Days 114-122 – Heading for Home – Elliott NT to Maryborough Qld

22nd September, 2016. Elliott to Wonarah Bore

Longreach Waterhole was the last of our multi-night camps as the weather was now too hot for us to linger in the north. Lawn Hill and Porcupine Gorge will have to wait for another year and much earlier in the season. Once we are in going home mode we are almost on autopilot though we still do not travel long distances each day as that is just too tiring and no fun at all. As we had Wonarah Bore planned for our overnight stop and we would be arriving well after lunchtime, we took advantage of our fuel stop at Three Ways to try out their Three Ways Burger and very good it was too.

When we pulled in to the roadhouse we had just caught up to a cattle road train which was the last of four fully loaded cattle trains stopping there for a lunch break. As we had not had any internet or phone signal for the past few days, we also took the opportunity to get a few things done online. Blog posts to send and I finally had a message from the Katherine PO that our mail had arrived the previous Thursday, a full 10 days after the “Express” post item had been sent from Tinana. On checking the tracking number online, we found our mail had had a trip via Boorooloola from Darwin, meaning it would have passed through Katherine along the way. Thanks for nothing Australia Post!! So now I had to call the AP service centre to request the mail be returned to sender. As I type this now on the 3rd October, no further tracking of the item has happened since 22nd September. I wonder if we will ever see that mail! While we were going about our online business, I heard one of the staff saying that the cattle trains were headed for Qld. Yikes! We didn’t want to be stuck behind them all the way along the Barkly Highway so we quickly concluded our business and prepared to leave – just as the first road train was leaving the roadhouse! We needn’t have been concerned though as the driver maintained around 95kph for the whole trip which was fine by us to stay behind him and the other road trains did not catch up to us.

I had marked Wonarah Bore campsite as a favourite on Wikicamps when we passed by on our way west. It is a very large area with room to get back away from the road and there were just a couple of rigs there when we arrived in the early afternoon. Though it did fill up later in the day.

 

We couldn’t quite believe our eyes when the cattle train ahead of us pulled in to the rest area as well, followed at regular intervals by the rest of the convoy. Erich had a chat to one of the drivers asking why the beasts were being trucked from WA to Qld. Apparently they hadn’t been sold as we had thought but were simply being relocated from one property in WA with poor feed to another in Qld with good feed, both properties belonging to the same owner. I can’t imagine how that can be economical but it must be. This was just a rest stop for both the cattle and the drivers as they were heading to a holding yard somewhere near Mt Isa for the night.

Later in the afternoon, two ladies in a camper van pulled in and came over for a chat. They were on their way to Tennant Creek, where they grew up, for the dedication of a memorial on the 50th anniversary of a plane crash in which their 12 year old brother was killed. Erich asked them to take photos and to send them to him so that he could have them added to the Monument Australia website. He received those photos from Jenny, who coincidentally lives in Tiaro, a small town about 10 minutes drive south of where we live, a couple of days ago and the entry is now on the website http://monumentaustralia.org.au/display/109854-lockheed-hudson-plane-crash Eventually this monument will make its way to the National Archives. What a fateful meeting in the middle of nowhere.

23rd September, 2016. Wonarah Bore to WW2 Memorial 50kms north west of Mt Isa.

The WW2 Memorial campsite was another that I had earmarked for the return journey. Commemorating the building of the original road between Mt Isa and Camooweal during WW2 and funded by the USA, the rest area is quite large enabling us to get away from the worst of the road noise.

I’m not going to try to ID these little brown birds – probably Robins of some sort.

24th September, 2016. WW2 Memorial to Julia Creek.

Once past Cloncurry, we were travelling a new route for us along the Flinders Highway. We had heard much about the official free camp in Julia Creek so that was our destination for the night. It was fairly busy when we arrived at around 1pm with plenty of vans making use of the 72 hour limit but still we were able to get a fairly level spot beside the creek. A nice quiet campsite.

25th September, 2016. Julia Creek to Campaspe River.

Sometimes choosing a campsite is a bit of a lottery, often decided by the distance we want to travel and with the following day in mind. So we decided on the Campaspe River Rest Area. The best thing about it is that it is level but it is close to the road and therefore noisy. Ok for one night but that is about it.

The dry river bed gave Erich something of interest to photograph.

26th September, 2016. Campaspe River to Guthalungra Rest Area.

We stayed at the Guthalungra Rest Area last year so I should have known better but distance and time wise it ticked the boxes but I had forgotten how noisy and busy it is. I won’t make that mistake again!

27th September, 2016. Guthalungra to St Lawrence.

We set a record for early departure from Guthalungra. We were on the road by 6.15am heading for the St Lawrence Campground which turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. It has recently changed from being a free or donation campsite (I forget which) to being $10 per night. What a bargain at that price. No power or water but full amenities ($1 for a hot shower) and a dump point and the ability to pay online. As we drove in I realised our neighbours from RV Homebase, Michael and Jo, were set up beside the stables. After a quick chat, we decided it wasn’t a bad spot so we pulled in behind them.

I’ll bet these railings could tell some tales.

There were hundreds of Magpie Geese at the waterhole.

Erich was told by a fellow camper that the Magpie Geese fly over every evening at sunset. Unfortunately it was much later than sunset when they finally took to the sky so the resulting photos were pretty bad but it was an experience to see and hear them.

Finally the first kangaroo with a joey that we have seen on this trip.

28th September, 2016. St Lawrence to Bajool Pub.

Over the past couple of days, Erich had been having problems with a bladder infection which was getting worse. He was able to book an online appointment with a doctor in Rockhampton, so that became our focus for the day. We hadn’t been to Rockhampton before so did a bit of a reconnoitre of the parking availability near the doctor’s surgery and then found a good parking spot close to the Woollies shopping centre where we were able to kill time in the air-conditioning. With the doctor visit completed and prescription filled we were on the road again by around 12.30pm but we decided to make it a short drive and settled on the vacant land across the road from the Bajool Pub, which had rave reviews on Wikicamps. We certainly had no problem finding a good parking spot as we were the only ones there.

That’s the pub to the left of the tree.

Not exactly the most attractive country pub but their meals were reputed to be really good as we were able to confirm when we had dinner there.

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29th September, 2016.

What was to be an easy run home turned out to be a little problematic due to a very bad accident that closed the highway between Calliope and Benaraby, forcing us to take a detour through Gladstone. Had there been a few detour signs to point us in the right direction it might have been a bit less stressful but we eventually found our way back to the highway at the right spot. Stopping at Bororen for a break, we noticed fellow RVHB residents, Edna and Kevin, having morning tea in the park. We had a quick chat with them before they continued to Mackay for a funeral and we headed home.

122 days, 20,053kms, Qld to WA via NT and return.

A big thank you to our lovely neighbours, Peter and Helen, for looking after our place in our absence. It was wonderful to come home to a lovely clean deck!

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