This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels July 26

FRIDAY 26 JULY     FORREST BEACH

I was up by 8am. John slept later.

The day was windy, and cool. Not really tropical at all.

There was an interesting light on the sea, through cloud, and I took some photos. It occurred to me that watching the changing moods of the view across to the Orpheus and Palm Island groups could be quite intriguing…….the different moods of Forrest Beach.

Morning light, Forrest Beach

I walked to the newsagent, taking Couey with me. It was probably a bit under a km each way. Ordered the Saturday papers to be kept for me. Couey was not happy about being tethered to a pole while I went in the shop – will have to do some work on that.

After John got going and breakfasted, we drove into Ingham and went to the Information Centre, where I picked up some material about the area. The Centre was at the Tyto Wetlands, which were quite extensive. Last time here, we did the walks around the lagoon and bird-spotted. I’d have liked, today, to walk the paths closer to the Centre, but that was not possible with dog, and she’d have howled blue murder if we’d tried to walk off without her.

At the fresh seafood outlet, across the road from the Centre, bought prawns, threadfin salmon – my favourite – and some frozen whiting, for John.

He dropped me off at the supermarket to go do some food shopping, whilst he went off to buy some hair clippers. These would live permanently in Bus – just one less thing he would have to try to remember to pack for future trips.

We had to get petrol for Terios, then had to wait for ages to get back out onto the highway. A long cane train had trundled over the highway crossing and caused a really long back up of traffic. Seasonal hazard of these parts.

At the Victoria Mill, some liquid was being sprayed onto an adjacent paddock area. I supposed it was waste water from cane processing, in some form.

Near Victoria Mill – spraying…..something…..

Spent the afternoon round camp.

I peeled all the prawns I’d bought, before putting them away – reduced the bulk, for storage.

I cut John’s hair with his new clippers. There is no art to that. It is more akin to hedge clipping than hair dressing!

It was too windy to sit outside for long.

I put up the solar screens on the front and side windows at the front of Bus – in the hope that it might get warm enough for us to need sun protection!

John took Couey for a walk on the beach – her first. He reported back that she seemed to like the sand, but stayed well away from the water. I was pleased to hear that – really didn’t want to have to deal with wet and sandy dog!

John drove to the take away to get  tea: chips, potato cakes, fish for him. I cooked some threadfin salmon for me and had some chips. He found the fish batter pleasantly crisp, but also very fatty. His fish – mackerel – was not great. He decided to have home cooked fish, too, next week, and maybe only buy chips. With age, we have both lost our tolerance for greasy foods.

There was AFL football on TV at night.


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2013 Travels July 25

THURSDAY 25 JULY     CHARTERS TOWERS TO FORREST BEACH     287kms

Our near neighbour was also leaving today and announced the fact by starting his engine and running it for about 20 minutes before he even started to hitch up his van. The stink of diesel fumes…….

We left at 9.30, starting out on a warm day of clear blue skies. Later, close to the coast, some clouds appeared.

Today’s was a varied and interesting drive.

Railway bridge east of Charters Towers

About 20kms of Charters Towers was the Burdekin River bridge, with the flood height marker just before it. We wondered if the flood events of the past couple of summers had put a new top marker in, above the one we saw when we stopped there in 2009, but didn’t pull in to see.

Passed through the Range at Mingela. Easy going, scenic.

The road surface was excellent, for the most part.

Newly surfaced section of highway. You wouldn’t want to pull off here at speed!

There is no doubt that this route from Charters Towers to Townsville is one of the easiest ways to traverse the Great Divide, from the inland to sea level.

Great Dividing Range

We were back where there are big, blue, sharp hills, after the inland plains.

The driver of an Elgas truck was merrily passing other vehicles over the solid double lines – very bad and arrogant driving. It reminded us that we had long thought that – at least in relation to ignoring road rules, and unsafe overtaking – north Qld drivers are the most reckless in the nation.

Saw our first mango plantation of this trip. We relate to mango plantations, having worked the harvest near here, in 2002……

On the outskirts of Townsville, followed both the signs and our GPS directions, to get onto the Ring Road – a new section since we were last here. Spotted a new Woolworths fuel outlet, by a new Bunnings, and it was easy to divert around to it. It wasn’t quite so easy to get out of though, as we took the scenic route through a couple of carparks and round the same roundabout twice.

The diesel was $1.519 cpl. 32 cents a litre cheaper than at Belyando Crossing, two days ago!

Townsville seemed to have grown so much since 2009.

The Ring Road was excellent. The smooth traffic flow made it so easy getting to the Bruce Highway, about 10kms north of the city centre. For once, the GPS really helped, as I’d left my detailed street maps of Townsville at home. However, GPS lady got herself quite confused, later, in Ingham. There is still work for the old-fashioned navigator.

I made a note to check out the Blue Water Caravan Park, north of the city. It looked OK from the road, as we passed. Must see if it takes dogs, as our preferred park from past trips (Woodlands) did not. According to Google, later, Blue Water was pet friendly.

By the Rollingstone Beach turn off, saw our first sugar cane of the trip. Then our first cane train of the year. It was, of course, harvest time.

Definitely starting to feel we are in the tropics now.

Sugar cane

There was a lot of traffic on the highway north. The Bruce is notorious, at the best of times! Today, some sort of large bike ride event was causing long traffic tail backs.

The cyclists were split into groups. with escort vehicles in front and behind. A few kms separated each group – just enough to get back up to speed after eventually getting past a group, before having to slow right down behind the next. Signs indicated there were ten such groups. We counted ourselves lucky to only encounter five – all things are relative! There were some really, really lengthy tail backs behind some of the groups.

GPS lady wanted us to turn off the highway well south of Ingham, but we kept to the route we knew, despite her protests, and went straight through the town to the Victoria Mill/Forrest Beach turn off.

Leaving the Bruce Highway – thankfully……

It wasn’t long before we could see the Mill (the largest in Australia), in front, all chimneys steaming away. It felt like an old friend…..Loved seeing it again – the activity there at this time of year is fascinating.

Victoria Mill ahead

At Forrest Beach we parked out front of the hotel and asked to see our allocated site. We’d been put on Site 42, towards the front of the park, on the grounds there was nothing else available. They obviously had a lot more long stay winter people there now, than four years ago.

We walked down and inspected the site. Grassed, no slab. It was not a very big site, but adequate, with a nice outlook over the grassed hollow towards the sea. There was a bit of a garden at the front, and between us and the next site too. It was a bit of a hike to the amenity block though, as it turned out, with the septic system not always coping well with the challenge of numbers, the distance was a good thing!

John found there were five bars on the phone – hence good internet cover (I’d forgotten to ask when booking in and he couldn’t remember what it was like last time). He quizzed the reception lady about TV reception too. She said she’d heard no complaints about it…..

We couldn’t see a better empty site, so said we’d be fine there. It was probably better for dog for us not to be on a back site, close to the mangroves and forest, where we’d hoped to be – more chance of ticks there? There was a big bus occupying “our old site” – 26.

We paid $350 for a two week stay – very budget friendly.

Parked Bus on the site front first, so the living area under our awning would face the garden that separated us from that next site, empty when we arrived. There was a caravan quite close on the other side. Hooked up to power and water – and then realized that not all sites were so supplied. We were lucky! Things were still a bit haphazard in this park.

There was a nice area for Couey to be tethered in front of Bus, and a great ball throw area in the grassy hollow below. There was just room to park Terios behind Bus.

Forrest Beach site

It was very windy here today – probably pretty normal at this time of year.

After setting up, I put the tick collar on Couey. In paralysis tick areas, one should closely inspect dog for ticks, every day. I didn’t like our chances of finding black tick on black dog – especially one with a double coat of fur.

There had been some cleaning up of the amenity block since 2009. I suspected that cyclone damage may have led to some roof repairs and a repaint. Being painted inside made it look cleaner. But the tiled floors and composite stone basin surrounds really showed signs of age, likewise the cracked and broken tiles in the showers. The laundry had been neatened up, too, and more machines installed. There had only been one last time. The whole park appeared tidier and more cared for. These front sites, where we were, had not been turned into proper sites, back four years ago.

I had a chat with a Trakmaster owner, whose site was near the amenities. He was rather unhappy about the occasional waft from the septic tank, plus that from the large rubbish hoppers nearby. I was getting happier about our site, by the minute!

Once set up was done, John went off in Terios to the McKnade Bowls Club, near Halifax, and arranged bowls for Saturday.

Tea was a chicken stir fry, made with a packet sauce mix, and rice.

John was quite satisfied with both the TV – lots of channels and a good picture – and the internet – augured well for the stay here.

So, we were settled  by the sea, at last!


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2013 Travels July 24

WEDNESDAY 24 JULY     CHARTERS TOWERS

After last night, it seemed a good idea to stay here another night and take it easy today.

I felt, predictably, tired  and lethargic, all day, and nibbled very cautiously on dry toast and milk arrowroot biscuits, occasionally.

I did our washing – three loads of same, including the bedding and towels. $12 worth. My old former peanut butter jar containing lots of $1 and $2 coins is for these occasions. It was a good drying day, with a warm breeze.

Charters Towers site

In the afternoon, we drove into the town. The office lady had directed me to a Vet’s, where I was finally able to buy Advantix. Then did a supermarket shop, not that I could find much enthusiasm for meal planning!

We found a very large, grassy park where Couey was able to have a prolonged ball fetching workout. Later in the day she also got in a couple of circuits around the caravan park. She seems quite content to trot around places like these on the lead.

I remade the beds and folded the washing, then read and checked my email.

John had agreed that we would give Cooktown and that area a miss, and instead head for the coast, to a place we stayed in 2009. I phoned the Forrest Beach Hotel and booked us into the caravan park there, for at least two weeks.

I put the first lot of Advantix on Couey – better late than never. It had to be put on between her shoulder blades, where she can’t reach to lick it off, then spotted down her backbone. It made oily patches, of course. Naturally, she then chose to do a lot of rolling in the dustiest places on the site.

For tea, we had a container of pumpkin soup I’d bought at Woolworths. It was very bland and flavourless, but that was probably good, in the circumstances. John also had some skinless franks. He said they weren’t as nice as the ones we eat at home; later, I realized the ones sold at the deli counter in Qld were a different brand to the Don ones in Vic.

Dog had decided that life from the perspective of a seat was much more interesting than that from floor level. It may have also had something to do with our meals appearing on the table. Whilst we had a strict policy that dog did not eat human food (with the exception of her morning half banana), she could still dream.

Intellectual dog, me…..

There was much media speculation today over what the Prime Minister would do about the next federal election date. Kevin Rudd ousted Julia Gillard as party leader, and hence PM, a month or so ago. The media are suggesting that it may be earlier than the 14 September date that Gillard had set Рfor which I was supposed to be home and working as an official.  I was not going to fret about it Рif I am home, will work it, but not going to cut the holiday short to do so.


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2013 Travels July 23

TUESDAY 23 JULY     CAPELLA TO CHARTERS TOWERS     458kms

Today was the longest day stage we’d done, to date, in Bus, and it was quite easy and uneventful. However, that is back to the long-day style of travel that we used to do with the van, and I didn’t want that to become a pattern again. John was just not good at dawdling and smelling roses!

We left Capella at 8.40, knowing today would be a long stage.

This was yet another road we’d travelled several times before.

Coal mine overburden dump beside the highway near Clermont

Around Clermont was evidence of the massive coal mining operations of this region: huge overburden heaps, the mining service businesses in Clermont itself, a conveyor belt system beside the road for kms, and occasional glimpses of mines in the distance.

Long conveyor belt taking coal to trains
Coal conveyor crossing a road

At Belyando Crossing we stopped for fuel and a break, and ate our packed lunch standing around outside Bus. As usual, the roadhouse was busy – and expensive. We paid $1.846cpl a litre for diesel.

I drove, from Belyando to the outskirts of Charters Towers, when John wanted to take over again.

I came to a roadworks section where new asphalt was being laid on one half of the road. Nothing new in that. But our line of traffic was “escorted” along the single open lane by a traffic control vehicle with an electronic signboard and read “FOLLOW ME”. He led us for the several kms of the affected road, then turned off, performed a u-turn and commenced to lead the waiting line of traffic back the other way. I hadn’t seen one of those before and wondered why they used that instead of the usual people with radios. I would tell my traffic management company manager son about it. I didn’t think his company had one of those!

We reached Charters Towers in good time. Didn’t need fuel. We had been caught before by me trying to navigate through the hard-to-negotiate centre of town, so I directed us on the ring road around the edge of town, to the Flinders Highway, then back towards town to the Greenvale Road, where the Dalrymple Tourist Park was located. It was much less stressful to go the long way round.

I had phoned yesterday, to try to book an en-suite site, but they had none available. We were put on a very long site at the side of the park, not far from the amenities – fortunately, as it turned out – and with plenty of tether space for dog. It cost $31.25 for the night, after a 5% Seniors discount was applied.

After setting up, John was straight onto the internet and gaming.

I wanted to take Couey for a walk along the wide, grassy verges alongside the road back into town. Something spooked her, though and we’d only gone about 100 metres from the park when she became determined to return to Bus and John. I managed to drag her a short way further – all 30kg of resistant dog – then she resorted to her ultimate no-go act, rolling onto her back with all legs in the air. So back we went. Later on, John came too and we managed a short walk outside the park.

I cooked pasta carbonara for tea.

By bedtime, I was feeling a bit off-colour. By midnight, I was haunting the amenities! This sort of upset was most unusual for me and I couldn’t work out why, as John was fine. After a couple of miserable and chilly hours, I returned to Bus and sat sipping dry ginger ale and using my headlamp to read, as a distraction, until about 3am, when I felt confident enough to go back to bed.


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2013 Travels July 22

MONDAY 22 JULY     BARCALDINE TO CAPELLA     371kms

We left Barcaldine at 9.30, on a day that was cloudy.

The Capricorn Highway, east, was good quality, without the lumps and bumps of the past few legs.

Today’s travel was varied enough to stay interesting throughout.

We did not stop in Jericho, as we had done so on a previous trip. A little patch of Biblical references here, with the town located by the Jordan (Creek), and Lake Galilee to the north. The Crystal Trumpeters monument was Jericho’s Bicentennial project, representing symbolically the story of the ancient Israelites and Jericho. It is an interesting departure from the usual local monuments one sees.

As we passed through Alpha, commented that this was where, on the 2009 trip, we turned south to take the shorter dirt route to Tambo – a somewhat eventful short cut.

East of Alpha, the Drummond Range involved some steeper, more winding road, and distant views.

Drummond Range gradient warning sign

One section is a gradient of 7%; much more comfortable to negotiate with Bus and its exhaust brake, than it was with the van!

We stopped for a break at the quaintly named hamlet of Bogantungan. These days, this is almost a ghost village, being bypassed by the modern highway. Hard to believe it was one a flourishing railway town. The railway is still used, but I doubted  whether trains ever stopped  here, these days. In 1960 there was a major rail accident near here, when a bridge across a flooded creek collapsed as a passenger train was passing over. Seven people were killed and lots more injured.

The area where we stopped, outside the station, was obviously used by overnight campers. It was spacious enough, and there was a toilet at the station.

Rest area at Bogantungan

We had coffees and the dog had a run.

On the way again, we passed the turnoff to the Willows gemfield, 11kms south of the highway. I’d have liked to go and stay there for a few days – a place we had not been to before – but John was now focussed on getting further north.

Took the turnoff to Rubyvale, as a shorter route through to Capella.

The little settlements of Sapphire and Rubyvale were busier than I’d ever seen them on our prior visits. It seemed the Gemfields had really grown in popularity as a tourist attraction. Places offering gems for sale, cutting services, buckets of wash to be sifted and sorted on site, had proliferated greatly. The caravan park at Rubyvale looked to be crammed full.

Gem mining area near Rubyvale

Between Sapphire and Rubyvale we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by a large bottle shop and bar. Back in the tropics, at last!

The road from Rubyvale to Capella was sealed all the way. It wound about a bit, initially. As we did not need to go via Emerald, to stay or for shopping, this was a much more interesting, and shorter, way to go.

At Capella, our first task was to refuel. The road we came on ended at a T intersection in the centre of town. We had a 50% chance of turning the right way to find a servo, but, naturally, got it wrong. As we neared the town outskirts, passed a breath testing station set up on the other side of the road. Then we had to do a u-ey, and go back the way we’d come, but were not pulled in for testing. A note for the future: the servo at Capella is on the north side of town. So is the caravan park.

Our fuel was $1.615cpl.

Booked into the Capella Van Park, where our powered site cost $29. The young owners of this park had clearly been trying very hard to establish the park’s reputation – and were succeeding. The place was clean and attractive, with great facilities like a camp kitchen and gathering place.

We were guided to a site where we were able to drive through onto it and leave the car attached to Bus.

Capella site

Did a minimal set up, then pondered things to do for the rest of the day.

John was able to borrow a grease gun from the very helpful park owner, and applied same to the grease points on the hitch. I don’t know if that made much difference to the operation of the hitch, but it did ensure that, for the rest of the trip, our hands got greased every time we went near the hitch!

Took dog and went for a walk around town. Down one side of the main street – the highway – looking at the shops. A hairdressing establishment had no customers, so John went in to see if he could get a much-needed haircut. The lass said no, as she was about to close. It was just after 4pm. She couldn’t need business too badly – it would only take a few minutes to run clippers over John’s hair. It was usually my task, so I knew this. John had left the clippers at home. He hadn’t actually had a hair cut he’d had to pay for since about 1993.

The other side of the highway had a walking path and type of small park, then there were railway lines and a station, with grain silos beyond that. A very long train was stopping and starting as it loaded grain; we watched that for a while, then watched it shunting and changing lines. Strangely interesting!

A feature along the walkway was a memorial to the Light Horse Brigade. Apparently, it was in the Capella district, during the Shearers’ Strikes of the 1890’s, that mounted troopers started putting emu feather plumes on their hats. When the Light Horse Brigade was later formed, the tradition continued.

Light Horse Memorial at Capella

For tea, I cooked the sausages I’d bought at the butcher in Charleville. They’d looked nice, but turned out to be extremely fatty and not at all enjoyable. But the potato fries and egg were good.

John spent the evening playing WOW. I decided he was officially an addict to the game. I read and had the usual early night.


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2013 Travels July 21

SUNDAY 21 JULY     BARCALDINE

The road noise in the night, that I’d feared, didn’t eventuate. Or, if it was there, we slept so soundly in our well-sound-proofed Bus that we didn’t notice it.

Our site was fairly dusty, and Couey was making it worse. She so liked rolling in dust!

Couey’s dust patch

Went out sight seeing, being mostly interested in the wonderful old buildings of Barcaldine.

John was really impressed by the Heritage Listed Masonic Temple, which was like nothing we’d seen before.

The Masonic Lodge building at Barcaldine

From the front, it seemed rather incongruous in this very Aussie setting, but less so when seen with its corrugated iron sides and back. It really was a strange hybrid of a building, dating from 1900. 

It would have been interesting to see inside, and see to what extent the decorative theme carried through in there, but it was locked up tight.

The contrasting materials of the Lodge building

I loved the old Radio Theatre building. Its Art Nouveau style also really didn’t seem to “fit” the town, but was wonderfully imaginative.

Radio Theatre building

We saw houses with much character and hotels that would have plenty of tales to tell, could they but speak.

Barcaldine house

The town grew up from the 1880’s to service the surrounding pastoral district.

At the Information Centre, I bought postcards and a polo shirt – got to support the local economy!

Somewhere at home I had a photo that I took in 2000, of the Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine, back when it was still a living tree – a ghost gum. This was noted as the site of workers’ meetings during the great Shearers’ Strikes of the 1890’s, that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. So Barcaldine is regarded as the birthplace of the labour movement in Australia.

Tree of Knowedge – in 2000

Around 2000, some moron poisoned the tree, and it died. The trunk was taken to Brisbane for preservation treatment, returned to Barcaldine, “replanted” in front of the railway station, and a symbolic structure erected over it.

…….and in 2013

From a distance, this unusual structure looks like a rusty tank on props, or a large box – rather ugly, and somehow out of proportion.  But. close up, looking up into it, there are hanging wooden shapes representing abstract leaves and it is strangely attractive.

Preserved skeleton of Tree of Knowledge outside Barcaldine Railway Station

I was really pleased to read that cuttings taken from the tree when it was still alive, are successfully growing in various places. The tree lives on in its descendents.

We went into the railway station to look around. I saw that the signals were set for a train to come from the east, then had a look at the timetable displayed. This indicated that the Spirit of the Outback train should have stopped, briefly, at Barcaldine at 9.30 this morning, on its way to Longreach. I asked a man working around the station about that, and was told it was late and due at any time. It was nearly 1pm! So we stayed, and in a few minutes saw it pull in, where it disgorged several very disgruntled looking passengers.

The Spirit of the Outback pulling into Barcaldine Station

Went back to the bakery to get another loaf of the great Turkish bread for our lunch. Sold out! When I said how much I’d been looking forward to it, the lovely lady sold me a half loaf she’d been using to make sandwiches.

After lunch, drove to a place we could park and take Couey for a walk along the Lagoon Walk. She managed to have a wallow in a swampy area beside the track, that she saw before we did. Obviously she likes the way this makes her smell! We don’t.

When we got back to the car, there was a very friendly labrador/retriever type dog hanging around some other travellers parked near us. I opened the back door to try to persuade the reluctant Couey to get in, John opened the driver’s door, and we suddenly had an extra dog. So we had to persuade it out again, whilst keeping Couey in. It didn’t belong to those other travellers, as I’d thought – must have come from one of the nearby houses. It was well fed, tagged, and just super friendly, looking for some new company.

I didn’t go to happy hour back at camp. It seemed a strategic time to hit the showers, instead.

Then it was the usual evening – tea of stir fry honey pork and rice, watching TV, reading, taking dog outside, briefly, every hour or so, until we went to bed.

I didn’t really think dog needed to go out that often, but the treat she got for “performing” as expected, was a great incentive – and she was a fast learner…..


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2013 Travels July 20

SATURDAY 20 JULY     TAMBO TO BARCALDINE     222kms

We got away, as normal, at 9am, after I’d phoned and booked us into a caravan park in Barcaldine.

The road – the Matilda Way – between Tambo and Barcaldine was atrocious. There were long sections that were extremely bumpy and bouncy. It was worst on the sections of Mitchell grass plains, not as bad on the rises. I seemed to remember from our times further north, that Mitchell grass grows on cracking clay soils – guess the seasonal expansion and contraction of these played havoc with the road structure.

Despite John dropping the speed to under 60kmh, I was having to brace myself not to get bumped up out of my seat, and was really expecting something major on Bus to break, at any minute, Like the suspension! The roadworks certainly needed to extend to this section of road, pronto.

We were passed by some caravans that were heading south. They were clearly having difficulties towing straight on the bouncy sections.

The summer coastal floods and road closures of the past couple of years, had caused much heavy truck traffic to divert to this highway, and that had certainly added to the road deterioration.

Whilst we’d been at Evening Star, we’d been told that the Roma-Charleville road was also bad.

North of Blackall, the road was somewhat better.

We refuelled at Barcaldine, at a small Mobil servo on a side street, that was cheaper than the one on the highway, and without the queue. $164.6cpl.

The annual goat races were happening at the Showgrounds. That was, apparently, a big event in the district, and there was quite a crowd, lots of noise – and lots of goats. I could see some motorhomes and caravans parked in clusters around the grounds – a cheap camping area. Today’s events would be quite an interruption to a quiet stay at the local showgrounds!

When I’d phoned to book us in to the Barcaldine Tourist Park, I’d explained, as I normally do, about the length of Bus and the need to park the car as well. They had allocated us a shaded site, with room to park the car behind Bus – but it was right next to the highway! We just hoped there was not too much truck traffic during the night. The park was just after the 60kmh zone started, and trucks were either changing down gears, or still changing up after turning onto this road. $28 a night.

Squeezed in beside the highway at Barcaldine

After we’d set up, I took the car down the street and managed to buy the Saturday papers from the roadhouse. Bought some very nice Turkish bread from the bakery, and some dips from supermarket, as well as some chilli and lime salami for (very late) lunch. The bread had some sort of black seeds on top. I didn’t know what they were, but they tasted great. The salami was for John – he wasn’t much impressed with this variation.

Hotels all in a row…..Barcaldine main street on a weekend afternoon

John spent the rest of the day making up for his WOW deprivation of the past few days – back on the internet again! I read the papers, played ball with dog on the dirt road that ran down the side of the park. Amused myself watching the park manager directing newcomers onto sites, some of which were quite small. John had parked close to the garden on our site and there was still only barely room to put the awning out.

We’d been so shook up by today’s awful road that John decided we’d stay an extra night here, before venturing out on the roads again. That was fine by me. Barcaldine was yet another town we’d passed through a number of times but never had time to stop and explore.

I ventured across to the happy hour gathering, which featured tea and damper, and enjoyed chatting with some fellow travellers. John remained attached to his screen.

The late lunch meant a light tea. Toast and chicken noodle soup.

Football was on TV at night.


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2013 Travels July 19

FRIDAY 19 JULY     CHARLEVILLE TO TAMBO     221kms

The day was overcast, but still warm.

We had an uneventful pack up and departure, except for dog’s customary reluctance to get on board. She certainly knew the signs that her Bus “kennel” was about to start moving. We put a towel under her midriff and “walked” her up the steps – very much an insult to her dignity.

Left at 9.25am. Proceeded north, with the now-normal stops for John along the way.

Again, the road seemed really bouncy, in parts. There were a couple of long sections of road construction works – at least they were doing something about the state of the road. In each case, a detour track had been made, and sealed. These detour sections were  better to drive on than the main highway.

Reached Tambo before lunch and bought fuel – $163.9cpl.

Set up at the Tambo Mill Caravan Park, on a drive through site where we could keep the car hitched on. It cost $30. The park was small, but quite pleasant and clean. The adjoining school was having some sort of sports meeting – it looked like there were several district schools represented, so we had the background noise of that, for a while.

Tambo site

After lunch, with dog on lead, walked the length of the town. Tambo had some interesting buildings. On a previous stay, we had walked the track that goes along the Barcoo River, but John did not feel up to that this time.

Tambo main street

John feels some affinity to Tambo, because it is where one of his older brothers lived for a time in the 1950’s, whilst working for the old PMG, maintaining the telephone lines. The brother made it sound really outback and remote, to his family back in Melbourne. The first time we came to Tambo, in 2000, John was quite put out at how “civilized” the town was.

I cooked the frozen red emperor fish, bought yesterday, for tea, with fries. It was a disappointment – tough – don’t know if that was due to being frozen, age or my cooking, but it was not a quality meal.

There was football on TV, to be watched at night.


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2013 Travels July 18

THURSDAY 18 JULY     CHARLEVILLE

It was another warm day.

After breakfast, John found a game on his laptop that was not internet dependent, and spent much of the day playing that. I read, played ball with dog, walked her on laps of the park a few times, chatted with other campers.

I did some reading of tourist information, and distance calculations, and decided to see if John would change his mind about us heading for Cooktown. I didn’t actually think he was remembering the place as it was, when we were there in 1998, or even remembering the correct place! He was talking about fishing off the sandy beaches there. Ummm – not that I remember. John was not great with place names, so he could equally well be remembering Cairns…..or Coffs Harbour….or Carnarvon……

From the current information I could find, it did not seem as if Cooktown was a dog friendly town.

To me, it seemed a long way to go, for just a few days there, before turning around and heading back somewhere south of Cairns again. I would like to go back to the coast between Cairns and the Daintree River – plenty of sandy beaches there – but again, couldn’t find anywhere to stay that took dogs.

Mid-afternoon, John emerged from his laptop, and Bus, and we walked the circuit track around the property. It was quite pretty, through the scrub.

Our site at Evening Star

Then John remembered that he’d promised  I could do some shopping today, so we drove to town. I went to the butcher, for steak, and some fish, then to a supermarket for a little stock up on fresh produce.

We tried to find a vet, to get some anti-tick treatment for dog, but no vet was to be found. I’d tried to buy Advantix at a big pet supply place near home, before we left, but what they tried to sell me was already past its expiry date! Then I’d tried a couple of places in Broken Hill, but they had no stocks, although I’d managed to buy a tick collar. I was getting mildly concerned because, if we were soon to be at the coast, she should already have been tick medicated.

Did some packing up of the camp.

Tea was steak, potatoes, mushrooms.


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2013 Travels July 17

WEDNESDAY 17 JULY     CHARLEVILLE

The day got off to a slow start. I got up about 8am, and took dog for her morning walk. John slept in.

It was certainly much warmer than we’d been used to.

Drove into town to the Information Centre, as I wanted material on parts further north.

John tried in a couple of shops to buy a small grease gun – no luck. He wanted to put some grease on the lubrication points of the tow hitch.

We went to the Bowls Club, but he could find no information displayed there about possible games. Not a very productive morning for him.

John wanted chicken drumsticks for tea, so I bought some of those, and a pull apart loaf to take back to camp for lunch.

The rest of the day was quiet. I read, and did some embroidery. John read, briefly, then napped for a longer time. He’d said he was too tired today to go exploring any of Charleville’s attractions. We’d seen much of the place anyway, on previous visits. I would have liked to go to the bilby centre, though. Years ago, we had donated towards the cost of the predator proof fence that was being built in Currawinya National Park, as part of the scheme to both preserve bilbies and build up populations in the wild again. I’d have liked to go to the centre in town, to see details of current progress.

Took Couey down the back for a ball throw.

Great spacious sites at Evening Star. Bus in warm weather set-up mode.

Tonight, there was on offer at the campfire area, dinner of beef stew or curry, for $15 a head. There were meals available, every few nights, done in camp ovens by a couple who were here for the season.

It did seem that the staff who were working here were doing a very good job. The place was clean, bins regularly emptied, amenities spotless, and special events like happy hour and the campfire meals created a great atmosphere. It made the place more of an experience in itself, rather than just a caravan park.

We didn’t take up the meal offer, but the cooking smell, drifting over our way from the cooking area, was mouth watering. However, we did enjoy our “roasted” drumsticks, cooked in the electric frypan.