Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home Contact Me Sydney Reef Dive Sites Sydney Shipwrecks NSW Dive Sites Australian Dive Sites Overseas Dive Sites Dive Accidents and Incidents My Yachting Adventures 4WD Trips Weather Search 14 July 2024 23:15

About Me
My Diving
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Sydney Dive Visibility, Swell and Temps
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles
Free Shipwreck Books

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
  • Login


    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "SS Annie M Miller was discovered by Rick Latimer and Peter Harper"
    Big Red Bash - Queensland and South Australia 2021 - Part 6
    Click here to read the previous part of the trip.

    Day 58 – Thursday 19 August 2021 – Jericho to Belyando River

    Weather: minimum of 5.1ºC 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 dry 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 areaLooking 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 27ºC
    Arrived: Belyando River Time: 11:00 am Distance: 88 kilometres

    Day 59 – Friday 20 August 2021 – Belyando River to Emerald

    Weather: minimum of 8.0ºC and fine

    Another cooler night. There was very little traffic through the night even though this is the Capricorn Highway. There were a couple of trucks around 2:30 am when I was awake for a while at this time. There is more traffic from 5:30 am. I do the usual once I am awake and get up at 7:40 am. I have breakfast and pack up, then drive to the toilets. I leave here at 9:20 am.

    The road to the east of here goes over a small range and at 9:42 am I stop at the Drummond Range Lookout which is 535 metres high. It is sunny when I leave the river but as I approach the range it becomes overcast. There is a nice view to the east. As I go to leave I find my bar of soap on the bullbar, looks like I left it there last night. I am amazed that it stayed there for 30 kilometres, a lot of which was windy road.

    Drummond Range
    A panoramic photograph from the Drummond Range Lookout

    I am not stopped long. I was going to stop at Anakie but I blinked and missed it! In mid-2024 I discover that the town is a bit off the highway, no wonder I missed it. I stop at 10:45 am in a stopping bay, 115 kilometres from the river. Here I have morning tea. I leave about 10 minutes later. It is still overcast. I arrive in Emerald at 11:10 am. I go to BCF and buy a backpack.

    I drive to the railway bridge where there is a free camping area. It is more suited to caravans and motorhomes, but it would have been okay. However, I see a sign stuck to one of the bridge’s supports advertising unpowered camping sites at the Emerald Tourist Park for only $8 per person a night. Well, for that price I will go there. I book into the caravan park and pick out a spot and mark it with my table and chair.

    The free camping area at EmeraldThe old bridge crossing the river

    I then go back into town and buy some beer (Tooheys Extra Dry) wine and port for $77. I then find a shop selling work clothes and buy two shirts similar to the one I purchased back in Longreach. They cost $55 for two. I go back to the caravan park and have lunch.

    At 2:00 pm I walk to the Botanic Gardens. This has a very nice walking track along the river to the railway bridge. I walk back via the other side of the river. I have brought my new backpack and have my thermos with tea in it. I have it in the gardens and read my Kindle. I walk back to the caravan park via the park opposite where there are at least five kangaroos. I get back at 4:00 pm.

    I ring my neighbour Gerard and check how my house is going. All is well, despite earlier my fridge stopping and all my food going off. I tell him I will probably not be home till early October. He sends me photos of his backyard as it is being totally done up. It looks great. I have another cuppa and then go to the showers.

    The railway bridge, near the free campThe Emerald Railway Station

    At 6:45 pm I walk to town and go to the Star Hotel. Earlier I had checked out the pubs to see where I could eat dinner and watch the NRL. I get to the pub by 7:00 pm and order rump with chips and a beer for $23. Souths are playing Penrith tonight. There are not that many people here at first but after 9:00 pm it fills up, mostly with young girls. They outnumber the blokes 2:1. Souths end up losing 25 to 12, with quite a few bad decisions going Penriff’s way.

    I stay a little while after the football ends as some of the girls want to chat with the old bloke! Funny! I wish when I was their age the places I went had twice as many girls as boys. I walk back to the caravan park and go to bed at 10:35 pm. Today I walked a total of 5.8 kilometres.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 25ºC
    Arrived: Emerald Time: 11:10 am Distance: 140 kilometres

    Day 60 – Saturday 21 August 2021 – Emerald to Rolleston

    Weather: minimum of 13.1ºC and fine

    A warmer night and I sleep better, the beers and wines at the pub probably help! I wake at 6:00 am and later read the paper. I get up at 7:40 am and try to have a bacon sandwich but discover all my bread is mouldy. Oh well, bacon only. I read the paper some more and then pack up.

    I leave at 9:10 am and drive to a petrol station where I refuel. I take 101.1 litres at $1.457 for a total of $147.36. I have averaged 12.4 l/100 km for the 817 kilometres since Longreach. I then go to the shopping centre (there are two actually) and buy some pens and a new diary as I think I may fill my current one. I also get a syringe from a chemist for putting oil on my chainsaw. I then go to Woolworths, the best supermarket since Mount Isa. I buy $110 worth of food.

    A panoramic photograph of Lake Maraboon

    I go to a park for morning tea (10:25 am). I leave here at 10:45 am and then take the Gregory Highway south out of Emerald. I go to Lake Maraboon which is the water supply for Emerald. I only stop for a few minutes and head back to the highway and continue south. I have been on this road before, back in 2000 on the way home from Cape York. There are some hills as I approach Springsure. I stop at the Virgin Rock Viewing Area which has views of the hills. I see that there is a track to the top of the western one, so I decide to go there.

    A panoramic photograph from the Eclipse Gap Lookout

    At 12:10 pm I arrive at the Springsure Lookout in Minerva Hills NP. The track up is four wheel drive, in some spots quite steep. There are fantastic views including of Springsure. At 12:22 pm I go past Freds Gorge and at 12:30 pm I arrive at Eclipse Gap Lookout. This is 107 kilometres from Emerald. Of note, my fuel consumption for the last bit is 27.1 l/100 km. The views are spectacular, it is about 500 metres high, I fly my drone as there is little wind.

    The view from the Virgin Rock Lookout. Eclipse Gap Lookout is to right of the highest peakDrone shot from Eclipse Gap Lookout
    A drone shot of me at Eclipse Gap Lookout The view from Freds Gorge

    I leave here at 12:40 pm and five minutes later I am back at Freds Gorge. There is a shelter shed here with table and chairs and also toilets. I have lunch here, some of the chicken winglets I cooked a while back. I leave at 1:00 pm and go back down and then drive through Springsure. I continue on and at 2:15 pm I arrive in Rolleston and go to the caravan park. I book in and get a nice spot on some grass.

    The caravan park is pretty full later, it seems there are quite a few mine workers living here (there is a large mine to the west) and even a cop who appears to be relieving the normal one. I set up camp and have a cuppa and keep reading the paper. I then walk around town, only 800 metres in total. There is an old hut and post office in the park, this is about the only thing to see. I go back to the caravan park and read some more.

    My campsite in the caravan parkA scarred tree in Rolleston
    A very nice house in RollestonHistoric house in Rolleston

    At 5:10 pm I have a shower and then at 5:30 pm I have drinks. The moon is coming up, it is almost full. I later go to the camp kitchen which is right near me and use the barbecue. I cook some sausages and sliced potato. I have two and the other couple go into the fridge for lunch on other days. I watch the AFL with some other people and then the NRL. Despite it being a Saturday, there is a match on Saturday night on 9 as we are nearing the end of the competition.

    When the rest leave, I watch the movie Invictus which is about the Rugby World Cup in 1995 in South Africa just after Nelson Mandela has become President. A great and moving movie. I go to bed at 10:30 pm when it finishes. I wake up an hour later when the cop drives into the caravan park in his LandCruiser.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 27ºC
    Arrived: Rolleston Time: 2:15 pm Distance: 194 kilometres

    Day 61 – Sunday 22 August 2021 – Rolleston to Carnarvon NP

    Weather: minimum of 9.0ºC and fine

    I wake at 5:30 am when a bunch of miners start their cars and then leave for work. I get a bit of sleep till 6:30 am when I read the paper and then listen to the news. I finish the paper and get up at 8:05 am. I have breakfast and leave at 9:25 am.

    I stop at 10:20 am at an aircraft wreck. This is off the highway on the road into Carnarvon Gorge. The plane is a USAAF Douglas C47B Dakota (military version of DC-3) which crashed here in 1943 with the loss of all on board. It is also a nice spot to camp and I almost move here in a few days time. I have morning tea.

    A large section of the wing of the DakotaOne of the Dakota's engine
    Another section of wingAn echnida on the Mickey Creek walk

    I leave at 10:40 am and just after 11:00 am I arrive at the Sandstone Park reception. There are two camping areas here. This is the cheaper one at $35 a night (for two people) but it now seems that the other one which used to be called Takarakka Bush Resort is now run by Breeze Holiday Parks. Its web site seems to imply its price is $36 but in reality it is $50. This is the price for an unpowered site.

    Sandstone only has unpowered sites and no showers. The toilets are the portable kind but clean and all over the place. Note that you can only camp in the national park during school holidays, very strange idea of how to run a place. I go and find the site allocated to me. The best thing about this site is that it is on the top of a plateau and there are 360 degree views from virtually every spot. I put my table and chair in the site and then leave.

    Mickey CreekWombah Creek Gorge

    At 11:20 am. I drive into the national park and stop at Mickey Creek at 11:30 am. I do the walk to the creek and then to Wombah Creek Gorge. These are nice walks with pretty good views. The Wombah Creek bit is the best. I see an echidna on the walk. I am back at the car at 1:05 pm, the walk was 3.7 kilometres.

    At 1:10 pm I park in the main carpark for the national park. I have lunch and then walk to Rock Pool which is a total of 4 kilometres. This is a flat walk along the Carnarvon Creek and back again. There are a few kangaroos along this walk. I am back at 2:25 pm and then drive to Rock Pool. I go for a swim in the pool, although it is a bit stagnant and I take a while to find a spot to swim. It is nice in the water, a coolish 21⁰C. Some other people also come for a swim while I am there.

    Wombah Creek GorgeCarnarvon Creek
    Kangaroos along the Rock Pool walkThe Rock Pool

    I leave at 3:25 pm and drive back past the entrance to Sandstone Park to a spot where I cut some firewood. I am back at the camping area at 4:00 pm. I read and talk to my new neighbours. There are kangaroos and quail around the camping area. I also can hear dingos to the north-west. At 5:30 pm I start a fire and have drinks. Dinner is reheated chicken curry and rice. I go to bed at 9:00 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 29ºC
    Arrived: Carnarvon Gorge Time: 11:02 am Distance: 124 kilometres

    Day 62 – Monday 23 August 2021 – Carnarvon Gorge

    Weather: minimum of 10.3ºC and fine

    I sleep well till 5:30 am. I get up at 7:10 am after the radio news as I want to do the walk today when it is cooler. I have breakfast and leave at 8:20 am. I am in the main carpark at 8:33 am. It is 7.0 kilometres to here. I have already loaded water and things to eat into my backpack. I put out my solar blanket on the car and then head off at 8:40 am.

    Part of the steep climb on the Boolimba Bluff walkPart of the Boolimba Bluff walk

    I plan to walk to Boolimba Bluff which is a lookout above the carpark area. It is a very hard walk, with sections of steep track and ladder sections. About 300 metres is very hard. However, it is worth it, with magnificent views. My quads are burning after coming down. The walk is 8.66 kilometres all up. As it turns out, I probably should not have done this walk today and done the longer but flatter walk first. Tomorrow my legs will be very sore and I will walk over 20 kilometres!

    A panoramic photograph from the Boolimba Bluff Lookout

    I go back to my car and move to the day use parking area which is next to tables and chairs. I have lunch here. It comes over cloudy at 12:30 pm. I leave at 1:25 pm and drive to Rock Pool to have another swim. However, the whole area is closed as they are cutting down a tree. Bugger, I really need a swim. I drive back to Sandstone Park, arriving there at 2:00 pm.

    I set up camp, including my solar blanket and then start heating water with my heat exchanger. However, I make the water so hot I have to let it cool till 2:50 pm before I can have my shower. I have a cuppa and put out my awning for the first time on the trip as rain is possible this evening. I read the SMH and at 3:30 pm there are a few spits of rain till 4:15 pm. I then put a tarp up on the front of the awning.

    Sandstone ParkSandstone Park
    My campsite at Sandstone ParkA rainbow at Sandstone Park

    At 4:30 pm I start a fire and at 5:30 pm I put some pork spare ribs on in the camp oven. They are ready at 6:15 pm. It rains again from 5:45 pm for 15 minutes, heavier than before. It looks like all the rain is gone, but this is not right. At 8:40 pm it starts to rain again, its not heavy but more than before. I go to bed. The rain becomes heavy and later I find that 2 mm falls nearby.

    Weather: Mostly fine, maximum of 27ºC
    Arrived: Carnarvon Gorge Time: N/A Distance: 15 kilometres

    Day 63 – Tuesday 24 August 2021 – Carnarvon Gorge

    Weather: minimum of 9.1ºC and fine

    What a night! The rain stopped by 12:30 am but at 2:30 am the wind came up and blew at least 40 to 50 km/h from the west. As I mentioned before, this spot is on a plateau and there is no protection at all from any wind. I had to get up three times as the tarp started flapping, then I removed it. Then I had to put the awning back to how I normally have it as the wind was getting under it and pulling my pegs out of the ground. I even put in two pegs on each leg. At 4:30 am the wind stopped totally but 75 minutes later it came back, but not as strong.

    As can be imagined, I did not get a good night’s sleep, but no-one else did as each time I got up there were people adjusting awnings etc. It was very noisy! The wind even restarted all the fires that had previously been put out by the rain. I wake at 6:50 am and read the paper till 7:50 am when I get up. I have breakfast and leave at 9:00 am. It is nice and sunny and the wind has dropped a bit.

    Carnarvon GorgeCarnarvon Gorge
    Carnarvon CreekThe view from the walk

    I am in the main carpark at 9:15 am. I have made sandwiches for lunch and have a thermos of tea, water, fruit and snacks for my big walk along Carnarvon Gorge. I leave the carpark at 9:20 am. The walk starts with a crossing of the creek. In all, there are 15 crossings each way on this walk. The walk is flat, so relatively easy, just long.

    Carnarvon GorgeCarnarvon Gorge
    The Art GalleryThe Art Gallery
    Carnarvon GorgeCarnarvon Gorge
    Boowinda GorgeBoowinda Gorge

    The first place I go to is the Art Gallery. This has great Aboriginal art, stencils of hands and boomerangs and more. There are also some simple engravings on the vertical walls. From here I go past the Cathredral to Boowinda Gorge which is like a railway cutting or tunnel. My legs are very sore, I really should have done this longer but easier walk yesterday and the harder one today. I then go back to the Cathedral. Here there are more Aboriginal art works. They are similar to the ones at the Art Gallery. I have lunch here and after this I head straight back to the carpark.

    Carnarvon GorgeCarnarvon Gorge
    Boowinda GorgeThe Cathedral
    Carnarvon GorgeCarnarvon Gorge
    The CathedralThe Cathedral

    There is little wind in the gorge, so it is hard to tell if the wind blowing this morning is still around. I get back to the carpark at 3:00 pm. I have walked 20.6 kilometres and spent five hours and 17 minutes walking according to my Garmin watch (brilliant for recording walks). Back here I make a cuppa and have a scone. A magpie steals one half from the back of the car!

    I am thinking of leaving Sandstone if it is windy again. I plan to go to the aircraft wreck and camp there. I leave at 3:20 pm and am back at camp 15 minutes later. The wind has dropped heaps. I decide to stay but I park at right angles to last night to try and minimise the effect the wind will have on my rooftop. I have a shower and then start a fire. I am cooking a roast tonight so need coals.

    Sandstone ParkSandstone Park
    A pool in the Carnarvon Creek along the walkA drone shot of Sandstone Park looking west
    Sandstone ParkSandstone Park
    A drone shot of Sandstone Park looking south-westA night shot of my campsite at Sandstone Park, the full moon just rising

    At 5:30 pm I put the roast lamb and vegetables on in the camp oven. I have drinks as I wait. It takes only 45 minutes to cook. The lamb is very nice. There is still some wind, but it is okay. It is cold though, only 9⁰C. The skies are clear but I only see one shooting star as the full moon is very bright. I finish my book and go to bed at 8:30 pm as I am exhausted from lack of sleep and the walk.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 22ºC
    Arrived: Carnarvon Gorge Time: N/A Distance: 14 kilometres

    Day 64 – Wednesday 25 August 2021 – Carnarvon Gorge to Muckadilla

    Weather: minimum of 8.0ºC and fine

    It is a calm night and I sleep well. I am awake for a while around four but wake at 6:45 am. I do the usual and get up at 7:45 am. I have breakfast and read the paper some more. When I finish I pack up and leave at 9:35 am. It is till only 11⁰C.

    Back on the Gregory Highway I turn south and at 10:40 am I stop at a rest area (84 kilometres) for morning tea. While here I sharpen my chainsaw. I leave at 11:07 am. There are a few roadworks along the highway with traffic lights. I have to stop at all three. At 12:35 pm I stop at a rest area for lunch, 198 kilometres for the day so far. It is only 18⁰C.

    Roma's largest bottle treeMy campsite at Muckadilla

    I leave at 12:50 pm and at 1:05 pm I stop to cut some timber. This is really good stuff too. I leave at 1:22 pm. At 1:50 pm I arrive in Roma and go to Roma’s Largest Bottle Tree. It sure is large, bigger than any I have seen before. I go to the Woolworths Petrol Station and refuel. I take 80.17 litres at $1.379 for a total of $110.55. I have averaged 13.5 l/100 km for the 593 kilometres since Emerald.

    I leave Roma at 2:10 pm and head west on the Warrego Highway. At 2:20 pm I stop at Bungeworgorai Creek for afternoon tea. This would be a good place to camp. I leave 10 minutes later and at 2:50 pm I arrive in Muckadilla. This is a very small town which has a nice free camping area (donation) behind the Community Hall. There are toilets and showers as well as a covered area. I set up near the community hall.

    The original Muckadilla Station, now moved across the highwayMuckadilla Hotel, the Mucka Bup

    I have a cuppa and then go for a walk around town. There is a new pub (the Mucka Bup) which replaces the one that burnt down in 2019. The pub is not finished, but it must be close, as there are people in there behind the temporary construction fence drinking. Looks like they are testing it out. The rebuild is brilliant, it looks like an old (but new) country hotel. The town has two claims to (sort of) fame, it is mentioned in I’ve Been Everywhere and Australia’s most decorated soldier, Harry Murray VC, CMG, DSO & Bar, DCM, lived here for the last part of his life. He fought in World War I at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

    When I get back to the car I book my car in for a service tomorrow at Mitchell Auto. I also book the Cobb and Co Caravan Park at Charleville for Friday night. At 4:00 pm there is only one caravan here but another comes in later. I fly my drone and then fill my water tank and containers. I get the firepit ready and at 5:00 pm I have a shower, nice. I talk to the neighbours for a bit and then start my fire and have drinks and nibblies.

    A drone shot of Muckadilla looking east. Camping area bottom.The damage caused by the mouse

    I cook pork spare ribs on the skillet and a rice dish. It’s actually better than in the camp oven. Lots of trucks stop here and the drivers use the toilets and some have showers. Mum returns my phone call from lunch time too. I read and at 9:40 pm I go to bed, it is freezing, only 3⁰C. Luckily there has been no wind otherwise it would be like ice.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 18ºC
    Arrived: Muckadilla Time: 2:50 pm Distance: 258 kilometres

    Day 65 – Thursday 26 August 2021 – Muckadilla to Mitchell

    Weather: minimum of -4.1ºC and fine

    Wow, how cold was last night. The coldest night of the trip and probably the coldest night I have ever spent in the Shippshape. However, I am nice and warm. I sleep well and wake at 6:45 am. I read the paper and get up at 7:50 am. It has warmed to 5⁰C by now. As I go to make breakfast I discover that a mouse has attacked my two bags of Cheezels that I purchased yesterday. Hopefully it is still not in the car.

    My LandCruiser at the Mitchell Service CentreThe Mitchell artesian spa

    I have breakfast and leave at 9:00 am as I have told the mechanic that I will be there before 10:00 am. It is less than 50 kilometres and I arrive there at 9:33 am. I leave the car at Mitchell Auto and walk to the artesian spa. The spa is like a small swimming pool and has lots of people in there. Entry is $8 for the day, so I pay and go in and have a nice artesian water spa. I then walk the short distance to the museum. The museum is free and I spend over an hour in there looking at their exhibits. It is a very well setup museum with a lot of interesting things.

    I get a phone call from the mechanic that the LandCruiser is ready so I walk back. I also get him to make me some two stroke for my chainsaw as I have none left. Total cost of the service is $241 which includes an oil filter. I leave at 11:55 am and drive to the main street. I go to a hardware store and buy some mouse traps. I then go to the Hotel Richards for lunch. I notice that there is a washing machine in the pub so I go and grab my dirty clothes and put them on ($4). I then order a hamburger and chips and a beer ($22). What a great idea, having washing machines that you can use in a pub.

    The Mitchell MuseumA replica school room in the museum

    The hamburger is quite good, I am yet to have one that is less than good on this trip. I leave once the washing is finished and head the couple of kilometres out to the Neil Turner Weir where there is free camping. This is on the Warrego River. I find a spot and put up my clothes line and put out the washing to dry. I also put my table and chair to claim the spot.

    The Mitchell Hotel RichardsHaving a beer while my clothes wash

    I leave at 1:30 pm and go back to the spa. I have another very nice hot spa and once finished I have a shower and drive back to the camping area. I am back there at 3:00 pm. All my washing is dry and I hand wash one of my new shirts as it is a bright blue and I am worried that the dye might run. It doesn’t, so in future I can wash with everything else. I also set the mouse trap in the back of the car.

    My campsite at the Neil Turner WeirThe Warrego River

    I go for a walk along the river to the west. There are some nice camping spots along here and there is no-one at all there. Some spots are also suitable for caravans. I get back about 5:20 pm. I change into warmer clothes, I already had my old NPWS jacket on as it is very cool. I check the mouse trap and there is some cheese missing. I start a fire in my firepit and then have drinks.

    I reheat some lamb and rice in the saucepan for dinner. It is nowhere as cold as last night but it is cool. I go to bed at 9:30 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 20ºC
    Arrived: Mitchell Time: 9:33 am Distance: 61 kilometres

    Day 66 – Friday 27 August 2021 – Mitchell to Charleville

    Weather: minimum of -0.4ºC and fine

    Another very cold night, but a heatwave compared to last night! I sleep really good and wake at 6:30 am. I listen to the news and read the SMH. I change the bed sheets (which I did not wash yesterday) and roll over the mattress to the other side to even out wear. I get up at 7:45 am when it is 5⁰C.

    When I open the bottom drawer, a mouse runs out and then behind the fridge. I move the trap to that location. I have breakfast and pack up, leaving at 9:50 am. I continue west on the Warrego Highway. At 10:55 am I arrive in Morven, 90 kilometres from Mitchell. I have morning tea here and look at a house built from kerosene tins. It was built in the Depression. There is also a museum and miniature houses.

    An old Bushells Tea sign in MorvenThis hut is made from kerosene tins

    While here I read that HMAT Kyarra took some locals to World War I. This is interesting to me as exactly eight years ago on 27 August 2013 I dived the wreck of HMAT Kyarra in the English Channel near Swanage, England. What a coincidence! There is also a Lone Pine Tree here. I leave at 11:15 am.

    I arrive at the Cobb and Co Caravan Park at Charleville at 12:15 pm. I book in and find a spot. I put my sheets and some other things into a washing machine ($4) and then have lunch. When the washing is finished, I put it on the line to dry. At 1:30 pm I leave and drive via the nearby bowling club to check if it has dinner tonight. It does and I am lucky, it only has meals on Friday night.

    A Bilby in the centre, converted to grey scaleAnother Bilby in the centre

    I then go to the Bilby Experience which I booked yesterday ($22). I arrive at 1:45 pm for the 2:00 pm tour. You are shown a video about bilbies and then taken into a nocturnal house that resembles night-time where you can see a few bilbies. They are so cute! They are breeding bilbies and have released them in the Currawinya NP south of Cunnamulla. There they are inside a vermin proof fence, although it appears some have managed to escape as they have been found outside (they are all tagged). So far this project is a success.

    Two Bilbys in the centre, this is the colour you seeThe Warrego River in town

    The tour finishes at 2:50 pm. I go to the Warrego River and walk to the weir and back, 2.2 kilometres. I then go to the Hotel Corones, a very beautiful old hotel. I have one XXXX Gold for $6. I am back at the caravan park at 4:00 pm. There is now some cloud. I read and have a few cups of tea. As soon as it gets dark, I hear the mouse trap go off and find I have caught the mouse. I put another trap out in case there is more than one in the car.

    The Hotel Corones in CharlevilleHave a beer in the pub, check out the pressed steel ceiling

    At 6:45 pm I have a shower and at 7:10 pm I walk to the bowling club. There is not much of a choice for dinner, so I order chicken Kiev ($23). It is only average, okay I suppose. I think the kitchen is staffed by volunteer members. The reason I have come is to watch the NRL on television. There is a fairly large crowd here but once dinner is over, most people leave. Souths are playing the Roosters again tonight and Souths win 54 to 12, a very satisfying win. However, Latrell Mitchell is in big trouble as he hit a Rooter highish and a bit late. He ends up being suspended for the rest of the year and into 2022!

    Anyway, despite the crowd leaving, the club stays open and in the end I am the only customer apart from some staff who have finished. I have a few beers and a wine. They stay open till after the game finishes and I walk back to the caravan park, getting there just after 10:00 pm. It is a cold 10⁰C.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 21ºC
    Arrived: Charleville Time: 12:15 pm Distance: 188 kilometres

    Day 67 – Saturday 28 August 2021 – Charleville to Wyandra

    Weather: minimum of 4.0ºC and fine

    Another cold night but at least it is above zero. I wake at 6:30 am. I do the usual and then get up at 8:00 am. It is now 6⁰C. I have breakfast and read the SMH. I then pack up and leave at 9:30 am. I go and refuel, taking 40.22 litres at $1.519 for a total of $61.09. I have averaged 13.6 l/100 km since Roma, 295 kilometres away. I then go to the IGA supermarket and buy some things ($65).

    The new Charleville WWII Secret BaseI saw a lot of these blue trees in outback Queensland.
    I finally discovered they are for men's mental health

    At 10:00 am I head to the Secret Base Tour out at the airport. This is almost brand new and is about how Charleville had an air force base in WWII and US planes were based here. It is small but very interesting and well done, with interactive displays and videos. Cost to enter was $8. The most interesting part was about the Norden Bomb Sight, a brilliant invention of the war.

    Angellela CreekAngellela Creek
    The destroyed railway bridge at Angellela CreekThe destroyed road bridge Angellela Creek.

    At 11:05 am I go to a park for morning tea. I leave at 11:20 am and go to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre. This is very average and is nothing like the Broken Hill display which is very good. Forget it. I leave at 11:40 am and head south towards Cunnamulla on the Mitchell Highway.

    Angellela CreekAngellela Creek
    Angellela CreekAngellela Creek
    The destroyed fire truck at Angellela CreekA drone shot of Angellela Creek. Old road bridge was far left.

    At 12:00 pm I arrive at Angellala Creek. This is 36 kilometres from Charleville. On 5 September 2014 a truck carrying ammonium nitrate caught fire and stopped on the bridge over the creek. The driver called emergency services and after they arrived, the truck exploded. It totally destroyed the truck, the road bridge and the adjacent railway bridge. It also destroyed the trees and and damaged the police and fire vehicles. Eight people were injured but luckily no one was badly hurt.

    Angellela CreekAngellela Creek
    This tree was blown over and killed by the blastThe Angellela Creek Memorial made from bridge supports

    Today there is a monument created from some of the railway bridge supports together with information about what happened. The remains of the railway bridge are located behind the railway line and you can see where the huge bolts that held the steel supports to the concrete bases were ripped away. It is amazing that I do not recall ever seeing this on the news. I have lunch while here.

    Angellela CreekAngellela Creek
    The remains of the Angellela Creek railway bridgeLook at the damage to the support bases

    I leave at 1:00 pm and at 1:55 pm I arrive at Wyandra, a very small town. There is a free camping area behind the school but I have decided to camp down on the Warrego River. There is supposed to be a site called The Beach on the western side of the river and southern side of the road. I go down there and there is really only one decent spot which is right at The Beach but there are signs banning camping here.

    I then have a look on the northern side of the road but there are already people camped in the best spots. I go back to the eastern side of the river next to the road (northern side of road) where at 2:10 pm I set up camp right down next to the water. There is only very limited flat space here, maybe another car with a rooftop could also fit in.

    A drone shot of the Warrego River at Wyandra, my campsite bottom middleMy campsite next to the Warrego River at Wyandra

    I fly my drone as it is calm, you need to do it the first opportunity you have in case the wind picks up. I have a cuppa and find out that Lattrell Mitchell has been suspended for six matches after last Friday’s game. Bugger, there goes the 2021 premiership. I have a shower and then at 4:10 pm I walk to the Wyandra Hotel.

    This is a great pub and the two couples that own it have fixed it up since buying it recently. They are very friendly and it looks like they are doing a lot to attract customers. There are plenty of people here, well, considering the size of the bar. I only want to have two beers but the wife of one owner gives me another as soon as I finish the second one. I don’t have the money to pay so promise to bring the money in the morning but she says not to worry.

    The Wyandra Post OfficeThe War Memorial in the centre of the intersection
    The Wyandra HotelHaving a beer in the pub

    I go back to camp at 6:15 pm and have roast chicken (from the IGA) with canned potatoes. I listen to the NRL and read around the fire. I decide this is such a nice spot I will stay a second night. I go to bed at 9:50 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 24ºC
    Arrived: Wyandra Time: 1:55 pm Distance: 109 kilometres

    Day 68 – Sunday 29 August 2021 – Wyandra

    Weather: minimum of 7.5ºC and fine

    I have a nice sleep and wake at 6:30 am. I do the usual and get up at 8:05 am. I have breakfast and finish the paper (good Telstra again). I go and collect some firewood from around the camp. There are lots of cars dumped in the bush near here, Holden FJ and FE utes and more. I then book camping at Charlotte Plains Station for the nights of 30 and 31 August, cost $50. This has artesian spas and is east of Cunnamiulla.

    The Warrego River taken from my campsite

    At 9:35 am I walk to town and have a look at the buildings. I go via the camping area and look at the toilets and showers. While there were quite a few here last night, now there are only a couple of vehicles. I am back at 10:45 am, the walk was 4.0 kilometres. I read my book while in the hammock and have a cuppa. I have lunch and then at 1:00 pm I go for another walk to the western side of the river.

    The free camping area behind the schoolAn old hut
    A water tankThe old power station

    This time I walk to north to the far end and back. There are some good spots right at the end, I did not go that far when I looked yesterday. I then walk to The Beach and back to camp. All up I walk another 4.3 kilometres. I am back at 2:25 pm and have afternoon tea. At 4:45 pm I walk up to the main camping area and have a shower, very nice. I am back by 5:30 pm. It is 900 metres from my campsite.

    A set of train pointsThe old tennis court

    I start the fire as I am cooking massaman curry lamb and rice for dinner. I put the curry in my small camp oven, with coals on the bottom and slow cook it. I have drinks at 5:45 pm and have a late for me dinner at 6:45 pm. Dinner is very nice. I sit around the fire till 9:30 am and then go to bed. I read till 10:05 pm. It is a quite cold 7⁰C when I go to bed.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 26ºC
    Arrived: Wyandra Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres

    Day 69 – Monday 30 August 2021 – Wyandra to Charlotte Plains

    Weather: minimum of 3.4ºC and fine

    It was a cool night but I sleep very well, not waking till 6:20 am. I lay in bed for 30 minutes and then read the SMH and listen to the 7:00 am ABC Radio News. I get up at 7:40 am and have breakfast. I then pack up and leave the campsite at 9:15 am. I drive up to the free camping area and use the toilets and dispose of some rubbish. I also leave a donation for the use of the shower.

    The Cunnamulla FellaThe water tank

    I go to the pub to leave some money for the extra beer from two days ago and leave town at 9:25 am and continue south on the Mitchell Highway. This is a good two lane road and I see heaps of emus and two flocks of budgies. I arrive in Cunnamulla at 10:35 am (102 km). I go to the main park near the information centre. I was here on day 3 of this trip, 25 June. It seems so long ago. After morning tea I drive to the water tank near the railway station which has a mural on it, and then onto the railway station. I take some photos and leave town at 11:20 am.

    The Cunnamulla Railway StationSculptures in front of the railway station, a band

    I head east on the Balonne Highway, again, a good two lane tar road. I am heading to Charlotte Plains Station, a cattle property that has hot artesian spas as well as camping. I booked a few days ago but the directions to the camping area are not the best. I see a large but faded sign and turn there. This is about 30 kilometres from Cunnamulla. As it turns out this is the long way in, via property tracks and gates (24 km). The shorter way in is about 15 kilometres along. I arrive at the homestead at 12:08 pm and find it hard to figure out where to go to book in. I finally find it and get the directions to the camping area.

    I head past the powered sites (near the shearing shed) to the unpowered sites which are right on the artesian bore. This is not far from the highway. I arrive there at 12:35 pm. It is 167 km from Wyandra and 65 from Cunnamulla. I have a look around and pick a spot for myself to the west of everybody. There are about 20 vehicles here, including one group of 12 vehicles which originally were going to the Birdsville Races but they have been cancelled due to Covid. I set up camp and have lunch.

    Charlotte PlainsCharlotte Plains
    The Charlotte Plains shearing shedA drone shot of the camping area

    After lunch I go and have a look at the bore and the spa area. The water comes out of a large pipe into a sort of pool created by a water tank. It then flows into a couple of drains, one of which is also a pool. There are also large steel bathtubs here that you can fill with water. The water temperature in the spa tub is 39ºC, a bit hot but excellent.

    Along the drain back towards and past where I am camped, there are bunches of more bathtubs. These are great, however it takes a long time for the water to flow from the bore along another pipe, so the hot water takes a long time to get here. To fill the bath, you need to turn the tap on full and leave the plug out of the bath. Then when the water starts to warm, put the plug in and fill it. If it gets cool, you empty some water out and top up with hot water. Simple.

    I then go to the tub nearest my car and fill up the bath. It is 32ºC as I do not want it as hot as the spa. I finish my bath at 2:30 pm and then read under the trees till I have a cuppa. At 4:00 pm I go for a walk to the west and south along the drain for 1.2 km. I come back and then head to the east and north. All up I walk 3 km.

    Charlotte PlainsCharlotte Plains
    The main bath tubs near the poolsDrinks at sunset in the bath! These were the closest to me.

    I am back at 4:45 pm and go to the spa again, it is a bit cooler at 37ºC now. Then I head back and grab a beer and some nibblies and have them while in the bath near me. What a great way to relax at the end of the day. I finish my beer and spa at 6:00 pm and put the fire on in my firepit. I cook a Scotch fillet steak and potato slices on my skillet over the fire.

    After dinner I have another hot bath, this time 35ºC. I stay in there till 9:00 pm. I go back to the fire and read my Kindle some more. There are gunshots, at least four, to the north-west. Not sure what they are after, roos or foxes perhaps. I can see lights moving, but they are not around for too long.

    It is now clear as it went overcast at noon. I go to bed at 10:30 pm. What a nice afternoon and evening it has been.

    Weather: Overcast mostly, maximum of 25ºC
    Arrived: Charlotte Plains Time: 12:35 pm Distance: 167 kilometres

    Day 70 – Tuesday 31 August 2021 – Charlotte Plains

    Weather: minimum of 7.7ºC and fine

    A warmer night than most of the recent ones. I wake at 6:30 am read my Kindle till the radio news. I have no phone coverage here, so cannot read the paper in bed. I get up at 7:50 am and go to the spa. I first try the pond but it is too shallow and muddy. I end up in the large spa again. I go back to my campsite at 8:25 am and have breakfast. Such a relaxing way to start the day.

    Charlotte PlainsCharlotte Plains
    Another drone shot of the camping areaOne of the sets of bath tubs

    At 9:30 am I go for a walk via the toilets. However, disaster, there is no toilet paper! I have to get some from the ladies! I walk to the east and then north for two kilometres. I follow the track out towards the highway but not that far. From here I cut back direct to my campsite, a bit boggy in spots where the artesian water has leaked from the drains. It is only one kilometre back. I have a cuppa and read, and then another hot bath. After this I read some more and then have lunch.

    There are now only five other vehicles here, way down on the 20 this morning. At 1:20 pm I go for another walk to the west. There are too many burrs and my thongs are full of them and they penetrate right through to my feet. It is a hard walk back, I have to stop all the time to remove them. I collect some firewood on the way back. I then walk back the same way I went this morning, all the way to a gate. This time I come back via the road. All up I walk seven kilometres now. This afternoon I see quite a few Major Mitchell cockatoos and at sunset some budgies.

    Charlotte PlainsCharlotte Plains
    Some of the emus I sawMy camping spot

    During the day I use some of the free wifi (I cannot remember how much, I think it is only one 20 minute period permitted) to download the day's SMH. The wifi is only near the toilet block area. I read this later back at my campsite. Lots more cars have now come in but it is nowhere as full as last night.

    At 4:00 pm I put the fire on as I am cooking massaman beef curry again. I put it on at 4:30 pm in the small camp oven. At 5:00 pm I go to the nearby bath and have a hot spa with a beer and nibblies. I get out at 5:50 pm. I cook rice to go with the curry and at 7:00 pm I eat. Very good. There is enough leftover for two more meals so I put them in some Chinese food containers.

    At 7:35 pm I go to the bath again and get out at 8:25 pm. There is a child near me and s/he cries for over 80 minutes, at times screaming. The parents do not seem to be doing anything and the father is certainly not interested in stopping the crying.

    I sit around the fire reading and Perrin, an American who is camped near me (originally from NY State), brings over some damper for me. Only his second attempt, it is very good. He and his wife (from Pennsylvania) now live in Brisbane, he is a teacher. I see 5 shooting starts but no satellites. I go to bed at 9:35 pm.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 27ºC
    Arrived: Charlotte Plains Time: N/A Distance: 0 kilometres

    Click here to read the next part of the trip.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!