Thursday, 11 August 2011

Home at Last - for a few days anyway....

Great to be home again....some stats about our trip:

Time away: 36 days
Distance Travelled: 8280km
National Parks/Conservation Parks visited: 13
Cost of Camping: $340
Cost of Fuel: $1,426
Cost of Car Repairs: $558

The Good: The spectacular landscapes, wonderful wildlife, and superb flora
The Bad: Bulldust and breakdowns - and a mourning donkey, mosquitoes and flying foxes
The Sad: Not being able to catch up with all our friends and relatives in the places we visited

North West Queensland

03/08/11 Well, amazingly part for the car arrived in the morning, so the mechanic, David from the BP Camooweal – nice bloke - fitted it and did a general checkup & grease. A dusty drive north-east and we found a lovely river – the O'Shannassy so stopped, had a swim, sat high on the rocks, on our chairs, drinking wine and watching all the birds and animals come down to the river.

Blue-winged kookaburras, Barking Owls. Darryl felt this was the nicest spot on our whole trip, so far.

Gregory River
04/08/11 5.4oC. Emus crossing the road, lots of birds on the road. The road crossed the Gregory River twice, then Riversleigh D Fossil area. Fabulous fossils everywhere. There is an interpretive walk, but just about every limestone rock has something in it. Fossils date back 25 million years, and include turtles, giant birds, crocodiles, and mammals. 


Lawn Hill Gorge is quite beautiful (but the camping was booked out). Hired a canoe and paddled up the 3 gorges, beautiful red cliffs, lined with cabbage palms and pandanus, and very deep green water. Plenty of archer fish. Had to drag the canoe past the waterfall into the second gorge, then fast through a rapid to the third. Coming back a gust of wind took off my good had, and it sank like a stone – very sad to lose it, especially with all the badges. I am only consoled by the thought that with the continual calcium precipitation, that the hat will sit on the bottom, become calicified, and become a fossil that someone will wonder over in a million years! (Darryl thinks it will be washed away in the next flood). 

Darryl went for the lookouts walk while I went for a swim, and watched the fish and birds. Purple-crowned fairy-wrens, Buff-sided robins, honeyeaters, archer fish, gar, cod, black-bream, and the striped fish.

Gregory Downs for the night, camping beside the Gregory River – beautiful spot with rapids just beside us, and under the paperbarks. Lots of grey nomads across and closer to the bridge, but we came down the 4x4 track, so are alone. Another very nice spot. (A photo of our typical dinner).

05/08/11 A bit warmer this morning with 10.7oC. Another long day of driving, past Julia Creek to a rest area with a few other nomads, 100km east of Julia Creek, at Maxwellton. The only interesting things were a few bustards, wedge-tail eagles and other birds, and horses on the road at Burke and Wills Roadhouse. Very noisy most of the night with trucks roaring past – there were times when I thought we were going to have them on top of us, but I must congratulate the train drivers, as they snuck through, as though they were trying to be quiet and not disturb anyone.

 06/08/11 Drove through Richmond to Hughenden. I am very impressed with this rural town, there was no rubbish or graffiti, and it seemed to really have community pride. The Lynd Road leads north-east to Porcupine Gorge. On the way were several features of interest – lookouts, lone graves, and fossilised squid. It is 32 years since Darryl and I have been here (it was the first bushwalk with the Townsville Bushwalking Club that we were on together), and we only remember some parts. It has really been developed now, with camping areas, and a walk down into the gorge.

There are nice views of 'The Pyramid' a rock formation, and amazing rocks down in the gorge itself. I think I have taken more photos of rocks on this trip than on any other. After dark the campsites were visited by Rufous Bettongs trying to gather bits and pieces dropped from tables.

07/08/11 Darryl went down into the gorge to walk upstream. He returned for lunch and mid-afternoon we descended the 120m back into the gorge. Darryl investigated another creek branch while I sat, then we had a swim before the uphill climb.

08/08/11 White Mountain National Park is between Torrens Creek and Pentland, and as we drove in we were amazed by the array of wildflowers in bloom – wattle, yellow, cream and red grevilleas, turkey bush, and many others – and we thought that it was going to be a wonderful place to stop for the night. There was a lovely lookout, with the most amazing termite mounds we have ever seen – they almost seemed to be rock. By the time we drove the 10km into the campground though, we had our hopes dashed. It was one of the most dismal and disappointing campgrounds we have ever seen, in a dry dusty gully, no flowers, or anything to give it character. 

We decided to keep driving and try to find somewhere suitable before Charters Towers, but nothing suited us, and we ended up at Charters Towers. Darryl was pretty tired, so we stopped. There was a bush poet putting on a show, so we had happy-hour listening to his jokes and poems.

09/08/11 A terrible night with flying foxes in the palm tree beside us, and trucks roaring past all night – we have stayed at this Caravan Park before, but in a cabin, so we didn't get the noise. 
We went to visit Belinda, and Darryl had a nap in the car while I caught up with Mary, and Owen and Sandra. We arrived in Townsville and went straight to visit Mum, who has had another stroke and is in hospital. Census night, and once again we are not at our 'usual' address! Staying with Steve and Heather.

10/08/11 A bit cool in Townsville first thing in the morning. Visited Dad, then took him to see Mum. A delicious family bbq at night – Heather makes the BEST potato-bake.
11/08/11 Heading home after calling in at the hospital to see Mum. Planned to stay overnight at Cathu State Forest, but when near, saw lots of smoke. NAFI website confirmed fires north of the area, and we thought we might have a look, but when we turned in there was a sign saying that the camping area was closed, so decided to go all the way home. Arrived home in Rockhampton safely just after 6.30pm.