BTW yesterday I maligned the town of Cunnamulla by saying it was shut, in fact it was a Queensland public holiday so it had every right to be (though that is no excuse for shutting the tourist information office).
Definitely no need to rush today, only travelling 260km down the road to Bourke so everything was very leisurely and I didn’t leave the caravan park until nearly 10am (kicking out time).
Nothing very exciting to report on the drive south except crossing back into NSW and stopping briefly in the tiny town of Enngonia for a short break. My only complaint about these back roads is that they are very short on rest stops.
Found a nice caravan park close to town and was given a very wide grassy site so decided, because the weather forecast is good and it is the weekend, to set up my gazebo and stay for two nights. Didn’t go anywhere after setting up, read my book and had a thoroughly lazy day. Will get fuel and look around Bourke tomorrow but today is a rest day.
Topped up with a few litres of fuel at one of these 24hours card only service stations.
Drove to Thargomindah supposedly the furthest town in Australia from the sea, apart from that fame it is just another small town where I stopped briefly.
About 40km of the road between Quilpie and Thargomindah was dirt and I kicked up a lot of dust. I wasn’t too worried about that at the time but it did have an effect as we shall see later. I found the top vent cracked open even though, before setting out, I ensure it is firmly shut – I can only assume that the extra vibration from the dirt road bounced it loose.
From Thargomindah it was all sealed road and the next stop was Eulo another small town though this one did have an historic Police Cell.
Finally arrived at Cunnamulla just after 2pm and checked into a caravan park. Immediately after unhitching the trailer I drove to get fuel and visit the tourist information office. No problem with the fuel but unbelievably the tourist office was closed. It was right next to the Cunnamulla Fella but there was no one about, indeed for a Friday afternoon the town seemed deserted with about two cars parked in the business centre.
Back to the caravan park and opened up the camper. Dust had got in via the back (kitchen) door, my fault, I had been slackening off the screw latches to reduce the pressure on the rubber seal and it looks like I over did it. Oh well, spent 20 minutes wiping down the kitchen and its containers. Later I found that the open roof vent had sucked dust from the kitchen into the cabin, fortunately not much but enough to need shaking off a small section of the bedding directly under my internal vents. Not a disaster but if I travel on dirt again with the camper I will stop and double check these things first.
Apart from that I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening listening to the radio and reading. I will probably be back in NSW tomorrow and home on Monday or Tuesday.
Woke up just before dawn so I watched the sun come up before I had a shower. Today I intend a fairly long drive to Quilpie taking in Windorah on the way, there is a more direct route to Quilpie partly using an unsealed road but there was something in Windorah I wanted to see.
I am still surprised how much water there is, some of the countryside is very green.
The visit to Windorah was to see the Solar Plant which uses mirrors to concentrate the heat of the sun to produce power. I had intended to buy food but the local shop didn’t really have much. Windorah was, perhaps slightly bigger than Stonehenge but not by much.
Then it was on to Quilpie. The road was mostly single lane with some wider sections for overtaking though personally I wasn’t stuck behind anything and only passed a few vehicles going the other way.
A widened section of the road was an emergency airstrip. I have come across these before they are always a long way from town (which usually have their own airstrip) I presume they are to serve the local farms.
After arriving at Quilpie and going through the usual business of finding a caravan park, (the girl in the information office told me that there are two) I drove a few kms out of town to Baldy Top Lookout, didn’t actually climb to the top might save that for tomorrow.
At the local airstrip is a memorial to Amy Johnson who landed at Quilpie during her 1930 attempt to break Bert Hinkler’s record time flying from London to Australia. She didn’t beat his record but became the first solo female flyer to make the trip.
Bought 35 litres fuel as I was down to less than 100km worth in the tank but at $1.62 a litre I didn’t want to fill up.
Woke to a spectacular sunrise. Went for a walk first thing to the local bakery to buy a fresh loaf and a couple of rolls for lunch.
Heading north today, wasn’t sure where I would stop so just set off. BTW At the moment I am listening to a John Grisham audiobook called, ‘The Whistler”, not a bad story.
First major town is Barcaldine but I stayed there not that long ago so didn’t stop at all and headed toward Longreach.
Stopped for a while at Ilfracombe and took some pictures of its machinery mile and walked round the town before having one of my cheese rolls – wish I had bought more, they were excellent.
Drove on to Longreach where I stopped again for a break.
Arrived in Winton mid afternoon and booked into one of the not very promising caravan parks that the town has to offer. The main street is undergoing major renovations, the entire eastbound lane has been torn up and a detour in place.
Minor domestic disaster, my china mug has cracked, must have endured one bump too many.
Wasn’t sure which way to go today but in the end decided to go west, initially thought I might stay at Mitchell but once I arrived at that town it was still early so decided to push on to Charleville.
I didn’t stop in Roma because it is not long since I was last there. Click here to see that visit.
Passed through various scenery, some open paddocks others more wooded. The weather so far on this trip has been perfect.
Stopped a couple of times once at Muckadilla – somewhere I have stopped before, it is a tiny town, little more than a service station and a few buildings but let’s face it who would not want to stop somewhere called Muckadilla? The name just appeals, even better they even offer free camp sites behind the community hall.
At Charleville found a caravan park that I had stayed at before which was pleasant enough and set up before going for a walk. Charleville is also a place I have visited a couple of times before, the last time not that long ago, I have seen the Bilbys before and it was closed while a show was in progress so I didn’t stop. Click here to see the last visit.
There must have been a rodeo in town because the commentary could be heard all afternoon and evening from the caravan park the activities were followed by a band which was quite enjoyable.
Had a bit of a scare in the evening when I hurt my back and could hardly walk but fortunately by the morning it was back to normal.
Distance: 448 Km
Fuel: 49 L
Even as I left Roma I had not decided where I would stop for the night. I have previously stopped at Hebel (one pub, one store and about twenty houses) as well as Lightning Ridge (opal mining centre of NSW) so decide to just drive and see how felt when I arrived.
It was very dry country that I drove through, the grass was almost yellow but the weather was perfect, no need for air conditioning today. Didn’t stop at St George or Dirranbandi just kept going until I reached Hebel.
When I was last in Hebel (click here) the General Store was up for sale with the threat of closure at Christmas if not sold but it was open when I arrived. I stopped in for a coffee and one of their home made pies (they are really good) and walked to their History Circle just to stretch my legs.
It was only just after midday and the journey had been very easy so far; I decided to push on to Lightning Ridge which was only about 70km further on.
Arrived in Lightning Ridge at about 1pm and checked into the first caravan park I came to.
Visited the Tourist Information Centre and paid $1 for a Car Door Tour guide. I don’t know if it is just an Aussie thing but a number of towns have these guides. An old car door is painted an appropriate colour and numbered indicating a point of interest, personally I quite enjoy them and so easy to find rather than the usual council signs which often peter out in the middle of nowhere.
The evening meal? Went to the pub, they had a bistro but all the meals were $28 then I noticed the bar sign for food served all day. Pizza – $15 – that’ll do me. It was quite good too, went down well with a couple of beers.