Author Archives: dimcfarlane369

About dimcfarlane369

My husband Peter and I are currently travelling around Australia in our new Kimberley Kruiser.

Bird Watching – Tenterfield To Canowindra – “Breakfast Time” (New South Wales)

15/10/18

Categories: Bird Watching, Travel News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wallabadah – Canowindra (New South Wales)

15/10/18  From Armidale, we continued south on the New England Highway through Tamworth to spend the night at a pleasant free-camp oddly called First Fleet Memorial Gardens outside the town of Wallabadah. Could someone explain why NSW town names sound so strange?

The next morning, we headed west from Wallabadah, through nearby Quirindi and then south along the Black Stump Way to Coolah. Our laundry pile had taken on the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, and we headed to the Coolah Caravan Park to deal with it in a washer. While there, I took the opportunity to do some minor repairs to the Kruiser to rectify a job I’d only recently paid an RV shop to do…annoying…they’re supposed to be the experts. Man, did that town have a fly problem! Step outside and hordes of annoying little bush flies would be in your eyes, mouth, up your nose. A couple of twitches cut from a tree kept them off while we took a walk into the main street. On the subject of flies, the term for Aussie slang and pronunciation is strine, and the story goes that the habit of shortening words and phrases developed from speaking through clenched teeth to avoid swallowing flies. I can believe it.

Following a slow start in the morning, we went on through Dunedoo (love that name) to Wellington for lunch, then Molong for a refuel and unintentionally took the long way round to Canowndra. We much prefer to travel the backroads – less traffic, slower pace and more time to see the countryside going by. Most times these backroads are chosen by design…but sometimes by mistake, like the wrong turn I took leaving Molong that added almost an hour to the journey. On narrow roads in hilly country, it’s impossible to safely turn around, so we resigned ourselves to heading on and seeing what we would see. There was no hurry; the countryside was certainly worth the detour.

Along the way, quite a few examples of early settler homesteads could be seen in the paddocks, some still loved and lived in, some abandoned to slowly decay, and some collapsed under the weight of their high-pitched roofs.

At Canowindra, we pulled in to a small free-camp area only a short way out of town – just us beside the narrow Belubula River. This flowing stream feeds into the Lachlan River and then the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers before finally emptying into Lake Alexandrina and the Southern Ocean south of Adelaide in South Australia. We stayed two nights at this nice spot, and walked into town to have a look around – just about all the businesses were closed though which we thought was strange for a weekday afternoon. Must have been siesta time. The main street had a bygone feel with the many old original brick buildings and commercial facades.

As we headed off through town the next morning, Di insisted we pull over at Coco Harvest, a beautiful old shopfront in the main street offering boutique chocolates. I made the mistake of leaving her alone with the two owners while I went off in search of some fuses. Awaiting payment on the shop counter when I returned was a suitcase of goodies. I thought I’d recognised the withered remains of Di’s self-control lying on the footpath outside.

Canowindra – Coco Harvest Chocolates (NSW)

 

 

 

“Chocolate is to women what duct tape is to men. It fixes everything.”

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Scarborough (Queensland) – Armidale (New South Wales)

11/10/18  Following a spell at home, it takes time to get back into the swing of towing a van. When you give the Landy a spurt, it usually reacts like a determined sperm but with the addition of a 3 tonne cottage attached to the rear, what immediately becomes apparent is the corresponding lack of oomph. Both acceleration and braking require a little more deliberation, and climbing hills has all the get-up-and-go of Jabba the Hut. Still, the old girl does her best. Even the champion racehorse Winx would be handicapped pulling a horsefloat carrying Black Caviar.

Nonetheless, we’re very happy to be back on the road, and grinning like kids at McDonalds. Nothing comes close to this…nothing.

Things get dialled back on the road,. In a rig weighing around 6.0 tonnes, you cannot, nor should not, go swiftly. The driver behind you will always want to go five kilometres per hour faster no matter what speed you are doing, so I find it’s best to ignore what’s behind, pop on some tunes, settle back, keep it down to a respectable and safe speed and let the train through when it’s safe to do so.

The Vibe is Back…

Cunninghams Gap (Qld)

From Scarborough, we headed up and over Cunningham’s Gap on the Great Dividing Range to our overnight camp at the old Maryvale Hotel. Great food – give it a go. The freshly-baked Godmother pie and mash is a food group all its own. Next overnight camp was south at the border town of Wallangarra where I lived up to the age of starting primary school. Each time we go back, the town seems smaller, with unfortunately fewer services.

Up to now in our travels around the country, the shortest hop between camp spots had been 22kms from the very small community of Alford to the even smaller Wallaroo on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula. That’s now been smashed by our hop from Wallangarra on the QLD border to Tenterfield in NSW, a distance of 20kms. In just that short distance, though, the scenery and vegetation changed markedly, becoming a hillier and much greener. Tenterfield is a very pleasant little town, with many examples of early architecture to be seen. Still no monument in my honour outside the maternity wing of the local hospital, though. I thought it would be up by now.

A couple of hours south on the New England Highway at Armidale, we called in on Warren, a fellow Kimberley owner we’d met up at West Leichhardt Station near Mt Isa back in 2015. We got on well then and seeing him again the gap was just like yesterday. We camped the night at his property just out of town, and had a great time catching up and rekindling our friendship. Sometimes lasting friendships come from a brief crossing of paths. Travel is a unifying bond that turns strangers into lifelong friends.

Armidale – Hail Storm (NSW)

Each day since setting off from home, we’ve played tag with thunderstorms and hail. The process starts with a warning text alert, followed by an anxious check of the weather radar, and a tense watchful eye on the advancing storm clouds. So far, and mostly due to luck, we’ve managed to dodge the worst of the storms.

“Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me” – Galileo

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tassie Bound (Queensland)

8/10/18  The two months at home just flew by, the time filled with all the regular catch-up kind of stuff. The Landy had a service – in the mechanical sense – as did the Kruiser, now sporting new airbags to replace two that developed splits in the rubber bags.

Seeing that the family will be in various parts of the country in December, we all got together for a “Christmas in September” camping weekend at Lake Broadwater near Dalby. And my none-too-subtle hint in the blog earlier this year paid off – I’m now packing an Equinox 800 metal detector in the Landy. Whoever said Santa doesn’t read his Christmas mail is definitely mistaken. Well, he certainly reads our blog at least. My first unearthed finds were the head of a roofing nail at a depth of 3” and a rusty tack at 6”. Not particularly profitable, I know, but definitely exciting and fun. I figure things can only improve from that humble beginning.

This trip, there’ll be no hint of military-like precision to the planning. We’ve tried that and it didn’t particularly work for us, so we’re reverting back to our old form of going where and when the mood dictates. Realistically, though, Tasmania’s not that big and we’ll be there for five months…Yep, five months. We’ll know every inch of the place by the time we’re finished. If we miss something, we’ll just catch it on the next lap around – and there’ll be a lot of laps in five months. At 315kms from east to west and 286kms north to south, Tasmania is the smallest state. Its length of coastline (including the many islands) totals about 5,500kms. But, despite its size, it has around 200 towns and villages to explore, and four major population centres. We’re looking forward to scenery, food, wine, art and then over the next crest, some scenery, food, wine…

As we’ve heard it can sometimes be overcast and wet in Tasmania, my Overlanding Preparedness Disorder resulted in the monster 2.4Kva Yamaha generator – at 32kgs, it weighs more than most mountains – being replaced with a much lighter 1Kva one weighing a measly 13kgs. The big kahuna was originally purchased with the intention of powering the air-con in the Kruiser when camping off-grid but has never been used for that – just to do my back in when I lifted it that one time. So it was sentenced to exile from the van and has languished at home for the past couple of years. But, with the perils of Tassie’s grey weather looming, we reckoned a generator might be a necessary requirement. Measly should be up to the task of recharging the batteries if the solar panels won’t, without wrecking my back in the process.

We’re packed – I looked everywhere for my camouflaged jeans, but just couldn’t see them…huh? – and gone, heading south. With just under four weeks to reach Melbourne and catch the Spirit of Tasmania across Bass Strait to the Apple Isle, we have plenty of time to set a unhurried pace.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once” – Albert Einstein

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: ,

Dululu – Monto – Boondooma Homestead – Linville – Scarborough (Queensland)

14/08/18  While at our Flaggy Rock camp, the cellar ran dry. Aaagh! The plan was to take on refreshments at Dululu, our next destination west of Rockhampton near Biloela but as often happens with plans they went awry. We arrived in Dululu to find the tiny community’s only pub boarded up, undergoing a major rebuild following a fire. Damn! I was once told that pub fires are often caused by “friction” – in the filing cabinet, “friction” between the loan statements and the ledgers. Can’t say for sure that’s the case, just something I heard.

After a dry overnight camp, we headed on the next morning through more very parched country to Monto and checked into the caravan park to deal with the sizable pile of laundry and top up the dwindling on-board water. Pantry and, of course, cellar were restocked as well.

We spent a great day at Cania Gorge, a short drive north of Monto. The walking track in to Dragon Cave and Bloodwood Cave was enjoyable apart from the many, many, MANY steps up to the lookout at the top that challenged Di’s knee. Both caves at the base of the imposing gorge walls had been sites of aboriginal habitation and would have provided protection from the elements. Nine other caves in the area aren’t open to the public, being presently surveyed by archaeologists. On the way back from the caves, we were extremely lucky to have a close encounter with a pair of Whipbirds feeding on the forest floor just off the walking path. They’re generally very hard birds to see as they populate thick rainforest but here they were, a pair, cavorting around just metres from us, seemingly unconcerned by our presence. We finished off the day with a bush picnic beside Three Moon Creek, and a look around Lake Cania. We liked Monto. It’s a pleasant little town, and our intended two-day stay extended out to four as we settled in for a relax.

Some of the country we’ve been through west of the Great Divide is just heartbreaking. People are doing it tough out here and all around the country with the worst drought in generations. We’re continually seeing hay being moved by road trains, trucks and utes to feed livestock, and have noticed many properties have turned land over to the growing of leucaena, a bushy crop that we’re told is good quality fodder for cattle particularly in drought times like these. We spoke to one local who appreciated the donations but reckoned the best way to help was cash, as it could be used to buy food, produce, and so forth in the towns to keep the local traders in business as well. Makes good sense.

It was a bitterly cold -1 degree morning when we left Monto; a crisp biting cold where you didn’t want to get out of the warm bed even to turn on the diesel heater. We arrived at Boondooma Homestead, between Munduberra and Dalby, to hear they’d had a big frost that morning; everything was white. And the forecast was for the cold weather to continue…wonderful. Tell me again why we’ve come back south?

Boondooma Homestead is a heritage-listed property settled by two Scottish brothers in 1846. It’s now owned by the South Burnett Regional Council and operated as a museum and heritage complex, and a farm stay as well. The timber homestead and outbuildings are still original and intact and offer a good impression of what a homestead must have looked like in the late 1800s. We got to meet the small group of enthusiastic Boondooma Museum & Heritage Association members who were busy preparing for the annual “Scots in the Bush” festival that was happening in ten days’ time. We blended right in, being McFarlane’s and Mackay’s, and it turned out one of the ladies had a McFarlane grandfather…huh! Everyone around the fire seemed to have a Scottish heritage. “Tha fios agam, tha e doirbh a chreidsinn!” (Look it up on Google Translate). As much as we’d have liked to have stayed on for the festival, it clashed with our service booking back home. Something to look forward to next year. We stayed five days in all, joined the Association and did some volunteer work helping to tidy up around the homestead and gardens in readiness for the festival. It was good fun.

Our last camp before home was at Linville, a pleasant little village in the hills out from Moore, on the site of the old railway station.

Linville (Qld)

This trip has been shorter in duration than what we usually do but it’s been long enough to travel with good friends, call in on some good friends, make new great friends along the way, visit with close relatives and those separated by distance and time. And all the while, seeing some wonderful places – a couple we’d easily relocate to in a heartbeat – and some places suffering hard through a heartbreaking drought. As ever, we’re glad to be back home, and equally looking forward to heading off again. Tasmania’s next in October…woohoo!

Signs like these are seen hanging behind the bar at some outback pubs. So you don’t have to pay for your curiosity, here’s what the acronyms mean:
“WYBMABIITY ” – stands for “Will you buy me a beer if I tell you?”
“YCWCYAGCFTRFDS” – stands for “Your curiosity will cost you a gold coin for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.”

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , ,

Glen Erin – Hold It Flats – Ilbilbie – Flaggy Rock – Marlborough (Queensland)

3/08/18  This trip is winding down. We’re two weeks out from a booking on the Sunshine Coast to have one of the van’s diesel appliances serviced, and the route to get us there on time has pretty much been mapped out. Once home, it won’t be long before we’re off again, though, as we’ve booked to take the van across to Tasmania in November for five months and are really looking forward to that. Why does everyone highlight the horrendous boat trip across Bass Strait? My mal de mer is dreadful enough without all the horror stories being offered up. They’ve just had unusually bad crossings, right? Won’t happen to us, OK? We’re going at night. The sea’s calmer at night. Everyone knows that. Dark sky at night, she’ll be right…

Heading south from Home Hill, we went back for a couple of days to Glen Erin farmstay near Bowen. That’s where we’d first met our Frenchie friend, Clemence, when we were heading up north in May. The next few camp spots after that were all about bird watching. Between Proserpine and Mackay, we had a couple of days at a nice little farmstay called Hold It Flats, beside the headwaters of the O’Connell River. Then, two days at a farmstay near Ilbilbie, south of Sarina, again beside a little creek. Both these places contributed some new birds to Di’s twitcher list. And it was at Ilbilbie that we learned of the forced liquidation of Kimberley Kampers, the builders of our much-loved Kruiser caravan. That was sad news, but no great problem for us as we’re well out of warranty anyway and the van is performing well. Hopefully, a phoenix might yet arise from the ashes of the company.

A short way south, we pulled in at Carmila Beach for a look-around and perhaps stay, decided against it and pushed on a little further to the small community of Flaggy Rock where we camped in the grassy grounds of the old primary school. The school closed in 1996 and is now maintained by the local Council as a nice little set-up-where-you-like campground. We stayed for three days. There aren’t too many $10 a night camp sites that can boast a beautiful swimming pool.

Moving on, we turned off the highway to the tiny village of St Lawrence for a leg stretch, and were approached by a rough-around-the-edges local with many black tats and a single black tooth who said he’d seen us taking a photo of the pub and thought we’d like to have the photo he had in his hand. It was an 8×10 he’d taken of a motor cycle gang parked outside the pub, bikes all in a row and bikies standing around in groups. He said he’d been waiting to give it to someone who’d appreciate it, probably a tourist. And we were the fortunate ones. Then off he went, leaving us with the photo. It was even signed. Hmmm…not the sort of thing that happens every day.

Marlborough Free Camp (Qld)

When Di and I relocated to Townsville in 1978, we drove the 1,300 kilometres north from Brisbane in our XA Ford Falcon. The trip was uneventful until we reached the small roadhouse in the middle of the dreaded Marlborough Stretch of highway between Rockhampton and Sarina. In those days, it was a long and notorious stretch of road where travellers occasionally disappeared. Like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the Falcon broke down near the roadhouse. Being a resourceful and handsome fellow, I was able to get it going again and we survived. Fast forward 40 years, and we were back there again, camped overnight in almost the same spot in a small clearing down a side road. Still long and lonely, the Marlborough Stretch is not so notorious today. It’s still a monotonous drive, though, seeming to go on forever through some pretty dry and uninspiring country. And still next to no signs of habitation to be seen from the highway. We survived it again.

Note to Self: Next time you feel the urge to stomp on a branch to break it up for firewood with just thongs on your feet…don’t. It’ll bugger your foot for the next three days.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Murray Falls – Forrest Beach – Home Hill (Queensland)

23/07/18  Very reluctantly, we decided not to stay on at Sybbies for the Eureka Creek campdraft. Much as we’d have loved to, Sybbie kept bringing out Cadbury’s Hazel Nut Chocolates to have with the Baileys, and Clem and Di kept baking all those cakes and biscuits, and the bathroom scales were no longer Di’s friend. Me, I had no problem at all with chocolates, Baileys, or bakery things…bring them on, I say. I just loved all the Green, and browsed through the local real estate listings. It’d be so easy for us to live up there. And it was so hard to leave, but we had to at some stage. You know what they say about visitors and fish. And besides, Di had ran out of drawers to clean in Sybbie’s kitchen. So we bit the bullet and are now heading south, making our way slowly towards home.

Before leaving East Palmerston, we spent a lovely day in Cairns catching up over lunch with Anne and Ian, neighbours from back home who were wintering in the warm weather of FNQ, and Deborah, another ex-neighbour now living up there.

Our next camp was at Murray Falls in the Girramay National Park near Tully where we’d pre-booked for two days. The falls were amazing. A little way downstream, we had a swim in flowing pools and gentle rapids among granite boulders – breathtakingly cold but wonderful. We lay back soaking up the sun on granite slabs, watching brilliant blue Ulysses butterflies fluttering overhead among the trees. It was a lovely peaceful spot we’d have loved to have stayed longer at but the weekend had arrived. The campground filled with camper trailers, tents and marquees, the quietude shattered by echoing toddler tantrums. So we pulled stumps, headed to Ingham and nearby Forrest Beach where we’d camped in June on the way up north.

We were welcomed to Ingham by Peter and Debbie. Peter had spotted the Kruiser while we were off doing some food shopping and wanted to know more about it and caravanning in general so we ended up back at his place for a cuppa and chat for a pleasant couple of hours. (Hey, Kimberley Kampers, any commission from a future Kimberley sale to Ingham we are claiming as ours. OK?)

It was nice to have beach sand between the toes again as we took a walk along Forrest Beach. Nice but frustrating as swimming is not recommended because of crocs from the nearby creeks. Was still nice though.

Di wears one of those Fitbit things that gauges her activity by counting the number of footsteps. Despite having a fairly inactive day, she was surprised that she’d recorded 7,500 steps. Now, the thing is worn on her wrist, right, not her ankle. So how does it count footsteps? I reckon it counts hand movements. I reckoned she’d probably done like 2,000 footsteps and 5,500 hand waves, mostly while giving me jobs to do. You know what I mean, right? It’s not just a verbal thing with women; there’s all that hand movement that’s directly connected to jaw movement. So, I suggested that she sit, take note of the Fitbit count, then give me some jobs to do, delivered with all the usual hand and finger gestures, and see if the count goes up. Simple test, right? She failed to see the humour in it. I was being totally serious, though. Anyway, I reckon the count went up a lot during the resulting conversation but wasn’t allowed a look to check.

In Home Hill, we caught up again with my cuz, Lorraine and her partner Tony, for dinner. We felt a bit like celebrities as Lorraine had arranged for the local Bridge Restaurant to open that night just for us Southern visitors. It was great they did too, because the food was terrific.

It was agreed by all at Sybbies that Di has CDO. It’s like OCD but all the letters are in alphabetical order…as they should be! – included at the risk of clocking up an even higher count on the Fitbit.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , ,

Undara – Pinnarendi Station – East Palmerston (Queensland)

15/07/18  After a couple of days at Cumberland Chimney, our next stop was 165kms east at Undara near Mount Surprise. We were off to see the lava tubes and, typically, pulled in without a booking. We kept forgetting it was school holidays. Not that we hadn’t tried to book ahead – they weren’t answering their phones the couple of times we called. On arrival, we were told they were fully booked – bugger. However, after some sweet talking, they put us in the overflow area located near the lodge, right beside the pool and pool amenities block. “OK, I think that should be fine.”

We were the first ones in the unpowered overflow area and set up on a large concrete slab (the only one in the whole place), big enough to take the Landy, Kruiser and an area for our chairs. The lady in the office also said we could plug into power on the side of the amenities block. Sweet! So we went from despair – “Sorry, we’re fully booked” – to having the best caravan site in the place. A walk around the caravan and camping areas a little later confirmed that. What a top spot. We extended the booking to three days.

Undara Resort (Qld)

Undara Lodge is a well-designed complex of buildings constructed to incorporate vintage wooden railway carriages. A number of carriages provided boutique accommodation suites, and the restaurant area was particularly well done with carriages converted to individual dining spaces, a bar and kitchen facilities. These formed three sides of a semi-open-air central dining area.

From a couple of different lava tubes tours on offer, we chose the Archway Experience. With boardwalks and only 395 or so steps, it would be the kindest on Di’s knee. The other tour was way more active, clambering over boulders with twice as many steps. We really enjoyed the informative two hour guided tour of the Archway tube. The formation was certainly impressive. In the darkness of the far end, our voices and lights disturbed a small colony of micro bats.

At the end of a three-day stay at Undara, we’d no sooner hitched up and left than we pulled in to Pinnarendi Station Stay and Cafe, 45kms down the road. This working cattle station also operates a farm stay and café that didn’t help our waistlines with delicious home-made ice creams, biscuits and cakes. The first night, we tucked into their terrific all-you-can-eat pizza dinner before helping the Maroons win State of Origin game three. The next day, Di got lessons in how to make sourdough bread in batches of 30 loaves – we’re planning to scale down the process for just us two.

We’re now back at East Palmerston, with Sybbie, Julie and Clem. For how long hasn’t yet been determined, but Sybbie’s dropping big hints about what good value the Eureka Creek campdraft is going to be, coming up in two weeks. I’m not sure if it’ll be safe staying that long – Di and Clem are back into baking pastries and biscuits again.

“No matter what I do, I cannot lose this 18 pounds… I mean, I have tried everything short of diet and exercise.” – Gene Pompa

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , ,

Bird Watching – Mount Carbine To Cumberland Chimney (Queensland)

7/07/18

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Cumberland Chimney (Queensland)

7/07/18  From Dimbulah, we travelled 66kms west on the Burke Development Road to Almaden, then turned south onto the gravel Gingerella Road which took us 130kms through Gingerella Station and Barwidgi Station to the Gulf Development Road near Mount Surprise. Gingerella Road is an alternative route for the Savannah Way. The road was reasonably good, with interesting scenery, but in parts was little more than a narrow track. Progress was generally no more than 60kph. We came across a few camper trailers coming the other way – no caravans fortunately as many sections were only one vehicle wide. “Not Suitable for Caravans” signs at both ends probably had something to do with the absence of vans. At one point, we came upon an unfortunate bloke who’d lost a back wheel on his 4WD camper ute, doing the long wait to be trucked out. In the three hours he’d been waiting there, he’d set up camp in the shade and had done some washing, and he was in for a comfortable wait at least. He had plenty of water, so we left him to his pleasant unplanned campsite and continued on, carefully snigging past his vehicle that was up on a jack in the middle of the track.

We needed fuel at Mount Surprise. The first servo’s awning was too low for the van so we pulled out and went up the road to the other little two-bowser servo, which already had a caravan in its short bay. We’d have to turn around anyway to come in to the bowser on the correct side so we went up the road a little, did a U-turn, came back and parked on the opposite side of the road to watch and wait for the caravan to finish up and clear the bay. Five minutes later, we’re still waiting. Another five minutes and the bloke finally sauntered back to his car, hopped in and began to pull out. I thought “You beauty” and headed over to come in behind him. Half-way out, though, he stopped. “What the…?” His wife appeared with a dog, probably been off doing pooper duty, and fiddled around fitting Fido into the back seat. Meanwhile, I’m only half in behind him with the tail end of the Kruiser sticking out on the roadway. She finally sorted out the dog, went to the front passenger door, opened it… grabbed her purse, and started to walk away. “What the…?” That’s when I thought I’d remind them I was there in case they weren’t already aware so I could get in off the road. So I gave them a toot of the horn – not a big angry toot, just a little friendly one. Well, she spun around mid-stride, a murderous look in her eyes, fist in the air, saying things I’m glad I couldn’t hear. I thought “WHAT THE…?” She slow-walked away, stopped, turned and glared, slow-walked some more, stopped, turned, glared some more. My life was flashing before my eyes. I thought “I’m done for as soon as I get out of this car”. She slow-walked to the porch of the pub next door, turned and held a long cold glare before going inside. Gulp. While my attention was frozen on her, Hubbie had pulled out with the van and parked up the road. I moved forward, fuelled up and paid. As I got back in the car, there she was again, doing her gunslinger slow-walk past us, stopping, turning, glaring some more daggers at me. Man, what a demon! We were lucky to get out of there unscathed. I thought I’d be a dead set headline in tomorrow’s paper. Poor Hubbie! I wouldn’t have parked up the road if I was him. I’d have kept driving while she was in the pub.

To further make our day, on a one-lane bitumen stretch near Georgetown we copped a sizable chip in the windscreen from an oncoming car and caravan driven by Allan Moffat, wheels in the gravel throwing up rocks. Bugger. It’ll probably need replacing in Innisfail if it ends up cracking. I’ll be very lucky if it doesn’t.

Mid-afternoon at the end of a long day’s drive, we finally pulled in to the free camp at Cumberland Chimney, west of Georgetown, only to find the place chockers with caravans, motorhomes and various camper setups, shoe-horned in to the designated camping area with no more room for us. “The day was just getting better and better,” I thought. The place is located next to a large waterhole with lots of birdlife and waterlilies and we’d heard a few people comment favourably about it. But while doing a quick recce on foot, I noticed that you couldn’t see the water from most of the campsites. It was only when I walked back to the van left parked outside up the track a little that we both realised we had a good water view from where we were. So we dropped anchor and put down stumps right there. To our left was an unobstructed view of the waterhole; to our right was an unobstructed panorama of the setting sun. No neighbours close by, just a few grazing cattle. Over in the camp area, everyone was knocking elbows, generators going, music, smoky fires, dogs barking, people barking at dogs barking – hardly Serenity.

It had certainly been one of those days. But our campsite ended up being good.

The Cumberland Chimney was the site of a gold mine and town in the late 1800s with a population of around 400. All that’s left now is a tall brick chimney standing sentinel in the scrub above the waterhole that was once the dam servicing the community. We’d come there for the birdlife around the waterhole and Di got busy with her cameras.

After 4 years of travelling and searching, we were excited the next morning to see our first flock of budgerigars wheeling over the waterhole. The flock of around 30 birds circled so quickly, it was difficult to get a good picture but Di was able to get a couple of very presentable shots. In an unguarded moment later on while she was snoozing, I grabbed up one of her cameras to capture a Masked Finch (a new bird) while I was lounging outside reading a book. She was disappointed to have missed it herself as she’d been on the lookout for one for a while. I consoled her with “I was just reading my book, looked up, saw it sitting on the wire, and took a picture. How hard is this bird photography.” Should have known better.

Another reason for coming back this way was to go to Cobbold Gorge. Pictures of the boat ride through the gorge looked impressive but when we heard it’d cost $100 each, we reconsidered. It wasn’t about the affordability; that price just seemed a bit steep. $50 each – yep, no worries; that’s a reasonable price for a boat ride. But $100 – nah. We could do a lot more better things with $200… like buying a gold detector, hey Di? Kids, if you’re reading this, Dad wants a gold detector for his birthday. Hint, hint.

“Say what you will about women, but I think being able to turn one toot into a life and death melodrama takes talent.”

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , ,

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