I started out early today as I knew that I had to drive about 180km to the start of the outback over to Charters Towers. Along the way I clocked up first 1000km in the camper van and I had only gone 350km south of Cairns so far.
History lesson number 1.....
Charters Towers is a city in northern Queensland, Australia. It is located 137 kilometers inland (south-west) from Townsville on the Flinders Highway. In 2006 the population was 7,979 people, some 450 fewer than in the 2001 census.
Along highway A6 I saw many road trains, which are truck's pulling 4-5 trailers measuring anything up to 50m in length. I should really have stopped to take a photo but there were not too many stopping places on the road and I couldn’t really find somewhere to stop at the point where I saw one of these trucks.
I arrived at Charters Towers and headed straight for the tourist information centre where a very friendly lady told me a little about the town and also gave me a map with a scenic walk around the town and also put on a video for me to watch showing the history of the gold rush here in Charters Towers. Unfortunately I will be boring you with picture of the main buildings around the town as I took them as I walked around the scenic route.
My main stop around the scenic town walk was at the Miners Cottage Museum, where upon paying my $5 entrance fee I was sat down and brought a cup of tea and had a chat with the old guy who was running the museum and (I think) his wife. After my cup of tea he took me in to the house explaining some of the artefacts in there and then sat me down in front of a TV and put on a DVD of the history of the cottage and it’s renovation project. The DVD was quite long but I felt obliged to watch it as he had put it on especially for me and in the end it was very interesting to see what they had done with the cottage and their future plans to add a stone crushing mini-plant next door when they had enough time and money to do it.
After the DVD had finished I had a chance to look around and there was so much stuff that they had crammed into this little cottage.
After about 10 minutes of looking around the guy running the museum came and got me as the owner had just turned up and he wanted to introduce me. I had a chat with the owner along with a retired couple called Bob and Ruth from Yamba, NSW (South of here on the coast). Then the owner taught us how to pan for gold and although he was selling bags of sand to use for $10 we didn’t have to pay but we did have to give back any gold that we found. In total we had around $25 worth of gold pieces in our bags which the owner kept as it helps to fund the museum (if you buy the bags, you keep the gold that you find).
After taking a couple of photos with the owner, I walked back to my van with Bob and Ruth and the invited me to visit them in Yamba at their home when I come past on my trip down south. I thought that it was very kind of them but I had only known them for a couple of hours and they invited me to their house and gave me their full address, home phone number and mobile number. People are just so friendly here, this wouldn’t happen in the UK. They wouldn’t even talk to you at all, let alone invite a stranger to their house!!!
On the recommendation of the museum owner, I next headed out of town a little bit to go to the lookout point which was based on the only hill near to town which also contained many open mine shafts still and the remains of a brick chimney which was destroyed during the war (by the locals) as they thought that it would be a target for Japanese planes to bomb as it was the highest structure for miles.
While up on the lookout I spotted my first Wallaby’s out in the wild.
On my way back to Townsville I decided to head back to another old gold mining town called Ravenswood, but this town was almost deserted unlike Charters Towers. The town consisted of many old mine shafts and vents, a few houses, a church, a couple of hotels/bars (one of which had the two old trucks pictured) and a huge new mine, oh and a reconstructed miners cottage.
History lesson number 2.....
Ravenswood is a small mining town in Queensland, Australia. The town is located approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Mingela, and about 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Charters Towers. At the 2006 census, Ravenswood had a population of 191.
I got back to Townsville just after dark (don’t tell anyone as I was not supposed to drive my van in the dark) and returned back to the same rest area as last night (Bluewater) for another free nights camping.