Monthly Archives: February 2023

Swimming pool

Leaving Duraringa we did a quick sweep of the town’s historical buildings trail. As with a lot of these trails in small rural towns most of the buildings are long gone and what we have is a vacant block of land with a fading photo or artist’s drawing on a plaque showing what the spot looked like in the 1880s. This is the case with Duaringa’s trail except there are a couple of buildings left, including the old cinema. It is now for sale with the old shop beside it! A bargain renovators delight, what ghosts wander these walls?

Cinema at right, shop on the left. Circa 1925, closed in 1971.

We resist the temptation and head for Nebo, this is a longish drive through mostly grazing country and scrub. The Nebo campground is a welcome stopover for a couple of nights. The historic Nebo Hotel is here of course, beside Nebo Creek.

Nebo Hotel

It is a popular watering hole for the locals. The hotel has its own miner’s camp out the back and they are regular patrons it seems. We managed to get a seat next to a local family birthday party gathering of about 20 people. Allthego partook of a seafood basket, which was a little disappointing. It seemed like a big plate of breadcrumbs with tails and fins sticking out among the chips.

The seafood basket

Homealone, had some poisonous looking chicken Kiev, quite tasty but plenty of it. There was no compelling reason to go back the next night!

Nebo’s main attraction is about 35k out of town at Mt Britton. This is where there was, in the late 1880/90s, a thriving township of 1500 people. It was a short lived gold town. There is nothing there now except for skeletons of a couple of buildings and a few pieces of old machinery.

Mt Britton
Mt Britton
One of the hotels at Mt Britton circa 1890.

The Council has laid out its streetscape, with some plaques and those old photos. It is an attractive spot surrounded by the mountains, perhaps volcanic remnants. There would be plenty of ghosts wandering around here at night. Prospectors still frequent the area and there are a couple of camp set ups in the hills near the old gold mine. The town only lasted about 5 years before the gold ran out and people abandoned the place.

Next morning we were back on the road headed for Mirani, in the Pioneer Valley west of Mackay. A short trip of about 80 km. We had lunch at another famous hotel. The Pinnacle Hotel claims to be world famous for its meat pies, chips and gravy. Allthego, suspects this is true after testing the steak, bacon and mushroom version. One could come again!

Pie at the Pinnacle Hotel

We had stopped at the hotel on the way for an afternoon walk at Finch Hatton Gorge. The walk was 2.8 km return, a gentle uphill slope with a few steps to navigate. It was hot and humid though and a bit energy sapping. Allthego felt the pie moving around.

A stop on the track
The Swimming pool

At the end was the promise of a dip in the swimming pool, aka rock pool at the base of waterfalls. Navigating an entry to the pool was a little tricky, we were also warned by plentiful signs not to dive in off the cliff walls. There have been a number of deaths.

Allthego having a float around

Water was a little chilly on entry but once in it was cool and refreshing. The walk back to the car was downhill, with the sun lower in the sky it was also cooler.

We next head higher up into the hills to Eungella NP to try to see some platypus.


We have now made it to Duaringa, a small village more or less midway between Rockhampton and Emerald on the Capricorn Hwy. We stayed here in the McKenzie Park free camp a few years ago, much the same today. Still like a donation of $10 which is quite ok, nice setting and good facilities. Since leaving Theodore we have tracked the Dawson River as it flows north, nearby it joins the McKenzie River and so becomes the Fitzroy River.

Speed boat on the Dawson River

After Theodore we had a night in Moura, beside the Dawson. This is where Mouraites cut loose on the river in their power boats. Some more sedately than others. As soon as the sun sets they head off and it is a very peaceful spot. Moura is where there were three major coal mine disasters in the 1980s early 90s, some 36 miners died in the events. The old Moura mines are now known as the Dawson mines. In the centre of town there is a memorial to each of the lives lost in the disasters, as well a good number of ones off deaths over the years down and around the mine areas. A stark reminder of the danger ever present in underground mines. All mining these days in the Dawson mines is above ground. Nearby the memorial is the water tower mural.

Moura water tower

Leaving Moura for Biloela, we stopped in at the miner’s memorial garden near one of the coal mines. Quite impressive little spot, nearby the mining rumbles on. Quite a hole in the ground and footprint on the environment. It seems these things will go like the dinosaurs in the years ahead, replaced by mighty wind farms and solar arrays.

Miners garden memorial near Dawson mine
Dawson metallurgical coal open cut mine

Biloela is a larger town and has more than ‘one of everything’. Stayed here a couple of nights in the Discovery Caravan Park, aka miner’s camp. Enough said about this place, except that the pool was very welcome. Allthego had a couple of cooling off plunges in the late afternoon.

Callide power station complex
Coal train entering Callide B mine for loading and the return to the power station.
Callide power line tower

More coal mining here in the nearby Callide Valley, and there is the associated power station that supplies a significant proportion of Queensland’s grid. Big place! The town’s water tank also has the now required mural. A little different in that it tells the area’s history from the perspective of women.

Biloela water tank mural
Biloela mung bean silos

So, we have moved on and are sitting under the awning at Duaringa as rain patters down. Some dark skies earlier as the storm approached. The flocks of corellas, galahs and sulphur crested cockatoos got quite exited.

Storm clouds at Duaringa

Next stop is Nebo.


Theodore is a small town, about 500 people. It seems to be just big enough to have one of the things you need. There is one service station, one newsagent, one cafe, one pub, one of those old regional department stores (this one has been owned by the same family since it was established in 1924), one supermarket, one post office, one gym, one laundromat, one historical museum (thank goodness!) and one camping ground at the local Show Grounds.No bakery and of course NO BANK. Happy hunting ground for the ACCC! The only area where there is any competition is in churches; RCs, Anglicans and Lutherans as well as a Pentecostal mob.

Camp grounds at Theodore

Theodore sits on a wedge of land between the Dawson River and one of its tributaries, Castle Creek. So, it has had a lot of floods over the years. It is a big irrigation area, canals running everywhere. Cotton and grains are the big crops. And coal is also big around these parts.

Irrigated cotton fields at Theodore
Cotton without the white fluffy stuff

Allthego wants to fill you in though on the three unusual, unique or just plain different things in the Theodore area.

Firstly, there is the Post Office and apart from selling all the usual bits and pieces it also sells fresh fruit and vegetables, diversification for you!

Castle Creek on the left joining the Dawson River on the right.

Then there is the Dawson River. It is unusual, it flows in a different direction to that of its tributary, Castle Creek. It flows backwards against the waters entering it from Castle Creek, rather than merging and flowing together in the same direction. Hope you follow! It seems this is because some time ago the Dawson River changed its direction of flow, due to land movement. Today, the Dawson River ends up in the Fitzroy River and empties into the Pacific out from Rockhampton. Back in the very old days, when it flowed the other way, it would have been further south near Bundaberg, or perhaps not at all. Instead, heading south west and joining the Murray Darling system.
There, how is that for unusual.

Theodore Hotel

The last thing that is a bit unique, at least for Queensland, is that the Theodore Hotel is owned by the towns folk, via a cooperative arrangement. It was established in 1949 and remains a cooperative today. The only one in Queensland. We had a burger there for lunch, not bad. It had carrot and beetroot, unusual these days.

Theodore is also the spot from which you can head out to the western end of Isla Gorge NP. This is about a 95 km round trip and somewhat remote. But out there is a piece of Queensland colonial history and so is a must do spot for nomads onthego to visit.

old paved road
An early track along the track!

It was out here that a 150 metre section of the road, track perhaps a better word, that linked Roma to the port at Rockhampton was constructed in 1863. In the steepest part of the section up the Dawson Range the track was paved with stone, it took the stonemasons 6 weeks. Must have been a back breaking task. Wagons of wool were dragged up the section by teams of 20 bullocks. The stone paved road is still there today, a little eroded. Amazing piece of engineering for the time. It was last used around 1930 when a toll road at Toowoomba was opened that allowed wool to go to the Port of Brisbane instead.

Allthego has waxed on here too long and needs to finish off. But before doing so he recalls that when we had dinner at the hotel in Cracow, chips were not available, you could have mash or potato bake. They hadn’t been able to get chips in for a month! So, Homealone has had a creative surge and penned a ditti on the subject and I leave you with it until next time. It is sung to the famous old tune ‘A Pub with no Beer’.

“It’s a good get away on the caravan trail
The campers head off for a local pub ale
Reading the menu and licking their lips
Only to find, the pubs got no chips!”

All alone

We are sitting here under the awning in Isla Gorge National Park. All alone. It has been a hot day mid 30s but there is a breeze up now and it is cooling down. Just finished a BBQ pork sausage and salad for dinner.

Fernvale apple pie.

After leaving Gayndah we found ourselves at Cracow, west of Eidsvold. Prior to that we had enjoyed a slice of an apple pie we had picked up at the Fernvale Bakery on the recommendation of daughter Gillian. She goes out of her way to get one of these for herself. I concur with the recommendation, massive pie stuffed with apple. Tastes great!

Mural on the pump station at Munduburra on the way to Cracow.

Had a brief stop in Munduburra to see the mural on the pump station.

Cracow, pronounced ‘Crack-O’ is a bit of a ghost town. There are about 90 people living around the town, all the street scape is abandoned except for the hotel. The pub survives because of the Cracow gold mine. The pub opens at 4pm and is strongly supported by the workforce which lives in a fly in fly out camp. The mine has been going on or off under different ownership since the late 1800s.

Cracow Hotel before opening! No one to be seen!
An old shop in Cracow.

We had a great evening there enjoying a T bone and parmie. Homealone took some of hers back to the van. Good chat with some locals.

Parmie at the Cracow pub.
On the verandah at the Cracow Hotel.

We had a night at Cracow in the powered ‘free camp’, donation was liked. Good facilities and a pleasant night. Slight hassle with the power going on and off. But we survived!

Slightly depressing sign on the way to Isla Gorge, we are not number 9.
Campsite at the Gorge

The next morning we headed out to Isla Gorge NP. Hot day. The camp area overlooks the Gorge, quite remote and wild. Thought provoking environment. Great views of the gorge and cliffs.

Looking across the Gorge.
A nice tree on the edge of the Gorge.

Next stop will be Theodore as we meander north.

Off to Airlie Beach

We have today set off for Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays,getting away from Brisbane at 8am; somewhat earlier than usual. The route has taken us up through the Brisbane Valley, past Esk and Nanango to Gayndah. We are in a free camp beside the river. Thankfully, in the shade and 42C. It has now dawned on us why we don’t usually go touring north in summer. Thunderstorm expected this afternoon.

42C, we did have a reading of 44C

On the way we couldn’t resist stopping at the Fernvale bakery for breakfast. Allthego was into a tasty bacon and egg sandwich, Homealone a ham and cheese croissant. It was tempting to use this trip to find out where the best bacon and egg sandwiches can be found. This was quickly rethought.

The old Fernvale wagon
Fernvale Bakery special

We had originally planned to stop short of Gayndah at a place called Ban Ban Springs, a special place for the Wakka Wakka people. Apparently, a dream time spot where the Rainbow Serpent surfaced. The free camp area was a little barren with little shade so we moved on.

Tomorrow we head a little further north to the old gold mining centre of Cracow, only the pub remains and some mining relics.