The Snail Trail

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


Bendigo to Branxholme – Catching up with friends and family

Had a wonderful couple of days visiting in Alexandra catching up with family and the next stage of my journey would continue with more ‘catching up’.

On the way to Alexandra we stopped for lunch and a run for Jack at Peppin Point on Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon.



That night Dot cooked a beautiful roast beef dinner – that’s one thing I certainly miss. My nephew Steve and his wife Judy were also there.

At Ron & Dot's 4Ron, Dot and I also used the time to fill in all his family in the Family Tree that I have been working on. Dot is amazing as she had birth dates for their children, grand children and great grand children so I was able to enter all these. Now I’m inspired to continue with other family members.

We left Alexandra, spent a night in Bendigo with Ian, an old friend of Marion’s and left the next day for Avoca. I had travelled through this countryside when I bought Brutus home to the Gold Coast and knew Marion would love it – and she did! Lovely rolling green hills, sheep, pretty little towns.



I loved this pub in Avoca that had the bank attached to it. Apparently the bank no longer operated and the room is set up for private functions. We camped on the river flats which we found out we weren’t supposed to do, but you can stay overnight in the Lions Park on the other side of the highway. There is also a dump point here, a supermarket that opens 7 days and a good information centre.

We left Avoca and called into the Wool Cottage at Amphitheatre where they breed coloured sheep and spin the wool and also sell mostly locally made sheepskin and wool products. Here is a link to their website.

We also stopped at the old Amphitheatre Hotel, which is in the process of being slowly restored but they are currently famous for their ice-cream, which we indulged in and thoroughly enjoyed.


I rang an old school friend, Bob, who lives not far from here and we ended up parking the vans in his yard for the night and by chance happened to help him celebrate his birthday that day. Marion took a photo of us together and I thought I’d share it with you, but also the photos I had of when we first went out at school in 1962, and then again in 1964. OMG – look what the years have done! But how lucky am I to still have this friendship after all these years!




Marion and I went our separate ways the next day as she was booked on the ferry back to Tasmania the following day and I was heading further west. The weather was cold, wet and miserable so I didn’t go far and found a powered site at a Recreational Ground at Willeura and holed up there for a couple of days catching up on emails, blogging and reading. This is when I discovered Brutus is a very small van to spend a lot of time in. It’s the first time I’ve really stopped and thought “What the hell am I doing?”

My cousin, Heather, lives at Branxholme, just south of Hamilton so that was my next stop. The fire was going when I got there and it didn’t take long to thaw out, relax and catch up on what we’d been doing with our lives since we last saw each other. It was also a great opportunity to meet her daughter, Rose, who I had never met before. What a lovely night we had together.


My next stage was to head to Portland and do something about Brutus, who was travelling very rough, engine missing more and more particularly up hills and I was worried there was something seriously wrong. A very helpful man at the information centre gave me details about some of the rare free camps along the Great Ocean Road, and also the name of a mechanic to go and see at Cleary Motors in Portland.

The mechanic, Peter Cleary, couldn’t see me until the next day so I took a trip to Cape Bridgewater and enjoyed fish and chips at the beachside cafe. They always taste better in a location like this, don’t you think?


The cold weather didn’t stop these enthusiastic young surfers from enjoying their class.


A quick overnight stay at Narrawong (free camp), back to Portland the next day, and couple of hours later Brutus had new spark plugs and a new spark plug lead – and a new lease on life! I was accelerating up hills, something I have never been able to do!

Narrawong was a pretty campsite, bushy and not too busy.


This little lady visited me, complete with joey in pouch. When she stopped to eat, the joey would pop its head out of the pouch and nibble on some grass too.


With Brutus going like a dream I decided to head off along the Great Ocean Road.


Wending our way to Wagga Wagga – Gooloogong to Bethungra Dam

Day 2 – Off to Bethungra Dam.

Today was going to be a little more straight-forward as we decided to camp at Bethungra Dam. We travelled through Young and Cootamundra to get there.


When we left Gooloogong we travelled through Grenfell. I love the intro to their information site

What do notorious bushrangers, guinea pigs, great Australian poets and cricketers all have in common? Grenfell of course!

Click here to find out more!

Every year they have a Henry Lawson Festival to celebrate the fact he was born in Grenfell. It is quite an historic town, originally a gold mining town it was known as Emu Creek and renamed Grenfell in 1866.


Young was our next stop so we parked the vans and visited the Information Centre to find out what we should see. The information centre is in the old Railway Station and the staff are really helpful.


As Jack was ready for a run we decided to go out to the Chinese Tribute Gardens which were established to recognise the contribution of the Chinese gold miners during the gold rush – and probably to make amends for the terrible treatment they got at the Lambing Flat Riots. It was a beautiful and peaceful place – free to enter – and a lovely stopover for a picnic lunch.

Here’s Jack (and Marion) ready to enjoy a walk around the gardens.



In November 1996 Rotary handed the project over to Young Shire Council. Encouraged by Mayor Tony Hewson the Council formally dedicated the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden “in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860’s and the ongoing contribution of the Chinese community to Australia as a nation.”

You can read more about the development of the gardens here.

Young was originally called Lambing Flat and Aussies may remember learning about the Lambing Flat Riots when you were at school. This is a brief synopsis from the Young website, but you can find out more if you click here.

The site where Young now stands consisted of a well sheltered valley with good water and it was here that White built sheep yards and a shepherds’ hut. The area was reserved for lambing ewes, and therefore was in turn given the name of ‘Lambing Flat’.

The beautiful valley remained as such for 34 years until 1860 when White’s nephew Dennis Regan and Alexander ‘the Yankee’ found gold at the spot in the creek at the rear of the current Lambing Flat Folk Museum. Within 12 months some 20,000 miners were busy extracting the precious metal from the earth. Amongst them were some 2,000 Chinese miners.

The European miners deeply resented the Chinese and in 1861 riots began with the Chinese being forced from the fields time and time again. The Official Riot Act was read to the miners on the 14th July 1861, this being the only official reading in NSW history to rioting miners.

Today, Young is more famous for its cherries and they have a festival coming up in December that you can get more info about here. One of the locals told us that frosts and a dry winter have restricted the cherry crop this year, so if you thought they were expensive to buy before just wait until they hit the shops this year!

ImageWe didn’t stop in Cootamundra but drove through on our way to Bethungra Dam. I was looking forward to seeing the Cootamundra Wattle, which I thought would be flowering at this time of the year but it wasn’t noticeable.  When I started looking for info about this wattle it is described as a weed!

For more info about Cootamundra click here.

The camping area at Bethungra Dam was a good open space, lots of level ground – and not too many people. There were plenty of sticks so Jack was happy. We watched a storm rolling in as we ate dinner which didn’t arrive as bad as it looked, but before it came there were thick clouds of mosquitoes hovering, so it wasn’t the best night for sitting around for a drink and a yarn.


The campsite is about 5 kms of dirt road in off the main road and you travel beside the railway line for a while.

When we got to Junee the next day they had some really interesting information about the 360degree spiral rail at Bethungra, the only one of its kind in Australia. All you rail enthusiasts can read about it here.


Junee also has an amazing rail feature and they celebrate with a Rhythm ‘n’ Rail Festival each year. Here’s the link for the event in 2014.

The Junee Roundhouse is a massive rail turntable that was built during the war years.

Junee in southern New South Wales is home to one of few working Railway Roundhouses in the Southern Hemisphere. When built in 1942, it boasted the largest turntable at 100 foot. Since 1994, the Roundhouse has seen a new lease of life. Half is now used for the museum, whilst the other portion is used for its original purpose of re-conditioning and rebuilding locomotives and rolling stock.



This is definitely an area that any train buff would love, what with the Bethungra Spiral and Junee’s Roundhouse you could see 2 amazing features so close together. There’s more information about the Roundhouse here, if you are interested, and also at this site of the Roundhouse Museum.

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Longreach to the Channel Country- so much to see and do!

I thought I’d spend a couple of days in Longreach, but I drove straight through and went to Ilfracombe and stayed in the Ilfracombe Caravan Park. What a great night! They have a fantastic Happy Hour Shed and the night I was there they did a Sausage Sizzle in aid of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It was a great way to meet even more wonderful people.

Their regular entertainers were away at the Yellowbelly Classic in Longreach so we entertained ourselves with  jokes and bush poetry from the crowd. I plucked up the courage to tell my Green Frog poem, which went over really well.

I started back to Longreach late the next morning, making the most of the power to charge my lantern, computer and phone – and to catch up on some blogging.

I arrived at the Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame and paid my money to see the museum.


I have to say I was disappointed in the museum. Although filled with an amazing amount of information it was very sterile, I found the displays quite dark and hard to see the artifacts, and if you aren’t a reader you would miss so much – there is a lot of reading!


I had missed the live stockman display in the arena out the back as I got there after 11am, so that was disappointing, too. Perhaps I just wasn’t ‘in the zone’ for Longreach  so I definitely have to go back and give it a fair go. I would like to visit the Qantas museum and also do the river cruise or wagon trip which I have been told by other travellers are both fantastic experiences. Next time.

After filling up with petrol and refilling my gas bottle I headed south to Stonehenge, 151kms away. I was entering the Channel Country in the Barcoo Shire.


 If you want to get an idea of the size of this shire, think approximately the size of Tasmania – 61,974 square kms. It takes in the townships of Stonehenge, Jundah and Windorah.


The little caravan park at Stonehenge offered showers, water and power for a $10 per night in the honesty box. The Community Centre opposite is also the Information Centre and a very friendly lady was more than happy to fill me in on what to see in the area.


The same facilities can be found in Jundah and Windorah for the same price. Each of these little towns also has a dump point.

I stayed 2 nights at Stonehenge and whacked the lantern on charge again to make sure I had plenty of light for the free camps I would be staying at over the next few days. You can get too comfortable when you are ‘plugged in’!

Jundah had a lovely looking free camp on the banks of the Thompson River but I decided to keep going to Windorah, where I stayed at the free camp at Coopers Creek. Coopers Creek is formed by the joining of the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers and when in flood it fills multi channels and flood plains that stretch outwards from its banks for up to 100kms as the water commences its journey to Lake Eyre.

Windorah has a solar farm that provides most of its energy requirements and looks so out of place in this little country town.


The free camp is just out of Windorah on Coopers Creek. The best spots were taken when I got there but I found some shade, set up camp and not long after was joined by another person, Derek, who it turned out was from Swansea in Tasmania, a town close to where my sister lives. By the time he left I had to get out my lantern to see what I was cooking. Bugger me dead – it didn’t work! All this time I’d been charging it for a night just like this and it was the globe that was gone, not the charge!

Out with the trusty head lamp, which I hadn’t used until now, and looking like an alien I cooked my dinner and then read by the same lamp until sleep time. I LOVE this little lamp. It’s hands free, throws a great light – and it cost next to nothing. I think Laurance convinced me to buy it at Crazy Clarks when he was in Mt Isa – thank you!

There are soooo many places I want to go to out here. You could spend months, if not years, travelling around Queensland visiting the most amazing little towns with incredible history. I have to keep telling myself ‘you can’t see everything’……but I’m hungry for it. I feel like a little kid stamping her foot saying ‘but I want to!’

Tomorrow I’m going to Quilpie – but I’m missing Toompine, Eromanga and Adavale. I have to come back!


Wonderful Winton – Music on the Mesa

Well my van is packed and I’m ready to go……

I headed off from Mt Isa on Monday 19th August to wend my way slowly back to the Gold Coast. As Bev had taken me to McKinlay on Saturday I decided to go down through Boulia again. Although the road is only one lane it’s not a bad road and there was a tree I wanted to photograph that I saw when I went to the Camel Races.

Boulia Bike treeIsn’t it amazing? I wonder how they got all those bikes up there! Don’t you love the quirkiness of some people?

I’m so glad I decided to go this way because at my very first overnight stop I met this wonderful lady, Rosanna and her dog Layla. She drives a fifth-wheeler called Zingara, which means gypsy, and has been on the road about 3 years. We had a drink together for happy hour and the next day we headed off together towards Winton. Rosanna had stopped at the Cawnpore Lookout and advises you to park at the bottom and walk up to see the most amazing view. The road is steep and not accessible by motorhomes and caravans. Here are some of the pictures of the landscape on the way between Boulia and Middleton.

IMG_0462 IMG_0470 Red HillsOn the way we stopped at the Middleton pub, known as one of the most remote pubs in Queensland. There is a rest area opposite that you can camp at.

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Middleton PubThere doesn’t appear to be anything else in Middleton but the pub, but that was well worth stopping at to meet the publican and his wife and their pets, Kelly the dog and Pig, the pig. Pig has been raised there and thinks it is a dog so it goes out with Kelly to round up the cattle.

Publican at Middleton

IMG_0480IMG_0482There were some fabulous flat top hills called mesas, or locally known as jump-ups along the way.

Mesa near MiddletonMesa near BouliaWhen we arrived in Winton we made our way to the Long Waterhole, about 4 kms out of town. As we drove in I recognised Nev, another Solo I had met at Goomeri, so we pulled up close by and set up camp.

Long Waterhole Winton The Long Waterhole at WintonI’d only planned to stay a couple of days but Rosanna unhitched her ute and we set off to see the sights together so I ended up staying until Saturday morning.

Winton is known as the home of Waltzing Matilda and their Information Centre has a fantastic display that illustrates the poem written by Banjo Paterson so long ago. Did you know that he heard the music first, then wrote words to go with it? I didn’t!

There are some interesting attractions at Winton, so we saw as many as we could. Arno’s Wall is one of them. It was built from stuff from the rubbish tip cemented into a wall and there is everything there including the kitchen sink – and even a motor bike!

Arno's Wall, Winton IMG_0503Behind the historic Corfield and Fitzmaurice store there is also an old open air theatre with – you guessed it – the BIG deck chair. Here’s Rosanna relaxing!


There is also a Musical Fence that you can play with sticks and pipes and they have set up a percussion area with assorted ‘stuff’. Had to have a go!

IMG_0497IMG_0495 IMG_0494 IMG_0493Rosanna and I took a couple of days to see all this – can’t rush these things – and enjoyed happy hour with Nev each night. On Thursday night Nev suggested we go into town to Tattersall’s hotel for tea, which we did and I enjoyed a massive rib fillet, cooked to perfection. Nev left on Friday after cooking us Eggs Benedict for breakfast – how spoilt are we – so Rosanna and I headed back into town to do some washing and get a haircut. Lucky we did as the hairdresser at Pinky’s mentioned that Deborah Conway and Willy Zigier were performing out at the Age of Dinosaurs Museum that night so we decided we should go along.

The museum is about 27kms from Winton, on a jump up (mesa), and is a stunning building in a stark and beautiful setting.

Age of Dinosaur MuseumWe arrived before sunset, tables were set up on the terrace so we took the last one available which was directly in front of the little stage area. Off to the bar for a beer and we settled down to wait for the music, which was due to start at 6pm.

Deborah Conway & Willy ZygierWinton ConcertDeborah ConwayThe sun set as the band was playing – absolutely magic!

IMG_0517This was just one of those out of the blue experiences – being in the right place at the right time – and we were treated to a very special night. There would have been less than 50 people there, it was free, the setting was spectacular and the performance brilliant. It will be locked away in my memory forever.

As we left you could see the lights of Winton in the distance. We headed back to our camp and enjoyed a farewell barbeque together as Rosanna was staying on and I was leaving the next morning.

I’ll remember Winton fondly for the wonderful friend I made in Rosanna and the experiences we shared, particularly the magic music at the museum!

Happy Campers:

There is a dump point in Winton and a large parking area for vans only one block back from the main street.

The Long Waterhole is about 2 kms out of town on the Jundah Road and camping is about 2kms in from the turnoff. There are no facilities at The Long Waterhole, but there was water in the creek and shady trees around. When I was there it was very windy, dry and dusty – couldn’t leave the windows open in the van or it just filled with dust. We were parked  on the southern side of the waterhole and it may have been more protected on the northern side which is accessed by the ‘high’ road from the southern entry. Take your binoculars as there is a mass of birdlife and emus wander through the camp. Don’t leave food lying around as there are also feral cats.

A bit more about Winton:

The only known dinosaur stampede in the world happened at Lark Quarry conservation park, about 110kms south west towards Jundah – 55 kms of made road and 55kms of dirt. You have to do a tour to see the stampede, where over 3300 footprints of dinosaurs of all sizes are preserved in stone. You can catch a bus out from town for $75 which includes the cost of the tour or you can drive yourself.

footprint-arrowsAustralian Age of Dinosaurs at the Jump Up. It houses the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils and the most productive fossil preparation laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. The turn off is 13kms south of Winton on the Longreach Road and then 13kms of dirt road to get to the museum. It’s a steep road in places and there is a drop off point to unhitch a van before the road starts to climb.

Water is from Artesian Bores and really stinks of sulphur, but once you let it sit the smell goes. It is hot when it comes out of the tap and in one place near Winton, at Castle Hill Station, it is 99°C out of the ground. In Winton they cool it from 83°C to 44°C before it enters the town’s water supply.

There’s a lot to do in Winton and the people are friendly and welcoming, but it was time to move on so I packed up and headed towards Longreach, planning to stay about 25kms out of Longreach so I could go to The Stockman’s Hall of Fame the next day. The best laid plans……..


Getting Involved in Mt Isa

Did I have a choice to get involved? I don’t think so! The people I met picked me up and carried me along to all the places they volunteer. And it was the best thing I could have done.

I have now been house-sitting for about 7 weeks and my time in Mt Isa is drawing to a close. Paul and Shirley, who I have been house-sitting sit for, arrived home yesterday and it is time for me to plan my route back to the Gold Coast. I will be leaving Mt Isa much richer for the experiences I have enjoyed here thanks to Shirley’s wonderful friends Joy and Bev and the people they have introduced me to. Before I share some of my trips with you though, I must share some photos of the house I have been looking after, it’s garden and visitors.

Shirley has some beautiful fragrant roses out the front that have been in bloom.

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In the big bush at the front gate there is a family of Western Bowerbirds. Until I looked them up I thought someone had daubed them with bright pink paint. They are like massive overgrown sparrows in colour except for this clump of bright pink feathers behind their head.

IMG_0418And there are regularly fork-tailed (black) kites circling the back yard, eyeing off next doors chickens I think.

Black kite

To start at the beginning you might remember that I didn’t see much of Cloncurry on my way here so Joy and Bev took me back there and showed me some of their sights along the way.

Mt Frosty is an old limestone mine and I would never have seen it without local knowledge. Some of the remains of the old mine reminded me of scenes out of Mad Max

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Mt Frosty

We then went to the water tower which had great views over Cloncurry and across the countryside



Once in Cloncurry we visited the John Flynn Museum. The Rev John Flynn was the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which was established in 1928.

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I loved the carpet which had been specially made to represent the landscape from the air, but honestly, you can look at the hills sometimes and they look exactly the same as the pattern on the carpet.

We also visited the Cloncurry Cemetry which had many historical graves, including that of Dame Mary Gilmore who features on our $10 note.  Click here to find out more about Dame Mary Gilmore and her contribution to Australian Literature and History. There was also a separate section in the cemetery for Afghans, who made up a large part of the early settlers in the area.


Before we left Cloncurry we had to go out to the airport where the original QANTAS hangar is situated.


On the way back to Mt Isa we stopped at the Chinaman Creek Dam which provides the water supply for Cloncurry


We also had a detour into the abandoned township of Mary Kathleen, once a thriving community established to mine uranium, which as a matter of interest was found by my house-sit’s Uncle,  Norm Mc Conachy and named after his wife.

Mary Kathleen?? ???????????????????????????????

Happy Campers

The old township of Mary K is a fantastic free camp site with room for hundreds of vans and is well signed and easily accessible off the Barkly Highway. There are established trees, roadways and if you want a level surface there are still concrete house pads there to park on. You would need to be self contained as there are no facilities. Sure beats the heck out of staying roadside at Fountain Springs though, which is only a few km’s closer to Cloncurry and is very busy, but does have toilets and shady tables to sit at. We stopped for a picnic at Fountain Springs on our way to Cloncurry and this is a photo of Bev and Joy, the two wonderful ladies who ‘adopted’ me in Mt Isa.

Bev & Joy

I wrote a poem about Bev, who is a real character, and read it at the Bush Poet’s Breakfast held by the Zonta club as part of the Mt Isa Rodeo week festivities. For my efforts I was presented with a lovely little clock. Here’s my poem, called The Sheila from Mt Isa. I must say there were a few gasps of recognition from the audience, but Bev was with me and it’s got her tick of approval so that’s ok!

The Sheila from Mt Isa

I met a bloke the other day, this Isa sheila, Bev

She swaggered like a fella her bush hat upon her head

Her jeans hung low upon her hips beneath her ample girth

You’d find no-one else more dinkum if you travelled all the earth.

Her nickname is the Brolga and it’s on her number plate

She’s nobody’s companion, but she’s everybody’s mate.

She volunteers at cub scouts and she works at Isa mine.

 She’s in the stores she tells me and she reckons it’s all fine.

She takes no cheek from anyone but is quick to give some lip,

And if she’s walking through the Isa I’m giving you the tip.

Sing out g’day and give a wave and say, “Is your name Bev?”

You’ll recognise her straight away from the bush hat on her head.

And the way her jeans are slung low down and her swaggering fella walk

She’ll give you the time of day, OK, and stop and have a talk.

When you travel round this country, no matter how you go,

You’ll get to meet some characters and some you’ll get to know

But you’ll seldom meet a character as dinky-di as Bev

The sheila from Mt Isa, her bush hat upon her head.

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Corella Dam – I’m nearly at Mt Isa

The landscape changed when I left Cloncurry. No longer the flat plains of Mitchell Grass, there were now hills and spinifex – and more and more ant hills.


Ant hills near Cloncurry


Changing landscape


Cloncurry to Mt Isa

Before I arrived at Corella Dam there was a sign to a Burke & Wills memorial, so I detoured off the road to check it out.


Burke & Wills Memorial


Burke & Wills memorial

Did you look at that memorial and think “Why on earth did they paint all those rocks in different colours?” Well, I did! Now I know that they are the natural colours of the stone in this area.

You could probably free camp here – it was off the road and below road level, but I was on a mission to get to Corella Dam.

Lake Corella was constructed in 1959 for town water for Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine. When full it has a surface area of 320 hectares and holds 15,300 ML of water at an average depth of 4.8 metres.

That’s the educational stuff. Let me tell you that where my van was parked I was assured it would have been under water 2 years ago – the dam level is VERY low.


Corella Dam


My comfortable camp at Corella Dam

It was Saturday afternoon when I arrived at Corella Dam and I didn’t have to be in Mt Isa until Tuesday so I set up my ensuite tent, put up my awning and settled in for a few days. Although beautiful clear skies, it was quite windy so the bush poet in me penned the following:

The wind blew up at Corella Dam

So I tightened all my ropes

I was worried about my ensuite tent

But it’s living up to my hopes.

although it’s bending this way and that

and flapping in the breeze

I sent a silent prayer to the lord

“Keep it tied down, please.”

“And keep my awning firmly fixed

and everything else in place

Because if things take off and fly around

I’ll go so red in the face”

Everyone would guess I was new at this

While I try to show confidence

But they’d soon discover my secret

And my lack of experience.

So “please lord, keep my loo tied down

Don’t let it fly away

To land in the next door neighbours camp

And really wreck their day.”

This was the first time I had really set up camp since Fletcher Creek and I enjoyed sitting out in the sunshine reading my book or doing my Sudoku puzzles – or doing nothing at all. My neighbours on both sides were really friendly and we met for happy hour each day. One of the guys had a canoe and went out dropping nets to catch red claw every day, and every day he would bring them in again – empty! The nets were getting torn and he wasn’t sure why but on one of his paddles to the other end of the dam he discovered dozens of small fresh water crocodiles and figured they were probably the culprits. Glad they didn’t venture down to where we were camped.






I took dozens of photos of the hills opposite my camp, trying to capture the colours, but no matter how many I took the results looked washed out compared to the originals. The other interesting thing was that at first look they seemed rich red and ochre coloured but after a while I saw so much more pink in them.

Every morning brolgas came down to the water to catch their breakfast but I found them extremely camera shy.


Brolga having breakfast at Corella Dam

I watched the pelicans for hours, drifting up and down and feasting on whatever they could catch. They certainly didn’t go hungry.


Pelican at Corella Dam

We were treated to a full moon while at Corella Dam. It rose in the east as the sun was setting in the west – spectacular! One thing I’ve noticed here is how much later sunset is – it is still quite light at 6.30pm. At the other end of the day, it is still quite dark at 7am! Image

It has made me appreciate why people out west aren’t in favour of daylight saving

Tuesday morning and it was time to head to ‘the big smoke’ – in more ways than one! My gas for the fridge ran out during the night, my lantern ran out of battery so I finished reading my book by torch light, and my porta-loo really needed emptying. I packed up, said goodbye to new friends and headed to Mt Isa, only about 60kms away.

Today I start my house sitting adventure. I wonder how I’ll feel being stationary after my 3 weeks of being on the move. Is it really only 3 weeks?


On the Last Leg – Cloncurry


I had a pretty early start from Julia Creek and with only about 135kms to Cloncurry arrived in plenty of time to do some shopping. While I was at the supermarket, Shirley, whose house I was going to look after in Mt Isa rang me, and when she heard where I was suggested I go to the bakery down the road for good coffee and great pies. She wasn’t wrong!

At the bakery I was sitting down enjoying my pie – you know how it is – hot pie running out all over your hands, burning your fingers off, you can’t lick them because you’re not sure when you last washed them, looking like a picture of elegance – have you got the picture? I was in a mess! A face appeared in front of me and said, “Rosemary?” It was Lorraine and Rod, caravanners heading to Darwin who I had met at Bedford Weir and last seen at Emerald. What a lovely surprise!

We sat down and had a coffee together and caught up on each other’s adventures. They had travelled here via Longreach and Winton, the way I will go when I leave Mt Isa. I was telling them about Julia Creek and how much I enjoyed it so they back-tracked and spent a few days there, which they thoroughly enjoyed. I am so glad – you know what it’s like when you recommend something – it can be disastrous.

Thank goodness it wasn’t this hot while I was here!


Hottest temperature recorded in Australia


Cloncurry Parrot

The Cloncurry parrot is only found in the Cloncurry area in North West Queensland and is a member of the ringneck family of parrots.

Cloncurry is locally called ‘The Curry’ and here’s some information I found out about it.

Cloncurry breathes cattle and has copper and gold in it’s veins. in 1867 Ernest Henry and Roger Sheaffe started a joint pastoral-mining venture on the banks of Cloncurry River, named by the ill-fated explorer Robert O’Hara Burke in 1861. The town was proclaimed in 1884 and boomed into the 20th century with merchants, carriers, miners, builders, bakers and battlers. Cloncurry was the biggest, boisterous town in the outback Queensland between 1880s and 1960s. During WW1 Cloncurry was the main source of Australian copper, with 7000 people working many mines and four smelters.

Cloncurry is a lively, multi-racial town. Aboriginal people have intermarried with European, Chinese and Afghan newcomers for the past 120 years. In 1900 Cloncurry was a Ghantown with 200 Afghans working over 2000 camels. Chinese market gardens also bloomed along Coppermine creek.

Cloncurry has the original hanger with Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (Qantas) still on the front. There is a monument to commemorate Qantas, which flew its first passenger (Alexander Kennedy) from Longreach to Cloncurry on November 3rd 1922 at a cost of 11 pounds 2 shillings.


The original Qantas hangar at Cloncurry airport

In 1928 the Royal Flying Doctor Service was established in Cloncurry by Rev John Flynn , choosing this town as his base because of its proximity to the mining camps and scattered pastoralists. At that time there were just 2 doctors providing the only medical care for an area of almost two million square kilometres. The RFDS now has 13 flying doctor bases around Australia and services about 6.9 million square kilometres, or 80% of the Australian continent. This is the most comprehensive aeromedical emergency and health care service in the world. You’ll recognise his face on our $20 note. Flynn was a Presbyterian minister and this picture has some great information about the images surrounding Flynn on the $20 note.


I’d forgotten to empty my porta-loo in Julia Creek so headed to the information centre to find out where the dump point was. This was not a good experience. Two very snooty ladies were manning the desk, and when they finally bothered to speak to me they informed me that I would have to book into the caravan park if I wanted to empty my toilet. They didn’t offer me any other information about the town, didn’t encourage me to look at any of their displays and I felt like it was a real effort for them to even acknowledge my presence. Needless to say I didn’t hang around there for long and decided to head to Corella Dam where I would spend the next 3 days before I arrived in Mt Isa.

Good choice Rosemary!

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Way out West – Julia Creek


My camp at Julia Creek

Julia Creek is one of those places that always seemed so far away – and now I’m here. My first stop was the information centre. It was the best I have been to with several separate rooms which were once fettlers cottages. They all had digital displays and loads of information about the area and its attractions.

This little creature is called a dunnart, and until 1992 they were believed to be extinct.  They are still on the endangered species list and locals are creating safe habitats for them to survive and hopefully thrive. A predator fence has been built around the Julia Creek aerodrome to increase the chances of survival and give the dunnarts a safe environment to live and breed.


They are tiny little things, a bit like a mouse. Their natural habitat is the Mitchell Grass country, and during the hot days they live in the cracks in the dry black soil coming out at night to feed on insects. There is a very spoilt one at the information centre that gets mince steak for dinner!

The other fascinating thing about Julia Creek is the water supply. It comes from the Great Artesian Basin and there are signs on the taps to warn you that the water in the cold tap could be 50 degrees Centigrade. Houses have cooling tanks to cool the water down so they can have cold water.


The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world. It underlies approximately 22 per cent of Australia — occupying an area of over 1.7 million square kilometres beneath the arid and semi-arid parts of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. For many years bores were sunk and water flowed freely, whether it was needed or not but recently many of the bores have been capped to reduce the wastage and increase the pressure.

It is estimated that the Great Artesian Basin holds enough water to fill Sydney Harbour 130,000 times.

Although only a small town, with a population of about 500 people (and a few dunnarts!) I really loved being here. The free camp on the banks of Julia Creek was just perfect and once again I met some wonderful people sharing the picnic table nearby. Happy Hour is definitely well named!


Sunset at Julia Creek

I would have been happy to spend more time at Julia Creek but at about 7am the next day some council workers came around and asked us to move our vans to a different area as they were going to seal the road. I decided that if I had to pack everything up to move a few metres I might as well move a few kilometres, so I headed to my next destination – Cloncurry.


On the Dinosaur Trail


I’m in the zone! Can’t wait to find out more about our pre-historic life and Richmond is certainly the place to do it. Kronosaurus Korner is the information centre, coffee shop, fossil museum and a working fossil laboratory. It was only a short drive from my overnighter at Marathon and I was ready for breakfast when I arrived. I really shouldn’t get excited about a bought breakfast – it rarely lives up to my expectations and this one was no different. Am I getting picky in my old age? (That question doesn’t require an answer.)

I wanted to see the fossil museum so paid my $16 and it was well worth it. There was loads of information, as well as fossils, and I learnt something about Australia that I never knew before, and that was about this amazing inland sea that existed about 100 million years ago. And it is this sea that has left behind an incredible record of creatures that lived at that time.


The most famous in this area is the Kronosaurus.



Life size replica of a Kronosaurus


Kronosaurus, named after the Greek God of time “Kronos: belongs to a group of short-necked plesiosaurs called pliosaurs.  It was the largest marine reptile living in the Eromanga Sea and may have been the largest marine reptile in the world.

With teeth up to 30 cm long (most of which was embedded in the jaw) Kronosaurus was clearly a carnivore. The teeth had evolved for tearing huge chunks of flesh off prey rather than chewing.

Kronosaurus head was over 2 m long – twice as large as the skull of T-Rex. Four massive flippers, up to 2 m in length, powered the beast through the water.

Only a handful of Kronosaurus specimens have ever been found – most are from this region.  Tthe first was a section of jaw with 6 teeth, found by Andrew Crombie near Hughenden in 1899.

An almost complete skeleton of Kronosaurus was collected from Richmond in 1932 by a team of palaeontologists from Harvard University in the U.S.A. It was reconstructed to a length of 12m. As a reptile, Kronosaurus had to continually return to the surface of the water to breathe, as modern whales do.

There was also a huge display of ammonites.

Ammonites are perhaps the most widely known fossil, possessing the typically ribbed spiral-form shell.These creatures lived in the seas between 240 – 65 million years ago, when they became extinct along with the dinosaurs. The name ‘ammonite’ (usually lower-case) originates from the Greek Ram-horned god called Ammon. Ammonites belong to a group of predators known as cephalopods, which includes their living relatives the octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus.


Ammonites at Kronosaurus Korner

Well, enough of all this looking, I want to go out to one of the sites and find myself some fossils! There are 2 public fossicking sites but you know, it was a bit like looking for sapphires at Anakie – you have to know what you are looking for. I found a few rocks with fossilized shells in them but nothing that was breath-taking. I could have been walking over Kronosaurus bones and not recognised them. So I threw them in the van to take back to Kronosaurus Korner for identification.

On the road to the digs I crossed the Flinders River, which is Queensland’s longest river. An interesting fact is that rivers north of the Flinders flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria and those south of the Flinders flow to Lake Eyre. That’s when there is water in them.


Flinders River looking East

There was a bit of a puddle in the Flinders River looking west.


Back at Richmond I wandered along part of the Heritage Trail but I was keen to get settled before it got too late so headed off to my next free camp, a roadside stop at Maxwelton (emphasis on the ‘wel’ – nothing says you are a stranger to the area as much as mispronouncing place names!)

This is typical of the landscape I have been travelling through since Hughenden – dry, dusty, barren – and dare I say it? Boring!


I am so grateful I have met up with fantastic people every time I have stopped and tonight was no exception, with Happy Hour at the undercover tables with 3 caravanning couples and another solo traveller. A drover came in with his ute and dogs and rounded up some cattle for the night and was telling us that they are going to take 80,000 head to Hay in NSW. I did a double take because the last time I was in Hay, which I admit was a few years ago now, the country looked exactly the same – dry, dusty and boring!

Where to tomorrow? Julia Creek.

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Pentland, Power and a shower…Luxury!


As you can see I didn’t travel far when I left Fletcher’s Creek – a mere 100kms down the road! Amazing who you meet when you are emptying your loo at the local dump point – none other than fellow Solo, Tony, with his van Lost in the Woods. We had time for a quick coffee and catch up before he headed off to the Laundromat and I headed off to Pentland. It’s been 7 days since I stayed in the caravan park at Anakie and the thought of a real shower is sooo appealing.

The caravan park was pretty basic, but so were the fees so I wasn’t complaining. The showers and toilets were clean, the washing machines worked, and the little shop at reception made the best sausage sanga I have ever eaten. I needed to wash just about everything so resorted to the sarong until my clothes dried, which was just in time to go to Happy Hour which I’d been invited to at a van nearby.

With everything plugged in and powering up I was certainly getting my money’s worth from my camp site. I wanted an early start to go to Hughenden the next day.

Well, that was wishful thinking. I was late leaving and got sidetracked at White Mountains National Park lookout which was on the Flinders Highway. Starkly beautiful rock formations and a view forever.






I finally arrived in Hughenden early afternoon – just in time for a late lunch at the FJ Holden cafe (owned by Frank & Jan Holden).


What a fascinating place, crammed with not just Holden memorabilia but Elvis stuff as well.

I didn’t spend enough time in Hughenden and it was only later that day when I was reading my tourist brochure about the place I realised what I’d missed. This place definitely deserves another visit.


Main Street of Hughenden

At the end of Brodie Street, the main street for shops, is the Federation Rotunda – look closely and you’ll see that it incorporates two 20-foot windmills, which certainly makes a statement to the streetscape.

Look in the other direction and your view is dominated by another huge windmill.


But it’s not windmills that Hughenden is famous for. Millions of years ago Hughenden was part of a giant inland sea that went from the Gulf of Carpentaria to South Australia, before Australia was the shape we know it now.


As the sea receded it left behind a legacy of pre-historic marine animals, which I had a closer look at when I got to Richmond, so more about that later.

My camp tonight is at Marathon Roadside Stop. There were already a few vans there when I arrived so I settled in for a quiet night ….. well ….. except for the road trains. This is a small one – there is usually a 3rd trailer on it and sometimes even a 4th.


Tomorrow is another day, but tonight is another magic sunset.