Day 1 -
We left Rockhampton,
Qld., under cool, cloudy skies at 7.30am.
Travelling North, our first planned overnight stop was supposed to be the
Free Camp at
Guthalungra Rest Area, half way between Bowen and Home Hill.
We knew from
research on Caravan Forums, that you should arrive at Free Camps no later than
4pm, to ensure a spot. We arrived at 3pm and the place was chockers! Quite a few
more travellers could have stayed, except for a few selfish
fellow travellers spreading
A couple told us about an inexpensive spot at the
Home Hill Showgrounds, so
we headed off the extra 40ks and stayed the night there. Nothing flash... a bit
dry and dusty, but $10 for the night, got you power, toilets and hot showers. I
didn't do a head count, but I'd estimate there would have been around 20 or so
caravans and motorhomes here.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 24th, sees us heading north and west to
and probably an overnighter at Hughenden. We've never travelled the Flinders Highway
before, so not really sure what's to see or how long we should stay at each
stop, so we'll wing it and see what eventuates on our way to Darwin.
Hughenden We left the Home Hill showgrounds this morning (Wed) around
7.30. Heading north, we travelled through Ayr and took the Woodstock/Giru
Road shortcut to the Flinders Hwy., bypassing Townsville. We fuelled up at
Charters Towers and headed off to Hughenden, (252ks) arriving around 3pm.
We had planned on
"Free Camping" ($6) at Hughenden RV Parking Area, but the local powers have
changed the rules. All rigs must be totally self sufficient, meaning not
only your own water and toilet, but also a "grey water" tank to hold sink
and shower discharge. While most motorhomes have grey water tanks, very few
caravans do because of space and weight restrictions.
So, we are settled in at the Hughenden Caravan Park, one of three in town.
The Drifters are playing at the RSL tonight, but we are both too
tired to venture out. Getting old is tough!
Day 3 - Julia Creek
Hughenden to Julia Creek Hughenden in
winter is COLD! The wind cuts through ya like a Canberra Breeze! We
turned on the reverse-cycle aircon around 4am which kept the van toasty
warm, 'till we turned it off around 8.30.
We filled up before we left Hughenden and headed off for Julia Creek. I
could only find 2 service stations in town and could only drive into one
with the van on. Turns out to be the dearest one in town... $1.799 for
diesel!! Drove 1k out of town and there were 2 more and only $1.529 a litre.
Thankfully, fuel economy on
this leg was excellent, because we had a strong tail wind. I wasn't really
aware of this until we stopped for lunch at a rest area about 100ks east of
Julia Creek. It was so cold and windy, we had to sit in the van and eat.
There is NOTHING to see out here except flat, dry, dusty, barren
countryside and l-o-n-g straight roads that bounce you like a ball in
places. I'd swear we were going to lose the van on some of the bouncy spots!
we got to Julia Creek, we went to the Information Centre to get a Permit to freecamp beside the billabong (in our Billabong!) at a camp spot 1k east of
We arrived around 2pm and had
no trouble finding a spot. More travellers are trickling in as the day goes
on. I haven't unhitched the van as it's pretty level and we're ready for a
quick getaway in the morning.
Tomorrow, Friday, we're off to Mount Isa, where
we'll probably spend a couple of days exploring.
Day 4 & 5 - Mount Isa
It was a cold Friday morning
when we left the freecamp beside the billabong at Julia Creek and headed
off to Mount Isa, via Cloncurry (didn't stop). Mile after mile of dry,
desolate, barren, flat landscape must have taken its toll on Bev, as she
moaned, "We paid $76,000 for this??" As I always do, I try to calm her
down with soothing, reassuring words that everything is good! All will
She did calm down and we arrived at the Mount around lunch time. We were
expecting to stay at the Big 4 Park, but they had no powered sites
available. We needed power this stop, to recharge the laptop. So we went
in search of the Top Tourist Park, but Petal (the Navman) took us to an
address unknown! Backtracking, we pulled into the Mt Isa Caravan Park and
got a powered site for $35 a night. I paid for 2 nights and we settled
We headed into town to visit the
Information Centre, which is a huge complex. They had underground mine
tours on offer for $49 each (old-farts-rates) so we booked for 9am tour
Saturday morning. After a visit to Woolies for a few essentials, We just
chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.
We all met at the Information Centre at 9am and the Guide took us to an
adjoining area, where we were issued with disposable plastic overalls, a
hard hat, a battery pack and miners light all finished off with a big,
heavy pair of gumboots.
The entrance to the underground
mine is right there on the huge Info Centre Complex and we were taken down in
the cage to the mine floor, some 20 metres below the surface.
lasted just over 2 hours and was VERY interesting. After explaining all
the ins and outs of the main Mt Isa mine, the guide asked what we thought they
mined in this mine. The answer is "DOLLARS!" The entire underground
mine, fashioned on what the main mine was like in the 70s and 80s, was made
specifically for the tourists!
It was HUGE! Several kilometres of
tunnels, snaking underground, complete with old machinery (some working)
and paraphernalia from that era. It's a tour well worth taking, complete
with $10 mandatory souvenir pic of course! These photos are of the photo
we bought as they don't allow cameras underground.
Apart from that, we just drove around taking in the sights of Mt Isa.
Tomorrow morning, we're getting an early start as we've got a 450
kilometre journey to cover. First to Camooweal (190ks) our last stop in
Qld before the NT border then onto Barkley Homestead where we'll
the night. I'm told the road from Mt Isa to Camooweal is bad with a lot
of single lane bitumen and 53m long Road Trains to contend with. It will
probably be a very slow 190ks.
Don't know how much Internet we'll have for the next few nights, but
I'll post here as often as I can.
Day 6 - Mt Isa to Frewena Rest Area
Well, the warning we received about
the poor state of the road from the Isa to Camooweal (190ks) turned out
to be false. Thankfully, it was one of the better roads we've travelled
in these parts.
We refuelled at the BP at Camooweal and were slugged $1.979 a litre!
Thankfully (?) it only took 42 litres. We didn't look around Camooweal,
but was there long enough to learn that a cup of hot
chips at the servo, was $6.50. Want gravy with that?
Sure... make it $7.50. Needless to say, we passed on
the chips! I ate Bev's tomato and vegemite sandwich later on, down the road.