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Published: December 14th 2016
Thursday 1-3 December 2016 – Beetoota, Windorah & Welford NP
After preparing our rigs for departure from Birdsville, we left at about 10.00am heading east. We were all keen to see more of the Diamantina Shire. We could really feel the day heating up as we drove across Cyrill’s Sandhill, Cuppa Creek and Durrie Jumpup.
We arrived at Betoota which is now a ghost town out in the middle of the gibber plain. Why anyone would set up a business out in such an isolated place with no water is beyond be. Still, we are all different. Apparently the town comes alive again twice a year through the annual Horse and Gymkana as well as the Beetoota Races.
We walked around the old hotel finding one door open. This went into the bar area. Behind the bar was a wall lined with empty green bottles. Paul had a great time walking around the yard looking for reptiles etc.
Beetoota has an annual rainfall of 300mm. In 1885 the Queensland Government set up a customs post in the town to collect tolls for stock as they travelled to South Australia.
This continued until Federation in 1901. Beetoota was also once a Cobb & Co change station. In the 1880s, three hotels were established as well as a police station, store and post office. The last hotel closed in 1997.
West of Beetoota is the Dreamtime Serpent, a work of art representing a series of pathways travelling through Country to connect the river systems in the Channel Country of the Diamantina Shire. The Serpent is made out of gravel and gibbers found in the local area. It’s very clever.
East of Beetoota we stopped at Deon’s Lookout which provided us with a spectacular view over the gibber plains.
Our next stop was J.C. Ruins. There certainly was not a lot remaining of the hotel and buildings except for a few bits of concrete, roofing iron and a couple of wooden pegs which could have been the doorway. We didn’t bother finding the cemetery which was close by somewhere.
Time was on our side so we decided to drive to Windorah. We easily found the Caravan Park. Being the only ones in the Park, we had the pick of the
sites. Shade was a very important part of the selection criteria!!! It was very hot. Perhaps that is why we hadn’t really seen very many tourists at all!!!!!!
As we were hooking up to power a lady came with all the paperwork to book us in - $15 for a powered site and $10 for unpowered. Very cheap. It didn’t take us long to set up table and chairs and settle in for a cold beer and G&T. The sun was getting low in the sky.
Jude cooked us a lovely chicken meal and we continued to chat and catch up. We are never short of a conversation between the 4 of us.
Showers and toilets were basic but clean. In one of the toilets was a big green frog enjoying the water.
Next morning we visited the Cooper’s Creek, Solar Farm, Whitula Gate Museum where there was a slab hut and much of the 1900s memorabilia. We fuelled up, had another drive around the little town and then headed for Welford National Park which was 90km north of Windorah.
The Welford National Park covers
124,000ha and boasts a wide range of kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos. There are yellow-footed rock wallabies in the NP but we didn’t see any.
We camped by the Little Boomerang Waterhole after driving through mulga and gidgee scrub, desert sand-pans, Mitchell grass plains and past billabongs.
At Welford’s southern boundary is the Barcoo River which cuts through rugged, rocky areas. The national park has a beauty of its own.
We arrived in mid-afternoon and it was very hot. We decided to take our chars down by the billabong and watch the birds and chat. There were so many roos everywhere. We even saw a budgie taking protection from the hot elements under the post of the relatively new toilet.
We set up our camp site ready for a hamburger meal. Even after sunset it was still hot.
We decided to do the Mulga Drive in Paul & Jude’s 4x4 which was 71km round trip. We visited Sawyers’s lookout, Sawyers Creek with its beautiful reflections of river red gums, and Frances Waterhole. The road was OK but there were deep ruts to drive over from time
to time, including along creek beds. Paul was a great driver and the environment we were travelling through was lovely.
We stopped at the lookout as well as Sawyer’s Creek which had a reasonable amount of water in it. On the way back to camp, we watched a spectacular sunset. It wasn’t the best for Paul as he was driving right into the sun. We suddenly heard this loud noise under the car. We stopped, hoping it wasn’t a flat tire. All 4 tires were fine but Paul couldn’t see anything wrong as he climbed under the car. Jude drove forward and backwards a couple of times whilst the guys listened and looked. All of a sudden, the noise stopped. We figured it must have been a stone caught. All was well.
That night, other than 1000s of insects being attracted to our lights, it was an OK night but very, very hot. In the early hours of the night, the wind came up so Tom & I rolled the awning up and Paul took his down also.
The next morning, we all decided that it was just too hot to
stay in the Park for another night. Even though it was a couple of days earlier than we wanted, we decided we may as well say goodbye to Jude and Paul and start our trip home a little earlier.
It was great to have travelled with them even though we didn’t tick off seeing Poepells Corner. At least we caught up with them and we really appreciated them coming all the way out to Birdsville.
We said our goodbyes at the point where we headed south to Quilpie and Jude & Paul headed towards Blackhall and Emerald.
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