1770 Captain James Cook named Cape Moreton, also naming the body of water north of Stradbroke Island Glass House Bay after naming the Glasshouse Mountains on the adjacent mainland.
1799 Flinders discovered that the land south of Cape Moreton was in fact an island and named it Moreton Island and Glass House Bay became Moreton Bay.
1848 Amity Point pilot station moved to Bulwer on Moreton Island. The township of Bulwer was named after Edward Bulwer Lytton, a novelist, playwright, British MP and Colonial Secretary at the time. Pilots at Bulwer guided ships into the channel.
1857 The iconic red and white banded Cape Moreton Lighthouse is lit on the Northern point of Moreton Island . The first and oldest standing lighthouse built in Queensland is constructed of sandstone quarried on the island and stands about 23 metres tall.
1865 Goats and pigs were left on the island by the navy as food for shipwrecked sailors. Goats were also kept at the headland as a source of food for the lighthouse keepers.
1951 Whale Industries Ltd secured a five-year license for the taking of 600 humpback whales per season in a 240km2 area north, south and east of Tangalooma.
1952 Tangalooma Whaling Station began operation as Queensland’s only whaling station The station consisted of a factory surmounted by a flensing deck with a log ramp into the Bay to land whales, a jetty, steam generator and staff accommodation. The season lasted from June 1st to October 31st. The station could process eleven whales per day.
1961 Whales become extremely scarce, virtually overnight.
1962 Whaling at Tangalooma was no longer economically viable and the station closed.
And now The whales regularly stop by the Island on their migratory route. Probably due to the warmer waters, more and more whales are having their babies here rather than Hervey Bay which is 280km further north.
I took my daughter whale watching for her birthday recently. Brisbane Whale Watching operates from the Redcliffe Jetty over the migratory season June to November.
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…..