3rd July, Wednesday, Winton to Cloncurry Rest Area.
The best laid plans of mice and men..... We had packed and almost ready to leave Winton heading for Hughendon when, Oh gosh I had lost a filling in a back tooth. Change of plans and find out where nearest dentist was. A quick to trip to the I centre who very obligingly gave me phone numbers for Longreach, Cloncurry and Mt Isa. We ruled out Longreach to far to go backwards. Ringing Cloncurry they had a clinic at 8.00am next morning but I needed to be on some sort of health care card or SQU card whatever that may be. This raised another problem I had mislaid my Seniors Health Care Card (I think it is at home), so a trip to the Centrelink agent who was able to give me a letter with details on it and a new card will be in the mail. In the end I made an appointment with a dentist in Mt Isa for Friday morning, so about midday we headed for Cloncurry. Again the area very dry, flat and scrubby, any who have travelled the Barkly Highway will understand the terrain, it does change from time to time but a drought area is a drought. It was late in the afternoon when we decided the next rest area was to be our over night stay, pulling in arounbd 4.00pm. Our rest area for the night turned out to be very busy around 10 occupiers plus 2 road trains. Our small campfire was welcomed we cooked our tea.
4th July Thursday, Cloncurry Rest Area - Mt Isa - 181 kms
We left early as we had things to attend to in the "Isa", arrived a lunch time and we quickly took care of everything, and left for our o/nite stay at West Leichardt Cattle Station, approx. 30kms out of Isa. We thought that would give us a quick easy run into the dentist for an 8.30 am appointment. The cattle station was a nice green oasis, for $20.00 for the night which included toilets and showers and an evening meal of curry,(not your gourmet style) but not bad for the price hey! There were 3 other couples all leaving the next morning and they had all been there a few days and had been out mustering cattle. It would have been nice to stay longer as Friday and Monday they were mustering cattle again. It is so dry all the stations are destocking cattle whilst they are in reasonable condition and to have less to feed and water until the rain supposedly comes in October - a long way off. I think Bill would have enjoyed staying another day but he was anxious to get me sorted out and we also had computer and telephone problem to sort out at Telstra.
5th July, Friday, Mt Isa-Riversleigh NP- 250kms
We were in Isa at 8.00am and by11.30 had tooth filled, Telstra sorted, super marketing done, water tanks full, fuelled up and ready to head for Lawn Hill. The trip to our stay was bitumen all the way with exception of the last 80kms, we took the short cut road towards Lawn Hill via Riversleigh NP, it was dirt, some corrugation, rough in parts and 2 water r00000iver crossings. One thing we noticed apart from the dryness was lack of native animals dead or alive. We saw a couple of dead feral pigs and a few cattle roaming, not even birds which was unusual. We found a lovely spot on the O'Shannassey River to make our home for the night. A camp fire enticed our neighbours to spend the evening with us and a most enjoyable night we had.
6th July, Saturday, Riversleigh NP
Our neighbours had suggested we lock and leave our van where we were rather than tow it to Lawn Hill. With lunch packed we set off for Riversleigh NP, but somehow we missed signage and so after a visit to the Riversleigh Fossil Site D and a look at the information and a 1km walk looking at fossils in rocks we found ourselves 50kms down the track and at Lawn Hill. Lawn Hill NP camping area and the nearby Adels Grove have this policy for 'bookings essential' if you wish to stay, but most "nomads' are not really into booking so they miss out on a lot of people in the sights and people like us free camping away from the area and doing day trips. It appeared to us that there were a lot of empty sights at both areas and they are very dry and dusty. We took a 1km each way walk into Indarri Falls just beautiful a lovely swimming hole in a tropical gorge setting. You are able to hire boats and row in the area but we were a bit late arriving to do this and also the ranger who should have been able to help us with a boat was missing and station closed, again a missed opportunity for people like us, we also believe some people just come into the park and camp regardless. We headed back towards our camp and ate our late lunch on the side of the Gregory River and collected some wood for another campfire that evening. We found the Riversleigh NP camp site very dry only 2 campers no views and bit overgrown behind a locked gate. Further on we found Riversliegh Homestead which was only about 5 minutes from our camp site. We arrived back in camp with yet another flat tyre Grrr! I had cooked our Beef and Red Wine casserole in the Thermal Cooker and 2nd effort was much better, very tasty. Our new neighbours came in the evening for a few hours they were Victorians who had sold everything up and been on the road 4.5 years. I could not do it, mind you they have no children.
7th July, Sunday-Riversleigh-Gregory Downs. - 100kms
Packed up and moved on, the Cammoweal -Burketown road as far as Gregory Downs was to say the least rough with some corrugation, and many idiot 4WD drivers speeding kicking up dust that you can't see through. About half way Bill got out of the car to check for flat tyres, thankfully none. We had been told of a nice free camp spot under the bridge where there is "no camping" signs, well there must be at least 30 vans on this lovely spot right on the river where camping is not permitted and everyone knows about it. We pulled in and Bill has used the river water to rid the car and van of dust and I have recharged everything and rested ready for another big day to Burketown tomorrow. The neighbours here don't seem to be so friendly but most appear to have been here some days and done day trips into Lawn Hill about 150 kms return. There is only 20kms of unsealed road between here and Burketown and that it is in the process of being done. We have been told there will be 20 road trains bringing over burden from the Century Mine into the area tomorrow as part of the road construction so it will not be fun travelling until we get past them all in the morning. We saw our first bit of wildlife this afternoon a wallaby on the other side of the river from where our camp is. I must tell you that the river is about 8 feet from our doorway, very pleasant as we are now in shorts and T'Shirts and have been for 3 days. Not so friendly neighbours we watched a video tonight.8th July, Monday, Gregory Downs-Burketown, 120 kms. As you can see we do some very long driving some days. The road to Burketown is very good only 20kms not bituminised but in the process of being completed. We only saw 3 road trains on our trip to here so only had to cop their dust 2 twice as 3rd one was unloading. Arrived about lunch time so sought out the bakery which we now know was not here last year in the tourist season. Fuelled the car and put the tyre into be repaired, booked in CP, did some washing, updated computer, emails and blog and by 2.30 we were ready to explore Burketown. We travelled a couple of back roads to the river to check our fisherman and crocodiles, only saw fishermen and some great camping sights for fishing. Visited the remnants of the boiling meatworks, in the late 1890's they could not sell the cattle so made tallow and salted beef at the boiling works, it lasted only 3 years. Next we visited the Landsborough Tree, it is a stump of a tree where the rescuers landed looking for Burke and Wills. On our return to the metropolis of Burketown we visited the cemetry which is very neatly kept and green, a few quite old plots but most early 1900's on. On our return to CP we have had drinks with our NZ neighbours. A great day. Weather wise about 32 and humid. Tomorrow we head for Normanton. The photo taken on my tablet. On arriving in Burketown we could hear a terrible noise. The tree that looks like blossom is actually full of squwarking white cockatoos, the tree has broken branches hence the decoration around the base of it. Thanks to all who have left a message it lets me know who has received our blog.