A Travellerspoint blog

Outback Queensland

From Prairie to Emerald, and all the towns in between!

overcast 28 °C

Finally, we've been "out west". A flying visit, because it was so hot and dry - 38 degrees every day. But we will return, in the winter. There is so much to see and do, and we love the outback. Such a different way of life.

The Prairie Hotel

The Prairie Hotel

From Prairie we headed west to Hughenden. Further back than we could imagine, dinosaurs thrived in a lush environment alongside a vast pre historic inland sea. Today, Hughenden honours the memory of those creatures - there are replicas in the street, in the museum and works of art through the town. We followed "the dinosaur trail" to Winton, which is known as the Dinosaur Capital of Australia, and houses the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils. Winton is the birthplace of QANTAS, which was first registered as a company in 1920 and is the home of Queensland's Boulder Opal, It's where Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda - at a property just out of town.....it was first sung in one of the pubs at Winton in 1895.

We passed through a tiny town called Corfield, Population 3, and had to stop for a photo. it's known for its' annual race meeting, The Corfield Cup, when the population explodes with people visiting from near and far - a real outback race experience!

Corfield Cup!

Corfield Cup!

Driving through the grassy plains, starkly beautiful red earth and spinifex, and Channel Country, with undulating plains as far as the eye can see, there's a myriad of dry channels, waiting for the wet season. Some parts haven't had rain for 8 years, they didn't have a wet season last year.

Next stop, Longreach, a thriving town in the Central West. You need to allow loads of time to visit these places, preferably in the winter months when it's not so hot. Longreach is not just a town, it's a way of life - there is so much to see and do, and it would be nice o get to know the locals. We started at the Powerhouse Museum, which houses huge generators used to provide power to Longreach from 1948 to 1985, when the area was linked to the local grid. A wonderful museum, with a house which is set up to depict family living conditions way back then.......you can almost smell dinner cooking in the old wood stove!

We visited the Longreach School of Distance Education (LSODE) which used to be called The School of The Air. Technology has overcome the power of distance in the most amazing way, and a rich education is delivered to kids thousands of kilometres away. We observed an on-air maths lesson, with the teacher sitting at her computer, camera attached, delivering a lesson to kids somewhere on an outback station. The school, although there are no kids in the classrooms, is full of their artwork, projects and school work. It has a bright friendly atmosphere and it was truly an eye opener. Kids come to the school once or twice a year for lessons and social interaction, and there is a tutor who will visit them at home once a year. Secondary education is usually in boarding schools in the towns, but the drought has meant that this is no longer affordable, so more grade 6 to 12's are staying at home. The government allows about $3.40 per pupil per year more than a regular state school. LSODE is very reliant on donations from people like us.

Now for the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame - the unique architecture making it a landmark in the town. It is a spectacular tribute to the people of outback Australia. It was created from the vision of Hugh Sawrey in 1974, who wanted to create a memorial to the pioneers of the outback and preserve the rich cultural heritage. The exhibits comprise an eclectic mix of objects, images, touch screens, open displays and short movies. My favourite was the royal flying Doctor Display and Joe loved the whole lot! The landscaped gardens surrounding the building house sculptures, windmills and water features. And theres a replica homestead in the grounds, built by RM Williams. In the evening there's an Outback Show, telling the story of real life stockmen and women who work on the land - along with a horse, a cattle dog with saddle and rider, a pig dressed as the mother in law and a huge Brahman bull, also with saddle and rider! All followed by a yummy steak on the barbie with salad and chips. Next time we visit we'll finish off what we missed this time.

Stockman's Hall of Fame

Stockman's Hall of Fame

The Outback Show

The Outback Show

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We stayed at the Longreach tourist Park, a huge park, dry and dusty, tiny little pool, no shade and no grass - although there was a sign saying "keep off the grass". We were able to watch the lunar eclipse, in The Big Sky that the outback is famous for. We were parked nest to 3 other Crusader caravans - that's never happened before. Driving around the town you notice that all the streets are named after birds. The streets that run east-west are named after waterbirds, and those that run north-south are named for land birds. The caravan park was in Thrush Road and the closest intersection was Wompoo Road!

Next time we will visit the Qantas Founders Museum, and maybe do an evening cruise on The Thomson River.

Next stop Emerald, we found a bush camp about 16 km out, called Higher Ground Homestay. Owned by Kathy, this is a great place to stay, $15 with power and water, peaceful and lovely in the bush. Kathy has an eccentric house and garden, with a huge array of chooks, an amazing veggie garden, several guinea fowl, horses and dogs, a bookcase on the verandah for travellers, and about 300 solar powered butterflies which all light up at night! We spent a couple of nights there, as we needed a wheel alignment and they were able to do that at Emerald on Saturday morning. We found a great Irish Pub where we had a pint of Guinness, and realised that the Emerald Races were on. Damn, I didn't have my fascinator!!

On the road again, through Ilfracombe which has a gorgeous quirky pub which wasn't open, Barcaldine, where the locals were playing croquet on the nature strip, Jericho on the Jordan River. to arrive here at Calliope for a couple of nights. It's so lovely to have soft green grass under our feet. We're camped on the side of a pond full of ducks, cormorants and herons. We have a resident turtle and her baby which bask on a log just near our van, providing our entertainment.

Thomasina Turtle

Thomasina Turtle

Last night we had a thunderstorm and loads of rain. We filled our big bucket a couple of times with rainwater off the awning, tipping it into the tank to replenish our supply. We're slowly making our way back down south, heading back to the coast for some very desirable ocean. Joe's keen to get his paddle board out, knowing that there won't be a man-eating croc lurking under the waves.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 18:49 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

From the Coral Coast to the Great Australian Outback

What a contrast!

sunny 38 °C

Footy's over, Hawks won and we had a great day - one very excited Joe!

Since then we've had a whole week at Palm Cove - a bustling beach resort, full of "beautiful" people, rich and famous, and lots of travellers like us just enjoying the coast and the wonderful tropical weather. It was sad to say goodbye to Ellis Beach, and the few people we met there, but we must move on. We've had a few great evenings with Mark and Max, culminating in a meal at the Greko Taverna right in the middle of town. A delicious meal and lots of fun had by all. Far North Queensland seems like a great place to be......its getting very hot though, and very humid! Nice when you can just go for a dip in the ocean which we did at least twice a day.

Now we're heading towards Longreach, Winton, Emerald and all those outback towns we've read about. The area is vast, remote, hot and arid. The roads are generally good, sealed in most places - but often only one lane wide.....so when a road train comes towards us we have to move over onto the gravel cos he's not going to move over. Lots of dead cows, pigs and kangaroos on the sides of the road, with crows, hawks and eagles feasting on the carcasses. Time to shut down the air entry - the stench is revolting!

We spent the last two nights at a campsite beside Fletcher Creek, 40 km north of Charters Towers. We were surrounded by Brahmans, and a couple of roosters woke us at 4am each day. We found Susie and Digby parked up on the hill, a couple we befriended a few months ago at Little Yabba - lots to talk about and stories to exchange.

This morning we said goodbye and have only driven for 4 hours, through Charters Towers, to spend the night at Prairie. Charters Towers is a beautiful old gold mining town, with wide streets and huge verandahs. It is the centre of gold mining for the area, also beef cattle and it has private boarding schools for the outback kids.

Prairie, with a population of 100 people, consists of a cafΓ©/post office, a police station, the Prairie State School and the Prairie Hotel. The township has a history as an old Cobb and Co depot. We're camped at the back of the hotel in a dusty paddock. The pub is a welcoming place for meals and a cold beer, and displays a collection of stockmen's hats, saddles and other memorabilia. We're booked in for dinner tonight - crumbed steak, gravy, chips and veggies - the camping is free so we thought we'd patronise the pub. We're surrounded by dry plains, it's very hot, and we have the generator running and the washing machine on - lots of water available from the Great Artesian Basin, so we've filled our tanks. The washing's flapping in the wind and will take about 30 minutes to be bone dry! We have great Telstra access, so we're catching up on emails etc.

More of the same tomorrow, headed for Winton, home of Qantas and Waltzing Matilda. We're loving this outback experience, the red dirt, the pink sunsets, the people - the whole thing!

Posted by Crazy Poupes 23:28 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Go Hawks!!

Hawthorn / Swannies Grand Final Day

sunny 30 °C

Starting our GF day with a coffee, a swim in the ocean then off to Yorkey's Knob for breakfast - oysters kilpatrick, ($12 a dozen on Saturdays) washed down with a Crownie or two! Good start to the day, eh!

TV set up outside under the awning, speakers on, flag flying, home made pies for lunch, beer chilled, footy franks and sauce .......loads of other campers in the park are going for Hawks, too, so it will be a fun day! Joe's very excited. Can you picture it?

We've already played the Hawks song a couple of times to get in the mood. Hopefully we will be playing it with pride later today.

Let the game begin!!! GO YOU HAWKERS πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ»πŸ»πŸ»πŸ»πŸ»πŸ»πŸ»πŸ£πŸ£πŸ£πŸ£πŸ£πŸ£πŸ£πŸΊπŸΊπŸΊπŸΊπŸΊπŸΊπŸΊπŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸ·πŸŽ³

Posted by Crazy Poupes 15:02 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Stuck here on this beautiful beach!

Perfect weather, perfect beach, relaxing in FNQ

sunny 30 °C

Here we are, still lazing around at Ellis Beach. We have only a couple of days left, and are loving the warm days, balmy nights, early morning swims and company of some new friends. We are on the Coral Sea in Tropical North Queensland, where the heritage listed rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. Two stunning worlds in one! The 5 km strip of Ellis Beach is 20 km north of Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway. The sea is deliciously warm for swimming, but not yet warm enough for the marine stingers. Theres nothing here except a small restaurant and bar, a Surf Club and the caravan park

Cooktown via the Bloomfield track was good fun - Lynda and Trevor from Coffs Harbour joined us, in their car. The Barra and Chips at the Top Pub was just as we remembered, and not much has changed at Cooktown. It's a small town at the mouth of The Endeavour River, with lots of historical sights, a port and a few shops - also some very expensive restaurants and accommodation

The track was in good condition as it hasn't rained up here for a long time. River crossings were mostly dry on the way up, and Joe was hoping for a huge downpour overnight to get the mud running - not to be! The Bloomfield Track, otherwise know as The Coast Road is a 30km 4 wheel drive road between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown It passes through beautiful wilderness, past swimming holes and lovely beaches, and has some very steep, winding patches. We passed through Wujal Wujal, an aboriginal community on the way.

We spent a fun night in a safari tent at The Lion's Den at Helenvale......a tent on stilts with a fridge, kettle and toaster, queen size bed, a couple of chairs on the balcony and not much else for $80. By far the cheapest accommodation in the area, and Lynda and Trevor enjoyed this alternative type of hotel room! Lots of laughs with a few drinks on the balcony before falling into bed.....the only disturbance in the night was from a herd of cattle rustling around the tent. The whole area has suffered lots from Cyclone Ita, earlier this year - trees uprooted, river bed completely changed and roofs off. The pub's for sale for $2.4 million if anyone's interested.

We had an up close and personal experience with some huge crocs at Hartley's Croc Farm, seeing these huge creatures in their own habitat. We were surprised to learn that a full grown croc only needs half a chicken a fortnight to survive - other than that they are solar powered! The boat trip up the lagoon certainly allowed us to appreciate the capabilities of the crocs, and how they interact with each other.

It's been great to see Mark and Maxine again, in their home and at our camp - we've had a couple of evenings with them, always good to see what they're up to. Tonight they're bringing fish n chips to our camp to enjoy with a cold drink or two.

Claire and Peter from Hobart spent 3 weeks on the unpowered area in the sand in their motorhome.....lots of knitting ideas exchanged, and chat about mutual acquaintances. They've gone now and I've lost my knitting buddy. We had Dirk and Barbara for dinner last night.....we were given some Spanish Mackerel which I crumbed and had with home made tartar sauce and roast veg. Absolutely delicious! Dirk and Barbara are spending a sabbatical year in Australia, and six months of that year is at Ellis Beach. They have been coming to Australia from Germany every year for their annual holidays for the last 17 years! They love this country and know it better than we do.

So from here we are heeding just 5 minutes south to Palm Cove - finding it hard to drag ourselves away from this gorgeous coastline, so we are delaying our inland travel for a bit. We have a week booked on an unpowered site, overlooking the water. Looking forward to being able to walk along to the pub, surf club or restaurants, and of course watching all the beautiful people. And maybe a little retail therapy will be on the cards!

Looking forward to seeing everyone in our 3 weeks in Tassie in November.......till then, stay safe and happy xxx

Posted by Crazy Poupes 17:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

One of our favourite spots - Ellis Beach

The mountains to the west, the ocean to the east

sunny 28 °C

Wow! This place is exactly as we remember - going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach is just perfect. Someone put a comment on Wiki Camps, complaining that he couldn't sleep at Ellis Beach for the noise of the waves - we think he needs to move on, perhaps park on the side of the highway. The only thing that wakes us in the night is the cry of the Curlew Birds.....they sound as if they are being murdered, calling to each other across the park. We wake in the morning to the beautiful sunrise across the water.

We are on the second row this year, not the front row as we were last year......seems there's a bit of competition for the front row, in fact they call it "death row" - if someone's budgie dies at home and they have to cancel, there's a chance we might get in! Next year we will be up there in Front Row.

Palm Cove is just a 5 minute drive down the coast - we popped across on Friday for a walk along the Esplanade and had a scrummy lunch in a beachfront cafe. It's a charming place, everyone relaxed and happy, holidaying! It's a unique, quiet and relaxing village by the sea where centuries old β€œpaperbark” Melaleuca trees line the esplanade - it's a tropical paradise with an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication.

Fathers' Day.....so even though Joe's not my father (!!!) I took him to the Port Douglas market where we whiled away a couple of hours. Fathers' Day lunch was a kilo of prawns fresh from the trawler, eaten out of the plastic bag, and washed down with a bottle of sauv blanc under a big tree in the park. With calls from all Joe's girls, we had a beautiful day, a beer at the pub, a walk along MacCrossan St, a look at the shops......then back along the beautiful coast to our camp for roast lamb dinner at our place!

We've just been for a walk on the beach.....it's a huge full moon tonight, and the tide is very high. Sometimes it might be a good thing not to be on the front row! We've bowed 7 times to the moon, and made a wish - something Joe's Mum always did, and Marion reminds us to do it each time there's a full moon.

We've broken the hydraulic struts on our bed .....no, not what you're thinking. Joe was searching high and low for the Hawthorn Flag, and thinking he might have hidden it under the bed, he lifted it too high and too fast, breaking both struts. Anyway, didn't matter, Hawks won and now we have to get 2 new struts.

Planning the next sector of our trip is something we need to do - thinking we will probably head south to Townsville, then west a wee bit, to Charters Towers, Winton, Longreach and Barcaldine. Places we haven't been, and are keen to see at least once. It will be hard to leave this beautiful coast, but we will enjoy the contrast. And we have another 3 glorious weeks here at Ellis Beach before we head to the outback.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 02:38 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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