This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels April 9

SATURDAY 9 APRIL   ADELS GROVE TO HELLS GATE RH   219 kms

We left Adels about 10am. The day was quite hot and got more so as we progressed north and west.

I was a little sad to be saying goodbye to this beautiful place, yet again. At least we had seen it in a different guise this time – lucky us.

Took the route north, through Lawn Hill Station – which the Australian Agricultural Company took over, last year. There were no issues crossing Lawn Hill Creek, just north of the homestead – although the creek there was in a couple of branches, it was shallow, and the bottom was firm.

There was the usual mob of cattle at what we had taken to calling Cow Corner – where some paddocks converged and where there was water. And also a gate that I had to open – very carefully watching where I put my feet.

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Cow Corner

We had been apprehensive about the Elizabeth Creek ford – a bit of a dip down into it, and always water there, even late in the Dry. It had more water than we’d seen before, in it, but we got through OK.

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Elizabeth Creek

The track took us from Lawn Hill Station, onto Bowthorn country. We had been sad to hear, back at Adels, that both the sisters from that station had health problems and were now living on the east coast. They were unable to live back in the Gulf Country  because it was too remote from necessary medical services. So Bowthorn had just been sold, gossip had it for about $5million. Apparently, the tourism side of the operation had garnered some interest, but at this stage, no-one was sure about the future of that. Kingfisher Camp was so lovely, and such a tribute to the work of the sisters, that it would be a real shame if it did not keep going.

Turned right at the T intersection beyond Elizabeth Creek. The station tracks had been in fairly good condition. We reached the Gulf Track – rather ridiculously designated National Route 1 – and turned west. The Nicholson River ford at Doomadgee, which back in Melbourne we’d feared might hold us up, was actually dry! Clearly it had been a rather poor wet season in those parts.

The unsealed road was not too bad. There were the expected little gutters where storm water had flowed – not all of which John saw in time to slow right down! There tends to be regular traffic between Doomadgee and Hells Gate, (which sold beer) so that had smoothed the way, somewhat.

We reached Hells Gate Roadhouse about 2pm. Booked ourselves into the campground there – $16 for an unpowered site. Power would have added another $16 to that, so we declined! We did refuel Truck though – $1.47cpl. Ouch!

The van contents were a bit jumbled up, due to a couple of big bumps on the tracks!

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All shook up

We were just setting up the van for overnight when O arrived. Earlier than he’d expected. He decided to stay the night, rather than press on and end up driving in the dark on poor tracks. He was towing a large, flat bottomed boat, bought in Brisbane and destined for bird watching expeditions on the shallow wetlands, he thought. He had three new canoes – one on the Troopy roof and two packed in the boat.

I cooked tea for the three of us – pasta with tuna, tomato, capers. A favourite of ours – O liked it.

About 6pm, we saw the backpacker bus go by.  They had just started routing its Cairns-Darwin service via the Gulf Track again, after the Wet. I knew it had been due in at Adels in time for tea tonight – so the catering would be shot to blazes! Whoops! Heard later that he had been bogged in the Robinson River crossing and that was why he was so behind time.

It was a very humid night and a bit difficult to sleep. O wanted an early start in the morning, so we retired early. He estimated it would take us five or six hours to get to Pungalina .Two of his friends were staying at the house to keep an eye on things in his absence, and we gained a rather vague impression that they – or someone – would have the safari camp set up by now. Before each Wet Season, virtually the entire contents of the camp were dismantled and packed away in a cyclone proof shipping container – on wheels so it could then be towed to high ground. Otherwise floods and cyclones would destroy infrastructure like tents. But this meant that the camp had to be reassembled each year.

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2003 Travels June 1

SUNDAY 1 JUNE     ADELS GROVE

Today was the first day of winter – that concept meant more down south than it does up here.

Yesterday’s rain was quite unusual for this time of year. Generally now, the days are very pleasant – warm, without the high humidity of when we first arrived, and nights are cool enough to sleep comfortably.

We got off to a slow start on this, the first of the two days off. We could sleep in, now that it was quiet around us.

Went for a walk around the place and along the creek, just enjoying the look of it all. I took photos of more cicada shells, “marching” up a snappy gum trunk.

We left at 12.30, to drive up to Bowthorn Station – the neighbour beyond Lawn Hill Station.

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Lawn Hill Station cattle at “Cow Corner”

The shop had for sale two books written by Kerry McGinnis, of the family that owns the station. We could do with some more of the book stock, so that was a good reason to go visiting. The story of her childhood and growing up in the stock camps of her droving father (Pieces of Blue), and then of the family’s eventual settling at Bowthorn (Heart Country), were engrossing reading – made better for me by knowing some of the country.

It was a lovely, very scenic drive, even though we had been over all the tracks last year. The road through Lawn Hill Station was excellent – the road crew had done a great grading job. We passed their new camp, about 5kms south of the Bowthorn/Doomadgee junction.

We had a picnic lunch by the water hole at Elizabeth Creek. There was still a fair amount of water over the track, here.

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Elizabeth Creek waterhole, by the track crossing

Beyond the turnoff to Bowthorn, the road was still rough, for the 23kms to the station. It hadn’t been graded yet.

We reached Bowthorn about 3pm. Both the McGinnis sisters were there. We chatted for over an hour. It gave us more insight into station life in remote places. They had an extensive vegetable garden and kept poultry. They made bread every day. Not only were they feeding themselves, but also some of the workers on the station.

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Feeding the poultry at Bowthorn

Judith made woodcraft items and she and John talked about that. I ended up buying a small piece that she had for sale – carved wooden toadstools, set into a piece of tree branch. It was quite whimsical, and made from local timbers. Cost me $25. I collected a stock of books for the shop, and bought some copies for myself, and for Xmas gifts, which Kerry autographed.

We got back to Adels just before 7pm – just in time for tea. It took us one hour and 20 minutes to do the 85kms or so, back from Bowthorn. That was a measure of how good most of the road now was.

We had a great day out. It was the first time in five weeks that we’d been out from the place.

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Driving over the black soil plains of Lawn Hill Station, with a cloud build-up

During the day, there was a steady build up of cloud – looking ominous.