4x4 Travels

Alalya Rockhole

Alalya Dreaming 2012

Cupping my hand to drink from the cool water of Alalya Waterhole was a thrill and a culmination of a 30 year dream. After previous attempts to reach it had not eventuated, I was finally here in this very remote place on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. Accompanied by my mate, Bill, from Alice […]

Gone Walkabout 2012

Just getting away from home is an adventure in itself. Packing the vehicles to go on an extended tour always takes a lot of fine tuning and figuring out just where to store what without increasing the weight carried. This year I have had to build a ramp for our ageing dog Jeddah, who is starting […]

Dinosaur Ant

Beachcombing the Eyre 2011

Every year we make an effort to get down the beach for a few days. It is to see the sea and to paddle in the water. It has become a sort of a ritual. And every year we choose a different destination. We normally go in February after the school year commences. February however can […]

Elim Beach

Elim Beach 2011

Eddy Deemal is a sprightly 85 year old Aboriginal man. He told me he was descended from the Deedarr Tribal Clan of the Cape Bedford Area of Far North Queensland. The Deedarr Clan are known as the Fire-stick people and they traded fire sticks with neighbouring clans and some too with clans further south over time […]

Cape York 2011

The road up the Cape has over the years, caught the imagination of many travellers who may want to drive that distance to the very tip of Australia. In earlier times the access to the Cape has been along the now disused, Overland Telegraph Track, and, with many deep creek crossings, has been quite a challenge […]

Queen Mill Boilers

Maytown 2011

After doing more research about getting to Maytown in the Palmer River Goldfields Reserve the indications were that the way through Palmerville Station was closed due to road damage by the wet season. So we hitched up and made for the alternative route via Whites Creek Road. The turn off is 68km north of Mount Carbine […]

Orchids

Fossils and Fords 2011

Twice before I had wanted to drive the road along the flank of the Great Basalt Wall and now we were going there. The road starts just before Fletcher Creek on the Charters Towers side via Lolworth Station and culminates in Pentland on the Flinders Highway. The distance is a shade over 200 kilometres and I […]

Northern Exposure 2011

The cold set in around the beginning of May this year and so we brought our travel plans forward by a week and set off heading north east. Our leisurely pace took us to Broken Hill where we topped up with groceries and last minute reminder items, refuelled and then set our sights on heading due […]

Wildflowers 2010

After reading reports of the annual blaze of wildflower colour in the desert dunes near Roxby Downs in South Australia, we decided to take a drive to have a look for ourselves before the plants had run their life cycle. Sturt’s Desert Pea swainsona formosa was named after the European explorer Captain Charles Sturt, in his […]

Bottle Tree Mitchell

Darling Downs journey 2010

Getting across the Great Dividing Range towing with an old slug of a diesel is always a worry as one tends to collect a funeral procession of vehicles behind you with little chance for them to overtake and speed away. After leaving Tweed Heads and a visit to the Bilamil Chemist where we obtained some medicines […]

Chillagie Rocks

Dividing Range Adventures 2010

Our last day in Chillagoe and  we saw Bustards, Butcherbirds, Red Tail Black Cockatoos and Jude saw Bentwing, Sheath-tailed, Horseshoe and Pignose Bats in the cave. The trees around the caves and which resemble the candle tree of Namibia, are commonly known as Helicopter Trees, with a Latin name of jovocoptus americus, so named due to […]

Chillagoe

Bound for Chillagoe 2010

We left Walkers Creek camp in Far North Queensland and the bitumen at the start of the gravel section of the Burke Development Road heading east north east. This road runs for around 540km and is often closed for long periods of time during the wet season. This time around there was lots of dust and […]

Cattle Corridor

The Cattle Corridor Byway 2010

Cattle Corridor

 

 

After spending three nights in the RV paddock at Richmond we were on the road heading north along the Cattle Corridor Byway, to Croydon and beyond. The RV Paddock is a fenced area set aside for those travellers who are totally self-sufficient. It has a dump point and drinking water and is provided free of charge by the Richmond Council. It is a 5 minute walk to the main street. We rose early and packed by 8am but then had to wait for the Police Station to open at 8.30 so we could get some road information from them. Basically that was a waste of time, as the clerk had no idea. She said that there was about 50km of bitumen in the Richmond Shire but that turned out to be 80km and to top it off it was Show Day in Winton and a local public holiday and no one was around who could help. This wasn’t serious but it is nice to know if the road is open and if it is in reasonable repair.
When we got on the road, we stopped at the Fossil fossicking site number two to collect a stone we had discarded the day before with Copprolites (fossilised fish poo) in it. This stone was to be sent to the grandkids of a mate ! Then we drove further stopping at various creeks looking for Moonrocks.

Moonrocks

Moonrocks

Gecko

Gecko

At one such stop Jude upturned a rock to find the most beautifully coloured Velvet Gecko. I managed to get it onto my hand for some photos. We placed it back where we found it with its cover on top. The bitumen ran out at 80km mark and while I was letting down the tyres to 25psi a local cocky stopped to see if we were OK. He said that the road to Croydon was rough in places but manageable. And he turned out to be pretty correct. We drove through a thick growth of Tropical Woodland Savannah scrub and along the way we enjoyed many kilometres of roadside Wattle in flower giving a vibrant display of the colour yellow and the lovely scent as well.Thete were thousands of head of Brahman Cattle along the way and being mainly an unfenced road we were frequently slowing down or stopping from our already relaxed pace.

Wattle in flower

Wattle in flower

At times we had to pick our way through and around the bulldust patches but kept the speed steady around the 60/70 mark and had a smooth run. Jude spotted an old-man Goanna walking across the road and I had to pull up quickly. He stayed about for photos and films and marched off into the scrub with the tip of his tail up in the air denoting a warning sign that he would resist an approach. The only vehicles we saw all day was a road crew at one of the creeks and then 2 4×4’s as we got close to the Esmeralda / Prospect Road junction and bitumen. There we spied a family of Feral Pigs including piglets foraging on the side of the road.

Feral pigs

Feral pigs

Today we saw the Flinders Poppy plant in flower and we also saw and photographed a Lime Bottle Brush. Whilst stopped looking for a place to camp we saw a covey of Squatter Pigeons with the clear, wing markings. We finally found a good camp under the shade of an Ironbark tree only 50 metres off the road but we were not expecting a mob of traffic. Jeddah complained for most of the day about the state of the roads and the corrugations. Just before we found our campsite she stuck her head out of her window and barked continuously until I yelled at her. Once stopped she lay under the van feighning exhaustion. The pigs made a racket down the creek after dark but then all went quiet. Two vehicles passed. A mob of Happy Jacks came over to see what we were up to and Jeddah got very disturbed about them eating her tucker so she gobbled both helpings up quick smart. We lit a fire and sat around it for a while. There didn’t seem to be any mozzies around although I did rub Desert Dwellers on early in the evening.
I am very pleased with the van as dust ingress is minimal even after travelling through kilometre after kilometre through fine bulldust. Jude went to bed early but I sat around and burned wood until ten pm. There were some strange noises emanating form the creek nearby and I guess the porkers were still in the vicinity.
The following morning we were up earlier than usual with the Blue wing Kookaburras cackling at around 6am. On the road by 7.30 and within five minutes we saw another Black Pig family. A Mother-pig, with 8 piglets, each the size of a kitten and including a smaller one which was obviously the runt of the litter. Then we saw Brolgas, a Jabiru, Red tailed Black Cockatoos and a Plains Turkey as well as lots of Kangaroos and some Wallabies. Jeddah did her usual barking at the cattle of which there were many on the side of the road. The first few kilometres of the road was wide bitumen but then we got to where the latter had been washed away in places. Then it was back on to the gravel road for a while which was quite good. We struck a patch of road works and chatted to the grader driver over the radio. Then the bitumen came back and it was like that all the way to Highway 1. The countryside changed to being hilly in places and quite picturesque. At Croydon we were ushered in to a movie of the town at the Information Centre. It was a good little clip telling us about the history of Croydon. But there was no free camping to be had at Croydon. Couldn’t even find a fridge magnet of the place. We drove to Lake Belmore fur kilometres from the town and had smoko there. No camping there either. It is a pity that town elders can be so short sighted as to not provide free camping for travellers. Not all travellers want to stay in caravan parks. And if staying in or on the outskirts of a town, the chances are that travelers will all spend money in the town. We pushed on to Normanton arriving there at around lunch time.

Krys the Croc

Krys the Croc

Normanton to me, is still as uninspiring as it was in 1971 when we were here last. There wasn’t anything open except two shops and the Purple Pub. We took some photos of Krys the Croc, which is on display in the Main Street. It is sad really that such a fine Crocodilian Reptile was shot for its skin. It weighed approximately two tons. The lady at one of the shops told us that there was free camping on the other side of the bridge or 20km north of town at Walkers Creek. We refuelled taking 79 litres for 578 kilometres at $1.66 per litre (13.6/100).

Purple Pub

Purple Pub

On the other side of the bridge over the Norman River we saw a number of vans and RV’s parked close to the roadside. We went for a drive a bit further out on to the floodplain and found a place right on the river which looked good enough for a camp and away from the road by about 500 metres. After forwarding and reversing a number of times we turned the rig around and settled for that position. We will have to keep a watchful eye on Jeddah as this is Crocodile Country! We might stay here for a day or two. The weather is beautiful in the high 20’s with a gentle breeze. We have all of the flaps and windows open on the van which creates a cool effect. We discovered that some ants had come along for a ride and got busy evicting them. There weren’t many flies as yet. Jude got busy with a painting of the river. We collected some firewood and had drinks outside in the afternoon light. The mozzies did not worry us but the sandflies got us around the ankles. Will rub extra Desert Dwellers on tomorrow night. Jeddah was restless until her bed was put in its usual place. There were flocks of birds flying over at sunset. They were mainly Brolgas and Sacred Ibis with the odd Jabiru around too. Once again we were up early the next morning. So what’s new? Set up the shower tent for privacy and showers. Amazing how quick we seem to do it these days. Went for a walk and found a whole cluster of small billabongs about 200 metres away from our camp.

Norman River Camp

Norman River Camp

This is where the birds are spending some time. Some of the billabongs have beautiful blue waterlilies in flower. Saw a wallaby and some Sacred Ibis and some White Herons. In the evening we saw a Fish Eagle and a Pelican. Later we walked back to one billabong and filled our buckets with water. I got muddied in the process. Later I jacked the van up and tested the wheel bearings and tightened any loose nuts on the U bolts. The solar panel came out early. The day has been breezy but pleasant. We did jobs around the van, had corn, bacon and cheese jaffles for lunch and then a snooze which was interrupted by Jeddah who was having a doggie nightmare. There are more vans on the flats today but they have kept their distance from us. We have had lots of discussions about where to go to next and what we are going to see. We decided that visiting Undara Lava Tubes would be problematical because of Jeddah. Anyway, we have been to other Lava Tubes before. Will substitute that with a Magic Cave Tour at Atherton instead. We lit a fire with the very dry wood we had dragged in from surrounding places, tonight, and kept watch with garden spray bottle just in case as there was a bit of dry grass around. Fire did get going once but we had it under control within seconds. I eventually doused the fire after 9pm when we turned in. Had to run the engine of the truck at 1200rpm to get battery up as solar panel did not seem to put enough in over the last hour of the day. The wind blew a bit during the night but eventually quietened down.
We tried to delay our early morning departure to the max and managed 8.34am. On the way out of camp some other travellers alerted us that the Top of the van was still up. Silly us!!!  Did the dump point run, topped up with water from a park tap, visited the Post Office to send parcel off and went to buy something at the shop but then decided to do the shopping in Karumba. The road to Karumba was quite busy. Once we had turned the corner to head towards Karumba the plains opened up with wetlands everywhere. Saw hundreds of Brolgas and three Sarus Cranes. I was quite excited about that, as these Asian visitors are not often seen. We made a beeline for the Raptis Fish Market on the wharf where Jude bought 2 x $15kilo and 1 x $10 kilo prawns. Then she did some shopping for supplies. We had smoko on the beach at Karumba Point where the ‘new’ township is being developed and we all dipped our toes in the Gulf of Carpentaria waters.

Karumba Beach

Karumba Beach

Then we made for Walkers Creek bush camp at the intersection of the Normanton/Karumba/Chillagoe Roads. Jude found us a beaut spot and we settled down very quickly after setting up camp. Water for the shower was found close by in the creek and the artist started on a painting soon afterwards. We were only about 200 metres from the road but the area is heavily wooded and the sound is muffled. Hopefully things should quieten down by the later afternoon. I went and collected some fire wood laying about and also made up a sling for breaking dead branches off trees. Jeddah kept wanting to protect the camp from every movement closeby, by barking loudly. This does deter other campers from setting up, but not all. By nightfall we were 10 vehicles in the area including a large bus close to us. We stayed another day just loafing around and then left on our next adventure

 

Walkers Creek Camp

Walkers Creek Camp

 

 

 

The Dinosaur Way 2010

About 100 million years ago the Eromanga Sea covered a part of Australia as depicted on the map in shade. Many species of reptilian dinosaurs were evident in that period and lie buried in the sea mud now turned to stone. Palaeontology in Western Queensland has been active since the early 1800’s. During the 1960’s Lark […]

Min Min sign

The Diamantina River Run 2010

Before leaving Boulia we spent some time at the Stone House Museum, which houses, amongst other exhibits, an excellent display of Marine Fossils of 100 million years ago. Set in the grounds of the museum is an extensive vertebrae and invertebrate fossil display which originates from the Boulia area. A new discovery of an adult Icthyosaur […]

A Binns Track Encounter 2010

We had driven the Plenty and the Donohue Highways before but this time we wanted to drive the only section of the newly created Binns Track in the Northern Territory, that we had not done before, and this route included a visit to Box Hole Meteorite Crater. I visited the Alice Springs Information Centre for more […]

Oodnadatta Track

The Oodnadatta Track 2010

  The Oodnadatta Track is an iconic road made so and famous by the Afghan cameleers of the Nineteenth Century when they transported their goods on camels imported from Afghanistan to missions in the north of South Australia and to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The Oodnadatta Tack and one of Adam Plate’s famous desert […]

Wilpena Pound in the distance

Flinders Ranges wandering 2010

    We drove east along the road which links Copley to Balcanoona and the Arkaroola Yunta road. It is a very pretty drive through the hills of the Northern Flinders Ranges with many twists and gullies. We bought an icy pole each at Iga Warta Store and Campgrounds along the road and then drove through […]

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