From Bakers Creek to Thargomindah, 4th June 2021 to 3rd March 2022

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March 12th 2022
Published: May 5th 2022
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Friday 4th June 2021 – 72kms

Today we left the caravan park at Bakers Creek and headed via Alligator Creek, Sarina and Koumala to Ilbilbie and towards the coast down Notch Point Road to the sugar cane paddock, which would be home for the next six months.

We had a lovely grassy area close to an old unused house and shared the area with Marty and Dianne next to the Marion Creek. Set up and Danie and Marty had their inductions. They are both haul-out drivers for Jason and Janine Borg. There are four drivers and Jason drives the harvester and work 6 days and 2 off.

Saturday 5th June 2021 – 185kms

We went for a drive around the area to get our bearings. We went first to Notch Point, a free camping area. The Notch Point beach is 1.8 km long, faces due east and is bordered by low, cleared headlands, together with a creek running out against the southern headland. We only went here the once as there are a lot of campers there and the rubbish around the area is pretty aweful. We later learnt that the farmer here used to put out
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Our home for six months
bins and empty them but the campers rarely used them preferring to just leave their rubbish when they left!

Next, we went to check out Greenhill (pop 160) and Cape Palmerston National Park. The land in the locality is almost entirely used to grow sugarcane. There is a network of cane tramways in the western part of the locality to transport the harvested sugarcane to the Mulgrave Sugar Mill.

Greenhill is where we take our rubbish to the Waste Management Facility which is only open certain days and only available to residents.

Green Hill is at 131 metres above sea level. The hill is the remnant of a volcano that erupted about 15,000 years ago. It is believed that the volcano's eruption altered the course of the Mulgrave River so that instead of having its mouth on Trinity Inlet, the mouth become directly onto the Coral Sea some 40 km further south.

Just back down the road is the turn off to Cape Palmerston NP which is accessed by 4 wheel drive only as the road leads straight onto the beach and we loved the area and went fishing many times during our stay. There are a few camping areas in the dunes and weekends were very busy.

It contains a land area of 17,700 acres and has 28 km of coastline on each side of the Cape Palmerston—named by Captain James Cook in 1770 after Viscount Palmerston, a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. Within the park is the 344 m Mount Funnel.

The park contains mangrove trees, dunes, woodlands, grass, and wetlands. It is home to the threatened water mouse species, and hosts numerous birds. Three other rare or threatened species have been identified in the park. Birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy the view of ospreys and sea eagles hovering over their heads, and white-breasted wood swallows in flowering grasstrees. We saw all three.

From here we headed to the Bruce Highway and went south to Carmila (pop 333). Carmila is situated approximately 65 kms south of the town of Sarina. The North Coast railway line passes through the town which is served by the Carmila railway station. The Bruce Highway passes through the town as well. The major land uses are sugar cane farming and cattle grazing. Professional fishing occurs off the coast.

Clairview (pop 145). The coastal strip along the east of the locality of Clairview is relatively flat (at or just above sea level), while most of the centre and western part of the locality is hilly, up to 500 metres. The coastal flats are partially used for grazing while the hillier land is undeveloped. Clairview has a natural sand beach along the coastline. The town of Clairview is in the south-eastern corner of the locality and consists of a strip of housing on the seafront.

The Bruce Highway (from Brisbane to Cairns) passes through Clairview from the south) immediately beside the town of the Clairview and is one of the few places on this "coastal" highway where the sea is actually visible from the road. The highway then continues north on a more inland route into Carmila. Clairview is popular for fishing and catching mud crabs. The waters off Clairview are a protected area for the endangered dugong.

Clairview takes its name from a former pastoral station operated by W. and M. Christian.

We went for a drive round the caravan park which is right on the beach and were not impressed. Caravans were packed in like sardines and too noisy and very busy. Not
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One of the little sugar trains
our style.

Back home we cut some wood and sat round the fire eating jaffles. The maximun temps here are around 26C dropping to 15C at night.

Monday 7th June 2021 – 104kms

Today we went to Sarina (pop 5,520) our nearest shopping centre with a Woolworths. Sarina lies just inland of the coast and is located on Plane Creek, which flows into the Coral Sea, but most of the urban development is on the northern side of the creek. The Bruce Highway and the railway line pass through the town, which is served by the Sarina railway station.

Sarina was originally known as Plane Creek, but took its present name from the Sarina Inlet which was in turn named after Sarina, the Greek mythological enchantress, by William Charles Borlase Wilson, a surveyor, some time before 1882.

Industries include sugar cane growing and milling, cattle grazing and agriculture. It is a major supplier of ethanol through Wilmar International's Plane Creek sugar mill. Wilmar International is based in Singapore.

The Plane Creek Sugar Mill opened in 1896. It was owned and operated by the Plane Creek Central Mill Company Limited. It was funded with a
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The sugar cane harvester
loan of £65,000 from the Queensland Government under the Sugar Works Guarantee Act. The mill machinery was built by Walkers Limited in Maryborough. A 15-mile tramline connected the mill to a wharf at the mouth of Louisa Creek for shipping the sugar. The loan from the Queensland Government was fully repaid in 1920.

In 1925, a factory was built next to the mill to process the molasses produced by the sugar refining into ethanol. Ted Theodore, the Queensland Premier, hoped to use the ethanol as a motor fuel. In 1926, a weir was built on Plane Creek to provide a more reliable water supply to the mill, with a second weir built in 1935.

In the 1920s, construction of the North Coast railway line enabled sugar cane to be transported to the mill from a more widespread area, as far south as Carmila.

In 1874 it was sold to Pioneer Sugar Mills and then sold in 1987 by CSR Limited. As of 2016, it is one of the 8 sugar mills in Queensland owned by Wilmar Sugar.

The cane harvest was delayed until 14th June as the mill wasn’t ready so we went fishing most days
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View from our van with huge mango trees
at Cape Palmerston NP.

Monday 14th June 2021 Danie’s first day of work.

Danie was up at 0630 and it was very foggy. He only went to the Ilbilbie No. 1 Siding to practice loading and offloading the three bins on each truck. Each bin takes four tons of cut cane and they are brought to the various sidings to await collection by the little trains to take them to the mill.

The rain set in on Wednesday so only a few bins today.

Thursday 16th June 2021 - 113kms

Too wet to harvest so went to check out Armstrong Beach (pop 860) after Jason and Janine, who live north of Koumala on their cattle farm, came to visit. Armstrong Beach is a 12-minute drive from Sarina. It is renowned for its fishing and prawning, both of which are best attempted from the beach. There is a small community at Armstrong Beach and accommodation is available at the local caravan park. Freshwater Point, is where Captain Cook first landed in 1770 looking for fresh water, hence its name.

Danie had his two days off after washing and greasing his truck (he does this at
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All alone on the beach
the end of every 6 day rotation) so more fishing. There were a few days of working and I went to get my hair cut at a friend of Janine who has set up a little salon under their Queenslander home on their cane farm which is way off the beaten track, but I found it. $35 for a trim. I went to the tip and Sarina for shopping whilst Danie was working, but several days he was home by lunchtime. I also went to pick up any parcels we had at Koumala post office (no shops there).

Wednesday 21st July 2021 - 113kms

Two days off so we booked an overnight stay at Dolphin Heads, just out of Mackay, which is on 21st parallel south (pop 80,150). The city is on the Pioneer River and is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia because its region produces more than a third of Australia's sugar. Growers, in a good year, can supply 6.5 million tonnes of cane from 212,500 acres of plantations.

The city was named after John Mackay. In 1860, he was the leader of an expedition into the Pioneer Valley. Initially Mackay proposed to name the
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The whole beach and just us
river Mackay River after his father George Mackay. In 1862 the river was renamed to be the Pioneer River, after HMS Pioneer in which Queensland Governor George Bowen travelled to the area.

Captain James Cook, sailed past the Mackay coast on 1 June 1770 and named several local landmarks, including Cape Palmerston, Slade Point and Cape Hillsborough. It was during this trip that the Endeavour's botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, briefly recorded seeing Aboriginal people.

In 1860, John Mackay led an overland expedition to the region to obtain land. Finding most of the inland areas already having been selected by other British colonists, Mackay turned toward the Pioneer Valley. Mackay was the first European to visit the region that is now named after him. He selected three large areas of land which he named Greenmount, Cape Palmerston and Shamrock Vale. In 1862 he returned with James Starr and 1200 head of livestock to establish these cattle stations but soon got into financial difficulty and sold them off.

In 1863, Mackay was declared a port of entry for settlers. Amongst the first boatload of arrivals was hotelier and future mayor Korah Halcomb Wills. Mackay was initially named Alexandra but
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One of many
the government soon changed it to Mackay to honour its founder.

During the 1860s, the local Aboriginal population, as Henry Ling Roth puts it, "did what they could to defend their country and their lives." The local detachment of the Native Police under Robert Arthur Johnstone started patrolling the area in 1867, and encountered several Aboriginal camps on the north side of the Pioneer River, one of which contained more than 200 people. A newspaper report of the time says that Johnstone dealt with these people "in the usual and only effectual mode for restraining their savage propensities." The usual mode of the Native Police was terror, violence and massacre. In 1868 a large group of Aboriginal people killed 7 cattle at Greenmount. Johnstone and his troopers were sent out after them but it is unclear if he succeeded in "administering a lesson to the blackskins."

In 1865, John Spiller, an Englishman who was connected with sugar plantations in colonial Java, planted the first sugarcane crop in the Mackay region. John Ewen Davidson and T. H. Fitzgerald built the first production sugar mill in 1868. Most of the labour on the sugar plantations was provided by South Sea
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Temple Island just off the beach
Islanders. The first of these workers arrived in Mackay on 12 May 1867 aboard the Prima Donna. They were seventy in number and most of these were sent to work at T.H. Fitzgerald's Alexandra Plantation.

By the mid-1880s there were over 30 sugar plantations and 26 sugar mills in the Mackay region. Over one third of the 6000 inhabitants were South Sea Islander labourers. On Boxing Day 1883, a race riot occurred between members of these workers and some of the European population at the Mackay racecourse. Hundreds of people on both sides threw bottles at each other until around 50 Anglo-Australian horsemen wielding stirrup irons galloped into the group of Islanders, knocking them down with their improvised weapons and riding over them. Officially two Islanders were killed but it was believed a greater number later died of injuries. One white man involved, George Goyner, was found guilty of assault and sentenced to two months in prison. Around thirty Islanders were also imprisoned.

In 1918, Mackay was hit by a major tropical cyclone causing severe damage and loss of life with hurricane-force winds and a large storm surge. The resulting death toll was further increased by an outbreak
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Geese heading home
of bubonic plague.

The largest loss of life in an Australian aircraft accident was a B17 aircraft, with 40 of 41 people on board perishing, on 14 June 1943, after departing from Mackay Aerodrome, and crashing in the Bakers Creek area.

On 18 February 1958, Mackay was hit with massive flooding caused by heavy rainfall upstream with 878 mm of rain falling at Finch Hatton in 24 hours. The flood peaked at 9.14 metres The water flowed down the valley and flooded Mackay within hours. Residents were rescued off rooftops by boats and taken to emergency accommodation. The flood broke Australian records.

On 15 February 2008, almost exactly 50 years from the last major flood, Mackay was devastated by severe flooding caused by over 600 mm of rain in 6 hours with around 2000 homes affected.

Mackay was battered by Tropical Cyclone Ului, a category three cyclone which crossed the coast at nearby Airlie Beach, around 1:30 am on Sunday 21 March 2010. Over 60,000 homes lost power and some phone services also failed during the storm, but no deaths were reported.

Mackay is widely recognised as the gateway to the Bowen Basin coal mining
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A family of brolgas in the cane field
reserves of Central Queensland. It is the single largest coal reserve in Australia, with 34 operational coal mines extracting more than 100 million tonnes annually. While much of this is used in Australia, Japan and China are the largest export recipients.

The islands immediately off Mackay are renowned for their azure blue waters, and are popular with fishermen. St Bees Island in particular is a well- known fishing spot. The islands are all named after places in Cumbria, Brampton Island, Carlisle, Scawfell and Keswick and others. Each is a national park surrounded by coral reefs.

People from Mackay :

Anthony Bennett, artist

Cathy Freeman, Olympic sprinter

Geoff Huegill, Olympic swimmer

Karen Jacobsen, Entertainer; The original female Australian voice of the Siri application on Apple iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Linda Mackenzie, Olympic swimmer

Keith Payne, Victoria Cross recipient

William Forgan Smith, Queensland Premier

Grant Sullivan, cricketer

Jillian Whiting, former National Nine News presenter

Korah Halcomb Wills, former mayor of Mackay, kidnapper, butcher.

We did some serious shopping as this is the main shopping area for us e.g. Bunnings and a great butcher we found as well as a
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One of many beautiful sunsets seen from our van
South African shop. After which we went to Eimio Hotel for lunch, it’s famous for the views of the Coral Sea which were fabulous, not so much the lunch!

I found a fabulous Airbnb room at the Dolphin Heads Resort complete with balcony overlooking the Coral Sea and a massive spa bath in the main room so we could enjoy a bottle of wine whilst watching a favourite TV programme.

Thursday 22nd July 2021 – 110kms

We did some food shopping and went home.

Short work days as frosty morning and various holdup like train derailments and mill breakdowns, right up until our next trip.

Thursday 29th July 2021 – 262kms.

Overnight at Airlie Beach.

We went via the new Mackay ring road up to Proserpine through more cane fields along the A1 before turning off to Airlie Beach.

Proserpine (pop 3500) is in the Whitsunday Region and located on the Bruce Highway. The town is located along the banks of the Proserpine River and is immediately surrounded by floodplains used for sugarcane and cattle farming. Clarke Range, part of the Great Dividing Range, is located to the west.

George Elphinstone Dalrymple named the Proserpine River on an expedition in 1859. Proserpine derives from the legend of the Greek goddess Persephone (whose Latin name is Proserpine), named as such due to Dalrymple's perception that the area was exceptionally fertile, and Persephone being the goddess of spring.

In 1866, Inspectors John Marlow and John Isley of the Native Police, a government funded paramilitary organisation, conducted patrols through the Proserpine area. They and their troopers "dispersed" around six "large mobs" of Aboriginal people during this mission. Marlow used Daniel Emmerson's property for his stock-yard and bought horses from him.

The Crystal Brook Sugar Company was formed in 1882 and established a sugar industry in the region a year later. A sugar mill was built and the labouring on the plantation was performed by imported South Sea Islanders. In 1893 the plantation, which was located at Glen Isla close to the present Proserpine township, was closed and smaller sugar farms run by white owner-operators were established.

In 1944, the Australian Field Experimental Station was constructed at Gunyarra just south of the town. It was constructed to test and research the effectiveness of Mustard Gas in tropical conditions.

In 1986, construction commenced on the Peter Faust Dam 25kms north-west of the town to be used for flood mitigation during the wet season and irrigation. The dam was completed in 1990.

We stopped in the town for coffee before moving on. Before going to our motel we went to look at Shute Harbour (pop 122), which is in a sheltered port for small vessels located approximately 10 kms east of Airlie Beach. Serving mainly as a boarding point for ferries between the Whitsunday Islands and the mainland, it is also home to many charter boat operations and provides the best access to many Whitsunday island resorts and campsites.

Once second only to Sydney’s Circular Quay as the busiest commuter port in Australia and hosting the largest seaplane airbase in the Southern hemisphere, Shute Harbour has faced many years of uncertainty as most ferry operations have moved to marinas in Airlie Beach.

Airlie Beach (pop 1200) Airlie Beach is one of many departure points for the Great Barrier Reef. Cruise ships visit the area, anchoring offshore while passengers are transported via ship's tender to the marina. Near latitude 20 degrees south, Airlie Beach, Proserpine and the nearby Whitsunday Islands enjoy a tropical climate and lifestyle.

Each year the residents of Airlie Beach celebrate The Blessing of the Fleet on Whitsunday or Pentecost Sunday.

It is almost certain that the town was named for the parish of Airlie, in Scotland, as the name was suggested by the chairman of the former Proserpine Shire Council, Robert Shepherd, who was born in nearby Montrose, Scotland.

We had a walk around the main area of the town which was very touristy and our room was on the second floor and subject to a lot of traffic noise. But we still enjoyed our two days away, having a Chinese takeaway for dinner.

Friday 30th July 2021 – 230kms

We went to the very popular and well-known Fat Frog in Cannonvale for breakfast on our way home. We took a turnoff at Kutterbul (pop 730) a sugar cane town, towards Sarina via Hampden (pop 566) and Marian (pop 3900) travelling the back roads, which we enjoy.

The town name Marian comes from the name of the (now closed) Marian railway station, which in turn reportedly derived its name from a local property called Mary Ann.

In December 1882, Helen
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From the Rotary Lookout
Porter Mitchell (later Dame Nellie Melba) married Charles Armstrong, the manager of the Marian Sugar Mill. A house was built for them beside the mill. It was not a happy marriage as they separated in December 1883. Their home was later relocated to a riverbank location on Eungella Road in Edward Lloyd Park two kilometres from the centre of Marian and named Melba House. It serves as a museum to Nellie Melba and as the Pioneer Valley Visitor Information Centre.

Mackay Sugar operates the Marian sugar mill where over 2 million tonnes of sugar are crushed every year, making it one of the largest sugar mills in Australia.

Marian was one of the many towns across Central Queensland that were affected by the mining boom in Central Queensland. During this time the Nabilla Riverlink Estate was developed in Marian, and now holds a large portion of Marian’s population.

Sunday 15th August 2021 - 90kms

We went to the “Sugar Shed” in Sarina where we had a guided tour including the unique miniature working sugar mill. Our one-hour guided tour offered the full paddock-to-plate experience, from how sugar cane is planted right through to tastings of products made onsite.

We saw their sugar cane patch and historic machinery used to cut cane. Then into the factory for a nibble on raw sugar cane, and a taste of freshly-squeezed cane juice.

Then comes the highlight – the tastings of the products that they produce, including their Chefs’ Gusto range of gourmet sauces, chutneys and relishes, their barrel-aged rums and fruit liqueurs made in the distillery, and, my highlight – candyfloss just like I remember it.

We thought it would be nice to see what happened to the cane once it left the field, and it was a great experience.

Monday 30th July 2021 - 319kms.

Another overnighter, this time at a lovely Airbnb in Woodwark (pop 375) overlooking Airlie Beach. The locality is named after Woodwark Bay, which was in turn named after George Smith Woodwark (mayor of King's Lynn) in 1886 by Lieutenant G.E. Richards of HMQS Paluma. It is believed that the name was suggested by Lieutenant Alexander Leeper of Paluma as his family lived in King's Lyn, Norfolk.

En route to Woodwark we detoured to Hydeway Bay and Dingo Beach, which are situated at the top end of The
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North Head Island and its historic lighthouse. Other Whitsunday Islands can also be seen.
Whitsundays, accessible by road 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach. Quiet and secluded, these little hamlets are perfect for those seeking rest and relaxation on long, sandy beaches with hardly another soul in sight. Comprising just a handful of houses and a caravan park.

The unit built under the owners’ home had a lovely view and a BBQ so we ate T-Bone steak, cooked by Danie, and salad for dinner whilst admiring the view. This was so much better than being in town.

Tuesday 31st July 2021 - 234kms.

Just had to go back to the Fat Frog for another memorable breakfast before heading home. Linda had a dental appointment in Sarina.

No work for four days as the mill was shut for maintenance work. Managed to fit in some fishing!

Tuesday 7th September - 133kms

Overnight at Dolphin Heads again as we really enjoyed the room, especially the spa and the view

Sunday 17th October 2021 – 295kms

Today we went for another overnighter after staying at the van or going in to Mackay on days off. Danie also had a few dental appointments to fit in.

Whitsunday Sands Resort
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View of Gloucester Island
was our stay in Bowen (pop 10,370) where we had a second story room overlooking the ocean. We bought fish and chips and went to Flagstaff Hill lookout for lunch. Flagstaff Hill offers some of the best coastal views you will ever see with a 360-degree panorama of the whole Bowen region. The views encompass the Whitsunday Islands of Gloucester, Middle, Stone, Holbourne and close to shore, North Head Island and its historic lighthouse.

Captain James Cook named Cape Gloucester on his voyage of exploration up the Australian coast in 1770. This "cape" turned out to be an island, and Gloucester Island dominates the view from Bowen's eastern beaches. Behind the island is a bay that forms an excellent port, which the town came to be built around.

In 1859 Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair led an expedition to the area in response to a reward offered by the colony of New South Wales for finding a port somewhere north of Rockhampton. They came across a "most splendid harbour" which Sinclair named Port Denison after the colonial governor of New South Wales, William Denison. On the shore they found "several acres of ground resembling a garden...full of a vegetable resembling nuts" whichthe local Aboriginal people had constructed.

On 11 September 1860, George Elphinstone Dalrymple on his naval excursion in the schooner Spitfire to search for the mouth of the Burdekin River, landed in Port Denison. He named and climbed Mount Gordon to survey the region and observed that a river (later named the Don River) traversed a valley just behind Port Denison and into the sea. This river was "lined with camps and bush fires of the natives" indicating "the locality to be very thickly inhabited". The Spitfire continued its exploration north to Magnetic Island, but the surveyors came to the conclusion that the northeastern shore of Port Denison was the most suitable site in the region for settlement especially as the large native wells present in a creek bed there could be utilised as a water supply.

Confident in having secured a beach-head, Dalrymple explored the immediate vicinity near the wells that was to become the town of Bowen. He found a large Aboriginal tomb in the hills behind the beach that was in the form of a raised mound covered in bark with its surroundings swept clean and the paths leading to it closed off
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T-bone steak getting cooked
with branches. A similar tomb was found on nearby Stone Island. After a few days, Dalrymple and his surveying party on the Spitfire returned south.

After Queensland had separated from New South Wales, the town was renamed Bowen after the first Queensland colonial governor, Sir George Bowen.

Between the 1860s and the 1880s, early colonists and settlers forecasted Bowen as the "capital of a new North Queensland Colony". Relics of this particular ambition can be seen today in Bowen's exacting road grid and town plan, and the avenue-like width of its central streets.

In 1863, settlers in the area encountered a sailor, James Morrill, who had been shipwrecked 17 years previously on a shoal in the Coral Sea. He had made it to the Queensland coast on a makeshift raft with a few companions. The others had all died within two years, but Morrill lived with the local Aborigines in the Townsville area. Rejoining European society after white settlement began in North Queensland, he settled in Bowen. His grave is in the Bowen cemetery.

The coral reefs around Bowen are the scene of several shipwrecks, including the SS Gothenburg, which sank in 1875 with a loss
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The working dogs near our caravan
of more than 100 lives.

The town enjoys a diversified and prosperous economy based on agriculture, fishing, tourism, and mining. Its unusually dry climate for a tropical location, plus its fertile alluvial soil, makes it the ideal place to grow a wide variety of small crops, including tomatoes, mangoes. rockmelons and capsicums. Outside the alluvial plain, much of the Bowen area is used for beef cattle.

Just north of Bowen is the Abbot Point coal loading port. Coal mined inland of Bowen in Collinsville and other towns in the Bowen Basin is brought by rail to a deepwater pier to be loaded on bulk carriers. Coal is exported mainly to China and India.

Bowen is on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides. This gives eight beaches surrounding the town, namely Kings Beach, Queens Beach, Horseshoe Bay, Murrays Bay, Greys Bay, Rose Bay, and the Front Beach. There is also the clothing-optional Coral Bay. Kings Beach offers views of nearby Gloucester Island.

The "Big Mango", costing $90,000 to create, was erected in 2002 as a tourist attraction at the Bowen Tourist Information Centre. In February 2014, the 10-metre high, seven-tonne fibreglass structure was reported to be
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Danie in with pilot off mustering
"stolen" as part of a publicity stunt for the region.

In December 2006, it was announced that Bowen was chosen as a filming location for part of the production of ‘Australia’, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Bowen was chosen as a prospect due to the financing of $500,000 by the Queensland Government. The production moved to Bowen on 14 May 2007; the town was used to depict 1940's Darwin.

Whitsunday Sands Resort is uniquely located on its own private peninsula engulfed by the crystal turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef. This unique position affords all residents with their own private access to two separate, magnificent beaches. On the eastern side of the resort is Horseshoe Bay, rated as one of the top beaches in Australia, whilst on the western side is the picturesque Grays Bay.

The resort is one of the few places in the world where you can see the sunrise and sunset over the water on the main land. It really is like an island on the main land. We saw sunrise through the entrance door of our unit and sunset over the beach.

The Whitsunday Sands
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View from the helicopter, moving cattle through the scrub
Resort abounds in wildlife including-George the local Peacock (whom we saw), Bush Turkeys, Possums, Kookaburras, Mount Lorikeets and many more.

Monday 18th October 2021 – 275 kms.

Today we left after stopping in Mackay for shopping and came home the direct route.

The temperature is climbing and no more frost in the mornings around 32C to 21C overnight.

Wednesday 10th November 2021 – 93km

Forgot to mention that every time we went into Mackay, we had to stop at the pineapple farm to pick up some freshly cut pineapples which I cut into chunks to freeze. So cheap and very juicy.

Today we went back to Mackay and stayed overnight in the city at the Rydges Hotel as the car needed a major all-day service and this was the best way to do it. I chose the hotel as it was close to the service place and the very big shopping centre so we weren’t walking the streets all day in the heat.

The next day we fuelled up went to the South African shop and to Dan Murphys (discount bottle shop).

Thursday 18th November 2021 – 270kms

Decided to head
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One of the Droughtmaster bulls
south for this overnighter in Rockingham. We had been to the city before when we were in Thangool but wanted to go to Aldi and this was the furthest north there was a store. Needed to get Xmas Cake, Xmas Pudding, Mince Tarts and their ginger biscuits and cheese. Also, really cheap gas bottle refill in town. We had lunch at the Irish pub and checked in at the Denison Boutique Hotel. With a history dating back to 1885, The Denison Boutique Hotel is a unique and enchanting destination. Home to a Railway administration office for over a century, with its manicured beautiful gardens within a stone’s throw away from the Fitzroy River it is pretty special. We had a corner room on the second floor complete with spa bath. The railway track runs down the middle of the road outside and ear plugs are thoughtfully supplied as the train toot at the crossing right outside.

We had cooked prawns and dip for dinner. We bought 3 kgs of cooked extra large Tiger prawns and also 3 kg giant Tiger prawns at the Prawn Farm 10 minutes away from where we have the van parked. So cheap and delicious,
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The mob of bulls
plus we have found some great dip recipes on line.

Friday 19th November 2021 – 268kms

On the way home we called in at another great butcher we found earlier on our travels.

Several more days of no work so fishing and trip to Mackay for final stocking up of essentials.

Monday 6th December 2021 - 283 kms

Our last day at Ilbilbie, left at 1030. The harvest isn’t quite finished yet but we had committed to go to our next station sit. Jason and Janine came to say goodbye and to thank us for helping with the harvest.

It was a great experience but six months is too long and we were truly over seeing sugar cane everywhere. We got to see some great places that we wouldn’t have seen towing the van. Danie earned good money plus he got holiday pay which we weren’t expecting. There was quite a bit of down time but w didn’t mind that at all.

We travelled to Sarina and turned off in town to go over the Sarina Ranges to Clarke Creek (pop 30) known for its Campdrafting. And on to our free camp at
Cairo Station, Clermont, QldCairo Station, Clermont, QldCairo Station, Clermont, Qld

Our buggy to get around the 60,000 acres and our firepot
Middlemount (pop 1840) where we set up at the Middlemount Golf Club which is free.

We had a drive around the town and surrounds on Tuesday – Middlemount is a typical mining town so nothing too great about it.

The township is an accommodation hub to both permanent residents and transient workers. Middlemount is surrounded by the following coal mines: Foxleigh, Lake Lindsay, Middlemount Mine, Aquila Mine, German Creek and world record holding underground coal mine Grasstree.

Middlemount, like many other mining towns in Queensland virtually sprung up overnight in the early 1980s.

Most of the housing is owned by Anglo Coal. The company operates and maintains some of the town's infrastructure. Most of the houses are almost identical, in this instance there are three types of houses; lowset L-shaped, lowset square and highset.

Approximately 40,000 workers have been employed at Middlemount's coal mining over its 39 year history. This town has contributed to the economic development of Queensland and Australia.

The German Creek coal mine (or Capcoal), operated by Anglo Coal, is notable as having the deepest longwall coal mine in Queensland, and also for operating Australia's only 'thin-seam' underground coal mine, using
Cairo Station Cairo Station Cairo Station

Emus on the run
technology from the United States. It has five producing underground mines (Central, Southern, Bundoora, Grasstree and Aquila) and two open cut mines (Oak Park and Lake Lindsay, both in neighbouring Mackenzie River). Central and Southern mines are no longer operating, Southern has become Grasstree West in 2006 and Central Closed in 2004. Aquila mine is currently in "Care & Maintenance" mode, pending changes to the coal market prices.

The Foxleigh coal mine (also in Mackenzie River) used to be a joint venture between Anglo American, POSCO and Nippon Steel It is currently producing around three million tonnes of coal for the export market. Anglo American announced that it had completed the sale of its 70%!i(MISSING)nterest in the Foxleigh metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, Australia to a consortium led by Taurus Fund Management, following the announcement of the sale and purchase agreement on 4 April 2016.

Wednesday 8th December 2021 – 116 kms

We had breakfast at the Golf Club before heading off, first stop Tieri (pop 1200) for fuel. It is a small mining town and locality in the Central Highlands Region. Established in 1983, the town is a service centre for local coal mines and
Cairo StationCairo StationCairo Station

Part of the 60,00 acres
is 40 kms from Middlemount.

Next was Capella (pop 1010) is midway between Emerald and Clermont on the Gregory Highway. Capella Creek flows from east to west across the northern part of the locality to the immediate north of the town. It is a tributary of the Nogoa River, which in turn is a tributary of the Fitzroy River which enters the Coral Sea.

The highway passes through Capella from south to north as Capella's main street (also known as Peak Downs Street). The town takes its name from Capella Creek, which was in turn named after the star Capella.

Land resumed from large pastoral runs was made available to small farm selectors in 1883 and small cropping and dairying became early industries; a Butter Factory was built in 1900 under the "Meat and Dairy Encouragement Act."

In the 1950s the Queensland British Food Corporation introduced large-scale grain production into the district on land formerly used for grazing. A run of poor seasons led to the project's failure, but introduced new crops such as sunflower and sorghum.

The Peak Downs district was part of the Brigalow Development Scheme in the 1960s with large-scale clearing of
Cairo StationCairo StationCairo Station

One of the many dams
the brigalow scrub by mechanical means. The large new farming blocks opened up by the clearing of the Brigalow lent itself to the broadland growing of grain and cereal crops, particularly sunflower and sorghum. Bulk storage facilities for these new crops was built in 1964 and the population of the district increased with new farming families. Capella saw the opening of a range of new activities and facilities, including a district agricultural show (1961), Girl Guides (1966), and a swimming pool (1969).

In 2003 the security of Capella's water supply was assured by a pipeline to Tieri.

We spent the night at the large Chirnside Gravel Pit, there was a motorhome some distance from us. It rained overnight and it was very muggy 35C down to 22C.

Thursday 9th December 2021 – 126 kms

Left the gravel pit and drove to Clermont (pop 3030) for fuel and groceries. This will be our shopping area for the next 6 weeks. Clermont is 274 kilometres south-west of Mackay on the junction of the Gregory and Peak Downs highways. Clermont was the first inland settlement in the tropics and is one of the most historic towns in Northern Australia.
Cairo Station Cairo Station Cairo Station

The view across the paddocks from our van

Ludwig Leichhardt was the first European to pass through the Clermont area in 1845, but it was the discovery of gold in 1861 that was responsible for the establishment of the town, close to what was Babbinburra clan land. The town reserve was proclaimed on 25 March 1864, although a gold field was declared in the area in 1862. Clermont is named after Clermont-Ferrand in France; Clermont-Ferrand was the ancestral home of Oscar de Satge, one of the first European graziers who owned the Wolfang Downs pastoral run.

Copper was discovered soon after. In the 1880s up to 4000 Chinese people were resident in Clermont, mining for gold and copper. This led to racial riots and the Chinese were removed from the region in 1888. The decorated soldier Billy Sing was born in Clermont in 1886 of a Chinese father and English mother.

The town was originally established on low-lying ground next to a lagoon or billabong, but flooding was always a problem, with four substantial floods occurring between 1864 and 1896.

The greatest flood, in 1916, killed 65 people out of a town population of 1,500 and remains one of Australia's worst natural disasters in terms of life lost. Following the 1916 flood, many of the wooden buildings of the town were moved using steam traction engines to a new townsite on higher ground. A local amateur photographer, Gordon Pullar took numerous photographs of the moving buildings, published in the 1980s as "A Shifting Town".

Glencore is currently operating the Clermont Mine, located 12 kms north west of Clermont. It produces up to 12.2 million tonnes of thermal coal for international markets. Clermont Mine delivered its first conveyor of coal in April 2010.

Clermont also hosted another larger coal mine; Blair Athol coal mine, located 20 kms north west of Clermont. The mine supplied customers in Asia and Europe with up to 12 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum. The coal deposit was originally discovered on the site in 1864 and was first mined in 1890. Between 1920 and 1945 coal was mined with an underground method, which is still visible today. The most recent open cut operation started in 1984. Blair Athol Mine was closed on 26 November 2012 after it completely mined out. Its stockpile and train facilities are used by the Clermont Mine.

Another 63 kms north on
Clermont, QueenslandClermont, QueenslandClermont, Queensland

Piano (replica) up a tree from 1916 floods
the Gregory Highway towards Charters Towers we found our next station sit, Cairo Station a 60,000 acres cattle property with around 5,000 head of Droughtmaster cattle including 100 bulls. Some of the bulls are going for auction in the new year and are on a protein supplement feed, gaining 3kg a day and are pretty big boys.

It is 3kms of dirt road to where we are parking the van on a nice grassy patch with power and water close to a rarely used house and wranglers’ quarters where there is a deep freeze with meat for us to use on the verandah. We put our two Engel freezers and stuff out of the car there too. The five working dogs (border collies and a pig dog are near us and we feed them once a day and give them a run.

We were invited to dinner at the main house 5kms away to meet Ryan and Chloe along with Duke (10) and Darbie (7). The children attend the state school in Kilcummin (pop 260) about 30 minutes away. Next year Duke will go to boarding school over 5 hours away in Rockhampton. Most country children go to boarding school when they finish primary school. The family are taking their caravan to nearby Theresa Creek Dam for Christmas (we stayed there on our way to Ilbilbie). Originally, we were asked to caretake for about six weeks as the family wanted to go down the NSW coast in their caravan, but this was stopped by Covid-19. Now they will be coming and going over the school holidays.

We were shown around the garden and told to pick as many mangoes as we wanted before the birds got them. This we did a few days later, ripened them and peeled and cut them up. Put slices in freezer bags and feasted on them for several weeks. We also got eggs every day (some of which I froze). There were two very excitable Weimaraner dogs to let out and feed as well as a rabbit to feed. The lawns were on reticulation so just needed cutting with the zero-turn mower. Danie brought the mower over to our place towed in a trailer behind the buggy we had for driving round the property.

Apart from meat, egg and mangoes there were pawpaw and limes to take. We also had free fuel for our car and an account at the local IGA in Clermont for groceries.

The first drama came the day after the family left. We went to look at something in the shed and found the plug to the deep freeze at the main house had come lose and it had totally defrosted. We cleaned it all out and repacked it without the meat getting totally ruined – good thing we went into the shed!

The second drama cam a few days later when Danie went to check on the bulls which are just over the driveway from us. One bull was dead so Danie got the tractor and removed it to another area (the wild pigs etc. would have had a feast). We were told on phoning Ryan, that this is Three Day Sickness or Bovine Ephemeral Fever, an arthropod-borne rhabdovirus that causes a debilitating disease of cattle and only found in Queensland in Australia, mainly after rain – there had been quite a lot of rain here before we arrived..

We had never heard of it and were quite upset that there was nothing we could have done for the poor bull. It was
Channel Country from the AirChannel Country from the AirChannel Country from the Air

Masses of creeks and rivers covering a huge area
expected to fetch over $20,000 at auction!

Saturday 19th December 2021

We went in the buggy to feed the house dogs to find Ryan and family had arrived home. Later Ryan’s father (Jeff), who lives in Mackay, arrived and he stays in the house next to us but he only stayed a few days along with a guy who came to do some welding at the new cattle yards which are about 30 mins drive away. Danie went to give them a hand but the weather had turned very humid and hot so not pleasant working outside. We were invited to the main house for a BBQ.

Friday 24th December 2021 – 124kms

Ryan and family left us all alone until 31st Dec., which was really nice. When they returned, we got a carton of beer, a bottle of champagne and a gift hamper full of chocolate goodies. We went to Clermont to pick up a 15- bottle case of wine – too big for the postie to leave in the large drum/post box at the end of the drive. Normal 12-bottle case as well as eBay parcels were left there, which was very convenient.

Tonight, the rain and storms started, which was great although there were quite a number of tricky water crossings between us and the main house to navigate with the buggy. We got 51mm of rain overnight then a further 8mm on Xmas Day and 8mm again Boxing Day night.

3rd January there was another sick bull, Danie gave it water and fed it hay but it struggled to get up and we thought it would die. Ryan went to the Vet for some anti-inflammatory drugs. The injections worked and he did manage to get up and wandered off only to get lost for several days. This bull was later officially named ‘ Danie 457’ ( 457 being its ear tag number).

Thursday 6th January 2022 – 167kms

40C today but nothing new it had been that for 3 days. We had been collecting bottles and cans for some time, so put them in the car and went off to Rubyvale for an two -night stay. We checked in to our lovely little motel and then went to explore the town and the diggings on the outskirts.

Rubyvale is part of the 1,181 square kilometre Gemfields (pop
Wombula Station, Thargomindah, QldWombula Station, Thargomindah, QldWombula Station, Thargomindah, Qld

The main gate into the 18,000 acre property on the 30kms driveway. 'Are We there Yet?'
1,500). The locality contained three small towns: Anakie, Rubyvale, and Sapphire and the nearest major town is Emerald. This being true until 2020 when the boundaries were redefined into separate towns. The sapphire fields located here are the largest in the southern hemisphere.

Rubyvale (pop 660) – sapphires are mined here extensively . The name Rubyvale derives from a ruby weighing 7.8 to 9.3 g found near the town by miner William Dunn in the early 1900s. Dunn was very proud of the ruby and did not sell it but showed it to people he trusted; after his death the ruby could not be found.

The diggings, on the outskirts of town are pretty extensive and most have some sort of dwelling and an entrance to underground workings. The town itself is pretty unremarkable and most of the tourist shops were closed as it isn’t tourist season until May. We went back to the motel and had prawns and dip then later heated up a pasta dish I had made. Lots of thunder and lightning, but no rain.

Friday 7th January 2022 – 130kms

Only 37C today for our trip back to Cairo via Emerald (pop 14,120). The town lies on the Nogoa River, a tributary of the Fitzroy River and lies approximately 270 kilometres from the Coral Sea coast and sits approximately 10 km south of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Central Highlands Region.

The first European to explore the area was Ludwig Leichhardt between 1843 and 1845. The British Colony of Queensland was established in 1859.

The town takes its name from the emerald and other precious stone deposits in the area and from the pastoral run Emerald Downs. It is unclear if emeralds were found in or around Emerald. Emerald was established in 1879 as a base for the Central line from Rockhampton.

Fairbairn Dam overflowed for the first time in 17 years on 19 January 2008. Major flooding in Emerald occurred a few days later as the Nogoa River broke its banks. The floods resulted in 1,000 houses being affected and more than 2,500 people being evacuated. The 2008 floods did not reach the heights of flooding in previous years.

The Fairbairn Dam, a short drive to the south of the town, was opened in 1972, and holds back the waters of Lake Maraboon. The lake covers an area of up to 150 square kilometres, making it one of the largest artificial lakes in the country. When full, it holds three times more water than Sydney Harbour. This extensive water supply has allowed the cotton industry to flourish in the area, and the lake is a boon for local water sports.

Emerald is a service town for a large number of industries in the area. Extensive coal mining operations are carried out in the district. Cotton is grown in the area, and is processed at the Yamala Cotton Gin, while other agricultural activities include grape, citrus and grain growing. The citrus industry was severely affected by a citrus canker outbreak that started in 2004 and was declared over in early 2009. More than half a million citrus trees located around Emerald had to be destroyed.

We took our bottles and cans to the recycle centre where we got 10c per item and made over $23, which we use when donations are asked for at free camps. Then we did some shopping before heading back to the motel in Rubyvale.

Saturday 8th January 2022 – 167 kms

Went home to Cairo via Capella. Michael & Jane Taylor, the business owners and hosts at Rubyvale Motel and Holiday Units, also have a Sapphire and Jewellery Business: Taylors Fine Sapphires. This is where we purchased a gorgeous green sapphire pendant for my sister for her significant birthday. Mined by Michael and cut and polished by Jane, both of whom we met (making our gift rather special).

Had a couple of rib eye steaks on the BBQ thanks to Ryan & Chloe.

Wednesday 12th January – Saturday 22nd January 2022

We were left in charge again but only had to feed the bulls and the dogs and rabbit and mow lawns. Sadly, Danie found the third sick bull and tried all he could to save it, including giving injections but it was not getting better. We knew where the gun and ammunition were but it was not our bull to shoot so poor thing had to wait until Ryan got home to put it out of its misery.

Sunday 30th January 2022

Today we started packing the car ready to head off to our new adventure. We were invited for a BBQ down at the main house. During last week’s muster Danie was invited to go up in the muster helicopter which he thoroughly enjoyed. Brining cattle out of the too wet areas to a paddock where the horsemen and women along with quad drivers took them to the cattle yards for sorting.

Monday 31st January 2022 – 237kms

The Hodgkinson family arrived to say goodbye and to thank us for our help and gave us $250 cash and a $500 fuel voucher, so very unexpected but they were so happy to have been able to get away over the school holidays.

We went to Virgin Rock near Springsure where we had stayed before but this time only three vans there. Went via Clermont, Capella and Emerald and were set up by 1400 so had a nice relaxing time outside.

Tuesday 1st February 2022 – 238kms

We arrived at Injune (pop 460) for our free stopover at the Injune Rodeo Grounds where free water was advertised. No water but there was a power box so we plugged into that for free power instead. Nice to have air con as 37C today. The town was formerly a hub for cattle and dairy industries, but now serves as a
Wombula Station, Thargomindah, QldWombula Station, Thargomindah, QldWombula Station, Thargomindah, Qld

A pair of brolgas on the front cover of a bird book of the area
staging point for expeditions to the nearby Carnarvon National Park. More recently, natural gas and timber have served as the major primary industries.

Injune is the most northern town in the Maranoa district and sits at the foothills of the Carnarvon Ranges on the western spur of the Great Dividing Range.

Wednesday 2nd February 2022 – 158 kms

Drove the roads less travelled to Mitchell (pop 1030) in the Western Downs. The Maranoa River flows around the northern and eastern sides of the town before eventually flowing into the Balonne River.

In 1902, after a short stand-off, bushrangers Patrick and James Kenniff were captured south of Mitchell at a location previously known as Back Creek but now known as Arrest Creek. Patrick was hanged in 1903 for the murder of Constable George Doyle (who had previously served at Wyandra) and Albert Dahlke, while James was released after 12 years imprisonment and died peacefully in 1940.

The water supply for the town comes from three bores. The depth of the bores is about 1,000 metres. The water is pumped into a large concrete water tower on the western side of the town. The water is hot when it emerges from the ground, and in the tank it is about 50C. Houses close to the tank have free hot water. In fact, it is necessary to cool the water before it can be used.

The 15th Prime Minister of Australia, Francis Forde was born in Mitchell. He is Australia's shortest serving Prime Minister, with a term lasting just eight days.

We stayed two nights at the free Neil Turner weir site on the banks of the Maranoa River on a big slab of concrete. There were only a few caravans at the huge site which has no restrictions on length of stay. Most of the time it was raining and we got to see the weir overflowing.

Friday 4th February 2022 – 78kms

We did some shopping and then hooked up the van and went to meet our next family at their property, Teeswater Station on the Mitchell to St George Road. They own three properties around here and we stayed overnight at Teeswater and met the owners Ben and Petra with whom we had dinner.

Saturday 5th February 2022 – 255 kms

We packed up and left around 11am heading for Wallam Creek free camp at Bollon (pop 220). Only 29C today !!!!!

Sunday 6th February 2022 – 176 kms

Went to Cunnamulla for two nights and stayed with friends Philip and Judy. We stayed with them a couple of years ago on our way south from Darwin. We had a lovely time and had a braai on Monday night.

Tuesday 8th February 2022 – 181kms

We left for Wombula Station to start another adventure. The station is 180,000 acres (bigger than Singapore) and is 86 kms from Thargomindah in the Channel Country.

The Channel Country is a region of outback Australia mostly in the state of Queensland but also in parts of South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales. The name comes from the numerous intertwined rivulets that cross the region, which cover 150,000 km². The Channel Country is over the Cooper and Eromanga geological basins and the Lake Eyre Basin drainage basin. Further to the east is the less arid Maranoa district.

The primary land use is cattle grazing which has replaced sheep grazing. It is estimated that in the Queensland section alone there are between half to one million head
Wombula Station, Thangomindah, QldWombula Station, Thangomindah, QldWombula Station, Thangomindah, Qld

Our neighbours - a budgie nest with babies
of cattle.

In 2013, the Queensland Government placed caps on water extraction from the region's river to prevent the introduction of cotton growing. At the same time open-cut mining was banned but coal seam and underground mining have been permitted after changes were made to the Wild Rivers legislation.

The station is 30kms of gravel road off the Thargomindah to Cunnamulla Road the biggest and most remote place we have stayed.

All the information on the station can be found here :

Ben and Petra Mason have not long had the property.

Kane, their 21-year-old son lives alone on the property with his three cattle dogs at the new house which is about 300 metres from the old house near which we set up.

Wednesday 9th February 2022

Today Kane took Danie for a brief overview of the property – only a 2-seater ute so no room for me. Danie came home and set up our satellite dish and trimmed back some over hanging branches over the van. He then went to help offload some water tanks that had arrived.

Kane and the dogs left us the next day as he was going back to parents house for his 21st birthday and to go to Roma to play 7a side rugby. For the next few days we cut the lawns at Kane’s and the house next to u and around our van. Climbed back up to +40C

Monday 21st February 2022

Ben arrived from Teeswater (a six-hour drive) and he came over for drinks. Plenty of lightening in the distance and we had some rain.

The next day Danie and Ben went to check and clean troughs before strong winds and a storm set in.

Wednesday 23rd February 2022

Wednesday is the day the postie comes from Cunnamulla; he will also bring any groceries which you can order over the phone on a Tuesday. You get a monthly account plus you can order from the bottle shop, pay over the phone and then ring Rick the postie, who will collect it for you. A very useful service, especially as I recently discovered on line shopping at Chemist Warehouse with free delivery!

Danie helped fix a quad bike and a motorbike as well as pick up a loader that the deliveryman wouldn’t bring over the swollen creek. He also installed two new outside lights at the new house.

Petra and her mother Diana, who is visiting from Brisbane, came over with Ben later for drinks.

The next day was full on for Danie. Ben came knocking at 7am asking for help! Washing out radiator, pull posts out of the ground at new house, take tree trunk, flower pots and other rubbish to our rubbish tip, about 500m away. Went to get new water tank and stand for the house. We were invited for dinner.

It has to be said here that we are not getting paid and agreed to be a presence on the property, mow lawns and water them for power, water and meat. The promised eggs and some lamb never eventuated! Danie was starting to get a bit annoyed.

The following few days were all pretty full on fixing the new tank, resetting the irrigation timer as they had no idea how to do it!

We did go to Thangomindah (pop270), 85 kms to the west of us, to check it out. It lies on the Bulloo River in South West Queensland on the Adventure Way.

Thargomindah was one of the first towns in Australia to produce hydroelectric power from 1898 until 1951. The old bore into the Great Artesian Basin was a source of energy when electric street lights were lit and coupled to a turbine driven by the bore's natural water pressure. The generator was taken from a unit powered by a steam engine and purchased by the Bulloo Divisional Board becoming the first municipality owned power plant. After that power was supplied by diesel generators until 1988, when the town was connected to the state power grid via Cunnamulla. The power station is still operating with a daily opening to the public.

Thargomindah has a pressurised hot spring from a bore into the Great Artesian Basin. After 2 years of drilling, a good supply of water was found in 1893. The temperature was 86°C. In 1924, it was recorded that the bore had a daily output of 2,500 cubic metres and today of 1,300 cubic metres at 84 °C. There is a plentiful water supply for the population and the arid area available for irrigation in front and backyards and public warm showers are provided.

We were rather under impressed; the tiny grocery store was so overpriced we didn’t buy anything. We went to the local pub for lunch and were met by the most obnoxious mine host who was hard pressed to greet us. The food was mediocre at best and I only had chips! The only hairdresser only opened on Saturdays and it would be a 170 kms round trip to get my hair cut!

We also went in to Cunnamulla once (a 181 kms one - way trip) to get a tyre fixed do some grocery shopping and call in to see Judy. This is our local shopping place and I did try to make a hair appointment but the girl never got back to me and was charging $60 for a trim!!!!!. The only township on the way there is Eulo (pop 95)

The local hotel is called the’ Eulo Queen’ after Isabel Gray (1851–1929) who was a publican, storekeeper and prostitute in the township.

Isabel Richardson was born around 1851 in either England or Mauritius. She came to Australia some time before 1869, when she married James McIntosh in Warialda. He died shortly afterwards and two years later she married Richard William Robinson, a station manager from Surat. They moved to Eulo where they ran hotels, stores and a butcher and in 1889 Robinson bought the Royal mail Hotel in Eulo. In 1892, Isabel and her husband were charged with a variety of offenses, including disorderly conduct, assaulting the police, purchasing a sheep illegally, and passing a dishonoured cheque. In response, she sued the police for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. By this time she was already known as the "Queen of Eulo".

Eulo is known too for its honey from bees feed on yapunyah tree blossom. It is dark and very delicious as we bought some. The hotel only opens at 4pm in the off season so we were unable to go there for a cooling ale. Opal mining is done here and at Quilpie for boulder opals.

We had planned on going to Quilpie and even to Cameron’s Corner (where Qld, SA and NSW meet) but they were far too far away and too hot to go with only the swag so we missed out. People here think nothing of driving for hours to get somewhere local.

Danie was asked to break down the chook pen ready to rebuild it and to wire the shed at the new house (they were paying for him to do the electrical work). It turned out the job was much more difficult and time consuming with ladders too short and insufficient space on the power board. Danie was more than happy.

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

Yesterday Danie found out he had been offered a job at Hillston NSW driving for the almond harvest so today he told Ben were leaving tomorrow, much sooner than we expected. He knew Danie was looking for harvest work when they asked us to caretake but he was not happy. We were!!! They had asked too much for no pay as Danie ended up working full days for no money.

Anyway Kane and his friend Jessie (who had come from Mitchell to do some welding at the new cattle yards) came over for a few drinks and wished us well. The bird life was really lovely here with lots of budgerigars (we had a nest near the van) plenty of noisy miners, galahs, red rumps, Major Mitchell cockatoos and mulga parrots among many other birds

Thursday 3rd March 2022

The start of our next adventure ……………………………………….


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