Lagoon, a lovely languid name that rolls off the tongue, suggesting rest, relaxation and water fowl. Let's see what we find. It turns out there is a lagoon fringed by the botanic gardens. But lets see what else there is in the street before we go visit the gardens. The modern version of a traditional Queenslander home. An old camper. Typical modern coastal architecture. Those are foxtail palms, only discovered in the early 1980s in remote north Queensland. Its lovely form created a significant black market in seeds for a while but there are plenty of them available now and this palm is seen all around the world. A sculpture outside the Botanic Gardens. Let's go see what that lagoon has to offer.
After 1,500 kilometres we've reached the sea. Oh dear, the caravan park looked like the nursing home was on holiday. We've found the grey nomads. As we are going to follow the coast for the next 1000 kilometers, I guess there is more of this to come.
We've stopped travelling north via the inland and heading towards the coast, stopping by the interesting old town of Mount Morgan. It's a mining town where a mountain of gold eventually became a big open cut hole. Now I wanted to see down that hole but the only way to get a look is to take a 2 hour mine tour. We gave it a miss but took a quick tour of the railway museum. What a pretty railway station. Today I received a comment on my post of an abandoned building at Murga (one from my 100 Towns project last year). It was from a lady who was born in the home and was the last family that lived there. You might be interested in popping over there to read her story.
Royal Hotel, Munduberra I was surprised to find Munduberra claiming to be the Citrus Capital of Queensland. I thought the nearby town of Gayndah had long received that crown. Has anyone heard of Munduberra oranges? I haven't, but I have certainly heard of Gayndah oranges -- marketing is more than staking a claim. But at least their Royal Hotel is authentic.
An unharvested cotton field at last. We're pushing our way up north towards Mundubbera. I was thinking about these Queensland towns -- how their names are familiar, names from childhood etched into memory -- and how living down south you never hear them. Just as down there you know of Mudgee, Dubbo, Nyngan and Forbes -- place names rarely mentioned up here. Passing over the border, though invisible, something happens and you enter another world. UPDATE: I have created a map of the trip here . You will see we have long way to go from here.
It was the weekend and time to follow the road that beckoned. After all the beautiful rich farmland we had passed through, Loam Street seemed like the perfect choice. I found a typical street in a Queensland country town Paling fences are common but are not usually painted like this one. When the houses are on stilts you know you are in Queensland. It's footie season with the State of Origin matches in swing. Wrought iron gates and railings were popular in the 50s and 60s. I reckon we will be seeing more palms are we press further north. We are bound to see more bouganvillia too. And a classic Queenslander doesn't have to be a house on stilts from 100 years ago. This is vintage Queensland from the 50s and 60s.
Let me introduce you to the latest addition to our family - Lady Jeep. She's moved in to replace the rather foolish Madam Tom Tom. Lady Jeep speaks with a refined English accent and pronounces towns and road names properly but she is not without her quirks. Unlike Madam Tom Tom she is perfectly happy to take us on dirt roads, even when they don't make sense. Here she is guiding us through Toowoomba to Dalby where we intend to spend the weekend.
Here we are rolling along in the district known as the Darling Downs. Downs are not flat plains nor undulating hills, they are more like gentle rises and falls. It it luscious rich black-soil farmland. At the right time of year it puts on a marvellous display of sunflowers but right now it had milo fields being harvested, dead corn stalks and empty fields being tilled for winter planting.
We've chugged on across the Queensland border into the area known as the Granite Belt. Unsurprisingly, there is lots of granite around these parts. We took a side trip in to Giraween National Park which has some fascinating granite formations. I also found it interesting that much of the natural vegetation was familiar to me, being similar to what we see in the Blue Mountains. The Granite Belt has long been famous for fruit growing -- apples, cherries and such -- but I noticed that these days there are also a lot of wineries. Time to move on, this is not a warm spot. They get very chilly winter nights around here.
This was just an old building I liked in the caravan park. But while we were in Tenterfield I was musing about country town symbols - things you see in country towns but see not so often in the city. Here was the list I made while looking around Tenterfield Country outfitters (RM Williams excluded) Foodworks, IGA and more recently Spar supermarkets Big old pepperina trees Tree lined avenues forming an entrance to the town CWA Restrooms A local newspaper office, usually no longer operating Pastures Protection Board office or similar Agricultural supplies and machinery A Stihl outliet with big Stihl chainsaw mounted on the roof or a pole Grain silos An art deco picture theatre usually closed Men and women wearing cowboy hats What would you add to this list?
Here we go, the Royal Hotel in Guyra. We passed through here last year and missed it. Wasn't going to do that again. Between us we must be getting close to exhausting the list of Royals in New South Wales. [Update] Julie asked on my last Royal Hotel post "Would it be your assessment that this would be the numerically paramount pub name in Australia? With perhaps Railway Hotel coming second?" My gut feeling was that Royal Hotels are the most prevelant with Commercial Hotels also being quite high on the list. I found the stats below here http://publocation.com.au/facts which confirmed my instinct but still leaves us way short of getting them all given that we are still under 100. I think they include Royalish hotels (i.e. ones with the word Royal in the name) but nonetheless we have a way to go even with pure Royals. Royal 242 Federal 31 Farmer 11 Commercial 137 Criterion 29 Telegraph 11 Club 107 Albion 23 Metropolitan 10 Grand 81 Junction 23 Rivervie
To me travelling is like a living geography lesson. I watch for the changes in the soil and terrain, the different native forests and the land use and try to recall a little of what I learnt in high school. We found fields of milo sorghum ready to harvest. Last year we departed several weeks later and saw only a few unharvested fields up in Queensland so I was glad to get a better shot this year. I wanted to get a closeup of the seed heads but the field was fenced. I also saw tell-tale signs of a cotton harvest, blobs of white along the roadside, but like last year were too late to see any unpicked fields.
It was with delight that we found Quirindi a relatively warm 16C - warm enough to sit outside in the afternoon. The caravan is a relocatable office. I need to work 5-6 hours and be in touch with email most of the day so the trip is all about touring to warm spots with mobile coverage, and just a little sight seeing squeezed into the few spare hours of the short winter days.
Royal Hotel, Spring Ridge Royal Hotel, Quirindi We were targeting Quirindi for our next stop because I knew there was a Royal Hotel there that I had not captured, but the one we found at Spring Ridge on the way was a complete surprise.
We have passed through Coolah, which we visited at Easter time, and are traversing the Liverpool Plains ( click to see the view of them from Coolah Tops ). Over in the distance are the Warrumbungles which we visited on our way home last year.
We are driving through familiar land, past my favourite lake on the way to Mudgee. I say goodbye to its lovely waters and the undulating hills, wondering if I will find any on the way that please me quite as much as these. We are in a new car which tows our van like a dream but it's giving me photography problems. The windscreen tint is much darker than our old car so photos through the windscreen have a nasty colour caste. And when I try to take photos out my side window the bigger rear vision mirror gets in the way. I have to put up with these limitations because we are heading to Queensland where the roads can be narrow and verges steep, so there is no chance of getting the van to pull over. But there is a lot of New South Wales to go through first.