Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sawtell to Townsville

Sunday 12th August:
The past week has been spent doing a final shop before packing the van and filling water tanks for our trip. We are taking off for about nine weeks in between family commitments. Our original plan was to head west to the Corner Country and Western Queensland. But with temperatures at night still registering in the minus degrees, we have now decided to go north for some warmth before returning home via the Corner.
Yet again we are staying at the Yelgun rest area which is situated 50 kilometres north of Ballina. It's several hours drive from our home in Sawtell and really is the only decent stop before hitting the madness of the Gold and Sunshine Coast motorways. Today's distance 260 K's

Monday, Tuesday 13/14 August:
It never ceases to amaze us just how busy the motorway from Tweed Heads to the Sunshine Coast is. We have travelled it on numerous occasions and at different times of the day yet it's always flat out with cars and trucks. For the next few nights we are camped at the Maryborough Showgrounds. Lovely spot with wide open spaces and not many staying and for $15 per night with power, water, showers and toilets.

Maryborough's population is just over 20,000 and the town became a port and major centre in the early days which led to the construction of a series of beautiful Victorian buildings. We visited Brennan and Geraghty's Store that traded from 1871 to 1972. It is now a museum. On reaching retirement the younger of the brothers who ran the store closed up the shop and left all stock and goods on the shelves. The family were known as hoarders and not one item was thrown away. There are rolls of toilet paper from the 1920's.

Following photo showing the flood levels recorded on the side of the building. You can just glimpse the Mary River is in the background.
Today's distance 422 K's Total 682 K's.

Wednesday,Thursday,Friday 15/16/17 August:
Our drive today sees us firstly passing through Childers. The main street features turn-of-the-century buildings and most have been classified as heritage by the National Trust. Then onto Gin Gin and Miriam Vale before stopping on the south side of the Calliope River which is seven kilometres north of the Calliope town turnoff. We spent three lovely days camped here. We travelled into Gladstone on two of these days to shop and sight see. Met a lovely couple Frank and Heather, in their early eightes who are still travelling and enjoying what Australia has to offer. Distance 430Km's. Total distance 1542Km's.

Saturday 18 August:
Passing through the township of Calliope we headed west towards Biloela before turning north to camp at Dululu. The town has a population of just thirty people and has one pub. We stayed at the free camp just outside town. Low and behold Frank and Heather have also turned up. Distance today 185Km's. Total distance 1727Km's.

Sunday,Monday 19/20 August:
Left Dululu heading north and then turned west onto the Capricorn Highway and stopped at Duaringa to fill our water tanks. The town has a nice rest stop on the eastern side and is in the Camps 6 book with a tick. We passed through Dingo before reaching Blackwater which is billed as the coal capital of Queensland. The town is surrounded by coal mines and has a large facility for loading coal onto trains heading east to the coast. Just west of town we headed north for twenty seven kilometres to Bedford Weir. Camping here is for a maximum of seven days which is free but you can make a donation if you so desire. It's a popular boating, camping and fishing spot on the Mackenzie River. The weir has been stocked with a number of fish including barramundi, saratoga and yellowbelly. There is also a chance of catching red and blue claw but with the current cooler temperatures there is not much on offer. And yet again we have the pleasure of camping near Frank and Heather. Distance today 194Km's. Total distance 1921Km's.

So far the Oz-Pig has served us well with both cooking and heating.

Tuesday 21 August:
We left Bedford Weir at 08:00 before fueling up at Blackwater. We retraced our steps to Dingo where we turned north onto the Fitzroy Development Road. After three hundred and thirty kilometres we arrived at Nebo where we stopped for lunch. We continued further east before turning north at Eaton and we are now camped at the showgrounds at Finch Hatton about thirty kilometres west of Mackay and close to Eungella National Park. The show grounds sit beside the Pioneer River and are surrounded by cane farms. Eungella (pronounced young-gulla) is in the Clarke Range which at it's highest point rises to 1280m. Today's distance 457Km's. Total distance 2378Km's.

Wednesday 22 August:
We awoke this morning to find that it had been raining last night. Must have been the red wines last night. The cloud cover did not lift until 13:00 so we then decided to drive the twenty odd kilometres to Eungella where we stopped at the chalet and had lunch. This view is from the chalet showing the jump off point for hang gliders which is 680m above sea level.
Even though we were early for the recommended viewing times to go Platypus spotting we decided to take pot luck and after standing quietly and not moving for about ten minutes we were fortunate enough to see two of these creatures in the wild. They were fairly small and this made it difficult to photograph. The one we managed to photograph was continually followed by a Cormorant and whenever the Platypus dived so did the bird. Today's distance 52Km's. Total distance 2430Km's.

Thursday 23 August:
A lazy start for us this morning with low cloud cover again. The cloud lifted about 11:00 so we set off to see the Finch Hatton Gorge. It's nine kilometres into the gorge from just south of the township of Finch Hatton. We took the 1.6 km walk into Araluen Falls. Distance today 30Km's. Total distance 2460Km's.
Friday 24th August:
We left at 08:00 this morning, off to visit my sister and her partner who live on Hervey's Range forty kilometres west of Townsville. They have a thirty acre property where we will stay for the next five days.

 Distance today 455Km's Total distance 2915Km's.