Click Back on Browser to Return to Previous Page

Click to go to-     Family Tree       Main Index      Information Index 

Paul and Ivor Going Feral 2

Part 1

Lawson NSW to Tully Falls National Park QLD

 

 

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 3

Go to Part 4

By Paul Jones

By Ivor Morton

 

Fri. 4/42008.

I t is finally happening the Cruiser is packed to the gunnels, and I picked up Ivor at his place around 10 am.

Deirdre bid a fond Farwell to Ivor who she (if every thing goes well) will not see again for three months.

Before leaving we decided to go back to my place to get the vacuum flask and make tea to revive us on the trip.

The Cruiser handled the load extremely well as we headed for our destination for the day. Gloucester, and after a couple of hours we pulled up for lunch just after crossing the Hawkesbury River- which was of great interest to me because at one time I was working on the Expressway with a truck and the brakes failed and it ended up minus the front axle and wheels in the river- the scene has changed since then. The old jetty has gone as well as the temporary workers caravan park and the concrete batching plant, now in its place is a lovely picnic area, after partaking of some lovely egg sandwiches that Ivor’s wife Deirdre had packed for us we continued on and arrived at our first camp at the caravan park at Gloucester Where a very pleasant young lady booked us in for the night. She let us both ring our homes on the phone at no extra cost.

We put our tent up not far from the river a very pleasant spot indeed, Ivor was pretty sure that he spotted a platypus in the river.

I cooked tea for the first night. The night turned out to be a

rather chilly one.

 

 

 

 

 

We were away, had to go to Paul’s for the thermos and then bought fruit and fuel and then all systems go to the Hawkesbury River rest area. Paul had some memories of his days working on the expressway. It was then full speed ahead over the Hunter and on to Gloucester via Stroud. The camping area was a pleasant spot on running water. I had a possible sighting of a Platypus. Our packing is a bit of a muddle and we have a good spread on, I think that we will soon get on top of that. A cool evening.

 

Sat 5-4-2008.

We woke just on daylight to a cool morning that rapidly improved to a rather nice one.

After doing some shopping and getting gas for the Cruiser we headed of for our destination for Cundle Flat, heading towards Taree we turned of for Cundle Flat along the Bundook Road Now sealed around half way, after this the road was all-weather if not some what tight in places. The scenery was rather dramatic with green pastures at the foot of hill and mountains all around. We followed the Manning River to Ivor and Deirdre’s old farm of some fifty years ago, which of course was the whole purpose of this leg of our trip, and onto the last property before crossing the river “Tigriah” which is run by John Fenning, who Managers it for his uncle Guy Watts.

After going through a gate we stopped at the homestead and Ivor had a lengthy yarn with John Fenning, and got a lot of information on old acquaintances and updates on Gossip and stories about people still here and long gone names such as Eggletons, Shepherds, Burkes and Smiths.

We then back tracked to Cundle Flat farm were there was camping facilities available.

Kristina, who with her husband runs the Farm and Camping area, booked us in. After getting more information on the district and paying out fifty dollars we set up camp on the banks of the fast flowing Manning.

Ivor was just preparing to cook some tea- when Oliver the joint owner strolled into our camp with a glass of home made Bourbon in his hand, and after greeting us and asking did we mind if he intruded, with our answer being “Not at all” He then produced from under his coat two bottles of beer- he told us something of his life- he was before he met his wife a self confessed beach bum, and did nothing but travelling and surfing and lay about, He met his wife who was a Qantas Executive- They both liked travelling and Kristina said jokingly.

“That’s why he married me for the free travel”. Oliver became a changed man after they married and now seems to live for her and the farm come camping ground She handles the business design and he handles the work. Seems to work out very well.

I had better sleep than the night before; Stars everywhere.

 

 

Many changes in district, lots of hobby farms and weekenders, many ramshackle. None of the properties are viable on their own and owners must have other income. Like this camp place.

 

Sun 6-4-2008.

Woke to find Ivor up and about, he was in bed a couple of hours before me last night. After having breakfast we set up the eighty-meter dipole antenna for my Sked with Brian and Ralph, The other campers were very curious at what we were doing, but on explaining to them that I was an amateur radio operator and we were going to talk to our mates in Sydney. Then set off to have a bit more of a look at the River crossing in “Tigriah” John Fenning had said we could come back and have a look around, and we wanted to investigate the possibility of crossing the Manning and werewe would go from there. We did not see any sign of John although when we stopped at the house his daughter said he was down at the yards. But she said john had told her we would be coming and to go ahead, we drove past the yards but no sign of him Ivor pointed out some old graves we did not stop intending to have a closer look on the way back.

The track was only two tyre marks in the grass and led to a rocky crossing. Ivor walked through with the aid of a stick to balance himself against the rather swift current, and when he got to the other side I followed with the cruiser as the water had not quite reached his knees, no trouble so on picking Ivor up we re-crossed to the other side.

On reaching the old gravesite we stopped and took some photos, some of the names Breezes and Frosts including a twelve and half year old boy with the surname Hinton, it is said he was killed in a horse racing accident. The graves started from the late 1800s. AfterTaking photos we headed back to camp.

After some lunch we drove a couple of kilometres to “Kitti Kitti”.

When we arrived at “Kitti Kitti”, Dougal Shepherd the son of the owner Gower Shepherd was in the front yard- we introduced ourselves and he then showed Ivor and myself around the farm. Dougal was brought up on the place but is now acting as caretaker only, the place is a fair mess with over grown paddocks and old and broken down machinery, his mother died around a month ago and now the place must be sold off to wind up the estate.

Good contact with Ralph VK2ZRG and Brian VK2KML- Dave VK2GIO also called in but was having trouble with his Radio, on the whole the Sked went well with out the usual electrical interference that I get at my place at Lawson in the Blue Mountains, Next Sked due next Wednesday.

 

 

Packing up was slow, we got gas ands supplies in the town and then it was on the road to Kitti Kitti at Cundle flat. Modern transport and better roads made light of the trip and memories flooded back to me, the day I lost a wheel on the old truck, the floods on the river, Loads of pigs to the sale yard, helter skelter home to milk in the evening, good times, bad times, hard times I was very nostalgic.

Paul took me for trips up and down the river, seeing old sights and many a change. I was glad when we got to the camping grounds at old Joe Eggleton’s place. New house well laid out campsites, fires and wood, hot water, showers; it was all a far cry from the old days. 52 years since I left. Our hosts are Oliver and Kristina. A clear night, probably a frost in the morning, I could hear the Manning river bubbling along as I went to sleep.

 

Mon 7 April.

Daylight saving ended last night: so we have an extra hour to day.

After breakfast we broke camp and at about 10 O’clock Oliver came over and told us that Gower Shepherd was at “Kitti Kitti” and would like to have a yarn with Ivor before we left, and that he was waiting at “Kitti Kitti”. Oliver said that he would see us there as he was going to ride a Filly (that he had just finished breaking in) on the road for the first time.

On arriving at “Kitti Kitti”, Oliver along with Gower and his son Dougal were admiring the rather skittish filly.

Gower after purchasing `Kitti Kitti’ in 1956 he ran it as a dairy till 1980, adding various Milk Board quotas at the appropriate time, relinquishing them to the government and receiving compensation payments. He reckoned that he made enough money doing this to pay for the purchase of numerous properties in the area; these were later realized on and now have property in northwestNSW. `Kitti Kitti’ being the last property of his Companies in the area is to be auctioned.

Upon leaving `Kitti Kitti’ we headed for “Wollolombi National Park” around 1000 meters above sea level. A beautiful place with one of the highest falls in Australia, the gorge being hundreds of feet deep, and not far distance a very good camping area with drop toilet and level camp sites and fire place with supplied wood all for the princely sum of $3 per head.

The down side was that it was cold and never stopped raining We managed to get a fire going with the aid of some paper towels, wet wood and bark from the dry side of stringy bark trees with an umbrella to keep the rain at bay.

Around nine O’clock Ivor was in his swag and the rain had temporally stopped, I was sittingby the fire having a cup of tea when a brush-tailed possum came looking for scraps. It wasn’t at all perturbed with my presence. I managed to get two photos with flash before the camera batteries went flat, and paid the possum for his co-operation with an apple, which it set about consuming with great gusto.

I slept well that night although it rained most of the time but inside the tent all was warm and dry.

 

 

A parting run around my old haunts. Oliver was riding a filly that he had just trained to the saddle. (I don’t say Broken In on purpose.) He said that he was riding up to see the Shepherds and Gower was there and would like to see me. We followed and at Kitti Kitti and saw Gower and son Dougald (He was the image of the Gower I knew all those years ago, though not so brash in his personality.) Gower like me had aged, he had forgotten to do up his fly and his teeth looked the worse for wear, but he was still full of accomplishments though not as brash as before.

It was a great trip up to the highlands with many dramatic views and we made camp at Wollolombi Falls. It had been looking overcast and soon rain fell. Paul got a fire going whilst I hid in the tent. I slept well and Paul entertained visitors in the rain.

 

 

Tue 8 April.

Still Raining and cold we managed to have breakfast and then packed up a very wet camp, and headed off for Ivor’s sons place at `Urunga’ about 20 kilometres South of `Coffs Harbour’.

Bim owns a woodwork and joinery factory that turns out high-class furniture and other joinery products. This is were we first went and after letting him know of our arrival we went to his house and were very glad to be out of the wet weather.

Violet, Bim’s 14 year old daughter came home from school shortly after our arrival, a lovely looking girl of pleasant nature she got us something to eat as Bim had a wood working class on and wouldn’t be back till 10 pm. We all got to bed shortly after Bim Got home. And I had best sleep for some nights.

Ivor stood the tent and hung some of the camping gear out to dry in the back yard.

 

 

Wet pack up and on to Bim’s via Dorrigo. Called at factory and had a general yak, went home and unloaded some of the gear in the hope of drying things out. Back at factory to see sander arrive. Happy evening with Violet.

 

Wed 9 April.

In the morning we went shopping and I bought a mobile phone, as the one that Ivor has is old one that does not get very good coverage, so far the new one seems a lot better

In the afternoon we went around to Bim’s Factory and watched the unloading of a three-ton sanding machine. Still raining

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very wet day. Took clothes to be dried and went to Coffs, bought a new stove and Paul got a Telstra phone. Rationalized some of our gear and left some things in the workshop, took other things up to be dried out. Had a good talk to all at the workshop.

 

Thurs 10 April.

Ivor took the wet gear around to Bim’s factory hoping that it might dry under cover.

We then went for a run to Grafton buying a sandwich on the way back.

This evening Ivor shouted us all tea out. Good of him.

Tomorrow we set out again notwithstanding the weather and visit some of Ivor’s friends Bob Ross and Bridgett Steiverman at `Lilyfield Community’ near Nimbin, north east of Kyogle.

 

 

Went with Paul to Mc Lean to see an old friend at a Nursing home. I do not want to be anywhere near one when it’s time for me to go. Good fellowship with all and had dinner at the Urunga Hotel.

 

Fri 11 April.

We woke to a better morning, still mainly overcast but blue showing through here and there. After breakfast we packed the Cruiser and went over to Bim’s factory to pick up the tent and other things that Ivor had there drying under shelter, after retrieving these items and having a cup of tea with Bim, we got away around 10 am.

A good run through to Grafton, we had few showers but mainly fine. Half way between Grafton and Casino we stopped and had a cup of tea and a bit of Maria’s delicious fruit cake, which is already nearly gone, and then on to Kyogle. As we got closer the country became very mountainous with a narrow but sealed road winding throw and up and down the side of steep inclines declines. We had a bit of trouble finding `Lilyfield Community’ and over shot it by about six kilometres, after making a few inquiries we duly arrived to be warmly greeted by Bob and Bridgett. The house his basically hung on four posts with open living space and a veranda around half of it looking out tree top high across the valley on winch tall eucalypts blocking the few of the distant mountains.

Under the main floor there is a platform suspended from the four main posts this completely open to the air with no walls of any kind. There is a bed equipped with big mosquito net and other supporting furniture this is were Bob and Bridgett spend the nights.

At the other end of a 30 meter suspended walk way leading from the house is a separate construction fronted by large sliding doors and veranda with a composting toilet at the end. At the other side of a glass door is a large room where there is a bed, desk, lounge, piano and bookshelves with the accompanying books this is where Ivor and I slept for the night.

The house is supplied with some electric power for fridge, lights computer etc from solar panels, batteries and inverter system,

Soon after we arrived two friends of Bob and Bridgett arrived, Lindal and Sandy . Sandy built this house for the previous owner.

Bridgett supplied us with a meal of pumpkin soup followed be Currie and rice, the day was concluded sitting around talking with a few alcoholic drinks to loosen the tongue.

 

Looking from Bob and Bridgett's Place

 

 

Got gear from workshop and then off on an enjoyable trip to Lillyfield via Kyogle. Got lost as I didn’t recognize Lillyfield, perhaps the shrubbery had grown since last time I was there. Had a great welcome from Bob. Paul checked out this wonderful home and we were most happy to see Bridgett when she came home and soon after Lyndal and Sandy called in. It was an evening of good food, drink and friendship.

 

Sat 12 April.

Good sleep although I woke before dawn and arose as soon as it was light. Ivor woke up daylight and so the second day at Bob and Bridgett’s began. After breakfast of toast and lime jam, we went into Nimbin, Bridgett and Bob showed us around. Bridgett knew a few people there and there was a distinct smell of Marijuana in the air and when we were looking through I saw three deals being done and on the street after another two. Apart from this the town is clean and tidy with brightly coloured shop fronts with drawings and slogans everywhere the words Hemp and Marijuana were the most frequently used words. There was some sort of market going on I think, as there were quite a few stalls mainly selling folk art and quite a few people that did not look like locals wandering around.

After wandering around we went to the local hall were there were some paintings and such on display, at the back of the hall there was a coffee shop and Ivor bought us all a coffee and cake, tea in my case.

 

In the afternoon Bridgett attended a community shareholders meeting, and Bob took us to see the views from some of the local lookouts. What a view presented itself to our eyes. We had climbed over 500 feet in a half hour, to what is known as `The Pinnacle’. We were looking across the `Tweed Valley’ maybe ten or fifteen kilometres across, studded with farms, creeks and waterholes and in the distance was the mountain that I believe Captain Cook named Mount Warning.

Ended the day the same as yesterday in the great company of Bob and Bridgett.

 

 

 

 

Enjoyed trip to Nimbin, woodwork show, and great-carved snakes. Bob took us on a fab tour of lookouts. Got tons of information on places to go in North Queensland.

 

13 April 2008.

We were all packet up and ready to depart Ivor’s friend’s place by Nine o’clock. After hugs and handshakes all round we headed off for Warwick and into hopefully sunny Queensland . From Warwick we went through Toowoomba and on to Dalby. It was there that I worked around farms some fifty years ago but it has changed so much that I could not find anything familiar in the place at all! After driving around a bit we headed out towards Tara along the Moonie Highway . About 20 Kilometres out we turned off to the left towards lake Broadwater but about 2 Kilometres from the lake stopped for the night at a very nice bush camping area with tank water and good clean drop toilet.

Sked night so while Ivor set up camp I set up the 89 m antenna and ham radio.

Just after dark the park ranger call in and we had a chat with him for a wile he said that there were still some of the Scully family in Dalby. This was the family that ran a boarding house in Dalby when I was there fifty years ago.

Made contact on 80m with Ralph, Brian and Dave, the first half was difficult because of low batteries voltage but improved when I switched the main battery through, it would seem that the gel cells are not getting sufficient charge when the refrigerator is running.

Lovely to be camping in the bush again got to bed about 11 o’clock after writing this up.

 

 

Good trip to boarder, lovely country. Through to Clifton, Toowoomba and then to Dalby and camped at Broadwater.

 

14 April 2001.

About 9 O’clock and all loaded up we went on to the Broad water lake. The ranger and his wife were just cleaning the shower block so we were able to have a very welcome hot shower. The ranger said that he was on contract of $1 per week from the Council. It worked out well as he was on an invalid pension and the accommodation was free. The fees from the camping were his, and he only had to notify “Centre Link” if the earning were over $60 per week. He and his wife keep things in top shape and I would recommend the camping areas highly.

After about an hour and squeaky clean we were once more heading for Tara an old stamping ground of mine as I spent about 18 months working on “Marmadua State Forestry” fifty years ago and I was keen to see the changes that may have accrued since then. When we arrived there I had trouble recognize the place, but after a while I started to get more orientated. The pub was still there, as was the Tara cafe were we had a mid day meal on a Saturdays when I used to drive the ration in from the forestry so long ago. It was changed on the inside. There was a super market where the old Co-Op where   we bought our groceries from had been. I had to buy a towel to replace the one that I left at Bob and Bridgett place and had a talk with the shop keeper, I found out that a fellow Frank Baker, whom I did some work for was dead, and the family was now mostly around the Moonie area. Also the “Marmadue State Forestry” was abandoned and all the buildings had been moved else-ware. Noone seemed to know any thing about the old fire tower that I had spent many hours manning.

The roads out of town had changed a lot, but after getting some provisions we got directions and headed out to see what we could find. About half way out we met a grader and driver who was dry grading the road, and he confirmed we were on track. When we arrived there was very little left of the old barracks, married quarters, sheds and overseer’s house. Just a few stumps, an old dam and a slab of concrete that was once the galley were we used to cook our meals. We then went looking to see if we could find the old fire tower, with success, but all that was left when we did find it, were the four stumps of the posts that used to rise about fifty feet into the air, for a small glass windowed hut that I used to man for many hours in the fire season. It was strange to realize that I was looking at history and that I was part of it!

After some lunch and looking around and taking photos, we l headed for “Meandarra”, another leg on this nostalgic part of the trip (Mine that is, not Ivor’s)

The road was all bitumen now, unlike when I used to work in the area. We saw some emus and a kangaroo. Around four o’clock we found a suitable camp on the road to Meandarra. Ivor cooked vegetables and I cooked some lamb chops that we got to Tara. I tried to get a shot of the half moon in a clear sky, and I tried to get a shot of it with the camcorder, but with out a tripod I could not hold the camcorder very still, will see how it looks when I put the movies together.

There was a lot of prickly pear about. They were giants with stems that were more like tree trunks and up to six meters high-and laden with fruit.

I got to bed about 10 o’clock

 

 

Broadwater campsite, good showers, talk to caretaker. On to the forestry camp and checked on old sites relevant to Paul. Emus running and also roos. Bush camp amongst huge Prickly Pear.

 

Tues. 15 April.

I slept well till five am but was awake till Ivor got up about six o’clock. Then promptly went to sleep till about seven, consequently we were a little late getting away. When we arrived at “Meandarra” it was Ivor whom first spotted the bowling green , I recognized it as the one I worked on so many years ago. Of the burned down house and the open wash-shed of cause there was no sign, (I had camped there). We went driving around town and it was not far to the Condamine River were at the time I was working in the area, I remembered there were half a dozen men camped along the bank.

There was two men at the bowling green and we introduced our- selves, one had been born and bred in the district and remembered the house that burned down and the small shed, he was then on a property out side town.

Looking around also brought back memories of the first real girl friend I knew. I was completely inexperience in such matters, but soon found out on the banks of the Condamine. She was the daughter of a drover and for a few months I was engaged to her. I did a few small droving trips with mainly sheep and once a few heifers. My job was to drive the Ute ahead with all the gear. During the day I would go ahead a mile or so and boil the billy for him. Towards the end of the day I would go to the next camp (Sheep travel six miles cattle twelve miles a day.) At that time there was water every six miles on the stock routs. Sometimes there would be part of a yard left by other drovers, made of what ever was handy, sticks logs or whatever. The Ute was equipped with rolls of chook wire and steel posts. With these, my job was to close in or construct a holding yard for the sheep.

I would then light a fire and put on potatoes and rice for evening meal. These were two of the things consumable that we carried, the others were corn beef and prunes, the last I presume were to move the other three.

I also got a bit of work around the district marking lambs etc. but work was short,

Because I had worked on the at “Marmadue State Forestry” for about six months before I arrived at Meandarra, I rang the overseer Percy Scallion and he gave me a job. It wasn’t long after leaving that I got a `Dear John’ letter from the drover’s Daughter, though she kept the engagement ring that I had given her.

So much for memories, after having lunch on the banks of the Condamine we left for the rest of the trip. Ivor wanted to go north through Miles and Emerald eventually cut back to the east coast above “Rockhampton”.

As we were approaching Miles the mobile telephone came into range and there were two messages from Maria wanting to know why I had not rang, she had left for a short cruise the day we left for our trip on the fifth, I had marked the calendar for her return on the sixteen but she has been back two days already. I rang her four or five times during the day but she was not home eventually made contact when we camped at some Chain lagoons 15 kilometres north of Taroom 126 kilometres North of Miles.

Not much signal on phone but managed to contact Maria, cut out several times, and the last time a message came on and said that I was out of credit. That meant that it had cost us about $20 for about twenty minuets of conversation, the worst of it was that whole motive on my part was to get the scheme that gave me five free numbers and the first number that I registered was Marie’s and after me upsetting her by not contacting her for two days after she had returned from her trip, which she was very upset about, and now some mix-up with the phone. The free number for Ivor’s wife Deirdre still worked so I rang her and asked her to ring Marie and explain it to her. Nothing I can do about it till tomorrow.

Went to bed around ten thirty.

 

 

To Mandarra, feral underpants, Meet up at Bowling Club. Colourful flowers in town. Local comment `Need some frigging rain.’ Truck and machinery display. On to Condamine and bell, looking for gas fuel. Camped north of Taroom on Chain Lagoon. Good bush camp.

 

Wed. 16 April 2008.

Ivor got up at six o’clock. He was asleep before eight last night. I got up also as I was anxious to sort out the phone debacle. When I went for my normal excursion with the little shovel and paper I got two socks full of grass seeds I think I have found a good method to torture some one, it took some time to remove them.

After packing up we were on our way about eight o’clock earliest we have got away since we started.

The drive to Theodore was very pleasant with cattle pastures and cultivation the country looks good with plenty of grass now, tomorrow we should cross the Tropic of Capricorn longitude line most likely about 300 kilometres west of Rockhampton

On arriving at Theodore we pulled up out side the post office to enquire about the phone problem, the man behind the counter wasn’t any help but I got another $30 recharge for it and went down to the public phone box a couple of hundred meters in front of the hospital, were Ivor was already waiting after ringing Deirdre, it took me several telephone calls and eventually finding out I did not have Maria listed on the free list at all. Puzzling though, because it was the first number that I gave them after I bought the phone.

I had just finished sorting the problem out when a fellow was walking past his name was John Winton. We started talking and he said he was the owner of a place we had seen earlier. It had a lot of old tractors and other stuff that we had looked at over the fence a few hundred meters away from the telephone. He invited us to come over and he would show us around.

John and his wife have been collecting stuff for years, in fact the story he told me goes something like this. He originally bought the block as a going concern caravan park. Soon after the bought it the Council opened a free caravan bark and over night they were out of business.

John then started his tractor collection bringing them in from surrounding properties and lining them up on the land of the now defunct Caravan Park , I gathered that the local Council and John don’t not get along so good.

The collection not only consisted dozens of old tractors and farm machinery and implements of all kinds but a large shed with a range of collectables from clocks to teddy bears and every thing in between. We spent a couple of hours there and took lots of photos and video before setting out intending to find a camp.

Ivor is ok about Bush camp tonight but is keen to go to a caravan park to-morrow, as it is about four days since we have had a shower. Luckily the air conditioner is working well and the nights have been cool so body odour does not seem to be a problem yet.

I spotted a likely place to camp about 50 kilometres South East of Springsure, it wasn’t all that good lots of grass tussocks behind some stock piles of road spoil, there were however, trees suitable for stringing the 80 Meter antenna though. Ivor agreed to camp there and after some discussion about where to set up the tent we made camp.

Sked with Ralph and Dave, don’t expect Brian tonight as he is away from home this week.  As I have done in the past when there have been tall trees around I have tied a pair of pliers on to a rope and thrown it over a suitable branch, but this time it got stuck. I used it hoping that tomorrow morning we can find some way to get it free, if not I will cut the rope off as high as I can, and leave it there.

Good contact with Ralph VK2ZRG and Dave VK2GIO we all seem to have solved our various problems now.

 

 

Paul attacked by grass seeds. On to Theodore. Trying to get phone working properly, took some time for Paul on phone whilst I walked about and found incredible collection of tractors and machinery. (Don Wheaton.) Great show and we were allowed to meander through as we wished. If ever there was a candidate for The Collectors, this is it. I like this sort of country though the coalmines have spoilt the look of some places. Night camp on roadside. A bit rugged but ok.

 

Thurs. 17 April 2008.

Good sleep all round and we were both up just after sunup – but did not leave site till 9.30 am due to having disassemble the antenna and with Ivor prodding and poking with the pole that holds the centre of the antenna up, and me pulling on the rope we managed to free the offending object.

Every thing packed in the Cruiser, but our map is nowhere to be found but we concluded that it must be some were in the car and goton our way.

A few Kilometres further after setting out again on our journey we saw a sign stating “Historic Site Stairway Cutting” we drove in to have a look and would you believe it there was the camp site that should have been right in front of us. Open area fireplace, table and benches that would have been great. That’s life though. The site turned out to be a rock cutting on the original highway built by Chinese workers and done by hand. The pick marks clearly visible to this day, and although small by to day’s standards, it must have been 150 meters long by 4 meters wide five meters high at the deepest part (a lot of work by hand).

After spending around half an hour we left and not far along came to a lookout that surveyed over the surrounding country. We got a few photos and I managed to get a good bit of video of a road train coming up the steep road that goes past the lookout. Through the surrounding trees and brush you could see parts of the original road.

As we were driving out and Ivor asked Me to reverse back, I did not know what he was on about but as I went back I could see a familiar looking map still folded on the ground, sure enough it was our map (which Ivor has named our feral map). It must have been hiding somewhere on the outside of the Cruiser since we left the last camp, and did not blow or fall off until we pulled into the lookout.

When we arrived at Clermont we went straight to the caravan park and booked in for two nights. Cost thirty-six dollars. The woman at the desk told us there was a couple of seats left on a tour of the mine and district for the following day. We could go if we were so inclined. We were, so she booked us in.

Both of us enjoyed a good shower and the thought we would stay put for a couple of days.

After Ivor had his shower he found a tick under his arm, the only thing we had was some “Dettol” so I put that on and after about ten minuets removed the tick with a pair of tweezers, I also tidied up Ivor’s moustache with my battery clippers. He looks neater now.

 

 

Found beaut camp site a few Ks along road, Historic road cutting. Lost map. On to Springsure. All towns have their own local  displays. Fuel at Emerald and then to Cleremont Caravan Park. Showers, washing and tidy up. Paul having trouble with computer and downloading pictures. Arranged for tour of mines next day. Birds around the camping grounds. Paul not 100%. Ivor had a tick.

 

Fri 18 April.

After a good nights sleep I woke and on opening my eyes, was looking directly into the sun that had just risen and was shining through the tent opening, rather a shock, but we were both refreshed by a sound sleep and ready to face the rigors of the forthcoming tour of the local coal mine.

I had a chat with the bloke in the caravan in front of us and he turned out that he is into Gem mining. I think he may be retired now and appears to be on his own. He indicated he was going back to it in a small way.

8.15 a m we turned up at the dedicated spot in front of the office ready for tour. There were a number of people waiting already around 16 were from a caravan club that was staying at the caravan park. All neatly dressed in the maroon T-shirts.

The bus arrived with School Bus embossed across the front, on time at 9 am and after a little confusion about the validity of our bookings we were off.

On questioning the driver I found out that he is the owner of that bus and five others. The mine picks up the bill for the tour. A P.R thing I think, because a lot of emphasis was placed on regeneration of the site after the coal is removed. The tour was well conduced and thebus driver new the subject and answered most of the questions that were asked of him. The mine is run by Blair Athol and is on an immense scale.  The Drag line which is electric, cost them eighty million dollars some years ago and is equipped with a 53 cubic bucket and shifts about one million cubic meters of material per month, it is used to remove the over burden before the coal can be mined.

The mine produces 12 million tones of Thermal coal per year and employs 200 people.

The coal is moved into 175 cubic Dump trucks by electric shovels with 20 cubic meter buckets.

An entire town was moved to accommodate the mine, and the restoration that has been carried out so far seems satisfactory.

After leaving the mine we went to the local museum, which houses a comprehensive range of old equipment and artefacts. It cost us four dollars to get in and a cup of tea and bickies were supplied. Then we were taken to see and old shop at “Copperfield”. In the seventies the owner having got a job on the Council, shut the shop and never re opened it. The original stock is still on the shelf as it was on the day it was closed. (Fascinating)

The last stop was at a copper mine site where the chimney from the smelter still stands intact. After a quick trip around town we were delivered back to the caravan park around two in the afternoon.

After having a spell and something to eat we went up town and bought a few provisions and went into the oldest pub in town and had an alcoholic drink each.

Another good night, with a nearly full moon. Ivor went to bed about eight and I followed an hour and a half later.

 

 

Tour of Blair Athol coalmine.  Lots of big bums on seats, facts, facts, facts.  Moonscapes and aledged redhibition. Huge machines. ($13 million). Local Museum and morning tea then to Copperfield. Old mining area. Back at camp and downloading photos. Bird watching. Local history, floods, booms, rural production and minerals. Town prosperous.

 

Sat April 19, 2008.

Day spent catching up on naming and saving photos, and writing the diary. Ivor assisted with the photos and then went for a walk to see if he could find the stockyards.

We will resume our journey tomorrow; plan to go to the pub for tea tonight.                        

 

Lay day, odds and ends. Went to cattle loading yards, big unit. Sent post cards had dinner at pub. Local girls team of something. Baby passed round, all having a great time.

 

Sun April 20 2008.

Had a great sleep, up at the crack of dawn, or may be just after sunup Ivor as usual was up first and made a cup of tea.

Tea at the pub was good although not quite as we ordered it. We ordered chook with vegetables and chips with out gravy, and what we got was chook with gravy vegetables and roast potatoes, it was very good though, so we complete. Ivor had two beers and I had scotch and dry plus a cup of tea.

We were packed and ready to leave, did a bit of shopping and then returned to the caravan park to get my hat, which I thought I might have left in the recreation room at the caravan park. I spent a lot of time there writing and editing photos yesterday. After retrieving my hat from a chair next to the one I was using, we were off, destination “Charters Towers”.

The country was mainly grazing with the cattle looking like a Brahma cross, though some crops, mainly Sorghum. It was around 400 kilometres with many road trains; the road was bitumen all the way with good width.

On the outskirts of town on the way in we stopped for auto gas which, in this part of the country costs ninety cents with standard unleaded petrol about a dollar forty. Which means that auto gas in relation to petrol is a lot more expensive here than NSW.

As I was coming out after paying I saw a stout looking fellow sitting on a chair outside the shop. I had a few words with him and asked if there were any good bush camps around. He told me that there were two, one on each road out of Charters Towers and explained where they were. On getting back to the Cruiser I suggested that Ivor go and talk to the fellow who was driving one of the trucks parked near the service station, to check on this.

While Ivor was confirming the information I took the opportunity to check all the tyre air pressures, including the air bags, which have been so efficient at helping stabilizing our rather loaded vehicle.

We arrived in Charters Towers about two thirty in the afternoon, Quite a sizable town, being Sunday there was not much happening, we went to the Information centre, where a helpful woman gave us some maps and confirmed that there was indeed free camping about 38 kilometres out in the direction we were headed.

After watching a short film on the first discoverer of gold, an aboriginal, he found a few grains in a creek. He was the horse boy for three white men. They followed the gold to the mother load in what is known today as Towers hill.

After this we went and had a look at the district from the lookout at the top of Towers Hill. There were terrific views of the town of Charters Towers and the surrounding area.

We headed out along the Greenvale road, (we had been warned about meeting road trains carrying ore about every twenty minuets), to Fletcher Springs Creek one of the free camping spots that we had been told about previously, on arriving we found about twenty campers strung out along the creek on both sides of the road.

We camped on the upstream side of the road, as there were fewer campers that side. There were toilets and cold showers on the opposite bank and down stream of the road, and after setting up we availed ourselves of their services and felt much refreshed.

Having set up the Transceiver and Ivor finishing setting up camp, we had tea consisting of vegetables and cheese, tasted surprisingly good. The eighty-meter contact went well Brian, Ralph and also Karen VK2KB called in and said hello, Brian’s radio is till drifting off frequency every now and then.

Ivor seems to be able to go to sleep regardless of the hissing and crackling of the transceiver about two meters from his ear

 

 

Interesting trip to Charters Towers. Country unchanged for nearly 400 kms, open grazing and occasional cropping. Had a look at town sights and then to free camp on way to Ingham and the coast.

 

Mon 21 April.

While I was getting the eighty-meter antenna down and Ivor was packing the camp up, a fellow with a short beard and small fox terrier dog came walking along the track. He introduced himself as Don and said he had a bus and boat on the creek the other side of the road, over the next half hour I got most of his life story and when Ivor came over and I moved off Ivor must have got the rest. In short he was married and had brought up his kids while roaming about, mainly in Queensland . He looked like he was in his late fifties, but pretty fit. He had worked as a ringer on stations, drove trucks, cut sleepers and done nearly every thing else. He did give us some info on the travelling conditions in the directions that we were thinking of travelling.

Deirdre tried to phone, I rang her back but she could not hear me but I gathered that there was some trouble with a pump. I told Ivor who said that it might have been the “Poo” pump; he will have to find out when we get into range for the telephone later.

The road out was only a narrow single way strip of bitumen and the road trains cannot or won’t drop their offside wheels of the bitumen. It is safer when one sees them coming to pull right of the road and stop. They are supposed to be twenty minuets apart but at one point there were three only a couple of minutes apart. (Scary)

The road did widen to two in places and one felt lucky to meet one of these monsters on a wider section. At about eighty kilometres from Fletcher Creek we turned right on to the good wide bitumen Harvey Range Development Road. Here we saw our first wedge tailed eagles. Two fine specimens they were, I managed to get some good shots. Around thirty kilometres further we turned left, and went first on a new gravel road and the on a winding and steep road thru rough grassy country and climbed up to Paluma which was at the top of the range.  A small settlement, Environmental School , park, toilets, even a telephone, where Ivor finally contacted Deirdre to find that the Poo Pump had burned out completely and cost two and a half thousand dollars to repair.

 

 

 

From Paluma we came down steeply with some spectacular views.

We stoped for half an hour at an historic bridge over Crystal creek, and continued along the Bruce Highway to Cardwell, where Ivor and Deirdre had a small banana farm soon after they were married. They were there for about two years until the got flooded out and decided to sell out.

We set up camp at the Cardwell Caravan Park ; we did our washing and hung it on the line, hoping that the sun will dry it before we leave in the morning.

The humidity is very high, but there is plenty of bird life and right next to us was a Paw Paw plant with plenty of unripe fruit.  Not far away was a coconut palm tree also laden with fruit.

 

 

Character Don seemed to know everything about everything but assured us that we would get to Coast in a day. Dee tried to phone. Pump given up, she seems to have the situation under control. Will phone later when we can get reception. Interesting and spectacular country on drive Ingham. On to Cardwell. Many a change from the old days. Had a drink at the pub but no info on anyone that I knew.

 

Tue 22 April 23, 2008.

We woke about six thirty this morning and Ivor got breakfast going in the camp kitchen as he did with tea last night, Ivor is doing most of the cooking with my self, doing a bit when necessary.

After we packed up we left to have a look at Ivor and Deirdre’s old farm site and after travelling for Half an hour we arrived at the place there was nothing Ivor recognized save the river an that the farm was on a corner near a bridge, the old house was gone and there appeared that a lot of flood mitigation work had been done. These obviations were Ivor’s not mine. It was quite an emotional experience for Ivor, as it was with me when we were in the Dalby, Tara district.

Ivor said that a sawmill and Co-op and a lot of the houses that were there had gone. All the timbered country that was there is now under sugar cane or bananas. Many of the back streets in Caldwell were now formed up with factories and houses.  The pub in the main street had burned down many years ago and been replaced with a modern one, where Ivor had a couple of beers and I had a scotch and dry.

We left about eleven and set the GPS (Motor-mouth) to go to Ravenshoe. She (Motor- mouth) kept wanting to take us up the southern side of the Tully River, Ivor was reluctant to trust her but when the sign indicated that we would be headed for the Tully George, there was a sign that said quite plainly that there was no way to Townville or Cairns but the country was interesting and the cane and banana farms gave way to rain forest.

We stopped at the magnificent Murray Falls the water was gushing and cascading at least a hundred meters into a series of crystal clear pools, took photos also of a small metal cross that had been riveted to the rock at one side of the fall, one wonders what the story behind this is, did somebody drown in the clear pool? Or did someone fall from the cliff above? Was it a man or a woman? Or was it a child? I will never know the answers to these questions.

We arrived at the Turn off that “Motor mouth” told us would cross the river and go to “Ravenshoe” only to meet a couple coming the other way who told us that it did not go across, in fact the were kilometres of walking track to even get to the river. There used to be a bridge there many years ago but it was washed away and never replaced. The only cause of action left was to continue towards the “Kareeya Power Station” and find a camping spot. The “Tully Falls National Park” bush camping area that we found was excellent, again there was an honesty box where four dollars fifty was to be placed, but for this there was free gas barbecue, just every couple of minutes you have to push a button, we did not avail ourselves of the because we carried our own gas stove etc. There were cold shower facilities with a hook above to hang a bush shower. This I did take advantage of. I filled our bush show with water and left it in the sun. The result was a very acceptable off cold shower, and I felt a lot better because of it.

We then took a short walk in the rainforest it was called the butterfly walk and although I only say about six it was very informative with notices on the various species.

Cool evening I did not get much writing done, because of marauding flying ants, although I tried writing in the tent it wasn’t all that successful and after trying for about an hour I could hardly stand after trying to type on my bed role so I gave it away and after putting any stuff that might get affected with the dew I locked the car and went to bed.

 

Had walk and drive around town and then off to Kennedy. Sugar cane and bananas on graded farm blocks, many looked like hobby farms. Old place graded and mown. Meunga  creek still clear but sawmill gone. Kennedy has no ply mill but shops and service station. On to Murray falls and further up the Tully. Camped on park site. Thought of the Information site at Cardwell was very well done. Walked on The Butterfly Walk and heard a Cassowary. Had a swim and a clean up. Good sleep Curlews in the dark.

 

Wed 23 April 2008.

Ivor is anxious to get back to Tully as it is his 56 wedding anniversary and he wants to phone Deirdre, he had already arranged to have flowers sent before we left the Blue Mountains.

We decided we would drive up to the “Kareeya Hydro Power Station” and see if there was any thing worth seeing.

When we arrived there we could not enter the power station But it was plain that something was going on, there were a number of people there and life jackets and paddles laying up against the rails, we parked only to have some one wave us on so we attempted to park on the other side of the parking area only to have the same gentleman come over, this time he explained that there were several busses of people coming and asked us to park further up.

The fellow that making all the fuss turned to be the main organizer of a white water rafting trip and he went to main gate of the power station and asked on the intercom when water would be released from the dam, the answer was ten o’clock, it was then about 9.30 am.

We managed to have a quick chat with him Ivor wanted to know the cost of the trip. And was told about $190, he also said if you want to take photos we should follow the river down stream we would see were other photographers were.

We decided that this would be a good idea and set out for the river bank, by this time the rest of the participants had arrived and were all getting rigged up and into the rubber rafts. There was at least one instructor and while they were waiting for the water to be released they were putting the pupils through a crash course in white water rafting.

We found a spot and clambered out on to the rocks. We could see a mark on the rocks to how high the water would be after the release. We were taking photos when the fellow we had been talking to went past in one of the rafts he yelled out to us, “Three minutes further down the track.”  Realising that this was not the best spot we clambered back over the boulders and hurried down the track until we came to a girl and a man sitting on the rocks.

The two that were there were doing the official photos so we took up positions that did not block their view.

First on the other side the man that had talked to us was climbing over the rocks He must have got out of the raft further up. It soon became apparent to why He took up a position opposite a particular rough section of the course; he had a rope in his hand with a float attached. It wasn’t very long before he was needed, a raft came through the gap which had a drop of a couple meters when the raft hit the bottom of the fall one of its occupants got flung into the turbulent water The man on the bank skilfully threw the rope and float so that it landed in front of the reluctant swimmer and he was then hauled to safety. After the last of the rafts went through, we made our way back to the Cruiser and headed out the way we had come. Our CB radio was scanning and stopped on channel 39. It must have been the channel that the white water raft people were using. Some one was saying, “We need first aid down here!” There was a reply and then the first person said. “ There is a fellow laying on the bank and he does not look good at all.”

It would appear that there are some real dangers to white water rafting. Ivor is considering doing it for his next adventure, about four weeks ago he went tandem Hang Gliding and six week before that he and Deirdre went caving in the explorer’s cave at “ Jenolan Caves ”. This entailed abseiling and crawling through narrow openings. He cracked a couple of ribs in that one. I don’t think he wants to die a natural death somehow.

After getting back to Tully and ringing our respective women we did a bit of shopping and the headed north and turned off before Innisfail towards “Millaa Millaa” on the Atherton Tablelands.

We stoped for a while and had a look at the “ Zillee Falls ” which were running well With a good swimming pool at the base Very Nice.

On arriving at Miller Miller we pulled up for a while and I sent a birthday card to Sophie my Niece, Ivor went down to the shops and got himself a cold drink.

We then set out for Ravenshoe where Ivor wanted to make some enquiries about an old school mate Dick Willis. We camped at a national park reserve bush camp called “Henrietta”. I set up the antenna. Reception was bad, but finely, I found out that there has been trouble at home. The power has failed and ATV (Amateur Television) repeater is off the air. Dave is going up on the weekend to fix it.

 

 

Paul tried to use computer last night but was beaten by the insects. Went up to Kareeya power station a Koombooloomba Dam. Watched white- water rafters, looks lots of fun. To Tully, phoned Dee, 57 Years, wackoo!. Drove north and inland into rainforest country Good camping spot in rainforest near deep gorge, character `Call Me Bob.’ Ticks and March flys. Paul set up for sked and caused a little interest with fellow camper and Parks workers.

 

Paul’s Home Page

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 4