This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels July 18


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


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.

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2013 Travels July 16


Although there was some blue sky this morning and the weather looked to be clearing, it was definitely departure day today! After the night’s steady rain, there was so much water lying around – and red, red mud.

We were better off than some because at least we had a dry area around part of the Bus. Some rigs were totally marooned in huge puddles. We were able to negotiate a fairly non-muddy route to walk dog out for her morning business, and to reach the amenities.

Aftermath of a rainy night. Amenities block to left.

I felt really sorry for whoever had to clean that building today. Even though campers were mostly trying to be careful, there was so much red mud tracked into the building.

We had to move Bus forward before  hitching up the car, as the back area was over a large puddle.

Although we only stayed the one night at Riverside, this time, would certainly stay here again – in fine weather.

Lots of red mud

Left the camp at 9am. Drove back through Cunnamulla and on to the highway north. The road was quite bumpy  in sections, the effect of which was to really bounce Bus up and down. We discussed whether this was accentuated by the distance between the front and back wheels of Bus, and its leaf springs. I hoped we weren’t on the way to needing to replace those. The ride was quite uncomfortable.

Refuelled in Charleville, at a servo conveniently on the way into town. $1.569cpl.

Drove through town, then out the Adavale road to the Evening Star Caravan Park, about 9kms NW of town. I had phoned ahead, this morning, to book us in for three nights. Good thing I did because the park was full by late afternoon.

We have previously stayed several times in Charleville, in the town, and at those times had seen most of what the town had to offer. In 2009 we stayed at the then-new Evening Star and I thought it would be a pleasant place, this time, for a few days’ break from driving.

The place looked more established now – four years later – and was very nice. The plantings between sites and around the grounds, had grown up.

Evening Star before the arrival of the afternoon rush

Sadly, the founding owners had split up and the property had been sold earlier this year. Its upkeep seemed to be very reliant on the managers, as the new owner lived at another property he had in the district. The managers seemed to be keeping it well, but I wondered if there would be much more of the developmental work done, like the unusual and quirky stuff that gave the place atmosphere. Things like the windmill pumping water into a tank, the old machinery dotted around and the like. Summer would be a test, with the watering. The adjacent original homestead, where the owners had lived, appeared to be empty. I so hoped the place would continue to be such a great place to stay.

Our site cost $29 a night. It had plenty of space, and shade. Dog could be on a long rope and had grass to lie on.

This was a very dog friendly park and we could play ball with Couey on the grassed area at the back.

There was, however, a major drawback, only discovered after we were settled in. Telstra 3G reception was very poor out here. Thus, no internet for us. No World of Warcraft for John for three days! I was firmly instructed that, in future, I must check the 3G status before booking us in anywhere! Travel priorities had certainly changed since we started out in 1998, without even a mobile phone……despite the convenience of the current technology, I think I liked it better when TV and internet reception didn’t govern where we stayed.

After setting up camp, drove the car into town. I wanted to collect the mail that had been sent here. John requested chow mein (made with a packet of chicken noodle soup – very sophisticated cuisine), so I bought mince from the butcher.

We were able to  give Couey an off lead walk at the gardens by the Vortex Gun display. There was a small lake area in that park. Couey spotted a mob of geese by the water, but – very wisely – decided to ignore them.

The Vortex Gun displayed in that park was one of several used, in 1902, in an attempt to cause rain and break a long drought in the area. The theory was that firing into clouds would cause them to drop rain. Scare them maybe? It didn’t rain, some of the guns blew up and the experiment was abandoned. There’s lots of interesting historical trivia to be found when travelling……

Vortex guns

Relaxed back at camp. There was little of note in the mail bag, mostly end of financial year paperwork.

At least John was able to get TV coverage and after our chow mein and rice dinner, we watched Kitchen Cabinet again.

During the night, Couey did some occasional growling at the kangaroos grazing around Bus. She couldn’t see out of the front, so must have been able to hear them.

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2009 Travels August 26


It was a pleasant day – a bit on the hot side.

After breakfast, drove into Charleville. John bought oil to top up the diff. He had phoned the bad mechanic from home, for advice – though that might be of dubious value. The supposed expert reckoned that Defender wheels don’t break. Well….we were carrying evidence to the contrary on the spare wheel holder……

John decided not to try getting the tyre fixed here, because the split wheel would only cause the same problem again. We had the caravan spare that could be used, if needed – which was why we’d originally had the van built with Defender wheels. Surely we couldn’t be that unlucky? There was certainly no point in trying to get a new wheel for Truck here.

Just lazed around at camp for the rest of the day. I took back everything I’d previously said about John in “go home” mode – this time was a pleasant exception.

Hooked Truck back up to van. We also seemed to have an oil drip from the steering box area. Poor old Truck was now  over thirteen years old, and had done over quarter of a million kms. Getting old…..

Had happy hour with the interesting neighbours.

As often happens in these parts, the sunset was brilliant.


2009 Travels August 25


We were up early and away just after 7am, wanting to finish driving, if we could, before the worst heat of the afternoon.

Drove back south, leaving the Tropics, through Sapphire, to meet the Capricorn Highway at Anakie, where we turned west. Before long, we were passing through ranges  where the road was quite hilly. It was rather dramatic. I’d forgotten all about this, although we must have driven this route at least once before.

Refuelled at Alpha, then took the Tambo road to the south. This would save us some 170kms compared to the alternative of going via Barcaldine.

The sealed road soon turned to gravel. Some sections were quite stony, and some parts were corrugated. There were occasional sealed sections again, especially on the floodways.

As was our usual practice, as soon as we left the sealed road, we stopped and removed the weight distribution bars. We’d been told to do that, right back when we started caravanning, by the people at Hayman Reece.

We came upon one floodway very suddenly, with a big dip in the middle of a raised area, and bottomed out a bit. Then John heard a tyre going down rapidly. It was the driver’s side rear one on Truck. John spent some time fiddling around with the ordinary jack, trying to get it to fit under the lowered side. He wasn’t happy that this would hold, so we ended up using the awkward, slow, wind up one that belonged to Truck, as well.

The floodway ambush in the background

When the wheel had been taken off, I was inspecting the tyre to try to find the cause of the flat – and found a nine inch split in the steel wheel rim, in the centre of the wheel. I thought it must have spread when we bottomed in the floodway, and then pinched the tube inside, because I couldn’t find any tyre damage. Later on, a close inspection revealed what looked like an old split, about four inches long and a bit rusted inside, and new splits on each end of that – presumably from the floodway. We had no idea when we made the older split. My guess would be possibly on the really rough and rocky crossing of the flooded river on the way into the Bungles in 2007.

When changing the wheel, John also found an oil seal leak in the rear left side. Again!

The Alpha to Tambo road

After that, we were relieved to reach sealed road again, at the corner with the Dawson Development Road, with no further mishaps.  The last part of this road, through to Tambo, was really scenic – the western tail off of the Carnarvon Ranges. But we were both a bit too tense to really enjoy it. Along the way, a topic of conversation had been about whether we should buy a new Defender, after this trip!

Had our packed lunch at the lovely rest area at Tambo. Then continued, through a hot afternoon, to Charleville, where we got fuel. Then back tracked a bit, to drive out to the Evening Star Caravan Park, to the NW of the town.

This caravan park, on a cattle property, was fairly new. It was 9kms from Charleville, on the Adavale road. Our powered site cost $24.

We thought this was going to be a really nice caravan park ,when the new tree plantings grew a bit higher. All the sites were drive through style, with a good separation between them. The bathrooms were unisex style. They had a very pleasant communal compfire area.

Site at Evening Star

We got talking to the people on the next site, travelling in a converted bus. Very interesting. She was a writer. Both had done a lot of living on boats, and travelling around. They lived in Tasmania, near Stanley, and knew our friends S and M, who had the Post Office there. We swapped details, and invited them to stay at our place, if they wished, when they next passed through Melbourne.

Decided we would have two nights here. It was very pleasant to be in the bush. It was the sort of place we’d stay at for a week or more. if we were not on a deadline.

Yes, a rookie error, but embarrassment overcome in order to show the nature of sites at Evening Star, in the early days….

I made tandoori chicken for tea.

The night was very pleasantly warm – not always the case, inland.

We were now into the last week of this trip.

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2006 Travels April 6


We had an uneventful drive to Charleville, on a road we have travelled several times before.

Broke the drive with roadside stops for coffee and lunch, and to refuel at Cunnamulla, having done 268kms since Bourke – $1.36cpl. Back in the State of cheaper diesel.

Booked into the Bailey Bar Caravan Park, as we had done times before. $18.90 after discount.

Not much had changed there. Rigs were still placed under direction, where it would allow a maximum number to be fitted in. That did not greatly affect us, this time, being here for only one night. They did place us so the rig could stay hitched up. We did not need to put up an awning, or set up camp furniture outside.

We walked to the shopping centre. Had to get a few oddments – including soap and container for John!

My heel seemed to be slowly getting better. We walked about 4kms.

Thought I should phone house sitter and check with her. She said all was alright at home. Spook was sleeping in the box we’d left for him – since he would not have our bed to sleep on. She had bought him a blanket for it – nice of her.

Phoned Adels Grove, to see what was happening there, and alert them to our time line.

It was only about two weeks since Cyclone Larry hit the Qld coast and caused a big low pressure system to come across the Gulf country, dumping over 500mm of rain around Normanton and Burketown, and flooding a lot of country.

M said the Century Mine trucks were using the Riversleigh road, as the usual way to the east was shut, due to the Leichardt River flooding between Gregory Downs and Burke and Wills Roadhouse. She reckoned Pungalina could flood again, too. It had been raining solidly for three days at Adels, and guests could not get there.

It was raining through much of the north west of Qld – we could have some trouble getting through. But with the dentist appointment in Mt Isa, we needed to try to go on.

Resize of 04-06-2006

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2005 Travels March 14


Slept in, as best we could. The park was not yet crowded at nights, so there was not a great deal of departing morning noise to disturb us. We were too early for the mass exodus north!

After breakfast, walked into town and browsed about. John bought some new bathers, because he’d forgotten to pack any. Also bought a new brush squeegee long handled windscreen cleaning gizmo, because John realized he’d left ours behind at the caravan park in Griffith.

He’d also forgotten to pack the little step ladder from home, that we usually carried – but we were not buying another one of those! It probably would not have fitted anywhere, anyway.

It was a hot day – shades of what was to come.

John took Truck to refuel – $1.15cpl.

At the park, we met a couple who had been caretaking Kingfisher Camp, near Doomadgee, through the Wet season. They had not been very happy there. It had been too humid for them. They had left earlier than they were supposed to, because they were scared they might get shut off in there by Cyclone Ingrid, which hit the Cape York coast four days ago, as a Category 5. So they had skedaddled, once it was clear that it was heading west. As things eventuated, the cyclone did not swing to the SW in the Gulf, as had been thought possible, but headed on west and was now grazing the coast around Darwin.

We were pleased the cyclone had done that – had been watching it rather anxiously. Less water dumped in the Gulf country meant easier access to Adels for us – and earlier access to Pungalina.

The caretaking couple had a number of complaints about their time at KFC. It sounded like they really didn’t think through the remoteness of the place before taking on the role.

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2005 Travels March 13


Continued the usual run north.

Crossed the border into Queensland. Three States in three days.

Of the whole few thousand kms of this, I think today’s section was my least favourite. It always seemed long and tedious. The right hand turn after the fuel stop at Cunnamulla gave some variety!

The highway north does not actually go right into Cunnamulla. One day, we should take the time to stay in this town and have an explore of it.

Fuel at Cunnamulla – $1.11cpl.

It was hotter again than yesterday.

The road surface was good.

As usual – again – we went into the Bailey Bar Caravan Park at Charleville. After Top Tourist discount, this cost $16.20 a night.

This park had new owners when we were last here, in 2003. They had since split up and the lady was running it on her own. The business seemed to be doing well – she had expanded the camp sites onto the next block. With the grey nomad population expanding every year, this was a strategic place to have a caravan park, seasonal though the trade mostly was.

Left some Pungalina brochures in the park office.

They were still packing the vans in as they would fit, rather than having clearly marked out sites.

The acquaintances with the Bushtracker, who we usually saw here, had just left for Darwin.

We decided to have a lay day here.

Resize of 03-13-2005 to ch

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2003 Travels September 27


After breakfast, we drove to the main area of shops, to get the weekend papers, and to have a browse around shops again. It was already too hot to contemplate walking there from the caravan park.

John bought himself a good Akubra hat – leather – in the men’s outfitters.

Refuelled Truck – 89cpl.

Rested around the van for the rest of the day. It was so hot! I read the papers. John watched the football.

The rest did John good.

It was rather an unusual caravan park, this one. Very pleasant, though, with fairly modern and very clean amenities. But different because there were few formal, marked sites. A few down one side fence were standard, but over the main central area, an owner directs the parking of each van, very carefully, to optimize the number of vans fitted in. They could pack it quite tightly. This was not really an approach that I liked, but at this time of the year the place was not busy, so we had finished up with plenty of room around us.

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2003 Travels September 26


Yet another really hot day.

We reached Charleville, with only minimal stops along the way.

Topped up the fuel before we left Longreach – 93 cpl, and filled at Tambo -91cpl.

We went into the Bailey Bar Caravan Park – there were new owners, we found. $16.20 a night, after discount.

We decided another rest day was in order, so John could watch the AFL Grand Final on TV, so booked for two nights.

Encountered the couple with the Bushtracker van, who we’d met here before – they visit the town regularly – so we had a catch up talk with them.

John drove to the shops and bought us fish and chips for tea. It was so long since we’d had proper fish and chips!

resize of 09-26-2003 to charle