Click here to read the previous part of the trip.
Day 45 â Friday 6 August 2021 â Corfield to Winton
Weather: minimum of 2.4ÂșC and fine
Wow, a very cold night. I wake at 6:05 am after a very good sleep. I read the SMH, listen to the ABC news and get up at 8:00 am. It is now about 6â°C. I fly my drone as there is no wind. After, I have breakfast and read my book. It is now windy and very cool, much colder than the real 13â°C when I leave at 9:40 am.
|The main street of Winton
|Australian Hotel, Winton
I arrive in Winton at 10:45 am. The last 30 of the 86 kilometres to town is single lane tar road. I buy a brownie from a bakery, a rip off at $5 for a tiny thing. I have morning tea and book a tour at the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach for Monday. I then look for somewhere to stay.
|The North Gregory Hotel, Winton
|The strange wall in Winton
The only camping here is at the hotels or associated caravan park. The caravan park at Tattersalls Hotel only has powered sites. I am not paying for power that I cannot use. I look at the other three hotels and decide the North Gregory Hotel is best so at 11:25 am I book in there for $15. There are places for caravans, motorhomes and rooftop tents out the back of the hotel. You use the hotelâs toilets and showers. They also have a laundromat.
|The new Waltzing Matilda Centre
|Inside the Waltzing Matilda Centre
After I set up the rooftop I walk around town, there are some nice old buildings and an open air theatre. Behind the North Gregory Hotel next to the park there is a very strange wall built by the house next door. It has every sort of farm implement and household item cemented into the wall. There are car engines and wheels, cement mixers, helmets and more. Weird and amazing!
I go back to the car and have lunch. While eating I book an Age of Dinosaurs tour for 10:30 am tomorrow. This costs $75, more about it tomorrow.
|Some of the trucks in the Waltzing Matilda Centre
|A wall of bottles
At 12:55 pm I walk to the Waltzing Matilda Centre, entry is $27 for seniors. This is the new museum which replaced the one that burned down on 15 June 2015. It is a very attractive building and the museum inside is really good. It has an excellent history of Waltzing Matilda (certainly Australiaâs most famous song) which was written in Winton by A. B. âBanjoâ Paterson in 1895. There are also dozens of records and recordings of the song.
|The Winton Club, Qantas was formed here in 1921
|A very old shop in Winton
The back section of the centre has a museum about the local area. It is excellent, with trains, carriages, lots of trucks, farm machinery, bottles, hospital equipment and more. The whole centre is a credit to the town. I am back at my car at 3:25 pm, walking via the three pubs in the main street to look at the dinner menus. I go to the laundromat but both machines are in use. I have a cuppa and when I go back, I put my washing on ($4).
|The Royal Theatre, an open air film theatre
|Gregory North doing his Waltzing Matilda show
While this is on, I check on the dryer and at the end of the show, at 5:30 pm, the clothes are dry. I go back to my car and read my book for a bit and then have a shower. At 6:35 pm I go to the Tattersalls Hotel for a beer and then head back to the North Gregory Hotel. I have decided to have pizza for dinner and also watch Souths play the Eels on the big screen in the beer garden.
I order my wood-fired pizza ($22) and watch the football while eating. The pizza is nice but has too much cheese. Souths win 40 to 12. I go to bed at 10:00 pm.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 21ÂșC
Arrived: Winton Time: 10:45 am Distance: 88 kilometres
Day 46 â Saturday 7 August 2021 â Winton to Mistake Creek (Winton)
Weather: minimum of 12.5ÂșC and fine
Last night was over 10 degrees warmer than the night before. Makes it hard to figure out what to wear to bed. I am awake at 6:10 am and read the SMH. I get up at 8:00 am and have breakfast and pack up. I leave at 9:30 am and drive to the Age of Dinosaurs. This is 26 kilometres out of town to the east. I get there at 9:50 am. On the way I have to pull totally off the road to let a truck with a very wide load pass.
|The entrance to the Age of Dinosaurs Centre
|A funny sign as you walk in
My tour starts at 10:30 am. You walk across from the main centre to the laboratories where the newly discovered fossilised bones are stored and then cleaned and preserved. There are lots of different bones to look at and you can see the volunteers working on the newer bones, removing dirt and rock with things like dental drills. Fascinating. After this you walk back to the main centre.
In the centre, there is a theatre which has three almost complete dinosaur specimens. These are called Banjo, Matilda and Wade. There are also video displays showing what the dinosaurs looked like when alive and more. Very well done.
|A panoramic photograph from the plateau
After here you get in a large golf-cart type vehicle and are taken to the March of the Titanosaurs exhibition. This building houses a large section of rock that was muddy ground when various dinosaurs tracked across it. There are also crocodile and turtle footprints. This rock was moved 65 kilometres to here from its original location and the building built to protect it. As part of this, there is a walk into the valley below with life-sized smaller dinosaur replicas and up top some larger ones. Not only will adults enjoy this tour, kids will love it.
We are back at the main centre at 1:40 pm and I buy a pie for lunch from the cafĂ©. I eat it and head off at 1:45 pm. I get back into Winton at 2:10 pm. I buy a 4 pack of Winton Lager for $20 to take home and then fill one of my water containers which is empty. I leave at 2:30 pm and at 2:50 pm I arrive at Mistake Creek which is south of the town. I look at the Long Waterhole first before deciding on a spot at Mistake Creek.
|The building that houses the dinosaur footprints
|Some of the footprints
|Some more of the footprints
|The Bladensburg Homestead
I set up my table and chair to secure this spot and then head into the Bladensburg NP which is a little further to the south. I go to the Bladensburg Homestead arriving there at 3:05 pm. This is a very nice but small original home for the property. It replaced a smaller hut which was converted to the blacksmiths shop. This homestead was apparently moved here from Charters Towers in the early 1900s. I then go to the shearing shed which only dates from 1961 as the older one built in 1925 burned down. The yards are very old though.
|The Bladensburg Shearing Shed
|A really old fence at the shearing shed
From here I go to Engine Hole which is a waterhole and then Skull Hole which is dry. This is the site of a massacre of Aborigines by black police trackers in September 1876. They did this because the Winton Police Sergeant, Moran, was attacked by Aborigines while searching for those responsible for killing a white man.
I leave here at 3:50 pm and go via Bough Shed Hole Camping Area which is very nice and then go back to Mistake Creek via a mostly different route to getting here. I am back at 4:20 pm. I setup the Shippshape, have a shower and a cuppa. At 5:30 pm I put the fire on and have a drink or two.
|My campsite at Mistake Creek
|A drone shot of Mistake Creek, my car is centre behind trees
Dinner tonight is marinated pork spare ribs I cook in my small camp oven over hot coals. This takes 30 minutes. I have with leftover rice. I listen to the Wallabies play the All Blacks as the NRL is not on for some reason. We lose as usual, although it is four tries apiece. Then the NRL is on and I listen to that. I go to bed at 9:35 pm.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ÂșC
Arrived: Mistake Creek Time: 4:20 pm Distance: 104 kilometres
Day 47 â Sunday 8 August 2021 â Mistake Creek (Winton) to Longreach
Weather: minimum of 8.2ÂșC and fine
I wake at 6:30 am and do the usual of reading the paper and listening to the ABC 7:00 am news. I get up at 8:00 am and fly the drone as it is calm. The wind soon picks up, so I am lucky I did it straight away. I have breakfast and pack up. I leave at 9:35 am and stop in town to use the facilities. I leave Winton at 9:55 am and head east again towards Longreach.
I am travelling on the Landsborough Highway. At 10:40 am I stop at a rest area for morning tea, 73 kilometres travelled today. I leave at 10:50 am and as I approach Longreach I see a sign saying Starlight Lookout off to the left. Starlight was a bushranger, so I head down the road. A short distance along I see another sign that says it is 45 kilometres to the lookout! I turn around and head back to the highway. The sign should have been on the highway.
|My campsite at Longreach Waterhole
|The Stockmans Hall of Fame
I arrive at the Apex Riverside Park at 12:05 pm. This is also called Longreach Waterhole, although none of the camping spots are near the waterhole. It is not the greatest camping site, a bit dusty and mostly treeless. Any trees that are there are very skinny and provide little shade. For some reason you are not permitted to camp closer to the waterhole. Anyway, I pick out as spot and again put out my table and chair to reserve the spot.
|A hut inside the Hall of Fame
|Jimmy Sharman's boxing troupe
I have lunch and then leave at 12:45 pm and go to the Stockmans Hall of Fame which is on the eastern outskirts of the town. I get there at 1:10 pm and pay my entry fee of $35. The museum is quite interesting, with lots of information, but I really think that it could do with a bit more stuff. Of interest, my friend Chrissieâs Dad, Fred Brophy, gets a mention for his boxing troupe.
I finish at 2:30 pm and head back into town and fill up with fuel. I have travelled 1002 kilometres since I last refilled. I take 115.9 litres at $1.519 for $175.85 total. I have averaged 12.6 l/100 km. I go to the bottleshop and get a carton of 30 cans of Tooheys Extra Dry for $60, best beer I could get. Also a cask of port for $14. There is no decent pub in town, they are all newer buildings.
|A drone shot of the Longreach Waterhole camping area
I get back to the Longreach Waterhole at 3:15 pm and pay $10 for two nights camping. There is a toilet block near the main camping area as well as water taps. I am camped almost as far away as you can get from the toilets. I setup my gear and heat water for a shower. I have a cuppa first and then the shower. Nice.
At 5:00 pm I have drinks and start a fire. I cook potato slices and heat up some of the pork ribs I cooked last night but did not eat. I also heat a chorizo I bought from home. I look for satellites and shooting stars but despite a clear view of the sky, I only see one satellite. I read till 9:30 pm when I go to bed.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 27ÂșC
Arrived: Longreach Waterhole Time: 12:05 pm Distance: 209 kilometres
Day 48 â Monday 9 August 2021 â Longreach
Weather: minimum of ??ÂșC and fine
I wake at 3:00 am and donât get back to sleep till 4:10 am, I hate this waking up in the middle of the night, happens far too often. I sleep till 6:20 am. At 6:45 am I read the SMH and listen to the news.
After this I look at an EIS for a stupid NSW Government proposal to build ferry wharves at La Perouse and Kurnell in Botany Bay. Funded by Scumo, the proposal will damage two of the best dive sites in NSW as well as create something that will end up as a white elephant when the ferry company realises there is no demand for 400 seat ferries to run across the bay.
The EIS seems to show that the marine environment section was merely taken from some unknown studies done on the bay in the past. Even if they did one now, they would not even notice most of the amazing creatures we find when diving here. I try to comment but it makes me create a logon to do this, seems they are trying to make it as hard as possible for people to comment. I end up deciding I will have to do it this evening.
|The original Qantas hanger at Longreach Airport
|A replica of the first Qantas aircraft, an Avro
I get up at 7:35 am and have breakfast. I pack up the Shippshape and leaving my chair and table guarding my site, I leave at 8:45 am. I go to the toilet area and fill my water containers. After this I find an outdoors shop in town where I try to buy a backpack. I forgot mine at home and will need one once I get to Carnarvon Gorge. No luck, although I did get a trivet for my small camp oven ($8).
|A Ford like this was used to survey routes
|The Qantas Boeing 707
I get to the Qantas Founders Museum out at the airport at 9:10 am. I go through the museum, it gives a very good depiction of the founding of Qantas in 1921 at nearby Winton and its move to Longreach a year later. There are great displays and stories as well as some replicas like an Avro 504K, the very first plane they used. At 10:30 am I go to the cafĂ© and have a milkshake as my guided tour of the planes outside starts at 11:00 am.
The tour takes you out to the Boeing 707, the actual very first 707 Qantas owned and later used elsewhere. There is a Boeing 747 which landed here but can never leave as the runway is not long enough as well as a Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation which was not owned by Qantas but which is representative of the model used in the 1950s and early 60s. There is also a Douglas DC-3, again, not an ex-Qantas plane, but a model used.
|The Qantas Boeing 747
|Me in the engine of the Boeing 747
|The Douglas DC-3
|The Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation
You get to go on the three larger planes, including into engineering sections of the 747. After this ended at 12:35 pm, I go into the original small hanger which was where Qantas was based in 1922. In here there are two replicas, a De Havilland DH61 Giant Moth and a De Havilland DH50 (called Apollo) as well as some other original items. Outside there is a Lockheed PBY-6A Catalina which is representative of planes used in the 1940s and 50s.
|The Douglas DC-3
|The Apollo replica, a De Havilland DH50
I finish at 1:05 pm and head back into town. I get a pie from the bakery and eat it at a table in the main street. It is a very good and filling pie. I then go to the hardware store and buy some clamps for holding my solar blanket up, butane bottles and glue. After this I find a clothing store and buy a short sleeve shirt. I wanted to get two but they only had one in my size in the style I wanted. I am short of shirts now as I ripped one and also it is now much hotter than I planned as I should have been home a week ago. I still have no luck getting a backpack.
At 2:00 pm I go to the IGA supermarket and spend $195 on food. I am really low on food and this is the biggest buyup of the trip. I put it all away and then at 3:00 pm I go to one of the hotels for a beer. It is a shithouse hotel really, there is nothing decent in town, but I am hot and need a beer. After this I go to the RSL and purchase four Longreach Lagers for $16. I think that this is probably the same beer as the Winton one, just with a different label.
I get back to camp at 3:45 pm and setup camp again. I have a shower and then try to fix my phone holder and charger which has decided to no longer stick to my windscreen. I use Araldite as nothing else has held so far. It seems to work. At 5:30 pm I have drinks and then cook a pasta dish and I cook three chorizos. I have 1.5 with the pasta and keep the rest for later.
I sit around the fire and read till 9:30 pm when I go to bed. It is warmer tonight than last night.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 28ÂșC
Arrived: Longreach Time: N/A Distance: 17 kilometres
Day 49 â Tuesday 10 August 2021 â Longreach to Ilfracombe
Weather: minimum of 10.1ÂșC and fine
During the night the temperature goes from 14â° to 10â° and then to 15â° at 4:00 am. There is a strong warm wind. Then the temperature drops again to 11â°C at 7:00 am. Very weird. I wake again very early at 4:45 am. I end up finishing my book, then reading the SMH and listening to the ABC 7:00 am news. I get up at 7:45 am and have breakfast.
I pack most things up and at 8:45 am I walk to the north-east along the road for one kilometre and then back to the railway line, then follow this to the waterhole. I then walk back via some tracks to the old road bridge which is near the toilets. There are some nice spots for camping here, pity you are not allowed to stay at them. I get back at 9:40 am, the walk was 4.3 kilometres.
I have morning tea and read my Kindle for a while. At 10:40 am I leave and go to the IGA again to buy a roast chicken and a couple of things I forgot to buy. I then fill my water containers at the local park. I leave town at 11:05 am and at 11:30 am I arrive in Ilfracombe, only 30.1 kilometres away. I first look at camping near the tennis courts but it is more suited to caravans and motorhomes.
|The Wellshot Hotel at Ilfracombe
|The Ilfracombe Post Office
I go to the Wellshot Hotel and have a look at their camping area out the side and back of the pub. There is space for five to six caravans and a few rooftop tents. This looks okay so I book in, $10 per person. There are three vans and myself in the end. I read and then have lunch. After lunch, I do my Census (on-line) which is on tonight. I have to complete one for my home as there is no-one there and then do one for here, although I could have gone onto the hotelâs return.
I also do my submission about the ferry wharves EIS which I did not end up doing last night as planned. At 1:30 pm I go for a walk along the highway. From the Wellshot Station to the museum there is a constant line of old farm machinery. There are tractors, graders, trucks, steam engines and pumps and lots more. Very fascinating. There is also a huge collection of bottles and guns in two of the buildings, a local World War I museum.
|A bulldozer made from a wartime personel carrier
|A lot of different graders
|A steam engine
|Some of the old trucks
On the way back to the hotel I also check out the swimming pool and spa and find it closed and empty of water. This is an artesian fed spa and there is no indication as to why it is closed. I get back at 3:00 pm. There are now caravans parked over at the tennis club.
I have my solar blanket hanging on the fence, held there by the clamps I purchased yesterday. At 3:35 pm a willy-willy comes through and misses my car but rips the blanket off the fence and throws it 20 metres. The loops on the blanket are broken totally off, the clamps are still on the fence. Luckily the solar blanket is still working okay. I read a bit and at 4:05 pm I walk to Langenbaker House which was moved here in 1894 and lived in till 1992. Unfortunately you cannot access it.
|My campsite at the site of the Wellshot Hotel
|My solar ended up here, it was on the fence at left
I am back at 4:25 pm and go to the shower. Great to have more than a few litres to shower in. I then wash a few things by hand and hang them on the hotel clothes line. I go into the pub at 5:05 pm and have a couple of beers. There is a big crowd here, at least 60 people. There is a caravan park just down the road and most are from there. There are quite a few interesting people. I go back to my car and have dinner of chicken and pasta and then go back to the pub.
I have a few more drinks and end up leaving at 9:20 pm. A very interesting night.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ÂșC
Arrived: Ilfracombe Time: 11:30 am Distance: 36 kilometres
Day 50 â Wednesday 11 August 2021 â Ilfracombe to Oma Waterhole
Weather: minimum of 12.7ÂșC and cloudy
Another terrible nightâs sleep, I wake at 4:30 am and am mostly awake till 6:30 am when I sleep till 7:00 am. It was not helped by four or five trucks which were transporting concrete sections of a bridge to Cloncurry which stayed overnight near the pub starting their engines at 4:30 am and then leaving their engines running till they left at 5:00 am. Extremely inconsiderate. I get up at 8:00 am after reading the paper.
|The stone dam wall at 12 Mile Pitching
|Another photograph of the dam wall
I have breakfast and leave at 9:30 am. It is cloudy and cold, especially as there is a strong wind from the north-east. I head out of town and then take the Isisford Ilfracombe Road to the south. This is a good tar road. At 9:50 am I stop at 12 Mile Pitching. This is 21 kilometres from Ilfracombe and was the location of the Royal Mail Hotel which was built in 1892. A dam was built to serve the hotel and the dam wall was created by a dry stone type wall. See the photographs. There is also a good camping area here.
I leave at 10:00 am and 30 minutes later I stop to cut timber and have morning tea. The timber is really good stuff too. I leave at 10:50 am and arrive in Isisford at 11:20 am. I have a look at the campsites on the river before heading out of town to the west on the Isisford Bimerah Road. I am going to Oma Waterhole which is about 19 kilometres out of town. It is now sunny.
|The huge yellowbelly sculpture as you enter Isisford
|The Oma Waterhole
I arrive at Oma Waterhole at 11:35 am. This waterhole is on the Barcoo River which joins with the Thomson River and becomes Cooper Creek and then flows into Lake Eyre thousands of kilometres away in South Australia. The waterhole is about two kilometres long and there are camping spots along most of its length. There is a central building area with a large shed and toilets and showers. The local fishing club holds a fishing competition in late July each year and hundreds attend.
I have a look around and pick a spot towards the north-eastern end. I set up camp at 11:55 am and then have lunch and read. At 1:20 pm I walk to the toilet area then past this to almost the other end. I collect some fallen timber on the way back for my fire tonight. I get back at 2:05 pm, having walked 2.64 kilometres. I also pick up a book from the library, I will put one back later.
|A drone photograph of part of Oma Waterhole
|My campsite from a way off
I put up my hammock and read and then have afternoon tea. I then collect some more fallen timber from around my campsite. My friend Kevin Green phones. He is at Winton and plans to arrive here tomorrow after lunch. Kevin used to own and run Aquamarine scuba diving in Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. I first met Kevin almost 30 years ago when I went over to dive the wreck of the SS President Coolidge. Over the years I dived with Kevinâs shop another five times.
At 3:15 pm the wind drops so I fly my drone and take some photographs of the waterhole. At 4:00 pm I have another cuppa and read some more. I then make a damper dough and after this walk to the showers. Very nice indeed.
I am back at 5:15 pm and start the fire. I put the damper on (35 minutes) and also cook a green chicken curry and rice. I have some of the damper and then green curry. I have enough left over for two meals. It is cloudy and no wind now. There are lots of bugs once the sun goes down, so much so that I go to bed at 8:40 pm. Even inside the tent, there are hundreds of tiny bugs, so I have to turn off the light at 9:00 pm and go to sleep.
Weather: Mostly fine, maximum of 26ÂșC
Arrived: Oma Waterhole Time: 11:35 am Distance: 112 kilometres
Day 51 â Thursday 12 August 2021 â Oma Waterhole
Weather: minimum of 12.7ÂșC and fine
It was really warm most of the night till the clouds disappear. I sleep till 6:30 am, a great sleep, no idea why some nights I sleep well and others terrible. I listen to the ABC news and read the paper (good Telstra phone coverage). I get up at 7:45 am and have breakfast and then finish the paper.
At 9:15 am I walk to the toilet area and on the way back I collect some more timber. I pump up my tyres as they have gone down a bit, the left side are both down to 36 psi. I then check the second battery and the water level is way down. I put one cup of water in each cell!! I will need to keep an eye on this. The oil and water levels are okay but I need to add water to the windscreen container.
|A photograph of Kevin and my setups at Oma Waterhole
|An old pump on the edge of the waterhole
I have morning tea and lie in the hammock reading. I have set it up now by the water, a very nice spot. It is a steep drop to the water but you can get down easily. I later walk 800 metres to the north-east to the end of the camping area. When I get back I have lunch and the read some more by the water.
Kevin Green arrives at 1:50 pm after I directed him to my site by phone. He sets up his camper trailer next to my spot. We have a beer by the waterâs edge and have a good chat, catching up on the past 13 years since we last saw each other. After this we walk to the south-eastern end to show him the toilets and showers and the other parts of the camping area he did not pass on the way in.
|A photograph of me with Kevin
Back at the site I read some more and at 4:50 pm we walk to the south again, this time to have a shower. When we get back we have beers and nibblies by the waterâs edge. When it is almost dark, we move back up to the cars and start a fire. It is a lot cooler than last night and for some reason, there are no bugs. I cook a pork fillet with a flavouring and some pasta. We have a few more drinks and chat heaps more. It is a cool 15â°C, so much colder than last night, perhaps that is the difference in the bug numbers.
Before bed I have to make an emergency walk back to the toilets (1.2 kilometres return)! I go to bed at 10:40 pm. It has been a great afternoon, so good to catch up with a good friend.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ÂșC
Arrived: Oma Waterhole Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres
Day 52 â Friday 13 August 2021 â Oma Waterhole to Isisford
Weather: minimum of 11.1ÂșC and fine
Another great nightâs sleep. I wake at 6:30 am and listen to the 7:00 am news and then read the paper till I get up at 7:45 am. We have breakfast and after a slow pack up, we leave at 9:45 am. We stop at the fishing club area where I get rid of my empty cans. We go back to Isisford via the southern road (Mons Road). We arrive in Isisford at 10:30 am where Kevin and I say goodbye. He is heading back towards the coast.
|A photograph of my campsite at Isisford Waterhole
|A drone photograph of the Isisford Waterhole
I go to the information centre and pay $10 for two nights at the campsite on the Barcoo River. I have a look around for a site and at 10:50 am I setup camp on the westerns side of the river (waterhole) a fair way down the camping area, possibly the second last spot on this side. I am away from everyone and cannot see any people from here. I put out my solar blanket and then have morning tea. I finish reading the paper and then read my Kindle. I have hundreds of books on it, so will not run out.
|The former Clancys Overflow Hotel
|The Isisford Hotel
I have lunch and then walk to town and visit the old court house, museums, old shops and look at the many old houses. I go to the small shop and buy some razors, Chux and an ice cream. Even though I am have not shaved since early June, the one razor I have is now blunt from tidying up my cheeks and neck. I am back at the camp at 2:40 pm. I walked 2.6 kilometres. It is 400 metres to the toilets, so not that far really. There are hot showers behind the library.
Clancyâs Overflow Hotel appears to be closed and now a private residence. I later learn that the local Aboriginal land council owns it and rented it to a person as a hotel but he went broke. More about the hotel later. It had come over cloudy about 2:00 pm and there is no wind, so I fly my drone. I have a cuppa and finish the DCI Banks book I have been reading and start on the autobiography of Ray Barrett that I picked up at Oma.
|The Isisford General Store
|The historic Police Station
At 4:40 pm I walk along the track to the north. I go one kilometre and only see two campsites, one near me and one at the end. On the other side there are heaps of caravans, but none near me. I am back at 5:05 pm and start the car and heat up water using my hot water heat exchanger. I then have a shower. I reheat green curry, rice and damper from two nights ago.
At 7:30 pm I walk to the Golden West Hotel so I can watch the NRL. Souths are not playing, but I feel like a night out. The Rooters beat Broncos by one point, not a bad game. During the half time I read some of the stuff on the notice board and find out that on 10 September 1956, the publican of this hotel and the husband of the Club Hotel (now called Clancyâs Overflow Hotel) paid a person to start a fire in the Isisford Hotel. This hotel was diagonally opposite the Golden West Hotel. As a result of the fire, a woman and her baby died. The fire was set to get rid of the other hotel as the publicans thought there was one too many pubs in town! The three were convicted and sentence to only 12 years gaol. I also later find out that there was a fire in the Golden West Hotel on 9 March 1958 that partially damaged it. There were no suspicious circumstances apparently.
There are a wild bunch of girls here and about nine others. Two of the girls are with their Dad who used to own the pub (sold 2015 I think). They now live elsewhere and are back in town visiting friends. I have a few beers ($5.50) and a wine. It is a very funny night.
I am back at 10:40 pm and it is a warm 19â°C when I go to bed.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 26ÂșC
Arrived: Isisford Time: 10:50 am Distance: 31 kilometres
Day 53 â Saturday 14 August 2021 â Isisford
Weather: minimum of 15.2ÂșC and fine
It is a warm night and I again have a very good sleep. I wake at 6:30 am and get up at 8:10 am after reading the SMH. I have breakfast of chorizo on toast, something different to my normal muesli. I read more of the SMH (Saturday so much bigger than weekdays). It is sunny with a bit of wind.
At 9:30 am I walk to town. I go out to the old hospital. It is partly open, so I can go into some of it. I go into the small museum in the bakery, quite interesting. On the walk back via the town, I see the girls from last night who are in far better condition than I thought they would be. My walk was 3.1 kilometres and I am back at 10:25 am. I then have morning tea.
|The former Isisford Bakery
|Inside the bakery
I read some more paper and kill three ticks on me, including one burrowing into my groin. I now think I have had at least two other ticks earlier in the trip as I noticed some red spots in my groin. Bastards! I later go for walk on the other side of the river. I cross via the temporary dam put in to hold back the water as they are upgrading the permanent weir. I walked two kilometres.
I am back at 12:40 pm and have lunch. I listen to Roy and HG on ABC radio till 2:00 pm, still funny after 40 years. It is now very warm, 30â°C, but windy. I then listen to the NRL, Souths versus Titans. Souths win 36 to 6. I then heat water for a shower. It takes 10 minutes to get 6 litres hot enough. If I was to heat as soon as I stopped after driving, it only takes 3 minutes or so.
|The Isisford Hospital
|Some old petrol pumps in the park
I start a fire and have drinks and then cook chicken winglets in the small camp oven. I cook them all, the first half takes 30 minutes and the second half 20 minutes. I eat the second lot and put the rest in the fridge. There are lots of bugs around tonight, but not as many as two nights ago. I find another tick before sunset! I also listen to the other two NRL matches. The Wallabies get thrashed by the All Blacks as normal.
I go to bed at 8:45 pm due to the bugs and listen to the rest of the NRL there. It is a warm 20â°C, so the temperature must be why the bugs are bad. By the way, I discover that Isisford is named after the ford over the Barcoo River at Isis Station. It used to be called Whitman and Witma.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 30ÂșC
Arrived: Isisford Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres
Day 54 â Sunday 15 August 2021 â Isisford to Blackall
Weather: minimum of 12.3ÂșC and fine
It is warm during the night till 4:00 am and then cooler. I wake at 6:45 am, my fourth night in a row of very good sleep. This is possibly a record for the past three or so years I reckon. I do the usual and get up at 7:45 am. I change the bed sheets as I intend to do washing this morning. I have breakfast and read the paper. I pack up and at 9:05 am I go into town.
The laundromat is next to the shop and I put a load on ($4). I go to the park and fill my water containers and get rid of my rubbish and beer cans (school is collecting them). I read more of the paper while I wait for the washing to finish. It only takes 37 minutes, far quicker than most machines I have used. I do not dry it as I will hang up at my next campsite. I leave town at 9:55 am.
|A warning sign on the side of the road
|My campsite at Blackall
I head east out of town on the Isisford Blackall Road. I stop at 10:33 am at Thornleigh Bore for morning tea. I leave at 10:40 am. I make some phone calls on the way to check on friends. I arrive at Blackall at 11:30 am. I go to the free camping area in town and find a spot. I put up my clothes line and hang all my washing out. I also put my table and chair in front to reserve my spot.
At 11:47 am I drive into the town centre and find the artesian spa which is at the other end of town. I then drive back to my campsite via the Black Stump. This is supposedly one of the claimed origins of the saying "Beyond the Black Stump" as the stump was used by surveyors in 1887 as the starting point for a survey.
|The Jackie Howe statue
|The former Blackall Masonic Lodge
Back at camp, the washing is almost dry. I walk to the pub for lunch but discover they have none, looks like the lack of backpackers is affecting here too. I walk to other places including the Jackie Howe statue. On 10 October 1892 he sheared 321 sheep in just under 8 hours on a station near here. The week before he had sheared 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes. The first record was not broken till 1950 and the latter one apparently still stands.
|Inside the former Blackall Masonic Lodge
|The Blackall Artesian Spa
There is nothing open at all apart from the pub and two supermarkets. I go back to my car and take the washing off the line.
I then drive to the other end of town to the former Masonic Lodge. This is now a cafĂ© and is the only place open for food. I have a nice chicken schnitzel BLT and a tea ($20). While here I meet a woman who knows two people I used to work with, Leong Lim and Anne Conway. No such thing as Six Degrees of Separation, more like Two Degrees!
|The Blackall Pioneer Bore
|The famous Black Stump
At 2:15 pm I go to the pool which has the artesian spa. The entry fee is a ridiculously low $2. The spa is about 37â°C. There are two spas and one pool. I leave at 3:40 pm and go back via the Pioneer Bore, the first put down in Queensland. This is still flowing at about 40â°C. I read for a bit and at 5:05 pm I walk to the Barcoo Hotel. Here I have four beers. I was only going to have one but ended up talking to some people who I found interesting.
|An old petrol pump
|The Barcoo Hotel
I am back at the campsite at 7:20 pm. I only have some nibbles and wine as lunch was huge. I go to bed at 8:25 pm. It is now warm and overcast.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 26ÂșC
Arrived: Blackall Time: 11:30 am Distance: 133 kilometres
Day 55 â Monday 16 August 2021 â Blackall to Lara Wetlands
Weather: minimum of 11.7ÂșC and fine
It is warm most of the night but cooler towards dawn. My good sleeping comes to an end as I wake at 1:15 am for about 1.5 hours. I then sleep till 6:00 am. I read the SMH and get up at 7:25 am. I have breakfast and leave at 8:35 am. I go to an ATM in town and take out the first money for the trip. I pay for most things on my card, but I will need cash for some things in coming weeks as some places have no phone coverage.
I go to the pool again which opens at 9:00 am. I am first one in and have another spa. After I have a shower and leave at 9:35 am. I go back to the IGA where I buy some bread, rice and orange juice.
|The Blackall Woolscour
|Part of the woolscour machinery
I then go to the Blackall Woolscour. This is north of town and still works. It was originally steam powered and this still works. I go on a tour (the only way to see - $17 for seniors). This historic wool washing industry started in 1908 and was used till 1978. On the tour you see the machinery operating, although they use electric motors to show it in operation most times now.
I have a cuppa after the tour and leave at 11:15 am. I look for a shop to buy another shirt but no luck as most shops are still not open. I leave town at 11:30 am. I head north on the Landsborough Highway. I am heading for Lara Wetlands, a private wetland on Lara Station. I am not sure exactly where you turn as there are various roads shown on GoogleMaps, my GPS and Hema Maps. It turns out that the turn off is right at a rest area and is well signposted.
|The Blackall Woolscour boilers
|The woolscour steam engine
The road into Lara Wetlands is dirt but pretty good. I arrive there at 12:55 pm. I book in for two nights ($15 per night - $25 for a couple). I then find a spot on the northern side of the wetland, basically almost all the way around the wetland. I have lunch and then set up. I read the rest of the paper, there is some Telstra coverage but I need my small aerial attached to my dongle to get it. There is free access to pushbikes and kayaks too.
The wetland here is created by water from the bore flowing out into a pond (probably man-made I would guess) which is just over one kilometre in circumference. I walk the 260 metres to the spa. This is a simple hole in the ground and the water is coming out into one end. The temperature varies depending on where you are. At the moment it is mostly 39â°C, very warm. I am back at my camp at 3:20 pm.
|My campsite at Lara Wetlands
|The Happy Hour at Lara Wetlands
I have a cuppa and read my latest book. At 4:50 pm I walk to the other side of the wetland where there is a happy hour. This is at the huge motorhome of Viv and his wife. They are singers and put on a mix of popular and country and western songs. There are lots of people here. They serve an excellent damper with golden syrup which they have cooked on site. I return to my campsite at 6:30 pm. A nice time.
I start a fire in my firepit and then cook chicken breast in Caribbean jerk on my skillet and heat some pasta on there as well. At 8:15 pm I go to the spa again. There are lots of people here in the end including my neighbours. There are a few insect bats flying over the spa. There is no wind, a bit of cloud and it is warm. I go to bed at 10:00 pm straight from the spa.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 27ÂșC
Arrived: Lara Wetlands Time: 12:55 pm Distance: 107 kilometres
Day 56 â Tuesday 17 August 2021 â Lara Wetlands
Weather: minimum of 15.5ÂșC and fine
A warm night with a strong easterly wind from 1:30 am. I had my best sleep for weeks, even better than when I had four good ones in a row. I suspect the spa has relaxed me a lot. I wake at 6:45 am and try to read the SMH but there is a problem with the server. I get up at 8:20 am after reading my book. I cook a bacon sandwich for breakfast and still cannot read the paper.
|A panoramic photograph of the Lara Wetlands
Even though it is relatively warm, it feels cooler due to the wind. At 9:30 am I walk a lap of the wetland and then go to the spa. Today the water is only 37â°C. It is so relaxing lying in the water. I go back to the car at 10:35 am and have a cuppa for morning tea. I read some more in the hammock and then have lunch. Some more reading and another trip to the spa.
After the spa I walk another lap of the wetland. On the walk I see two lots of four black tailed native hen chicks, so cute. There are so many species of birds here, plovers, various ducks, kookaburras, brolgas, swallows, magpie lark, pied butcherbirds and black-winged stilt.
|A carved dead tree, looks like a crocodile
|The artesian spa at Lara Wetlands
When I get back I read again. At some time the SMH starts working again and I read the paper. It is windy on and off all day. I have afternoon tea and read some more and then put the hammock away. At 4:15 pm I do one more lap of the wetland and then go to the spa. I am back at 5:15 pm for drinks. I put my fire on and for dinner I cook pork medallion, potato and sweet potato slices.
After dinner I go to the spa again and then back to camp. I sit around the fire till 9:45 pm when I go to bed.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 23ÂșC
Arrived: Lara Wetlands Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres
Day 57 â Wednesday 18 August 2021 â Lara Wetlands to Jericho
Weather: minimum of ??ÂșC and fine
I wake at 2:30 am and am awake for at least an hour. So much for my theory about the spa giving good sleep. I then sleep till 6:10 am. I read the SMH and listen to the ABC news. I get up at 7:50 am and have breakfast. I pack up and go to start the car. However, the main battery is flat. I think that I have left the doors open and even though the interior lights are not on, there are lights in the doors and on the doorstep that are on. I jump start the car using my portable power pack.
At 9:10 am I drive around the wetland to the carpark near the spa. I have another spa and then a shower. I leave at 9:50 am, it is 16â°C. At 10:30 am I come into Barcaldine. It has warmed up to 21â°C. I buy a carrot cake from a bakery and have morning tea. While I do this I do some forward bookings for Sandstone Park at Carnarvon Gorge and Rolleston Caravan Park for the night before that.
|The Tree of Knowledge
|An old photo of the Tree of Knowledge
I walk to the Tree of Knowledge which is outside the train station. This tree is famous as in 1891 shearers on strike during the great shearers strike met under it and ended up forming the Australian Labour Party. It is a ghost gum and it stood here till 2006 when someone poisoned it and it died. In 2009 a dramatic building was erected over it to support the remains of the tree. It is the major tourist attracting in Barcaldine and many people who support the ALP or unions make sure they visit it.
|A sculpture in the main street
|The AWU building in the Australian Workers Heritage Centre
There are five hotels in the main street and it seems that at one time or another, they and most of the shops have all burnt down. I find a hardware store and buy some more butane cylinders but still no backpacks. I then go to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre ($16 seniors) which is a great museum about the formation of unions in Australia. I go out and buy a pie from the bakery and come back to the centre where I eat it in the grounds. It was a very good pie ($5.50). I return to going through the centre and finish at 1:40 pm. I spend almost two hours in there.
|The old school building in the Australian Workers Heritage Centre
|My campsite at Redbank Park at Jericho
I leave town and head east on the Capricorn Highway. At 2:10 pm I stop at Back Creek but the camping area I see is fairly average. However, I now think I did not go to the right spot. I continue on and at 2:55 pm I arrive in Jericho. I go to Redbank Park on the Jordon River where there is a free camping area (donation). I get a nice spot, although not right on the water.
|A drone shot of Redbank Park
|The Jericho Drive-In
I set up camp and have a cuppa and read. There are about 25 caravans and motorhomes here. At 4:15 pm I walk to town and go to the Jordan Valley Hotel. I have a beer (XXXX Gold $5.80). After the beer I walk around town.
|These ants went for hundreds of metres and even wore down the road
|Sculpture of Joshua the Trumpeter
|A mural in Jericho
|The Jordan Valley Hotel at Jericho
There is a drive-in theatre that appears to still be used, a sculpture of Joshua the Trumpeter (from the bible, he led to the destruction of Jericho at the Jordon River) and other murals. I get back to my campsite at 5:10 pm. The wind drops so I fly my drone and then have drinks.
I reheat green chicken curry and then sit around a small fire. I go to bed at 9:35 pm when it is a cool 15â°C.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 24ÂșC
Arrived: Jericho Time: 2:55 pm Distance: 135 kilometres
Day 58 â Thursday 19 August 2021 â Jericho to Belyando River
Weather: minimum of 5.1ÂșC and fine
A very cool night, the coldest for almost two weeks. A train went through the town at 2:10 am and it woke me up as it blew its horn at the level crossing. The people next to me get up at 5:30 am and leave at 6:00 am, at least they were relatively quiet, although it is hard to see why you need to leave so early. At least I have a fairly good sleep.
I read the paper as normal and get up at 8:00 am and have breakfast and then pack up. I leave at 9:15 am as I do not have far to go today. As I cannot get into my camping area at Carnarvon Gorge till Sunday, I have to pace my next few days. I also want to be in Emerald on Saturday night so I can watch Souths play on TV at a hotel. This means I do not have to go far the next two days.
At 9:55 am I arrive in Alpha. This is 55 kilometres from Jericho. I walk around town, there are some murals and a fossil sculpture. I then go to the park and have morning tea. The big hotel appears shut, not much going for the town apart from the bakery and the park.
I leave at 10:40 am and at 11:00 am I arrive at Belyando River. This is a drive river so no real water to see. I set up camp on the northern side of the highway and the eastern side of the river. There is also space on the southern side for caravans. There are a few pools of water in the river here. I put out my solar blanket and collect some firewood from nearby.
|Looking to the east and the rest area
|Looking to the west. My campsite bottom right.
I have lunch and then read for a while. The wind drops so I fly my drone and then have a cuppa. I read some more and then do some trip planning. I think I am on Plan J at the moment. I have to figure out what I am doing after I leave Carnavon Gorge early next week. I work out a rough itinerary for the first week and a couple of options for after that.
At 3:45 pm I have a cuppa and then walk to the rest area which is about 750 metres away. There are toilets here which are nice and clean. On the way back I collect some firewood. I have a shower at 4:45 pm and after this I start a fire and have drinks. The temperature drops a lot when the sun goes down below the trees. A caravan comes and parks on the other side of the highway, but that is the only other people here. I reheat green chicken curry again and make some rice to go with it.
I listen to the NRL on ABC Radio after dinner. There is not much traffic on the road all afternoon and hardly any after dark. I go to bed at 9:30 pm.
Weather: Fine, maximum of 27ÂșC
Arrived: Belyando River Time: 11:00 am Distance: 88 kilometres
Click here to read the next part of the trip.