25/05/2015 Since leaving Brisbane, the daytime temperatures had been pleasant, but the nights had been very cold; in a few cases bitterly. The forecast showed day and night temperatures increasing to more comfortable levels from Tambo onwards, so we were happy to be travelling that way.
From Charleville, we would now be heading northward, firstly on the Mitchell Highway to meet the Landsborough Highway just south of Augathella and from there on, we’d be following the Landsborough Highway until it terminated at Mt Isa 1100kms later.
Augathella, the “Home of the Meat Ant”, was our first stop for a smocko break and then we had planned to continue on to camp at Tambo, but we liked the look of the Augathella free camp area, so stayed the night there instead. The Ellangowan Hotel was on one side and the Warrego River on the other. In this drought, the Warrego was just a dry sandy river bed. Augathella means “waterhole”, and in the 1800s the town had been a popular stopover for passing bullockies resting their teams. This traffic has more recently been replaced by the constant flow of Grey Nomads and the only working waterhole was in the pub.
Augathella is an unassuming little town, with unique metal sculptures in the main street and some locally painted murals on walls hinting at its history. One mural depicts Didie “Smiley” Creevey, a mischievous local lad about whom his school friend, Moore Raymond, later wrote the story Smiley, which was turned into a movie in 1956. I remember Chips Rafferty in that movie.
A levy bank had to be crested to get down to the river bed, an indication that the river could break its banks in the wet. Signs of previous flooding were evident along the river bed; twisted corrugated iron; an old rusting tractor wheel; and surprisingly, a $10 note half buried in the hard clay river bed! How it came to be there is anyone’s guess, but it had been exposed to the sun long enough to deteriorate the small holographic section which crumbled to the touch. A search of the area failed to find the rest of the cashbox, though…
“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson