This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels July 22

MONDAY 22 JULY     BARCALDINE TO CAPELLA     371kms

We left Barcaldine at 9.30, on a day that was cloudy.

The Capricorn Highway, east, was good quality, without the lumps and bumps of the past few legs.

Today’s travel was varied enough to stay interesting throughout.

We did not stop in Jericho, as we had done so on a previous trip. A little patch of Biblical references here, with the town located by the Jordan (Creek), and Lake Galilee to the north. The Crystal Trumpeters monument was Jericho’s Bicentennial project, representing symbolically the story of the ancient Israelites and Jericho. It is an interesting departure from the usual local monuments one sees.

As we passed through Alpha, commented that this was where, on the 2009 trip, we turned south to take the shorter dirt route to Tambo – a somewhat eventful short cut.

East of Alpha, the Drummond Range involved some steeper, more winding road, and distant views.

Drummond Range gradient warning sign

One section is a gradient of 7%; much more comfortable to negotiate with Bus and its exhaust brake, than it was with the van!

We stopped for a break at the quaintly named hamlet of Bogantungan. These days, this is almost a ghost village, being bypassed by the modern highway. Hard to believe it was one a flourishing railway town. The railway is still used, but I doubted  whether trains ever stopped  here, these days. In 1960 there was a major rail accident near here, when a bridge across a flooded creek collapsed as a passenger train was passing over. Seven people were killed and lots more injured.

The area where we stopped, outside the station, was obviously used by overnight campers. It was spacious enough, and there was a toilet at the station.

Rest area at Bogantungan

We had coffees and the dog had a run.

On the way again, we passed the turnoff to the Willows gemfield, 11kms south of the highway. I’d have liked to go and stay there for a few days – a place we had not been to before – but John was now focussed on getting further north.

Took the turnoff to Rubyvale, as a shorter route through to Capella.

The little settlements of Sapphire and Rubyvale were busier than I’d ever seen them on our prior visits. It seemed the Gemfields had really grown in popularity as a tourist attraction. Places offering gems for sale, cutting services, buckets of wash to be sifted and sorted on site, had proliferated greatly. The caravan park at Rubyvale looked to be crammed full.

Gem mining area near Rubyvale

Between Sapphire and Rubyvale we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by a large bottle shop and bar. Back in the tropics, at last!

The road from Rubyvale to Capella was sealed all the way. It wound about a bit, initially. As we did not need to go via Emerald, to stay or for shopping, this was a much more interesting, and shorter, way to go.

At Capella, our first task was to refuel. The road we came on ended at a T intersection in the centre of town. We had a 50% chance of turning the right way to find a servo, but, naturally, got it wrong. As we neared the town outskirts, passed a breath testing station set up on the other side of the road. Then we had to do a u-ey, and go back the way we’d come, but were not pulled in for testing. A note for the future: the servo at Capella is on the north side of town. So is the caravan park.

Our fuel was $1.615cpl.

Booked into the Capella Van Park, where our powered site cost $29. The young owners of this park had clearly been trying very hard to establish the park’s reputation – and were succeeding. The place was clean and attractive, with great facilities like a camp kitchen and gathering place.

We were guided to a site where we were able to drive through onto it and leave the car attached to Bus.

Capella site

Did a minimal set up, then pondered things to do for the rest of the day.

John was able to borrow a grease gun from the very helpful park owner, and applied same to the grease points on the hitch. I don’t know if that made much difference to the operation of the hitch, but it did ensure that, for the rest of the trip, our hands got greased every time we went near the hitch!

Took dog and went for a walk around town. Down one side of the main street – the highway – looking at the shops. A hairdressing establishment had no customers, so John went in to see if he could get a much-needed haircut. The lass said no, as she was about to close. It was just after 4pm. She couldn’t need business too badly – it would only take a few minutes to run clippers over John’s hair. It was usually my task, so I knew this. John had left the clippers at home. He hadn’t actually had a hair cut he’d had to pay for since about 1993.

The other side of the highway had a walking path and type of small park, then there were railway lines and a station, with grain silos beyond that. A very long train was stopping and starting as it loaded grain; we watched that for a while, then watched it shunting and changing lines. Strangely interesting!

A feature along the walkway was a memorial to the Light Horse Brigade. Apparently, it was in the Capella district, during the Shearers’ Strikes of the 1890’s, that mounted troopers started putting emu feather plumes on their hats. When the Light Horse Brigade was later formed, the tradition continued.

Light Horse Memorial at Capella

For tea, I cooked the sausages I’d bought at the butcher in Charleville. They’d looked nice, but turned out to be extremely fatty and not at all enjoyable. But the potato fries and egg were good.

John spent the evening playing WOW. I decided he was officially an addict to the game. I read and had the usual early night.


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2000 Travels May 3

WEDNESDAY 3 MAY   TAMBO TO RUBYVALE   521kms

We got away from Tambo quite early, on another grey day, with a long trip ahead.

Refuelled at Barcaldine – 90cpl.

Had a coffee stop by the road between Blackall and Barcaldine. We’d travelled through cattle grazing country. There were occasional tree lined watercourses but the extensive black soil plains were mostly grasses.

Passed through Blackall – another place to visit and explore another time.

Stopped in Barcaldine for a paper and to check out the Information Centre. We bought a poster showing Qld outback timbers, for John.

Our lunch stop was at Jericho. The Jordan Creek runs near the town and they have made an attractive, abstract, rock sculpture and display that represents the journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land – the Crystal Trumpeteers. It is all rather symbolic and one would not know what it is meant to represent, without the accompanying explanation. But it was most unusual!

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The Crystal Trumpeteers at Jericho

It rained more as we progressed east. The country changed too, away from the black soil plains and through the Drummond Range, east of Alpha. The hills made the drive more interesting.

Just before we reached Anakie, Truck turned over 100,000kms! We pulled over because this was definitely an occasion to be photographed.

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By the Capricorn Highway, where Truck “turned” 100,000.

At Anakie, turned north for Rubyvale and reached there about 4pm, in steady rain. Not what we’d planned! Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn near Sapphire.

The caravan park was very muddy and mushy. Owner – E – said he only had about 3 sites dry enough to put anyone on! So we set up by the road, near the front gate – the other side of the park from where we were in ’98. Apparently, the rain started before Easter and hadn’t stopped since. It was very humid, too.

We booked in for a week, at $10 a night. Set up in full. At least our site had a cement slab.

There were rainbow lorikeets and apostle birds all around us – most entertaining.

E told us that he had bought another venture – The Castle – a bit out of town, which he aims to let as units and backpacker accommodation. He was unable to reach it now, because the road is too wet, but said he would take us out there and show us, when the roads dry out enough. If the rain stops! Obviously, this new venture would have limited access!

Tea was steak and salad.

I was happy to be settled in one place for a week, again.