3rd November 2017–Texas

Distance: 356.2Km
Fuel: 27L

Farewell Grafton.

This morning set off for Stanthorpe in Queensland along the appalling Gwydir Highway; how it justifies the name highway is beyond me. it is so narrow and bumpy. I suppose to be fair it is designated a ‘B’ road. Anyway we survived it…

About 25km from Glen Inis where I expected to turn north toward Tenterfield Tom Tom said turn right which I dutifully did and we travelled for 12 km along an undulating unnamed road before reaching the New England Highway; clever Tom Tom cut 40km off the journey.

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Stopped at Bluff Rock rest area about 60km south of Stanhope for a break. It was about midday and it dawned on me that in Queensland it was only 11am. Had a quick review of the map and decided to change the destination to Texas a small town just inside the Queensland border. With a name like that you just have to see what it is like don’t you?

Turned out to be quite a nice small country town with a main street including a Post Office, newsagent, hardware store even a couple of supermarkets, a pub and half a dozen other businesses like motor repair, cafe etc.

The Spirit of Texas:

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First stop was the site of the original township but it was difficult to find and I am not sure if we did. The town was moved to its present location after floods in 1895 and 1921 from the original site you can see that the current town is on a slight rise.

Visited the dead centre of Texas.

171103 019 Texas

Explored the supermarket and town centre and bought noodles, biscuits and ham for sandwiches.


21st June 2017–Hebel to Gulgong

Distance: 502 km
Fuel: 97 L

Set off early;  before 8am – hardly any packing up required because I left the camper coupled up last night so there was only the mat and power cord to put away.

Within minutes I was back in NSW.

170621 004 Hebel to Gulgong NSW Border

Filled up with fuel at Walgett and only made a couple of rest stops because I want to get as far south as was possible.  One rest stop commemorated John Qxley’s 1818 expedition.

170621 006 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial170621 007 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial

Originally I aimed to reach Dunedoo but made good progress and in the end settled on Gulgong an extra 65km toward home. I should be home tomorrow as I have less than 400km to cover (though admittedly through what will probably be the worst traffic of the trip).

Poor Gulgong is quite a nice little town but since the town was dropped from the ten dollar note I think it has suffered a bit. The Town that Used to be on the Ten Dollar Note doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Town on the Ten Dollar Note. The only caravan park in town has a slightly run down feel to it (though the owners are friendly)

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I had a look around town, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here – some shops have closed while new ones have opened, the Gulgong Opera House is still entertaining the locals but you can stand in the middle of the street with little fear of being run over.

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After wandering about the main streets I had a nice coffee and muffin in one coffee bar before filling up with fuel again ready for tomorrow.

When I returned to the caravan park at 4pm it was already feeling quite cool and I needed a jacket.

What Gulgong does have is an Indian and a Thai restaurant so I was spoilt for choice. In the event I went for Indian, resisted a Vindaloo and tried Shahi Korma Beef. The restaurant was nicely appointed and warm so I ate in – the meal was very nice indeed.

BTW I might be wrong about the local economy after eating I drove past several pubs which were surrounded by vehicles and seemed to be doing good trade.

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.

19th June 2017–Capella to Injune

Distance: 376 km

Set off relatively late (for me) this morning. Went for a walk to look at Capella especially near what I took to be a creek (well, it had a bridge for the highway). It was a dry creek with the beginnings of a community picnic area – I forgot to take a picture of that. Next to it was what I presume to be the Capella Bowling Club which had evidently hit bad times and closed.


Eventually set off just after 8.30am and the drive south was uneventful, I stopped a couple of times to stretch my legs and enjoy the volcanic scenery of central Quuensland.


There was a section of major road works where they had thoughtfully wetted the dirt down to stop dust. Personally I would have preferred the dust, it blows away, but the wet dirt sticks!


Injune is an even smaller town than Capella with a population of less than 400 but it has a caravan park abet a self service one. The servo had run out of diesel when I arrived but he said he was expecting some in the evening. I was not that worried I have plenty to get me to Roma 90km away and am carrying 20 litres in the tray.

How nice it is to stay in Injune in June. Just as the sun set I went back to the Caltex place and filled up with fuel for tomorrow. All is good.


18th June 2017–Charters Towers to Capella

Distance: 429 km
Fuel: 46 L

Fog! Woke up to a thick fog, visibility was down to less than 50m however by the time I was ready to leave at 8am you could see the end of an adjacent paddock. For the first 30km of the drive it was still pretty thick fog.

170618 002 Charters Towers to Clermont

Almost suddenly I was driving in sunshine, the clouds disappeared rapidly and it was horizon to horizon blue skies which remained for the rest of the journey.

170618 004 Charters Towers to Clermont

On the way south I passed hundreds of caravans and trailers going north, “hundreds” is not an exaggeration I counted 30 in one 12 minute period. I can understand now why someone said that on 1st July the parks put their fees up to $50 a night with all that traffic.

Nearing Clermont I passed the Clermont Coal Mine with its conveyer belt running for km beside the road and its enormous spoil heap stretching along the other side of the road.

170618 009 Clermont Coal Mine

I had intended to stop at Clermont tonight but because there were few opportunities to stop on the road it was still reasonably early when I arrived so I only stopped to fill up with fuel before driving on to Capella another 60km further south.

Capella is a small town of less than 1000 people but it has a caravan park. It is Sunday and the town is dead except for the pub which was surrounded by utes and as noisy as anything. I bought a 6 pack of beer and had a quick schooner there.

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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.

170617 072 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine170617 071 Charters Towers170617 073 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine170617 076 Charters Towers Clarkes Gold Mine

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.

16th June 2017–Undara to Charters Towers

Distance: 408 km
Fuel: 57 L

At 8am I was at the Undara Lodge buying ice having all ready packed up to leave, by quarter past I was on the road.

170616 002 Undara

The road has improved a lot since I was last on it over 5 years ago then it was mostly single lane whereas now is is mostly two lanes with probably less that 10 km of single lane road.

There were very few parking areas on the road other than trucks bays adjacent to the road. The rare parking areas seemed crowded so I didn’t stop, even the roadhouses were a detour off the main road so I just kept going.

Because of this I arrived at the caravan park just before 1pm, checked in and found my site. The lady in the office gave me a map of the town and pointed out the Tourist Information Office and Towers Hill which she said should not be missed.

There was also some shopping I had to do so once settled in I was off first to the tourist office to get a self guided walk of the town centre most of which I saw while I parked and had a quick look round.

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I then drove to the Towers Hill which over looks the town. Not only is it a lookout it also has a lot of historical significance it is where gold was first discovered which lead to the town becoming one of the richest in the country even having its own stock market. This wealth is reflected in some of its old buildings seen above.

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During WWII Charters Towers was the base for US and Australian bombers taking part in the Battle of the Coral Sea just off nearby Townsville. The flight path for the heavily laden bombers taking off was over Towers Hill which necessitated the demolition of the tall chimney of the Pyrites Works on the hill. The rubble is still there, as are many bunkers used to store armaments.

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13th June 2017–Normanton to Georgetown

Distance: 307 km
Fuel: 36 L

The caravan park office doesn’t open until 9am so walked down to the local ‘Supermarket’. It is one of these country stores that sells fuel, burgers, milk, bait, tools and just about anything including ice which was what I wanted.

Headed south toward Cloncurry to get to the turn off toward Cairns on the Gulf Developmental Road. These developmental highways are usually part of the price mining companies pay to develop their mine. (BTW the road from Cloncurry to Normanton is the Burke Developmental Road.)

At one point was held up for 20 minutes where they were resurfacing the road by covering it with tar then pouring small stones on top and following this up with modern equivalent of a team of steam rollers.

170613 001 Normanton to Croyden

Stopped for a while at Croydon basically because it is the only town between Normanton and Georgetown where I will stop tonight. It was the third largest town in Queensland during its gold rush but it’s glory days are behind it and now it is just another pleasant, small, outback town.

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From Croydon the road was a mix of single and two lanes of varying quality but nothing to slow down for (except the occasional single lane bridge). Georgetown is not a big place, you can stroll from one end of town to the other in a few minutes.

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As I neared Georgetown I saw one of those big solar battery powered signs which said something about the Etheridge River Bridge being closed on the 13th and 14th June however it was not clear. I enquired at the caravan park to be told it was possibly being closed between 9am and 5pm each day so at the worst I have to be out of here before 9am. However when I went for a walk the traffic controllers unloading their gear at the bridge told me it was not being totally closed. It is the only route east.

170613 036 Georgetown Etheridge River Bridge

Am not particularly worried because it is a rare occasion that I am not on the move before 9am. Notice why this is called the ‘dry’ season?

By about 5pm I was starving so I had the $10 special of Chicken Burger and Chips – not bad once I removed the beetroot.

170613 044 Georgetown Dinner

12th June 2017–Normanton and Karumba

Distance: 159 km
Fuel: 49 L

Up early as usual for a shower at 6.30am then washed the clothes I wore yesterday; followed that up with a breakfast of cereal and coffee (ie the same as every day) before an early morning drive to the railway station (‘historic’ it said).

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Decided to drive to Karumba (it’s only 70km on a sealed road) to see the Gulf of Carpentaria. The tourist brochure seems to imply (reading between the lines) that the only reason to go there is for fishing, boating and crabbing.

This turned out to be not far wrong; there is little there to entertain anybody not interested in those three things. There was a promising  fish and chip shop but it was a bit early to eat so I wandered about the estuary of the Norman  River and the Karumba Esplanade facing the Gulf. There were the usual warnings about not walking near the waters edge because of crocs (though a pelican floating past seemed unperturbed). The mangroves were very dense along the river banks and the estuary.

170612 018 Karumba Norman River170612 021 Karumba Norman River170612 023 Karumba Gulf of Carpentaria170612 026 Karumba Gulf of Carpentaria

Back in Normanton I called in at the Post Office for a book of concession stamps but they don’t stock them – had to pay full price ($1) to send a postcard!! Also filled up with fuel for tomorrow and packed up my, now dry, washing. (gripping stuff eh?)

Having exhausted the tourist delights of Normanton decided to have a one man pub crawl…

It started well at the Albion Hotel with a schooner of XXXX Gold but went downhill from there.

170612 031  Normanton Albion Hotel170612 032  Normanton Albion Hotel170612 035  Normanton Albion Hotel

The Central Hotel didn’t open until 4pm(??) and at the Purple Hotel I was served a midi of beer in a plastic glass with the excuse, “The rodeo was in town”. Huuumph!

170612 036  Normanton Purple Hotel

Feeling a bit peeved I walked back to the Albion Hotel for a couple more schooners and lunch but they were not serving lunch because the “Cooko was on Strike” so after a few refreshing ales went back to the caravan park for a homemade lunch – cheese sandwich, banana and tea  – not quite what I had in mind but OK. I did try the local café on the way back from the pub but they were a “Chico Roll and Chips” type of place so that was no good.

At 6pm hunger set in so I returned to the Albion Hotel for dinner and ordered rump steak, pepper sauce, wedges (chips were off) and a beer. When it arrived the steak was just about perfect so I followed it up with another beer to celebrate before returning to the caravan park.