Stranded by floods in Boulia for 9 days

Submitted: Friday, Jan 16, 2009 at 18:33
ThreadID: 65186 Views:3266 Replies:6 FollowUps:1
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and how lucky we were to be caught in what must be Queensland's friendliest outback town!!

After driving from Brisbane to Birdsville we called in on ExplorOz member - Ruth and husband, Ian who used to run the Caravan Park there - for a chat and a coffee.

Having not seen them since our adventure into the desert with Willem and Milton in 2004, it was really great to catch up again with this delightful couple (and their chocolate labradors and Beautiful Berman cat).

Onwards then to Boulia noticing storms on the skyline as we drove the broad dusty highway. We pulled up at the Australian Hotel/Motel and ordered drinks to wash away the dust, only to be told we could go no further north as the road was closed.

So we booked a motel unit for the night and on arrising the next morning were shocked to discover the Bourke River was overflowing the bridge which we had driven across dry, the evening before. This then meant the southern route out of the town was also closed .

We checked the road to Winton with the same result also the Donohue Highway - west from Boulia to just north of Alice Springs.

So for the next few days we watched as the Bourke took the overflowing waters from the Georgina and slowly crept up the main street of the town.

Willem rang us each day to check on our progress - or lack thereof!! Thanks Willem. It was great to have mobile contact with the outside world ( not available in Birdsville but landlines do work ok there).

We took some great photos but had to eventually accept a loan of a digital Pentax from a wonderful lady, called Jan Norton, as our batteries were flat and of course we had left the battery charger at home in Darwin!!

The meals at the Australian were terrific and the beer cold!
The company including the owners Trevor and Ethan, Shelly the barmaid and Lee the cook to mention just a few were great.

On our frequent walks to check the river level, the locals all smiled, chatted and made us very welcome.

The local Choice Service Station managers, Doug and Kareena, whose bowzers, fuel tanks and gas tank were half covered with the brown rising waters kept their humour while pouring coffee and making breakfast, lunch and dinner for any diners (local only).

The road to Mt Isa became driveable by the end of the week but that was only as far as you could get. The Barkley Highway which is the main route to the NT was washed away for about 70 mtrs and has to be entirely rebuilt.

We went to pay our account at the hotel/motel and were pleasantly surprised to be told the accommodation was to be charged at half price!!! You could have knocked us over with feathers!! Thank you so much Trevor and Ethan.

So after 9 days we finally decided we had to bite the bullet and fly out - this meant flying the milk run - 5 stops then into Brisbane 71/2 hours later. Due to intense heat off the runways and a head wind the little Sahb was quite rocking at times even while still on the runway.

A feed and a couple of hours later we flew in a Virgin jet to Darwin arriving at 1am Wed . Great to be home.

Our neighbour has generously loaned us his spare Nissan till we can make arrangements to go back and retrieve our own Nissan at the Motel where the owners are looking after it for us.

The saga of the Griffin's Christmas Trip to Qld 2008 continues.....

George and Maureen

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Reply By: Gramps (NSW) - Friday, Jan 16, 2009 at 19:12

Friday, Jan 16, 2009 at 19:12
George & Maureen,

Now that's a trip with a difference. You should be on first name terms with the entire population of Boulia. Glad it all turned out OK.

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Reply By: Member - Malcolm (Townsville) - Friday, Jan 16, 2009 at 19:52

Friday, Jan 16, 2009 at 19:52
A few years ago the Vietnam Veterans from Townsville went out to Boulia and built a Veterans' Memorial.

They still talk about how friendly everybody is out there.

One day I'll make the trip out there just to say hello.

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Reply By: Member - Bucky, the "Mexican"- Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 05:14

Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 05:14

Couldn't agree more. great place to be, and will make a point of camping up for a few days next time.


ps ... hope we get stuck there too !
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Reply By: arofs1 - Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 13:31

Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 13:31
Just a side issue question for George and Maureen, or others for that matter.

We are thinking of doing a tour from Bribie Island to Windorah / Bedourie / Boulia / Mt Isa etc during winter, We have an on road small van, but have previously tugged it to the Birdsville races and back, so we know what outrback roads are, but was wondering what condition the dirt road was south of Boulia to the windorah turnoff.

I realise it is dependent on the weather and time after the last grading, but can you give some indication of the quality of the road to help us with our decision.

Brian DJ
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 08:38

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 08:38

Went down to Bedourie in '07, and was surprised how much bitumen there is now, between there & Boulia. Would have to be 50% or more of blacktop now.

As George said, it is wide, as is the gravel sections, so you'd have no dramas "picking a line' with your van, around any rough sections.

Safe travels,
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: George (NT) - Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 13:52

Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 13:52
Hi Brian DJ,

Thanks for the interest.
We had no probllems on that stretch of the road, as a matter of fact it is wide and well looked after and as George says you could pretty well use a 2 wheel drive on it. They even have toots on the side of the road and rubbish bins!!
You should have no problems as long as it doesn't rain - be mindful of the cattle mainly towards the Birdsville end of the road!
Happy travelling!
George and Maureen
AnswerID: 344770

Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 22:48

Saturday, Jan 17, 2009 at 22:48
Hi George & Maureen
Good to see you had fun and all turned out well.

I just sent you a Member Message.


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