coffee, an Opal shop and then went in to see the Winton Outdoor Theatre. This was first opened in 1918. Typically it had canvas deck chairs and some colourful more erect chairs.

Boulia Outdoor Theatre

We set out along the road to Boulia on a bitumen road through very flat country. We had planned to go to Boulia from Windorah but because of floods and mud we had to follow the bitumen to Longreach and Winton and now towards Boulia from a North-west direction. It is a very long detour. It has been an interesting drive through the Channel Country with some really beautiful hill country with pretty streams, rocky outcrops and lovely bush. We have camped by Opal Creek this evening.

Opal Creek

Banjo Patterson brought many of the Channel Country rivers alive through his poetry. A 1.3 million-square-kilometre region of south western Queensland is known as the
‘Channel Country’ The name is derived from the network of river beds and streams coursing through the relatively flat terrain. Channel Country is renowned for the braided channels and flood plains of the Georgina, Burke, Mulligan, Wills, Hamilton, Diamantina, Thomson, and Barcoo Rivers that become Eyre Creek and Cooper Creek further South.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 25th

A clear morning as we headed north to Longreach. Actually it was a pretty drive with undulations, curves and straight sections of road. We arrived late morning in time to do a little shopping before lunch, which we ate by the Thompson River near a camping area. There were a huge number of rigs camped in rows and paying the Shire of Longreach only $3 per night.

Tonight we are camped on the roadside between Longreach and Winton. It is a very flat view as can be seen from the photo.
The sun sets on the horizon!

June 24th

A day of  surprises! We woke to a clear blue morning after enjoying a great campsite on Kyabra Creek which runs through ‘Kyabra’ Station. There were many small birds about, including a flock of cockatiels. They are a small dark grey bird which belong to the cockatoo/parrot family. Wild flowers are beginning to appear on the roadside..yellow goodenias, mauve fan flowers, pink morning glory, yellow cassia and a beautiful pink parakeelya.
The road was bitumen, with only a short distance of unsealed surface. There is still a lot of water about. Coming into Windora we had to cross Coopers Creek. We drove through 3 expanses of water about 450 to 500 metres in length and through 2 shorter sections. I am never very confident when driving through flooded roads. Crossing the main bridge over the Cooper was incredible. There seemed to be so much water travelling very swiftly. All I could think of was THE POWER OF WATER and hope we could keep between the guide posts.
After asking about road conditions in Windora we soon realised we would have to re-route as the westerly roads were all closed. We headed off to Winton but as we turned north a few kilometres before Yunter there was the dreaded sign of ROAD CLOSED. Yes, we had been given the incorrect directions…Another change. We have to re-route to Longreach to escape Closed Roads. The road to Longreach is bitumen. Along this road about 40 km toward Longreach we have camped at the Swan Vale Rest Area. It is a really lovely spot with a great view over the surrounding country.

It has been frustrating having to change our plans so often but we are having a new experience. John and I have visited many of these places before but always during drought periods when everything is dry and there is no water to be seen and so much red dust which goes through the vehicle. This time the opposite conditions are prevailing ..wet weather, boggy roads and floods. I think these are the conditions that make outback Australia so challenging to live in. Towns and stations become isolated for weeks at a time. It would be necessary to keep a large supply of food in the pantry all the time.

Driving through the Cooper

Crossing the main bridge over Coopers creek

June 23rd

Rain again! Yes it seemed to rain lightly all night. Ten kilometres of travel took us into Quilpie which appears to be a tidy and attractive small town with a very well developed Information Centre. We made one other visit and that was to see the opal frontal display on the altar and the lectern of St Finbarr’s Catholic Church.
Our main aim today was to visit the Eromanga Natural History Museum. John had booked a tour for us and it is quite amazing to see the results of research and findings of Dinosaur bones in this area. It is a huge, expensive and important project. Only the First Stage is on display. A large amount of money is needed to complete the complex.
Eromanga Dinosaurs are the largest in Australia and in the top ten largest in the world! Palaeontologists have determined that some of the Eromanga titanosaurs found near Eromanga are indeed new species to the world and also they are different to any dinosaur found anywhere in Australia. The Outback Gondwana Foundation Ltd is unearthing these prehistoric giants. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Giant femur on display

We saw a couple more brolgas. They are such graceful birds. The Yapunya trees are in bloom with masses of cream flowers, no doubt waiting for the bees to take the nectar for more Paroo Honey. Tonight we are camped on the edge of the road again, 
but on a property on the Kyabra Creek. The moon is magnificent over the water making a wonderful reflection of trees clouds and water.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22nd

Opal nut as a miner finds it

We were told that the road north to Quilpie had been closed because of flooding from the Bulloo River. With this news in mind we walked slowly around the town and visited two of the Opal Businesses. Miners have developed skills to cut the Opal nuts found in the Yowah area and then display the cut and polished opals for sale. The finished gems are beautiful, showing iron stone, petrified wood and beautiful opal colours and patterns.

An opal nut which has been opened to show opal inside
The town is clean and orderly and cows and kangaroos seem quite at home on the streets. By the time we had driven to the town lookout and viewed the wide scene and eaten our lunch we found that the Bulloo River had receded so we were on our way travelling north towards Quilpie.

The drive was interesting with many obvious spots where water had been well over the road.
We went into the well known Toompine Hotel where the Land Rover Tour Group were all parked. The Hotel was providing them all with entertainment, food and drinks and a place to camp.

The day was becoming late and foolish young grey kangaroos persisted in 'playing chicken' with our vehicle. It seemed that they always needed to be on the other side of the road. Luckily we did not hit any of them. John spotted two Brolgas and we also saw a family of variegated wrens and several zebra finches.

We have camped on a high hard gravel rise on the side of the road about 10 km from Quilpie. This evening the lights can been seen as a glow in the sky.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21st

A warmer day with high cloud and no rain!
Eulo is a very neat and clean little town.We visited 3 shops as well as viewing an old bomb shelter which had been built during WW 2. We met an older lady on the street who remembers the shelter being built. It was set quite deep in the ground.
The Grocery/Coffee shop was very neat and orderly. Across the road was PAROO PATCH..a patchwork, clothing and leather goods shop. I bought a lovely belt which was plaited from 13 strands of fine leather. We found Paroo Honey in the Gem Stone would think it would be in the Grocery shop! Paroo Honey is made from the blossom of the Honey Tree / eucalyptus Yapunya and is quite distinctive and delicious.

We have camped at Yowah this evening. It is an opal mining area. While waiting for our washing to be completed at the Laundrette we noticed a red and black spider on the ground. It was a very angry spider. This male Mouse Spider is venomous with a painful bite

Black spider with red pinchers found at Yowah

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20th,

Despite the main road camp we had a quiet night. Today has dawned with a cool breeze but still there is rain forecast...more rain!

Disappointing as it is to take detours because of impassable roads, it is wonderful to see this country so green and the animals contented and in good condition. The amount of water lying across the paddocks gives a complete picture of drought and flooding rains words taken from the poem 'My Country' written by Dorothea Mc Kellar.

Lunch was enjoyed by the Warrego River after which we visited the 'Cunnamulla Fella' Information Centre

Today we have crossed the border into Queensland from New South Wales.
We came upon a motor bike accident about 85 kms south of Cunnamulla. There was a fire truck, an ambulance and police in attendance. Maybe an emu or a kangaroo tried to cross the road at the wrong time.
Entering Queensland
June 19th

Travelling north from Cobar, on Kidman Way, was a very wet trip. There was some water over the bitumen road and sheets of water on either side of the road.

We lunched at Bourke as we decided on the next  plan as all camping parks seemed over full. Eventually we settled on a roadside camp which had dark grey metal gravel underfoot..NO NEED TO BE BOGGED!

We visited the ‘Back Of Bourke’  Museum which has a lovely garden of Australian plants including a 'spinning gum' or eucalyptus perriniana. Inside the building there is a wonderful display of historic facts with poetry to enhance the history. Henry Lawson wrote: 'If you know Bourke, You know Australia'.

A second piece of poetry I recorded was: 'I Rise in the Drought from the Queensland Rain, I fill my branches again and again' author unknown. Initially I thought this was a tree speaking but now I think it is a river, probably the Darling River on which the town of Bourke is built.

Spinning Gum (eucalyptus ) taken in the garden of the Museum

Edward  Dickens (husband of Constance Desailly) was featured in the display as he had part ownership of Yanda Station, south of Bourke, during the late 1800s.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 18th

Disappointingly we had to make the decision not to continue with our plan to go to Mt Murchison Station. The weather forecast of 30 mls combined with the present condition of the roads told us to KEEP TO BITUMEN.

I did have the pleasure of speaking to the present owner of Netallie Station. 16 kms from Wilcannia on the Barrier Highway. This property was owned by Alfred Desailly in about the 1870s. Alfred was a younger brother to my Great Grandfather Edwin Desailly.

The current owner, Jeremy McClure, was pleased to speak to me but sadly advised that the track into the Homestead was too wet for traffic. The McClure Family will have owned the Netallie Station for 100 years in 2017. Jeremy said his Grand father (or maybe Great grandfather) purchased it in 1917.

We have travelled on to Cobar where we are camped near the town reservoir. Rain is threatening and it will be surprising if it does not rain during the night. The country is very obviously WET and very unlike the dry scenery we saw 2 years ago.

Gateway to Netallie Station (near Wilcannia)

Friday, June 17, 2016

June 17th...

What a day with nearly 20 mm of rain over night. Dirt roads have been closed because of the muddy conditions. It is not possible for us to visit Mt Murchison Station where Connie (nee Desailly) and Edward Dickens lived. The roads will not open for several days and with more rain expected we feel we must re-plan our schedule. It is very disappointing because the whole focus of this section of our Safari has been whisked away.

Late morning we went into Wilcannia for another look around at some beautiful buildings including the Hospital erected in 1878 and the Arthenium building which Edward (Plorn) Dickens had a part to play in its development.

There were many police at the main bridge over the Darling River. After waiting for awhile and listening to a speech from a leader of the Barkindji people about saving the Darling River. (This grand old river is fading in colour and very low in the huge channel.) This group of people were staging the SAVE THE DARLING RIVER !  WILCANNIA BRIDGE BLOCKADE.

We returned to camp and enjoyed a lovely walk along the Darling River but OH SO MUDDY!

Blockade over Darling River Blockade

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June 16th

We set off before 9.00 am. and stopped at Ivanhoe for a short break. It is a small township with few services. Onward north over some clay/gravel roads with short distances of bitumen. This road north follows the Tourist Route of the Long Paddock...a droving term I think.
Rain is threatening. Ian Marr from Mt Murchison is watching the weather for us. If rain comes the dirt roads become too slippery for travel. In fact the roads are actually closed. I hope it does not prevent us from going out to Mt Murchison. We drove into Wilcannia for a short look at this historic town where Connie (nee Desailly) and Edward Dickens were well known during the 1870s & 1880s.
We have settled for the night at Warrawong Camping area. It is clean and very green. Ken & Joan are still on the road at 4.15pm. We look forward to their arrival.

The advertising poster for the Tourist Route of
The Long Paddock.
June 15th

Great morning at the Shear Outback complex. We met Roly and Tricia Desailly for coffee at 10.00 am. Kim Biggs joined us as well. Kim is a member of the wide Desailly clan as Ken and I are. She descends from Annie Kathleen who is my Grandfather, Ormond's, sister. These connections are really interesting. 2 hours later we lunched in the same cafe.
With Ivanhoe in our sites we headed north and camped on the area opposite Baird's Truck Stop. The countryside is green with some water about.

Boiling the billy after dinner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 14th

We have had a very busy and tiring few days...we are now on holidays. The three days in NZ went without a hitch. A very sad funeral but we are so pleased that we made the special effort for Anneshka and her family. Cynthia has helped us enormously as well as our 2 grandsons but now we have changed speed and on our way.
We left Milawa about 9.20 this morning. The day began with early voting for the Federal Elections. Geoff and Eileen Dinning met us in Corowa . From there we have headed north and to the Murrumbidgee River and followed it down stream to Hay, arriving about 400 p.m.
We drove into the camping area on the River at Hay and the first people we met were our very good friends Beth & John Harrison. What an amazing coincidence. I did not even know that they were headed this way. Ken & Joan Ellis (my brother and sister-in-law) will meet us this evening for dinner. What a unexpected party.
The day has been interesting in that most areas all the way have had rain so the paddocks are green. Cotton is being harvested and secured in large plastic rolls. A very attractive drive. Today the temperature has risen above 24 deg so I was really too warm. However the evening is closing in and will be quite cold I think.

A winter morning from our home

Thursday, June 9, 2016

2016 Inland Safari

June 9th

The days  are slipping by. Unfortunately I am packing for 2 trips. Sadly Anneshka's mother, Barbara died on June 5th after being ill for some months.

John and I along with Cynthia, John Y & Christopher are flying to New Zealand tomorrow. John A and Anneshka are already with the Hutton Family in the north of the North Island. We will attend the funeral on Saturday and fly home to Australia on Sunday.

I now have most things packed and EC is nearly ready to go.

Winter has settled into our garden leaving the lemon tree as the 'bright spot'. Lemons are nearly $1 each at present so our tree is quite valuable!

Lemon tree at Kyamba, Milawa