On Friday June 7 I left the security of my Bundaberg base and headed off on my BIG TRIP, destination Mt Isa, where I have been offered some house-sitting for a few weeks. I decided to go via Charters Towers, a trip a little over 1800kms. But this time I was not going to rush through towns, instead spend some time seeing the sights. I plotted my trip carefully to do no more than 200kms a day and often less than that. I wanted to be stopped and set up camp by no later than 3pm each day.
This campsite is behind the Calliope Historical Village and on the Calliope River. It is a ‘free’ camp and there were a lot of people there camped along the river but I found a nice quiet spot on a little backwater, with waterlilies, ducks, shady trees and a picnic table – perfect!
My friend Marilyn came over from Gladstone for the night and bought her grand daughter Amy with her. We built a camp fire, shared a meal and some good chat before heading our separate ways the next morning.
I left Calliope about 10.30am. Brutus excelled himself coming out of Calliope and reached a top speed of 87kph coming down the hill, or so the policeman told me that was waiting for me at the bottom. It happened to be a 70kph zone so I got a $220 fine and lost 3 points. He said he was surprised to see a campervan going that fast, and I told him I was surprised it went that fast too, but my attempt at humour fell on deaf ears and he wrote out the speeding ticket anyway! After that unexpected stop I headed towards Rockhampton, planning to stay at Westwood free camp that night. It was fairly lonely there, no-one else around except a couple of guys fixing an old car, so I thought it wise to move on and I’m so glad I did.
This is another free camp and it had fantastic facilities – showers, toilets, a lovely park and once again, a lot of other vans and RV’s there.
My next planned stop was Blackwater, but some people at Duaringa had spoken about Bedford Weir, which was about 27kms north of Blackwater so I decided to head there. What a great choice. On the way I saw a sign to a tourist drive to the Blackdown Tableland so decided to make a detour. They didn’t say it was such a steep climb and once I had started there was no turning back until I reached the top, so Brutus struggled up the road in 2nd gear all the way but what a spectacular drive it was. The landscape changed from scrubby bush to rainforest, and the views from the top were amazing.
Going back down was almost as scary but not as taxing on Brutus. I think we were both glad to get back on the highway and head to our destination. Sunday and no shops open in Blackwater, so it looks like noodles for tea tonight!
What a great spot! You can stay here for up to 7 days – free! Fabulous hot showers, too. I’d no sooner pulled in and set up camp when another Solo member came up and introduced herself. It was Lorrie, who was travelling with Pam and Lawrence, two more Solos. Ron was also there, and he had helped me get my fridge working on gas at Biggenden Solos Rally. I decided to stay 2 nights there and travel the next day in convoy to Emerald. This is definitely a place I would go back to. On Sundays and Wednesdays the caretakers cook up meals you can buy for $12. The night I arrived they had made about 5 different soups and breads and also had desserts.
We all headed off to Emerald on Tuesday morning, did some shopping, and set ourselves up at the free camp at the Botanical Gardens. It was really noisy, dusty and uneven so I left my travelling companions there, had a walk through the Gardens and then headed off to Anakie Gemfields Caravan Park – I needed to power up my lantern, computer, phone, camera – absolutely everything that needed charging! Tomorrow I’m going fossicking for sapphires – wish me luck!