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.

180512 001 Vortex Gun Charleville180512 003 Vortex Gun Charleville

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.

180512 006 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 010 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 011 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville180512 012 Meteorological Balloon Release Charleville

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.


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:

3rd May 2018–Around Cooktown

Distance:12 km
Fuel: 31 L

Went to the information office at the Cooktown Botanical Gardens before 9am  basically to see when they were open. They weren’t open until 10am so went for a short drive down to Finch Bay for a stroll along the sands of this nearby bay.

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Next stop the James Cook Museum to see the recovered anchor and a cannon (one of six) jettisoned when the HMB Endeavour ran aground on a reef in June 1770. They were only discovered in the 1970s.

180503 040 James Cook Museum Cooktown

The museum is housed in the original convent of The Sisters of Mercy who were evacuated inland during WWII and never returned.

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Back to the Botanic Gardens information bureau to find out about boat or plane trips. Bad news! a cruise ship is arriving off the coast today and all the local boats are booked for that. They took my phone number in case of cancellation but I heard nothing back. Similar story with the helicopter flights I put my name down for any party that needed a single to make up the numbers, the organiser told me that they have few flights this early in the season but if they had one they would call.

Very disappointing but I want to go back to Atherton tomorrow because it is the best chance of good weather in that area.

Had the local fish and chips at the Captain Cook’s Landing Place Kiosk; to be honest the chips were fine but the fish was only so so. Actually I remember when I first came to northern Queensland in the mid/late 1960s I stopped buying fish because it seemed to be a different colour depending on where you bought it – anything from yellow to red to grey and many shades in between.

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The weather was lovely today – sunshine most of the day, it rained for a few minutes early in the morning but then the clouds just vanished and soon the temperature was about 29’C. The humidity was pretty good too, higher than I am used to but with the sea breeze it very bearable – I would guess 60 to 70% perhaps? I enjoyed walking about the town.

180503 066 Cooktown Caravan Park180503 062 Cooktown Brush Turkey

The sunset was magnificent – the photo doesn’t even begin to cover it.

180503 068 Cooktown Sunset

27th April 2018–Monto

Distance: 326 km
Fuel: 36 L

Woke up this morning to a blanket of fog however the sun soon burned it away.

Dalby Fog

Dalby Pioneer Museum

Opposite the caravan park there is the Dalby Pioneer Museum. I have generally stopped visiting country heritage museums because it is rather like visiting my grandmother’s house. This one looked a little bit different – it was many buildings on a large block and the advertising sign outside was intriguing.

Dalby Pioneer Museum

They had a telephone exchange, fossils, a vast bottle collection, agricultural machinery, computers, adding machines, typewriters, record players, trucks, even the first and the last white painted Qld fire engines. They didn’t just have one or two of things they had dozens. It opened at 8am and I only left at 9.45 because I had to vacate the caravan site by 10am. Well worth a visit.

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On the Road

Off again through the back roads – they are rough roads with few places to stop except in the towns on the way.

If you don’t stop at a town called Mundubbera where do you stop? Was able to park in the town centre by taking up two spaces and had a look around. The town obviously has a talented artist(s) because his/her murals were everywhere.


Unfortunately I changed a setting on my camera by mistake so the photos look odd Sad smile

Another 100 km to Monto where I decided to stay a night. Found the local caravan park and dropped off the camper before going into town for fuel, milk and other essentials. A massive main street with parking in the centre of the road as well as each side (room to turn a Bullock Team in?). Plenty of spaces to park and little traffic.


Rain is badly needed in this area, just before I made dinner about 5 drops of rain fell.

Fuel consumption rocketed today; the speed limit is 100kph which is fine towing the trailer. For a while today I was doing 113kph and it took me a while to notice – My excuse is that it was an open road and no traffic so I must have accidentally re-set the cruise control or something equally daft.

A Couple of Days in the Mountains

8th – 10th February 2018

Visited the Blue Mountains at Katoomba to show my brother around – didn’t take the camper but stayed at a motel near Echo Point.

Echo Point

Wandered down to Echo Point to look at the view and The Three Sisters. When you look down the valley you can understand why the early settlers took decades to find a way through the mountains (they didn’t think to ask the Aborigines who crossed the mountains all the time).

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Climbed down the Great Staircase only as far as the cave on the first sister.

Scenic World

Spent the morning at Scenic World. Very sophisticated these days, when I first visited it was, to say the least, very basic but in those days it was great fun. The boardwalk in the rainforest is very enjoyable but the queues for the rides are not fun.

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Leura Cascades

Away from the hustle of Scenic World a walk down the Leura Cascades, much quieter and relaxing.

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Bygone Beautys

Quick visit for their Devonshire Teas and a look at the teapots.

180209 137 Leura Bygone Beautys

Toy and Rail Museum

Don’t you hate in when the toys of your childhood appear in a Museum?

180209 159 Leura Toy and Rail Museum180209 157 Leura Toy and Rail Museum

Sir Henry Parkes Grave

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Norman Lindsay Gallery

Author, artist, poet, sculptor, model builder is there no end to his talent?

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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.

10th June 2017–Camooweal to Cloncurry

Distnace: 324 km
Fuel: 36 L

Cold again this morning (of course), had a shower at 6.30am; the good thing about a roadhouse as a caravan park is that they are open at ridiculously early hours (if they are not open 24hrs) so I was able to buy ice and milk straight away. Once this had been done I got back in the camper to watch an episode of Cold Feet to allow the morning to warm up a bit before I started to dismantle my ‘camp’.

Left Camooweal before 9am even with my late start, easy drive to Mount Isa where I only stopped to fill up with fuel. Didn’t visit the city centre because it is only a year since I spent several days here.170610 001 Mt Isa

Continued on to Cloncurry and found a caravan park on the highway about 1km from the town centre – I checked in and unhitched the camper.

170610 004 Mt Isa170610 008 Mt Isa

Went back to the shopping centre and discovered they have a Woollies; so stocked up with some fruit, cheese, nuts and other bits and pieces before looking round the town.

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Apart from an art deco civic centre and some typical country pubs there was a museum to the Royal Flying Doctor Service which they claim was started in Cloncurry by John Flynn. Not a particularly big museum but it had his car, a quarter scale model of his plane,”The Victory” and various examples of bush radios including pedal powered ones. The RFDS started off as the Australian Inland Mission so there are obvious religious overtones. The museum was only open until 3pm and I arrived at 2.30pm (it’s Saturday) but I had enough time to see everything.

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5th June 2017–Katherine Day One

Distance: 23 km

Had a change of heart and decided to stay in Katherine for an extra day so I did some laundry then rolled up at the office when it opened to pay for the extra day and buy a bag of ice.

Almost immediately took off to go to the Katherine School of the Air which I had passed on the way to the caravan park. Annoyingly it took me ages to find it because the sign faced the town and there was no sign facing the other way.

It was very interesting it is claimed to be the largest classroom in the world because it covers the northern part of the NT from Tennant Creek to Darwin (Alice Springs serves the southern half of the territory). While I was there a teacher gave the pre-schoolers their lesson. Each child has to have a governess (govi) to supervise their study, sometimes it is an employee sometimes the child’s mother. It is a really good education system and the results exceed those of the rest of the system.

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They still had the original short wave radios that they used until they got the satellite. Now the children can see their teacher and each other, though the video is under the control of the teacher.

Following that I went to the Katherine Museum which was moderately interesting with information about the growth of Katherine (basically started with the Telegraph Station at Knotts Crossing but expanded massively during WWII), the development of transport, railway and a whole room devoted to the flying doctor – not the RFDS but a local doctor who flew his own plane to treat people in remote areas. He sounded like one of these disastrous adventurers who was a danger to themselves and everyone around them but he was obviously well respected (he crashed at least four planes).

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After lunch went to Knotts Crossing where there is a weir and shallow crossing across the Katherine River used before the low level bridge was built. It was also the original site of the settlement.

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Finally Dogs Head Rock(?)

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24th May 2017–Broome Day Three

Distance: 30 km

My temperature estimates yesterday were a bit off – Day 32’C Night 19’C.is more like it.

This morning I was shocked to see clouds so I took a picture of them.


170524 002 Broome Cloud

Went to the Visitors Centre this morning to book a cruise if one was available for today. I was lucky and booked a sunset cruise on Roebuck Bay. They would pick me up at 1.40pm at the Visitors Centre.

As it was only 9.30am I had plenty of time to do other things. I returned to Chinatown for a coffee and time to plan the rest of the day.

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The Sun Picture Gardens is an open air cinema, the oldest in the world, built in 1913. It is still in almost original condition.

Next up was a visit to Broome Museum because it had a display about the pearling industry and the attack on Broome in WWII. Normally I avoid small town museums because they tend to be just like visiting my Grandmother’s or Great Aunts’ houses but as country museums go this one was quite interesting.

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After the museum I had a look at the Pioneer Cemetery and Town Beach complete with mangroves.

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In a day when one cemetery is never enough I also visited the Japanese and Chinese cemeteries. One thing I learned at the Broome museum was why there are so many Japanese and their descendants in Broome – it is all to do with pearling – the White Australia Policy and the notorious English test was not applied to Japanese pearl divers however they and their Australian born descendants were all interned during WWII.

170524 030 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 033 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 034 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries170524 036 Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries

Zoomed back to Chinatown for lunch I thought there was a Thai restaurant there but I must have seen it somewhere else (I’ll find it tomorrow). I could only find one Chinese restaurant among all the cafes and bars so I had lunch there – to be fair after I had eaten and was leaving the area I saw at least two others.

170524 041 Broome

Went back to the caravan park for a shower before the cruise. At the back of my camper was a lizard – he scuttled up a tree.

170524 045 Broome Lizard

I was only waiting at the Visitors Centre for five minutes before the cruise bus arrived. We picked up the rest of the passengers before driving onto the beach next to the wharf. A launch came from the boat to pick us up.

170524 048 Broome Sunset Cruise

…and drove right up the beach.

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I’d never seen anything like it but the bloke reckoned he bought it ten years ago.

The cruise was quite interesting (in my opinion all cruises I have ever been on go on far too long. Water can only hold my interest for so long). We did see plenty of Snubfin Dolphins, some Flatback Turtles, a Hammerhead shark, a Dugong and some fish – the first photo is Batwing Fish (or something like that). I have lots of photos of empty water but these are a few with something visible.

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The turtles, shark and dugong got away.

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It was a sunset cruise…