Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Darr River 30 August 2015

We woke up the next morning to see the full moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east – a beautiful sight.
Drove down to Winton across more undulating plains and this time we went to a café called The Musical Fence Café. After the many rough cafes we had seen, this wouldn’t have looked out of place in Sydney – it even had a hipster in the window. The coffee was quite good and we had scones and cream as an extra.
Winton had a bad fire this year which destroyed their tourist office and a museum dedicated to Waltzing Matilda, which was a devastating blow to a small town. However everybody is working hard to repair it and the locals are keen to have it rebuilt.
Drove on down the highway through similar country – still very dry with little grass, but we are seeing more sheep and less Brahmans. We are also seeing a lot more dead kangaroos alongside (and sometimes on) the road – about one every 10 metres – makes for interesting driving when there is a large dead kangaroo on your side and a B-double coming the other way! We stopped about 30Kms from Longreach at the Darr River – first time we can recall seeing water in a river since leaving the coast over 1,500Kms away. This is a beautiful spot and we light a fire on the banks of the river, forgot about dinner and had a few drinks – a magical night!

Somewhere Along the Landsborough Hwy 29 August 2015

Heather made some pikelets for morning tea, we loaded up the RV, said goodbye (hopefully until next year), picked up the car at Julia Creek and hit the road, this time heading south and homeward bound – 2,300Km to go!
Drove through open treeless paddocks on a very quiet and narrow road – luckily we didn’t meet any traffic all day. Camped by the side of the road in an enormous deserted gravel pit and watched a spectacular sunset in the west and the full moon rising in the east.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Property near Nelia 22 – 28 August 2015

We were invited to stay with our friends on their station, so after a night at Julia Creek we drove out to camp. They are very proud of all the improvements they have made to the property, and although they are still in a drought, they are optimistic about their future. The homestead is a real oasis, with lots of trees planted around it, watered from their bores. Peter was keen to help with the work and got stuck into on a project he was most suited for – demolishing a bathroom!
Rob took us out to his dig site to show us where he found a fossilized Kronosaurus jawbone a few months ago. The jawbone is 1.6m long and is estimated to be 120 million years old! 170 million years ago, this area was once underwater and many marine dinosaurs died and sunk to the bottom of the inland sea. Over millions of years, the silt has been compressed into mudstone and the bones have been turned into stone. We had a dig around and much to Peters surprise, he found what appears to be a jaw of a dinosaur.
Peter thinks it may be the lower jaw of a Platyptergius that grew to 6 or 7 metres and looked like a cross between a shark and a dolphin, but we will have to wait for a palaeontologist to identify it. We were all very excited, as it demonstrates what a rich area this is for fossils. The next day we went out again and we found a Kronosaurus tooth and some fossilised worms and shells – all very exhilarating!
In the afternoon, Cass took us around to help top up the lick pans for their cattle. Properties have to be big around here to support enough cattle to make a living, however the entire northern region of Queensland is in a 4 year drought and most farmers have destocked their land and only kept the best of their breeds. While we were here there was a round-up to brand and sort their steers in what they call one of their paddocks – 40,000 acres! They used helicopters, quad bikes, trail bikes and horses – an enormous job.

Sedan Dip, Wills Development Road 19 – 22 August 2015

Drove on to Burke and Wills Road House which is stuck right in the middle of a 500Km stretch of mainly single track road. As the only structure along the road, it is very popular, with everybody from 4 wagon B Quads, to little campers stopping. It has everything you need to refresh yourself and prepare for the next part of the trip, from fuel and food to a cold beer and a donga to sleep it off!
After a break, we set off on the Wills Development Road towards Sedan Dip. While the land is flat, the country side is constantly changing, from thick shrubs, to isolated trees and then to scrubby grass. However the closer we got to Sedan Dip the drier the country side became, until there were just endless gibber plains with brown tuffs of dry grass popping up. Sedan Dip is just a locality - no houses, just a race course, arena and yards, which are used for the annual combined rodeo, race day and camp draft. We set up camp across the track from the site, as we knew from experience just how noisy they can get.
The entire three days is organising by the local community, with local men and women testing out their skills. We caught up with friends who have a property nearby and saw their beautiful new baby.
On Friday we watched the camp draft, where riders have to cut out a cow and then herd it around a course – very hard to do, but some riders made it look easy. On Saturday they had their race day – 6 sprint races using local horses and riders. Most of the women took the opportunity to get dolled up and even the stockmen looked very smart. It was a lot of fun and we broke even, so we had a good day. It finished with a gyro-chopper that buzzed the race track and dropped lollies for the kids – can’t imagine this happening in the city! On Sunday morning we went to see the bronco and bull riding. They catch wild animals to ride and all the local stockmen attempt to stay on them for a set time. It is really exciting to watch, but judging by the various injuries we saw, also very dangerous. The whole event was a credit to the organisers – just shows what community spirit still exists in the country.

Cattle Yards, Burke Development Rd 18 August 2015

In the morning we drove back to Normanton to have a good look at the town. Normanton has a wealth of heritage buildings left over from when it was the administrative and commercial heart of the Gulf region, but alas (like many places we have visited), the interest (and money) have shifted to the coast with fishing and tourism becoming the dominant industries.
The town itself is quite charming to look at but seems very poor and serviced with a small number of mainly run down shops. There was an interesting gallery that displays local Aboriginal art that was a colourful exception to the rest of the businesses.
We headed off in the afternoon towards Julia Creek, down the Burke Development Rd, a single lane track with soft dirt edges. Luckily there was minimal traffic, so we didn’t get into trouble, but I wouldn’t like to drive it in the wet. We stopped the night at some abandoned cattle yards and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and then a sunrise.