A Travellerspoint blog

Longreach to Kynuna

Many eyes are watching though ..

Dust in our noses ~ and the desert wind
Longreach to Kynuna, just south of Cloncurry
Capricorn Highway becomes Landsborough Highway to Mt Isa ~ ~ 12-13 August 2014
Out of mobile and internet range for over 24 hours - now back online at Cloncurry >>

It’s just one month ago today that we bought “NFA” (No Fixed Abode is the name of our caravan) from Jayco dealership in Coffs Harbour. We have enjoyed every minute of it, despite some early hiccups with a slashed tyre, a split windscreen, the door that first wouldn’t open and then wouldn’t lock, a leaking water tank and a few other minor things which D has always managed to have fixed or to fix - thankfully. His toolbox and WD40 is always handy!! So a glass of wine celebrated this.

Tonight we are almost hidden in the Blue Heeler caravan park just off the Landsborough Highway in the tiny hamlet of Kynuna, about 360 kms north west of Longreach. We notice with interest tonight and especially those vans arriving at Longreach, that so many have boats on their car roof. It’s a long way to the ocean from here, and not too many rivers either, so we do wonder where they have been as most are heading south … or rather east!

To the motorist driving this distance, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of buildings or human habitation of any kind, but we know for sure that many many families live out here – their station names are actually on the map and have attractive road signs at their road end that we pass as we drive along at a comfortable 90kpm! However, the only creatures we have seen today are live sheep and cattle and then mostly road kill – literally thousands of dead sheep, kangaroos, emus and birds on the road side. The cull is obviously underway!

Grey clouds farewelled us from Longreach this morning but no rain expected here until the rains from the cyclones in the north get here possibly in January. However, very heavy rain is forecast for central Qld, and the Cape York peninsular and there’s a few folk we know on that route so hope they don’t get bogged.

We tried tuning our car radio today for the first time in this area and successfully found ABC local radio and even Radio National. We smiled as the first song we heard was the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, so as we drove over that beautiful Thomson River, we were singing loudly and waving to yet more caravans driving into Longreach from the north. It’s good to know that mobile phone reception, internet too and the ABC radio and tv have reception out here. However, when we are watching the telly the commercial stations are coming from both Alice Springs and Darwin – not at all local!

McKinlay was our intended destination tonight as we didn’t plan to stopover in Winton. Like the rest of our plans they change as we travel, and instead we stayed for lunch in Winton, had a look around the Matilda Centre where Banjo introduced “Waltzing Matilda” to the world, then drove out to the dinosaur country for a look around there. We didn’t drive the extra 90km though to see the remnants of the dinosaur stampede, as it was convincing enough to see the countryside where they roamed all those millions of years ago and to note the size of the bones that had been found and now displayed in glass cases. What enormous gigantic animals some of them were – quite astonishing and we never considered being amongst their bones! I did get a little toy dinosaur for Gracie – for her collection of animals.

And here at Winton, virtually in the middle of nowhere, we were also lucky enough to catch Tim on Skype for the first time in quite a few weeks and it was good to see him and hear his voice again.
He’s busy – what else – but very happy to hear from us. It’s expensive to Skype right now, so it was a very special treat for us all.

There are so many road trains thundering past, and they usually have three or four trailers crammed full of cattle on their way to Rockhampton – a very long way away to the east. The only other vehicles we see are 4-carriage road haulage trucks, and huge mining equipment for which we have to pull over to the side. We do get covered in a lot of red dust too and sneeze a lot – something we are now getting used to as there’s always dust up our noses.

We stopped later this afternoon in the very middle of the Landsborough Highway, for a comfort stop and an orange and drink of water (we are carrying 180 litres in our tanks) and we have lots of bottles too. It was there we decided not to get to McKinley tonight, but stop over instead at the bustling outpost (one pub, a caravan park and one building) of Kynuna, and are now enjoying a truly spectacular outback sunset which is by far the very best we have seen so far. And we are snugly parked in the tiny caravan park at the back of the Blue Heeler pub. Earlier we had enjoyed a beer in there – must have dated back to the late 1800s but recent guests had written their names and messages over every bit of the inside walls and ceilings of the pub. Great place to meet other travellers – and enjoy a cold VB – what no Fosters.. no, not here!

The dust too is not always visible and not always present, but at night time it too rolls across the outback to remind us that it is part of life out here and no one really seems to mind. Some of the vehicles are appearing with very red dust on them – we’ve yet to collect some!

Banjo Patterson wrote Waltzing Matilda out here at Winton, long after the dinosaurs had gone, and the huge cattle trains keep on running. The train service from the east stops at Longreach, although the line is there until Winton but no longer used. The Very Big Rigs rule out here!

The dust in our noses is continuous and we have almost become used to the taste of it and our never-ending sneezing. The water quality since leaving the coast (it seems months and months ago but is only two weeks) isn’t too bad but we have a filter fitted on our water pipe from tap to van and boil every drop we drink.

We eat our evening meal around 6 each evening, read a bit or watch some telly when we get reception, listen to the radio or our CDs in the speaker/radio fitted in the van – and usually go to bed around 8 or 8.30 - I know it’s a bit early and it’s astonishing but no newspapers, no telly and not a lot of cafes or friends to visit, we do sleep a long time and quite often 9 or even 10 hours – something we have never done!!

The desert wind at night is almost soothing, it’s come from somewhere and going somewhere, and we don’t feel alone. The desert is a different place in time for us. There is much room for thought and wonderment too – and it’s the stuff that Australia’s history is built on – pioneers, isolation, hard work – cattle, sheep, no crops though but lots of mines – and the wind!

Posted by twodubfers 00:42 Archived in Australia Tagged outback north western queensland Comments (0)

FOUR DAYS IN LONGREACH

Not all who wonder are lost!

FOUR DAYS IN LONGREACH

Longreach Tourist Caravan Park is our home for a short stay and must be one of the biggest c/parks we have ever been in or heard of. It’s almost 1sqkm and accommodates big 5th-wheelers, very big vans, dozens and dozens every other kind of van, en suite sites number around 20, two very large blocks of amenities and a lot of room to spare.

The rumble of road trains is just across the paddock, and just over the Highway is Longreach Airport and the QANTAS Founders Museum. We spent nearly 4 hours there yesterday absorbing the fascinating history of how QANTAS was born – or should I say conceived in Cloncurry, born in Mt Isa and nurtured in Longreach and a very large undiscovered area back in those days. Our tour of all the aircraft: DC3, 707, 747, Catalina kept us a bit more than interested and we did manage to sit in the cockpit of a Jumbo 747, then out on to the wing for a photo! What a great experience – and I just hope I can successfully put the pictures on my blog. Rather amazingly, from that aircraft we could easily see a familiar vehicle .. it was Sandon McCracken’s ute, complete with lights, antennae and bull bars and had, on many occasion, parked outside our house at Horseshoe Bend as dad Rob, mum Lee were our neighbours. We didn’t manage to spot Sandon but his love of flying has brought him here and we wish him well in his chosen field.

During the tour the daily flight from Brisbane came in – a QantasLink and it will soon take off again on its return flight. I am expecting some mail fro Sydney this week so shall watch with interest when each flight comes in.

When we were camped at Kin Kora c/park at Gladstone, when Hil and Pete came for a night en route to Cape York .. (see www.cooktowntokokoda.com.au) for Mark’s website and details of his charity event with H & P as support crew! Super video to watch on that one yesterday) .. we were sandwiched between the golf course and Gladstone airport and felt we were being scalped as each plane landed and that was a very busy airport – toing and froing to the mines on an hourly basis.

Well here at Longreach, we are sandwich between the vast outback (!!) and the airport again but a much quieter location.

I had my haircut yesterday and we caught up on some shopping and did the washing too – usual chores! – and heard some local tales. Most people who live out of town tell us they only have small acreages here – usually around 50,000 acres until you get out further into the Outback where they are much bigger! One can only wonder at their size.

The Flying Doctor is important out here as a flying base and as a mental health authority and Longreach Hospital probably has about 65 beds and then more serious cases are flown to either Rockhampton (650km each) or Brisbane (around 1000km S.E.)

Longreach has no Bunnings, Woolworths or McDonalds – the latter we don’t miss but Mitre 10 instead of Bunnings wasn’t too bad – and the rest of the shops were really good. Stylish clothes shops and beauty salons are plentiful – but the most colourful people of all are the local bushies with their dirty jeans, bush hats, friendly voices and always a cheery wave – made us smile and realise how much the cities in Australia miss out on.
We love Longreach.

Tonight we are going on a cruise – heaven only knows where as water isn’t the biggest commodity around – but then it’s a sunset cruise and followed by lots of noisy rowdy country singing! Should be fun.

On the radio this glorious 24 deg Sunday morning we were listing to Macca on the radio and when local news butted in at 9am it mentioned that the Mt Isa to Cloncurry road is closed due to a Saturday night collision when 2 road trains collided - each carrying cattle we think . Each road train is 3-bogies long so there'd be quite a lot of cattle involved - so we are glad we are not going on that road until probably Thursday by which time the big mess that it surely is, has been cleared.

Tomorrow we plan a good look around the Stockman’s Hall of Fame – another example of how proud these folk are of their astonishing past. To set up a home and have a large family, run a huge cattle station and still make the scones, roast the beef and teach kids – makes us feel just a bit inadequate. On top of that they had very high summer temperatures and little if any rain – no air conditioning and no buses, no trains or planes either.

… bye for now folks xx

Posted by twodubfers 18:47 Comments (0)

Sapphire Gemfields on the Tropic of Capricorn

Sapphire gemfields - trying to find our fortune

Well, Sapphire has been a great experience in all sorts of ways. It's the driest part of the state we have seen so far and the locals can't recall when they last had any rain. Our camping ground is in the bush and there are many travellers here. Lots seem to be from Victoria and at least three families say they have been coming up here from Melbourne each year (for years) to both get away from the cold, and to find the sapphires and emeralds and rubies - there are lots!

We have tried out the local pub - wonderful signs in there and fossickers, miners, travellers and some ring-ins from overseas working locally in the pub, Sapphire shops and even the Royal Flying Doctor Service has arrived for it's second visit in one year, providing dental care in a very impressive and hugely built Trailer!

There have been quite a few hiccups for us along this way and today we arrived back at camp to find one of our water tanks is leaking!. We do have another one holding 80 litres, so hopefully we'll get to Longreach on Friday after tomorrow night's free camp at Barcaldine - with some water to spare and get the tank looked at.

Overnight temperatures have been kind but coolish and down to 12 deg with a sunny and bright 26 in the day which we like in the wintertime!! A message from the south today told us that Mittagong, NSW had -4 degrees overnight.

Posted by twodubfers 00:07 Archived in Australia Tagged the for dirt washing sapphires Comments (0)

Sapphire to Longreach, Capricorn Highway

2600km from our start

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST!

The tiny shanty “petrol stop” called Sapphire was quite an experience and we spent two nights there in an unusual bush camp with most vans perched in a herringbone shape and sometimes it looked as though one or more might just fall off the edge! But we didn’t and enjoyed our stay, spending some time with a bucket of stones looking for The Big One. Needless to say, we did find quite a few sapphires and zircons, but only enough to make some small items of jewellery.
A glass of good old Queensland XXXX went down very well in the dry and dusty conditions.

The RFDS Dental Service was in town on its twice yearly visit to the region! It seemed very busy there and quite possibly a few tourists lining up as well.

Following this stopover at Sapphire, it was westward again and we made it to Ilfracomb (pronounced Ilfra-comb as opposed to the English Ilfracoom pronunciation), via Jericho and it's 'walls'.

We managed a bit of a precarious park and went across to the camp kitchen for Happy Hour where we joined a couple of dozen travellers each with their own story to tell. Surprisingly, there were two other couples and they didn’t have a home either! Many jokes and personal tales were told and it was a fun evening.

I was up today before the sun rose and managed a pic or two of it just appearing over the horizon. Just magical – but out here it really is wonderful. Overnight a Toyota 4WD had arrived and parked, and the 4WD had apparently hit a cow en route, and was badly damaged - but drivable and the driver didn't seem too concerned … it's a long way to a smash repairs and probably Longreach will be the place to get that done.

Our journey to Longreach – just 27 kms took a very short time and we arrived before 9.30am. They didn’t let new arrivals in before 10.30am so we took ourselves over the road – to Longreach Airport and the Qantas Museum is, booked for ourselves a tour tomorrow and then managed to fit in a few chores – like washing (everything is so dusty!), shopping and a look around this interesting town. Many ‘cowboys’ here and they cater for everyone and everything!

The average annual electricity bill – we are told – for Longreach and the Central West is usually around $7000 as air conditioning is pretty necessary out here in summer when temperatures can reach 45 deg+ - so if you think you pay a lot for your electricity, thank goodness you don’t have a bill that large – or do you!!

Shall be including a few photos of our stay here and have quite a few things we want to explore as we are here until Tuesday. Mo has kindly posted an envelope containing the mail she has received – and it should arrive on Tuesday. I checked at the PO and they are quite used to such events!

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has a big base here at Longreach and services a few million square kms -

We did mention to James that should he ever want to find us and send out a message, please don’t say “My mum and dad are driving a Toyota Prado and are towing a Jayco Caravan” - - - they are about 756,893 of those out here where Toyota and Jayco’s rule!! Astonishing – and in over 2800kms so far we have seen only one Land Rover and one Jeep and even that had been in for repair. We have our fingers crossed …

… till the next time xxxx

Posted by twodubfers 00:06 Comments (0)

Heading west

Rockhampton to Emerald

sunny 25 °C

This blogging has had me a bit beat but I'm gradually getting the hang of it. I seem to have missed quite a few bits and people out of our trip so far! For instance we had three fantastic days at Cooloola Cove not far from Tin Can Bay where Peter and Vicki made us welcome at their beautiful home and garden and we parked in their driveway. Vicki was away dog-sitting but we called in to see her for a cuppa! We managed a day out to Rainbow Beach and had intended a tour to Fraser Island but never managed that one .. too much to do but it was really great to see the and helped make our weekend there and the first real start of our trip.

From there we headed north through Maryborough on the A1 and there seemed to be at least four times as many caravans coming south as we could see heading north. The word was that it was mostly Victorians heading south again and they wanted to get back in time for their footy finals. These are about a month away and it might take a while to get back to Victoria. It's a long way from up here.

A drive through a very busy Bundaberg saw us looking for what seemed to be a really great caravan park called Riverdale. We followed the directions and discovered to our amazement that the site, on the river bank, was neglected and in ruins! Whatever has happened here but our memories are short indeed. Last summer, as we recall, Bundaberg suffered some of the most serious flooding in its history - and as a consequence this beautiful caravan park had been totally submerged. It was a busy town and the good folk at the Information Centre (where would we be without them!), told us of a "freebie" out about 7kms called Sharon Nature Reserve and so it was here that we stopped for the night, along with another 7 vans and 9 tents! Showers and toils and a lovely bush block welcomed us and there was a 1km walk down the gorge - my word, would than have rushed down in the cyclones of last summer - and the only disadvantage was that it was right on the road side and many many trucks - big ones! - were driving past all night.

The following day we headed north to Gladstone to meet Pete and Hil on their Cooktown to Kokoda trek with son Mark, Jen and 3 others. Please see www.cooktowntokokoda.com.au - charity event for the Glen McGrath Foundation to raise money for breast cancer.

Kin Kora caravan park was our destination where we stayed for 3 nights and welcomed Hil & Pete on our 2nd day. It was great to see them, all of us on a long journey. We managed to provide our first dinner for four in this van - and had a wonderful evening. The following day they were up early and left around 7am, and we had another relaxing day in Gladstone. Previous day we had taken a cruise around Gladstone Harbour and up around the southern islands. Goodness what a place it is - coal, coal and more coal, huge shipping berths filling up with coal and cement, aluminium, and more buildings on the islands too. 40 years ago Dave and I came to Gladstone when it was a small coal terminal, nothing like the 80 million tons exported from here each day!! Even today when the aluminium plant is producing something like 7 million tons a day! However, although it is a beautiful place and busy - I can't help but compare it to some ports I've seen in Asia - where literally thousands of little boats would be weaving their way through the water, busy on their own errands.

Australia is just such a wonderful country …

From Gladstone we decided to backtrack a bit - 200 mms - and spend some time at 1770 - already mentioned in a previous blog entry.

Yesterday we did about 350km north to Rockhampton and then headed west. Now we are in cattle country - Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia where much of it is shipped out. However, Rocky is also known for being a gold rush centre back in the 1800s and now also exports huge amounts of coal. We saw many many trains carrying this coal, onwards to the terminals at Rockhampton for export - each train is probably over a kilometre long and they run every 7 minutes!!!

We did another overnight stay at Duaringa in a huge flat red and dusty show ground, along with another couple of dozen like minded souls - vans, m/homes, tents, buses with trailers - and the never-ending traffic of cattle trains and coal trains. A fascinating place.

Dave has done really well with this long caravan and I'm very proud of him. The windscreen did get fixed when the OBrien Glass people actually came out to our caravan park in Gladstone and did the job on site! Great service.

Today we'll head further west and stop at Emerald, Rubyvale and Sapphire - to make our fortune of course!

Posted by twodubfers 14:10 Archived in Australia Tagged of central queensland highlands Comments (0)

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