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Showing posts from October, 2013

Fraser Island - Lake McKenzie

As we approached the Lake the tour guide said, perhaps you have seen postcards of a beautiful blue lake fringed with white sands.  It's not like that at the moment.  We've had so much rain over the past few months the water level is high and covering the sand and runnoff and vegetation has tainted the crystal clear water to a murky green. And so our day ended with disappointment.   Here is what I hoped to see  And in case you are wondering, we didn't see any dingos (native dogs) either.  After one of them killed a child some years ago they were extensively culled so sightings are more rare these days.

Fraser Island -- Coloured Sands

We go a little further up the beach to the coloured sands.  They pitch pretty hard to try and get you to take the 15 minute flight that takes off and lands on the beach.  You will very likely see whales they said.  We gave it a miss. But from the beach we did see whales jump out of the water a few times and blowing water, but I was not quick enough with my camera. By this time I was feeling very battered from bumping about and hanging out for the lunch break to get a rest. I was consoling myself that after lunch we would see beautiful blue Lake McKenzie and it would be worth the bumpy ride.

Fraser Island - SS Maheno

The next part is a bit smoother,  a drive along the beach to the wreck of the Mehano.  It gets pretty busy out there.  

Fraser Island - Central Station

Fraser Island is a World Heritage sand island.  It has forests, lakes, sandy beaches and crystal clear streams.  It is a big island 123 kms long and 22 kms wide and you must have a 4WD to traverse the sandy tracks. Rather than attempt unaccustomed driving in the sand we took a tour but had the misfortune of being the last passengers to board our bus which put us at the very back and resulted in a VERY uncomfortable jarring ride.  The roads were bad due to recent heavy rains. Our first port of call was Central Station where there was once a timber camp. Lots of beautiful tall trees with staghorns and elkhorns growing among them.  And a walk beside the beautiful clear stream, you can see an eel in the middle shot.

Hervey Bay

I felt Hervey Bay beckoning me.  We often holidayed at the bay when I was a child.    I wanted to see if it had been spoilt and whether the beachside camp grounds had been replaced by horrible high rise developments.  I was delighted to find it was still low rise and the campgrounds still there, though we were booked into another further up the coast. It is the weekend and time to take a road the beckons, but instead we are taking a tour to Fraser Island.  I have been told it is wonderful.

Childers Royal

Childers is a nice town.  With a street full of pubs.  So where was the Royal?  Diane's friend Ann had sent me a photo of it for the Royal Collection back at the beginning of the trip.  Thank you Ann. I walked up and down the street looking for it.  It was only after I eventually gave up and checked the web that I found it hiding in a back street.

Green undulating

By the way it is nice green undulating country around here. The sugar cane plantations have returned as well as crops like pineapples and macadamia.

Hinkler Museum

Finding ourselves unexpected in Bundaberg for a couple of days I quickly looked up what there were to do in the area.  The Bert Hinkler museum seemed like reasonable choice. Bert was a famous aviator back in the early days of flying.  The museum is excellent and includes Bert's home from England transported brick by brick and reassembled here.   So it's not only Captain Cook's cottage that has been transported from England to Australia.


Oh oh.  We are heading south and the winter warmth looked like it was going to disappear.  We found the first rain of the trip. I wanted to visit the town of 1770, such an interesting name.  But is wasn't just the rain that was disappointing.  I found the place unappealing and to add to our woes the caravan park we had booked into didn't have mobile coverage, which I discovered just as we were about to check in.   So there was a quick change of plan, we would press unto Bundaberg. By the way 1770 got its interesting name because Captain Cook landed there in May 1770.  In 1970 the village of Round Hill was renamed to 1770 to celebrate the bicentenary of this event.


Moving on from Rockhampton we are following the coastline down to Brisbane.  Gladstone is an industrial town.  It is the world's fourth largest coal exporting terminal.  There is also an aluminium smelter and this power station.

The railways

We visited the Railway Museum in Rockhampton.  The railways had a big part to play during the war. As we travelled around I began to realise that these ornate timber railway stations are characteristic of Queensland rail, very different from the brick ones we see down south.

Coal trains

Digging up coal, that's what this region is really about.  Lots and lots of very long coal trains wend their way down to the port at Gladstone.  We live in a coal mining area but don't see trains on this scale!

The next big thing

Now that's unusual.  Apparently they grow sunflowers in the green fields around Emerald.


We've left the parched inland behind and irrigated crops are appearing.  I wonder if they were being literal when they named this town.


That's the Inlander that runs from Townsville to Mount Isa.  I'd like to catch that one day.

Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Knowledge stands in the main street of Barcaldine where striking shearers played a significant role in the formation of the Australian Labour Party.  After the snow gum that marked the spot died its skeleton was entombed in this cathedral-like monument where the party faithful can be mesmerised by the music piped by a hundred wooden wind chimes. It's beautiful but look at the scale of it.  I don't think it was meant to join the ranks of Australia's tasteless big things.

On the road again

We're on the road again.  Heading back towards the coast where the road trains aren't allowed to stray.

Thomson River

It's the weekend and time to find another Road that Beckons but it was not a road that beckoned on this occasion, it was a river.  It's a warm day with kites circling overhead. I don't think I've mentioned the free campers.  With so many cost conscious pensioners following the free camper's guide you've gotta get in early to secure your spot especially in popular places like Longreach.


Perhaps less well known is the Qantas founders museum at Longreach.  Another very well presented and interesting place to spend an hour or two.

Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame

Longreach is well known as the home of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame.  It's a high quality, interesting museum celebrating the tough characters who developed the interior of our country.

Big birds

Out in the white fields we saw Emu and big birds (maybe Brolga) and ever so many raptors (I think they are kites) clawing at the road kill and soaring on the thermals.  I tried and tried to get a photo and eventually succeeded in getting a goodish shot down by the river at Longreach.

Channel country

We are on our way to Longreach. It's hard to imagine how these wide flat lands every now and then flood and the water drains in a myriad of channels and flows for thousands of kilometres eventually reaching the dry salt pan at Lake Eyre. You might remember our flight a few years ago over Lake Eyre in flood when we saw Cooper's Creek  flowing.

Truck trio


The surrounding landscape is dry and beautiful, though I'd hate to be here in the heat of the summer.


I find it too hard to grasp that these footprints were left by dinosaurs millions of years ago.  They come in small, medium and large.  The little ones look like bird prints in the sand.  I am not sure if I am impressed or underwhelmed.


I have it on good authority this is a Coolibah tree by the creek just outside of Winton.  Now I know what one looks like, We are heading west 100kms on dirt road.  The scenery changes as we move along.  The tour guide tells us we are passing by Gidgee trees and later Mulga and we end up at spinfex country and the site of the dinosaur stampede.


There was some cloud in the sky which made a spectacular sunset which I didn't capture because we were on our way to the camp concert.  The caravan parks put on evening entertainment out here, country music, bush poets and the like.  I caught this shot the next morning.   We are up early to take a tour to see more dinosaur stuff.

Waltzing Matilda

We are at Winton, visiting the Matilda museum, which celebrates this locality as the place where Waltzing Matilda was penned.  It's also an extensive exhibit of things country.  I am guessing these are stencils for wool bales.

Mitchell Grass Plains

This country is beautiful. Miles and miles of naturally treeless grasslands, white like a frosty morning. I saw a rare flock of sheep.  A map in the museum showed how sheep were once a staple of the area but in the 1990s with the drought and the poor wool prices most farmers moved into cattle.  The stocking level per acre is low so you don't often see cattle either other than in the long road trains that maraud the roads.


The guidebook says the lookout at sunset is a photographer's delight.  Well with clear blue sky sunset is a fizzer. And it is not just one lookout, there are many lookouts but the problem is the view looks much the same from all of them. East, South, North and West ... flat, flat, flat, flat country.  We are heading out into it again tomorrow.