The more I see of the country, the more I come to love the wide-open spaces and the deserts, where you can see to the edge of eternity.
I left Texas on the 21st of October and headed to a campground in the hills above Brisbane, but when I got there, I found that the caretaker was the rudest person I have come across in many a long year - I don't suppose it had anything to do with his Pommy accent? I gave him a spray and headed down to Brisbane to stay in a van park near to my brother's place. I'd stayed there before, but forgotten how much they charged. $40.00 a night is absolutely ludicrous. Note to self: Don't stay there again!
I spent a couple of great hours doing the short walk and will definitely be back sometime to do the longer walks.
The terrain is amazing, at one moment you are walking through sub-tropical rain forest with orchids and epiphytes growing from the trunks of the trees and within a few metres the canopy opens out and you are in an open eucalypt woodland.
The short walk which I did leads to a lookout with a fantastic view over the crater of an immense volcano.
I spent a few days with my brother and his family and took off north to see if I could find some sunshine.
Sunday, 24th October 2010
I was headed for Kilcoy, but when I got there, I was very disappointed with the campsite. Very small, quite un-even surface and right on the highway. PLUS, it was $10 a night, even with power, that's a lot to pay for what was a pretty poor campsite. I'm not overly stingy, but I do believe in value for money. I did a bit of shopping and headed for Benarkin, a few kms further on.
What a delightful stop. Free, level, shaded, HOT showers and I don't know if you are allowed to or not, but there were power points in the shelter sheds. The signs say 20 hours maximum stop, but I pushed the envelope a little and stayed for two nights. My excuse was that everything was wet as the Sunday night there was an absolute hurricane with thunder, lightning, wind and an tremendous downpour. The next day was very humid and overcast, but the Tuesday turned out fine and after I packed up, I took a walk along the old, disused railway line into the next town of Blackbutt and back before heading off again.
Tuesday, 26th October 2010
What a change, sunshine - I'd almost forgotten what it felt like. Headed onwards through Nanango and Kingaroy (not very impressive) and stopped for the night at Ban Ban Springs. A nice little spot, but right on the highway opposite the truck-stop, so a bit noisy at times. Again it's only supposed to be an overnight stop, but I traded on the friendship and stayed three nights. I have never been questioned yet, so I suppose that as long as one doesn't overdo it, it seems to be OK.
Friday, 29th October 2010
Onward again and went through a pleasant little town called Gayndah. I have seen a lot of the "big" things on my travels, the Big Pineapple, the Big Galah, the Big Banana etc., but I was quite surprised to find the Big Orange in Gayndah. I would have expected it in the Riverland of South Australia, but not in Southern Queensland.
I'm deliberately taking some of the minor roads and looking at some of the tiny towns and villages that are in this part of the country. The countryside itself is not all that impressive, lots of trees, hills and farms which all become the same after a while, but some of these little towns are quite interesting.
I've come to a place called Cracow, population 35 says the Irish Backpacker who works in the hotel, and it is a genuine ghost town.
There is a big gold mine on the outskirts, but they don't seem to use the town much, so it has died except for a few locals and travellers. It is interesting to make out the faded signage on some of the old buildings, such as Billiard Saloon and Boarding House.
The pub is stacked to the rafters (literally) with memorabilia, but a lot of it is anachronistic, or at least not local. I'm pretty sure Ned Kelly never got this far north.
I was going to camp here, because the book says that there is a campsite here. I enquired at the pub and it seems the campsite is in the park right opposite the pub. It is not level and it is only 50 metres from the pub so I can imagine the noise at night when the miners come into town, so I back-tracked about 14 kms out of town and set up in a clearing in the State Forest. Not as impressive as some forests I've seen, no really big trees, but peaceful, lots of birds and plenty of tracks to go exploring.
Saturday, 6th November 2010
kms as opposed to the 30,000 in the previous 10 months. Much more relaxing.
I stayed in the State Forest for 8 nights and then headed on through Theodore and Banana (named after a yellow bullock, if you don't mind) and pulled into a little place called Baralaba. It is interesting to note on these back roads, that when the old wooden bridges have become too ratty to use anymore, instead of up-grading them, they have just by-passed them, unlike the tropics where the bridges get higher and higher each upgrade.
I'm camped on the banks of the local weir and it is a delightful spot. About 1 km out of town, so I can get my daily exercise walking into town to get a loaf of bread. The book says 48 hours stop, but there are no signs around so I'll just plead ignorance if anyone asks.
I'm going to take off again tomorrow (Nov 10th) and head for another tiny town, but I don't know if I'll have coverage there, so I'm taking this opportunity to catch up.
See you soon.