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Post lockdown road trip in Western Queensland and time at the beach.


Post lockdown road trip in Western Queensland and time at the beach.

Old Jul 12th, 2020, 09:55 PM
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Post lockdown road trip in Western Queensland and time at the beach.

Following the disappointment of cancelling our trip to France and the subsequent lockdown, we were delighted when our Premier opened up the state ( Queensland ) for travel within the state. This was earlier than anticipated and with borders still closed to other states, it was a good time to head out to Western Queensland and see places we have heard of but never visited.

We have a soft floor tent camper trailer we call Humphrey. While more work than a caravan, once set up we are quite comfortable. We have a queen size bed and the tent that folds out has plenty of room. The tail gate opens out for the kitchen and has a sink which we connect to town water and a plumbed in two burner gas stove. We also take a Weber Baby Q barbie, and we have a large Waeco combination fridge/freezer which sits on a slide that slides into the camper when travelling. I enjoy hand patchwork and hurriedly put a project together to take. For the patchworkers out there, it is a hand pieced hexagon star medallion which will just grow.

So in early June we set out. Our first stop was GOONDIWINDI, and we drove down through Inglewood and Yelarbon. We have been travelling around Gundy on our way to Canberra since the mid nineties to visit family, but have never stopped. So after setting up ( we were a bit rusty ! ) and some lunch we went down town for a look. There was not a lot happening on a quiet Saturday afternoon. There is a large attractive pub, the Victoria , all black and white and with turrets. Lovely big wide streets and good collection of shops.

Next day ( still a bit rusty packing up ) we set out for DIRRANBANDI. Our first stop was in the little town of THALLON where we actually lived for a couple of years in the early eighties. We have been back a few years ago, so this stop was to see the painted grain silos. Painting silos and water tanks has become popular around Australia in the last few years. This painting over four silos is called ' The Waterhole ' and depicts sunset at a waterhole with bird life and sheep, and is lovely. We drove through Dirranbandi a few years ago but did not stop. The small caravan park is behind the old convent and the enthusiastic owners plan to renovate it. We decided to stay two nights and that night was soup and damper( cooked in the camp oven ) night to farewell a Victorian man who arrived the day before the borders closed and spent the lockdown there. It was an entertaining evening around the fire chatting to the few people there.

We had planned to do a drive up to see St George again, but next day decided we did not feel like a 200km round trip. So we had a quiet day sitting in the sun and walked down to the shops. There is a very nice park on the highway with a cutout display of Lighthorsemen and a Dirranbandi Dandy made from horseshoes. We stopped in at the bakery which is run by a Russian lady and had a wonderful display of sweet treats to rival a French patisserie. The pecan pie we bought for dessert was delicious as were the local lamb loin chops we bought at the butcher's.

A bit quicker to pack up and we were on the road into new territory for us. In the first 90 kms we did not see another vehicle. We did see wild goats, kangaroos and emus. The country is very flat with lots of red soil, and water lying in places. Our next stop was CUNNAMULLA. Our days took a familiar routine - a morning drive, into the new park, set up, lunch and then a wander down town. I liked the main street here. There is a wonderful larger than life sized statue of the Cunnamulla Fella complete with moleskins, akubra with plaited braid, plaited stock whip. Very evocative. There are metal kangaroos in the centre of the street with the old pub behind and a large fountain that is almost European. The Warrego river was full. It was here that we got the first sulphourous whiff from the artesian water.

Next morning we stopped at the bakery for some lovely fresh bread before setting out for THARGOMINDAH. I love the names of some of these little towns. The country was still flat with an occasional waterhole, but still very dry, hungry country. We passed through EULO and will stay here next time. I may even have a mud bath !!. Along the way we kept seeing large flocks of small birds swooping around and found out later they are budgies. We saw thousands. The caravan park is relatively new with work still being completed. Thargomindah is a tidy little town with a very nice info centre and friendly staff. On the edge of town is what was once the hydro electric station powered by artesian water and used to provide electricity to the town over a hundred years ago. An example of Aussie ingenuity and working with what you have. We also walked down to Pelican Point ( no pelicans though ) on the river. It was one of those scenes that could only be Australian with the muddy river and trees along the banks and hanging down. There were a couple of other campers in the park including another couple from Toowoomba. Did I mention the flies!?!

Last edited by rhon; Jul 12th, 2020 at 09:56 PM. Reason: correct spelling
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Old Jul 12th, 2020, 10:47 PM
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By now we were into the swing of putting up and down. There were a couple of roads we could have taken to our next stop of QUILPIE. We chose to go straight there and will do the other way via the Nocundra hotel next time. That day we had our first bit of dirt road for the trip. Time to do some washing after stting up before we went out. The Catholic church has a decorative altar of rough rock with opals, and the opal theme continues in the town park where there are lovely wrought iron picnic tables with designs of birds and plants inlaid with opals. There is a nice mural in the park and cattle cutouts along the centre of the streets. There was plenty of hot water in the showers but very strong smelling.

There are several places in the outback where you can see dinosaur related displays. We decided we would make EROMANGA our next stop, so it was only a short day of about 100 kms but a nice drive. We came across a flock of sheep crossing the road, emus and large eagles feasting on the dead kangaroos and wallabies which are all along the road. We arrived in time to take the 11 am tour at the Natural History museum. It was very interesting as we learnt about theories of what happened to the dinosaurs, saw how they extract the bones from the earth and then saw bones that they are cleaning. They have several dinosaurs that they have found as well as bones from mega fauna that came after. These are the ancestors of our unique animals such as large kangaroos and wombats. We enjoyed our visit. On the edge of town with the backdrop of the dry country are sculptures of a large dinosaur and two babies called Knotosaurus. The are mad from aluminium tubing and were made for the G20 conference in Brisbane in 2014 and moved into the outback later. They are quite impressive. There is also a small oil refinery which processes around 1200 barrels a day. Who knew. There is a basic caravan park behind the small motel and it was warm enough to sit outside for dinner with a glass of red and watch the sunset. The tree above us was full of budgies and galahs. An enjoyable day.

We had a very quiet drive the next day as we headed to WINDORAH and only passed three cars in 210 km. It really brings home just how vast this country is. We were now in Channel country, and we crossed several channels, all dry, but there was plenty of water in Cooper Creek. Part of the road is an emergency airstrip with very wide bitumen and wide white lines down the middle. The caravan park in Windorah is council run and you just set up and someone comes around at the end of the day to collect the fees. The two other campers from Thargomindah also arrived although we had not seen them for two days. We liked Windorah and in hindsight wished we had stayed two nights. There is an interesting solar farm on the way in to town. Rather than the usual panels, it is large dishes of reflective panels. Once again it was warm enough to sit outside for dinner. It is a bit different from cold Toowoomba!!

Next stop was STONEHENGE . No big stones though. Once again, the caravan park was run by the same council. During the week days you pay at the very nice community centre which has big wide verandahs and bull nose roof. But this was Sunday, so you put your money in the honesty box. I often wonder how many people abuse this system of trust. The same applies to fruit stalls you come across in fruit growing areas. But we put our money and details in the box. In front of the community centre was a lovely display of a windmill, a tank, two sheep sculptures and a black and white sheep dog. As we were washing up after dinner, the sun was setting behind the windmill and it was one of those iconic Australian scenes you see on postcards.

Our next day was a bit longer so we made an effort to get away earlier. We stopped in Longreach to pick up supplies at the IGA. We visited Longreach in early 2019 so did not plan a stop this time. The country was different with more grassland and some interesting red rock formations. After Longreach we had some more dirt road as we headed for MUTTABURRA. We had planned to stop here, but the caravan park already had several large vans in and was very rough gravel which we do not like. So we made a short stop to see the large Muttburrasaurus and interpretive centre and pushed on to the next town of ARAMAC.

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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 06:01 AM
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A trip report! Yay!

Along for the ride.
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 02:51 PM
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This is like a breath of fresh air for those of us still in lockdown!
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 04:54 PM
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It is freezing here in Toowoomba with the cold westerly and very little sun. I wish we were back in Aramac!

The caravan park in ARAMAC suited us much better. Because we do not have the facilities to be self sufficient, we always stay in parks with power and amenities. Some are getting quite expensive, so parks such as these council run ones are great. They are ' no frills ', but so long as they are clean and the water is hot we are happy. This one was beside the show grounds, $ 15 a night, stay for two and get the next three free!!! Bargain. We always planned to stay two nights and ended up staying three.

In a brochure I found in another park, I read about the LAKE DUNN SCULPTURE TRAIL at Aramac. The artist lives on one of the properties along the route and has been adding to the sculptures over the years. She makes her creations out of barbed wire, scrap metal, old bits of machinery, and takes her inspiration from the native and domestic animals and aspects of Australian life. The full route is a 200 km loop from Aramac and we picked up a map from the council which details what you are looking for and the relevant side of the road. It lists 38, but we found 40.

So we set out and followed the bitumen road for 65 kms to Lake Dunn, and after that it is dirt road for the other 140 kms. It was in good condition and could be done in a conventional vehicle. The sculptures are pretty much life sized and sometimes larger. They are easily spotted and the detail and intricacy is wonderful. There is a Motorbike Musterer, a Cutting Horse Cowgirl, a wonderful Returned Soldier sitting on a horse on a ridge overlooking the road, an Emu and chicks where the chick's bodies were made from trail bike fuel tanks to name just a few.
As well as the sculpture trail itself, we enjoyed the variety of landscapes along the road. Some was flood plain, grasslands which were quite lush with few trees, dry areas with hundreds of small ant hills and red sandstone formations. We drove through Horsetailers Gorge where drovers camped and stopped at Gray Rock which used to be a stop on the coach route from Clermont to Aramac. We took a picnic lunch and used a large sandstone rock as a table while the returned soldier stood guard above us. It was a great day and well worth adding to an itinerary if you are in the region.

We stayed an extra day and went for a walk around town. There are a couple if nice little wooden churches. Local tales talk about a cattle thief who stole an imported white bull and a statue of said bull stands in the main street. Dotted around town are several small white bulls with names. So the one in front of the school is Principabull, the one at the servo is Philabull, the one at the trucking company is Transportabull, and several others. A nice little town.

Time to move on. We passed through BARCALDINE which is home to the Tree of Knowledge, the reputed birthplace of the Labour movement. The tree itself has died ( poisoned ! ) but has been retained under a quite amazing structure which mirrors the canopy of trees. We first saw in in 2019.

Next stop was BLACKALL where we decided to stay two nights. Once again the artesian smaell is quite evident. There were lawn sprinklers going everywhere. In the afternoon we went for a walk up town. The old Masonic building, now a gallery and cafe, is very appealing with two stories, the top one being corrugated iron. Very attractive. Blackall has a large ram statue in a park where there is a lovely collection of old buildings such as the railway station and lots of memorabilia from bygone eras. We spent quite a while wandering around looking at the displays and remembering things from our grandparents' homes. The next day we had planned to tour the Wool Scour which used hot artesian water to clean the wool, but it had not re-opened, so next time.

Well, only a couple of days to home. We passed through TAMBO where we stayed in 2019. It is a lovely little town and home to the famous Tambo Teddies. We stopped overnight in MITCHELL where you can go to the hot artesian baths. We stayed there in 2019. We could have done another night somewhere but decide to come home from there. We came through CHINCHILLA and DALBY. We lived in Dalby until 2000 and it is interesting to drive through and see what has and has not changed.

We had a wonderful time and will go again following different roads and staying in different places.I think it is good to see these places. Living in cities is such a contrast and we take so much for granted in the facilities we have. This is usually their peak tourist season as all the southerners travel north. For them it is a quandary. They miss the money that comes into the towns, but had no virus out there and did not want others bringing it to their door. The cost of living is higher with grocery and fuel costs and the expense of sending their children to boarding school for secondary education. I am sure the grazing families who rely on School of the Air smiled as pampered city folk struggled with remote learning during the lockdown. Welcome to their world.

This is Australia.
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 05:36 PM
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After a week at home and a quick visit to Brisbane to see our two grandchildren there, we decided to head out again. The weather looked promising and with the borders still closed, there were none of those pesky southern Grey Nomads filling up our caravan parks. Our thoughts are with you in Victoria.

This time we decided to head to the coast, EMU PARK to be precise. So back out through Dalby and then Jandowae where I lived as a young child. I saw the little house we lived in until we moved to Clermont when I was nine. We travelled up in two days with an overnight stop in MONTO. Nearby is Cania Gorge which we stayed at for a few days a couple of years ago. Monto is a pleasant little town and made a good stop. It was quite hilly after we left Monto until up around Biloela and into Rockhampton where I went to boarding school for years 11 and 12 back in the dark ages. We camped with the children back in the eighties up at Yeppoon but only visited Emu Park for a drive.

It is a sleepy little village, just the sort of place we enjoy to sit and do very little. The caravan park is nice and usually full of southern travellers looking for warmer climes in winter, so we were able to get a site for a week despite it also being school holidays. There were still plenty of families in and the sound of happy children riding bikes and scooters around was lovely. No sitting in front of screens here thank you.

Our days took on a lazy routine with perfect weather all week. A walk on the beach, a stroll up to the shops for some rolls for lunch, or maybe some prawns and fresh bread and butter, or some feta for a salad for dinner, maybe a couple of pieces of that lovely salmon to cook on the barbie. When we camp for a week we also put up the awning. In the late afternoon the aromas from various barbeques waft around the park. I wish I had thought to do some roast pork!! People stop for a chat as they walk past. The ice cream van came through much to the delight of the children and some oldies. Guilty!! The pie lady came through every lunch time. I made progress with my hexagon star, we had the odd game of Scrabble , read a few books, solved a few Sudokus. The car only moved once when we went for a drive to Yeppoon which is very nice but much busier. And that was our week.

One wonderful feature of Emu park is the ANZAC memorial and display. On the headland is a large panel depicting soldiers with a garden in front. There is also a painting on a glass panel and when you look through it simulates the horizon and the Gallipoli landing. Very different. You then follow a boardwalk along the headland to a shelter with panels about the war and locals who fought. The floor is painted with red poppies and the view out to sea is simply stunning. The walk then continues along the head to the Singing Ship which hums when the wind blows. Along the way are silhouettes of soldiers and horses among the trees with posts naming arenas of battle. It is really well done and special. And all the time there is the magnificent coastline with the islands on the horizon. Quite wonderful.

Then a drive down the Bruce Highway with heaps of roadworks and we got stopped at every one. We stayed a few nights in Bundaberg to visit my 90 year old Mum and family. We have driven the road from Dalby/Toowoomba to Bundaberg for thirty years and are tired of it. So we decided to take a detour and stay two nights in MUNDUBERRA on the way home. It is a lovely caravan park there and a busy town. It is a centre for growing citrus and grapes and we bought some sweet juicy mandarins and pink grapefruit from a roadside stall. There is that honesty box again. On our day there we drove along backroads to stop in EIDSVOLD and enjoyed it. These are only small towns but they all take a pride in presenting them at their best.

Now we are home. Where can we go next ? We have grandchildren in Canberra and Sydney, but are really reluctant to venture interstate at the moment. So for the moment, I am in front of the fire finishing this. I have done several reports on our trips to France, but this is my first report on our Australian travels. Hopefully the first of more.

Take care everyone.
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 02:10 PM
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Thanks so much for an engrossing, entertaining & interesting Trip Report. We really do have a wonderful, diverse country. It’s lovely to see some of the “ roads less travelled” through your eyes.

And it’s a great reminder that exploring our own country is rewarding, often surprising - and helps our own people, who have had and many are still having, really tough times.

Thanks again & I hope you will post some more of your Australian tripping around.
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 03:32 PM
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Wonderful tripping!

I'd really like to see a bit of Queensland - Longreach and Winton have been on my list for ages.

Thanks for taking the time to write it.
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Old Jul 18th, 2020, 12:29 PM
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Rhon, thanks to your details, I was able to follow along on the map and also find online photos of some of the attractions you visited. The grain silos were transformed by those beautiful colors, worth driving to see. I'm embarrassed to say my mental picture of Australia comes from Arthur Upfield's Boney mysteries, so the Cunnamulla Fella looked just right to me, just the way I would expect.

The scrap metal sculptures along the trail were fascinating. It takes an artist's eye to see the possibilities.

Queenland looks amazing and big! You saw all that without leaving your own state.

Travels with Humphrey sounds like a good name for a book.

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Old Jul 18th, 2020, 03:28 PM
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Coquelicot, our travels here are very different from what we do in France but that is not a bad thing. Boney mysteries were part of growing up for me. I am amazed they crossed your path!!
I think it is as someone has commented on the other post that when things become familiar, they lose their appeal.That is why we love our trips to France. It is so different.
P and I both grew up in small towns in the bush, and while we met at uni in Brisbane in the seventies, P's work then took us to back to small country towns. So we have a history and are quite enjoying our trips to the bush. We are leaving again at the end of the week back out west. We might as well do this now while we cannot travel to France.
But it will be so exciting to be able to plan again.
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