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carmel’s Travel Diary

Monday, 08 May 2006

Location: Mt Isa, Qld, Australia


I forgot to mention earlier, I’ve also forgotten exactly where it was, but we passed a road called 8 3/16 mile lane (how’s that for accuracy). We then passed 8 mile lane.

A week was really too long at Roma, although it was nice to just veg out for a while. And we have certainly seen all of Roma. The highlight for me was the 'Avenue of Heroes'. 138 men from the area were killed in WW1, so they have planted a bottle tree for each one of them, with a plaque in front of it telling who the soldier was. It was particularly impressive being here for ANZAC Day. It took both sides of 4 streets to complete the 'avenue'. The other outing we both particularly liked was the cattle sales. Roma has the biggest cattle sales in Australia - they certainly put Gympie in the shade.

We have booked in to go to Carnarvon Gorge on Sunday, but have just been talking to a couple here at the park, and now we are not too sure our car will make it. We will check out with the managers here as they have asked us to take some brochures there for them. If it doesn't work out, we will head on to Emerald.

Apart from Nic, we all enjoyed her birthday. She had a touch of 'end-of-the-20s' blues. She and Jason are having a week at Rainbow Beach and she rang this morning to say Jason had popped the question, and she'd accepted - so it looks like we will be having a wedding in the not too distant future. I'll find out everything on Tuesday. It's certainly a hectic time for them at the moment what with their house at Yeppoon and now a wedding in the offing.


After a really awful last 20 kms, we arrived at Takarakka Bush Resort (resort is rather an exaggeration). Because it is so far from anywhere, we paid top dollar for definitely not top-dollar accommodation. (It was much the same at Uluru and Cradle Mountain – they have no competition.) That last 20kms of road was unmade, and covered with large stones. We also had to go through 3 creek crossings, but they were all dry. We were warned that, if it does rain, you could be trapped for up to 3 weeks.

Once we settled in we did 2 short walks in the gorge – the balloon cave which has aboriginal paintings (only lots of hands on ochre colouring) and the rock pool (self explanatory).


There are lots of long walks here, but we weren’t going over 4kms return which rather limited us, however we were able to see Mickeys Creek and Warrumbah Creek Gorges, both of which were quite impressive. We also did a nature walk along Carnarvon Creek – that was pretty. We are getting really good at crossing creeks on rocks.

This evening we are going to the Takarakka lookout, to see the sunset. And then tomorrow we are off to Emerald and some more fossicking. I’m really getting in to that. The only obstacle will be getting over the wretched road. Despite the road, I am glad we came here, it is such a spectacular place.


The road didn’t seem nearly as bad on the way out – it never does. There were more wildlife – kangaroos and emus of course, and also many different varieties of birds. There were also a number of wallabies at the caravan park. On the way down from the Takarakka lookout, we came across a large male kangaroo, and there was a standoff for a while. I think we were just being paranoid, because, when he was ready, he just turned around and bounded off.

We are now at the Emerald Cabin and Caravan Village as, it seems, is everyone else. It’s very crowded. AND it has unisex en-suites rather than separate male and female amenity blocks. I’m not mad on them at all – and the women I’ve spoken to feel the same. A message in the ensuites says – ‘Please do not wash dogs in the shower as they are for park guests’. (The dogs or the showers???)


We decided to check out the sapphire areas today, Sapphire, Rubyvale and Anarchie. Initially we had intended staying there for a few days, however, when we got there, decided it was a bit too rugged for us. It was a really rough and ready area, with burrows all over the place from prospecting. We finished up not staying there and not even fossicking. Fossicking for sapphires isn’t the same as for opal where you just wonder over a mulloch heap, here you get a licence and your own little bit of dirt for the day – and you have to DIG. So, instead, we went into the Blue Sapphire (shop and information centre) and BOUGHT some stones (not sapphires).

We’d seen cattle on the road but, never before Sapphire, had we seen turkeys – at least 30.

Our next stop was Alpha, a really pretty and well-cared for town of only about 300 residents and 27 excellent murals. Jericho was the next stop, also a town of murals. We spent the night at Barcaldine, where they turned on billy tea and damper. They also had a country singer, Graham Rodger who had won three awards at Tamworth this year. There was also a bush poet and Mad Chorgan (Chad Morgan’s ‘cousin’). It was a great night.


It was Barcaldine Show Day today so everything was closed, but we checked out the Tree of Knowledge again (we’ve been to Barcaldine before – another nice, well-cared for town - so didn’t need to do the tourist bit). Actually the tree doesn’t look too good, it is pretty old.

Our next stop was Ilfracombe, which has a display of old farm implements, trucks etc. There was also an old jail, a house dedicated to the pioneer women and a house originally built in 1867 which is being restored The display took up the entire railway park, probably almost 2 kms. I now realize we should have called in to the Wellshot Centre while we were there, but were getting short on time. Fortunately we have to come back this way, so we’ll see it then. We are also getting back into termite country, although they are only small mounds so far.

After the rains, the land looks probably the best it has been for a long time – green ground cover with water in the creeks and even along the side of the road. Yet kangaroos are starving in parts of Queensland because of the drought.

We’ve seen a couple of emus, wedge-tailed eagles and a flock of kites, but only dead kangaroos – and so many of them. Barrie had to drive over one of them, he couldn’t get around it and it was too big to straddle. It caused a sickening thump.

We had intended spending some time at Longreach, but we had spent some time there last time, so, after picking up the mail (thanks, Sue), we went on to Winton as I wanted to see the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Barrie didn’t want to go, so I went by myself – and really liked it. I thought it was much more interesting than the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and QANTAS Founders Outback Museum at Longreach.

The caravan park at Winton is the worst we have experienced so far. Admittedly, they had Australia’s bush poet of the year performing there but we were both too tired to go.


We didn’t spend any extra time in Winton as we will be coming back that way, but headed off to Mt Isa. After the worst caravan park we had experienced so far, we are now at the best (AND $3 per night less). Every powered site has its own en-suite – and the place is spotless, so we’ve decided to stay for the week.

The termite mounds on the way are getting bigger, and more frequent. They look like housing settlements the way they seem to be built in groups. We also saw a couple of flocks of cranes, they are such majestic birds. There were several mountain ranges on this part of the trip, which made it interesting. They were all very rocky, and looked rather like building blocks arranged by giants.

Barrie is washing done the car and van at the moment. We drove through a grasshopper plague on the way here and the car and van were a mess.

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