18th May 2019–Charleville

Distance:  426km
Fuel: 42L

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.

On the road 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.

On the road to CharlevilleAtOn the road to Charleville

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.

Muckadilla 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.

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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.

17th May 2019–Miles, Qld

Distance: 365km
Fuel: 40L

Good sleep, only down to 15C in the camper during the night so the summer doona was fine. As usual up about 6.30am and straight into the shower before having breakfast.

Reasonable drive to Miles stopped a couple times as before the stretch my legs and use the composting loo much like yesterday.

Arrive in Miles just before 1pm not that pleased with the caravan park I thought it was a bit pricey even though it has brand new unisex toilets/showers. It is crammed between the highway and a railway track so noise might be an issue.

 Miles

After setting up went across the road to the Miles Historical Museum. It is one of those community museums full of nic nacs  and junk, always quite interesting though some rooms were a bit like visiting my grandmother.

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15th May 2018–Lightning Ridge

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.

180515 102 On the Road to Lightning Ridge180515 103 On the Road to Lightning Ridge

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.

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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.

Goodbye Queensland:

180515 010 NSW Border

Arrived in Lightning Ridge at about 1pm and checked into the first caravan park I came to.

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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.

180515 025 Lightning Ridge

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.

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14th May 2018–Roamin’ Roma

Distance: 11 Km
Fuel: 30 L

At about 8am wandered into town to find Woollies. I had left my toothbrush at the last stop, was completely out of plastic and paper plates, needed milk and some fruit. It is a big supermarket in Roma – Though I suppose Woolies wouldn’t bother if there wasn’t that sort of demand.

The Big Rig

That done I once again walked to The Big Rig to see their static display called Oil Patch. It is about the discovery of oil and gas in the area. Originally discovered by accident when drilling for water over 100 years ago the oil was never discovered in commercial quantities and the industry died but there was plenty of gas. Initially LPG now CSG which is largely exported through the port of Gladstone though any new licences are only granted to supply the domestic market.

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Without the night show I can’t say it was an exciting exhibition but it was interesting enough, the films shown in the theatrette were all made by Santos (the gas giant) and really were just publicity films showing them as a good corporate citizen.

After the Rig Rig I returned to the caravan park for lunch then went to explore Roma. I had the Historic Walk guide but sadly, like so many of these small towns, most of the building described have long gone but there were a few interesting ones left.

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Avenue of Heroes

The town has The Avenue of Heroes where a Bottle Tree represents a local person killed in action during WWI each with its own plaque.

180514 046 Avenue of Heros Roma180514 047 Avenue of Heros Roma

The 3D Mural

The one thing I had great difficulty finding was the 3D Mural which even has its own brochure. It turns out to be in the Council Offices though described as a Community Centre in all the literature but unless you actually looked inside you would never find it I didn’t see any signs. There was an audio visual presentation to go with it which explained the features on the mural. It was actually quite good and worth seeing.

180514 059 3 D Mural Roma

By now it was mid/late afternoon and I decided I had exhausted the delights of Roma so I bought a Subway to have for dinner (too early for a restaurant) and walked back to the caravan park.

This might be the last day in Queensland it all depends on which side of the border I decide to stop tomorrow.

13th May 2018–Roma

Distance: 283 Km

Not far to go today on an easy road with few towns. Still left at about 8.30am but didn’t stop at Morven or Mitchell largely because all the available parking seemed to be taken up with caravans however I did stop at  Muckadilla (well you would, wouldn’t you?). Smashing little rest area with toilets, chairs and tables by the community hall, it even had free camping on offer.

180513 003 Muckadilla180513 002 Muckadilla

I made some coffee and a sandwich before continuing on to Roma.

Booked in to a caravan park right next to the Big Rig, it was early; probably only midday so I had a cup of tea and washed yesterday’s clothes before walking over to the Big Rig to see what’s on.

Blow me I am on the right day for the night show (Sunday, Tuesday, Friday) but due to electrical problems neither it nor the little train are happening today.

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Got myself a map and a brochure, had a look at the slab hut, read about Roma’s disastrous floods – three floods between 2010 and 2012 – then decided to walk along the Adungadoo Pathway to the largest bottle tree in Roma (girth = 9.3 metres) and the Shady’s Lagoon before returning to the caravan park.

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Watched some of the new arrivals set up their rigs, including a young couple with a toddler who have a roof top tent, before I recovered my washing from the line, by then it was time for dinner. I heated up the second half of my “special fried rice with prawns” from the Happy Elephant Thai Restaurant in Charleville before the sun finally set and the temperature plummeted.

12th May 2018–Around Charleville

Distance: 77 km
Fuel: 10 L

Was up early for a shower – what a difference in temperature overnight – it was 5’C at 6am compared to the lowest temperature yesterday of 14’C. I slept under my winter doona last night so was quite warm but am thinking ‘hot water bottle’ for tonight. Anyway, being up early I took the opportunity to hand wash my dirty clothes (just a couple of T shirts and socks)

First visit today was to the airport and the Bureau of Meteorology Weather Station.  At 9.15am there is an automatic release of a weather balloon.

The Vortex Gun

I set off a little early so I was able to view the Vortex Gun in a park on the way. This was an experiment to break the drought after a farmer had seen these guns used to convert hailstorms into rain in Italy; it didn’t work.

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BOM Automatic Weather Balloon Launch

When I arrived at 9am the lights on the weather station were flashing indicating that things were happening and almost exactly on 9.15 the roof opened and a weather balloon emerged – it was so quick you could miss it. I was the only person there which surprised me as the daily event is mentioned in the tourist guide.

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The Angellala Creek Explosion

After the weather balloon launch I drove 26km out of Charleville to Angellala Creek to see the site of a massive explosion which destroyed the railway bridge and the road bridge. When I read about this I assumed it occurred last century and was surprised to find it happened in 2014 – I don’t remember it.

A truck carrying 53 tonnes of fertiliser caught fire and exploded (ammonium nitrate was a favourite of the IRA). It was  miracle no one was killed even though police and fire vehicles were destroyed as was a rail bridge that had stood since 1897.

>>>A news report of the incident is here<<<

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Historic House

Back to Charleville and a visit to the imaginatively named ‘Historic House” Museum. This building started off as a bank, became a residence, then guest house and now a museum. It is basically an old building full of random old stuff.

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Called in at the Railway Station to find out about the ‘Bilby Experience’ the next one was at 3pm so I booked myself in then went into town for a walk, lunch and a coffee.

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After eating I still had an hour to kill so returned to the caravan park which gave me a chance to get my washing in while I waited for 3pm.

The Bilby Experience

The ‘experience’ was a good talk by a wildlife officer then we went into a darkened room to see the Bilbies – they are a nocturnal animal. They dart about constantly hence photos are blurred or empty frames.

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Interesting facts about Bilbies

  • They used to inhabit 70% of the mainland but now only exist in tiny pockets in extreme conditions where their predators can’t survive.
  • They don’t need free water.
  • Their main predators are foxes, feral cats and rabbits (the latter don’t kill them but take their burrows).
  • A Bilby can have 8 offspring a year compared to a rabbit’s 72.

Dinner

By now the sun had almost gone and I was getting hungry. Earlier, when I left the Historic House Museum, I noticed a Thai Restaurant a few doors away so I drove there to see what food was available. I bought a Special Fried Rice and Prawns – it wasn’t bad – not very spicy but plenty of it, I have saved half for tomorrow.

A Quick Video

On the road to the airport this morning a couple of animals in a hurry crossed the road:

11th May 2018–Charleville

Distance: 419 Km
Fuel: 49 L

Not in any great rush this morning and also not entirely sure where I will stop for the night. Three possibilities: Augathella, Charleville or Morven but it really depends on time or mood.

What a difference a day makes – yesterday it was 31’C today it is 23’C and feels quite chilly. It is not helped by a wind which, while not strong, is definitely moving the trees and grass, can’t say it was very cold but felt cool after the extended Indian Summer we have been having. The sky was as cloudless as ever with no chance of rain.

Didn’t stop in Blackall on the way through, made a short stop in a rest area just to walk about and stretch the legs, the scenery is very dry but beautiful in an Aussie yellow/brown and grey/green way – I just love the vastness of it all.

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Augathella

Turned off the highway into Augathella. This is the town where the author of the Smiley stories drew his inspiration. Descendants of the boy that Smiley was based on still live in the area. I have never read any of the books myself but I remember seeing the films as a child.

180511 007 Smiley Mural Augathella180511 009 Smiley Mural Augathella

The town also has a footie team called The Meat Ants.

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I spent a little while looking around after having coffee in the Smiley Cafe (part of the pub really).

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Made the decision to drive on to Charleville and stay a couple of nights there. So I continued on the extra 70km or so to a caravan park near the edge of town and made some plans for tomorrow.

A road train video for your amusement:

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