Wednesday, 8th September 2010
I've made it through to Quilpie which is the legendary home of the Pub With No Beer. Actually, the pub doesn't have beer these days either, it isn't a pub any more, it is now a restaurant, and a couple of shops.
More Rain! I planned to camp for only one or two nights on the banks of Lake Houdrouman, which is only a few kms out of town, but it rained the first night and turned the whole area into a quagmire. Pretty much the same sort of soil as out near Cooper's Creek. I need to do some washing and fill up the water tanks, so I'll be booking in to the caravan park for a couple of days before I head further south.
The lake is quite pleasant, but not as much birdlife as I would have expected. A couple of pelicans and that's about it.
Quilpie appears to be a major Opal mining area, which surprised me a little. I was familiar with Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Lightning Ridge, but I had never heard of opal in association with Quilpie. The emphasis is on "Boulder Opal" which is evidently different to other opal, but they're all rocks to me (OK, so I'm a philistine). I don't know what the actual value of the opal is, but it is either the cheaper form of the gem, or the altar and lectern in the local catholic church are worth a king's ransom, because they are entirely faced with raw opal.
Tuesday, 14th September 2010
A pleasant surprise at the Caravan Park, one of the very few which have given me a discount because I am travelling solo. $18 a night instead of $24. There is a sign which says that you can have a shower without booking in to the park, but at $5 per person, I wouldn't think they would get many takers. The town operates on Artesian water, which stinks to high heaven, from the sulpher content, but surprisingly, it tastes fine, the smell doesn't stay on the skin or in clothing, and although it feels quite strange when showering, soap lathers quite easily. The locals tell me the water is not treated in any way (no chlorination or flouridating) so it will be interesting to see what it does after being in a jerrycan after a few days.
Thursday, 16th September 2010
I headed south from Quilpie after doing the housework, and came to Toompine, which is described as "The Pub With No Town" and that pretty well sums it up. All there is, is the pub.
I have never been to South West Queensland before, and a lot of the places I am visiting are referred to in old Slim Dusty songs, so it is interesting (to me, anyway) to see the places that I heard in song when I was young.
Thargomindah has a very strong association with Artesian water and has made it a feature of the town's persona. The town was originally powered by a hydro power plant powered by the pressure from the underground water flow.
According to the local information, the town was the third place in the world (after London and Paris) to have electric street lighting. Amazing when you think about it.
Just from an environmental perspective, it is interesting to see the effect of "civilisation" on nature. When the bore was first drilled, the plume of water blowing out of the bore was 70 feet high, but after years of drawing on the aquifer, the water barely dribbles out of the ground as can be seen in the photo above.
The water is very, very, very hot and every house has a tank outside which looks like a water heater, but is in fact a water COOLER.
Thargomindah was on the Cobb & Co coach run and looking at the crossing on the Bulloo River, it must have been a pretty adventurous way to travel.
From Thargomindah, I headed east, pretty much paralleling the NSW border all the way to the coast. A few kms on and I came to Lake Bindegolly, at which I stopped just to have a stickybeak. I hadn't planned to stop, and the reference in the Camps book says it is only a day stop, but just opposite the rest area is a nice big sign saying "Bush Camping". I checked it out and there are several really good campsites, so I'm here for a few days.
Sunday, 19th September 2010
More Bloody Rain! Welcome to sunny Queensland, they say. Still, look on the bright side (pun intended), without the rain, we wouldn't have attractive water features like this. A fair few water birds around, but different types to what I have seen so far. Black Swans, Grebes and, most surprising so far from the sea, silver gulls and terns.
Tuesday, 21st September 2010
Heading towards Cunnamulla. Crossed the Paroo at Eulo. The locals tell me that this is the first time the river has flowed for at least ten years, so I suppose I should feel privileged to be seeing the country in this condition.
I'm still in artesian country here and spotted some mud springs. These are spots where the artesian pressure forces up to the surface. I don't know how old these mounds are, but they seem to be pretty dormant, but they must have been quite a sight in the old days when the pressure was high enough to keep them active.
Wednesday, 22nd September 2010
In to Cunnamulla today, I'll stay at the caravan park, just for one night, as I need to do some shopping. Pretty ordinary caravan park for $24/night. Not very level and not much grass. There doesn't seem to be any rule-of-thumb for van parks as far as price relating to quality. I've seen parks which were quite delightful for $20 and parks which were quite frankly pretty ordinary for $26-$28. Seems to me there should be some sort of official rating scheme which would sort out the grain from the chaff.
There is a new statue in town, well, since I was last here 7 or 8 years ago. The "Cunnamulla Fella" made famous by the Slim Dusty song. Can't figure out why the tea doesn't slop out of his cup, but. Interesting to note that all the meat in the IGA supermarket here is already cryovac packed. Took the opportunity to re-stock.
Cunnamulla is on the Warrego River, and like all of the rivers through this area is in flood condition. It isn't a "flood" situation, that is the river hasn't over-flowed, but it is right up close to the top of the banks. One thing about the rivers around here, they all look pretty much the same. Muddy Brown.
Thursday, 23rd September 2010
No designated campsites along this part of the trip, so I've pulled off onto the old, gravel road which parallels the bitumen about 100 metres away. The trees are a bit bigger than they have been for a fair while. Still lots of Mulga and Acacia, but more eucalypts now.
I'm somewhere near Nebine Creek, but there are not really any features around. Went for a couple of bush-walks, but nothing much to see except for dams and more trees.
Monday, 27th September 2010
Headed East again along the Balonne Highway. The land here is very flat and becoming a lot more open for farming rather than the scrubby cattle country farther west. Into St. George on the Balonne River. This is cotton country, but the paddocks are all bare, they look as if their either ready for planting, or just recently seeded. No sign of any growth.
At last, a Telstra agent. Took the laptop in and got the extra software loaded to enable my dongle. F I N A L L Y I can access the internet. The biggest worry I had was that I wasn't able to access internet banking and transfer funds into my credit card, but I'm back on track now.
I didn't hang around St. George, just long enough to fuel up and grab some bread and milk and then off again.
I was heading for Goondiwindi, but I heard on the radio that all the roads east, north and south of Goondiwindi are closed due to flooding, so I have pulled off near Talwood and I'll stay here for a few days. I pulled into a gravel scrape, but on investigation, it runs into a stock route, which is basically just a cleared line through the bush. Lots of opportunities to have a wander around.
On of my neighbours has a favourite restaurant that he comes to each day for lunch right in front of my campsite.
Monday, 4th October 2010
The radio reports say that all the roads are open again, and I've allowed a couple of extra days to allow them to fix the worst of the road damage, so I'm on the way again, heading for Goondiwindi (pronounced Gun-da-windy) and parts east.
There is a L O T of surface water around, many of the paddocks are still flooded and the creeks are all overflowing.
Ther are still a number of spots where the water is still flowing over the road, but it's only about 300mm deep and not flowing all that fast so it's quite safe to drive through. These shots are just west of Goondiwindi.
We need to change from Slim Dusty to Tex Morton around here. Gunsynd, the "Goondiwindi Grey" is idolised here. Apart from the statue (which, incidentally is a very nasty, cheap and tatty poured concrete) the local tourist information centre is bursting at the seams with Gunsynd memorabilia. Oh well, I suppose if you're a little town, you have to take what you can get.
The town has also pinched the name of the "Tree of Knowledge" from Blackall. This one has been named because all of the locals would congregate and discuss the height of the river and whether or not it was likely to flood and how high it would rise. Must have been before the advent of television.
The Camps book tells me there is a campground at Yelarbon, between Goondiwindi and Texas, so I'll check it out. Nice spot! soft green grass, power, hot showers and well off the main road, and only $10 per night. Excellent value. It's sunny again for a change, so I'll stop here for a couple of days to charge the batteries (mine and the van's). Can't be more than a dozen or so houses, post office and a food shop, and not even a general store, but a lovely little village built on a lagoon. Somewhere along the line, the locals have put a lot of time and effort into turning the lagoon into a beautiful picnic area.
Right opposite is one of the finest examples of the "Queenslander" that I've ever seen.
Wednesday, 6th October 2010
Onwards, ever onwards. I had planned to camp at Cunningham Weir on the Dumaresq River which forms the Qld/NSW border, but there were three good reasons for not doing so. First, there were no really nice areas to camp, second, the whole are stinks of rotten fish. There were lots of dead carp laying around, so presumably the locals catch them and simply throw them on the ground to rot. I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is actually against the law to throw them back in.
The third reason was that the river was running a banker and the road wass closed because the water is over the bridge.
On to Texas QLD 4385 (to quote the words of the Lee Kernaghan song. (This is turning into a real Aussie Country music tour). A local tourist map shows a camping area down on the banks of the river, just 1 km out of town. Unusual, because there is a caravan park in town and they usually scream their tits off if anyone dares to camp close to town. This one is signposted by the shire as a designated campground. It has lots of grassy, level areas, plenty of cut firewood stacked up, you are allowed to stay for 14 days, and there is even a sign on a tree from the local store telling you not to bother un-hitching, give them a call and they'll deliver your order to the campsite. What more could you ask for. Seriously, places like this restore one's faith in human nature.
According to the tourist literature, the town has a population of 900, which is pretty small, but they seem to have everything here. There is a golf club, a pistol range, a skeet shooting range, I saw about a dozen kids coming out of a hall in their karate gear, there are two nice hotels and a very picturesque guest house and, best of all for us campers, there are free hot showers in the town park. Better and better.
Thursday, 7th October 2010
Did the tourist thing today, took a spin up to Glenlyon dam. Didn't realise how far it was, turned out to be about a 100 km round trip over some really winding roads. Quite picturesque, and from the lookout I could see a nice picnic area but try as I may, I could find out how to get to it.
After I got back to town, I tried to find the site of "Old Texas" which was the original settlement before floods caused the locals to move the town to the present site. Hard to find 'cos there are no bloody signs anywhere. Note to local tourist commission - Lift Your Game, folks. On the way came across and interesting site. It appears that Texas USA sent some Pecan trees to Texas Qld in 1988 to celebrate the bicentenary, and the locals planted them in "Pecan Park". Now I'm no expert on horticulture, but these would have to be the saddest looking trees I've seen in a loooong time.
I haven't got anything better to do with my time than drive around, so I eventually found the site of Old Texas. No signs or notices anywhere, just these sad old ruins out on the river flats. Sad in a way.
Friday, 8th October 2010
I knew it was too good to last. MORE BLOODY RAIN! Pardon my shouting, but I've just about had it up to here (points to throat) with rain. The whole reason for coming north at this time of year is that it is supposed to be the dry season. At least it isn't cold, just annoying. I can remember my Nanna telling me to always look for the good points. AHA, I've got it. My car is clean for about the first time in three months.
Well, finally I've caught up. I'll be staying here for another week at least and then heading for Warwick and a brief dip down into NSW to look at a couple of things I have my eye on.
See you soon.