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Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Mount Isa
August 20th 2011
Published: August 23rd 2011
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Burke and Wills MemorialBurke and Wills MemorialBurke and Wills Memorial

On the way from Cloncurry to Mt Isa
Tuesday 16th August 2011

We left our site at Karumba at about 8.30am and an hour later we were in Normanton, the town we had expected to stay in originally. The town was as dead as it was on Sunday, except the few shops there were open. The general store was in one spot, the butcher 3 or 4 blocks further up the street, and the bakery up a distant side street opposite the school.

At the bakery we were served by an unusual gent wearing a Queensland slouch hat. A loaf of bread was all we walked out with, the only 'special' treat they had were Rottnest type cream buns.
After photos of the barramundi statue outside a motel, a model of the crocodile allegedly shot by a local lady, and of course the Purple Pub, we left town.

The 400km or so trip to Cloncurry was broken by a couple of stops for a break, plus we passed by the Burke and Wills roadhouse, this not standing out as a place to stop and we did not need to refuel. Cloncurry itself did not endear itself to us, we drove down the main streets and headed out. We did make a detour to the Chinaman's Dam just outside of town, took some photos and continued on our way.

We spent the evening at Fountain Springs Rest Area, 60km west of Cloncurry. We went there expecting to see water at least. No such luck, it was a small area with a good toilet block plus a couple of picnic shelters. We obviously weren't the only ones fooled by the description as about 20 vans and campers made this their stop for the night. As the stop was right next to the highway there was some traffic noise but this died during the evening except for the occasional 3 trailer semi loaded with ore these which worked seemingly for 24 hours. These weren't too bad though, and even when we met all 53 metres of them on the road they didn't intrude too much.


Wednesday 17th August 2011


It was great to have a piping hot shower in the morning. Even though we use the camp facilities most times, it is a little luxury to have our own.

We were on the road a little after 8am and by 9am entered Mt
1948 De Havilland D H A Drover1948 De Havilland D H A Drover1948 De Havilland D H A Drover

This machine was recovered from its crash site and restored by volunteers as a memorial to the Royal Flying Doctor Service
Isa. This is a very large place, spread out quite a bit, and reminded us a little of Port Hedland. Here too were the ubiquitous Coles and Woolworths, together with groups of indigenous people where-ever you looked. We were told later that they only started to arrive in town when their communities declared themselves dry. A bit sad really.

A drive around had us near the mine itself, the most visible feature being the very high chimney there, and the pile of dark rubble around it. The Flying Doctor base was nearby, this was undergoing refurbishment. We did walk into the attached park by the river, to look at the aircraft mounted on a pole commemorating the service.

We drove 15kms out of town to the Lake Moondarra Picnic Area, this lake being the water source for the town. This man-made lake extends for some distance and is used by the local community for water sports and as it is regularly stocked with fish fingerlings, for fishing. Here we had our morning tea, talking to some other travelers there, before setting off for Camooweal Billabong about 10km from the Queensland/Northern Territory border.

We traveled 119kms west of
Hard Times Mining Company?Hard Times Mining Company?Hard Times Mining Company?

I think you can do mine tours here but we didn't!
Mt Isa to Inca Creek Rest Area where we stopped for lunch. On getting out of the car, Rags noticed a trail of oil out the back, and on checking the engine found that the dipstick did not register. He then realised what he thought was an accumulation of dirt on the back of the car and van, was in fact oil and dust.

Luckily we stopped when we did, the motor was not affected, we were parked well off the highway, and we had a phone signal. A call to RACQ telling them of the problem had them contact RAC WA and on confirmation of our status we were told a truck would be with us in a couple of hours.


This wait for the tow truck was spent having lunch, and as nothing else could be done, Judy continued her work, Rags put up the awning and read.

With the Jeep on the back of the truck and van in tow, we sat up with the driver for the 119km trip back to Mt Isa. We were quite dejected, all confidence in the Jeep now gone, although there is a chance it was caused
Lake MoondarraLake MoondarraLake Moondarra

Plenty of water.
by faulty work by the mechanics who did the recent service in Cairns. About 5kms back we were stopped as a car and caravan had just overturned. Apparently a tyre in the vehicle blew and the driver lost control. Luckily no-one was badly hurt and as help had been summoned we continued feeling sick in our stomachs and not feeling so sorry for ourselves.

The tow truck driver rang ahead and organised firstly a mechanic who would look at the car tomorrow (there was a 3 week wait at the first he rang) and booked us in to a caravan park nearby who had no vacancies! He was great in that regard!

When we arrived at the park we met the group who were having drinks in the bay next door and they remarked that one of them had arrived the same way, so when we were organised we arranged to join them for a drink.

Before we did this we found a mess in the van as the mattress was bounced off the bed as the tow truck driver drove so fast, which meant the TV, laptops, clothes and Judy's toiletries were strewn everywhere. We were a little annoyed but there were no breakages fortunately.

The mechanic had a quick look at the Jeep, didn't seem too perturbed and told us to come back tomorrow at lunchtime. Back at the van we discussed the day's events and tried to be optimistic that all would be well.


Thursday 18th August 2011

As we don't have a car sightseeing was out of the question so after a bit of a sleep in we rode our bikes the couple of kilometres into town to do some shopping and perhaps look at a few cars at the dealers there.

We did look at a Toyota Landcruiser but as it was the petrol model we weren't too interested. Rags later looked at Nissan, but from the feedback we have had from owners and mechanics this also isn't an option. Toyota seems to be the way to go, but we aren't yet ready to outlay for and new vehicle. And Judy is definitely not keen on owning one of the larger 4WD vehicles! It is most frustrating when you are stuck like this, few options and lots of suggestions, many from people who know little about it anyway!

Judy spent the rest of the day marking assignments and Rags cleaned the exterior of the van. Because of the oil leak the van has a coating of oil with dust sticking to it so it looked a mess. The chap in the van next door had a supply of truck detergent, so after Rags had first removed all the oil deposits from the van using degreasing fluid, he washed it with this and then followed advice from an someone we met earlier and sprayed and polished the van with Mr Sheen. This gives a silicon coating and repels the dirt landing on it. The van now looks its sparkling best, lets see how good the new coating is.

At 5pm while we were once again sitting around partaking of some cheer with our new friends when we got a call from the mechanic repairing the Jeep, telling Rags to come around for a laugh. He hopped on his bike quick smart and took off - not knowing what to expect. The turbo had been removed as well as several other bits and the owner of the workshop was able to explain what was wrong. Since leaving Perth, 3 days after Osborne Park Jeep returned the car after a month, we have had nothing but problems. At first it was the exhaust, this attributed to the securing bolts not being done up sufficiently. This took three attempts, at different locations, before it was repaired. Now the oil problem has been blamed on loose bolts and no gaskets being fitted on the turbo. Both these areas were 'repaired or refitted' by the W.A. company. As Rags refused to accept the car from Osborne Park the first time because of rattles and incorrectly fitted pipes, the question of who didn't do a proper repair for almost $5K is fairly obvious. Chrysler/Jeep will be getting a detailed complaint very soon!

We still like the Jeep, the people who service it are the problem.


Friday 19th August 2011

We went for a stroll with our new friends, John and Rosemary. This turned into a bit of a hike, probably near to 10kms, when we missed a turn and continued walking. We finally reached the town lookout, from where the town was spread below us and the mine, with its two chimneys, dominated the horizon.

As a reward we used our Shopper Dockets to have a coffee and muffins at Maccas in town, followed by a tour through all the camping and fishing shops in town.

By the time we got back to camp the morning had gone, so after a small lunch we spent the afternoon doing a few repairs to the van and reading. Judy was pleased to have some new lights in the van as we by now had 2 that were not working. We also found a couple of other parts to replace whilst browsing in town!

Rags was getting a little edgy by 5pm as we hadn't heard from the mechanic, so he took himself off to see what was happening. Dean, the mechanic, told him it was a nightmare to work on the car but he was almost finished. Rags returned to the camp with the Jeep at 7pm considerably poorer!

He was just in time; Judy had made a mornay and John nachos, refried beans, guacamole and sour cream and they were just about ready to eat. We sat around for most of the evening chatting about our various adventures.


Saturday 20th August 2011

We decided last night after our communal meal of nachos and tuna mornay and a few drinks with our neighbours Michael and Sharon at John and Rosemary's van, that we would stay another night and join them for lunch at the local tavern.

John and Rosemary are in a similar position we were in, only more so, in that their Nissan had blown a turbo at Normanton about a week ago. They too, were transported into Mt Isa, and they were still waiting for the repaired unit to come back from Townsville.

We joined them for a walk in the morning, this one much shorter but still ending at Maccas for a coffee with a browse in a couple of 4WD shops following before the walk home!


When we went to start the Jeep to go to lunch, we discovered the battery was flat so Michael unloaded his Iveco which sat 4 across the back. We all went in this when we went for lunch at the Overlander, where we enjoying a steak, chips and salad dish each for the princely sum of $7.95. Great value, subsidised by the pokies. Cleverly, they also gave each
Leichhardt RiverLeichhardt RiverLeichhardt River

This is near our caravan park which was on one side of the river.
of us a $2 voucher for them, we quickly losing that amount and a little more.

During the afternoon after using Michael's battery charger we found somewhere to have our battery checked and apparently it was quite ok, so we think perhaps something was left on or open while they were working on ti!

Five o'clock drinks were at our place tonight, all of us having a few nibbles with our drinks and stating that was the evening meal. Judy had made some soup during the day so we topped up with that and then went to bed to watch a movie.






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Lunch at the Overlander PubLunch at the Overlander Pub
Lunch at the Overlander Pub

Steak, chips and salad for $7.95


23rd August 2011

What a frustrating time you have had with the car. Let's hope all is well from now on and the rest of your holiday is trouble free. I dare say your Thermal swim at Materanka washed a lot of your troubles away with the dust !! I had a look for Materanka on Google Earth because I had never heard of the place before. Looked very inviting. Enjoyed looking at all your photos, but it seemed sad to see the van being towed once again behind the Jeep on the tray of an RAC truck !! Happy Travels from here on ! Mum
24th August 2011

Peeeeed off
Hi Guys, very sad to hear your tale of woe. You must be thoroughly peed off with the inconvenience and expense and very annoyed at the onability of the perth agent to fix the problems in the first instance.I guess your dilema is that, pound for pound your car has a high towing weight capacity and it is nowhere near as big as a "cruiser". On the brighter side the weather appears sensational and you seem to mixing with a very socila bunch. And inspite of all the socilising you seem to be much the same size and shape. Good luck, stay well.

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