This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2009 Travels June 9


It was the usual super early morning. I hadn’t had enough sleep. My own fault.

I was not feeling well. Had felt a bit “off” for several days, since we were at Takarakka. Some sort of stomach bug, I thought. Or maybe something in the water there? Today the tum was really aching. I had promised John roast pork for dinner tonight, but was feeling unenthusiastic about it.

And so to the shops. I gave into temptation and visited a patchwork shop, where I couldn’t resist some very pretty aqua/blue fabric quarters, to stash away for a future project. That’s what afflicts quilters, it seems.

To the butcher, whose voucher I’d won. Their meat looked great. As well as the piece of roasting pork, I got lamb chops, scotch fillet steak, mince and bacon. $55 worth, but less the $25 voucher, it was a cheap lot.

We did a big stock up at the supermarket – much fresh fruit and vegetables in particular, and other fresh foods. That cost $200. We were doing our small bit for the economy of the towns where we stayed, for sure.

While putting the shopping away, I dropped a new tub of hommus, and broke it. Only a split and a small leak of oil, so not the massive clean up of yesterday. Suddenly I seemed to be all clumsy.

After lunch, John became engrossed in his computer game and forgot that he’d intended to take down the awning roof.

Logically, our parking area should have been straight ahead, beside our awning, but no – that was for next door!

I sewed, cooked the roast, read the daily paper.

Our neighbours with the horse float, who had been stranded here, got their vehicle back this afternoon, and promptly left for Longreach. Watching them pack up and hitch up provided a bit of a diversion in the afternoon.

The pork roast was done, as usual, in the electric frypan, but – as I expected, it was too moist in there for the rind to crackle. I tried frying it separately, but that didn’t work. But the meat was excellent – I only had a very small helping.

The day had been warm again, but the night was chilly. Early to bed.

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2009 Travels June 8


It was the same early morning for me. A pleasantly warm day.

I washed John’s jeans, by hand. That was not too onerous, after the long soaking they’d had.

I was able to book us here for an extra day.

Making up patches for my quilt was really flying along, with so much time to fill in, here.

Got chatting to a neighbour, two sites over. They had been here for two weeks, due to their vehicle breaking down. They were towing a fifth wheeler that was also a horse float. She said that they sometimes took their horses away on a trip with them. My imagination ran a bit riot about that! Wondered if the division between the residence and the horse part was totally smell proof? I gave her some books I didn’t want to keep.

John fancied a Subway lunch, so off we went to get that. After, went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, but not all that far, nor fast. The Gardens were on the small side, so it did not take long to feel we’d “done that”.

Took a drive, out to Lake Maraboon, about 25kms out of town. There were “lifestyle” small acreage blocks along much of the way, irrigated from the Nogoa River. I bought a couple of $2 bags of mandarins from a roadside stall.

The road crosses the top of the Fairburn Dam wall, which created the large Lake Maraboon on the Nogoa River.

The road crosses the top of the Firburn Dam wall

It was very impressive – the second largest dam lake in Qld. Despite that, Emerald still had a major flood last year, when there was so much rain that the dam spillway overflowed, big time. The Nogoa drains north from the flanks of the Carnarvon Ranges and can collect a lot of run off in a short time.

The Dam spillway, with the Nogoa River channel visible

Back in December 1998, we stayed at the Lake Maraboon Caravan Park, for a week, on our way south. It seemed to have really been spruced up since then. It was really crowded. We hadn’t tried to book in here, this time, as John wanted to be closer to bowls. It would have been a far more pleasant place to stay. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about being out here – and about Emerald in general.

We bought icy poles at the shop in the Park, and wandered about whilst we ate them. There were not as many people using the water as I expected, it being a long weekend. Visited the lookout over the dam. The water area was vast. I had some recollection of taking sunset photos across it, back when we stayed here.

Lake Maraboon

Returned to Emerald. That had been a pleasant little outing.

Tea was battered fish, bought frozen, and salads. Whilst making it, and delving around in the fridge for lettuce, I managed to tip over a large tub of yoghurt. The lid popped off and yoghurt spread everywhere. It was a big clean up job. Note to self: from now on, only buy small tubs of yoghurt.

A rare computer night for me: emails, looking at forums, playing my mahjong game – till 1am. That damned Emperor’s Mahjong is addictive! John was up even later than me.

The night was cold. Maybe I was premature in stowing the heater under the bed? There were forecasts of minus 5 degrees for the Granite Belt. That would not be much fun in a caravan!

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2009 Travels June 7


I was wide awake and up at 7am, due to the “environmental” noise around us. Not happy about it, either. This would have to rank as just about the poorest value $30 a night we’d ever spent!

The sky was clear and blue and the day warmed up quickly.

Whilst John slumbered on, influenced by his late night, I hand washed a couple of T shirts, at the laundry, and also the kitchen floor mat. When John surfaced, he declared he wanted his jeans washed. They obviously had not been dirty enough yesterday, when I did the machine washing! I soaked those in the bucket.

The better sites beyond, a pretty sunset, and the corner of our near-neighbour’s car

John wanted to be at the Bowls Club by 1pm, for a 1.30 start. Then, we sat around there, outside, staring at the grass, until things got organized at about 2pm. John played in a pairs game, with other serious bowlers, and enjoyed himself.

I played as skip against another visitor, a lady from near Cairns who, we discovered, had family living near us, at home. For leads, they paired us with two local “ladies”, who had little idea of bowls, and little interest in gaining more. They were already well inebriated before we started. They spent the game sinking vodka cruisers, smoking incessantly, and generally holding up the game whenever they spotted a male they could drape themselves all over. The other skip told them off a couple of times, which made no difference at all. Unfortunately, visitors to other clubs can all too often finish up teamed with those none of the local club members want to play with. I eventually won, narrowly, which really meant that my partner was slightly less of a handicap than my opponent’s.

If going through those kinds of ordeals was what it took for me to get to go bushwalking, then maybe I would give up the walking!

The afternoon was slightly redeemed when a draw of the winning scorecards was done and I won a $25 meat voucher, for a local butcher. John was sympathetic about my experience – the entire club had seen and heard the spectacle on our rink!

A decision was made that we would try to extend our stay here by another day. Then, after the Monday holiday, we could go to the butcher to redeem my prize, get meat and other shopping, have a roast dinner, and get an early start the next day, for what would be a long stage.

I made corn and zucchini fritters for tea, with corn cobs and a tomato-avocado-onion salsa. John did not comment on the vegetarian offering, but I observed that he ate a heap of the fritters.

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2009 Travels June 6


It certainly was a noisy caravan park, in the morning, with travellers packing up early, and residents doing their thing – a lot going off to work. A diesel mini-bus that was parked last night, just across from us, left about 5am, while it was still dark. It was definitely not a quiet bus. I thought it was ferrying workers somewhere. I was wide awake by 7am – and not particularly happy about it.

John ignoring the very close neighbours

I did two loads of washing. The dark items emerged from the machine liberally streaked with lint, of course. I couldn’t be bothered hand rinsing a lot of things, just hoped I could brush off the worst when they were dry.

We walked to the nearest shops – one of two plaza style centres in Emerald. John’s hip took a while to get going. He thought he’d have to turn back, but battled on, and it loosened up.

At the shops, John made a bee line for Target, to buy some new socks, and – in the interest of looking a smidge more respectable – a couple of pairs of his favoured Rugger shorts. Then, at a men’s shop, he bought a $40 set of braces, to hold up the shorts. That was in order to just look decent. I wished I could donate him some of my well padded backside to help hold up his trousers!

I bought milk and collected the papers and John bought a woodwork magazine.

After an early lunch John went off to the Bowls Club, to do some practice with a lady he’d encountered there yesterday. She was a learner and had asked him for some coaching. He was not away  for very long. She was well alcoholled up, so trying to give her pointers to try to improve her game was a futile exercise and he did not persist.

The day was warm – well into the 20’s. This was more like we were expecting from Qld. In the afternoon, a big cloud build up grew, coming in from the south west, which seemed an unusual direction to me. Eventually it started to look like there might be rain, so I got in all the washing, which was nice and dry. Apart from that, I read the papers, and sewed.

Tea was Mongolian lamb, courtesy of a Kan Tong sauce packet. The easy way, but that sort of product  saved trying to carry a lot of weighty bottles of ingredients in order to create anything remotely exotic.

John watched football on TV, as did I by default. Carlton beat Brisbane, so John was happier than some in the caravan park.

The cloud kept the night quite warm, so I packed away the fan heater yet again and hoped this was the last time it would be needed on this trip.

I stayed up till 11.30. There was very loud and pounding music coming from somewhere nearby in the park, but it quietened down by midnight. John played computer games after the football was finished. Another late to bed for him.

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2009 Travels June 5


A brilliant blue sky this morning, and sunshine. There had been a heavy dew overnight, though. Later in the morning, it clouded over.

Takarakka local – Whiptail or Pretty Faced Wallaby

We left Takkarakka at 9am. A number of other rigs had gone before us. The problem areas on the road out had been packed down by the prior traffic, but outside of the wheel tracks there was lots of surface slop. There were some parts that still seemed a bit slippy – we had been in low range from the resort driveway on, and stayed that way almost until reaching the highway. We got out ok but it must have been hair-raising for those who had left when it was still raining.

We passed a couple of churned-up places beside the road. Clearly, where rigs had slid off the surface, gotten stuck and, presumably,  had to be pulled out.

Once on the highway, it was a very attractive drive to Emerald, with lots of large and small hills about. It was an alternating mix of farmland and bush. The Staircase Range area, between Rolleston and Springsure, went through a lot of road cuttings that were interesting in themselves.

Springsure looked interesting, with dramatic hills around it. Another place noted that would be worthwhile for a future stay and explore. Not this time – we were feeling that, if we were going to make it to Far North Qld, it was time to focus on really moving north.

Near Springsure

That said, John wanted us to stay for at least the weekend in Emerald, so he could get in some bowls.

We had heard, en route, that Monday was a long weekend holiday – had kind of lost track of that sort of thing. I raised the possibility of seeing out the long weekend, with its increased traffic and people, in Emerald. John immediately latched on to that as a good idea – it might mean an extra bowls game….

Once we had a reasonable mobile phone signal, I texted daughter to check that the family hadn’t succumbed to the nasty ‘flu, then rang the Emerald Caravan Park. They were very busy, I was told, but could possibly juggle sites around to fit us in,  if we were going to stay for three or four days. After that, I had a sinking feeling that we were not going to fetch up camped on any prime spots!

Reached Emerald just after midday. It felt rather strange to be in a biggish town again, and in busy traffic.

Our powered site at the Emerald Cabin and Caravan Village cost $30 a night. We were allocated a so-called drive-through site, right on the corner of  internal roads. So-called, because had the site in front been occupied, we would not have been able to drive through at all! Gravel, but at least with a slab. As I’d feared, there was nothing attractive about the site, but it had all the services. It was clearly a squeezed-in area that was no-one’s first choice! Strangely arranged – the vehicle of the van next to us parked almost within touching distance of our awning. There was nowhere for us to park Truck, except for the empty site in front of us. Not sure what we would do if that was occupied. An en-suite style amenities block was nearby – very nice, but eight of the fourteen “rooms” in it were not in use – yet the Park was full! That seemed rather mean of them, at the outset and there were times through our stay when we had to queue for use of a bathroom. Thinking ahead was a good idea – it did not pay to be in a hurry…..

A lot of the rigs in the very full Park had obviously been here for a while – people working in the area. Emerald was big on the Harvest Trail that was followed by grey nomads and backpackers.

After setting up and having lunch, we drove to the Bowls Club – of course. John was rather put out to find he could not get a game tomorrow, but booked  both of us for one on Sunday. I guessed his memory of St George had faded! As far as I was concerned, I was still in bushwalk credit!

On to the Information Centre, where we did the obvious. At the Post Office, I sent off postcards to assorted family members, and a birthday card for my brother’s 60th. Sussed out the newsagent about the availability and times for tomorrow’s papers. We ordered fish and chips for later collection, at a shop recommended by the person who checked us into the caravan park.

The day had been nice and hot, but by about 5pm had gotten cold enough for us to need windcheaters and long trousers.

John drove off to collect our dinner, at 6.15. It was ready right on time. Cost $25. Fish seemed incredibly expensive in Qld. It was alright, maybe a bit on the greasy side. The serves were certainly generous and I couldn’t finish all mine.

We had TV again, of course, though the reception wasn’t the best. John spent quite a bit of time fiddling with the aerial and its direction.

I was really tired and had a much earlier night than the screen watcher.

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1998 Travels December 9


In the morning, we drove into Emerald to go to bowls. They play in the mornings, when it is a bit cooler.

I was fairly pleased with my game. John was in a team with a young, novice, boy and didn’t have a great time.

We did a little shopping. Went to the Information Centre, looking for any extra material on the sapphire fields. Also for information on parts south. After being in this area for a few days, we think it will be too hot to stay here over Xmas.

Mailed the Xmas cards, and most presents – cost $60 for packing and postage.

For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on the vest.

John had a toothache and slept for a while. He has had several very late computer game nights, lately!

John had leftover steak and kidney for tea, I had some salad.

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1998 Travels December 6


I got up early. John slept until later.

It was nice sitting outside in the early morning – with a little cooling breeze and lots of birds.

After breakfast, we drove to Emerald and bought the weekend papers. Emerald is much more of a “proper” town than I had expected. I had associated it with the gemfields and assumed it was typical of such settlements. But it is not on the gemfields at all – they are some 80kms to the west. It is a service town, predominantly for the surrounding agriculturalists. It is growing very fast, due to the growth of irrigated cropping and new cotton farms nearby. From what we heard on the local news, aerial spraying of crops is a hot local issue, due to possible contamination of beef from the sprays. We did see some crop dusting as we drove – those pilots are crazy!!

On the way back to camp, bought some mangoes from a roadside stall.

We had a phone call from our Canberra friends. They are off to South Korea soon, for a month, and after that soon off again – to India for three months. Obviously, overseas travel, especially in Asia is what they enjoy most. Each to his own. I have no wish to travel overseas, these days, whilst there is still so much of this country to experience.

I phoned K to report our location. He says he is getting the pool ready for summer. That is good to hear.

Had a quiet day after that. Read the papers. Knitted some of a vest that I am making for P for Xmas.

We tried to phone JJ – the ex-husband of a close friend, who we knew had moved to the sapphire fields near Emerald. I found an address and phone number for him in the local phone book. But the number will not connect. Has he moved? Died? Not paid his bill? Gone south?

In the late afternoon, walked up to the lookout over the dam and read all about it on the information board there.

Tea was tinned fish, salad, leftover noodles.

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Sunset over Lake Maraboon

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1998 Travels December 5


We were up at 6.15am and away at 8.10, after a good, uneventful pack up.

It was a hot day, of course.

We found it a rather monotonous drive south to Emerald. From Charters Towers, as far south as the Cape River – about 125kms – the road was mostly just a one width strip of bitumen; after that it was a normal two lane road and was pretty good. There were a couple of long stretches of road works on the single width sections.

We wonder whether weekends are THE days for moving extra-big loads? Had to pull over – right over – for five different lots, all with police escorts front and rear. Two lots had big dredges or machine buckets; one was a big shed or building; two were big machines, with huge double sets of wheels hanging over the edges of the tray of the carrying vehicle. They were monster loads.

12-05-1998 wide load south of belyando.jpg

It is a good thing that the road has wide shoulders – south of Belyando Crossing

The country was a mix of scrub and grazing lands, but was pleasantly green.

We stopped at Belyando Crossing for a drinks break. Truck finished up parked by a big stock road train that came in after us, which dwarfed our rig. We worked out that the road train had 62 wheels. Would cost a lot to get new tyres on that!

12-05-1998 belyando crossing.jpg

Our rig is dwarfed by a road train at Belyando Crossing

There was a big coal mine – Blair Athol – just north of Clermont.

We did not deviate to drive into Clermont township, which is slightly off the main road. We had originally thought of overnighting there, but John was feeling able to push on to Emerald.

We had lunch at a roadworks site, south of Clermont.

The Peak Range in the distance, to the east, made the last 100kms or so, more interesting to travel. Closer to Emerald, we came into farming country which was quite lush.

We bought fuel in Emerald – 75cpl. It is hard to account for the variations in fuel prices that we are encountering.

Then drove on out to Lake Maraboon Caravan Park, by the Fairburn Dam, some 20kms south of Emerald. We had decided that this sounded a more pleasant place to stay than in the town.

The Fairburn Dam was built across the Nogoa River for irrigation and forms the second largest dam in Qld, after Lake Dalrymple on the Burdekin. We drove over the dam wall and spillway to get to the caravan park. The road over the dam wall was not all that wide and it is definitely not the sort of feature I like driving over! We got good views, though.

The caravan park looked ok, so we booked in for a week. It cost $81 after Top Tourist discount and we get a free night. Pretty good deal, we thought. The place turned out to be rather busy and noisy today, though, with a large group out here for a Xmas party – with many children. There is some sort of cafe place attached to the park that obviously caters for such things. There were also motor boats and water skiers down the hill at the lake. But, we have a pleasant site. Hopefully, things will quieten down after the weekend.

There are lots of rainbow lorikeets and apostle birds around the park.

After we got set up, went for a walk along part of the lake side, where there was a path. We needed some exercise after the day of sitting.

Tea was vegie stir fry with hokkien noodles.