Diary—May 2013





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14–20 May 2013

Canberra – Violet Hill at Myall Lake – Diamond Head – Point Plomer – Coffs Harbour

Tuesday and we finally got away. About midday and drove north in sunshine which was a relief after the drizzle the day before. We headed for a site on Myall lakes we had heard about. We arrived after dark which makes setting up interesting.

We were rewarded the next morning by a beautiful campsite and the offer of some free fresh fish from a fisherman who had been out on the lake all night netting. We kept these for later and made breakfast which we shared with about 7 kookaburras—they stole it from Hutch's hand—and 8 ducks that had followed him up from the boat ramp.

Continued north to Diamond Head in Crowdy Bay NP. The camp is pretty with lots of roos who are a bit too familiar with campers. It was the first cold night to break out our Ozpig—a small fire pit on legs. A nice comfort fire for two.

We gave the trailer a shake down on the road to Point Plomer in Limeburner NP. It seems the road hadn't been graded since we were here several years ago. But a rewarding drive as the camp is beautiful. Camp has a resident baby magpie who was very familiar and would warble merrily to himself and would sit on your arm or head. An afternoon walk showed a wonderful view and an echidna trying desperately to pretend he wasn't there.

Then to Coffs Harbour for our nephew Bryce's wedding to Alex. A fun weekend with Robin's mum & dad, brother and sister-in law, and sister and brother-in-law plus the other Allen boys. The wedding was a strong statement of Bryce and Alex's Christian faith and their commitment to each other. The reception was a great celebration in the style of Bryce and Alex's generations—lots of music (think Daft Punk) and dance with a few twists.

Week 1

Starting out

Ozpig comfort

Friendly magpie with eyelashes

Point Plomer sunset

Bryce and Alex

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21–28 May 2013

Coffs Harbour – Goondiwindi – Eulo – Longreach – Cloncurry

We headed west from Coffs Harbour crossing the Gibraltar range with stunning views, through Glen Innes and Inverell and on to Goondiwindi. Checked into the Rivergum caravan park—very small and very basic but clean and close enough to the town centre to walk around and quieter than the park on the highway.

But it rained overnight and we packed up a wet Tim in drizzle. We headed west but our choice of roads was limited by the wet. South west Queensland were rejoicing in the moisture but we found it limited our choice of roads—rain = no dirt roads. We drove to Cunnamulla and stopped for a surprisingly good coffee in a very pretty town. We must come back. But Cunnamulla had 2500 people so we went west to Eulo which boasted 104 people. The temperature had risen from 11 degrees to 19 degrees and we were greeted by sunshine in Eulo. A great pub.

On the way out of town we visited the Springs. We were enchanted by the most beautiful birdsong as lots of different birds made the most of the permanent water. Then further west and a bit north to Quilpie. The roads seemed consistently empty going our way but we had to dodge cattle, roos and emus on the road. We were fascinated by wedgetail eagles making the most of the road kill as were a disturbing number of cats. And we saw several pigs—most of them alive.

This was a long drive to Longreach. We slightly miss-planned this drive and arrived about an hour after dark. That made the last hour of the drive strenuous as lots of creatures ventured onto the road once the sun went down. Unfortunately we collected a roo. We missed hundreds more. The insurance of the bullbar paid off.

The next day we visited the Cattleman's Hall of Fame. Well worth a visit. Longreach is a pretty and compact town but had all that we needed including a good coffee at a beautiful outback photographic gallery. And an excellent bbq dinner at the Commercial Hotel where we shared a table with a Swedish girl—Jess—who is working on farms to earn an extension to her visa.

We had two nights in Longreach and then headed north west. We drove through Winton and stopped at the Blue Heeler pub at Kynuna which claims to be the birth place of Waltzing Matilda. It was supposedly penned by Banjo Patterson in response to his involvement in settling the shearers' strike and made reference to a suicide nearby. Good food and a lovely, and huge, open fire.

And finally to Cloncurry where we will spend 4 nights. Our contact at the Anglican church, Karen, invited us to join them at the P&C trivia night that night. It was great fun, well attended, and full of the townsfolk and visitors. We settled in behind the church where we will help out for the next couple of days.

We joined the congregation of ladies for the Sunday morning service. And were very warmly welcomed. They are waiting for a minister. Hopefully one will arrive soon with the help of BCA. We are here as BCA volunteers. We have use of the bathroom in the rectory as the rectory is currently empty—except for a large green frog in the toilet.

Monday was spent working on the rectory.

Week 2

Rain = no dirt roads

Springs near Eulo

First water crossing

Blue Heeler pub at Kynuna

Cloncurry trivia night

Cloncurry landscape

Cloncurry frog

St Andrews Anglican church Cloncurry

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28 May–3 June 2013

Cloncurry – Lawn Hill – Kingfisher Camp – Karumba – Mt Surprise – Atherton – Cairns

Final day at Cloncurry we finished the rectory and snuck off to do some washing and a bit of shopping before heading on. We bid Karen and the girls farewell. It will be great for them to have a minister and we are praying one will be available soon.

North again and a little west to Lawn Hill via the Riversleigh D site—a fossil find—which was a rocky outcrop in a red landscape. There the toilet and information bay was cunningly disguised as a rock—a very big rock. But the biggest surprise was Lawn Hill. It is a picturesque oasis in a dry landscape—emerald green water surrounded by lush growth. We swam, even tho' there was at least one fresh water croc, and the next morning we canoed up the gorge to the Indiri falls. It was just stunning as we glided through lily beds and saw turtles coming up for air.

A short way north again through our first interesting creek crossing. They are getting slowly deeper and more challenging and this one you couldn't actually see where you came out because it was round a bend. A fun night round a fire at Kingfisher camp and the next day we looked at the swamp.

North and east along the alternate (sic) Savannah Way to Karumba where we had strong recommendations to get some fish and chips from Ash's and watch the sun set over the water. It exceeded expectations. The Barramundi was fresh and sweet and the sunset lingered for about an hour. But you can't swim in the enticing ocean because of crocs.

Here we had our first deviation to plans. Hutch inspected Tim's suspension—something we don't normally do—and found a major bolt in the suspension had dropped its nut (captive) and had almost wriggled free. We were unable to get a high tencile replacement in either Karumba or Normanton. So Hutch rigged a temporary replacement and we took to soft road—the sealed Savannah Way—to Cairns.

We drove to Mt Surprise that day. It is about half way to Cairns. And were surprised by a lovely campground (a little run down) but peaceful and pretty. THey had a pet emu that would follow you any where but wouldn't be chased anywhere. And Hutch got to dance with a Brolga that had been raised with their miniature horses. It was a lovely stop.

Continuing east we deviated off the road for a bit to visit the Undarra Lava Tubes. These ancient tunnels formed by flowing lava have come to light because occaisionally the roof collapses. This exposes the tube which often retreats into a cave. They are spectacular and create and a micro-climate for rainforest-like plants to grow and cave dwelling beasties to thrive. They are ancient, fascinating and really quite beautiful. And they can only be visited with a guide to protect them.

East to Atherton for the night. In the morning we found a bolt shop that had everything. So we got our replacement and cruised into Cairns a day early. The repairs were thankfully much quicker and easier that we had expected. Now we wait for our traveling companions.

Week 3

Riversleigh site D with cunningly disguised toilet

Lawn Hill gorge

Driving to Kingfisher camp

Kingfisher swamp

Sunset at Karumba

Dancing brolga

Undarra lava tube