Exploring Queensland, July 2006. Part 11. Long road home: Dimbulah to Canberra.

Saturday, Oct 28, 2006 at 21:48


A flat tyre greeted us in the morning, so our motorhome non-tyre-changers got to see how a wheel change was done. It was foggy and damp but eventually we were on the road again admiring this rich productive area with its deep red soil. There were mangoes, coffee, sugar and vegetables all around.

We restocked at Atherton and revisited the Curtain Fig and Lake Eacham with its turtles and its huge kauri pine trees – we had first visited them a few years ago. Unfortunately both had suffered considerable cyclone damage and some of the paths were closed.

We then headed out to have another look at the magnificent big Red Cedar tree called Gadgarra in the Crater Lakes NP. It stood about 50 meters tall, was thought to be about 500 years old, and for some unknown reason had escaped being felled by the early cedar getters. We followed the signs out to the tree, parked and walked in the short distance to the viewing platform from where we saw a sad sight. The tree had fallen in the cyclone and signage indicated that it was to be left to rot on the forest floor. This seemed to us to be ecological “correctness” gone mad, not to mention a missed fundraising opportunity. We couldn’t help thinking of the huge slice cut through the trunk of a massive red cedar that adorned the ferry to Tasmania a few years back. Important historical events were marked on its growth rings putting real meaning into the age of the tree and the need to care for forests. With careful marketing, slices of this tree could have been sold to raise much needed funds for rainforest research or some other worthy cause. A few slices exported from the forest, and the bulk of the tree would still have been recycled where it fell.

Disappointed and uncertain where to spend the night we remembered the Ravenshoe railway station, so back there we went. On the way we stopped in to a lookout near Ravenshoe for glorious views across the tablelands to the almost cloud free mountains in the east around Mt. Bartle Frere. Arriving rather late at Ravenshoe we found a couple of dozen other rigs almost filling the available space. Fortunately Troopy doesn’t need much space and isn't deterred by minor obstacles like railway tracks, so we were able to tuck in out the back across the tracks where the caravans were not able to go. We set up then joined some other campers for a BBQ around a struggling fire made with wet wood. It produced a lot of smoke and very little warmth. In Queensland’s highest town the weather was cool and damp so we were glad we had a doona. Next day we went back to Innot Hot Springs where we did loads of washing and luxuriated again in the hot pools.

[Image not found]It was now time to start heading for home, so we decided to drive through the rainforest down to Innisfail. We stopped in at the beautiful Milla Milla Falls that have been a favourite picnic and swimming spot for many years. Further on we went in to the Mungalli Falls that were more like rapids with the water tumbling over rocks. The Misty Mountains Road was winding and very picturesque and we had a few stops to enjoy the view. As we went further down the mountain the cyclone damage became more obvious with whole ridges of trees stripped of their leaves. Banana plantations were slowly growing back after being flattened and many houses still had tarpaulins on their roofs. There were many huge piles of woodchips where fallen trees had been disposed of. We did not go into Innisfail which had borne the full force of Cyclone Larry and where much repair work was still being done.

As we travelled south the cyclone damage was left behind and we detoured once or twice out to the coast for some beach and water views.

Our thoughts turned to finding an overnight camp. Consulting our “free camps” book, Balgal Beach north of Townsville looked promising for an overnighter. When we arrived there about 5pm it was almost packed out, mostly by caravans. Some travellers stay the allowed 3 days, move on to another spot then come back for 3 more days and so on – even though there are no showers at Balgal. [gi]38509,250,188,C[/gi]We managed to squeeze in to a small space though one neighbour was concerned that we might block their vehicle access (as if we would!). We walked on the beach and watched the tide come in. Little bats were busily hunting insects attracted by the lights along the beach. Other biting insects, mostly sandflies, were busy hunting us.

Next day we shopped for groceries at Ayr then found the really excellent “Travellers Comfort Stop” at Home Hill just behind the main street. Its development and cost had caused some controversy in the town but the facility was excellent with stainless steel kitchens and spotlessly clean showers and toilets. Judging by the numbers of caravans pulled in it was doing its job of encouraging visitors to stop and shop in the town.

At Bowen we stopped at the “I” centre for maps then found a nice beachside camp just south of the town, complete with concrete slabs left over from old houses. Some passing locals were welcoming to the extent of inviting us up for a cuppa in the morning, an offer we happily accepted. Our night there was made memorable by some great views over the water to distant islands and peaks of the northern part of the Whitsunday coast.

OziExplorer guided us to a suitable looking spot the following night, along a 4WD track to a fishing spot beside a tidal creek. There was wood for a campfire but hungry sandflies ensured that we turned in early. We phoned friends in Rockhampton who insisted that we spend the night with them. We drove into St. Lawrence where the local polo ground doubles as a stopover point. What a wonderful initiative, with coin-in-the-slot showers (much appreciated) and a welcoming notice-board outlining community features and inviting participation in local events. Its great to see these small communities looking for innovative ways to attract tourists and at the same time boost local business.

In Rocky we had a great afternoon catching up with our friends whom we had not seen for several years – we just seemed to pick up from when we had last been together, a lovely feeling. We would have liked to stay longer but by now we were well into “going home” mode.

And so our long drive home continued. We found a spot in a state forest north of Brisbane for another overnight stop, before spending the next few nights with family in Brisbane and northern NSW. Our final camp was in the Myall Lakes NP near Newcastle where we arrived fairly late and left early. In the cold and drizzle of early August there were not many other campers about and no wood for a fire.

A quick run through Sydney and we were nearly home. As we approached Canberra we were back in the grip of winter, reflecting on an amazing trip. From the Simpson Desert, through the grass and scrublands of western Queensland, to limestone caves and tropical rainforest, all in the space of just eight weeks. What a wonderful country we have to explore.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
Lifetime Member:My Profile  My Blog  Send Message
BlogID: 2979
Views: 23239

Comments & Reviews

Post a Comment
Blog Index

Sponsored Links