Days 2 to 12 - Miles to AAOD, Winton, then Bladensburg NP, Winton.

Tuesday, Apr 09, 2013 at 10:27

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

NOTE: Photos for this Blog now added. Now for the next blog - soon.
Day 2 - Miles to Barcoo Rest Area between Tambo and Blackall.

After an early night, I was awoken and startled about midnight by unannounced visitors. There were noises outside my Camper: an unfamiliar snorting-type noise; the safety chain occasionally rattled; and the Camper softly nudged. Slightly spooked, I must admit, I thumped loudly on the Camper floor to scare said intruder/s away. Nothing changed and the slight disturbances continued. There were no other sounds (or smells) in the still night air.

Grabbing my trusty torch, I slowly peered out the window into the semi-moonlit landscape. Would you believe that a number of cattle were actually grazing close to the Camper - one was very close! I've watched cattle grazing for years during the day, but never as they grazed during the night. Interestingly, I'd never taken notice of the sounds made as they grazed, unique munching sounds seemingly magnified in the still night air. By the morning light, I could see why - there was plenty of tucker.

It wasn't until early the next day I saw why the Camper received attention. The gas bottle had acted as a salt lick - blood from a relatively minor 'roo collision the previous day had been licked off. Something else learned.

Also during the night, another vehicle had arrived. Met them in the morning - lovely chatty couple from Toowoomba travelling to meet a bush walking group near Arcadia NP for the long weekend.

A boiled coffee bag later, I was off to Augathella, with every intention of setting up camp at the Augathella Rest Area. After refuelling car and grabbing some breakfast/dinner at the servo on the Highway at Augathela, it was off to the Rest Area.

Family with noisy kids and foul-mouthed father (at the young kids mind you) saw me drive off towards one of my favourite Western Towns - Tambo. No shops open. Pulled into the North Tambo Rest Area, which is really a Service Road right next to the Landsborough Highway. No way!

So I headed further North West to the Barcoo River Rest Area on the Landsborough Hwy between Tambo and Blackall.
On the northern bank of the Barcoo, the level site has very basic facilities - plenty of tree shade, covered picnic tables and rubbish bins only. No toilets or water. But reasonably quiet when truck traffic noise stopped after dark. About 100m from the Highway. It had been a long day, and off to Isisford tomorrow which will be new territory for me to explore.

Day 3 - Barcoo River Rest Area to Oma Waterhole , Isisford

After a night at the Barcoo River Rest Area, I decided to avoid roadside Rest Areas in future and be more adventurist, even thought it might mean travelling further than I planned. So, it was off to Isisford.

Isisford is a nice little town which caters well for travellers. Nice campground on the edge of the town, with tanked potable water on tap, clean toilets, etc. Picked up a couple of little things for the trip - like a BIG hose connection. I had forgotten most van parks and the like have a much tap bigger connection than usual. All good now.

Oma Waterhole - It took a while to find this little gem - directions given are a bit unclear, as you'll see from my trek, and I almost gave up and headed for Longreach. But using other resources (MudMaps) , I finally found Oma Waterhole on the Western side of the Barcoo River.
Absolutely lovely, large and spacious campground right on the River edge, but high enough to get away quick if the River floods. Shady campsites runs for several kilometres, and are well spaced so no one is closer than 200-300metres. Ground has one big set of amenities in the middle of the campground maintained by the Isisford Council. Enjoyed a hot shower about 3:00pm. Has hot water, but the cold water is plenty warm enough. Walked out to mid-30s, sweated in 2 minutes, but clean! And flies are everywhere.

Finally had a decent hot feed, cooked and eaten outside of course. The gas in the van didn't seem to be working. When I have time, I'll see if they really gave me a full bottle of gas with the Camper. If so, it's not getting through to the stove, and therefore, probably the fridge. Thank god for the GasMate stove I carry for such emergencies, and for the old Engel!!!

Day 4 - Oma Waterhole, Isisford to Beaconsfield, Ilfracombe

The route from Isisford north to Ilfracombe is a one-lane bitumen road. I had a tasty buffet breakfast and good coffee at a cosy little Cafe next to the Wellshot Hotel at Ilfracombe. Feeling good, it was off to cousins' property at Beaconsfield where I had arranged to leave the Camper for a few days while I picked up Marie and drove to the AAOD at Winton. I had an interesting trek to Beaconsfield, but eventually found my destination. The route I had taken before found me at an impassible, washed-out creek crossing. A quick back-up and U-turn, I found another route, and arrived in time for an ICB and company for the next couple of days.

Day 5 - Beaconsfield to Longreach, to Winton.

Off to Longreach Airport to meet Marie arriving from Brisbane. Another good coffee at the QANTAS Founders Museum, and off we headed to Maloney Lodge at the AAOD Laboratory/Museum.

After meeting the caretakers Ron and Narelle, and two of Marie's friends, we settled into our room, unpacked and ventured out to enjoy the scenic views. Then, the bush flies found us. And, guess who forgot the hat nets? Flies don't particularly annoy me, but for they among us not used to the outback, it's a different story!

The jump-up has been measured at some 85 metres above the black soil plains, with Winton in the distance. Spectacular outback scenery.

And we were introduced to our resident Willie Wagtails - "Septic Willie" and "Septic Willomena". A bird bath has been set up outside Maloney Lodge near the "Goat Tree" for their water and washing. I volunteered to maintain their water. The bird bath was frequently visited by Mr and Mrs Wagtail.

Days 6 to 9 - AAOD Laboratory, Winton.

On a visit to the AAOD Museum in 2012, we were taken by the impressive, newly-opened Museum, and its contents based on fossils discovered in the Winton area during last two decades. Impressively guarding the entrance to the Museum is a statue of Banjo. Banjo is a ferocious, raptor-like theropod (carnivore) with the scientific name "Australovenator wintonensis".

Named after legendary Australian poet Banjo Patterson, other new fossilised dinosaur finds of two huge sauropods in the Winton area bear the names of characters in his works - Matilda and Clancy

We signed up as members of AAOD on the spot, and vowed to return to preform the important voluntary work to unearth, chip away rock, and indeed, help create history as previously unknown species of dinosaurs were being discovered. And, as in Banjo's case, a claw was unearthed while enabled paleontologists to construct an accurate picture of the theropod.

We kept our commitment on this trip, and will return again. I think every kid, big or small, loves dinosaurs, and this is part of a dream come true. Where else can you do something like this, and be the first human ever to see physical evidence of dinosaurs? After an introduction to staff, fellow volunteers and our tools of trade, we spend the next four days using a mini-jackhammer: me working on Wade's toe (we think), and Marie working on some of Wade's vertebrae.

Wade is a huge, herbivorous sauropod and it is thought there are 60 per cent of his or her bones located and stored in the Laboratory. She is named after the late Dr Mary Wade. Wade the sauropod is a long-necked, 5 toed, dinosaur species.

Some highlights of the AAOD experience included meeting David Elliott from Belmont Station. David, Executive Chairman of the AAOD is a grazier and Field Palaeontologist. He is accredited with finding the first set of dinosaur bones on his property in 1999, and later finding meteorite fragments, which drew world-wide attention. The jump up (or Mesa) where the Museum and Laboratory are located, were kindly donated by the Britton Family of Mt Landsborough.

We also met the talented palaeoartist Travis Tischler who created the brass mould of Banjo based on the actual fossilised bones recovered. The colours are impressive, but did a fast theropod like Banjo really need camouflage? Artistic license! The closest we came to a living carnivorous animal was a goanna trawling outside the Lab. And we thought it was hunting prey such as a green frog located inside Maloney Lodge. Or maybe, Septic Willie! Best of luck catching a willie wagtail buddy!

Another highlight of this visit was a late afternoon tour of the jump-up kindly arranged by Ron and Narelle. More absolutely spectacular scenery, including Red River Gums, Ghost Gums, and a permanent waterhole to support the local kangaroo and fauna population. The flora and fauna is well worth viewing, provided you have someone who knows where they are going. Add a few roos and their scats to the landscape, and we both agreed the tour was inspiring.

Day 10 - AAOD Winton to Longreach, then Beaconsfield.

All packed up, we said a fond farewell to AAOD and agreed we will return about the same time next year. After several long road trains, traffic-stopping very wide-loads and roadworks, we arrived back in Longreach to put Marie on her flight back to Brisbane. There was the mandatory good coffee at the Qantas Founders Museum. It was a sad farewell, as I don't expect to see Marie and my family for a few weeks yet.

As the silver wings disappeared South, I made the trip back to Beaconsfield; planning to stay until Monday when after re-stocking supplies in Longreach, it's North-West again.

Played around with the gas connection in the Camper, and managed to get the fridge going. Next will be the gas stove.

Day 11 - Beaconsfield.

Happy Birthday Mitchell.

Accompanied my cousin on a cross country drive around the Station this morning with my cousin to inspect stock, water troughs and dams. Lots of fit and healthy Drought Master cattle and calves, and plenty of feed around the property. It's lambing time about now, and sometimes baby lambs get into the troughs and can't get out. They drown, and with the temperatures here, very quickly rot and foul the water. Sheep and cattle won't drink it and neither would I.

Last night at Beaconsfield, and then back on the road - tar, dirt and bush tracks.

Day 12 - Beaconsfield to Longreach, then Blandensburg NP, Winton.

After leaving Beaconsfield, it was a short stop to drop some mail off in Winton for my Aunt, and then West to Longreach. After getting a few basics for the longish journey ahead, it was off to the Bladensbugh NP for the night. When setting up, I found the 12v electrics on the Camper weren't working. Checked all the obvious but still no go. Using my spare Waeco battery, I would have light by night, and the important fan. The gas cookers on the stove still won't work, but I had my simple butane stove, and having purchased more butane canisters in Longreach, I decided to continue West tomorrow. Music by iPad from here on I think.

Oh, camped at Bough Shed Hole Campground in the Bladensburg NP.

Longish dirt road, corrugated in parts, leading to well-maintained campsites next to Surprise Creek. Only one composting toilet, but no water or other facilities. With a couple of other campers around, a quiet night was had by all. AND, finally got the gas on the stove to work. Next: my 12v electrics.

Now to Cloncurry.
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root -- Chinese Proverb
John & Marie
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