Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Mataranka - Katherine - Edith Falls

Packed our winter gear away after Mt Isa , the weather has been getting warmer the further north we travel , for the last week it has been high 20's to low 30's .
We stayed at the Nitmiluk National Park about 30 klms out of Katherine at the  Katherine Gorge. The  three gorge tour which took four hours was spectacular and we saw many crocodiles on the banks sunning themselves.
There were thousands of bats at Katherine Gorge and throughout the caravan park, at dusk they would fly around screeching, they were really smelly and we were often showered from above which made eating out in the open not very pleasant. The awning on the caravan needed a good scrub before we packed up to move on. The photo below was taken as we were heading down to the gorge for the cruise, that is not foliage on the trees but bats !!

Next destination was Edith Falls , we didn't know much about them but once again stayed at Nitlimuk National Park caravan park at Edith Falls, it was really a lovely location , no power but very organised caravan park , it was like you were in the middle of the bush.

There were some good walks and refreshing swims at the waterholes, the water was so cold it took your breath away , the current was also very strong and very slippery rocks , so all in all quite a challenge, but well worth it.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Barkley Homestead - Cape Crawford - Daly Waters - Mataranka

Have been out of Internet range for a couple of days so I have some catching up to do.
Barkley Homestead was our next stop after Mt Isa, which took us into the Northern Territory,
lots of klms surrounded by wide open spaces.
We decided not to go to Tennant Creek but instead travel to Cape Crawford via the Tablelands Highway which is mainly a single lane of bitumen so when the road trains came through you moved right off the road to give them space. At Cape Crawford we stayed in the camping grounds of the Heartbreak Hotel, which were nice grassed sites,it  was very cold that night.
From Cape Crawford we travelled to Daly Waters along the Carpenteria Highway, also one lane bitumen with quite a bit of flood damage under repair. We stayed at the Daly Waters Pub campgrounds, it was a full house, they pack the caravans in one after the other, it is amazing , this pub is in the middle of nowhere but they put on a great night , with a steak or barra BBQ, lots of salads and provide entertainment with a fairly daggy 60's singer with a guitar and backing tape and a terrific bush poet/comedian.
Mataranka was our next stop,the caravan park is just a short walk away from Bitter Springs which is a natural mineral spring which is about 35c, a great spot . We hired noodles from the caravan park and float from one end to the other.
Off to Katherine tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mt Isa

Arrived in Mt Isa early in the day and spent most of the day restocking and washing, We were a bit over looking at museums etc so we spent the day shopping, washing and cleaning the dust on the outside of the van. It was nice to see the sun , cold overnight , down to 2c but lovely day 22c.
We had a look through the underground hospital today, it was dug in 1942 after Darwin was bombed, as the government thought that Mt Isa would be a target as most of the lead for ammunition came from the mines from this area. It was used until the end of the war and then was abandoned , covered over and left with all the equipment etc until it was accidentally discovered by a developer in the 70's , it was once again left until a group of volunteers restored it 1998.
                                          They obviously couldn't do much for this guy.
We had a look around Lake Moondarra this afternoon, it is the water catchment for Mt Isa.
Our plan for tomorrow is to travel for most of the day heading to Tennant Creek, we will probably free camp.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Winton to Carisbrooke ( cattle & sheep station)

Our first experience taking the van on a dirt road, Carisbrooke is a working cattle station that conducts tours (expensive tours) and has camping facilities. As you see by the photo we didn't have a lot of company but it ended up quite a good night we had a fire and spent a bit of time with a couple that are working in Mt Isa and take off on trips on their days off.
We also had the company of this little creature in the photo below, he wouldn't leave us alone , we think that he liked the warmth of the fire, we think he could be a bush rat.
We went out to Lark Quarry during the day to see the prints of the Dinosaur stampede, it was amazing, the prints were found in the 70's but the site has only been protected and preserved in the last 5 years.
The paleontologists believe the a large meat eating Dinosaur came to the waterhole and caused the stampede as he was heading one way and the smaller dinosaurs were running the other way.
We left caribrooke station and headed towards Mt Isa , we decided to stop for the night 60klms before Mt Isa at a free camp as it was getting late in the day, we were there at 4 o'clock but obviously other campers stake there spot much ealier as we ended up close to the road, so fairly noisy with the road trains thundering past. It's 9.00 pm and we are the only one with a light still on (about 20 campers)
Not sure about this free camping , no facilities, no tele , no heating, it might be more appealing when it's a bit warmer.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Longreach to Winton

Spent another half day at the Qantas founders Museum, there was a lot to see, it was about the only worthwhile activity in Longreach., due to the weekend and then public holiday, nothing was open, even the tourist attractions were closed or were open odd hours, for a short time.
The Brolgas at the Longreach caravan park wander around making quite a racket.

Arrived at Winton and decided to stay 2 nights, the caravan park has resident bush poets and they put on a show every night, they were very good, the caravan park is a bit ordinary and the price of groceries surprised us today , some of the items were double what we pay in Melbourne.
Winton claims Banjo Patterson as their own , this is where he wrote Waltzing Matilda. The Waltzing Matilda centre is one of the main tourist attractions, it's very well done and we spent a few hours there.
Winton is also the Dinosaur capital of Australia, we had a tour of the Age of Dinosaurs Fossil Preparation Facility. It was fascinating to see the volunteers painstakingly working on on big lumps of rock with tiny drills removing the rock from around the Dinosaur bones. Apparently there are Dinosaur fossils scattered throughout this area. We are going to Lark Quarry tomorrow which is the site of the only known Dinosaur stampede on earth and are staying at Carisbooke , a working cattle and sheep station.
The maps that Tourist Information supply are very difficult to follow and could easily get people into trouble, we ended on a track only suitable for a four wheel drive as we took a wrong turn, but we did come across this 1946 Dodge , the same model that Mark restored.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Blackall to Longreach

Heard there was a market on in Blackall, so we dropped in on our way out of town , didn't take long , 3 stalls..........but we bought some nice coffee and walnut cake from a strange looking fella who bakes all these delicate cakes and slices.
It's great towing your house , when we need a break from driving we just pull into a rest stop and make a coffee. We are still having trouble with the time frames, there was entertainment in the Caravan Park tonight but it started at 6.30 pm , when everyone else has already prepared eaten and dishes done we are just thinking of starting to cook. I have also noticed that we are the only caravan in the park that still has lights on after 10 pm and often we wake up to find half of the caravans in the park gone.
Hasn't been a lot to see between towns but we have seen quite a bit of wildlife, lots of emus, feral cats, foxes, hawkes, eagles, pigs (only dead ones, road kill) little pink piglets and of couse kangaroos who like tp play chicken, we have gone close to collecting a couple.
Qantas Founders Museum...............Heritage listed orginal 1922 Quantas hanger
Lots to see in this museum , we ran out of time so will be back tomorrow morning to see the rest.
This is a DC3 was a passenger aircraft used around the 1940 and 50's.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Charleville to Blackall

 The Caravan Park was great at Charleville, it was on a working cattle station that has struggled through the drought , so they developed the caravan park to supplement the farms income
It was very cold, the car was thick with ice in the morning
         A visitor hopped around for a drink   
                                           The visitor got a little too friendly for my liking

            This is the "Black Stump" used for surveying purposes when Queensland was being mapped            

                                                      The Blackall Woolscour
The Woolscour operated from 1906 through until 1978. Woolscour means
woolwashing , it is the only steam driven wool scour left in Australia, classified by
the National Trust and is run by volunteers.
Quiet today, we were in a tour group of two and I think the volunteer would rather
have been anywhere else than there.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Lightning Ridge to Bourke

We decided over breakfast this morning that we would change direction and head to Darwin. The power of add came on during the today show telling us that there is no better time to visit Kakadu.
Coffee stop just out of Brewarrina, we were planning to stop at the coffee shop in town but not very inviting, bars on all windows and doors.
Replica of Fort Bourke Stockade

Bourke is a large developed centre and the main industry is cotton and fruit, it is also where Prof Fred Hollows is buried, his monument is a huge granite boulder simply carved with his details,  under a Coolibah tree.

Not sure that we will be getting too much sleep tonight the caravan park is right on the highway and the road trains sound like they are coming through the van.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Lightning Ridge - Black opal country

Spent the day looking around Lightning Ridge and we have decided that this is where old caravans, trucks, cars and any obsolete piece of rusty machinery goes to die. Never seen so much rusty old junk in one area. Interesting place , but we will be ready to leave tomorrow.
       Brian the opal miner , nice bloke who told us lots of stories (still didn't buy one of his old rocks )
This church was purpose built in 1987 for an arthouse movie and like everything else around here has collected a range of rusty junk around it , including the compulsory dilapidated caravan.
                           General state of most of the vehicles around town !!!
                             Mine shafts cover the landscape.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Forbes to Lightning Ridge

Monday 5th June (Happy Birthday Michael & Marie)
Left Forbes , cold night and cold morning, got away about 9.00 am ( we do really need to start getting going a bit earlier ) Stopped at "The Dish" at Parkes, interesting and impressive.
Stopped at Dubbo for a coffee made by a surly young girl ( coffee was surprisingly good) then Gilgandra for lunch (nice town) Mark was breathalysed in the middle of nowhere just out of Walgett (Betty from Hey Dad came from there ) arrived at Lightning Ridge at 5.30 , a bit late........ most of our fellow campers were just about ready to serve up dinner !!!!!!
 Very good caravan park , only been open for 6 weeks . It's now 9.00 pm and most of our neighbours are back from the campfire singalong and are ready to be tucked up . I think it's going to be a while before we are able to slip into this time frame.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Heading off ..............a wobbly start

Friday 3rd June 2011 - Finally the day is here for us to leave on our big trip, well prepared , everything checked and double checked .........or so we thought.
Backing the caravan into the driveway with 100mm to spare each side ended up not being the stressful event that we were expecting , so surely driving it out should be a breeze............ until we heard the sickening sound a twisting metal and shattering timber ( I stress at this point , no fault can be attributed to my hand signals )  The step had not been retracted and took out a few of the pickets from the front fence (at this time I didn't think that it was appropriate to whip out the camera to document this event )  Faced with a twisted step and damaged gate our departure was delayed. Mark did some quick panel beating and carpentry and once again we were on our way.............or so we thought.
Not far out of Drysdale I happened to say , you do have your phone and wallet .......................they were still sitting on top of the microwave in the kitchen, so back we went, I was hoping that we weren't being watched, if so , they were having a good laugh.

We arrived in Deniliquin and managed to secure a very nice spot for the caravan at an excellent tariff that included dinner and cooked breakfast ( Pip and Liz's house )
Although, when we opened the door of the caravan we were surprised by the amount of pantry items on the floor and the door of the bathroom jammed shut  !!!!

Mark and Pip to the rescue and all the issues were resolved in no time.

Saturday 4th June - Travelled to Forbes , cold, raining 12c , will be getting away early tomorrow, have 6 hour drive ahead of us to Lightening Ridge