This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2002 Travels April 29

MONDAY 29 APRIL   CHINCHILLA TO CARNARVON GORGE NP   435kms

As we were still hitched up, were able to leave the park about 8.15am. Headed west again.

Stopped to have our morning tea of coffee and fruit cake at Wallumbilla – a small, dying village about 40kms east of Roma. The east-west railway line, which we had been running parallel to since leaving Chinchilla, passes through Wallumbilla, but it looks like the trains no longer stop here.

Stopped at a roadside fruit seller, in Roma. Bought $15 worth of oranges, pears, avocadoes, and tomatoes – seconds, but fine for us.

At Roma, turned north onto the Carnarvon Development Road. All the driving today had been through good farming country – a mix of crops and grazing, and this continued north of Roma, though gradually it seemed that grazing became more dominant. There were also increasing areas of native forested country.

Refuelled at the small town of Injune – 94cpl.

Stopped beside the road not far north of Injune, and ate our packed lunch. Of course, after we started off again, there was a very nice, proper picnic spot a few kms further on!

Some 40kms north of Injune, the country became more rugged, as we passed through the Carnarvon Range. The route was more hilly and winding. Gradually we began to catch glimpses of high bluffs standing ahead and to our left.

About 100kms north of Injune, we turned to the west, onto the road to the Carnarvon Gorge section of the National Park.

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The approach to Carnarvon Gorge National Park

The first 25kms of this road was sealed – a pleasant surprise. The remaining 20kms or so, of gravel road, was not too bad, though there were several grids that were higher than the road surface. We hit one a bit fast, and rearranged some of the van contents, and after that approached each one with considerable caution.

There were some quite steep sections that were unexpected, but these were managed using low range on the downhill parts.

The road was nice and dry – not sure that it would be a great experience in wet conditions.

It was a really enjoyable drive in, with the distant escarpments coming closer – quite dramatic.

Then the sections of gorges and valleys became more common, and palms and cycads began to appear in the bush. There were a couple of dry creek crossings that looked like they could get quite deep, quite quickly – probably one of the reasons this road is regularly closed in wet spells.

We passed the turnoff to the private Takkarakka camp area, but continued on to the National Park campground and Office.

When we went to register, there was no record of the booking I’d made, by phone, last week. The staff person said they’d had several such stuff-ups today. It did not seem that the great centralized booking system, operating through Brisbane, was working too well! Luckily, they were still able to get us onto a site for the five nights, though not the site we thought we’d been booked in for. Five nights is the maximum stay allowed in the park campground.

Still, Site 27 was fine – nice and big. It cost us $7.70 a night.

The camp bays are fairly spread out amongst lots of trees and bush. The creek is some distance away.

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Carnarvon gorge Site 27

After setting up, I noticed that the power input looked good, to date. We could tilt the pop top roof to get a better angle to the sun onto the panels, given the trees that were around us. Site 27 was not as open as the one Brisbane had allocated us.

There was a big, unusual mauve-coloured truck based “house” structure parked near us. I had seen this motorhome written up in a caravan magazine, a while ago. They call it “Wotzahellisit” – for somewhat obvious reasons! It was certainly unique, but a bit over the top for my liking. I prefer things somewhat simpler. It was summed up, I thought, by another camper, who walked past it and called out to the couple, who were sitting out on their “balcony”, up high: “You win, mate”.

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Wotzahellisit

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A superior view over the camp!

Tea was cold roast chook and lettuce salad.

After tea, at 7.30pm, we took our camp chairs up to the Rangers’ area, to a slide show and information session they were giving. A screen was set up out in the open for this. It was worth attending, even though there were about 60 school kids there – upper primary or lower secondary age.

The slides showed some spectacular scenery and the Carnarvon Creek in flood – a more rare occurrence these days, since there have been some drier seasons. The Ranger said the creek really needed a good flush out!

We had a relatively early night: bush smells and noises, and dark outside. This was so very nice, after our urban sojourn.

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2002 Travels April 28

SUNDAY 28 APRIL   ASPLEY TO CHINCHILLA   340kms

Packing up and getting going took a while, because we had not done any of this yesterday.

We left Aspley about 10am.

From the Caravan park, I navigated north a short way and on to Telegraph Road. This took us east and onto the Gateway Motorway. Followed this south, over the Brisbane River, then took the Ipswich Motorway west. Whilst this looked the long way round on the map, it was so much easier than the way I’d brought us in on. In the much lighter Sunday traffic it was a really easy run.

We stopped at a BP servo in the Ipswich area, where John topped up the fuel with 30 litres – at 84cpl – enough to see us to Dalby, where he knew there was really cheap fuel.

Just before we started the climb up the Toowoomba Range, we pulled off the road and John engaged low range gears. He kept in the low range selection up the Range. I had been a bit worried about towing back up the Range – its 10% gradient seemed to steep when we’d come down it – but trusty Truck churned steadily up the gradients to the top. I was relieved to come to the edge of Toowoomba at the edge of the Range.

Then, we had to navigate our way through Toowoomba. There was no easy route because we had to cross right across the town. Again, we were glad it was Sunday.

At Dalby, refuelled – 78cpl.

We hadn’t really had a plan for where we would stay tonight – had decided to see how we felt. As we came to Chinchilla, decided to overnight there. Could have pushed on to Miles or even Roma, but it had been quite a demanding drive, for much of the way, so we both felt it was time to stop.

Booked into the Mobile Caravan Park – $16.50 for the night.

We only needed the minimal set up, as we were able to stay hitched up.

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Still hitched up at Chinchilla

John had a nap. I sat outside the van and read.

Tea was cold roast chook and salads.

Early night – we were both really tired! I am pleased to be heading “bush” again. Cities are stressful places!

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2002 Travels April 27

SATURDAY 27 APRIL     ASPLEY

Before breakfast, I walked to the Hypermart for the Saturday papers. I spent some time reading these.

Did the small amount of washing that had built up and tidied up the van.

John went to bowls. He enjoyed the game better than last week.

I read some more and roasted a chook for tea.


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2002 Travels April 26

FRIDAY 26 APRIL     ASPLEY

Today featured more sight seeing, but in a different direction.

Drove through some of the western suburban edge, and up the road to the summit of Mt Coot-tha. I wanted to come up here to look at the view over Brisbane. It was somewhat similar to our Mt Dandenong lookout, at home, but much closer to the city – thus with a much better outlook.

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Central Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

A segment of “This is your Life” was being filmed at the lookout area, with attendant camera crews and a small crowd. We did not recognise the subject of the segment.

We had a good, clear, view out over the city.

Back down from the mount, we visited the Botanic Gardens, at its base. Here, I was really keen to see the Wollemi Pine – a newly discovered species. The specimen here was one of the few plants existing and was protected in a special cage. It was, obviously, the subject of a breeding program, now.

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The heavily protected Wollemi Pine

We did some exploration of the Gardens. I particularly enjoyed the Japanese garden section, and the bonsai display. One can admire the artistry of bonsai, without wanting to own any, or try doing it.

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Some of the bonsai

On the way back to camp, did a food stock up.


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2002 Travels April 25

THURSDAY 25 APRIL     ASPLEY

We set off late morning, to do some sight seeing of parts of Brisbane we mostly had not seen before.

Drove east to the coast, through the suburbs that are almost the northern edge of Brisbane, to the older, seaside suburbs of Sandgate and Brighton. Took a road that hugged the shore line to the north – very pretty.

Crossed a long bridge to the suburbs of Redcliffe and Scarborough, again, hugging the shore line as much as we could. There was an outlook across to Moreton Island, in the distance. We parked where we could look out over the sea, and had our packed lunch.

I think if I had to live in Brisbane, it would be these seaside suburbs that were most attractive. Of course, I don’t know if they are prone to sandflies!

We left the coast then, but continued north, through Burpengary and Morayfield.

Some thirty years ago, first husband and I holidayed, for a short time one January, in Brisbane, with a friend. I remember, dimly, that it was extremely hot and humid and we could not find the energy to venture out and do much. However, we did engage in some speculation in land, buying acreage – bush – in the Morayfield area. That land was long sold, but I was curious to see if I could find it again – having only ever been there once – to see if it had been developed as Brisbane spreads north. Development of the area in general was certainly happening, but I could not locate anything familiar, or the land. At the time, although this land was distant from the Brisbane built up area, there were large areas of pine plantation between the then outer suburbs and the Morayfield area – we had thought there was a chance that development would jump the pine areas to where we bought.

From Caboolture, made our way back east again, crossing the bridge over a fairly narrow sea channel, onto Bribie Island. This appeared to be a flat, sandy island – we were not able to explore much of it by road. It appeared to be changing, with housing development happening – looked like it was on the way to becoming suburban, too.

Then it was back to camp, before the late afternoon traffic peak.


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2002 Travels April 24

WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL     ASPLEY

The solar man turned up, as promised, not long after breakfast. He installed the two new panels on the poptop roof, and linked up all the wiring.

He discovered that there was a quite deep hollow on the poptop roof, under one of the panels put in by J. It looked like someone had kneeled or stood on it, carelessly. What was worse was that at the bottom of the indentation was the hole where the lead from the panels goes into the roof. Thus, there was a funnel effect. AND there was no sealing at all around the entry point! No wonder we had a massive leak in the rain.

He put silicone sealing around the lead at the entry point – as should have been done in the first place. He could not do anything, though, about the hollow. We would just have to hope that the silicone sealing is good, and holds.

That work cost us $1700. That is probably all we can do, for now, about the power set up. Will just have to see how it functions, out in the bush.

So we would not now worry about trying to get help from Bushtracker, and thus could make plans to head back out west, when our booked time here was up. We had already extended to Sunday, so John could play bowls on Saturday! That would also see us going through the city areas on a Sunday – always preferable.

Out extended three nights had cost $18.45 a night.

We might also fit in some “tourist” things, around Brisbane.

Now that we were so far east, I was very tempted to head back west via the Carnarvon Gorge National Park. We had not been there before and it is supposed to be well worth visiting. From what I had been reading, the campground there would still be open, but in the future, National Parks intends to severely limit its opening, or maybe close it altogether. So I thought it would be advisable to go there while we could camp in the Park. That would also try out the power system again!

I was concerned that the two extra panels would make the roof too heavy for me to be able to raise by myself, so tried it out. It certainly was harder, but I still could do it – a form of weight lifting exercise!

I phoned the National Parks booking service and managed to book us into the Carnarvon Gorge camp ground, for five nights – they said we would have a site that allowed for sun on the roof panels, and one that was suitable for a caravan. I was really pleased that we were able to get in!


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2002 Travels April 23

TUESDAY 23 APRIL     ASPLEY

Just pottered about at camp in the morning. Got clothes for tonight sorted. We do not carry much in the way of “good” clothes, but at least put out gear that was clean and not too crumpled.

Lunch was very early and then we went off to play bowls. I played a middling game. John was not much better. He tried hard not to be critical of my shots. I did not particularly enjoy the afternoon.

Then it was a rush to get ready and be at P’s place by 6pm.

When we arrived, she had just gotten home after a day of unexpected, last minute call, emergency teaching, which she does quite a bit of, in semi-retirement.

We had a very pleasant meal and evening, overall. I had not met her husband before, and she had not met John. She really has not changed much since school and uni – looks older, as we all do, but still as much fun to be around.

We did not stay too late – tomorrow is a working day for them.

I was pleased that we were not far from the caravan park, and did not have to negotiate too much of unfamiliar Brisbane, in the dark.