Day 69 Kynuna to Day 73 Charters Towers
Charters Towers, Queensland
Day 69 - Saturday 8th June 2013 (180.7 kms)
A noisy sleepover at Kynuna, with a particular road train leaving his engine running and people packing up at some ungodly hour to hit the road early. We have probably been spoilt so far and it has been noticeable over the last few days that the Grey Nomads (of course we're not classified as nomads 'cause we have to go back to work!) are on the loose and heading north.
Kynuna was established on the Diamantina River and the Blue Heeler Hotel built in 1889 is the only pub left in town. Banjo Paterson drank at this pub and of course it was in this area where the song "Waltzing Matilda" began.
Approximately 16 kms out of town is the turnoff to the Combo Waterhole. We walked the 2.5 km round trip along unique cobbled paths (stone pitched overshots built by Chinese labourers more than 100 years ago to assist with the travels of Cobb and Co.) to the famous waterhole situated on the Diamantina River. The river beds are dry with the exception of a couple of billabongs. It is here that we find and take pictures of our "stockmen" "under the shade of a Coolibah tree".
It is believed that this is the setting and inspiration for the story of "Waltzing Matilda". This land was once part of the Dagworth Station and is now classified as a Conservation Park. Waltzing Matilda was written in 1895 by Banjo Paterson whilst he was staying with the MacPherson family at Dagworth Station. During his stay, Banjo learned about local shearers and pastoralists from this area and Christina Macpherson performed a Scottish tune which inspired both the lyrics to the song.
Arrived in Winton (Dinosaur Capital of Australia, home of Waltzing Matilda and the boulder Opal) and set up house behind the North Gregory Hotel. Banjo Paterson performed Waltzing Matilda in this hotel in 1895. There is plenty of historical information to read and beautiful glass etchings on the doors by Daphne Mayo depicting Waltzing Matilda and Qantas.
Winton was also the birthplace of Qantas with the Winton Club hosting the first board meeting in 1921 with one of the original landing fields just out of town.
A visit to the Waltzing Matilda Centre is truly remarkable. Arno's Wall is amazing, it reaches 2 metres high and is constructed from concrete and rock (brought in by Arno from his opal mine) and a most incredible collection of old machinery, lawn mowers, propellers, a couple of kitchen sinks, bicycles within the wall.
We were entertained by Helen, a wandering busker sharing her stories and songs in relation to Waltzing Matilda, before heading over to the Tattersalls Hotel for dinner and a couple of hours of easy listening saxophone music by "Sax and the Single Girl" (Anne Bavin).
Day 70 - Sunday 9th June 2013 (48.6 kms)
A cooler morning, cardigans on. A trip out to the Musical Fence, where Anne and Fi made beautiful music (including playing Waltzing Matilda) whilst the boys ventured into the Winton's Diamantina Truck and Machinery Museum.
Off to visit Bladensburg National Park (265,000 hectares when run as a cattle station and now 56,000 hectares as a National Park)and Homestead situated about 7 kms out of Winton. The homestead is one of the original grazing properties established in Winton and became a National Park in 1994. A visit to the woolshed before setting up camp at Bough Shed Hole for the night, a lovely quiet spot alongside a billabong.
Day 71 - Monday 10th June 2013 (Travelled 382 kms)
Off north again with Hughenden in our sights and then on to stay the night at Porcupine Gorge National Park. Porcupine Gorge is known as Australia's "Little Grand Canyon" and from the lookout we were able to see this impressive canyon with its clear flowing creek and towering coloured sandstone cliffs. Most of the country side we are travelling is flat woodland areas so it's quite a contrast to see this canyon in the middle of these plains. With the campsite full we travelled further north along the Kennedy Development Road to park ourselves on the high side of Pine Tree Creek on the side of the road for the night. A lovely campfire for the cooler night, thanks Ralph. Anne has made a delicious Bread and Butter pudding in the thermal pot for dessert, another successful recipe….
Day 72 - Tuesday 11th June 2013 (Travelled 287 kms)
Today's trip takes us to Blackbraes National Park and a quick visit to the homestead before travelling to The Oasis Roadhouse (lunch) and Lynd Junction before turning south to the Gravel Pit Hilton (near the Clarke River Crossing) where we have parked ourselves for the night. A lovely campfire whilst eating our curry dinner, accompanied by a diverse range of music to while the night away.
Day 73 - Wednesday 12th June 2013 (Travelled 166 kms)
On the road to Charter's Towers (affectionately known as "The World"). A gold mining city was built here after gold was found in 1872 by a young aboriginal boy. This town has many historical buildings and was one of the very first regional stock exchanges in Australia. It was also a significant allied military base in WW11 and there are many photographs depicted in an exhibit at the City Hall. A cuppa was had at the café in the Stock Exchange Arcade before walking down to visit the Civic Club (formally known as "The Londoners Club" - a gentleman's club) to soak up the atmosphere of this historic building. Two one hundred year old full sized billiard tables are housed here and the walls are adorned with plenty of history to read.
We have left town and tonight we are camped under the historical Macrossan Bridge that spans the Burdekin River.