Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mount Isa to Longreach

September 14:
We are on our way to Bouila. We plan to camp on the Burke River just out past the race course. The Diamantina Development Road consists of a single strip of bitumen with the occasional double lane for overtaking purposes.
Today's fuel economy was the worst for our trip so far with a reading of 19l/100Km's, as we were driving into a severe headwind for the whole journey.
We stopped at Dajarra for morning tea. The town was once the largest cattle railway trucking depot in the world, where large herds were driven to Dajarra from the Northern Territory and placed on trains bound for the east coast. The advent of huge road trains rendered this facility obsolete.
On arrival we found stretches of the river bed dry but after following tracks further along the bank we found a lovely stretch of water for our campsite where we set up for the night. Later in the afternoon another four groups arrived in camper trailers and were able to drive further along the river than we could with our van.
Distance today 312Km's Total distance 5635Km's.

September 15:
We left Bouila at 10am after fueling up and visiting the information centre. We had previously visited the Min Min Centre which is also housed in the same building. We turned east onto the Kennedy Development Road which was also single strip bitumen with overtaking lanes every 30 Km's. The Mitchell grass plains stretched away to the horizon on both sides of the road and were only broken by trees that lined the dry creeks we crossed. We stopped at the Hamilton Hotel ruins for morning tea which also has a new toilet facility and tank water.
Next stop was the Cawnpore Lookout where we had lunch and took photos. The scenery from the lookout and the road is quite spectacular. The Mesa formations and colours reminded us of the type of country portrayed in old western movies.
From here we only had a short drive to the Middleton Pub were we camped across the road for the evening. We spent about an hour talking to the publican while having a beer before settling in for the afternoon under some shade next to the van.
For the remainder of the afternoon another 4 vehicles stopped at the pub and just after 7pm a van arrived and camped near us for the evening. The Hotel was built during the Cobb & Co era and was a change station where tired horses were replaced with new ones. It formed one of the “Nine Pillars” of Cobb & Co. These Pillars represent the nine oldest and original change stations on the Winton to Bouila route which was 240 miles (384 Kilometres) and took four days each way. The contract was held between 1895 and 1915. The Pillars were Winton, Elderslie, Woodstock, Middleton, Makunda Hotel, Lucknow, Warenda Bore and Bouila.
An original Cobb & Co coach:
Imagine travelling on this suspension:
Distance today 202Km's Total distance 5837 Km's.
September 16:
We left early on our way to Winton where we stopped for morning tea at the information centre come Matilda Centre. We had previously taken the tour and can highly recommend it. We planned to spend the next few days camped at Carisbrooke Station run by Charles and Penny Phillott so we rang ahead to let them know we were coming. Penny informed us that with the higher temperatures they were now experiencing that we would have the place to ourselves. Just our sort of place!!
We left Winton with 260 litres of diesel on board as we planned to continue south to Diamantina National Park then onto Windorah. We headed west from Winton for 38 Km's before turning south onto the Old Cork Mail Road. We let down our type pressures on the 4wd and van and continued another 42 Km's to Carisbrooke. We were met by Charles who welcomed us and provided us with a mud map showing the different camping locations. Unpowered sites are $17 per night with spotless toilet and shower facilities and a very large tank of very nice drinking water. We camped near the old wool shed that also houses a camp kitchen. We spent the rest of the day settling in and relaxing. Charles has mud maps of the property that you can purchase and take a self drive tour.
Distance 259Km's Total distance 6096Km's.
September 17:
We opted to have Charles take us on a 4wd sunset tour at $40 per head. We can highly recommend this tour. It’s BYO drinks and Charles provides a nice selection of 'nibbles’.  First we  taken up onto the escarpment overlooking the property followed by a 30 minute return walk down into Python Gorge to view 1000 year old aboriginal rock paintings under a large overhang at the head of the gorge.
The tour was very informative as he pointed out different aspects around the station. We were able to view the “3 sisters formation” from many different angles and then as the sun began to set we were taken to another viewing point of the "sisters" where we watched a magnificent sunset whilst having a cold "crownie".
Distance today 0 Total distance 6096Km's.
September 18:
Today's drive is only 90 Km's. We are off to camp at the Old Cork Waterhole just down from the station named the same. The waterhole is several Km's long and several hundred metres wide and is a permanent waterhole on the Diamantina River. The old homestead is built on a rise overlooking the water. Old Cork was first settled in the 1860’s when pastoralists were applying for land along the Diamantina. The homestead was built between 1880 and 1885 with local sandstone and imported timber from SE Queensland.
We thought we would have the place to ourselves but just after 4pm 2 camper trailers arrived but camped a considerable distance from us.
Distance 90Km's Total distance 6186Km's.
September 19:
The drive south towards Diamantina National Park has some lovely scenery, especially the hills near the Mayne Hotel ruins.
 The hotel traded between 1888 and 1951 and was a popular resting place for travellers, stockmen and opal miners.
The drinks were kept cool in an underground cellar that was opened at night to let in the cool air and closed during the day to keep out the heat.
We entered the National Park which was once part of Diamantina Lakes Station and covered 507,000 hectares. It was a prized breeding and fattening property and during good years could support up too 12,000 head of cattle. It was gazetted a national park in 1992.
We set up camp at Hunters Gorge campground. We sat in the shade of the van with the strong wind gusts creating havoc with the dusty camp conditions. So much so that it was impossible to have any part of the van open otherwise it would have been filled with dust. When the wind finally died down at 4.30pm the van inside temperature was 41 degrees.
Another useful accessory to take to the national park is a fly net because without one of these you would go insane with the flies. We had run out of RID and only had Bushmaen and they just loved it.
Distance 148Km's Total distance 6334Km's.
 September 20:
We left at 7am to drive the 90 Km Warracoota Circuit drive. The drive takes you past red sand hills, gibber plains, grass lands, lakes and waterholes and sites that were once used when it was a grazing property. The sites we enjoyed included Lake Constance which now only fills when the floodwater levels reach 4.5 metres:
Warracoota waterhole which is another large body of water:
The Ruins which contain several loose stone-wall structures which are thought to have been a settler outpost:
Green Tank built in the 1980’s as a stock watering point. The 2011 floods damaged the dam wall minimizing its water storage capacity. The water here is much clearer than other waterholes in Diamantina because of the high level of gypsum in the surrounding soils. Gypsum was often added to tanks to clear the water:
 Gum Hole yards built using gidgee and coolabah which are some of Australia’s hardest timbers. The yards are made entirely of post and rail fencing.
And some lovely sand hills:
After finishing the drive we called into the other camp area known as "Gum Hole". It also has water views but was more suited to camper trailers and tents.
When we arrived back at our campsite at 11am the wind was stronger than yesterday and the temperature much worse so we decided to spend the remainder of the day in air-conditioned comfort. Sooo, we hitched up the van and headed south.
 We passed Davenport Downs and Palparara,
before turning east onto the Diamantina Development Road and finally stopping at 5.15 pm at the JC Hotel ruins site which was well of the main road and a very nice camp area. Yet again another place to ourselves.
Distance 415Km's Total distance 6749Km's.
September 21/22/23:
Today's drive to Windorah was once again on single lane bitumen. We stopped to purchase several items from the one and only small shop in the town and filled our 4th water tank from a tap near the store that had a sigh that said “feel free to use this filtered water from Coppers Creek” On the eastern side of Windorah is a solar farm that was commissioned in 2009. It has the capacity to produce  up to 360,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. This amount of electricity would otherwise have required 100,000 litres of diesel to be used by the towns generators.
Went to the local dump point before continuing south and camping down near the water and bridge on Coopers Creek.
Coopers Creek was named by Charles Sturt in 1845 and said; " Before we finally left the neighbour where our hopes had been so often raised and depressed. I gave the name of Cooper's Creek to that fine watercourse we had so anxiously traced,as proof of my respect for Mr Cooper, the judge of South Australia. I would gladly have laid this creek down as a river, but as it had no current I did not feel myself justified in doing so."
Some of the locals turned up with an open sided houseboat on a large trailer and proceeded to lower it into the water. They were off fishing and pig shooting for the weekend. I spoke with the owner who said they currently could travel 15 Km's up the creek from the bridge.
One of our many happy hours watching the sun set over Coopers Creek.
Distance 92 Km's Total distance 6841 Km's

September 24/25/26/27:
Currently in Longreach having the ute serviced, catching up on shopping and washing.
Distance 318 Km's Total distance 7159 Km's.


  1. Hi Ros and Ross, we met you at Coopers Creek and talked about the BOG, KOG and SOG gathering. The gathering is on the Australia Day Weekend and will be at Six mile Country Retreat at Murphys Creek Queensland.
    More BOGers needed...
    Hopefully see you there.
    Erich and Lesley

    1. Lesley & Erich,
      Looks like we should be able to make the gathering. Will see you there.

  2. Another interesting story R&R, i enjoy the photo's as well. Your doing very well with the economy if the worst is 19lt per 100 ... that would be our average.

    1. Thanks Mick,
      We are never in a hurry to go anywhere and just dawdle along. The country in western Queensland is just amazing.