The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Isisford, Queensland


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Isisford – The Middle of Everywhere

There’s a sign in Isisford that declares the town is not in the middle of nowhere, it’s the middle of everywhere! I like that thinking ….

Isisford is located 1,237 km north-west of Brisbane and 117 km south of Longreach.

Isisford map

Isisford (1)As you enter  the town, from Ilfracombe in the north, you are welcomed by a giant sculpture of a Yellow Belly fish, with the sign proudly declaring Isisford is the home of the Yellow Belly.

An annual fishing competition is held on the last weekend of July, attracting competitors from all over Australia to catch good old Yellowbelly. This is a great weekend for fishing enthusiasts.

The Barcoo River is the venue for the fishing frenzy but it also offers some wonderful riverside camping. I stopped for a couple of days but could easily have stayed much longer and there were people there who came for a couple of months. I’m not sure if this sign at my campsite was a memorial for someone or to mark the spot for future reference but I was happy to claim it as my own for the time I was there.

You may be familiar with the Banjo Paterson poem of The Bush Christening which starts

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few
And men of religion are scanty,

But Isisford is also well known for it’s ancient ancestor of today’s crocodilians and the Interpretation Centre shows a short film and has displays of the history of the area.

The Outer Barcoo Interpretive Centre, a museum depicting the evolution of nature from 100 million years ago to the present. The feature attraction is a life-sized replica model of Isisfordia Duncani, who lived around 98 million years ago. He was the evolutionary ancestor of all crocodilians that live on earth today. The Bulldog fish was also found in the area dating back 100 million years ago. There are displays of local fauna, flora, reptiles, birds and fossils that have lived in this region, as well as formation of the Great Artesian Basin and general history of the Isisford area. An audio-visual presentation portrays life in the Isisford area since settlement. The film depicts Isisford as being ‘the middle of everywhere’. The building also houses 60 seat theatrette, cafeteria, local arts and craft displays.

The town itself is typical of many outback towns that has seen a declining population and disappearance of services although there’s still a couple of pubs and the Information Centre serves a decent coffee. Banjo Paterson has certainly made his mark in this town!

Happy Campers:

For only $3 a night there are two wonderful camps at Isisford. The Barcoo River camp that I stayed at is right on the edge of town and has drinking water, toilet and dump point at its entry. Oma Waterhole is a few kms out of town, also $3 a night. This charge includes the use of showers in the town park.

Isisford might seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere but to the locals it’s the middle of everywhere! To me it’s the perfect place to return to for a relaxing stay on the Barcoo River.

 


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What does this Rollingstone gather?

Rollingstone QueenslandNo moss, that’s for sure, but it does appeal to a lot of campers. It’s a large free camp about 1km off the highway heading north from Townsville. If you are planning on staying here at this time of the year (June/July) you need to arrive early and wait for a spot. It’s very shady, so if you are relying on solar power there’s only a few places that will give you full sun to charge up those batteries.

I went for a walk along the river that flows along the edge of the park and there were a couple of nice swimming holes. I was tempted to take Brutus off road here and have this beautiful spot all to myself, but I wasn’t sure if I might be sharing it with some local crocodiles, so thought better of it.

IMG_7816Rollingstone

A couple of days at Rollingstone and it was time to move on, but not before I took a drive to Balgal Beach, about 5 kms away. Just past that lovely waterhole above you have to go under a 2.4 metre high bridge which Brutus had no problems with at all (even though I did duck my head)! A bigger motorhome than mine – aren’t they all? – and you would have to go back out to the highway and take the long way round.

The countryside was literally ripe for the picking – pineapples, pumpkins and mangoes in paddocks as far as the eye could see.

 

This sign helped me decide that today wasn’t the day for swimming!

Go as far north as you can along the Esplanade and there is a little cafe with the best waterfront location you could wish for. It’s called Fisherman’s Landing and is right opposite the small free camp and looks out over the water. I’ve been told it has great fish and chips, too.

There is a grassy foreshore park that was providing a feast for the local red-tailed black cockatoos. These photos don’t really show you how big these birds are and you will need to look closely to distinguish their tails from the flurry of red leaves scattering the ground.

I didn’t stay at Balgal Beach this time around but it’s certainly on my list of places to stay in the future. And with a fish and chip shop over the road, what more could a girl ask for?


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Queensland Heritage Park, Biloela

Biloela MapHow come I’m here in Biloela? I was meant to go to Calliope! Ooops, wrong turn again! This meant that I crept into Biloela (Billo-weelah) on the smell of an oily rag because there certainly wasn’t much petrol left in the tank after doing 100kms more than I expected! Anyhow, Brutus didn’t let me down and he saved me the embarrassment of calling the RACQ for emergency fuel…. thank you, Brutus.

I filled up with fuel and made my way to the Queensland Heritage Park where you can stop over for 48hrs for $15 a night on power – hence the mad rush to blog! While checking in the friendly lady in the Info Centre asked my name for registration to camp. Surname – Robinson, First Name – Rosemary. “Oh”, she said, “my name is Rosemary too! You’re the 2nd Rosemary I’ve come across today. I was just reading a newsletter and there was a Rosemary that ran a rally for Solos recently. Her name was Rosemary Robinson. Wait a minute …. it’s you!” Sometimes you are just meant to take that wrong turn!

Today I explored the Heritage Park. What a wonderful display of machinery and historical memorabilia exhibited on behalf of the Callide Dawson Machinery Preservation Club.

Cindy, who manages the facility, also manages the Annual Old Wheels in Motion Rally & Swap Meet for Machinery Preservation buffs. The next one is coming up at the end of July and they usually get about 5000 people visiting. When the National Rally was held here they had around 10,000 visitors! Click on the link above to find out more about it and the program of events at the rally, such as the vintage tractor pull and the tractor balancing competition.

The camp ground is pretty basic but with good ensuite style showers and toilets, potable water and that wonderful luxury (for me) of plugging into power.

Info CentreNow here’s a bit of trivia for you! The silo shaped building that houses the Information Centre was originally displayed at Expo 88 in Brisbane and used to showcase Australia’s rich primary industries. Today it also has a coffee shop, souvenirs and a gift shop with some colourful ceramic tiles – thank goodness they won’t fit in Brutus!

 

I have a saying that I’m never lost, I’ve just taken a different route. I was fortunate this one took me to Biloela and the Queensland Heritage Park.

 

 


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The Nindigully Pub

On my way back to Queensland a few weeks ago I turned left instead of right when I left Moree and visited the Nindigully Pub, a well known stopover for travellers. It offers free camping in the grounds or down along the river with a donation tin on the bar for charity.

Nindigully map

The pub is 160 kilometres west of Goondiwindi, 45 kilometres east of St George and approximately 70 kilometres north of the Queensland/New South Wales border. It is situated on the banks of the Moonie River.

IMG_7625Nindigully Pub

It looks like many other outback pubs in Australia but has a fantastic atmosphere, friendly staff and is “must do” destination for travellers like myself.

 

Not long after I arrived I met a couple of other solo travellers from a group I belong to called Rolling Solos. Bev and Judy gave me the lay of the land and mentioned they were being visited by another Roller, Ruth, the next day. Well, I had to stay on for another night to catch up with Ruth, who I had met when I stayed at Ariah Park a few weeks earlier!  We were off to the pub for lunch!

Nindigully Pub

Bev, Ruth and Judy in the beer garden.

The Nindigully Pub is well known for a good meal and we all enjoyed our lunch. I had a burger but NOT the one they are famous for! It’s called the Road Hog, costs $60 and feeds about 6 hungry people. The little one was still too much for me!

 

There was a nice walk along the banks of the Moonie River and this very dilapidated bridge that tempted a couple of fishermen when I was there – I took notice of the Warning Sign though and stayed well clear!

There was a heck of a racket going on one day – I thought someone was letting off fireworks. It turned out to be an army exercise and soldiers wandered past our vans looking for snipers….. not too many of them to be found among the grey nomads!

Well, that’s another experience ticked off the bucket list! Funny how it never gets shorter though …. I meet someone else who tells me of another place to see so more goes on the list than comes off it. Bev and Judy told me about an emu egg carver in St George so I’m going to detour yet again!

Utes in the Paddock, Ootha


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Utes in the Paddock

Every now and then someone comes up with a crazy idea that captures the imagination and becomes a reality. Utes in the Paddock at Ootha, New South Wales, is a typical example of this. Ootha is situated about 430 west of Sydney and boasts a population of 94!

Ootha

They are all Holden Utes – what could be more Australian than that – and several artists have displayed their own interpretation of the iconic ute! Unfortunately the paint work has deteriorated on several of them and they are fading away but I hope you can get an idea of this crazy initiative in the middle of nowhere.

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You’ve gotta love the Aussie sense of humour 🙂 Thanks Ootha for keeping it alive!

 

leeches


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That Bloody Leech!

What did I do on Halloween Eve?
The answer you may not want to know
Because I made a quiche – and squashed a leech –
I tell you, everything was all go!

I rifled through the recipe book,
(I had made the quiche before),
But the leech was a surprise to me
When I squashed him on the floor.

I was busy at the kitchen bench
Cutting up the silver beet
When I stepped away and something squished
Beneath my clumsy feet.

A little bit of fetta cheese
Was what I thought of first
But when I saw the mess I’d made
My God, this leech had a thirst!

He’d gorged himself upon my blood
Until he was bloated and fat
And when he could fit not another drop in
He let go of my leg and went splat!

The blood shot across the kitchen floor
On the cupboards, the oven and wall
And ran down my leg where the blood sucker had been
Until his fat bloody body did fall.

Apart from it feeling disgusting
To have your blood sucked out by a leech,
It leaves behind a reminder
– A little hole with one hell of an itch!

So what did I do on Halloween Eve?
Well, I did finish making the quiche
And I washed the kitchen from top to toe
Thanks to the mess from that bloody leech.


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A Tourist in Tasmania – Chocolate, Cheese and Raspberries

When you arrive in Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania it’s only a short drive to three of the most iconic tourist destinations, Anvers Chocolates, Ashgrove Cheese and the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. They offer you a trio of tastes – and even some free camping at Christmas Hills.

House of Anvers

The first taste sensation you’ll discover is the delicious Anvers House of Chocolate. As their website says Belgian Chocolate Skills & Tasmania’s fresh clean climate combine to create the supreme chocolate experience. Now if you’ve done an overnighter on the Spirit it might be a tad early for a chocolate fix, so plan to do it on the way home. My thinking, though, is that it’s never too early for chocolate! They open for breakfast at 7am so that’s a good reason to pop in. As their welcome sign says “Give me Chocolate Now!”

There is also a chocolate museum you can explore that gives you the history of chocolate since the Aztecs, with moulds of old easter eggs and specialty chocolates. If you’re in luck you can see the chocolate being made. And I dare you to resist the wonderful display of chocolates to buy.

Before you settle down to breakfast here, though, read on for the other tasty delights ahead!

Ashgrove Cheese

A little further down the Bass Highway you’ll find Ashgrove Cheese, another well known breakfast stop and a place to stock up on treats for Happy Hour. Colourful cows welcome you to the shop, but glance across the road for the real thing.

The shop stocks all the varieties of cheeses made at Ashgrove plus a wonderful selection of other Tasmanian products such as sauces, jams, cider and relishes. It’s interesting to see the cheeses all stacked for aging. And yes, they are open for breakfast if you’re hungry by now.

But wait, there’s more!

Keep driving along the Bass Highway and you’ll arrive at one of my favourite destinations…

The Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm

The Raspberry Farm at Christmas Hills is more than just a cafe. There’s a lovely lake you can walk around, pretty gardens to enjoy a coffee in, views of the huge greenhouses that grow the raspberries, and best of all you can stay overnight in their big rig carpark! It’s truly an indulgence to wake up in the morning and wander in for raspberry pancakes (for me) or more traditional breakfast food if that’s what takes your fancy.

Now come for a walk with me around the grounds ….

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You don’t have to go very far when you arrive in Tasmania to enjoy the wonderful fresh food that Tassie is famous for. This is my Trio of Tastes, chocolate, cheese and raspberries, to tempt you to explore even more.