Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cunnumulla to Melbourne

We left Cunumulla intending to head to a place called Thallon about 400kms away. We stopped for a break and lunch at Bollon, and it had such a nice feel to it that we decided to stay there. There were spots to park right next to the river and there was lots of bird life around. 

The weather was still nice although not near as hot as we had experienced further up north. There was a nice walkway by the river into the town.

The town had a pub, a cafe called Deb's Cafe, an information centre and a little library. As we walked into the township we would pass lots of other campers and stop to chat. There were two couples travelling together that were from Tasmania and we struck up a bit of a friendship with them over the next few days. They had a huge fire going most days and had to go and get some firewood. One afternoon we headed to the pub and the boys were having a quiet one after collecting wood. We got chatting and we ended up staying for quite a while. Their wives came looking for them and were going to try and sneak off with the car without them knowing! Another time we enjoyed a coffee with them at Deb's Cafe.
We walked quite a bit around the town. There were lots of big kangaroos and emus around. 

There was a beautiful full moon here and I just had to take a photo of it.

We both wanted to use our computers while we were there and we asked around the town if there was  any free wifi. (We can use our hotspots on our phones, but it's good if we can use wifi for free.) We found out that the library had wifi, so we called in to check the opening hours. The lady there said to come back at 2 o'clock, as she was closing for lunch. We duly returned and sat on a couch, Randall doing some financial work and me doing my blog. The library was one small room and she was moving all the books and shelves so it could be repainted. It reminded me of the times I moved my school libraries from one place to another with lines of children passing books along!
We finished doing our work and headed back to camp. Randall bought out the bagpipes and drew a very happy crowd.  


Our last night there we called in at the pub. There was a young bloke called Nigel there, and we noticed that he was rather keen on the barmaid from our previous visits. His mate was very under the weather and could hardly string two words together, Nigel not quite as bad. We knew he lived 10ks down the road from chatting to him, and there was not much in the way of traffic, but it was interesting to see how the publican seemed unconcerned that he was driving!

The morning we were leaving our toilet started playing up. We have a vacuum toilet similar to planes and it is closer to a real toilet than a chemical toilet. We always have a chuckle at people who traipse to the toilets at camp sites when they have their own toilet and shower in their great big caravan or motor home. It got really serious when it stopped working completely! We had to decide whether to continue on with our travels and stay in caravan parks or at camp areas with toilets, or buy a chemical toilet and put in the shower bay to use, and head straight down south to Hastings in Victoria, where there is a marine toilet specialist (lots of boats have vacuum flush toilets), who would look at it.
We decided that we would scoot down south as quickly as possible and maybe buy a chemical toilet in the next town. It was Saturday, and nothing is open in these country towns on the weekends. Randall spied a SuperCheap shop out of the corner of his eye in one town, and it did have a chemical toilet in stock. We asked if we could take it out to see if it fitted in our bathroom, and while we were doing that the toilet started working again. It makes a noise while its making a vacuum after each use. So we decided to risk it and not buy the toilet, and see how it went. We drove 1200kms over 3 days and 2 nights and arrived in Melbourne on Monday night. We booked in to have the toilet serviced on Wednesday and drove down to Hastings on Tuesday night.
It was all finished in a couple of hours. The blokes there called us out the back to check out the huge motorhome they were serviceing - it certainly dwarfed us!!

So, from being in Queensland on Saturday morning we were back down south in a flash and the holiday was over! Well, not really over, as we had lots of extra time with our family - our two girls, their husbands and their little sons.

We have had the most wonderful time, seeing places we haven't seen before and revisiting places we loved. We have enjoyed beautiful warm weather for over 10 weeks of the trip, and didn't see rain for any of that time. 
Our motorhome has been wonderful and we both agree that for us, it is more comfortable and easier to manage than towing a caravan. We have camped in some amazing places and only paid for a total of 8 nights in caravan parks and we even managed to free camp in metropolitan Darwin for 2 weeks!
The picture below shows our trip and the places we stopped at. It looks pretty good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Augathella to Cunnumulla

What a great little town! They had a camp ground right in the town, near the Ellangowan Hotel. There was a lovely mural painted on the wall of a building in the town.

 We got talking to the manager of the pub and when Randall said that he used to manage an hotel he was handed the financials to see if he would take it on!! (Don’t worry - he loves retirement too much!)

We walked around the town each day and noticed that most of the houses were occupied. We heard that the town is supported by the sheep stations all around. 
We had a few delicious meals at the pub including on our wedding anniversary. The pub wine was only ordinary though - Gossips was the best on offer!! 
Randall took some Keno tickets and got one number off the jackpot!

One evening a young bloke called Andrew pulled up near us to camp for the night and came over to say hello. The next morning Randall got talking to him and during the course of the day became his life coach! He was supposed to be leaving in the morning but headed off late afternoon. I think he enjoyed our company as much as we did his!

The bagpipes came out for a session, which was good.
The day we left we stopped at the local butcher and bought some sausages for tea that night. They were absolutely delicious! We wished we could drive back the 100 kms just to get some more!!
We also needed some more wine, and the options were limited - so Gossips it was!

Our next stop was Charleville. The road kill was horrendous - way worse than home. Every 100 metres there was something on the road or by the road, even emus. It was quite distressing.
We headed to the Charleville Bush Camp - our only option there. It had camp hosts, John and Pauline. It was $10 a night and you had to be totally self contained. Happy hour was around a big camp fire. The second night we were there we got damper made by Pauline which was delicious! Pauline recited some poetry and another couple pulled out their guitar and sang some country music songs, which was very enjoyable. 

We left Charlevile via the local butcher. He was not the most friendly young fellow on the block, but we bought some delicious crumbed lamb cutlets from him - not sure about what these sausages would be like!!

Our next stop was to be Cunnamulla. We stayed behind the pub - there were 4 camp spots there and we were the only ones that night. We were happy to be on grass rather than dust. We went in to have a drink, as we were staying for nothing. The drinks were quite cheap - $3.50 for a glass of house wine that was not too rough! The pub was very quiet, and we got chatting to a local who ran the laundromat. We thought that that would be a good little business to run in the right place, so it was interesting talking to him. We had a nice meal as well, and even though we were the only ones there we were asked to eat it in the dining room.
The town was made famous by a song by Slim Dusty called Cunnamulla Fella and there's a big statue of the fella in the centre of town.

Randall liked to think he was the fella!!

The weather was beautiful, not too hot and we did a nice walk around the river. 

There were emus everywhere - even in the school grounds. I've never seen so many emus in my life as on this trip. (In fact, we had to knock them off the spotto list as there were so many!)

The second night 2 caravans arrived. They were travelling together and had just come up from the Birdsville races. One of the couples had been on the road for 5 years! That night the pub had a few more customers. We don't know how the publican made any money, apart from his travellers out the back.
There was a lovely full moon while we were there.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Longreach and Beyond

We arrived at Longreach and went straight to check out the camping site. It was ok, a big expanse with lots of caravans and motorhomes. We drove into town and had a look around to see what was there. We decided we’d go to the Qantas Museum and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in the next day or so. 
We went back to the camp site and settled in for the night. In the morning there were chickens wandering around the door, and we heard the roosters crowing early in the morning.

The Qantas museum offered a tour of an old 747, The City of Bunbury, so we decided to do that. The museum was quite interesting and very well done. It even had the original hangar. The story of how Qantas got up and running is really quite amazing. Young men with lots of derring do that had the foresight to see that an air service could be successful in the out back.
The tour of the old 747 was good too and we learnt quite a few interesting facts and figures as well. They even let us stand up inside one of the engines! 

We also toured another plane, the first Boeing 707 with ownership outside of America (Qantas). It eventually became privately owned and was donated by its owner to the museum. It was quite luxuriously decked out, and had bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. John Travolta had one the same, and they were famously photographed nose to nose. As we left we set up a photo of our motor home near the 747. We were certainly dwarfed!!

We stayed another night and went and saw The Stockman’s Hall of Fame. I found that quite interesting, but I think Randall was museumed out so he finished looking around in record time.

We kept seeing these birds but didn't know what they were. Randall called them bush turkeys. They were brolgas of course!
A fellow at the camp site was selling little fire pots and Randall was really taken with them as they packed away neatly. The little one fitted in a bag and now lives between the front seats.
From there we headed off to our next stop, only about 30kms down the road, and of course we tried out the fire pot and it was nice to sit out by a fire again like we did with the caravan.

The next morning we drove towards Blackall, with a stop at Barcaldine. There was a tree there called the Knowledge Tree. It was said that the Labour Party was established at a meeting under that tree.

We ended up at Blackall free camp site, just next to the town. As usual we walked up the main street. We did chuckle when we saw this DVD vending machine - a bit out of date now! 

We heard there was a very nice thermal swimming pool in the town, so we went there the next day. It was lovely! $2 entry fee and I soaked for a good while until my fingers went wrinkly. Randall doesn't like the thermal pools so much so he spent the time phoning up people while I relaxed there.

Our next stop was Tambo and we camped by the Barcoo River about 1km out of town. It was a quiet little town. It is the site of the first Qantas crash site and Randall and I walked to the spot to check it out.

Randall found lots of firewood so we could enjoy our fire pot. When it came time to leave he wasn't going to leave the firewood for other people!

We left Tambo via the butcher shop, as we really enjoy the meat from these country butchers shop. Our next stop was to be Augathella, and what a nice little town that proved to be!

Friday, September 1, 2017


What a lovely little town. We decided to stay behind The North Gregory Hotel for $10 a night. It was Art Deco decorated with a lovely lounge area and good free wifi so we often sat there to do our computer work.There were lovely glass etchings on the dining room doors - Banjo Paterson and Qantas tributes.

The first thing I did was look for a hairdresser as my hair was desperately in need of a haircut. I managed to get a haircut that day, so felt ‘new’ again.
Every afternoon they had some action around the hotel. “Banjo Paterson” would sit at the pianola and get all and sundry to sing Waltzing Matilda and other songs. Winton was where Banjo first penned Waltzing Matilda. He would also recite a bit of Banjo’s poetry later on in the day.

There were also chicken races to raise money for local charities. The chickens were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and then raced around a wire cage following a remote controlled car with food in it. The chickens were different colours and named accordingly. There was Opal, Diamantina (they were multicoloured), Pinky, The Hulk (green), Sunny, Chicken Dinner!
We watched it for two nights before putting a bid in for a chicken. We got The Hulk for $20, and it won!! We got $135. Of course we didn’t get to keep the chicken - it lived to race another day.

We often had a drink at the Tattersalls Hotel across the road and treated ourselves to a few meals there as well. They even remembered Randall’s name by the end of our stay - regulars!

Winton is dinosaur country, and I wanted to see the fossilised dinosaur footprints of a stampede of dinosaurs - the only evidence of a dinosaur stampede in the world. We had to drive out 100 kms, 60 of which was gravel. It wasn't too bad and I felt it was worth it. The footprints are under cover and you can get quite close to them. There were three different dinosaurs represented. The biggest one was chasing the smaller ones.

Another trip we did was to see The Age of the Australian Dinosaurs, about 25 kms out of Winton. It was divided into 3 parts. The setting was magnificent - on top of what was called a jump up. 

One of the displays was a bit corny. We went out in a little battery operated van to a site about 2kms from the main site, where there were models of dinosaurs on the rock faces, and some ancient palms that had been donated and were struggling to survive.

The second display was of actual dinosaur bones that had been found in the area, and that was more interesting to see, especially the reconstructed skeleton of a dinosaur that had been named Banjo. We also saw some bones from another dinosaur found in the area named Matilda.


The third display was of how the archaeologists deal with the fossils when they are found. There was also a display of fossils found in the area - a fossilised tree branch which was huge and these marine crabs that were amazing!

We had a look at the museum in Winton but were a bit disappointed probably because the original museum had burnt down. They were in the throes of rebuilding the museum and I think it will be pretty good when it is done.
They really play on their dinosaur finds - even the rubbish bins look like giant dinosaur feet!

Opal has been found in this area and as I was walking around the town checking out the opal shops I noticed this lovely sleepy black cat lying on the table outside.

We stayed 4 nights in Winton and really enjoyed getting to know the town.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Heading South

From Karumba we drove back towards Cloncurry, stopping overnight at a rest stop. In the morning I went to put in my contact lenses as usual but realised something wasn't right as I couldn't read out of my left eye, which is the reading contact. Once before I lost a contact in my eye, and it resurfaced the next day even after a doctor checked it , so after trying for a while to find it and making my eye quite sore we headed for Cloncurry and maybe an optometrist or a doctor to see if they could see it. 
On the way we stopped at a deserted old pub at Quamby that my friend Jonathon had told me about. He used to work in the area and go to that pub. I took some photos to send to him.

When we arrived at Cloncurry we found a medical centre and got sent to the hospital, which was a bit of a slow process although the people were lovely and it was nice and cool inside. The doctor that looked at me said I was the best person he’d ever dealt with while looking in my eye, but couldn't find any contact lens in there and said that you never know, it might be on the floor. Well, when we got back in the van, I looked on the floor of the bathroom, and there it was!! It must have just slipped off my finger as I went to put it in. I felt a bit sheepish, but glad that it was sorted none the less.
Consequently we had a bit of a late getaway to our next stop - Julia Creek. Everyone we talked to raved about the place and said we must go. They had a huge free camping area by a river not far from town. They had camp hosts, which Randall is not fond of, as it means he is organised. However, he was very polite and did as he was told. We found a nice spot in the much needed shade as it was about 35 degrees! We walked up to the township and had a beer at the pub. I love all the country pubs as  they have lots of atmosphere. 
There was lots of birdlife in the camp ground including these big tall birds.

We only stayed one night there before moving on. The next stop was going to be Richmond. It was about 100ks further on. The drive was fairly boring as the land was flat flat flat with dry grass and a few small shrubs although it was funny when we saw a camel just sitting by the side of the road!
When we got to Richmond we found the campsite was dusty with very little shade. We parked and walked into town. It had this interesting sculpture in the middle of town.

We checked out the swimming pool but it was shut. We found out at the info centre that is was closed for winter. It was 34 degrees!! We were so hot that we thought it would be better to be driving with the air-conditioning on, than be sitting in a dry dusty camp spot, so we kept going and drove on towards Winton, planning an overnight stop at a place called Corfield. Corfield was in the middle of nowhere and was a one house one pub town. We found out later from another group of travellers that the pub only opened on Friday night, which it was - Friday. So we thought we would head there later for a drink. A couple pulled up in a motor home and we got talking to them for ages, so by the time we cooked tea we didn’t feel like heading over for a drink, so we missed out.

Our next stop was only about 50 kilometre away - Winton, so it was nice to think we only had a short drive to get there the next day.