This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2002 Travels June 6

THURSDAY 6 JUNE     MT ISA

The day started warm and sunny, but some cloud came up for a while, then went away again.

We took a picnic lunch and drove out to Lake Moondarra, nearly 20 kms from town. Refuelled Truck on the way – 86cpl.

On the way, called in at the seafood and ice  supply shop we knew of from last time. All their stock was frozen, but there was plenty that came from the Gulf fisheries. We thought we’d get some tomorrow.

Lake Moondarra was made by building a dam across the Leichardt River, which originates in the hills south of Mt Isa, and flows roughly northwards to the Gulf of Carpentaria, near Burketown. The dam, built about forty years ago, was intended to supply water to the Mt Isa Mines, but has also become the main source of the town’s water.

The lake was large, and quite scenic. It was unusual, to me, in that it supplied water for Mt Isa, but activities like fishing, swimming and boating were still allowed on it. I am used to Melbourne’s water storages, which are fenced off so people cannot even put a toe in them! It made me determined not to drink the tap water!

After lunch, John fished, got some bites, but did not catch anything.

I watched the variety of water birds that were on and around the lake: stints, pelicans, dotterels, herons, grebes, egrets, ducks. I did some knitting.

When John was sick of fishing, we went back to the van.

I noticed there was a travellers’ van with a sign outside, offering haircuts, so I approached the lady, and had my hair cut by her. She did a good job too, for $15.

Then we drove back to the shops, so I could collect my photos. John bought some more fishing gear. I was reasonably pleased with my photos.

John went off to bowls, for 7pm. The $8 fee to play included a BBQ tea, he said.

I made myself a very nice salad tea – my sort of food!

John got back about 10.30pm. The bowls had been alright. The BBQ was after the bowls, so he’d just had it! More supper than tea. He wasn’t best pleased with the lateness of his meal.


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2002 Travels June 4

TUESDAY 4 JUNE   BOULIA TO MT ISA   295kms

There was not much packing up needed this morning, and we’d stayed hitched up overnight.

We waited for the initial departure rush to get gone from the town, before we left.

Refuelled – the diesel at $1.07 a litre, was a bit costly for Qld, but there is no competition here. He had a captive market, given the distances between Boulia and anywhere else. We just put in 35 litres – enough to get us to Mt Isa.

The road north was a one strip bitumen one, all the way to Mt Isa.

It was an interesting drive with considerable variety.

There was a section that we thought was the edge of the Barkly Tableland of the adjacent NT – flat grasslands, but with some trees and bushes, unlike the true Tablelands, where the cracking clay soils prevent shrub and tree roots getting established.

There were some dramatic hills and ranges, especially after Dajarra, and as we approached Mt Isa. We crossed lots of dry stream beds – on cement floodways rather than bridges. I guess that in such a dry area, the times when these would flow and affect road traffic would be very few. The stream lines were better wooded and these areas of trees helped provide the variety.

At one stage, John pulled over and braked sharply, as a truck appeared, coming towards us. The radio made a severe static noise, which then persisted whenever the brakes were used – until we turned it off altogether. Then John noticed that the rev counter would stop working, below about 2600 revs, but jump back into action when they got higher. He was not sure what was going on, whether the problem was in Truck or via the connection to the van. Also uncertain was whether things would get worse! It was a rather inhospitable area in which to break down!

We stopped for lunch in a hot, open, area beside the road. John hadn’t managed to find anywhere to pull off near any of the several pleasant creek crossings we’d passed.

Whilst eating, I saw a man cross the road, on a crest in a cutting in the distance. This seemed rather strange, as there was no parked vehicle evident beside the road. I think I have become rather more alert and suspicious since the Lees/Falconio attack and disappearance, last year. So, I was not happy when John decided to temporarily disable our vehicle by taking out the fuses to inspect them! We eventually got going again, and then I saw that there was a road grader, parked up in a cutting – but now there was no sign of the man who we now presumed to be the driver.

Fiddling with the fuses had not fixed our problem.

We had not come into Mt Isa from the south before. It is not a town that seems to have any attractive approaches. All very utilitarian, with a dominance of power poles and lines, and all looking very dusty.

We went straight to the Sunset Caravan Park, where we’d stayed in 2000. I booked us in for five nights, at $17.10 a night, after discount.

We found the park was still only average, but better than most in the town!

After setting up, we drove to the Post Office and collected a bag of mail from home. There was little of interest in it, although the notes from the house sitter were amusing. There was nothing from our assorted offspring.

John checked out the Bowls Club. He booked in to play Thursday night. The reason I booked us in here for five nights was so he could play bowls on Saturday – but there is no game then. I can’t win! Now, five nights in this town seemed excessive!

I phoned Lawn Hill National Park, to the north. Was told that their camp area is booked out until July. That was OK as I had a preference for staying at the nearby Adels Grove campground, anyway. I phoned Adels Grove and booked us in there. I asked if M and H were there, thinking I could leave a message for them; was told they had been pencilled in for yesterday, but hadn’t arrived. I left a message anyway, in case they did arrive there.

We treated ourselves to bought pizzas, from a pizza chain shop. The anticipation was far nicer than the reality!

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2000 Travels June 10

SATURDAY 10 JUNE   CLONCURRY TO MT ISA   174kms

There was low cloud this morning, and some drizzles of rain.

We had to pack up everything, but still managed to leave Cloncurry about 9am.

The way was through range and ridge country – varied, attractive and dramatic in parts.

We had the CB radio on, as usual – it was scanning – and picked up talk between three or four light planes, communicating between themselves. Then we saw them, flying very low. Obviously, from the conversation, they were trying to find a way through the higher country, to Cloncurry. One was really worried about the low cloud obscuring the hills. They eventually turned back, and we saw them again, near Mt Isa, on their way back to the airport.

The mine dominates Mt Isa. The various surface structures are only a few hundred metres from the shopping centre. You see the smelter chimneys from everywhere in town.

Mount Isa Mines has been going since the 1930’s. They mine silver, lead, zinc and copper. Given its scale, the mine is obviously the mainstay of the town.

We booked in at the Sunset Caravan Park – fairly central – for $14.40 a night, after discount. It seemed quite pleasant.

After set up and lunch. drove to the shops and had a look round. I put films in at K Mart for processing and collection on Tuesday.

John found out at the bowls club that he couldn’t play after all, because there was a big two day tournament on. It was a pity that he hadn’t phoned and checked from Cloncurry, because he would have gotten a game.

I bought some meat and greengroceries.

Had chicken drumsticks, potato and salad for tea.

I phoned K but he wasn’t home – had gone to Ballarat for the funeral of his step mother’s father. P told me she had taken our dog, Butch, to the vet, this morning. She has diabetes, will soon get worse and will need to be put to sleep. That was a real shock. I really thought she would still be there when we settled back down at home. She is only 11 years old. I was really upset and sad, and cried for ages. I phoned again, later, when K was home and talked with him about it. We are all upset. I guess John and I both felt guilty for leaving her behind while we travelled.

It was not a good night.

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