Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mount Isa

We have arrived in Mount Isa, not for the first time! We have made several visits to this fine city. Having family here in "The Isa" is a compelling reason for us to return often. We are visiting this year for Christmas and The New Year Celebrations as we also did in the year 2010.

The trip overland from the coast was a leisurely 10 days, we found several new (to us) free campsites and met many new fellow travellers along the way.

We are here in "The Isa" until about mid January, our return trip will probably be along the Flinders Highway to Charters Towers and then south to home. You will hear from us again when we are back on the road. 'Till then we would like to wish all our readers a very Jolly Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

The scene everyone remembers of Mount Isa, The Xsrata Mine and Smelter which is adjacent to the Mount Isa City Centre.

The Town Centre Lookout is off the street opposite The Tourist Information Centre. From the Lookout you can see a panorama of most of Mount Isa and have The Smelter in the background. I took these photographs just to prove that we did in fact arrive here.

You can see other photographs I have captured on a previous visit to Mount Isa here:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fullarton Rest Area

Huge day's drive today, by our standards anyway! Woke at Longreach at 5:00 AM and there was NO breeze, so grabbed a bit of brekky, packed up and hit the highway. We arrived at our present camp at 2:00 PM. Don't know how many km's that is but we are now 60 km short of Cloncurry. We noticed a lot of pooled water along the highway after we went through McKinlay, from yesterday's storm. We have an easy 182 km to 'The Isa' tomorrow. Probably after a sleep in! It is quite cool here tonight but very humid, there are storms all around us but nothing happening here. We have a truckie and another camper for company tonight.

This storm passed through to the North of us, probably went to Mount Isa!

Quite dark and gloomy at our camp site tonight. Very humid too, not used to that up here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Longreach Waterhole

Well chaps and chappies, I don't mind saying we expected to be a lot further up the highway than this today! The Landsborough Highway changes direction from more westerly before Longreach to more Northerly heading towards Winton and that means the prevailing breezes were now full-on head winds. Plus add into the equation Winton was expecting thunderstorms and flash flooding, well we decided to stay here and sit out the weather woes. We will see what eventuates with the weather tomorrow.

We didn't fully set-up because we were hoping to continue with our journey. Well that didn't eventuate, we are here for the night. Camping is permitted at a distance of 20m from the Picnic Area, one can stay for up to 4 days. 

The Thomson River, aka "The Longreach Waterhole". It wasn't long ago that the river was up to and over the 6m flood marker here.

There is a fairly extensive picnic area here at 'The Waterhole' but the grass is a bit thin with out much rain lately.

The Thomson River looking East, there is a railway bridge just at the end of vision.

From the North bank of the Thomson River looking back towards the Picnic Area.

Lloyd Jones Weir, Barcaldine

We drove 15km out of Barcaldine into the Lloyd Jones Weir picnic/camping area and were a little disappointed after our camp at Jericho. It was dry and dusty and we were the only camp there, apart from a squadron of Apostle birds. The amenities are first class in the camp area, it is probably well patronised at other times during the year. Another Jayco Starcraft pulled into camp a little later, with a family of five. As with us, they were only staying one night before heading to Longreach. We woke to a Nor-Westerly breeze, not what we wanted towing a caravan into a head wind. We will see how far we can get!

This is The Lloyd Jones Weir, as you can see it is NOT full of water. We think this may be the Alice River, but not really sure. Somebody maybe able to enlighten us.

Kangaroo and 'Joey' on the river bank.

This little critter fell out of the tree, must have dozed off in the heat. It laid on the ground for a several minutes before starting the climb back up.

Flipping Aldi Beef Burgers on the banks of the weir. Using "Cobram" Olive OIl to cook and XXXX Bitter for lubrication.

Jordan River, Jericho

We have stopped over in Jericho on one other occasion, in the Jericho Hotel. On this occasion however we have a caravan and we were looking for a camping location. We knew there was a park on the Jordan River but it took us a little time to locate it. The local council has blocked some of the streets with a levy so the directions we had were of little use. Eventually we found our way in and we were happily surprised. Later that night we met up with John and Sybil, who are travelling in a mobile home named "Two Easy" and Graham in a caravan. We had an impromptu river side 'Happy Hour' OR Three! John was keeping us refreshed with beer from his 'Home Brew'. We were sorry to leave there the following morning. We called into the Jericho Hotel on leaving camp to top up on essential supplies and learned that the Hotel might be closing in 2013, that will be bad for the town.

Our pleasant camp site beside the Jordan River.

Walk down from our caravan and this is the sight you see.

Must be 'rest time'.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Springsure & Virgin Rock

We had to break away from our lazy stay beside the Dawson River, sitting there wasn't getting us any closer to Mount Isa. Our destination today was Springsure but first we had to reach Rolleston through 90 km of intermittent road works. It didn't turn out to be as bad as first assumed, the overall delay was only about 30 minutes for the 150 km trip. On reaching Rolleston we pulled in behind a Winnebago at a picnic rest area and as usual, we both knew each others' life history in short 10 minute conversation. It turns out that Maurie's family built a house in the same street where we now live and further to that we think that same house was demolished to build our Townhouse Complex.

Soon on our way again, onto Springsure, no more road works to delay us here. Jude posted our Christmas Cards and after a brief walk around the town we drove the short distance to the free camp at Virgin Rock, just out of town. There we had a few quiet beers with Carl who was going to set up a stall at the Friday Markets in Springsure the following afternoon. The Rock features are light by Spot Lights at night and this looks very impressive.

An Early Settlers Cottage in the Picnic area at Rolleston.

Oh, and the farmers wife is at home too! I wonder if scones, jam and cream are on the menu for weary travellers.

Virgin Rock and Zamia Range is clearly visible from the Main Street of Springsure.

The Information Board at Lions Park describing the origins of the name of the rock feature.

The Lion's Picnic area and adjacent free camping area.

Every picnic area seems to have a Fordson Tractor in place.

Just caught the last sun before it sets behind Zamia Range. Shame about the power lines spoiling the picture.

Early morning photo of our camp and the backdrop of the Zamia Range. It's a lovely place to camp but it's on black soil, you wouldn't want to be in here if rain was imminent.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dawson River Rest Area

We have left the North Burnett Region and have now entered the Banana Shire. After leaving Biloela this is all new territory for us, we have never travelled The Dawson Highway prior to now. This Rest Area as it's name implies is alongside The Dawson River where the river intersects the Dawson Highway. The Dawson River is noted for it's frequent and fast rising floods therefore we chose this time of year to visit where the likelyhood of stranding is minimal.

The highway itself provides easy travelling while towing a caravan and the large Rest Area is neat and tidy, the amenities provide hot showers for $1. A donation is appreciated  for your stay as volunteers maintain the site. The lawns around the Boat Ramp and Picnic Areas are automatically watered daily. This is an enjoyable place to camp. The Moura Golf Club is directly across the highway from the Rest Area.

Looking towards the highway bridge from the Picnic Area.

Part of the Ameneties Block showing recent flood levels. The top mark is the most recent, about 1.8m up the wall. This was Jan 2011.

Part of the free camping area, looking towards the highway.

Another early morning view of the free camp area, looking towards the river. The next caravan along from us is from Howard.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wuruma Dam

Via sealed road, Wuruma Dam is about 35 km from The Burnett Highway. There is a much shorter gravel road leaving from Eidsvold, we opted to travel the longer route.

The first night we camped with seven other campers but as this is a reasonably large area we were not camped on top of each other. The 'Happy Hour' was interesting with all the camps converging under a shady Gum Tree. We felt at home here so opted for a second night camped overlooking the water with a wonderfully cooling breeze. We should stay longer but plenty of kms to travel yet!!!

We do not travel too far before pulling up for cup of tea, this is The Binjour Range Rest Area, a sheltered area tucked in the forest away from the highway.

Jude is waiting for the kettle to boil.

This reservoir was completed in the early 1970's

The spillway is 300ft across and at spillway height the water area is 4400 acres. As you can see we are approaching our wet season and the dam is still practically full.

Looking up one of the arms of the reservoir from the 'Look-Out'.

Looking back from our camp site towards the other campers. The amenities block is not in sight but on top of the rise in the background.

Looking across Wuruma Reservoir from our camp site.

This Shag was a constant visitor to this particular rock, drying it's plumage every day. Well, I guess it was the same Shag!!!

Ban Ban Springs

After two months at home with the caravan in storage we felt the need to be on the road again. It is great living in Hervey Bay but we feel liberated living in the caravan at various free camp sites around Australia. We are so lucky that the South Burnett and North Burnett Regions are within a short drive from Hervey Bay. There are many interesting small towns and interesting places to visit. We will be travelling through the North Burnett Region on our travel towards Mount Isa, our eventual destination.

We arranged with our caravan storage hosts at Hervey Bay Caravan Park to pick up our caravan on the morning of the 8th December. Half an hour later we were driving to a Car Wash facility to freshen up the caravan exterior. All cleaned now the next stage was to load the caravan with food, clothes and lifes' other necessities like the Mobile Phone/iPod/Kindle battery chargers etc. As planned we had lunch at home, showered and all fresh now we departed Hervey Bay at 2PM.

We had a planned destination for the first night as we knew we would be leaving home after lunch. We headed for Ban Ban Springs. There is an extensive free camp there alongside The Burnett Highway. We shared the Rest Area with a couple of transports and two other travellers camps. One of whom was on the closing stages of a 12 month circuit of Australia. After a great sleep and breakfast we refuelled at the local Roadhouse and headed north on The Burnett Highway towards Wuruma Dam.

Early morning at Ban Ban Springs. All the campers are spread out around the large rest area.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pomona Show Grounds, then Home.

We were only two hours from home but decided to make camp at Pomona in the Show Grounds, $16 pn, no power but with a fresh sweet water connection. We rose early on a balmy Sunday morning and left on the final leg of this journey.

Now that we are home again, we can look back through the blog pages and reflect on the wonderful experiences we have had, the places we have visited and the great people we have met along the way. I feel confident that we will meet many of those people along the road on future trips.

The van is tucked away in storage now for a few weeks. I have a few plans for some minor modifications to the van in preparation for our next road journey beginning about 10th December. Mount Isa is our primary destination for Christmas and the New Year. Who knows what direction we may travel after that.

Stotts Island Nature Reserve, Chinderah

The second night of our homeward trek saw us at the free camp of Stotts Island Nature Reserve near Chinderah, just south of Tweed Heads. This is a popular and very delightful stop-over. We would recommend this stop if you are travelling on the Pacific Highway. The Nature Reserve is quite extensive with space for many vehicles. Some stay for several days. Go in and meet the resident rooster pack. You wont sleep in. The story goes, that residents in the area with surplus roosters in their pens release them here. They seem to be doing very well, circulating around all the camps.

North end of the Nature Reserve looking towards the Murwillumbah Road.

Looking beyond the pavilion and toilets to our camp area.

Looking from the Murwillumbah Road into the north end of the Nature Reserve.

Red Rock, NSW

We finally have the car and van heading towards home. We left Hervey Bay late February and will be home early October. Not a bad holiday break!

First stop-over is Red Rock. It is still school term holidays so the tariff is a bit steep at $26 pn for no power and no water. Well, there is water, but it's from a bore and it stinks.

The place name comes from the red rocky headland at the mouth of The Corindi River Estuary. The original Aboriginal inhabitants named the place Blood Rock. Judging by the number of empty shells along the tidal zone of the estuary, oysters would have figured large in the diet of these early inhabitants.

The outlet of the Corindi River.

The Corindi River flows fast and deep past this point.

Rocks encrusted with oyster shells. The shells are in the 1000's but unfortunately they are all picked clean.

Some of the red rock that gives this place it's name.

The coast looking north towards Wooli from the top of the headland.

Approaching the headland from the south side.

Looking south along the coast towards Woolgoolga.

It is school term holidays at the moment. Looks as if some children have erected themselves a drift wood shelter on the beach.

The estuary is badly silted up with sand. Last time we were here, about 18 months ago, the area had sustained heavy rainfall and the estuary was clear of the sand.

Grafton/Goolawah Community

On the way to visit Roger, Belinda and Glen at Goolawah Community, this is near Crescent Head, we pass through Grafton. We decided to stay at there for a week because the show grounds are a very easy walk from the Grafton CBD. We were able to leave the car parked and discover much of Grafton on foot and it is only $125 pw with power.

We had been invited to Goolawah Community to celebrate Roger's 60th Birthday on October 3rd but we set up the van and stayed for a week. I didn't attract ant Tiger Leeches this time but Jude collected several large ticks on her torso. Jude is now known as a "Tick Magnet". We also found a dead tick in the shower recess on the way home.

Roger, Belinda and Jude preparing a picnic lunch.

Our view from the picnic table over the Hastings River towards Port Macquarie.

Looking in the other direction along the Hastings River towards the ferry landing at Settlement Point, Port Macquarie.