A Travellerspoint blog


1 July, Monday to 2 July, Tuesday

sunny 25 °C
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Another big drive to get to Lawn Hill. We detoured 6 hours off the main route to camp at Lawn Hill. Cherelle’s mother inlaw (Brookie) recommended we camp here. AMAZING. Thanks Brookie!!!!

Lawn Hill is literally an oasis in the middle of nothingness. We canoed the turquoise clear waters of this magnificent gorge. We swam up to waterfalls and canoed through exquisite purple flowering water lilies. You could see right down to the bottom of the river and count the fish. The river is spring fed as well as rain fed so the water is quite warm. Once again lovely to be swimming in the middle of winter.
We also tackled a few walking tracks there. I say “a few” as we followed Cherelle who we thought knew where we were going ha ha. We eventually reached the top of the gorge for breathtaking views of where we had spent the day canoeing and swimming. We saw some aboriginal rock art as well just to make the whole outback experience here special.

Our campsite in Adele’s Grove, although not powered, was my favourite on this trip so far. Really private, shaded with a stone camp fire place on our site. We collected wood and cooked damper and toasted marshmellows on sticks at our fire in the evening. If it wasn’t for Ellen none of that would have happened. She collected wood, lit our fires and taught us how to roast marshmallows and wrap damper dough on the end of our sticks to cook in the fire. I made way too much dough so I wrapped a big blob in foil and popped it into the embers. OMG great dessert with lashings of butter and honey and cups of tea.

We loved our stay at Lawn Hill. It’s on my “come back to” list. Expensive to stay here though. $17 a head. They don’t charge by campsite like every other park. So if you are a party of 4 it’s 4 x $17 Ahhhh that’s way too expensive for an unpowered site and quite primitive amenities. Petrol was almost $2 a litre as well. Still on my “come back to” list though.

Posted by buttermenthol 06:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


28 June Friday to 29 June Saturday

sunny 25 °C
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We left Hughenden and drove all the way to Winton, back tracking 100k’s to Richmond first. We were hoping to participate in a guided fossil dig in Richmond but the guide was away for a week. Just our bad luck. We ended up taking ourselves off to a local quarry instead to conduct our own dig and fossil hunt. We armed ourselves with screw drivers, a hammer and a small spade out of swifty’s tool box and actually found quite a few fossils. Long ago Winton was a great ocean so the fossils we found were all marine fossils. We took our find back to the fossil centre to have them identified. Very cool. We’d found shells, shrimp vertebra and fish fragments.

After our morning in Richmond and some bacon and egg rolls at a café we hit the long endless road of nothingness to Winton. We saw emu’s in the wild. We stopped the car to admire them and take photos. Eventually they crossed the road near us one at a time. Out here you have to be prepared at all times to share the road with wild life and stock whilst always keeping an eye out for that rouge kangaroo ready to leap out in front of the car.

The road kill along these long stretches of highway is horrendous. It seems as though there is one or two dead kangaroo’s every kilometre that we drive. Cherelle had no choice once but to drive right over the top of one dead kangaroo as veering around it was impossible. It was pretty big so it made quite a big bang under the car then under Swifty, actually it dinted the underside of Swifty. Nothing serious but the fur and rotting flesh came with us all the way to our campsite in Winton. We could smell a foul smell all night then realized that it was under Swifty. Cherelle had to combat crawl under the van with a spade and bucket of soapy water and scrap off some pretty nasty roo remains. Euiww.
Our campsite in Winton was once again a big gravel carpark. We had a strip of green fake grass on our site. We felt a bit special with that. The water that the entire town uses is actually underground bore water. It had a heavy strong smell of sulpher. Really bad. We would gag whilst brushing our teeth. Showering in it was so gross. Like showering in rotten egg gas really. We had to buy all our water in this town as we felt that it was undrinkable.

We did some great things in Winton though. We drove out to Lark Quarry on one of our days in Winton and saw the famous dinosaur stampede footprints. They uncovered hundreds of dinosaur footprints here and paleontologists have been able to work out which dinosaurs they were and how fast they were travelling and piece together a story of how the stampede occurred. The entire stampede is covered by a structure that protects it and allows visitors to stand close and observe. Basically a museum built right over the stampede foot prints.
We also did a walk through town and discovered “Arno’s wall”. My goodness that was crazy. Some guy named Arnold has spent his life mixing concrete and collecting junk from the tip to build a massive high wall around his house. It’s well worth a walk around. He has thrown in so many things into that wall, motor bikes, old farm equipment, hub caps and even a couple of kitchen sinks. I really loved it. Wish I could make one too.
We had a couple of nights out too. Once at a lovely old pub to see a band. I loved the band. 3 guys playing sax, violin and guiter. Amazing talent right out in the middle of no where. The other night we had a great steak and veg dinner at a different pub. The four of us played cards before and after dinner there. More room at the pub than swifty. Winton also has an open air cinema. Awesome. None of us had ever been to one. It was old and quaint. We snuck our wines in from the pub and had a giggle. Actually Cherelle was hysterically laughing. So much we thought we might be evicted. Funny. It was fitting that they played old black and white commercials before launching the old black and white cartoons and finishing with the three stooges. Very enjoyable under the stars. They served tea in tin mugs and dished out the cookies afterwards. Not bad for $7 each.

The highlight of our stay in Winton was another dinosaur experience. This time at a centre called “The Age of Dinosaurs” This is a great place to see the dinosaurs that have been discovered in recent years in the land surrounding Winton. Australia has only around 5% of the dinosaurs discovered across the world so not too many here at all. But everyone is excited in Winton as it appears that there are quite a few sites here where bones have been found and bought across to the “Age of Dinosaur Centre” for restoration. We did a couple of tours here. Fascinating really. The last part of the tour was to go through the lab and actually see the team restoring dinosaur bones and piecing them together. They actually admitted to using super glue. We actually got to hold a dinosaur toe bone. It was big and heavy and we couldn’t believe it was just a little toe bone. It really hits home how big these guys really were, 100 million years ago.

Winton actually concluded our dinosaur fossil experience here in Central Queensland. Hughenden, Richmond and Winton form the official dinosaur trail. Glad we stopped and explored these 3 towns. So very different from how we live in Sydney.

Posted by buttermenthol 15:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


27 June Thursday

sunny 26 °C
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Not much I can say about Hughenden. A county town with a pub. It is part of the dinosaur trail in central Queensland so a lot of the town’s quirky dinosaur features were quite charming. We loved the wheelie bins which were all big fiberglass dinosaur feet or heads. There was quite a lot of metal art throughout the town, which I really loved. Dinosaur and fossil shell murals and dinosaur sculptures throughout.

Before we hit our campsite for the night we had a couple of ciders at the local pub. A great end to a big driving day. The pub was actually quite quirky too with a pool table that was completely round. A big green circle. None of us have seen one like that before. Looked like it got lots of use though. We headed back to swifty for a big George Foreman cookup. Cherelle manned the George Foreman and loaded it with slices of seasoned eggplant, carrot, zucchini, potato and sweet potato. I did the chicken snitznels which are becoming quite a hit on this road trip. I must say we do eat really well and always make an effort to cook. That’s part of the fun for us. Crack a couple of bottles of wine and start whipping up some fine food. Sherrie always sneaks an assortment of chocolate biscuits into the shopping trolley so after dinner its cups of tea and a buffet of biscuits.

Once again not much to say about Hughenden only that I can see that our stay here in central Queensland will be very dinosaur and fossil orientated. No more green grass. Infact the caravan parks out here look like big gravel carparks. Such a shock for us after 2 months of glorious coastal rainforests.

Posted by buttermenthol 15:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


25 June Tuesday to 26 June Wednesday

sunny 26 °C
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We caught the passenger ferry from Townsville over to Magnetic Island for the day. Magnetic Island is a residential Island with pubs, shops and resorts. An all-day bus pass is available for $7 and the bus travels around the island hourly picking you up and dropping you off at all the major attractions / walks. We enjoyed the beauty of the island as well as learning a few interesting facts. Captain Cook named it Magnetic Island as his compass went crazy when he sailed around it. It is quite a lovely island with a strong war history as well. Townsville was the military capital during the war and Magnetic Island housed the forts and big guns. Magnetic Island protected the Mainland from Japanese invasion.

Sherrie, Cherelle, Ellen and I did the fort walk which was a 4 k return walk up to the fort ruins which once at the top offered a 360 degree view of the Island. We saw a koala in the wild too which was very exciting. We squealed and took lots of photos. We jumped back on the bus and then swam in Horseshoe Bay. We treated ourselves to an ice cream after our picnic lunch before embarking on our second big walk across the point from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay. It was a treacherous climb up followed by an equally treacherous descent, but Balding Bay was AMAZING. We all enjoyed a swim and a nap on the sand.

Posted by buttermenthol 01:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


22 June Saturday to 24 June Monday

sunny 25 °C
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The drive from Granite Gorge to Mission Beach was superb. We stopped at Lake Eacham for a picnic and a swim. We continued on along the 15K tourist drive to Millaa Millaa Falls for another swim. The water temps in both places were freezing but we challenged ourselves each time and always ended up squealing and laughing on entry. We were lucky to have the most beautiful warm and sunny day for our final drive through the Atherton Tablelands. The blue sky against those rolling green hills was breathtaking. Then to our delight the caravan park at Mission Beach, which I had booked in Sydney, is literally right on the beach. We can see the ocean and Dunk Island from our van. At night the moon shines bright over the ocean and looks a picture with the silhouettes of all the palm trees along the beachfront.

We have been on the road for 8 weeks now and have driven just over 6,000 kilometres. Every single kilometre of this trip has been such a joy. Sherrie and I have exactly the same taste in music and we crank up the tunes and sing along. Sometimes we play trivial pursuit on the long drives if I am getting weary at the wheel. We went to the op shop and bought the game just for the cards which we keep in the glovebox for question time. Dare anyone to verse us in Trivial pursuit on return. We know stuff !!!!!

Really enjoying having Cherelle and Ellen along too. Bed times are hilarious. We have the 2 pull out beds at either end of the van plus the bed that you make out of the dining table and chairs in the van plus we bought a skinny mattress from Clarke Rubber for the floor. That’s 4 beds for the 4 of us. We rotate clockwise every night taking our allocated pillow and doona with us. The floor bed is hard and the table and chairs bed suits a small child so we can’t wait till it’s our turn to get the big beds. Lots of aches and pains and lots of laughs as well.

Meal times are great. Tasks are allocated and before we know it we are sitting down to a scrumptious home cooked meal together. We made French toast this morning with cream and sugar. Mmmmm.

It’s usually sad leaving the town that we have adventured and stayed at but every time we arrive at our new campsite we embark on some other amazing adventure. We used to try and work out which was our favourite place but after 8 weeks we can no longer choose. So many amazing sights.

Here at Mission Beach we booked ourselves on a white water rafting adventure down the Tully river. Cherelle’s idea which I must say didn’t sound too good after the safety / survival talk. But this was definitely the highlight of our trip for me. The adrenalin was pumping the whole day. We had a full day on the river. 12 kilometres in total. The rapids were Grades 3 and 4. Extreme rapids are 5 so we were not far off a death wish. There were 7 in our raft and we rode the wild rapids all day. There are really no words that I could write that would do this trip justice. The water was clear, the boulders massive and the rocky canyon that framed the river with ferns, rainforest and water falls made our jaws drop. Just beautiful. Even when I sat by the river to eat my lunch I saw 3 turtles, a massive eel as big as my leg and hundreds of large fish all at once. They were literally all swimming together at my feet like a staged performance. Crazy good. And all day our little inflatable raft slammed into rocks, fell over water fall after water fall and squeezed its way through massive boulders, often backwards then spinning wildly to take the next waterfall down head first. I was at the front of the boat so the fear factor was massive. On one of the downward spirals our raft completely filled up with water and I thought we would have to bail out but these rafts are designed to let the water out of the holes around the bottom edge of the raft because the floor itself is inflated. Clever design. Us 4 girls were definitely on a high at the end of that trip. Woahh is all I can say. Thank goodness they suited us up with crash helmets and half wet suits. No one fell out but we call came close many many times. The fear of going over and then being held under by the force of the water was enough to make you hold those ropes tight. White knuckle rafting we call it now.

On the bus trip from Mission Beach to Tully for our rafting we noticed the big chimney stacks bellowing out smoke. This is sugar cane country up here and the mill is another tour option so we nicked out there today. It was hot, noisy and interesting. We were relieved it was over though. We learnt heaps about the sugar cane process. The main one being it’s an 8 hour process to turn the cane into sugar.

We slammed on the brakes a couple of times on the way there and on the way back when we saw cassowary's. There are only 1,000 left in the wild so it's a really big deal to see them.

When we got back to the campsite we dragged our camp chairs down to the beach and cracked open the wine. We stayed well past sunset and ended up bare feet in the ocean doing the dougie to songs from Sherrie’s iphone. The dougie is a dance move that Sherrie has mastered. I am sure we were great entertainment to onlookers. Overall our stay at Mission Beach was AWESOME.

Posted by buttermenthol 03:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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