Monday, December 27, 2010

Third Xmas On The Track

To my (well-spread-out) family, all my friends, new and old, and to anyone else who stumbles across the blog, Merry Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. 

First, Catching up:  I was feeling a bit depressed in Mount Morgan and I headed out the day after the last post. I got to Biloela and had a bit of a look around, but nothing caught my fancy, so I kept going. My Camps 5 book shows a campsite at the top of the Coominglah Range, 22kms west of Monto, so that's my target.


What a delightful campsite. It is actually a little closer to Monto that the book says, only 18 kms from Monto, and no warning indicators (like, "Rest Area 5 km") as most are - just a sign indicating the turn-off. Quite a big area, toilets, plenty of water (although the sign says it is not drinkable, it is fine for washing, showering etc). The area is state forest and there are lots of big trees which would be giving great shade if there was any sun!

There is a forestry track which leads off from the camping area and just across a cattle grid is a cleared line for the power line, so I pulled in there. There is a great view east into the Cania Valley and looks like plenty of opportunity for bushwalking.

There was one other van here when I arrived, a solo guy named Roscoe and later in the day a couple (Steve and Wendy) pulled in in a monster bus, the Highway Hilton. A nice couple and I've added them to my links.

During the afternoon, Steve dragged a huge log into the campsite and got stuck into it with his chainsaw, so a fire tonight.

Grabbed a couple of beers and headed up to the fire, but it is pretty sad, the wood is r-e-a-l-l-y wet and pretty hard to get a decent blaze going, but what the hell! it's the thought that counts, although I'm glad that it is not freezing cold, when you really need a fire.


It's my anniversary ! ! ! Today marks 2 years on the road. One of the worries I had when I started this voyage, was that I would get bored on the road, but the last two years have just flown. And I have a list a mile long of places that I still want to see and things that I have yet to do, let alone the places that I want to return to.

I have taken a couple of runs into Monto to pick up bread, milk, fresh meat etc. and it is a lovely little town. It has obviously fallen on hard times, the Timber Mill and the Butter Factory have both closed down, but there seem to be a few new houses being built on the outskirts, and the people I have spoken to don't seem disheartened.

 I love the "concert hall" attached to the local shire hall, watch out Sydney, your opera house has a competitor.

 Have a look at the clouds over the main street. Lately that means that either it is just about to rain, or it has just stopped raining.


It is actually a sunny day today, and doesn't look like it will rain for a while, so I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploration. I took a wander up the cleared line of the powerline easement and got a great view of the valley and the further ranges to the east. If you click on the photo below, you can just see my van to the right of the power line in the middle distance.

 In between my campsite and Monto is the turn-off to Cania Gorge, the area's tourist attraction. There are several walks through the gorge which are well worth the trouble. It is a sort of temperate rain forest but without the vines and ferns etc. which you get in the more tropical areas. Lovely shady walks although the humidity was through the roof - luckily it wasn't all that hot to go with it.

The first walk leads to the Fern Tree Pool. Not as spectacular, perhaps, as some other locations I've seen, but  very pleasant all the same.

The total circuit is 5.3 kms and after leaving the fern pool, it climbs to the top of the ridge for a nice walk along the ridgeline through open eucalyptus woodland before coming to a lookout called the "Giant's Chair". For what reason, I am at a loss - I couldn't see anything that resembled a chair of any kind. Perhaps some form of explanatory signage would help?

The second area has two walks of about 3 kms each and as I have been getting a little cabin fever after being locked in by the rain, I tramped both of them, fearing that the weather may not give me the opportunity for a second visit. First stop was "Dripping Rock" Don't want to seem cynical, but just about every rock around here has been dripping for months.

At the end of this walk is "the Overhang" where a granite dyke intrudes into the local sandstone. Fantastic spot to sit and have a sandwich and a cuppa.

I think I may have overdone things a bit. I reckon I have tramped about 15 kms altogether today and I'm exhausted! From the feel of things, I think I may be a bit stiff and creaky tomorrow, but it was great to be able to get out of the van for a while.


I was going to move a couple of days ago, but guess what? It bloody rained again and the last thing I want to do is pack up everything while it is all wet. Yesterday wasn't too bad and as it didn't rain much yesterday or last night, and it wasn't raining this morning, I packed up and hit the road about 10:00am heading for Kalpowar, about 40 kms east of Monto. The road was bitumen all the way to Kalpower (population about 20 and I think half of those are cats and dogs) and then dirt through to Gin Gin. As soon as I left Kalpowar, there were "Road Closed" signs on both the Gladstone and Gin Gin roads. The water over the floodway on the Gin Gin road was only about 6 inches deep and the campsite I'm looking for is only about 3 kms further on, so I pushed on.

I reached the turnoff into the State Forest Recreation Area and pulled up to have a recce. There were two tracks leading off into the state forest and I went for a wander down to first one to see if I could spot a nice campsite. The track is very narrow and I don't want to drive in and find I have nowhere to turn around. I walked in about two kms and only spotted one spot which was passably suitable and couldn't see anything else nice so I returned to the car to try the other track. It has been raining lightly and I have got my big golf umbrella, so off I go to look at the second track.

After another 2 kms or so without spotting a good campsite, decided that the "passable" spot was the only one and set off to return to the car. It started to rain a bit heavier, and then it started to rain really hard and then it started to pour and then it absolutely teemed down and by the time I got back to the car, the track I was on had turned into a creek.

In the words of the ancient philosopher, bugger this for a joke. This is not funny and there is no way I am going to try to set up in the middle of a downpour. Back into the car and I'm heading back to the range where I came from.

The drive back to Monto was a nightmare. The visibility was down to nothing and yet most of the vehicles I passed on the way back were driving without their lights on. Are people crazy or what? I got back to Monto and bought some bits and pieces for Xmas lunch and then back up to the top of the range. It was about 3 in the afternoon and there was a foot of water across the road in at least 3 spots between Monto and the range.

I reached "home" and pulled up in the main parking area to wait for a break in the rain so I can set up. After two hours I am getting ready to sleep in the car tonight, but finally it let up for the few minutes I need. I am really over this weather, let me tell you. The clouds are so heavy that even my satellite dish won't pick up a signal and I am starting to notice a few mouldy spots starting to appear in the canvas.


Well, my third Xmas on the road. 2008 was at Springsure, not a million miles away from here, 2009 was near Streaky Bay in South Australia and this year in Queensland again. I have decided to treat myself this year so Roast Chicken, Prawns, three types of salad, hot Xmas pudding and custard and a bottle of bubbly. The perfect makings for an afternoon nap!


OMG, will this bloody rain never stop. It has been pouring virtually non-stop since Friday. I stuck a container outside the van on Friday and so far it has about 8 inches of water in it. 8 inches of rain in 4 days.

 According to the news, there are roads out just about everywhere in the state. I will stay here until the end of the year and then go down to Brisbane to see my brother and his family and then I'm going to head west. South west Queensland is out of the question, the last I heard the Cooper Creek is about 50 kms wide, so I will head down though NSW to Broken Hill and then maybe the Flinders Ranges again for a while. I think my travels for a while are going to be determined by what roads are passable.

With the long range forecast as it it is, Tassie is definitely out this summer, maybe next year.

See You Soon

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Central (Wet) Queensland

It's been a while since I last posted, not because I've been lazy (well, not this time, anyway) but simply because I haven't done anything interesting.

I pulled into Mount Morgan on Monday, 15th November and I have been here ever since. It has, literally, rained every single day since I've been here, including some days when it didn't stop raining all day. I have been into Rockhampton a couple of times and took a quick spin up to Mackay (the day before it drowned), but apart from that about all I have done is catch up on my reading.

Today is the first day I have seen the sun (again, literally) and even so, it is now 12:15 and the overcast is starting to thicken up. I was going to take off last Monday and head inland to try and get away from the rain. Lucky I didn't, there have been more floods everywhere and half the roads are closed.

My intention was to go back down to Brisbane over the Xmas-New Year period and then head down to Tassie, but bugger this! I'm going to head back to the west and get away from this "La Nina" effect which the weather bureau says is going to last all summer. Right now the Murchison and the Gascoyne areas are sounding pretty good.

See you in the New Year.