This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2002 Travels May 27


It was another fine day.

No one was moving off early, including us. We chatted for a bit with the off road van guy; they eventually headed off in the direction of Innamincka, to the west.

The two old biddies from the camper trailer hung about like a bad small. It appeared they were watching us closely in case we saw something, or found out something they might miss. We were waiting for the lady owner to appear, in the hope that she might show us the opal. John also wanted to approach her about work in the area. next year – there is more than one way to get on to opal bearing properties, he thinks!

I went into the roadhouse cafe to buy an Eromanga sticker to display on the Truck side window. I rarely buy stickers, but this had been a memorable “different” place. The two biddies were there in the cafe, drinking coffee and writing postcards. Given what we’d seen and heard from them, to date, it must have hurt them to fork out for the coffee!

A bit later, we were all at our respective camps, and John went to walk into the cafe. They raced out and followed him. He changed his mind at the door and came back – and so did they! In the end, John was steaming. I thought it was quite funny.

Then, while they were tucked away in the toilets, we met the lady owner coming across the yard, and talked to her. She took us in the back door to see the water burning demonstration. The two biddies came rushing in the front door! When she turned on the cold water tap, a mix of gas and water came out. It just barely caught and flickered when she held a lighter near it. She said that, some days, it is all gas, and can be fully lit. I wondered what use that water would be in the event of being needed for fire fighting? There was no mention of the opal, though.

We left our contact details with this lady, in case of future work being available, and departed. We stopped at the hotel – had been waiting for opening time – and put our $10 in the Flying Doctor tin, as we’d said we would.

We’d asked about the condition of an unsealed road that was marked on my Road Atlas as cutting through from Eromanga to the Windorah road, and had been told we should be fine to take it.

So we drove the Kyabra road. The 95kms of dirt was fine, and saved us a 150kms backtrack route.

After about 45kms we came to Kyabra Creek. Its permanent water holes were very attractive, so we stopped there for lunch and a wander around. There was a large flock of galahs occupying a red gum tree that leaned over the water hole.

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Galah tree

The two ladies we had not liked at the Eromanga camp had been intending to come camp out here. I very uncharitably hoped they would be surrounded by things that went bump in the night!

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Kyabra Creek water hole

The track crossed Kyabra Creek at a dry point between waterholes. Crossed a few more creek channels between Kyabra Creek and the Windorah road. But none of these had water in or presented any challenge – hardly had to slow down.

Reached the “main” road right by Thylungra Station. This is also by a waterhole of Kyabra Creek, which runs SE for a distance, and then turns to the NW – we had crossed it on that leg – before flowing into the Cooper Creek near Windorah. It is clearly a creek that has some beautiful waterholes along its length. Thylungra was another of the historic Durack places.

The single strip of bitumen road that links Quilpie and Windorah demanded concentration. It was narrow and in places the shoulders were rough. There were occasional cattle grids to be cautious about, and the regular slight dips of floodways. The country was the usual Channel country grass and scattered trees, with areas of bare earth between grass patches – sometimes paler, sometimes more red. In a couple of places there were low red sandy rises – echoes of the desert country further along.

Because of this being the Channel Country, there were always lines of trees in the distance, marking channels.

Not far before Windorah, the road crossed the Cooper Creek. There were several streams and channels close together, but the actual Cooper Creek main channel was unmistakable, with a big bridge over it. There were obviously camping spots along the banks, that were well used. I was a bit tempted for us to camp there – with its poetic, outback connotations – but I really wanted to be able to shower and wash my hair before we continued on into the wilds, so caravan park it was.

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Bridge over Cooper Creek, near Windorah

Our first stop was the Information Centre in the township. It was in a pleasant new building and was well set up. It was also the Craft Centre and Library. The very helpful lady there let me borrow a novel, on a $20 surety. She told us that the track through Palparara Station would be the best route from this direction, into Diamantina National Park.

We found the little caravan park – obviously fairly newly set up, to attract tourists to stay in the town. There was a very nice, new, small amenities block, and freshly planted shrubbery. We thought it very pleasant and it was only $6 a night. A caretaker came round about 7.30 each morning, to collect the fees. It turned out to be a noisy place though, with truck traffic passing and the town generator in the background, all night.

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Our caravan site at Windorah and menity block

While John was pottering about the camp, I walked back to the store and bought some postcards.

At the Information Centre, we’d been given material on a Nature Drive, that looked interesting, so we decided to stay here tomorrow, as well, and do some exploring.

Tea was sausages and coleslaw.

I did some intensive reading of the borrowed novel.

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2002 Travels May 26


It was a fine day after a chilly night.

We left town, after checking for the Saturday papers at the shop. They had not yet arrived. Oh well, can’t win them all.

It was only about 100kms to Eromanga, the first 35kms on the same road as we’d already driven to go out to Pinkilla the other day. The road was easy enough driving – a reasonably wide single strip of tar and pretty flat country.

On our first pass through the hamlet, I could not see the Eromanga Caravan Park that the literature had indicated was in town. I asked at the hotel which was at the far end of the town and was told that it was behind the cafe/roadhouse. That, we had passed, so we returned there.

Booked in – $10 a night for a powered spot. I would not really call it a site. The fee indicated the overall level of facilities. It was, basically, just parking by a power outlet pole, in the middle of a gravelled area. On the other side of the pole from us was what appeared to be a permanently parked van.

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We were told there would be a BBQ tea provided tonight.

There was another occupant of the small caravan facility – a camper trailer, set up off power. Later, a couple of older ladies returned to it. They had been taken on a tour of the area – free – I gathered.

Very hospitable people here, though Eromanga is not exactly on the beaten tourist track.

Later, another offroad van – not our brand – arrived, and set up on power too.

We had an early lunch, then went for a walk and saw pretty much all of the town – a few houses, the hotel, a school, our roadhouse/cafe/motel, a police station. There was no general store.

There was a small oil cracking refinery across from the cafe and camp area, and it also sold fuel, but it was not cheap – a BP outlet. One would think that the fuel would be cheaper, in these circumstances, with no need to transport it distances.

The refinery product was taken to the pipeline at the Jackson oil field, near Noccundra to the south, by a specially licensed B-double-double truck – i.e. four trailers. I felt glad we were not taking the same route – imagine the sway on the hind-most trailer! The truck left every morning about 8am and returned about 8pm every night. The road had been especially sealed to take this traffic.

We walked out to the cattle grid at the entrance to town, to photograph the sign that says Eromanga is the “furthest town from the sea” in Australia. I found that somewhat hard to credit.

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On our walk, spent some time at a display of old machinery that was set up on a vacant block by the road. John became totally engrossed in this, and even I found it interesting. There was an early oil drilling rig, set up to be pulled and positioned by horse, it appeared, and a collection of different sized flywheels and the like.

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Early drilling rig

There was a machine whose appearance from a distance had us mystified until we could read the sign that said it was a machine for turning flat sheets of tin into corrugated iron.

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Corrigated iron shaper

John was most taken by a machine that tumbled and sorted opal. Eromanga is still definitely within the Queensland opal region. I could see John inspecting it and considering whether he could build something similar. Might be a bit hard to carry on the roof rack, though!

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The lady who had booked us in warned us that the local bore water supply was very smelly and oily, and that it had so much gas in it that it could sometimes be lit! So we decided to pass on showers.

We did decide to go to the BBQ tea as a way of meeting some of the locals and maybe finding out more about the area. There were quite a few people there – mostly family, it seemed, and some who worked for the earth-moving branch of the family’s businesses. They had all had a big night, last night, at the post-races party. What a pity that we hadn’t been a day early – we could have gone to a true country horse race meeting.

There was lots of food provided. Salads, sausages, meat patties, chops, steak, hot potatoes.  The roadhouse owners also own Kyabra Station, an historic former Durack property, to the north, but have to live in town because of their other businesses, especially the earth moving. They were developing the motel and cabin side of the place here. The motel looked quite nice.

The lady owner told me that she found it hard to get – and keep – staff, out here. She also told me that she had an opal they found out on their property, worth nearly $100,000. She might remember to show it to us tomorrow. I’d certainly love to see it!

They were really nice, friendly, generous people. She would not take any payment for the meal! We told her we would put a donation in the Flying Doctor donation tin at the hotel.

We spent some time talking with the people from the other off road van. He was some sort of professional sportsman – but his knees were shot, now. He had just had solar power put onto his van and was having problems, too. He did not seem to fully understand it all, either. His 240v charger did not seem to be working. He was not at all happy with the attitude of the company that made his van, towards their customers. We found them pleasant people to talk to.

We’d had a great day in a little township where we had not expected much.

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To top it off, there was a full moon rising and the dusk sky had that blue and pink layered effect that seems quite common in the arid outback.

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