We are going to fast! We have to fill in time before we reach Urunga so decided we would spend a couple of nights in Dalby which meant we only had a short run today and booked into the Dalby Tourist Park. Our site is right next to the river and the Park is only 300 metres from the main street so we will hit the town tomorrow and see what Dalby reveals. The only drawback is we are also close to the Thursday night sing along and sausage sizzle so I’m guessing its Country and Western tonight like it or not.
So its a real struggle putting up with all this sunshine and lovely mild weather. Would you believe the forecast for tomorrow is 7º overnight and a sunny 25º day. Loving this weather.
We left camp and refuelled in St George (cheapest fuel to date $1.989/litre). I noticed the suspect tyre was down again so headed to Balonne Tyre Repairs run by Damian Lee and his family. Excellent service, straight onto it and found a leaking valve extension was the problem so carried out a quick repair and we were off to Roma.
We had lunch in Roma and we were in luck as the Outback Sculpture tour was in town so we were able to check them out. Really very good, the racehorse and jockey won the People’s Choice Award, but I also particularly liked the eagle and the giant vase of flowers.
We moved onto Miles which is a further 120 kms down the highway. We did a shop at the local IGA (we are trying to support the locals in these small towns) before setting up camp in the freecamp by the river. Jenny is excited as she gets to have fire again tonight (but she has to have it finished in time so she can watch Home and Away – bloody TV reception is to good☹️)
We enjoyed our pub meal last night. $25 for a self serve smorgasbord of Pork Sausages, Rosemary Seasoned Lamb Chops, Potato mash, corn, beans and onion gravy. Bloody lovely!
After another cool night and a quick pump up of one tyre (must keep an eye on that) we were back heading East. First stop was Cunnamulla for fuel and a photo of the statue. The township is certainly much prettier than when we were last here some 14 years ago, with the gardens surrounding the statue a credit to the Shire Council staff.
We then headed back towards St George over roads we hadn’t been on before stopping on the side of the road for lunch. Quite a lot of feral goats around with thick pasture everywhere. It makes a pleasant change to see all this green grass and the tiny wildflowers making the their mark. We decided to stay in St. George tonight at the Riverpark Caravan Park to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary.
So far this trip we’ve travelled just over 7500 kms but who is counting. A lot of it on roads new to us and after unusual weather events. Still a lot of water laying beside the roads, fast flowing rivers and lush pasture. A different view of outback Queensland.
We spent a relaxing couple of nights in Charleville at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park – a real throwback in time. Old facilities but spotlessly clean if a little different (Sheilas and Blokes to distinguish the sexes). This gave Jenny the opportunity to watch football on both nights. Charleville appears about half the size of Leongatha and has the airport right on the edge of town which houses a Royal Flying Doctor Base. You know when a town has a struggle to find sites of interest to tourists when one they do list is the site of the fertiliser truck explosion (which happened in 2014 see https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-08/transport-workers-union-want-review-ammonium-nitrate-explosion/5726828 ) which is about 30 kms out of town.
We planned our getaway to head down to Quilpie and then onto Toompine if the roads were passable. Fortunately the Quilpie Information Bureau was able to tell us that the main roads were open (even if they were undergoing some repairs) so we headed off with the plan to freecamp at Toompine. But oh no, “progress” has meant that the site is closed down while the pub undergoes renovations. From what we could see it was more a complete rebuild than a renovation as the original roof and walls have disappeared replaced with a modern “interpretation” of an out back pub.
In a fit of pique we moved onto Eulo, deciding to stay behind the hotel and have a counter meal tonight to support an original outback pub – The Eulo Queen Hotel. Still extensive signs of the heavy recent rains but the roads are generally in good condition. We saw our first emus for this trip, a few pig carcasses and heaps of feral goats, getting fat on the bountiful pasture around here. I wonder if goat is on the menu tonight.
A lazy morning this morning, just reading the paper and catching up on the news. We did a bit of brainstorming on future plans (didn’t take long, there’s not much brain to storm). We decided to have one last fling in the Blackall retail space and headed up an alternate route which revealed yet another couple of Blackall sights, the first being a tribute to wood, wind and wool.
We passed the site of the original artesian water bore. Blackall currently gets their drinking water straight from the Artesian Basin and hot water is piped around the town. Water from the bore flowed at an astonishing 630,000 litres per day in 1985.
We then headed to the heritage listed old Masonic Hall, now housing a delightful cafe (no goat on the menu) and clothing. Enjoyed a very nice lunch there before ambling back to camp to ready ourselves for the trip south to Charleville.
We decided to stay here for another couple of days to take advantage of the park and the town’s history. They have put a lot of effort into both finding things that would appeal to tourists and displays featuring historical content. We roamed the streets all morning taking in a number of the sights (and sites).
The first impressive feat was by Jackie Howe who holds the world record for shearing with hand shears 321 sheep in seven hours and ten minutes. He went on to own a local hotel and was a pivotal supporter of T J Ryan who went on to become Queenslands first Labor Premier. Howe was revered in the Federal Labor Party as one of the original promoters of its ideas.
Across the street is the Blackall Memorial Garden with a bronze statue of Lt. E. T. Towner who received to awards for gallantry in 1918. He won both the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross for his heroics in France
And finally, an explanation of the term beyond the black stump is provided by another landmark in Blackall. The black stump was a large black stump that was situated in Blackall and was used as a base point for surveying instruments used at the time to survey outback Queensland. At the time, Blackall was considered to be the edge of civilisation in Queensland hence the term.
From there we moved onto view an elephant, presented to Blackall by Perry’s Circus to commemorate Perry Bros Circus close association with the Barcoo area. Then onto Rams Park which has a display of the importance sheep and wool to the district. Sadly the exhibitions (like us) are starting to show their age. The ram has certainly seen better days.
We left Muttaburra after a cool night. We retreated to the van after dinner as the cool breeze was to much for these koalas to bear. We tailed a cattle roadtrain out of Muttaburra down to Aramac where we had morning tea and inspected the white bull (yeah its a load of bull, just another tourist drawcard)
From Aramac we continued down to Barcaldine to check out one the shrines of Australian workers’ rights, the Tree of Knowledge (or rather the art installation that replaced the tree after it was poisoned by some clown in 2006). It’s the location where the shearers formed the Australian Workers Union and all enrolled to vote, forming the foundations for the Australian Labor Party in 1891.
We hit the local bakery to try out their vanilla slices and I reckon this one would beat even Bob Bentley – no way of stopping your fingers getting sticky on this one – to much icing and oozing custard. From there it was back on to the road and returned to Blackall to camp at the Barcoo River Campsite. We walked up the street to do some grocery shopping before settling back into the camp. We’ll head down to Charleville via Auguthella tomorrow after a quick look around the points of interest here.
Left the well resourced camp site at Isisford to head east to Blackall then North to Barcaldine. It was mainly new country today with lush pastures of native grasses and low height trees. There were plenty of fat cattle around and a steady stream of traffic coming towards us until we reached Barcaldine.
We stopped there for a quick bite to eat before refuelling and heading north through Aramac and onto Muttaburra. We set up in the Muttaburra Caravan Park which you pay via an honesty box ($10 per night for unpowered sites which is all we could get as the park is full). It’s interesting to see all these grey gonads just parked here for the cheap accommodation. The hotel is just 500 metres walk up the street and, other than the Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre, is the only attraction in town. It’s unusual for us to drive through such expansive scenery and actually see green grass and not bare red dirt.
We will head south again tomorrow and check out the towns of Aramac, Barcaldine and Blackall before moving a little further south into previously travelled country.
Awoke this morning to a bright sunrise and a chilly wind blowing. We carried out our normal morning routine and discovered someone stole one of our wheel nuts during the night. Times must be tough if you have to knock off a wheel nut! I checked them yesterday morning as I usually do before taking off but we only travelled 30 metres to another site within the Caravan Park and the wheel nut indicators all lined up but this morning the indicator and nut were missing from the bottom stud on the front right hand wheel (the easiest to remove considering the tension on the wheel nuts – 230nM). The park Management had warned that there were strange things happening in the park and to watch our valuables as they had had some thefts on Friday night – but a wheel nut?
So in a fit of pique we hit the road for the arduous journey of 117 kms to Isisford. It was all new roads today, single lane bitumen through open pasture country. Plenty of feed in the paddocks and plenty of tourists coming towards us. I’m still amazed at the newbie caravan drivers flogging along at 100 km/h on undulating, single lane, flood damaged bitumen where you have to go half off road to dodge oncoming traffic. They play with fate.
We made up camp on the Barcoo River Weir along with the numerous other gypsies. $5 per night or $27 for the week with a couple of onsite toilets, with toilets and free showers in a modern amenities block in the Main Street for those that need it. It’s a quaint little town with around 250 residents. It’s interesting that nearly all the street names in the town are named after saints. I must confess father, I hadn’t heard of most of them. Well maintained tidy street with a food shop with very limited supplies, obviously everyone shops in Blackall, the larger town 125 kms down the road. There are also several historic displays and a Barcoo River Area Interpretive Centre. Jen’s off fishing for yellow belly (so I’m guessing its chicken for dinner tonight). It’s a pleasant 20º in the sun so time to catch some rays.
Mmh… that ended up in a slippery situation! We were blissfully listening to the rain gently fall on our roof at 4.30 am while most of our neighbours panicked and headed for the hills. Trouble was that when we went to leave one of the panicked had parked himself on the track because he was frightened his caravan would slip off the highly banked road surface. This meant we had to take to the rather steep drop off to get out of there. Unfortunately, much like the caravan driver, I hadn’t engaged four wheel drive as I left the campsite. This meant that in the slippery conditions, it wouldn’t engage so I had to wing it over the edge in two wheel drive. A little hairy (and Jenny was doing the old let me out of here routine) but we survived.
We headed off for Longreach to do some shopping and decided to stay the night in the Longreach Tourist Park where we stayed many years ago with Melva and Laurie (and rude old grey gonads). This way we get to have a decent shower and do some laundry before moving on again.
We went up to the street to top up on groceries and ran into the local man riding the bull on the footpath. Happens everywhere on a Saturday morning.
Nice to see that the town was rocking – plenty of tourists and a local was having a large wedding today.