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.

11th June 2017–Cloncurry to Normanton

Distance: 394 km

Did all the usual things before setting off at about 8.30am under a partly overcast sky – in fact at some point along the journey about a dozen spots of rain appeared on the windscreen! I suppose that is a downpour at this time of year.

The road between Cloncurry and Normanton was a mixture of single and two lane roads – met a few caravans and 4x4s coming south so it was one set of wheels in the dirt as we passed but saw no road trains.

Stopped briefly at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse but didn’t get fuel and made a couple of stops in parking areas on the way just to stretch my legs.

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Arrived at the caravan park at 1pm – made a dog’s breakfast of reversing into the site but eventually got there.

First job was getting the laundry done because I was down to my last two sets of shirts and undies. Once this was sorted went for a drive to look at Normanton (pop 1500), first stop the Norman River, its boat ramp and wharf. Stuck to the high wharf and raised landing stage next to the boat ramp. I don’t know if there are crocs there but I wasn’t taking the chance; as everybody tells me, “You don’t see them, they see you.”

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The town is pretty small stretching along the highway but it has all the essentials like fuel, pubs, Post Office and stores. Not a lot of activity today because it is Sunday. Am staying here a couple of nights.

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Krys the Crocodile is supposed to be an accurate representation of the largest saltwater croc caught in these parts – 8.6 metres long.

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You don’t see too many servos like this these days.

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Finally the town is proud of its cast gutter covers and the guttering of locally quarried stone. The gutter covers were cast at nearby Croyden.

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6th June 2017–Katherine to Daly Waters

Distance: 295 km
Fuel: 33 L

Left the caravan park at about 8.30am and headed straight down the Stuart Highway to Daly Waters, very much in familiar territory now. Didn’t stop at any of the many ‘historic’ WWII airfields or hospitals because I did so last time I was down this way. Anyway most of the airfields have just been reclaimed by the bush and are barely visible

Last time I was here I stayed at the Hi-Way Motel so this time decided to stay at the Daly Waters Pub Caravan Park. I thought it would be quieter than the roadhouse. Nope! from when I arrived at about midday there was a continuous stream of campers and vans filling the place up. The pub was doing a roaring trade.

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Revisited the Stuart Tree – you can just vaguely make out the ‘S’ carved in it.

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Also had a look at the Daly Waters Airstrip once a fairly busy hub, it claims to have been a ‘complex’ especially leading up to and during WWII but now just another bush landing strip though with a tarmac surface.

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Am stopped here because I have decided to get off the Stuart Highway and take a detour to the Barkly Highway via the Carpentaria and Tablelands Highways instead of continuing down to the Threeways Roadhouse and getting on the Barkly there.

I had a couple of beers or six at the pub ($8 a schooner!) but they have a happy hour at 5pm to 6pm which I tested – $4 midis. Afterwards I ordered their kangaroo steak which was surprisingly good and well priced.

170606 050  Daly Waters Pub Meal

Tomorrow I plan to stop at Cape Crawford and this journey is about 100km longer than staying on the Stuart but I have never been there before (road less travelled and that).These highways are sealed but a single lane so oncoming trucks have to be treated with a lot of respect (ie you take to the dirt). BTW ‘Cape Crawford’ sounds nautical but it is actually about 140km inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria.