Looking Back…

I am now home – arrived here on the early afternoon of Thursday 22nd June 2017. Two nights travelling through NSW didn’t appeal to me – fine during the night but too cold in the morning.

Naturally when I got home both the car and the camper were covered in red dust but a concentrated day of cleaning have fixed that. There are a few minor things I would like to change in the camper which I will show later.


Total Distance:16802 Kilometres
Total Fuel: 1705 Litres Diesel
Total Fuel Cost: $2361 (Average = $1.38/l)
Total Accommodation Cost: $1932
Length of trip: 63 days


Horizontal Falls
The Bungle Bungles
Undara Lava Tubes
Wave Rock
The Pinnacles

I picked out those particular visits as highlights but in truth everyday was wonderful. Just driving through the Australian bush is an experience in itself the scenery is so varied it is just never boring.

The Van Parks

I always stayed in caravan parks though I was prepared to free camp but never needed to. The parks themselves were a source of interest, usually I arrived early afternoon, parked and set myself up within 15 minutes, then I would go to the tourist place and/or with information from the park office explore the local area.

170521 002 Broome Caravan Park

The parks varied in age and quality, some had very modern bathrooms etc, some had grass or concrete sites others were gravel or dirt but I can’t say that I would avoid any that I stayed at in the future (including the roadhouses), they were all satisfactory to me.

170507 001 Principality of Hutt River

The different rigs people had were a revelation, some I wondered why they bothered leaving home their setup was so sophisticated though I suspect the van was actually their only home, others were pretty basic – my camper is definitely the latter. It was interesting watching them set up; some seemed to take an age others maybe 20 minutes I don’t think any were as quick or as easy as mine. I must admit I wasn’t impressed with most trailer campers they were very long winded to set up and take down, needed two people  and it was just living in a tent with a good kitchen.

To be fair everything had some disadvantage (including mine). For example I think (and this is just my opinion) the mobile homes and some of the roof top campers were the least convenient as they had to pack every thing up just to go to the shops, some mobile homes towed a small car behind them but I feel that if you do that you might as well buy a decent car and tow a caravan – it would probably be more economical and have better accommodation.

My favourite was a small caravan thing that fitted on a ute tray but had electric jacks so it was an easy matter to load and unload everyday if necessary it had the advantage of not towing but you had a simple vehicle for trips leaving the accommodation behind.

The Camper

The Camper worked really well, the more I used it the more I liked it. The mudguards were great tables for the electric jug and toaster but running the extension lead from the internal power point was a minor nuisance. An external power point near the mudguards would be very handy.

The main advantage of this camper for me was the total lack of any set up needed other than unhitching and even that wasn’t strictly necessary, the most arduous task was putting up the TV aerial or the gazebo.

Taking the gazebo was great I could put it up by myself in about 10 minutes but it was not always necessary and whether it went up depended on the length of stay and the shade available, often the one wall that I had was a boon providing shade from the late afternoon sun.  I never put it up for a single night’s stay and usually took it down the evening before moving on.

170621 002 Hebel

The Esky was the bane of my life I must have spent $300+ buying ice nearly every day just to keep $40 worth of milk cool. For my next trip I will have a suitable 12/240v fridge. The only damage to the camper on the trip was a minor breakage caused by the Esky.

Ventilation and Power Improvements

The camper does need some wet weather ventilation (think of how a car steams up on a cool night with all the windows closed). It was not really an issue on this trip as there were only a couple of wet nights (in SA). Normally I slept with the glass part of the door open and just the security screen/fly wire in place but in wet weather this would not be possible so with the roof fan running there is nowhere for air to enter. I thought about putting an external vent in the side of the camper but dust ingress could be a a problem so I am going to try drilling suitable holes between the kitchen and the cabin so that in wet weather it would be possible to keep the rear hatch slightly ajar by not fully closing the catches (see pic below).

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I have worked on some of these problems already. The ventilation was the first and it involved drilling holes between the kitchen and the cabin. I covered the holes with fly wire, a louvre and cabinet vents.

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The electrical was easier – just a matter of adding an external waterproof power point.

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Where to next I wonder?

21st June 2017–Hebel to Gulgong

Distance: 502 km
Fuel: 97 L

Set off early;  before 8am – hardly any packing up required because I left the camper coupled up last night so there was only the mat and power cord to put away.

Within minutes I was back in NSW.

170621 004 Hebel to Gulgong NSW Border

Filled up with fuel at Walgett and only made a couple of rest stops because I want to get as far south as was possible.  One rest stop commemorated John Qxley’s 1818 expedition.

170621 006 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial170621 007 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial

Originally I aimed to reach Dunedoo but made good progress and in the end settled on Gulgong an extra 65km toward home. I should be home tomorrow as I have less than 400km to cover (though admittedly through what will probably be the worst traffic of the trip).

Poor Gulgong is quite a nice little town but since the town was dropped from the ten dollar note I think it has suffered a bit. The Town that Used to be on the Ten Dollar Note doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Town on the Ten Dollar Note. The only caravan park in town has a slightly run down feel to it (though the owners are friendly)

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I had a look around town, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here – some shops have closed while new ones have opened, the Gulgong Opera House is still entertaining the locals but you can stand in the middle of the street with little fear of being run over.

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After wandering about the main streets I had a nice coffee and muffin in one coffee bar before filling up with fuel again ready for tomorrow.

When I returned to the caravan park at 4pm it was already feeling quite cool and I needed a jacket.

What Gulgong does have is an Indian and a Thai restaurant so I was spoilt for choice. In the event I went for Indian, resisted a Vindaloo and tried Shahi Korma Beef. The restaurant was nicely appointed and warm so I ate in – the meal was very nice indeed.

BTW I might be wrong about the local economy after eating I drove past several pubs which were surrounded by vehicles and seemed to be doing good trade.

20th June 2017–Injune to Hebel

Distance: 446 km

This will be my last day in foreign parts (for this trip at least); Hebel is only about 4km from the NSW border so I will be back on home soil tomorrow.

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I intend to start early tomorrow and get as far south as I can, the weather is forecast to be fine for the next few days but the downside to clear skies is cold nights. Last night I had to sleep under my winter doona and it is not going to be any warmer the further south I go. it was about 7’C this morning – remember I am not near the coast.

I will get at least as far as Gilgandra but might even try for Dunedoo or Mudgee – if I get that far I could probably make home in one more day ie arrive Thursday. I have allowed two days but I think one would be better.

I have passed through Hebel on a few occasions but this is the first time I have stopped. There are only about 15 to 20 buildings; it is literally a town where if you blink you miss it – though the right angle bend in the middle of town might bring you undone if you did blink.

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The pub sells fuel at $1.50/l however I have slightly under half a tank which should get me to Walgett (135km) where I expect more normal prices.

The caravan park is behind the General Store (which is for sale BTW) and $20 for a powered site. After a walk round Hebel and its “Historical Circle” I had a homemade peppersteak pie and a beer in the store for only $10 which I thought very fair.

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Once the sun went down went back to the General Store for a meal, not an exciting menu but a modest selection of beef, chicken and seafood meals, let’s face it the dining room has four tables so they probably don’t get a lot of custom. I ordered chicken parmigiana together with a couple of beers and it was very nice. Back to the camper to write this while listening to some music. A nice end to a nice day.

19th June 2017–Capella to Injune

Distance: 376 km

Set off relatively late (for me) this morning. Went for a walk to look at Capella especially near what I took to be a creek (well, it had a bridge for the highway). It was a dry creek with the beginnings of a community picnic area – I forgot to take a picture of that. Next to it was what I presume to be the Capella Bowling Club which had evidently hit bad times and closed.


Eventually set off just after 8.30am and the drive south was uneventful, I stopped a couple of times to stretch my legs and enjoy the volcanic scenery of central Quuensland.


There was a section of major road works where they had thoughtfully wetted the dirt down to stop dust. Personally I would have preferred the dust, it blows away, but the wet dirt sticks!


Injune is an even smaller town than Capella with a population of less than 400 but it has a caravan park abet a self service one. The servo had run out of diesel when I arrived but he said he was expecting some in the evening. I was not that worried I have plenty to get me to Roma 90km away and am carrying 20 litres in the tray.

How nice it is to stay in Injune in June. Just as the sun set I went back to the Caltex place and filled up with fuel for tomorrow. All is good.


18th June 2017–Charters Towers to Capella

Distance: 429 km
Fuel: 46 L

Fog! Woke up to a thick fog, visibility was down to less than 50m however by the time I was ready to leave at 8am you could see the end of an adjacent paddock. For the first 30km of the drive it was still pretty thick fog.

170618 002 Charters Towers to Clermont

Almost suddenly I was driving in sunshine, the clouds disappeared rapidly and it was horizon to horizon blue skies which remained for the rest of the journey.

170618 004 Charters Towers to Clermont

On the way south I passed hundreds of caravans and trailers going north, “hundreds” is not an exaggeration I counted 30 in one 12 minute period. I can understand now why someone said that on 1st July the parks put their fees up to $50 a night with all that traffic.

Nearing Clermont I passed the Clermont Coal Mine with its conveyer belt running for km beside the road and its enormous spoil heap stretching along the other side of the road.

170618 009 Clermont Coal Mine

I had intended to stop at Clermont tonight but because there were few opportunities to stop on the road it was still reasonably early when I arrived so I only stopped to fill up with fuel before driving on to Capella another 60km further south.

Capella is a small town of less than 1000 people but it has a caravan park. It is Sunday and the town is dead except for the pub which was surrounded by utes and as noisy as anything. I bought a 6 pack of beer and had a quick schooner there.

170618 011 Capella170618 012 Capella

17th June 2017–Charters Towers

Distance: 59 km

Slept until 6.30am this morning. There was a lot of dew so I used it to clean the car windscreen, lights etc before washing yesterday’s clothes. I think I should have enough clothes to get me home now.

Because it is Saturday decided to go out to the Burdekin Weir first thing before the families get out to the picnic ground there. This is the source of Charters Towers drinking water. The original weir was built in 1902 but has been raised to its current level to increase the water available when the population increased dramatically during the Second World War.

170617 005 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir170617 007 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir

This is a half scale model of the old and new weir.

170617 001 Charters Towers Burdekin Weir

On the way back to town I detoured past the Columbia Mine Poppet Head.

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Followed that by a trip to the Zara Clark Museum. Strange place – absolutely jammed with stuff and vaguely organised into ‘rooms’ with a theme. Spent quite a time there because it covered anything from transport, communications, Flying Doctor, home furnishing to mining and agriculture. There was the occasional exhibit which reminded me of my grandmother’s and great aunt’s homes (the reason why I rarely visit country museums) but overall it was interesting.

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The museum was very close to the centre of town so I retraced my steps to follow parts of the self guided walk that I missed yesterday.

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I visited the Miners Cottage which was from the same school of curatorship as the museum. Room after room of objects piled upon each other, this however was a private collection with even less organisation and explanation than the Museum. The owner was a prospector who used a metal detector which he demonstrated – it can tell the difference between gold and iron. I had no idea.

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Made a return trip to Towers Hill to have a walk to Clark’s Gold mine  which I had missed yesterday. To be honest it was not a great miss.

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Followed this up with a bit of shopping (postcards and biscuits) before returning to the caravan park in the middle of the afternoon.

Took down the gazebo as the sun went behind the trees, there is dew in the morning and I don’t want to pack it up wet; besides taking it down is a time saver in the morning.

At about 5.30pm decided that I needed a curry so drove to the Charters Towers Indian restaurant.

170617 027 Charters Towers

I had intended to eat there but when I entered it was one of those places designed for takeaway only – absolutely no atmosphere, flouro lighting, plastic tablecloths, bare tables, hard chairs etc so ordered take away. When it arrived (20 mins later) drove back to my site, got out the paper plates and had a delicious Rogan Josh with Nan bread – far more than I could eat. Had to throw half away but for $22.20 who cares?

Moving on tomorrow. This is really the start of the dash for home, I expect to be there by Thursday or Friday – crossing NSW will only take a couple of days I hope because it will be too cold to hang about.

16th June 2017–Undara to Charters Towers

Distance: 408 km
Fuel: 57 L

At 8am I was at the Undara Lodge buying ice having all ready packed up to leave, by quarter past I was on the road.

170616 002 Undara

The road has improved a lot since I was last on it over 5 years ago then it was mostly single lane whereas now is is mostly two lanes with probably less that 10 km of single lane road.

There were very few parking areas on the road other than trucks bays adjacent to the road. The rare parking areas seemed crowded so I didn’t stop, even the roadhouses were a detour off the main road so I just kept going.

Because of this I arrived at the caravan park just before 1pm, checked in and found my site. The lady in the office gave me a map of the town and pointed out the Tourist Information Office and Towers Hill which she said should not be missed.

There was also some shopping I had to do so once settled in I was off first to the tourist office to get a self guided walk of the town centre most of which I saw while I parked and had a quick look round.

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I then drove to the Towers Hill which over looks the town. Not only is it a lookout it also has a lot of historical significance it is where gold was first discovered which lead to the town becoming one of the richest in the country even having its own stock market. This wealth is reflected in some of its old buildings seen above.

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During WWII Charters Towers was the base for US and Australian bombers taking part in the Battle of the Coral Sea just off nearby Townsville. The flight path for the heavily laden bombers taking off was over Towers Hill which necessitated the demolition of the tall chimney of the Pyrites Works on the hill. The rubble is still there, as are many bunkers used to store armaments.

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15th June 2017–Undara Lava Tubes

I was booked on the 8am trip to the lava tubes and was ready in plenty of time after shower, breakfast, laundry etc. to meet the guide outside the lodge reception.

There was a big crowd but it turned out they had two parties so in fact when we left my bus was not even full. As we neared the tubes you could see the Savannah grassland which stretches across northern Queensland interspersed with patches of remnant rainforest.

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Plus examples of the Queensland Bottle Tree (not to be confused with the Boab).

170615 006 Undara

The rainforest was clinging on in the cooler spots where the lava tube roofs had collapsed providing shelter and moisture.

The lava tubes are the result of a ‘shield’ volcano which oozed lava over the landscape 190million years ago to form the lave tubes. The tubes only exist about 30km from the Undara Volcano because only there were conditions right. The lava field stretches for something like 140km from the volcano and is the largest of its type in the world though the lava tubes are not unique they are some of the biggest. (That’s how I remember the guide’s tale anyway).

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The roof is a mass of colour from the many minerals in the rock, brown – iron, white – calcium, dark brown – basalt. There were others but I forget them.

170615 016 Undara Stephenson Cave

The local aborigines have no stories about the lava tubes and there are no rock paintings in any of them. The theory is that because the last eruption of a volcano in the area was less than 20000 years ago aboriginal history regards them as something bad and to be feared so they kept away from them.

They are truly spectacular only exposed because millions of years ago the roof collapsed in places where it was too thin to support its own weight.

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Because of the early start I was back at my caravan by about 11am when I was able to upload yesterday’s blog. I tried last night but the internet wasn’t working even at its best Telstra only has one or two bars signal strength even though I can see the tower. There is no Optus signal at all.

Decided to go on another of the signposted walks; a 4km one called the Pioneer Walk which followed the route of the early telegraph line to an old slab hut. I think with my two visits I have now done all the walks except the very long all day ones (well, 6hr).

170615 065 Undara Pioneer Walk170615 068 Undara Pioneer Walk

See the original Telegraph Pole? Made of Cypress Pine which termites don’t like and is resistant to bush fires. It has been there since the 1890s.

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When I returned I was buggered, even worse my feet hurt! To ease the pain I ordered an Undara Burger and a beer at the bistro for lunch; both of which went down very well.

170615 082 Undara Dinning Area

The Kookaburras wait for someone to leave their food unattended.

170615 083 Undara Dinning Area

However I think that is enough food for the day and also the end of my outings – an afternoon of rest!

Actually the afternoon proved to be quite busy with people arriving and setting up near me – not busy for me obviously, I just watched. Last night there was just me and a mobile home in this set of seven sites, today I have people either side of me and the place is filling up.

14th June 2017–Georgetown to Undara

Distance: 178 km

With only about 140km to travel to reach Undara today there was definitely no rush. The only fly in the ointment was the intermittent closure of the bridge but even that seemed unlikely.

Once again the road was a mixture of single and two lane carriageway with no particular problems until I caught up with two identical caravans who at stayed in Georgetown overnight next to me, the first one I passed with no problem but his mate suddenly sped up at every passing opportunity to block me from getting past. When I eventually did get past he tailgated me for a few km before dropping back to his original speed of about 80 to 90kph. Unbelievable!

When I arrived at Undara it was too early to check in (their checkout time is later than normal at 10.30am) so I made use of their free coffee and wandered around the site and read up on the lava tubes. Actually only had to wait about 25 minutes but finally was given my site and I also paid for tomorrow’s tour that I had booked over the phone.

Once I was settled in I went for a drive to Kalkani Crater a trip I couldn’t do when I was here 5 years ago in my little car. At that time the road was in an appalling state and I was forced to turn back, ironically that car would have easily coped with it today because the road must have been recently graded because it was as smooth as.

The crater looks more impressive from the air so I will include an on line photo here (see above). I climbed the path to the crater rim and looked inside it was just a bowl filled with normal bush vegetation. I took some photos but frankly you can hardly see that it is a crater. Walked around the rim for a while but it didn’t get more exciting so strolled back down to the car park.

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Returned to the Undara Caravan Park had another coffee and then took the Atkinson’s Lookout Walk it is only about a 4 km round trip but over rocky terrain so takes about an hour an a half. There must have been bushfires through the area recently (or burning off) because quite large swathes were blackened however in places regrowth had just started.

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It was getting to late afternoon by now and I decided to have dinner in the bistro so I booked (you have to) then went for a shower.

Went to the bistro a bit early so I could have a beer first, by the time I was ready for my second beer (bottled only) it was time to order the meal. Spoilt for choice I fell back on my old favourite beer battered fish, even managed to refuse the salad or veggies. It was ready surprisingly quickly and I ate it in one of the old railway carriages (they’re not that old I travelled in them in the mid/late 60s – the fine for pulling the communication cord was in dollars).

170614 045  Undara Carriages