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.

180515 001 Hebel180515 003 Hebel180515 005 Hebel180515 007 Hebel

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.

180515 012 Lightning Ridge180515 034 Lightning Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park180515 037 Lightning Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park180515 105 On the Road to Lightning Ridge180515 015 Lightning Ridge180515 017 Lightning Ridge180515 018 Lightning Ridge180515 019 Lightning Ridge180515 021 Lightning Ridge180515 027 Lightning Ridge180515 030 Lightning Ridge Artesian Bore Pool

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.

2018-05-15 18.20.53

 

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.

180514 005 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 013 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 015 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 018 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 019 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 022 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 025 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 027 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 029 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 032 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 034 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 039 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma180514 042 The Big Rig Oil Patch Roma

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.

180514 002 Roma180514 048 St Pauls Church Roma180514 049 Oldest Building Roma180514 050 Roma180514 052 Roma180514 056 Roma180514 054 Roma180514 066 Court House Roma180514 067 Largest Working Windmill Roma

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.

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<<<

180512 035 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 019 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 021 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 023 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 026 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville180512 031 Angellala Creek Explosion Site Charleville

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.

180512 079 Historic House Charleville180512 046 Historic House Charleville180512 048 Historic House Charleville180512 049 Historic House Charleville180512 051 Historic House Charleville180512 052 Historic House Charleville180512 055 Historic House Charleville180512 057 Historic House Charleville180512 059 Historic House Charleville180512 063 Historic House Charleville180512 073 Historic House Charleville180512 077 Historic House Charleville

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.

180512 082 Charleville180512 084 Charleville180512 085 Charleville180512 088 Charleville180512 089 Charleville180512 091 Charleville

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.

180512 094 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 095 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 099 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 116 Bilby Experience Charleville180512 133 Bilby Experience Charleville

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.

180511 002 On The Road To Augathella180511 003 On The Road To Augathella180511 004 On The Road To Augathella

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.

180511 025 Augathella180511 021 Meat Ant Park Augathella180511 019 Meat Ant Park Augathella

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

180511 022 Augathella180511 024 Augathella180511 027 Augathella180511 031 Augathella180511 033 Augathella180511 034 Augathella180511 036 Augathella

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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10th May 2018–A Day Trip to Muttaburra

Distance: 318 Km
Fuel: 41 L

A trip to the geographic centre of Queensland (give or take), a little town called Muttaburra where a fossil of a new specie of dinosaur was discovered – the Muttaburrasaurus.

It is one of those places that you have to visit once, unfortunately they had not made the most of their namesake though they are trying to catch up.

The town is about 151km from Barcaldine so it is a fair way to go but this is the only sealed route.

180510 059 Aramac180510 003 Road to Aramac180510 007 Road to Aramac180510 054 Aramac

Muttaburra

When I entered the town it was the archetypal Australian town with kangaroos hopping down the main street (yes, really).

180510 014 Muttaburra180510 012 Muttaburra

A fibreglass model of the Muttaburrasaurus is housed in a new ‘Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre’. The interpretation will come in stage 2, at the moment it is just a rather odd building with a fibreglass statue.

180510 025 Muttaburra Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre180510 023 Muttaburra Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre180510 019 Muttaburra Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre180510 021 Muttaburra Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre

The rest of the town was typical; wide empty streets with everybody at work.

180510 027 Muttaburra180510 031 Muttaburra180510 032 Muttaburra180510 036 Muttaburra180510 038 Muttaburra180510 040 Muttaburra180510 042 Muttaburra180510 049 Muttaburra Cemetery180510 050 Muttaburra Cemetery

Aramac Tram Museum

After looking around the centre of Queensland started on the return journey. Passing once again through the town of Aramac I just happened to see  a small sign pointing to Aramac Tram Museum. I did a quick U turn to investigate.

180510 092 Aramac Tram Museum180510 069 Aramac Tram Museum180510 061 Aramac Tram Museum180510 062 Aramac Tram Museum180510 064 Aramac Tram Museum180510 067 Aramac Tram Museum180510 071 Aramac Tram Museum180510 074 Aramac Tram Museum180510 076 Aramac Tram Museum180510 081 Aramac Tram Museum180510 084 Aramac Tram Museum180510 086 Aramac Tram Museum180510 090 Aramac Tram Museum180510 094 Aramac Tram Museum

The Tree of Knowledge

Back in Barcaldine no visit to the town would be complete without seeing the Tree of Knowledge. Unfortunately the tree was poisoned in 2006 and now only the dead trunk remains covered my a massive wooden structure that represents its original canopy.

180510 111 Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge180510 113 Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge180510 103 Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge180510 110 Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge

It is not that long since I visited Barcaldine so I didn’t bother with its other attractions other than a walk round town however the railway station remains a working station.

180510 109 Barcaldine

180510 117 Barcaldine180510 121 Barcaldine

For dinner I decided to have a steak at the place opposite the caravan park. So glad I did it was the best steak I have had for a long time.

180510 123 Barcaldine

The local water supply must be from the artesian bore because it is warm. I haven’t used the hot tap for a shower since I have been here, the temperature from the cold is perfect.

9th May 2018–On the Road to Barcaldine

Distance: 518 Km
Fuel: 46 L

Left ridiculously early because of a chain smoker in the next site, his smoke blowing constantly toward me.

It was a long day today, my original intention was to stop at Longreach or Ilfracombe but after I had visited the Longreach I decided to press on the extra 100km to Barcaldine because it makes my plans for tomorrow easier.

Driving south from Hughenden the country was quite different to the northern parts, it was open grassland with only occasional trees. The road paralleled a disused rail line.

180509 003 Hughenden to Winton180509 004 Hughenden to Winton

Winton

First stop was Winton the home of Waltzing Matilda, or at least near where it was put to music. When I was here last the Waltzing Matilda Centre had just burnt down and was just a space in the streetscape but now a brand new building had been erected. Entry was an astounding $27.

180509 040 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 038 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 006 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 007 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 009 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 011 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 014 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 015 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 021 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 022 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 025 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 027 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 032 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton180509 036 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton

To be honest it was a bit of a stretch to associate some of the contents with Banjo Paterson but they did – certainly a place you only need to visit once.

180509 048 Winton180509 049 Winton180509 050 Matilda Matilda Centre Winton

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m8!1m3!1d14756.058563135606!2d143.0399428!3d-22.3908055!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x3d362d000f74efab!2sWaltzing+Matilda+Centre!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sau!4v1525867414584&#8243; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”” style=”border: 0px currentcolor; border-image: none;”>

Longreach

Next it was on to Longreach and the Qantas Founders Museum. There has always been a bit of a debate between Winton and Longreach as to where Qantas was actually founded but the latter has this museum.

180509 093 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 059 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 064 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 067 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 069 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 070 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 077 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 074 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 078 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 081 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 083 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 087 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 055 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach180509 095 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach

There was a small exhibition about past adoption practices in Australia. Quite sad.

180509 092 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach

I didn’t visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame because I have been before and unless you have a fetish for leather and old saddlery then you don’t need to visit twice.

It was 3pm when I left the Qantas place and I was in two minds whether to stay here or move on further however, as I said earlier, decided to press on to Barcaldine were I found a caravan park for a couple of nights.

After setting up drove the 1km into town for milk and beer. Opposite the caravan park is a steakhouse which I think I might visit tomorrow night.

8th May 2018–More Hughenden

Distance: 213 km
Fuel: 47 L

Today was a visit to Porcupine Gorge so I set off about 8.30am. After driving 20km I realised I had not brought my camera! Then after retracing 10km of that 20km I remembered the Olympus camera I carry in the glove box just for such eventualities. In the event I decided to return to the caravan park because I had also forgotten to clean the windscreen which was a mass of bug smears.

Jobs done I set off for a second time. The Tourist Information place had given me a sheet with information about interesting stops on the way so the journey of about 67km was broken up by many stops.

The first stop was Mt Beckford Sandalwood Hill where sandalwood was harvested for the Asian market. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell a Sandalwood tree from a metal post so that was that.

The Dingo Fence

My next stop was far more interesting – The Dingo Fence – or rather the remains of it. Sheep are no longer run in this area so the fence has fallen into disuse but the old wooden posts and wire have been incorporated into the newer property line.

180508 081 Dingo Fence Near Hughenden180508 082 Dingo Fence Near Hughenden180508 084 Dingo Fence Near Hughenden

Eaglehawk Gorge

This is actually the start of the Porcupine Gorge.

180508 004 Eaglehawk Gorge Near Hughenden180508 005 Eaglehawk Gorge Near Hughenden180508 006 Eaglehawk Gorge Near Hughenden180508 008 Eaglehawk Gorge Near Hughenden

Unmarked Grave

Near the Eaglehawk Gorge  was an unmarked grave the occupant is either a Chinaman making his way to or from the goldfields and who was run over by a dray OR is is an aboriginal girl called Minnie Waite who was either murdered or died of exposure trying to walk into Hughenden.

180508 009 Unnamed Grave Near Hughenden180508 011 Unnamed Grave Near Hughenden

Mailman’s Grave and Bottle Ridge Lookout

I climbed this ridge. What a bugger! the track was hardly visible and rock strewn; and ideal place to break or twist an ankle. The ridge itself was no better a plateau of rocky ground but the view was pretty good.

180508 013 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden180508 015 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden180508 016 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden180508 019 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden180508 023 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden180508 024 Bottle Tree Ridge Near Hughenden

The Mailman’s grave was a cross and a pile of rocks, he was murdered by the local Aboriginals and buried where he died.

180508 029 Mailman Corbetts Grave Near Hughenden180508 030 Mailman Corbetts Grave Near Hughenden

The Whistling Bore

It didn’t whistle while I was there merely hummed at me. You can imagine the people who drilled it must have been annoyed when it didn’t produce water and merely whistled at them.

180508 060 Whistling Bore Near Hughenden180508 062 Whistling Bore Near Hughenden

Porcupine Gorge

There were a couple of lookouts, the first overlooked the steepest walls.

180508 033 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 035 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 036 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 037 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 038 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 039 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 043 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 049 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden180508 057 Porcupine Gorge Near Hughenden

The second overlooked the Pyramid and there was a rim walk plus a 1.1km walk down into the gorge itself. As it was nearly midday and the path looked rough I decided against going down, I think I might have done if it had gone down into the first part of the gorge but I decided against it.

180508 066 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 068 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 069 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 072 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 073 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 074 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 077 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden180508 078 Porcupine Gorge Pyramid Lookout Near Hughenden

Back in Hughenden

It was about 2pm by the time I returned to the town I bought fuel ($1.59/L) and I had thought of driving to Richmond but the price of fuel decided me against it.

I had a burger at FJ Holden’s Café, it was a very good burger (once I removed the inevitable beetroot)

180508 090 F J Holden Cafe Hughenden Near Hughenden180508 087 F J Holden Cafe Hughenden Near Hughenden

Surveyors Stake and Coolabah Tree

Frederick Walker and Sir William Landsborough blazed this tree when they were searching for Burke and Wills. The surveyors peg marks the original point from which the area was surveyed.

180508 096 Coolabah Tree and Surveyors Stake Hughenden180508 095 Coolabah Tree and Surveyors Stake Hughenden180508 103 Coolabah Tree and Surveyors Stake Hughenden180508 092 Coolabah Tree and Surveyors Stake Hughenden