Thursday, May 29, 2014

Meandarra and Chinchilla Weir, Queensland.

Departing Westmar, we left the major highways and began driving on minor back roads. The road surface was reasonably good but as much of the roadway is affected by flood waters from the myriad creek crossings the road has become greatly undulating in those areas. Of course slower speeds compensates for those road conditions. On fellow traveller recommendation, we made for Meandarra to camp beside The Brigalow Creek. Meandarra is very welcoming to RV travellers and has provided facilities to encourage their stay for longer periods. There is a fee of $5 per night for powered sites but unpowered camping is totally free. Free hot showers are included in the deal. We stayed for an extra day in Meandarra to participate in 'Barefoot Bowling' at The Bowling Club on Sunday afternoon. We had a great time and met more of our travelling companions. Meandarra is very proud of their Community Spirit. This community togetherness has achieved great results. Their main achievement must be The Anzac Memorial Museum. This display would not be out of place in a major city but sits with pride in the Main Street of Meandarra and is staffed four hours per day by volunteers.

On leaving Meandarra we began commuting to Childers where we have booked into The Sugar Bowl Caravan Park for a weeklong stay. We made one night stops at Chinchilla Weir and Goomeri Showgrounds along the way. In the main we are still travelling on minor roads and because of the Coal Seam Gas activity around Chinchilla these roads are totally inadequate for the volume of traffic and also the weight of trucks servicing the area. As we approached Chinchilla Weir we had a conga line of vehicles behind us and there was no overtaking possibilities or turn outs for us to move over. We stayed in Chinchilla for a week about three years ago, the town we witnessed then has long gone. With new residential areas opening up for the influx of families and the Main Street is extremely busy, the pace and style of the old Chinchilla has gone. I heard, but did not verify, that it is almost impossible for us RV'rs to get into the Caravan Parks in Chinchilla as they now consist of 'Workers Dongas' only.

The wide main street of Meandarra.

There is a local legend that states, 'there was a traveller passing through town, he stopped and asked this fellow, "what is the population of the town" the fellow responded, "just me and my dog Darra". The Legend is the town name originated from there.
Me-an- darra. Jude is getting to know Darra.

The old Meandarra Railway Station is the Information Hub for the RV Traveller and is adjacent to the free camp area on the edge of town.

The impressive Anzac Memorial Museum. There is many hours of browsing inside this building. Pictured below are some of the major exhibits but there are many other exhibits worth viewing as well.

A Grant Tank.

An Amphibious Landing Craft.

A Canberra Jet Bomber.

Brigalow Creek at Meandarra.

Our riverside camp at Meandarra.

Our camp at Chinchilla Weir. The caravans camped under the trees are hooked up to Free Power.

Chinchilla Weir outlook from the Picnic Area.

Jude inspecting the Weir Picnic Area.

The wall of The Chinchilla Weir. This weir was constructed in 1972 to 1973 and was to be used as irrigation water.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Balonne Highway and Moonie Highway, Qld.

As we leave Cunnamulla we join The Balonne Highway and stay with it until we reach St George. Before St George, however, we would make our first stop at Murra Murra Creek Rest Area. 110 km East of Cunnamulla and 66 km West of Bollon. As I am approaching Murra Murra RA, I make the 'gut wrenching' discovery that we do not have enough fuel to reach St George. "Should have topped up at Cunnamulla!!" We do have enough fuel to reach Bollon, maybe, hopefully, they have a fuel outlet. As it eventuated, they do have a "Part Time" fuel outlet. You must first call into Deb's Cafe and then someone will drive down and unlock the pumps for you. PHEW! We've got a big fuel tank but it is not everlasting. After all, I last filled it at Tibooburra in NSW.

After our lone camp at Murra Murra RA we drove onto Bollon and made camp for the night in the town's excellent Rest Area. Bollon loves RV travellers and has made facilities available to encourage them to stay for a while. With some fellow travellers we stayed for three nights and could have easily stayed longer.

Now, with our fuel tank full we travelled onto St George. Here we had arranged to meet up with some fellow travellers, Colin and Rita, whom we had first met about two years ago and still keep in contact with. Very much like us, they hitch the caravan onto the car and head off for several months of 'free wheeling' travel. After coffees and a fun chat, we had already stocked the 'fridge, pantry and swapped LPG cylinders, we drove out the Moonie Highway to Toorumbee Rest Area for another solo night tucked into the trees and out of sight. Next morning it was an easy 83 km drive to Westmar for our next stop. Here we would have camping company. Westmar is on a 'cross roads' junction and there is constant movement of 'multi trailered' trucks from all directions. Apparently there are Cattle Feedlots nearby, this therefore explains why there are cattle road trains bringing fresh cattle in and others taking finished cattle out. Of course these animals need to be fed and there is also a constant flow of trucks to supply the bulk food. Westmar has a great RA with toilets and hot showers, of course the truck drivers are using these as well but the facilities are cleaned daily.

Camped by Murra Murra Creek. It is all flood plain here, wouldn't want to be here if it rained too much.

Wallam Creek at Bollon. The level is very low and the creek has actually receded back from the town weir. Can you make out the ladder in centre photo? At normal level people must be able to reach the ladder from the water to climb to the over head limb. There is about a three metre gap right now.

Wallam Creek again.

This family of ducks enjoying a splash in the Wallam Creek. The ducks also come around the RV camp looking for a hand out.

This walking trail conveniently passes the RV camp.

The Bollon Hotel, only the locals go there, the Publican doesn't like the RV campers apparently.

There is a fabulous Heritage Centre in Bollon that is manned by volunteers. This apparatus was used to clean the channels that once radiated from The Artesian Bores. Of course most of the Open Bores have now been capped and the water is piped to areas of need.

Two 'Gas Producers' from WW11 era when petrol was rationed.

This small grader is dwarfed by todays' large machinery.

Our camp spot beside the Wallam Creek.

The Westmar Hotel/Motel on The Moonie Highway.

Our camp spot at Westmar adjacent to the Hotel. Even though we are close to the highway, traffic noise is not a problem.

One of the many Feed Lot trucks that pass through and most of them stop here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bulloo Development Road, Queensland.

Approximately 20 km north of Noccundra Hotel we turned east on The Bulloo Development Road, alternatively known as Adventure Way. On this road we were going to pass through the towns of Thargomindah, Eulo and Cunnamulla.

Thargomindah (Thargo) is a neat little town, but the business proprietors don't like being disturbed from their 'gossip sessions' to serve a tourist customer. I get the impression there is 'easy money' from the gas and oil workers so why be worried about frugal travellers' dollars.

Only stayed one night at that place then went on to Eulo, a totally different atmosphere here, friendly towns' folk and a great night in The Eulo Queen Hotel for dinner and to watch League Football on the TV. The first match we have seen for several weeks.

We considered staying in Eulo for another night but eventually moved onto Cunnamulla for lunch and a walk around the town before deciding whether to stay in town or go out the highway to a 'Free Camp'. The free camp won the toss of the coin.

The Main Street of Thargomindah.

An Historical House in Thargomindah.

Behind the Historical House is The Thargo Thunderbox.

The Bulloo River in Thargomindah from the town weir.

The Eulo Queen Hotel. We had a great night inside and camped out back for $10.

As with many outback towns, the water supply comes from The Great Artesian Basin.

The gravity tank for the town water supply.

Eulo hosts several different activities, Mud Baths and Lizard Racing for another.

The Eulo Lizard Racing Track.

Several years ago (several million) you might have encountered this fellow roaming around Eulo. The Diprotodon was Australia's largest mammal ever.

The Main Street of Cunnamulla.

Double life size statue of The Cunnamulla Fella. The name is a tribute to the many stockman from the area and described in a poem by Stan Coster. This poem was later immortalised in song form by Slim Dusty.

The Warrego River in Cunnamulla from the town levee.

Tibooburra, NSW to Noccundra Hotel, QLD.

Said our 'good-byes' at Tibooburra at 9:00 AM and eventually arrived at Noccundra Hotel at 3:30 PM. That means we covered the distance of 245 km in 6.5 hours with only about 45 minutes of stop time for meals. We may be travelling cautiously but at least we arrived 8 tyres still intact. Before we drove out to Cameron Corner I had reduced the tyre pressure to 200 kpa, this reduced the ride harshness over corrugations but didn't unduly risk side wall damage. Well, it worked for us. I was also prepared to lower the tyre pressure further if we had encountered soft sandy terrain. We encountered changing road conditions during the day. The final 55 km of the Silver City Highway in NSW was very similar to our previous experience, we could safely travel at 60 kph but had to continuously dodge large rocks on the road surface. Once through the Warri Warri Gate of The Dingo Fence and into Queensland the The Noccundra - Warri Warri Road had been reformed into more of an 'All Weather Road' for about 25 km it then reverted to clay pan that would have been impassable with 25 mm of rain. This section of the road was very smooth and quiet to travel on but there were many patches of "Bull Dust", some of it quite deep! I forgot about sealing all the vents on the caravan and this caused quite a mess inside. There will be a mammoth clean up job when we get home. At about 35 km from the Noccundra Hotel the road deteriorated drastically, down to 25 - 30 kph for about 15 km until we struck sealed road for the final 20 km into "town". There is nothing at Noccundra, except for the Pub. The permanent population is 2 people the Publican and his wife, plus there is a temporary resident, Liz, a Pommie Back Packer who works in the Pub. We camped beside The Wilson River Water Hole with several other caravanners and motor homers. While walking to the Pub for dinner some inquisitive steers thought we were quite interesting and followed us along the track. As usual in these small country pubs a crowd arrived from somewhere and we all had a very interesting night.

I haven't mentioned before but we have been seeing many Wedge Tail Eagles along the roads for several weeks now, what magnificent birds these creatures are!

Jude is opening The Warri Warri Gate in The Dingo Fence for us to enter Queensland.

We are now in the Bulloo Shire.

Many destinations available to the traveller after passing through The Warri Warri Gate.

Our lunch stop, it was about now that we discovered the red dust inside the caravan.

"Road Works" out here! Crew working creating a causeway at the creek on the tree line and a grader ripping up the road beyond that. There is a very wide diversion through the creek bed and when we drove through it was deeply rutted. When we got to the pub we found out that a live stock road train had been bogged to the axles.

Our camp spot on The Wilson River Water Hole. There were reports of fish being caught here.

This is a fairly large expanse of water on The Wilson River.

The Noccundra Hotel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cameron Corner and Sturt National Park, NSW

While at Tibooburra we had to do 'The Must Do' drive out to Cameron Corner, the junction of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. It is a 141 km drive from Tibooburra, gravel road all the way. We left at 9:00 AM precisely and returned at 5:00 PM.  We drove out via Cameron Corner Road and returned through The Sturt National Park via Middle Road, 'Jump Up' Loop Road and the final 20 km on The Silver City Highway, 313 km for the round trip. We had a lunch break at The Cameron Corner Store while we were in Queensland. The scenery was arid, interesting and always changing.

Salt Pans.

Coolabah Trees.

Clay Pan.

Cameron Corner, Jude is standing in Queensland.

I have my right foot in Queensland and my left foot in South Australia.

Jude on the Queensland side of the Dingo Fence.

Parked out front of Cameron Corner Store.

We had to shut The Gate at the Dingo Fence after returning to NSW.

Ghost Trees. All these trees died due to prolonged inundation during the Big Wet of 1974.

Gibber and Salt Bush Plains.

Heading into Sand Dune Country.

Bottom Bore, and water tanks from a bygone era.

Old Windmill and water tank. This is a common sight along the route on abandoned stations.

One of the many dry creek beds we crossed.

Fairly recently abandoned Olive Homestead.

The Out Buildings at Olive Homestead.

The Jump Up on the left of us.

Mountain Range to the right of us.

Jude standing on the edge of the Mesa.

The view that Jude is looking at in the above photograph. You can make out the red soil track that we will be following out.