Only a couple of hundred k’s to travel today to my daughter and son in law’s house in Canberra. My last chance to see them before they go to Europe for a six week holiday.
The scenery changed from the flat plains to rolling hills as I went south toward the Hume Highway. Didn’t stop in Boorowa because it was too early for coffee in the end I didn’t stop until I reached my destination.
Distance: 277 Km
Fuel: 51 L
Canberra is cold at night. There are a lot of nice things to be said about Canberra but its climate is not one of them.
Spent the morning with the kids then set off after lunch so they could continue their packing and travel preparations in peace.
Arrived home at about 5pm.
Statistics for Trip
Total Distance: 7905 Km
Total Fuel: 824 L
Length of Trip: 26 Days
Total Fuel Cost: $1205
Average Fuel Price: $1.46/L
Total Accommodation Cost: $723
Average Park Cost: $28.96
Good trip – saw just about everything I expected or wanted to see and I enjoyed every minute of the trip. Love travelling inland Australia; there is nowhere in the world like it. Apart from the miserable weather near Ravenshoe on the way up the weather for the whole trip was near perfect; warm sunny days and, even in NSW, dry (cool) nights.
On occasions found towing a bit of a nuisance because it meant that in some towns or places of interest it was not possible to park or turn round. Would still use the camper for longer trips but for shorter trips am definitely thinking of going back to my tent with the option of the odd motel stay.
I don’t think I need a powered site because the solar panel on the car roof, together with the aux battery, seems to run the fridge easily with some power to spare. During the whole trip the fridge was never plugged into the mains power at all yet the battery remained fully charged or nearly so. We shall see, when spring comes I might give it a go again, I always liked camping.
Left this morning just after 8.30am, easy pack up because there was no TV aerial to take down – according to my app the nearest transmitter was over 60 km away so I didn’t bother putting it up.
The sat nav took me to Dubbo on the main road but then decided that a country road was quicker than the main road to Cowra. Fine by me, usually less traffic but on the downside few rest areas. Looking at the map the difference must have been marginal. When you take into account that these back roads tend to wind more than main roads thus keeping to the speed limit is impossible so any time saving is probably an illusion but it was a nice drive.
I stopped at a small town called Yeovil (one pub, one store) and bought a coffee – which was very good.
Didn’t stop in Canowindra because I was there not that long ago (>>>Click Here<<<) but continued on to Cowra again a place I am familiar with.
Chose a caravan park about 3km out of the centre of town and after setting up went for a drive for fuel and a look at some of the attractions.
First visit was to the WWII POW camp where the infamous Cowra Breakout occurred when Japanese prisoners attacked the guards and tried to escape or die in the process.
Next stop the Peace Bell.
Finally a trip to the Bellevue Hill lookout in the centre of town.
Every night/morning is a little warmer than the previous (since the big chill).last night I had to throw off the summer doona and ditch the hot water bottle.
This morning was a very relaxed leaving, not that far to travel today so packing up was done in small bites, ie picked up and packed away mat, had some toast, put away TY aerial, had cup of tea etc – didn’t leave until 9am. Looked like being another perfect day.
Coonamble was the only hold up – there must have been a very important person being buried because the town was at a standstill as the funeral procession went through, even the police were involved. I say a hold up but it was probably less than 15 minutes delay I have been held up longer for road works.
Gilgandra was reached just before 1pm after only one 20 minute stop to stretch my legs. The caravan park I had decided on was on the entry to town and only $25, small place but seems OK.
After setting up drove into town for a look around and buy fuel. About the only thing that Gilgandra is well known for is the Coo-ee March of 1915 (that is probably a disservice to the town but that is all I know about the town).
At the beginning of the First World War about 20 local lads decided to walk to Sydney to enlist in the army. On the way they picked up recruits from the towns they passed on the way. By the time they reached Sydney they were 300 strong – this is also known as the Gilgandra Snowball. Gilgandra has a statue in the main street commemorating this event.
This trip is winding down, tomorrow is likely to be the last stop when I will be staying at Cowra.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The town also has a footie team called The Meat Ants.
I spent a little while looking around after having coffee in the Smiley Cafe (part of the pub really).
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.
I had seriously thought about returning south via the coast ie Innisfail to Townsville but the combination of possible rain and the coastal traffic on a public holiday made me rethink the idea.
At the moment I am several days ahead of my schedule because I had allowed two stops between Charters Towers and Atherton in each direction. On previous journeys I have stopped at Undara Lava Tubes but on this occasion, while I did take a break at Mt Garnet on the way north and Greenvale on the way south, neither places have any great interest or reason to stop overnight.
Today’s trip was a long drive but I was listening to an audio book “The Handmaids Tale” which passed the time pleasantly enough and I always enjoy the bush winding passed.
Ravenshoe and its wind farm was its usual windy, soggy self:
…but the weather improved no end past Mt Garnet.
There are probably less than 10km of single lane road now on the whole of the Great Inland Way.
Set off at about my usual time of 8.30am for a reasonably steady drive to Atherton – certainly no rush.
Stopped on the way to look at Black Mountain a rather odd old volcanic mountain of what appears to be a pile of rocks with little or nothing growing on it.
Also stopped once more at Coffee Works in Mareeba for their equivalent of a Strawberry Sundae (Strawberry Chilla). i also bought some of their mint chocolate. It was OK, as with coffee chocolate is not a particular favourite of mine so to me Cadbury chocolate tastes much the same at a fraction of the price.
Found the caravan park I selected, it was about 4km outside Atherton and I was tempted to have a look at the other ones. They charged $35 for a night which I think is getting excessive. The grounds were fine but the facilities need an upgrade, they are OK but that is all.
Drove into Atherton to have a look at the town; quite a busy but commonplace shopping centre. I went to have a look at an historic Chinese Temple but it closed at 1pm which seems a bit early to me. Will try to fit it in tomorrow.
At just after 5pm it started to get a bit chilly must be the altitude it was still over 21’ at the time but once the sun went down the temperature dropped noticeably and rapidly.
It must have rained during the night, the car and camper were quite wet. It can’t have been heavy rain because the top vent was fairly wide open and during heavy rain some water “bounces’” in but the bedding was completely dry.
The sky however was clear as the sun rose. When I went for a shower I noticed several hot air balloons floating nearby.
Didn’t leave until nearly 9am so I could go to Coffee Works for breakfast. Not exactly what I expected but the food was nice if expensive.
On the Road
The drive to Cooktown was through some interesting and varied scenery much hillier than previous Queensland landscapes with some very steep climbs and descents.
Early in the trip it actually rained a couple of times, not for long and not much, but the sky cleared and clouded over several times during the trip.
Arrived in Cooktown about 1pm so, after unhitching the camper and having a coffee, I set off to explore Cooktown.
Most of its attractions are near the water front (the Endeavour River). There was the wharf built for the Queen’s visit, the place where Captain Cook actually landed and repaired his ship after he ran into the Great Barrier Reef plus various statues and monuments.
Grassy Hill was a pretty spectacular lookout overlooking the town, the river and the Coral Sea.
Back in the Caravan Park I was watching a Kookaburra catch its food in the creek when it came and perched close by.