Travel News – Queensland

Bushman’s Rest, Lake Cullulleraine – Weethalle Showground – Narrabri – Scarborough (South Australia – Queensland)

20161223  Saying goodbye to our camping buddies Charles and Joy at World’s End Reserve, we followed the Goyder Highway east through rolling hills, golden fields of wheat and endless sheep pastures. The Murray River soon appeared on our right, and from the top of the Golden Limestone Cliffs, we looked out on the swollen river. Flood waters had breached the banks and spread out through the river red gums on the broad floodplain to the far cliffs. It was wonderful to see the mighty Murray so full and replenished by recent rains. There was a downside to the flooding, though. The many scenic bush camps dotted along the river were under all that floodwater.

Consequently we motored on, following the meandering river east and crossing it just beyond Renmark via the Paringa Bridge. This heritage listed bridge has a single railway line in the centre (now disused), with a narrow road lane on each side of it. A lift span allows river traffic to pass underneath. The road lane felt very tight for the Kruiser and we were glad it wasn’t any wider.

A little way down the road, we crossed into Victoria, intending to stay at a bush camp on the border. The Landy, though, was showing an outside temperature of 38C and rising, and we opted instead for a powered site. We spent the night beside Lake Cullulleraine at the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park with the aircon keeping us cool and comfortable. The next morning was overcast with a forecast of rain. It was our wedding anniversary and we stayed on a second day beside the lake to celebrate.

img_3089Between the small towns of Goolgowi and Rankins Springs on the Mid Western Highway, we were happy to sit a long way back from a caravan that was travelling along at our pace. Suddenly, the van tilted and pulled over to the roadside, having lost a wheel. We stopped and gave them a hand to find the wandering wheel, got their details and went ahead to Rankins Springs to arrange a tow vehicle to get them into nearby Griffith where the broken wheel studs could be replaced. We were the first on hand to help them, and two other caravans pulled up to offer help as well. Aussies are a great bunch, quick to pitch in and do what they can when someone’s in trouble, especially for travellers on the side of the road.

That night, we camped in the showgrounds of the small town of Weethalle, among a group of rustic buildings facing a white-fenced trotting track sitting idle between infrequent race meetings. A local contact person was very helpful in opening up the facilities and making sure we were comfortable for the night.

From Lake Cullulleraine in upper Victoria, we had three big motoring days that took us home by Christmas Day, firstly 547kms to Weethalle in New South Wales, then 578kms to Narrabri where we stayed the night with Deb and Stu, and the final leg of 611kms to home. North of Narrabri, broad sheets of water lying in the paddocks and across the road at one point was evidence of recent rains. We’d crossed three State borders in four days to spend the festive day with family.

Since commencing in 2014, we’ve travelled 65,740kms with the van. Here are some facts about our overlanding to WA this year:

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“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – The Landy 

The Landy

The Landy and Kruiser

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

Bowra Wildlife Reserve (Queensland)

2/05/16  Continuing our journey west, we headed from St George to Cunnamulla where, after a quick fuel stop, we went on a little way northwest to Bowra Wildlife Reserve.

The former cattle station, purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservation in 2010, now operates as a nature reserve and is a popular destination for birdwatchers. We’d no sooner set up camp next to a waterhole when we were descended upon by mobs of red and grey kangaroos coming for a drink and to feed on the green pick beside the water. They were constant visitors throughout our two day stay.

The reserve is staffed by volunteer caretakers who stay for a month at a time, and who are themselves expert twitchers. We were provided with a map of the reserve showing all the vehicle tracks and best birdwatching spots, and off we went. It was overcast for most of the two days. On their website, they mentioned problems if it rained, and on day two we discovered what they meant. We’d driven out to a spot called Saw Pit Waterhole and while there, a very light shower of rain came over. Heading back, what was a nice bush track coming in turned to ugly sticky mud that caked the Landy and filled the wheel arches. It’s somewhat disconcerting when you turn the steering wheel and you just keep heading straight. But also kind of fun. We made it back to camp with a very muddy vehicle, and decided it might not be wise to extend out stay at Bowra Wildlife Reserve as we’d been thinking, in case we couldn’t get out.

Remember what I previously said about plans? With the change in weather, we’ve changed our plan to head to Cameron Corner. The rain seems to have set in around the place and, beyond Thargomindah, most of the roads are unsealed. It might be just too much of a gamble, and caravanning in the mud is not my idea of fun. It’s a pity, but we can get out there another time.

Di enjoyed the couple of days’ birdwatching, and ticked off two birds from her Birds I Really Want To See list – Major Mitchell Cockatoo and Bourkes Parrot. She’d been chasing those two since we were in the Northern Territory last year and was very pleased to have seen them at last.

“I only go birdwatching during mating season. I’m a pornithologist.” – Bauvard

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

St George (Queensland)

29/04/16  At Bowenville, I noticed that the Landy wasn’t charging the caravan as well as it should when we were travelling. Thinking that the alternator might be the problem, we headed 90kms back to Toowoomba to have it checked out by an auto electrician. Fortunately, it was just a faulty circuit breaker in the car and was quickly fixed. We stayed the night at Highfields with relatives, David and Suellen, and our niece Abby and husband Sam dropped by and shared some top spots from their recent camper trailer trip to WA. These will come in handy when we get over there.

Heading west from Toowoomba the next day, we took the Moonie Highway from Dalby and pushed on to St George. It was a long trip through uninteresting dry country and the final half of the road should be renamed “Pig Root” Highway after all the dips. St George is tucked in against the eastern bank of a sweeping bend in the Balonne River. Despite very dry conditions throughout the area, the river was a long, wide expanse of water, contained by a weir located a short distance downstream.

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Adjacent to the weir was the spot where the explorer, Sir Thomas Mitchell, on his expedition into Queensland crossed what he named the Balonne River and made camp on St George’s Day in 1846. He called the natural rock crossing St George Bridge, from which the eventual town derived its name in 1862.

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We also located the old Queenslander-style house overlooking the river where Di’s sister Deb and husband Stuart lived for a while.

IMG_1906We stayed for three relaxing days at St George’s Pelican Rest Tourist Park looking around the local points of interest, stocking up the pantry at the IGA, and generally reacquainting ourselves with the Kruiser. A lot gets quickly forgotten in four months. Routines began to be re-established as we settled back into our comfortable caravan life.

St George has a winery, too! We heard they make a bloody good Port, but turns out it’s actually way better than that…

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Interesting fact about the Sir Thomas Mitchell: He is the last person in Australia to challenge anyone to a duel. In September 1851 when he was Surveyor General for NSW, Mitchell issued a challenge to Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson because Donaldson had publicly criticised excessive spending by the Surveyor General’s Department. The duel took place in Sydney on 27 September with both duellists missing their marks. The French 50 calibre pistols used in the duel are in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.

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

On the Road Again – Bowenville Reserve (Queensland)

25/04/16  We’d been home at Scarborough since mid-December and, with one thing and another, the intended short stay blew out to four months.

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Much of the time was spent fixing things that have gone wrong at home while we’d been away. The battery in the other car had died and had to be replaced. Because it had sat unused since June 2014, the tyres developed flat spots that drove like the wheels were square. Have to admit I hadn’t thought of that problem in our pre-trip preparations. I fixed the seized garbage disposal, and a wonky shower tap. Outdoor furniture was re-oiled, the landline phone had gone on strike – the list went on and on. Things atropfy quickly through underuse.

It was great to catch up with family and friends again, but we quickly became restless for travel. Travelling offers challenges and freedom. Living in the Kruiser and seeing new places every day is addictive and has become the norm. Apartment life no longer completely satisfies us and we’ve been looking forward to once again being on the road.

Pondering what we’ve been doing for the past two years, I’ve come to realise that we haven’t just been “travelling” as we’ve always called it; we’ve been “overlanding”. We’ve travelled almost 40,000 kilometres across half the Australian continent and aim to cover as much of the remainder as possible. So I reckon the term “overlanding” better suits what we do. Overlanding is described as self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. I reckon that’s about right.

The Kruiser has been serviced, and we journeyed off again this morning on our fourth travel leg. The plan now is to first head to Cameron Corner, the point where the borders of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia all meet. From there, we’ll journey down to Victoria and South Australia and then across to Western Australia. That’s about the extent of the planning so far, and you know what they say about plans…

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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

Camooweal (Queensland)

3/07/2015  We travelled south from Gregory Downs via the Gregory Downs Camooweal Road and then the Yelvertoft Road to meet up with the Barkly Highway and west to Camooweal. It was a total of 257kms and took well over four hours; quite a long driving stretch for us but an enjoyable one as we went through some very picturesque countryside and spinifex ridges along the way. About halfway, we stopped for a cuppa and quick leg stretch before heading on. The first 130kms of road from Gregory Downs was gravel that initially had a good smooth sandy surface but soon went to rough corrugated gibber rocks. The final stretch was on bitumen. Car speed was around 40-60kph on the gravel and 80-90kms on the bitumen as the tyre pressure was still set low for the gravel. Both car and caravan did very well, likewise driver and navigator. The Stone Stomper performed well and kept the van surprisingly clean with not too much dust.

We arrived in Camooweal around 2 o’clock and set up camp at the back of the Post Office Hotel Motel. It was nice to be on power and have cell/internet coverage after a couple of weeks in the Dark. We’re pretty frugal with our power use when we’re on solar, so there’s a feeling of decadence from being able to do things on power like quickly boil an electric kettle, leave as many lights on as you like, leisurely browse the Net and have a long hot shower that doesn’t come from your tank. We ended up staying for a few days to catch up on emails, Facebook, Facetime, (all the Faces) recharge all the trappings of technology, and wash a load of red dust off the car and van where it’d gotten into every nook and cranny. You forget that the rear wheel cover on the car is in fact black, and not red.

Camooweal has a population of 310 and is the most western town in Queensland. Just a 13km stone’s throw from the Northern Territory border, it declares itself the ‘Gateway to the Northern Territory and Queensland’.

On the eastern outskirts of town, the Camooweal Drovers Camp is housed in a large shed full of implements and artefacts from the region’s droving past. Camooweal was the droving capital of Australia back in the day. The centre is staffed and administered on a voluntary basis by veteran drovers, who come to Camooweal from where they now live all around the country to do a stretch at the centre. We were given a two-hour tour and talk by veteran drover, Tom Green, a really nice chap who took us through the history of the cattle industry in the northern parts of Australia, and shared some great yarns about what a cattle drive and a cattle camp were like back in the days before the road trains. We felt very privileged to share these experiences with these wiry, slow-talking veteran drovers whose hands and faces reflect a long life of work in the Outback. You can tell these guys were the real deal simply by their hats.

We particularly wanted to check out the sinkhole caves that have evolved over millions of years and are dotted around the area. So, one afternoon, we headed to the Camooweal Caves National Park just south of town. Unfortunately, the sink holes and caves aren’t accessible to visitors except experienced cavers with appropriate climbing gear and a permit, but we were able to view two large holes up close, the Great Nowranie Cave and Little Nowranie Cave, and only guess at what might be awaiting discovery down below. These caves are quite deep and unstable around the rim so we heeded the warning signs not to venture too close to the edge. Surrounding the large cave were numerous naturally bonsaied ficus trees that I checked out with much envy.

On the way out of the park, we pulled up at the Nowranie Waterhole, a very picturesque stretch of water bordered by ancient river gums, and a haven for birdlife. There was movement behind me and the serenity was cut by the whip-crack of the Canon’s shutter. And Di had bagged yet another scalp – first sighting of a Pacific (White-necked) Heron.

“I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places”. – Henny Youngman

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Gregory River Camp (Queensland)

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29/06/2015  We spent another nine days at Gregory River after returning to it from Adels Grove. It was a terrific camp site, with a clear fast running stream, cloudless skies for solar, generator use if needed, lots of wood available just out of town for the camp fire, a historic pub just a short walk away, fuel at the pub, and clean toilets and showers across from the pub. Easy to see why people stay on for a while there.

Things were starting to get a bit desperate for us in terms of life’s necessities, though. Di was down to her last bottle of Sav Blanc, and I was looking at my last bottle of Coopers Pale Ale, my Shiraz having already run dry. Secondary to this, the drinking and general water tanks were getting very low as well. We hadn’t intended staying on that long, but departure was delayed because I’d pulled a muscle in my lower back and needed a few days for it to settle down before being abIMG_9877le to drive comfortably.

We could have taken on treated water up at the pub, but it would’ve been a hassle to move the van just for that and we may have lost our camp site to someone else in the process. So I broke out the draw hose I’d made last year before starting our travels, and set up the van to draw the beautiful clear water from the Gregory River into our drinking and general tanks. And it worked quite well. When the tanks were full, I left the intake hose in the river to give us long hot showers using river water drawn direct to the shower rather than from our tanks. This will be a good set up in our travels as we won’t necessarily be limited to our on-board water supplies and, if need be, can make use of any good creek water we come across.

The generator that we’d been carrying for twelve months got put to use for the first time. At Adels Grove, the van had been parked up in full shade and by the time we got back to the Gregory the batteries were pretty low. It didn’t take the genie long, though, to get the lithiums back up to full capacity. Ours is a big heavy Yamaha 2.4KVA generator, and may well have contributed to my back problems as it had to be lifted out of the storage pod. But aside from its weight, it was reasonably quiet and did a good job…and it’s big enough to power the aircon if necessary. Woohoo! (Yet to do that…)

During our layover at the Gregory, we had a rethink about our forward itinerary. Instead of heading into the Northern Territory to the north via the Savannah Way, we will instead go south to Camooweal and then wheel north at the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse to Cape Crawford and Borroloola. From there, we’ll access Lorella Springs and the Southern Lost City, and Limmen National Park. And should hopefully be able to dip a toe in the waters of the Gulf somewhere around there. The Gulf coastline is proving elusive.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai

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Burketown (Queensland)

23/06/2015  To allow us to stay on at the Gregory River for a couple more days, we needed to replenish some grocery items, so we did a day trip north to Burketown in the Discovery, leaving the van at Gregory Downs.

Burketown is located on the Savanna Way just below the southern part of the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are two ways to get to Burketown from Gregory Downs – north via the Wills Development Road or looping around to the east via the Floraville Road. Together, these roads form almost an elongated loop with Burketown at the top and Gregory Downs at the bottom. We decided to do it anticlockwise; going there one way and coming back the other.

Heading off east and then north on the Floraville Road took us through the Augustus Downs property to the Leichhardt Falls, 70kms south of Burketown. There was a large waterhole in the river above the cascade but unfortunately, after three years of drought, no water was flowing over the falls. It would be a spectacular sight when it was flowing. The road is laid on top of the broad rock shelf that forms the river bed, and a crossing in the wet would certainly involve getting the vehicles wet.

Burketown has a population of 200 and comprises a pub, bakery, café/restaurant, grocery store, a few government service offices, a small school and a sprinkling of houses. Not much there but great for the fisherman as it lays claim to being the Barramundi Capital of Australia with its many nearby waterways.

The Burketown Bore was drilled in 1897 and is still flowing. It is now uncapped and the rich mineral waters feed a wetland on the southern outskirts of town. The water is too hot to touch straight out of the bore but soon cools in the wetlands area. We were very close to the Gulf, but couldn’t get to the beach because of the extensive salt flats that are not traversable. Only a smidgeon away on the map – so near yet so far.

After lunch and shopping, we continued the anticlockwise loop to take us back to Gregory Downs, and had an enjoyable meal that night with Paula and Peter and their friends Graham and Chris.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo

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Adels Grove – Lawn Hill National Park (Queensland)

20/06/2015  The road from Gregory Downs to Adels Grove was gravel, the first 70kms until the Century Mine turnoff coated with a compacted emulsion made from oil to provide a fairly smooth and comfortable road surface. This stretch was maintained by the mine for their B-Triple ore trucks that ran 24/7. Beyond the mine turnoff, the road reverted to corrugated gravel for the remaining 15 or so kilometres to Adels Grove; very bone-jarring in sections, until I dropped the tyre pressure on the car and caravan to give a better ride.

Road To Adels Grove (Qld)

Road To Adels Grove (Qld)

After driving through very flat open dry country, Adels Grove was a green strip of tropical forest beside Lawn Hill Creek. We were fortunate to find a secluded site tucked away at the far end of the camping area, next to the creek. Utilising Di’s ever developing directional hand signal skills (she’s advanced beyond “Back” and “Stop” signals to “Left” and “Right” as well) and my equally developing reversing skills, we reversed the van between and around trees and into our tight site without losing any paint or tree bark in the process.

What was left of Day One was spent looking around the camping area facilities (including restaurant and trying out the bar) and setting up dinner on the camp fire. Next day, we unhooked the van to drive 30 minutes further on via an even more corrugated gravel road to Lawn Hill National Park, with its spectacular gorges and picturesque waterway. We hiked to Indarri, an absolutely spectacular section of the river that afforded us a scenic swimming hole with waterfalls where we had lunch and a cool swim, before hiking on to Indarri Lookout and Duwadarri Lookout, both overlooking the gorge and river below. The views were just spectacular. The scale of this place was just mind-blowing.

This place is a marvel, just a very narrow strip of green tropical oasis surrounded by a very dry and barren landscape. How it came to be is a miracle of nature and at every turn of the walking path we were amazed at the rock formations or views we came across.

After two days at Adels Grove, we headed back to the riverside camp at Gregory Downs to meet up with Di’s sister, Paula and her partner, Peter. As luck would have it, our previous camp site was unoccupied and we moved straight back in. Felt like being home again. In no time at all, the van was set up and we were back into the water for a swim.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32)

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Terry Smith Rest Area – Gregory Downs (Queensland)

17/06/2015  As we were heading out of West Leichhardt Station, we came across a mob of wild camels sauntering across the gravel road just ahead of us. We pulled up and spent a little while watching them graze just a little away from the car. Di was elated and snapped off many pics. Tick off “Camel” (Fifth Tick) on her “Animals in the Wild” list.

IMG_9709The drive east along the Barkly Highway to Cloncurry took us through some very picturesque country, with scenic rocky hills and boulder formations on either side. I took note that I’ll shortly have to replace the window motor on Di’s side as she was lowering and raising the window every couple of minutes to take a shot of some new rock formation or another (sigh) Whistling Kite.

In Cloncurry, we stocked up on groceries, paid a couple of bills, and had a wander around the town. But the heat was getting to us so we jumped back into the air-conditioning and headed 100kms north on the Burke Development Road to our overnight camp at Terry Smith Rest Area. About twelve vans had beaten us in and grabbed all the spots. The only bit of ground left was near the toilet block and on sloping ground; probably why no-one else had taken it. The Kruiser’s airbags made an easy job of levelling the van, though, and the couple next door came over to say how they were surprised we chose that spot until they saw the van straighten itself up. Makes you feel like a proud parent. It turned out to be a nice private spot with a great view to the distant hills, and with a cleared camp fire area just into the nearby Mitchell Grass next to the van. And the bonus of an ensuite right next door!

Next morning and about 90kms further on, we pulled in to the Burke and Wills Roadhouse at the Three Ways Intersection for fuel and a looksee. It’s located at the intersection of the Burke Development Road and the Wills Development Road. Not sure, though, why it’s called Three Ways and not Four Ways. After topping up the fuel, we turned west onto the Wills Development Road towards Gregory Downs. It had been a good drive as both these roads were well maintained, mostly single lane bitumen with wide gravel edges. We had to be wary of the road trains that operate 24/7 carrying zinc ore from Dugald River Development Project north of Cloncurry to its Century Processing Operation at Lawn Hill and encountered a few of the empty triples returning to Cloncurry. Apart from them, there was very little oncoming traffic, only the occasional caravan.

Gregory is a very small community clustered around the pub, built in 1877. The road in front of the Gregory Downs pub had to be the widest main street we’d ever seen. We camped in the riverbed of the Gregory River up next to the water and hoped it didn’t rain upstream while we were there. This is a popular camp spot with lots of caravans, but we managed to find a site up the end on a bend of the river looking upstream with everyone else behind us, so it felt quite private. It was a lovely spot, and with the temperature in the 30’s, the cold flowing water was very refreshing. You could jump in the shallow stream, float along downstream in the fast flowing current and walk back upstream to do it all again.

State of Origin Game Two was watched up at the pub following a nice meal. It was a lively evening, with a group of the local Waanyi People outnumbering the handful of travellers. These are the traditional owners of the Gregory area and reside at the Bidungu Aboriginal Reserve just outside of town. It was a good night and we walked back to the river camp using our torches under a spectacular starry sky.

The following day, I used the phone box outside the pub to book a couple of days at Adels Grove, further on up the road near Lawn Hill National Park. The recorded message said they were on another call, please ring back, then cut me off. No choice but into the pub for a beer. After downing that one, it was back out to the phone box to try again, and the same recorded message. Once again, back into the pub for another beer. I wasn’t minding this too much. The next try, though, they picked up and we were booked in for a couple of days for starters and we’ll see what happens after that.

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ― Christopher McCandless

Categories: Animals In The Wild List (AITW), Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

West Leichhardt Station (Queensland)

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15/06/2015   West Leichhardt Station is a 500,000 acre working cattle property in the hills to the north-east of Mt Isa, and the owners Ron and Joan Croft provide a small number of powered and unpowered sites next to the sprawling homestead. The property spans both sides of the southern end of Lake Julius Road and around the homestead itself is a lush green oasis in the desert, nestled beneath scenic rocky hills. The road in was 14kms of dusty corrugated gravel that rattled the rig because the tyre pressure was still set for bitumen. When we pulled in, Ron was out on the property but Joan welcomed us with a cuppa and a chat while we waited for Ron to get back.

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There were five other campers when we arrived and it turned out many had been before and kept coming back each year because they liked the welcoming feel of the place, often staying on much longer than initially planned. We were taken on a guided tour of a small section of the property by Warren from Armidale, there on his ninth annual return visit to the station. This is one of the few places where you are able to pitch in and do some work around the property if you want to. The benefit of this is that you got to spend more time with Ron, who is a real Bushie – grown up on the property, mustered and trained with Aboriginal stockmen as a boy, took over managing the property at the age of 14 following the death of his father and, now in his 70s, knows the place like the back of his hand.

These folk were lovely to spend time with. They’ve grown up on the land and weathered droughts and floods and are still doing the hard yards to make a living in the Outback. They are genuine folk who welcome a laugh and good company after a day’s work, take hardship with a shrug and enjoy the good times when they come.

Di and I usually avoid Happy Hour gatherings, but they took on a whole new meaning each night around the roaring open BBQ at the homestead, with lots of wine and tall tales. Jamie the Ringer was a real larrikin and kept us laughing. On our first night there, Ron and Joan put on a roast beef dinner for everyone. The home-grown beef was beautiful. The following night, they served up a beaut curry and rice dinner. Next it was another roast, then barramundi and salad, then roast again. Not too many places provide that sort of hospitality to campers! Evening meals were an all-in affair around the fire or on the patio of the original homestead which was now sitting empty.
We met and formed friendships with fellow campers Warren and Ross, two long-time mates from Armidale, Mandy and Colin from Griffith, Anne and Glen from Mt Isa, Noel from no fixed address, David and Sue from Mt Isa, and farm hands Jamie and Christine, and Ivan and Nadia. And in the last few days, David and Sue arrived.

Once a month, Ron musters his cattle by helicopter. Two aerial ringers were working the choppers, and we tagged along with Ron to watch the 1,000 head of cattle come in to the yards. The tiny choppers buzzed around like dragonflies, dropping below the tree line and rising up again to move cattle out of gullies and holes and push them to the yards. Once in the yards, the fat cattle were drafted out to go off to the meatworks in Townsville or for live cattle export, while the weaners were moved to a separate weaning yard. Clean skins since the last muster were branded and strays from the neighbouring properties separated out. Wet or milking cattle were matched up with their calves and released back onto the property.

We went in to Mt Isa one day to stock up on groceries and meat which we had cryovaced so it could be stored in the fridge. The butcher failed to tell us that cryovacing can go wrong if the meat contained a bone that may puncture the bag and introduce air. While unpacking back at the station, two T-bone packs and two lamb chop packs were no longer air tight, and the meat would go off very quickly in the fridge. Next morning, it was back into town to have the leaky ones double-packed. We’ll use those packs first, just in case of another blow-out. Lesson learned – don’t cryovac meat with bones!

Although we’d planned to leave after five days, Di was very sore on the morning of departure, and we stayed on a bit more. Not that there were any complaints from either of us, it was a nice place to be. The sky had been grey and overcast all the previous day, and we’d had 3mls of rain overnight – possibly accounted for Di’s aches. Light rain continued all the next day putting another 4mls in the rain gauge. 7mls is not much but it was good to see anyway, and I said to Ron with a smile, “Well, the creeks will be up now so we can’t leave.”

We found a very small spot on top of the dam wall just a little way from our camp where we got Optus mobile reception and it was great to talk to the kids for the first time in a week.

After a stay of eight days, we left West Leichhardt Station. Ron calls the place “Home” and says that we’ll be back “cause everyone always needs to come back Home”. We sure will, just like many others do. That’s if we can get out in the morning because they keep threatening to park the grader across the grid so we have to stay on. We made some great friends, and look forward to catching up with them again and to visiting the property again.

“Men read maps better than women because only men can understand the concept of an inch equalling a hundred miles.” ― Roseanne Barr

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

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