This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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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

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2002 Travels May 12


Finished reading the papers from yesterday.

Went for a walk around the streets. Charleville is a pleasant town, we think. It certainly feels safe to walk about in. We have found this to be the case with most outback towns, but not all.

Dating from the 1860’s, Charleville has some really interesting old buildings, but we enjoyed walking and just looking at the houses, particularly the older weatherboard ones. Some of these had quaint little shade structures built over the top of their wndows, to shade them from the sun – from the days before canvas blinds and the like.

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2002 Travels May 11


Pack up and departure went smoothly. We did not hurry, just aiming to be away by the usual 10am, knowing we were not going all that far today.

I was able to get the Saturday papers before we left town.

Drove west, over a road we had not travelled before. Stopped for a break at Mitchell, by the Maranoa River. This seemed quite low. It had clearly been a while since there had been any great flow in it, as the surface was largely covered with water lilies.

05-11-2002 maranoa at mitchell.jpg

Maranoa River at Mitchell

In Charleville, booked in to the Bailey Bar Caravan Park, for $15.30 a night. We stayed here back in 2000. The price had gone up by about 25% since then! I suspect that Charleville has become increasingly a stopover point for grey nomads heading north, then south again, each year, and the price reflects this greater demand. When we were here last, the NSW Kidman Way had not that long been sealed. Now, the word is getting about that this is a great route north.

The park people still have this strange method of mostly not having defined sites – except for a few with slabs down one side fence. Instead, vans are parked as they direct, in a way that squeezes in the maximum number, on the grass.

We set up, intending to stay here for three nights – want to visit some of the shops on Monday. John, in particular, wants to check out an opal dealing shop he’s heard about.

05-11-2002 to charleville

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2000 Travels April 30


Woke to a superb “tropical” morning – loved it. I felt really good all day – it was being in the warmth again.

I finished a letter I’d been writing bits of for the last week or so, to cousin K in Tassie. Did a load of washing – no need for driers here.

John slept late.

We lazed about and read for the rest of the morning.

After lunch, went for a walk to the town centre and around it. There were no barred or shuttered windows here! The central business area was fairly substantial, with lots of shops and services, a fairly large supermarket, and a couple of interesting old two storied hotels.

The town is built on the southern side of the Warrego River, which looked small when we walked onto the causeway/bridge, but apparently it can flood, big time. There was also a sort of tributary channel going through the middle of the built up area, which we walked over on large culverts.

I posted my letter and some postcards.

It was some distance from the caravan park to the town centre – probably over a km – so by the time we’d walked there and back and in between done some exploring of the central part, we’d had quite enough exercise.

We commented on how safe we felt walking the streets here, and how pleasant it was, in general. Charleville looked a well kept town.

We decided to spend another day here, just enjoying relaxing again. It was so pleasant, sitting out in the shade, in the lovely warm air – luxuriating in it. I went to the office and was pleased to find we could extend the stay. At least, with this ad hoc method of parking vans, there was no need for reshuffling of sites for us!

04-30-2000 camp charleville.jpg

John relaxing in the shade, at Bailey Bar, before the afternoon influx of travellers

There were lots of wattlebirds in the trees, flitting about and making their loud, yacky noises.

I made chow mein for tea.

Another early night was called for – going troppo was tiring! Although, technically, we were not yet in the tropics.

There was a big stir, later in the evening – heard the town fire siren ring, so got up and went out to investigate, after a big cavalcade of fire, ambulance and police vehicles went past the caravan park. A house about a block up was on fire. There was much smoke about.