Gold Fever

Published: October 13th 2009
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DAY 339

It had blown quite a wind all night, and the trailer tent had been billowing, fortunately it had not kept us awake, we even closed the opening behind our heads to stop the full force of the wind hitting us.

This morning the wind was still blowing, bit at least the sun was out and it was warm already.

We were both up very early, it was a spectacular view out at Captain Billy’s Landing, it would have been nice to stay but someone in the know said the winds had been predicted to be 30-40 kph, so we thought we would move on.

After a very light breakfast of bread and Marmite and our two obligatory cups of tea, we started to pack all our stuff away as we wanted a good start on the day, we had estimated that we had a fairly long way to go, it may not seem it in kilometres but driving on dirt lengthens your journey time somewhat.

By 8.45 it was all done and dusted, so we went around to the Patterson Family, to say our goodbyes and take their photograph as one of the only blog rules we have is if we write about you in the blog then there has to be an accompanying photo.

Emma, Arron, Jessica and Amy, stood whilst we took their photo, we wished them safe travels and hit the road. This family had been travelling as we had said yesterday for 11 months but have gone around anti clockwise and are taking it nice and steady, hoping to stay in Darwin during the wet season.

The Patterson’s asked us where would be getting to today and we thought probably south of Bramwell station where we stopped on the way up, it may even be as far as Coen.

We have been told of a very unusual camp site just on the south side of Coen called Charlie’s mine, saying it is very unusual but well worth a visit. We had duly noted this, as this recommendation can usually be the best so thought if we make Coen we would give it a try.

The distance from Captain Billy’s landing to the main track intersection was said to be on the map 30k’s but strangely enough we only clocked 25.8k’s, though it did take us an
Captain Billys LandingCaptain Billys LandingCaptain Billys Landing

A view of the beach.
hour to navigate this slow windy and sandy track.

Back on the main intersection I jumped out to make sure the fridge had not unplugged itself with all the rough corrugations, and as soon as we were satisfied all was a ok, we got moving again.

It was rough road all the way, we were on the Peninsula Developmental Road, that seems to constantly be “Under Development” and a few times we were diverted on to other tracks, that’ were sandy and more like scrub roads while they built new or just simply widened existing tracks.

At one stage we had to slow down and stop, as directed by a man with a stop/go lolly, In Australia they use this type of traffic control a lot, the poor guy has to stand out in the baking sun all day under his hat, under the baking sun. I turned off the engine, and we waited to be given “The Go.”

We have to say at this point, even though some of the roads are really rough, these guys do a brilliant job as most of the roads are in good condition, for what is no more than
Buoys Buoys Buoys

... left by previous fisherfolk no doubt.
a wide dirt track.

We past some of our major land marks, which is nice as it tells you that progress is being made and as we were passing Bramwell Station a notice was now hanging on the gate saying that it was closed for 2009 (Merry Xmas).

We pulled up about 10k’s along the road at Bramwell Junction, we didn’t need fuel but really only to stretch our legs and have a breather, oh yes and to buy a bag of sweets to help while away our dusty journey.

Last time we were here they did not have any Eftpos as Telstra the telecom provider had not been up to fix it, and they still hadn’t.

We asked the owners about Shelburne sand dunes, as one of our readers Jane had asked us if we knew anything about them and would we be able to see them. These sand dunes were of specific scientific interest and a mining company wanted to “Sand mine the area” but as there was an out cry it was never done.

The Shelburne Dunes were now in the hands of the QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services) we were
Captain Billys LandingCaptain Billys LandingCaptain Billys Landing

We were hoping to see Shelburne Dunes from here but this huge cliff sticks out in front of them, never mind a worthy drive all the same.
trying to find a way in the dunes which looked about 30k’s in but it appears to be via an old derelict homestead called the Nixon Homestead which is all private property, which in turn means that there is no access to the dunes and no public access advertised. The last thing you would really want to do is go bumbling down a track for 30k’s or so only to find that it goes nowhere or to private property.

We pushed on, passing all the big cattle stations on the way down, such as Batavia Downs and eventually north of Coen arriving at the Quarantine station, which is nothing to do with cattle but fruit and vegetables.

We were thinking what we had in the fridge but everything fruit and vegetable was purchased in Cairns and to be honest most of it had been eaten, we slowed to truck up to the check point expecting to be spread eagled up against the truck whilst they frisked us for a courgette or a kiwi fruit but the sign was up saying it was closed, still neither of us had any Class “A” controlled vegetables on us.

We drive
The Road AheadThe Road AheadThe Road Ahead

Just a few of millions of corrugations.
on and have a look at a free camp site called “The Bend” (Camps 5 number 918, page 84 Queensland, we felt it was too near to the road, no shelter and there was a house that just seemed too close.

Our second option was to stay in Coen where we stayed on the way up but Caroline was not keen so we pushed on to our final option which had been recommended. Camps 5 number 916 “Charlie’s Mine” page 84 Queensland, we had been briefed what to expect so we were not put off by the odd signage.

We pulled in, there was no reception, no clue where to park, nothing, so Caroline walked up toward the house and was greeted by “Charlie” a very tanned broad shouldered fella, he suggested that we could park where we like, their was no electricity, and he would put some wood under the donkey to get the showers hot, then said he was off to the pub, to soothe his bad back.

Charlie was delighted that we had been recommended to the place, he told us that he has been here for 35 years and is originally from Malta, we had a nice pitch so we just left the truck and trailer hitched, and set up our stall.

Before Charlie went out we asked him what wildlife he got around the place, he told us he got a lot of Kangaroo’s at night, and he also had a couple of Tawny Frog Mouth Owls that roosted in a tree and took us down to shown them to us.

Both owls were pretending to sleep, but their beady little eyes opened now and again to see where we where, they were so well camouflaged it is incredible.

Charlie told us about the gold mining, which is what he came here to do for 3 months all those years ago and then eventually taking over the lease for the mine and continuing himself, unfortunately the lease is up next year and he is not sure that it will be renewed, so his “Gold Fever” days could be numbered.

A young couple arrived here a short while ago to camp, he asked Charlie if he could do some gold panning, so Charlie duly obliged giving him a couple of buckets, a pick, a shovel, gold pan and a
Thick Smoke Greets UsThick Smoke Greets UsThick Smoke Greets Us

We saw a lot of smoke today much of the scenery we drove past was burning or had already been burnt
supply of water, in this case the dam.

Charlie used a front end loader to dig away a small area for him and said help yourself, but don’t let the “gold fever” get to you, the young man asked what he meant by gold fever to which Charlie responded, “you will lose your wife, your kids, your home and your car when it takes hold of you.” The young man panned all day in the searing heat and panned into the night, when Charlie went out in the morning the young man was still panning, he asked the young mans wife if he had been there all night, to which she replied “Almost.” A severe case of “Gold Fever.”

We had not eaten all day and were both famished, we had a leftover Pasta dish that needed eating so soon it was piping hot and been delivered to the plates.

We sat and did a little blog work, and enjoyed a game of cards, the night was cool but still warm enough to sleep under the single sheet and one blanket.

It had been a full on day and we were bushed and happy to go

Not sure but it ran across the road in front of us, maybe to escape the fire.
to bed about 9.00 pm, it had been an excellent day and had made good progress on our journey south.

So until tomorrow bloggers.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14



We stopped here for a long while
Look HardLook Hard
Look Hard

They are so well camouflaged you would not know they are there unless you are told.
The Donkey is LitThe Donkey is Lit
The Donkey is Lit

Ready for hot showers
Empty DamEmpty Dam
Empty Dam

The wet season is getting nearer, this dam is awaiting its fill.

13th October 2009

Looks like a Stone Curlew!!!???

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