From Atherton Tablelands, it took us 2 days to reach out next destination. Leaving Yungaburra, we drove along Curtain Fig Tree Road and got onto the Atherton Malanda Road which would take us down off the High Country and back to the East Coast bringing us out at Innisfail.
Below is a photograph of the Curtain Fig Tree found in the Curtain Fig Tree National Park. The large fig tree is unique because the extensive aerial roots, that drop 15m to the forest floor, have formed a ‘curtain’.
We now followed the coast line south on Bruce Highway A1, spending the night at Mission Beach. Once we had set up camp we went for a drive to get a feel for the place. I thought before arriving we may perhaps stay a few nights but I just wasn’t getting that vibe, so we left early in the morning.
We arrive at Stop 6 late afternoon. Welcome to Pioneer Bay, launching pad to the Whitsunday Islands. The 74 Whitsunday Islands lie between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the islands are uninhabited. (Picture courtesy of Google Maps)
We based ourselves at the Seabreeze Caravan Park in Cannonvale, walking distance to the harbour and Airlie Beach town centre. Initially booking in for 3 days, we kept finding things to do and extended our booking every few days. We ending up staying a week.
Click on photographs below to enlarge.
A highlight of our stay was spending a day sailing with Airlie Beach Day Sailing. The charter is quite exclusive, accommodating for a maximum of 8 (Adults Only) guests. We were really spoilt as there was only one other guest this day.
The food is prepared by a local French Chef, Alain Antonius. Morning Tea, a Gourmet Lunch and Chocolate Gateaux on the sail home. Coffee, water, fruit juices and a selection of teas are offered constantly through the day. You can BYO alcohol.
The weather determines where the Skipper sails the boat but usually the guest can expect 3 stops incorporating swimming, snorkeling, beach bumming. This day the wind gusts were over 40 kts. Not good weather for any of the above but bloody fantastic for some serious sailing. So sailing we did and I was delighted.
We did throw ourselves in the water to do a bit of lazy reef snorkeling. The skipper jumped in the tender and threw out some ropes then drove slowly over the top of the reef that was about 3 mtrs below us. Talk about making it easy. Visibility was quite poor due to the weather but he had tucked us in behind an island and the water was very calm in this cove. Nothing worse than snorkeling in a washing machine.
The region was smashed by Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and is still recovering. Some of the resorts are still closed. Others are open for day visitors only whilst infrastructure is being repaired. The reef system was damaged but recovering quickly. Perhaps partly due to the tight regulations imposed on tourism operators which minimises stress on the reef.
We could have just kept on travelling but time has run out and our next stop is home which will take us 2 days driving to reach.
This post acknowledges the reader. Know that I appreciate your time and if nothing else, I hope I can bring a smile to your heart.
The fifth stop was going to take 3 days to reach. From Longreach there was a hop to Charters Towers, a skip to Innot Hot Springs and a jump to Atherton.
We cleaned up the rig in Charters Towers with the help of the caravan park’s chickens who were obviously well practised at finding the spoils off travellers vehicles.
Early start heading north, leaving via the Gregory Highway 63 then onto the Kennedy Developmental Road 62 and meeting up with the National Highway 1 (Kennedy Highway), we stopped at Innot Hot Springs the night.
Along the route we marked on our map, Mt Surprise and surrounding national parks, To Explore. The Undara Lava Tubes will be a definite place to visit and I think we could spend quite a few weeks exploring this region.
Our stay at Innot Hot Springs could not have been timed better. Soaking in the hot spring water was simply delicious. The park has developed 6 pools of varying temperatures. If you’re staying in the park the pools are open 24/7.
The indoor plunge pool at the bottom of the photograph above was damn near boiling. I put my foot in it and removed it quickly. The pool at the top right of the frame was bearable but only for 10 or 15 minutes. Below is my favourite pool. Not too hot, not too cold. Added bonus, getting a shot of our rig in the background. As you can see we didn’t have far to walk.
You know, I think the Romans might have been on to something. There is something quite intimate in sharing a hot bath with strangers and another place where time is lost in conversation and friendships forged.
Nettle Creek runs beside the campgrounds and from where the underground hot spring water is harnessed for the park’s pools. There are 3 hot mineral springs in the creek. The temperature of the springs is between 165-185 °F. (Ref Wikipedia)
Click photograph below to enlarge.
I didn’t want to leave the next day. I could have spent a week based here exploring the surrounds. Noting this place on our map with a tick we drove off early the next morning arriving at Yungaburra just east of Atherton, late afternoon.
We set up camp staying at the Lakeside Motor Inn & Caravan Park for the next 3 nights, spending our days doing not much of anything. The park is situated on the banks of the Tinnaro Falls Dam and popular with water skiers and canoeists.
Click photograph below to enlarge.
The Atherton Tableland is a fertile plateau which is part of the Great Dividing Range. The Atherton Tablelands covers an area of 64,768 square kilometres. In the early days tin and timber attracted people to the area. Nowadays crops grown in and around Atherton include banana, sugarcane, corn/maize, avocados, strawberries, macadamia nuts and mangoes, citrus and tobacco. Dairying, grazing and poultry are also present on the Tableland. (Ref Wikipedia)
Ahh some nice grass to roll around in.
I don’t know who this guy belonged to but he sure was having a great time.
The last evening was spent playing with my camera and packing up. The next stop would take us 2 days to reach. More to come.
Our 4th stop finds us in Longreach. I thought the township of Longreach was a lot larger than it was. Due to the swarming flies, there was nothing for us to do except visit The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Thought it was kinda expensive to enter a fancy shed full of old shit.
Click on picture below to enlarge.
Longreach is an out-post and somewhere you really need to stop, rest and gather supplies if you’re heading further west. You know you’ve hit Out-Back when you reach Longreach and from here on you must fuel up anywhere you can. The towns get smaller and further apart.
I was planning to take us further west to Birdsville. I want to see the Simpson Desert. We are not equipped to cross and the desert is conservation area (no dogs) but you can get a good view from the Big Red Rock. The planned route from Longreach was Winton to Middleton, on to Boulia (min min light and UFO country) then Birdsville. We heard from locals that the flies were even worst further west so out came the map and marked our intended route TBE (To Be Explored) , packed up and headed north-east.
Leaving Longreach we went north taking the Cramise Muttaburra Road to Muttaburra then Highway number 19 to Hughenden then jumping on the Flinders Highway A6 to head east, stopping at Charters Towers the night. That was one crazy day on the road. Dirt/bulldust from Longreach to the A6. We did luck out however because Highway 19 had recently been graded after the wet season. Not so lucky driving through a swarm of locus for 2 hours straight. That bug gut juice is a bitch to wash off after being baked in the sun. The above picture was taken at the beginning of the days drive. Our rig did not look like that at the end of the day.
More to come…..
Our next destination was Lara Station Wetlands, 13km off the Landsborough highway A2 heading from Barcaldine to Blackall.
Lara Station is on about 6,000 hectares and the owners opened the gates to campers and caravaners after drought force them to destock their cattle. Jodie lost her partner Michael in a helicopter crash on the same day the first tourist booked in at Lara’s camping ground in 2014.
The property’s wetlands are fed from a single century-old bore on the Great Artesian Basin. Birdwatchers have documented more than 80 different bird species in the wetlands.
On leaving the Gem Fields we called into a small convenience store for a few snacks to eat along the drive. The store owner told me that she’s heard the flies were pretty bad from Barcaldine and further west and suggested I purchase some head nets ( The Nullabor Burka) as apparently the stores were running out of them further west.
I tend to go by gut feeling and my gut was saying you really should get one each and one for the dog. Pleased with myself, I jumped back into the car and proudly displayed my purchase to MM who just looked at me shaking his head. Later he told me the was thinking…. What a waste of money.
Stopping at Barcaldine for some lunch, we did notice a few flies but no big deal and certainly nothing that would warrant having to wear a head net. It wasn’t until we arrived at Lara Station and stopped at the caretakers office to pay our entry fee that we discovered how bad the flies were. The head nets were still in the packets sitting in the car on the floor. We could barely talk to the caretaker and I was jigging around like an epileptic as the flies swarmed around my face. We quickly paid our dues and rushed back to the car for some relief.
We drove around the wetlands and found a lovely place to set up camp. We were choking on flies as we tried to set up the caravan and in desperation I grabbed the head nets from the car and put mine on. MM took about 5 minutes longer before he too put one on.
It was quite hot and we had arrived in shorts and singlets. The nets kept the flies off our faces but they were landing all over our skin and it was driving me crazy. Ah, then the penny dropped. So that’s why I see pictures of the cow cockies out west wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the searing heat. Once I had changed into appropriate clothing I was happier and come sunset, the flies all disappeared and we could sit and enjoy a cold beer and the view in peace.
We had planned to camp for the week but the next morning decided we couldn’t handle the flies. Wearing the head nets and covering our skin gave some relief but the constant buzzing was too much. We found ourselves confined to the caravan, so off we drove to the next stop. More to come….
I’ve always wanted to visit Queensland’s Gem Fields. The name of the town called Emerald always fascinated me. Somehow pictured in my mind was a scene out the American Wild West. Rugged men flashing gold capped teeth with a swagger that would rival President Obama’s.
There are a number of towns located in and around the Gem Fields. Sapphire is my favourite gem and the town of Sapphire my chosen destination. Oh, did I mention I was the navigator? MM (My Man) said “Just work out where we are going and I’ll drive”.
We left Bagara Beach and pointed north towards Rockhamption then leaving the A1 we took the A4 Capricorn Highway west, stopping in the town of Dingo for the night. We spent the evening around a fire pit with strangers, telling fascinating stories. Come bed time I felt I’d known my new friends all my life.
In 1973, a population of Bridled nail-tail wallabies was found in the Dingo area by a fencing contractor. Until this sighting the species was thought to be extinct having not been seen since 1937. The area where the wallabies were rediscovered was protected as Taunton National Park.
We arrived in Emerald around lunch time the following day stopping at a shopping centre for supplies. I didn’t see any gold capped teeth but I did see a lot of tattoos on the blokes and the sheilas and they all had a nice swagger. Must be all them gems in their pockets.
We set up camp that afternoon at the Sapphire Caravan Park and spent the next 4 days enjoying our surroundings. The park is not too shabby and was mostly empty. We arrived at the beginning of the season. Any sooner and it’s too hot to scratch yourself let alone pick through rocks in the scorching sun.
Click on photographs below to enlarge.
I wanted to take a day trip with a local guide and do some fossicking but I was not quite healed enough to spend the day bent over picking up rocks and shovelling dirt. We did enjoy wandering around the bush where we came across some abandon vehicles. Apparently there are many abandon camps and vehicles that prospectors have left behind scattered all through the area.
As this trip is more of a reconnaissance trip, I marked this place as one to revisit and we set off for the next stop. More to come…..
I had a few weeks to recover before leaving for 4 weeks of touring around parts of Queensland.
If you’ve experienced broken ribs you’d know that sitting can be uncomfortable and bumping around in a 4×4 towing a caravan in Outback Queensland, well, ouch. So changing our intended route, we headed north to Bagara Beach for 4 days R & R before heading west.
Bagara is approximately 15km east of Bundaberg, a fair days drive from Brisbane. I’d been there many years ago with my Mother. We were holidaying at Don Pancho’s and had gone to see the turtles at Mon Repo, a hatchery and protected national park.
We didn’t visit any national parks on this trip because the Fat Mongrel was travelling with us.
We spent the next 4 days on the beach, riding our push bikes and ironing out a few kinks in the caravan. This is our first big trip away. We were a bit heavy on the ball weight and needed to move some things around.
Bundaberg volcanic province is located in the Bundaberg-Childers area. The volcano was formed by a short-lived eruption period, 60 million years ago. (Ref Volcano live)
Past volcanic activity has left basalt rocks, rounded by wave action, scattered along much of the coastline, especially headlands. The Hummock, clearly visible from sea, is the centre of an area of rich, red soil, clothed in fields of sugar cane.
Leaving Bagara, we planned to make our way to Birdsville then follow Queensland’s southern border back to the coast and home. That was the plan. That is not how it went down….. more to come.
Last week I fell on some stairs and fractured a couple of ribs. I was carrying the dog and couldn’t break my fall, landing heavily on my side.
This accident could really have not come at a worst time. We have scheduled a lot of yard work for the next two weeks. This week we had River City Tree Services remove approximately 20 trees from the yard and we need to finish cleaning up the gardens before the fencing company comes to put up a colourbond fence along the back boundary.
Most of the trees removed were palms of some description, a silky oak that was growing too closely to an ironbark, half of one neighbour’s mango tree that overhung the boundary and half of another neighbour’s umbrella tree that was also overhanging.
We’ve kept about five foxtail palms and one cuban palm but I’m not sure about the cuban palm. We might get it removed later on down the track. It’s big and if one of the fronds fell on someone it could potentially kill them.
I’m not sorry to see the palms go. Messy things and they were a lot of work. The previous owners over-planted the gardens. The frangipani trees have developed a disease called frangipani rust. I’m hoping opening up the gardens will help control the fungus.
I love cut flowers inside the house.
It’s been nearly two years since my father’s death and I still have a lot of his things that I’ve not been in the right mood to sort through and get rid of.
Some weeks back I opened a storage box and picked out a little Caplio RR530 digital camera that belonged to my Step-Mother who passed away a few years before Dad.
There were a few pictures on the memory card of their last Christmas together which was nice to see. Dad’s wife loved photography. Here are two of her photographs that remained on the memory card.
One of her favourite subject matters…. Frogs
I took the camera with me on my afternoon walk with Chi, aka The fat Mongrel, to try it out.
The settings on the camera were low quality which I discovered when I downloaded the pictures, so not a bad effort for a wee point and shoot.
I’m not sure how old the camera is but it takes AAA batteries and I can’t get a usb for it so I’m taking the shots off the camera via the sd card. I don’t take my good canon camera with me when I’m out on the motorbike but this one might come in handy.