Monthly Archives: April 2014
Here we are in ‘The Towers’ staying at the Oasis van park just outside town. They have a pool here which is great because its hot. There are no crocodiles in the pool just allthego.
This town has some great old Gold Rush days buildings, some about 140 years old. Most are made of bricks (from here in CT as I will call it) and rendered with quite a thick coating. They have been lovingly restored, but the trick is that it is thought the actual bricks are beginning to crumble (despite all the painting) and in another 30-40 years there will be a major restoration problem for the town. Not sure I will be around to see the outcome, but interesting problem anyway to solve (of course not on the scale of the salad dressing mystery).There are a few interesting places to see here, including an old gold battery stamping plant. This is where the ore was crushed and ultimately the gold extracted. It stopped working in the early 1970s, much of the machinery remains in place depicting how the process worked. The town plays strongly on its past and has ‘ghosts’ from the old days appearing in presentations of the town’s history.
In its heyday in the 1880s there were 90 hotels in the town, having a population of about 25,000. Today there are about 8,500 people and maybe 5 or 6 hotels, some still in their old surroundings. We dined one night in The Courthouse (renovated somewhat) on a couple of really good steaks.A few locals (really local and showing it!) were entrenched at the bar enjoying the band.
We had gone originally here to see a bull bucking contest. Unfortunately this had been cancelled due to an injury. I asked the bar girl whether the bull had been injured,she looked at me quizzically and said “No, the bull had speared the bloke doing the show”. Enough said!
A highlight of the visit to CT was listening to a ‘Foyer Recital’ in one of the old buildings. This was free and a part of the ‘Ten days at the Towers’ extravaganza of all things country, including music (its like a mini Tamworth Country Music Festival). The band playing were the ‘Gospel Gold Diggers”. The lead singer, Wiley, on guitair admitted to being 79. There was a girl Minnie Mina (not much younger or older than Wiley), on a double bass and clarinet. Last, but not least, was Kooki (on banjo and violin/fiddle) she was half their age. What a group! About 30 onlookers enjoyed the performance. The old C & W standard ‘This Old House’ (now who sang that on the top 40 way back when?) stood out as the song of the night. The band seemed to enjoy it as well!
Its been a great couple of days here looking around CT. We now continue heading 400k north on Monday to the Undara Lava Tubes.
As we left Brisbane’s outskirts heading for Childers the impact of all the rain from Cyclone Ita became apparent, particularly from Gympie on. The paddocks were green and dams fullish, the bulls were frolicking amongst the cows. As we turned west at Rockhampton it wasn’t quite as green, creeks empty or only puddles and a bit of dust. The rains seem to have greened the tops of everything.
At Duaringa, as previously reported, the case of the spilt salad dressing transpired in this really good free camp site beside the highway. There was ultimately no inquiry into the event which is just as well. Mysteries of jars unscrewing themselves best remain unresolved on these outback journeys. Its ultimate understanding (if ever) awaits another time and place.
Moving onto Clermont we stopped by Copperfield, a now deserted copper mining area dating back to the 1870s. This was Queensland’s first copper discovery and upwards of 2000 miners and assorted shop keepers and publicans lived in this area. There were 22 chimney stacks scattered across the field where the rich copper ore was processed. All the people have now gone leaving behind the cemetery, a now restored general store and a remaining chimney.
The sorghum fields outside Clermont on the way north to Charters Towers are just enormous stretching as far as the eye can see. They provide a stark contrast to the scrubby bush land right alongside or on the other side of the road. If all this area was cultivated it would be an enormous crop!
Amongst all the scrub creeks and rivers creep, some are bone dry others puddles and some, like the Belyando River (170k north of Clermont), are full and deep in parts. 5 people it seems live at the Belyando Roadhouse selling diesel at $2.05 a litre. Couldn’t see a lot else to do here, except count road trains pulling in and out. We stopped here for lunch having topped the tank up before leaving Clermont. Petrol and diesel sales were limited to $30 worth, a bit less than 15 litres, perhaps only just enough to make the 200k to Charters Towers.
Cape River a little further along from the Belyando was pretty dry, but very wide at this crossing, with great drifts of sand on its flood banks.
We are now at Charters Towers for 3 nights.
There is a song which starts with these lyrics but I can’t remember any of the rest. Athomealone says it’s some sort of romantic song and that’s why I can’t remember the lyrics! A good start for 7 weeks on the road!
As planned we got away 4 hours late on the 22 April 2014 from Brisbane heading up the Bruce Highway. We are off to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, via the Savannah Way. The Savannah Way traverses Northern Australia west of Cairns, passing through towns such as Georgetown, Croydon, Normantown and Burketown. We are away 7 or so weeks on this return trip to Brisbane. It is the end of the wet season in Kakadu and we are leaving before (we hope) all the old grey nomads get on the road doing the same trip!
We have had 3 quick one night stands getting here to Charters Towers. First night was Childers. Next a free camp, including amenities and hot showers, at Duaringa which is about 12ok west of Rockhampton on the Capricorn Highway. Arrived here to a minor drama with the van. On opening up we found a trail of oily salad dressing stretching from the fridge, seems a jar tipped over and the lid unscrewed itself and this stuff leaked out of the fridge across the floor of the van. There was an opportunity here for an enquiry into why and how this jar lid unscrewed itself but allthego felt this was unnecessary and it was just better to let the clean up proceed. This was wise.
After an otherwise uneventful night we continued west to Emerald and then turned north on the Gregory Development Rd to Clermont. Over-nighted here at the Clermont Caravan Park, great little spot just out-of-town. Spent a couple of hours whipping around catching all the sites. One of these was St Mary’s RC Church but the Roman Catholics had a few years ago cunningly moved their hundred plus year old church and built a new facility, but they hadn’t told the guide books. Tricky! We missed it. Anzac Day dawned and we headed down to Hoods Lagoon for the commemorative service at 9.30am. My guess is there were 300 people of all ages there,which is about 10% of Clermont’s population. Not bad.
We are now in Charters Towers for 3 nights.