Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 31st

Sculptured Bottle or Boab Tree
 The morning was cold at -1 deg. With this in mind we have decided to travel in an easterly direction for a few days instead of south toward Victoria. The forecasts for NSW and our home state are for severe weather particularly wind and rain. Even though the evenings are cold here in southern Queensland the days are sunny and quite warm.

We enjoyed Roma with its streets lined with Boab Trees. When we reached Miles and visited the Information Centre there was a metal sculptured Boab tree in the garden. The trunk was rounded as in real Bottle tree and the branches held a bottle on the end...I thought it was very inventive. My photo is not so great though!

The country today has been much dryer in appearance. Roadside trees of wattle, eucalypts and Prickly Pear continue. In fact the Prickly Pear we have seen today are the size and shape of a small tree.

Royal Spoonbill
From Miles and Chinchilla we continued east and then across country, so to speak, to Lake Broadwater where we have camped with a lovely clear view of the water. There are a few water birds including Pelicans and  4 of the most beautiful Royal Spoonbills.  These are quite large birds with a very long black bill with a spoon on the tip of it. The roads to reach this idealic spot are bitumen but are dangerously rough in some sections where the black soil has sunk.

We expect a cold night because of the clear sky and lack of any breeze.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 30th

Last night at the Lonesome Camping Ground we were lulled off to sleep by the sound of a Barking Owl which was close by our rig. It is amazing how much this bird sounds like a barking dog..woof woof....woof woof !

The overnight temperature went down to zero...we have re-organised our bed covering this morning, as it is sure to be cold here at Roma. We are camped at the Roma Bassett Park Showgrounds where there was a race meeting today. There is a special area set aside for campers. The showers are very hot and not like the last town oval we stayed at when the showers were stone cold.

The road back to the highway, this morning, was particularly steep to the top of a very rugged 'jump-up'. The whole National Park consists of steep 'jump-ups' and is stark and noticeably scenic. The Spotted Gums are in bloom along side Iron Bark trees and Bimble Box. It is surprising to see so many Prickly Pear plants/tree along the roadside. I understood they were a 'menace and had been declared a noxious weed/plant'.

We stopped in Injune to visit the very informative Info Centre...then on another 80 km to Roma for lunch, a Laundromat and a Super Market. It is amazing what you can find in a new Super Market!
Eileen found a very unusual shop called Ace Draper. I have never been in a shop with such a variety of things to sell..anything from fabric, sewing equipment. kitchen ware, curtains, towels, sheets and clothing to name a few. Everything was all stuffed on shelves in narrow isles. Eventually I purchased some DMC thread and Eileen purchased some wool. It was a lot of fun exploring this place, even Geoff and John enjoyed it.

A steep and picturesque 'jump-up'

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29th

 Takarakka Bush Resort was such a lovely place to stay. I felt quite sad to be leaving. We are all revelling in the warm weather but we must slowly move south pretending we are going home. The evenings and mornings are certainly cooler now. John A and Cynthia have both sent a message to us telling us not to come home too soon as it is so very cold and wet. We are most thankful we are having this lovely warm holiday. There are hundreds of caravans on the road mostly with older couples enjoying their retirement as we are.

About 80 km south we turned into Lonesome National Park which is a section of the Expedition Park. We have camped early in the day so time for reading, stitching and a little more walking. The campground only allows for 3 here we are on green grass along with one other chap in his caravan.

Evening time has come. We have enjoyed a half hour walk and a warm shower and tonight Eileen and Geoff are cooking dinner for us.

Through a sandstone cutting
July 26th,  27th & 28th Carnarvon Gorge

Anzac Centenary Memorial in Emerald
The Emerald Artworks demanded a second look so we drove by some of them again then drove out to see Lake Maraboon where there is major work happening on the Fairburn Dam wall. On the way out we passed by a very large citrus orchard which is claimed to be the largest in Australia. It produces oranges, lemons and limes.

We continued on from the Lake south toward Springsure then Roleston on the way to Carnarvon Gorge. The National Park is 40 km from the main Highway. The road travels through several Station properties. We were lucky to see a Bustard, or Bush Turkey, as they are often called, as well as a couple of brolgas and 4 emus. The cattle station is currently running a huge number of cattle maybe 1,000 head. Oat crops have been planted to feed them and they certainly look contented, many are lying down, peacefully as if they have had plenty to eat for the day! One mob was being moved across country by horse and rider with several dogs to help. The country is wet after heavy rains.

John had booked 2 sites at Takarakka Bush Restort. There are a lot of campers in the park and we are conveniently placed with good space. We attended an info night at 5.00pm. This was a clear and enthusiastic dialogue about all the walks available and the Carnarvon National Park itself. We look forward to exploring it tomorrow.

Wednesday July 27th
Eileen crossing Carnarvon Creek
An early start for a long walk along Carnarvon Gorge. It was a lovely temperature for walking. John and Geoff walked about 14 km or even further. Eileen and I walked about 9 km. We planned to visit the Amphitheatre but I found one of the creek crossings somewhat challenging so we turned back and went into the Moss Garden. This pathway presented nearly 200 steps to climb. The very old rocks were covered in beautiful vivid green moss. The water fall were so very lovely to sit by while we ate our lunch. We welcomed the last creek crossing as we had walked for about 5 hours.Needless to say we are very weary this evening. The stepping stone crossings presented the biggest challenge for me although Eileen enjoyed the fun of them. The Carnarvon Gorge is very lovely with birds, wallabies, ferns, orchids, moss, palm trees, eucalyptus and  acacia trees as well as the clear running creek itself.
This evening we are all very tired, we have booked to stay a third night and tomorrow I expect will be very SLOW.

Queensland Silver Wattle
Carnarvon Gorge covers a vast area and would be wonderful to see from above. I doubt we will do this as Helicopter rides cost $400 for 40 minutes. There is no mobile phone contact here which, in this electronic age, gives everyone a different look at communication in remote areas.

Staghorn Ferns growing along Mickey Creek

Thursday July 28th
A much colder morning but a beautiful warm day. Late morning we set off for some more walking, but shorter walks today. Geoff drove us to the Visitor Car Park where the track to the Rock Pool began. John drove the car around to collect us at the end. This saved us having to walk back. It was an easy walk apart from needing to cross the Canarvon Creek on two occasions… one of these crossings had a few centemetres of water over a couple of the stepping rocks. I was pleased to be across each time. John was waiting for us when we reached the Rock Pool. A leisurely lunch was enjoyed before we departed for the walk up Mickey Creek. This was a very pretty walk with dozens of free growing Staghorn Ferns..some were  really tiny and others had grown much larger…fancy seeing these growing wild! The trees in this gorge were  Morton Bay Ash or Carbeen and Spotted Gum which really grows very large in this environment. Both the Silver Leaved Ironbark and the Narrow Leaved Iron bark were growing together along this narrow valley. The Queensland Blue Gum added another lovely aspect to the scenery. There were a couple more acacias/wattles which we have not been able to identify.

The Wilderness Lodge has a very good Information Centre. We visited this display and were able to identify some trees and birds. This was very good as nobody else has been able to help us with queries about Flora and Fauna. 'Mystery' birds have been the Pale Headed Rosella Parrot and the Red Winged Parrot. We will look at them with renewed interest.

Pretty Faced wallaby
As we were completing our walk today we passed a couple on the path. The lady looked so very much like our friend Helen Twitt. Eileen and Geoff were able to tell us that Helen has a twin sister….sure enough it was Helen’s sister, Lynette. We enjoyed quite a long chat with her and her husband. What a coincidence!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

July 24th & 25th Gemfields

Another clear, sunny day as we head south to Rubyvale. The bitumen road made its way across undulating country. The bush was much less dense with Iron bark trees, wattles and some Bimble Box trees some times called Poplar Box and correctly named 'eucalyptus populnea'. It is quite easy to spot them beside the road because they have lovely ovate shiney leaves

Many times as we have camped the beautiful clear whistle of the Butcher bird has indicated that this black and white bird must be nearby. However I rarely catch sight of one. Several times we have heard and seen a Laughing Kookaburra as well as the Blue Winged Kookaburra.

Red Gum Trees along Ruby Creek where we are camped
Ruby Vale is a mining town which produces Sapphires of a variety of colours. golden Zircons and Rubies. I always think of Sapphires as blue but this is not always the case as there are yellow. golden and green as well. The colour which really appealed to me was a deep/green stone. We saw some really beautiful pieces of jewellery made from them, showcased in the Sales Display areas we visited.

John, Geoff and Eileen went on a mine tour at Rubyvale, I chose not to do this,

There is only 7 kilometers between Rubyvale and Sapphire. Tonight we are camped on Ruby Creek at Sapphire. We will explore the area in the morning before moving further south.

Monday July 25th
We have come another short distance south today...only 60 kilometers to Emerald travelling through Anakie. All four towns are important in this Gemfields region.

Emerald is the largest of the 4 towns It is a busy place with an amazing number of outdoor sculptures including the Murri symbols on the Pathway which is another Rainbow Serpent story. A Centenary of Federation Mosaic Pathway, A Canadian artist painted a 'look-a-like' Sunflower painting by Vincent Van Gogh. This is now standing on the 'The BIG Easel'  behind the Info Centre in Emerald.
At the entrance to Emerald Town Hall there is a wonderful Bronze Plaque representing 100 years since  the Anzacs landed. Outside the Info Centre the giant sized Frilled neck Lizard stands on guard (so to speak) It is made of many items from the junk yard. His tail is constructed from a very large chain with spikes welded to it. They are all interesting pieces of art work. It is a credit to such a small town to be able to display so many spectacular pieces.
Anzac Memorial with poppies

 Sunflowere on the BIG EASEL

We are camped at the Showgrounds this evening with many other tourists/grey nomads I think!
John and I completed our activities with a walk through the Botanical Gardens which was thoroughly interesting. There were exercise stations at intervals for those who have energy for such activities.

John and Eileen chose a Restaurant for us to go to this evening..'The Capricornia'. We can thoroughly recommend it. The decor and table settings were quite sophisticated and the meal really delightful. At this point we have been away for 6 weeks. Slowly Slowly we are wending our way south to the colder weather of NE Victoria.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22nd & 23rd Theresa Dam

Hooray ..a clear sky today. Unfortunately there are still Road Closures  which are preventing us doing some of the things we would like to do such as visiting the Carnarvon Gorge and the Blackdown Tableland National Park.

Prior to reaching Clermont this morning we saw an enormous number, maybe 2 or 3 hundred brolgas on a fallowed field. The stalks of the last crop were thick so we wondered what crop had been harvested ..maybe maize or sunflower?

A lazy lunch was enjoyed under the trees in the gardens of Clermont while we decided which direction we would go. John became very frustrated trying to find a road open. Eventually we decided to go the short distance out of Clermont to Theresa Dam where there is a very large camping area.
Looking across Lake Theresa Dam
There are a lot of caravans and rigs already here at the dam but still plenty of room for us. We settled in for a lazy afternoon of reading, stitching and a walk around the park. There are many birds about, some of which are very friendly. A miner bird insisted on taking some threads from the fraying fabric of my chair and 2 Rainbow Lorrikeets were close enough to photograph.

Geoff and Eileen cooked a wonderful roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings. The meal is up to me tomorrow evening!

A cheeky Rainbow Lorrekeet sitting on my leg.
Saturday July 23rd .
After deciding to stay her another night we have had a very lazy day in 27 deg with no wind and a clear sky.

Geoff and Eileen returned to Clermont to find a Laundramat and visit the local IGA store.
We sat outside our rig in the shade..reading, sorting eucalypt leaves from the Iron bark trees as well as a little stitching.

The meal we cooked this evening was OK and everyone said they enjoyed it. John cooked a piece of silverside which has been in the refrig. for awhile. It was cryovaced and kept very well. with a range of vegies and some Milawa Mustard, the meal was quite enjoyable.
July 21st

Because of Road Closures we had to return to Charters Towers instead of travelling south via the Burdekin Falls on Lake Dalrymple. There were a few items to catch up on before heading south. One of these was to do some washing.... Combined with the Car Wash depot we found a DRIVE THRU Laundrette. It was spotlessly clean so I did a large load of washing which cost me 5 X $1 coins. I have never seen a 'Drive Thru'  Laundrette before.

As we crossed the Burdekin River we found the most amazing FLOOD MARKER. It went back many years. The highest flood recorded was in 1946 which was metres deep

Clermont is 365 kms south of Charters Towers. The bitumen road was very rough but the scenery was green and attractive with wattles, another type of silver leaved eucalypt and the very attractive bloodwood trees with orange trunks. Its common name is Yellow Jacket.

We crossed the Belyando River which was swirling along in flood. From this point we watched out for a camp site. Sides of the road were extremely wet and there were very few places to pull off the road. Eventually we turned into a road which goes through a station property but is a public road. The space was gravel, dry and quite level. Most roads have Rest Areas which do provide opportunities to camp but this road does not offer such areas.

The last glow of the sun

A wonderful sky this evening..first with the setting sun and soft colours then soon afterwards the moon came up brilliant in red colour which soon changed to gold..nearly a full moon I think.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20th

Orange grevillea

Surprisingly the day has dawned clear. However this latest rain event has changed  our plans yet again. It is best, or should I say essential, that we keep to bitumen roads until the weather clears completely and gravel roads dry out. This does not really matter as we can still explore some new places that are not so remote.
Large red grevillea

We have followed the Flinders Highway to Charters Towers which is quite a vibrant small town. From there we have come east toward  Townsville and camped on the Burdekin River at the Macrossan Free Campsite. It is a huge area and there are a large number of campers making use of this Council land. Our grandson, John and his mate camped here in February. It was probably a lot warmer at that stage. However the temperature is pleasant this evening. There is a warning about crocodiles. It is amazing where that sign pops up!

Today along the Flinders Highway we have seen lovely wild and orange grevilleas which I am unable to identify and some wild hibiscus in bloom. This has instigated a lot of discussion about Rosella Jam which we made years ago when we toured the Kimberleys. I bought a jar of this very tasty red jam earlier in this trip. I was completely unaware that the Rosella fruit came from a Hibiscus plant be specific it is Hibiscus sabdariffa.. Thanks to Eileen who has been reading about it on the internet. I am unsure whether the plant we found is the one that produces the rosella fruit for jam.

Wild hibiscus 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19th
The day dawned fine, warm and windy with black clouds to the south. It took only a short time to reach Hughenden. Along the way we had a last peep at Porcupine Gorge..yes another steep  and rocky climb but very much shorter this time. It was an interesting roadside stop because of the grave of Mailman Corbett . There was a short memorial to him. Evidently he delivered mail to local stations but, sadly, one night while he was camped at this site he was ambushed by aboriginals who speared him.
Grave of Mailman Corbett

 Hughenden to be quite a spread out township which was able to cater for all our needs. We are
camped in a parking area overlooking the Flinders River which is the longest river in Queensland and actually flow out in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The rain is following us with a very heavy storm mid afternoon. Evidently the town had 5 inches of rain last weekend. It is a very wet year for campers on safari. I am not sure where we will go from here as many roads have been closed since we used them over the last few days.

I am pleased to have good internet connection here and have been able to email and ring our family. We are pleased to know that Cynthia & David have successfully completed the Larapinta Trail along the West Macdonell Range near Alice springs. They are feeling very pleased and happy that they have been on such a wonderful walk about 230 km in distance. They were able to walk the distance in 14 days..up hills, along crests through gorges and creeks with temperatures ranging from about 28 deg to -3 deg...Well Done Cynthia and David a very special achievement - an experience to remember!

This evening we had a tasty meal at the local Chinese Cafe which has been operating for 32 years.
The theme of windmills is quite obvious around the town. There are several creative and  interesting sculptural works most utilising windmill fans but one artist has collected junk for an artistic impression of a dinasaur!

Darby the Junkasaurus

Rotunda featuring windmill fans at each end
July 18th

There was light rain overnight. This continued as we made our way toward the end of this ‘cross country’ track onto the Kennedy Developmental Road which, disappointingly,  was not as smooth as the track we had used during the last 24 hours. The bush was attractive as we travelled south toward Hughenden. The Narrow Leaved Iron Bark trees were quite prominent with their black trunks which were probably enhanced by the damp morning. Another small stand of the Silver Leaved Iron Bark trees enabled me to collect some more leaves which were much less eaten by bugs.

Large leaf from the Silver Leaved Iron Bark Tree
We were aiming for Porcupine National Park where we enjoyed our lunch in warm dry weather. The Gorge is really very deep with quite spectacular rock formations. John and Geoff walked all the way to the bottom of the gorge and up the very steep return. I set out with them but turned back about half way down. This took me about ¾ of an hour and was quite enough for my level of fitness. The guys were very glad to sit down after their return.

We had hoped to be able to camp in the Pyramid Camping Ground of the National Park but found there was no room when we rang the booking officer. This was rather disappointing but after travelling a few more km toward Hughenden we camped on the side of the road. This worked well as we were able to enjoy a great view 3 lightening storms in the distance. It is windy and storms are forecast. Hopefully the night wont prove to be too wet and stormy.

Pyramid Rock within Porcupine Gorge

July 17th

Under a clear sky , we left Cobbold Gorge Resort after a restful few days. There was very little internet connection so blog updates have been uncertain. Before Leaving we heard John Olsten  being interviewed on ‘Australia All Over’ It was interesting to hear his progress. He had become very wet through the rain event which had also made the track so muddy that it was impossible for him to push his trailer. Eventually he called into a station homestead for some assistance. He took a few days to dry out then he was on his way again with ‘bitumen roads’ on his mind.
We headed south to Agate Creek and Gilberton. We drove in to the Agate Creek Safari Camp which offered free camping with lots of space. One old guy had been there since March collecting gemstones from time to time. It is a remote camp with the closest availability of food stores at nearby Forsayth.
Water crossing south of Cobbold restort
We came upon a sign which said Rungalla National Park which is not marked on any of our maps. It seemed to be within the Ortona Station property. Within this property we also found two historical memorials. One was a brief history of the Ortona Copper Mine and the second was a similar memorial to the Teamsters who drove the Clydesdale horses which transported the copper out of the hills.
The road and trees were really pretty after the rain. We survived two really boggy creek crossings but otherwise the gravel road was very good. Many areas were predominantly Narrow Leaved Iron Bark trees..eucalyptus cebra, John picked a few for me as I believe that the leaves of the Iron bark trees can give good colour when used for dyeing fabric..we will see! We also picked some large silver leaves which were quite infested with grub damage. This has now been identified as an Iron Bark tree..the Silver Leaved Iron Bark or eucalyptus shirleyi.
Another interesting tree growing by the roadside was 4-5 metres in height and in full bloom. I think it was a hakea of some type but I have not identified it positively. It had exceptionally long phylodes about 30cm in length. The massed blooms were cream in colour. I was unable to find a hakea nut on the tree or under it and this would have positively identified the tree as a hakea. The trunk was gnarled with thick bark similar to hakea trees we have found across the Australian Deserts.
It took us ages to find a suitable campsite for this evening. Eventually we have camped near a wonderful stand of large cypress type trees. From the map we think the property is Oak Park. We sat by a great campfire and under a relatively clear sky. We are very aware of the sky because further rain is forcast.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July 14th.,15th and 16th Cobbold Gorge on Robinhood Station 

There were rain showers overnight. This rain continued all day as we drove on the Kennedy Highway which was quite a mountainous drive through low cloud. Wild orange grevillea lined the roadway in many places along with wattle and a cream grevillea. A very pretty avenue!
During the day we saw yet another Pheasant Coucal, a Scaly Breasted Lorikeet and a beautiful White Cheeked Honeyeater. A short walk through a Dry Rainforest at lunch time was the only time we took out from travelling.

White Cheeked Honeyeater
It was a long way to Cobold Gorge and it was well after 4.00pm when we arrived. Geoff had booked a campsite for us. We settled in to a very wet evening. John and I have visited this Tourist Park in 2002 and 2007. It has been developed and improved and has become much, much more well known and popular. We have yet to explore some of the new facilities. It has been raining so heavily that roads and tours could be cancelled.

Friday 15th The day was still wet. Rain had been falling all night with a total of 60mls for the 24 hours. This is a lot of water, but amazingly, it had drained away to a large extent. We spent the day in and around EC and the Cobold Gorge camping park, doing computer work and a little stitching and reading. The rain cleared somewhat by evening time so we were able to explore some of the newly developed area. We have been due for a few days rest in the same place so this is great to have 3 nights here, especially if the weather fines up.
People are being warned not to travel on the roads because they are very slippery. The roads have not been CLOSED so there are still some rigs coming in. They are all very muddy.
Grevillea in Cobbold Resort garden
Saturday 16th was cloudy but cleared into a warm day. We were booked to go on the Tour to go up the Cobbold Gorge.. The track out goes through the Robinson River which has had a minor flood through it in the last few fact several Gorge tours had to be cancelled because of this flood. Luckily we were able to take part today. The small bus took us through Robinson River and out to Cobbold creek where we went in a narrow boat up the spectacular Gorge. The boat is powered by Solar electricity so is very quiet. The silence adds to the mystery of the trip. The sandstone rock formations are spectacular and quite amazing.  Even though John and I have been up the Gorge twice before we enjoyed this repeat trip. The tour has actually been extended to include an interesting walk through the bush and along the top of the gorge. There was an opportunity to look over and into the Gorge. This would have been too close for my comfort but some people looked over the edge. Luckily we had booked at the restaurant for dinner as we were quite late back to camp.
 Since we were here 9 years ago there has been a lot of improvements to the resort. There has been a about 20 cabins installed as well as more camping type options. Out at the gorge there has been a large shelter shed built with display boards and toilet facilities
The end of our boat ride up the Gorge

July 13th
Last night’s camp site was OK apart from a poor Shower facility with a cold shower and from very inconsiderate neighbouring campers who  ran a noisy generator very close by.

Geoff and Eileen are going down to see the Undara Lava Tubes which we have already seen.
We are going east to Atherton and Lake Tinaroo where I hope to make contact with Elizabeth
 Desailly who is a cousin whom I have not met.

We took a cross country gravel road to reach Atherton. It was pretty but rather difficult driving. It is 
fascinating to note the various names for creeks. The most startling one we noted was ‘Earwacker 
Creek’ would this have been named??

Late morning on reaching Atherton we went to the IGA Supermarket where we spent a whole hour. 
It is the largest and most comprehensive supermarket we have seen. The variety was astonishing.

My luck was in because I found Elizabeth at home. She is a younger sister to Barry and Roly
Desailly, both of whom I have met, in fact we saw Roly in Hay a few weeks ago. By chance, both 
Elizabeth’s brothers were staying with her. She invited us for delightful.

We booked into the Caravan Park near Lake Tinaroo Resort where Elizabeth now lives. This was very convenient for washing clothes and a general clean up.

At 5.00 pm we went around  to meet Elizabeth. What a lovely lady who welcomed us with open arms and a very warm heart. We had a super evening with my 3 ‘Desailly Cousins’. They are not close cousins but carry the name my mother carried..DESAILLY. My great grandfather Edwin Desailly was a younger brother to their great grandfather Francis Wisdom 2nd. Their family consisted of seven siblings so there are a lot of cousins. I know very few of them.

Barry, Elizabeth, June and Roly

July 12th
Crossing the Mitchell in a Road Train

Last night an empty road train came through the Mitchell River Crossing---2 hours later it returned fully loaded with cattle. This morning soon after 6.00 the empty truck returned, crossed the river and 2 hours later came back over the river with a partially loaded truck. It is quite a spectacle to see. The driver gains good speed before coming down onto the crossing from the other side of the river..then WOOSH through the water he came firstly spraying dust then water everywhere. John and I walked down close to the crossing to get a photo. You can see the result.

Many of the river crossings we have been through today have had this sign ACHTUNG then in English WARNING and a crocodile symbol. Yes there is a possibility of Crocs in many of these inland rivers.

Because the roads were significantly smoother today we reached Chillagoe mid afternoon. We visited the ‘Archways’ at Mungala which is very near to Chillagoe. The rocks are huge magnificent limestone formations and very dark grey in colour. We did not go through a cave but just walked through the Archways which were spectacular in formation and size. There were also some quite good examples of Aboriginal artwork.

Aboriginal art at Mongana Caves

Tonight we are camped on the Rodeo Grounds at Chilligoe.
July 11th
Water Lillies
What was the highlight to day??  The very rough road after Dunbar Station, I think.  It seemed to be  along day but we only travelled about 170 km with an hours break for lunch. We found a magnificently long water hole with masses of water lilies. It was certainly a very warm so we found a suitable camp site before 3.00 pm.

One of the main points of interest was the passing of a Road Train followed by 4 semi trailers. John was able to speak to the drivers via our radio on Chanel 40. This was a great help as they kept well to the left to allow us to pass. Actually it was surprising the number of cars we met as well as the number that passed us on the road.

We came through Dunbar Station which was quite a large complex of buildings, yards and a very nice looking ‘Queenslander’ style home which was double story with lawns and greenery around it. To live out here in a comfortable manner you would need a well cared for home and garden.

I am not knowledgeable enough to know which grasses are best for fattening cattle. There was one particular area which was lush and green. The fat cattle were standing up to their bellies in this long grass. Trees appeared to be different with some beautiful wattles in bloom. John has identified a new gum tree in this bush. He thinks it is Gilbert Box.

All the way through North Queensland and Far North Queensland there are nests built by termites. Generally they are sharp and spiky although some are more rounded. There are very small ones and very tall ones, some feature buttress style wings. The colour of these nests change from the vivid red/orange ones we saw today through a whole range of colours..grey, brown and tan dark brown/grey.
Crossing the Mitchell River Causeway
This evening we have camped near the Mitchell River where there is low crossing with water flowing over it. There was large Egret standing in the water when we drove over..watching for fish I am sure. On the other side of the river there is a huge sandy beach area which must become flooded. The Mitchell River itself is wide and swift flowing. As we came to this crossing there was a prominent notice warning of crocodiles..sadly no incentive to have a dip in the cool waters on this very hot evening. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 10th
There was movement outside our rig in the night..evidently a padamelon (like a wallaby) was seen hopping through the camp ground during the early hours.
What a busy morning. Up early to listen to ‘Macka’ on Australia All Over. We had been warned that he would be interviewing John Olston who is the guy we saw 10 days ago, walking and wheeling a trolly across Australia. It had been arranged that he would contact Macka from Camoweal on this Sunday.  We heard the interview at about 7.30 am. John Olston is walking to raise awareness for the nasty disease that killed his partner.

John Olston walking across Australia
Off to the Market at Point Karumba. This was fun with lots of clothing and jewellery for sale. We  bought a couple of Papayas. These are a close cousin to the Paw Paw but have a much more acceptable aroma.
After coffee and doughnuts we set off north on the Burke Developmental Road to explore another area. What great fun with so much to see along the way. A huge variety of birds was the main point of interest for me. Lots of Brolga and Sarus Cranes. A Jabiru choking down a fish for lunch and a Greater Egret, a Straw-necked Heron, a pair of Magpie Geese, a Pelican and even a Pheasant Coucal which flew up from the weeds on the roadside. The regular road kill provides meals for the kites and hawks and especially the huge Wedge Tailed Eagle with its long feathery pants. After we chose a camp spot we saw a Darter diving for fish..what a long neck it had. Then several black cockatoos flew over making themselves well heard! There was a lot of water on the roadsides some man made after scraping gravel up for road work and some lovely natural lagoons with a few water lilies. The countryside  was really pretty and quite green featuring some wattles in bloom and also the Silver box tree, there was also a Blue leaved melaleuca growing along the roadside.
The mobs of cattle are mostly fat and seemingly ready for market! They actually appear to be very pretty in the bush with all the multi colours of cream, grey, brown, tan and black (and every colour in between). I expect they are a drought resistant breed waiting to go to market..maybe even to be exported live to an overseas country.
We lunched on the Gilbert River where we saw about 10 Freshwater Crocodiles either floating below the surface of the river water or out sunning themselves on a sand bank.
Tonight we are settled on a small lagoon which is part of the Staaton River system and about 150 kms from Kowanyama which is on the coast of the Gulf.

It has been a delightful trip north today.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7th. 8th & 9th

It was an excellent bitumen road for the last 30 km into Normanton from the Burke and Wills site. It is hard to imagine how Burke and Wills and their team travelled such long and remote distances without any support. It is 155 years ago since they set out from Victoria on this Epic Expedition.

We have enjoyed a restful day at Normanton and are now camped on the Norman River just out of town.

In the main street of the town there is an amazing life size model of the largest estuarine crocodile ever killed It is huge! The size of its mouth and body have to be seen to be believed. The host , Jason, in the Info Centre told us there is now another very large croc living upstream from Normanton. It has been seen from a helicopter and appears to be a similar size although not quite as large as this original giant.

'Krys' the world's largest crocadile
. It was shot by well known crocodile hunter Krystina Pawlowski hunter in 1957 and measured 8 metres and 63 cm long. The 'look alike' was made to measure. I found it to be truly frightening and quite sickening.

A meal out at the Albion Hotel was enjoyed by us all.. a night off cooking is always appreciated.

The morning of July 8th John and I enjoyed a half hour walk on the 'Shared Pathway' which crossed over the Norman River. Sometimes it is difficult to fit a walk into our day so this was very pleasant.

Taken from the bridge over the Norman River

Late in the morning we boarded the Gulflander train. The rail line actually goes to Croyden which is 5 hours away. We only toured as far as Critters Camp and return. There is no station out here so steps are lowered to climb on and off the train. This 2 hour trip was long enough as the little train gave us a very rough ride. Having said that, it was fun and the commentary interesting.. The Gulflander train is owned and operated by Queensland Rail.

Gulflander train at Critters Camp.
There are many different birds in this part of Queensland. We are now seeing brolga quite often and a couple of Saurus Cranes flew over our camp this morning. They are very similar to brolgas. Jabarus and Royal Ibis live up hear as well. I think the little blue winged Kookaburra is the oddest of all. We have heard him lots of times. He is only able to make a cackling noise unlike our Laughing Kookaburras in Victoria that are known for their hearty laugh.

This evening we have come up to Karumba to camp for 2 nights. We are in a very big camp with some enormous rigs. I think many of these people are keen fishers of barramundi. We do not fish but this evening Geoff cooked some very delicious barramundi for us.

I have written Normanton and Karumba on the same post because the two towns are quite close together. They are both on the Norman River about 70 km apart.

We explored Karumba this morning, yes, did some shopping because most shops close at Midday Saturday. Lunch was enjoyed looking over the waters of the The Gulf of Carpentaria. It has been hot so very easy to enjoy R & R.

Jabiru enjoying fish for dinner
About 4.00 pm we found the wharf where we boarded a small craft for a sunset cruise. One croc was spotted sunning himself before evening. The bird life was wonderful to see and quite close up as well. A pair of Jabiru, a black kite and several whistling hawks enjoyed the fish which was thrown to them. A surprise siting of the unusual Great Billed Heron was very special. It is grey in colour and so well camouflaged that only a few people have the opportunity to see it in the wild. A large flock or creche of juvenile Royal Spoonbills was also impressive to see for ourselves.
The sunset and village lights completed our cruise.

Setting sun across the Gulf 

July 7th. 8th & 9th

It was an excellent bitumen road for the last 30 km into Normanton from the Burke and Wills site. It is hard to imagine how Burke and Wills and their team travelled such long and remote distances without any support. It is 155 years ago since they set out from Victoria on this Epic Expedition.

We have enjoyed a restful day at Normanton and are now camped on the Norman River just out of town.

In the main street of the town there is an amazing authentic statue of the largest crocodile ever killed It is huge! The size of its mouth and body have to be seen to be believed. The host , Jason, in the Info Centre told us there is now another very large croc living upstream from Normanton. It has been seen from a helicopter and appears to be a similar size although not quite as large as this original giant.

'Krys' the world's largest crocadile
. It was shot by a female hunter in 1957 and measures 8 metres and 63 cm long. The 'look alike' was made to measure. I found it to be truly frightening and quite sickening.

During the afternoon we arranged to go on the train ride tomorrow.

A meal out at the Albion was enojoyed by us all.. a night off cooking is always appreciated.

July 6th,

He & Me with Leickhard Falls in the background

We had camped on the bank of Pear Tree Creek. It was dry so no fear of Crocs! Another fine and warm day.
Our first stop was at the Leichardt River Falls. What an amazing site despite that there is no water going over the falls at present. The river bed at the top of the falls is a vast 200 metre rocky stretch with some wide crevices with water in them. The floods that flow through here must be powerful and noisy. We could see that one large section of the road had been washed aside as well as some very large branches. It was interesting and fun to walk over this very hard washed rocky surface.

We drove on and very soon crossed the Alexandra River which flows into the Leichardt River below the falls. This river crossing is not so wide..only about 100 metres.
The trip toward Normanton was through Savannah lands -  interspersed with bush which varied  from Silver Box, Coolibah trees and many unknown trees and plants. Generally it looked healthy with bright green foliage but some areas appeared to be dry, probably because of the type of grass which was growing..  Mobs of cattle appeared to be contented. The road was gravel passing over grids, dry creek beds and corrugations making our progress quite slow especially with the many oncoming vehicles we met.
We lunched in the shade of a Melaleuca or Paperbark tree on the edge of Goat Creek. The water looked like ‘chocolate milk’.
We are camped across the river from where Burke and Wills set up their last Camp…Camp 119, It was February 1861 when they tried to walk to the sea on the Gulf if Carpentaria. It was a fateful expedition which  ended  in four party members dying of starvation before they realised their dream to reach this northern sea.

Our bush camp over looks the Little Bynoe River which is very wide and shows the marks of strong flood water damage. We enjoyed evening drinks overlooking the Little Bynoe and watching kangaroos coming for their evening drink. Several Sacred Ibis were walking in the shallows as they delved for their evening meal on the other side of the river. 

 Memorial to Burke and Wills journey north

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5th
 This very warm day has gone quickly. The Gulf country is unusual for us with mangroves, crocodiles, mosquitoes and sand flies.
The morning was clear and still, with the most beautiful reflections on the Nicholson River.

Morning reflection on the Nicholson River
We drove around the Aboriginal town of Doomadgee which was quite tidy and well cared for.
We travelled about 100km east to Burketown which we found to be a very well cared for town with green lawns around all the central areas.

Eileen had a message from our friend Caroline to tell us that her brother was currently in Burketown. We had his email address so very soon we were in contact. Richard and Pru had been camping near the mangroves on the Arthur River but had moved to the main camping ground in the town. Off we went and soon found them.. so that was a bit of fun to catch up with people we know. They are keen anglers who had been fishing for barramundi. Everyone tries to catch a barra! Geoff has purchased some for us so we look forward to a lovely fish meal.

We had intended to camp near the Boat Ramp on the Arthur River but it appeared to be rather dry,  hot and unshaded so we moved out of town and found a more shaded place on Pear Tree Creek.

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th

Another clear sky. We packed up our camp and left Adels Grove about 10 am and headed north toward the coast of the Gulf. The gravel road was quite good and took us through Lawn Hill Station. Twice we crossed the clear running waters of the Lawn Hill Creek.
The country is dry so there are not many animals and birds about. We saw a couple of kangaroos, 20 Station horses and a very large mob. of multi coloured cattle but few native creatures.
The bush land was interesting although quite sparce in some places. We identified Silver Box trees, Ghost Gums. Carbeen trees and Cabbage Gums which are all eucalypts. There were many Bauhinia trees as well ..these are commonly called Butterfly trees because the leaves are formed liked butterfly wings.
The drive across the Western Gulf Savannah was interesting with the many termite nests which are now grey instead of red-brown that we saw earlier.
Tonight we are camped on the Nicholson River which is wide with many water lillies in bloom. The sign on the waters edge says NO SWIMMING. The reason for this is unknown but we are suspecting that there may be crocodiles in the water. I will not even dip my big toe in!

View from our camp on the Nicholson River