THE GREAT INLAND WAY
After spending the last few weeks hugging the coastline, loitering on the beaches and relaxing in the crystal clear waters of so many creeks and waterholes I felt that I now needed to get my country fix too! I was heading for the outback!!
I was longing for those open roads with minimal traffic. Stretches of silence, no radio, no nothing!! Churning up the kilometres from one small town to another. Towns that once upon a time had been bustling and big with the BOOM of the Gold days. Now keeping themselves going thanks to the mines and the agriculture. I wanted the Outback!!
HIT THE ROAD JACK
Driving south-west out of Townsville and onto the Great Inland Way, I was driving into Central Queensland. Going over the Burdekin River I was surprised to see flood level markers going all the way up to 7 metres high on the side of the road. The river when I passed was barely cutting a path through the land. But when I went and visited the quant tourist information office, housed in the old Union bank, I was surprised to see a photo of the river when it flooded back in the 90’s reaching all the way up to above 20 metres. This land might be dry now but when the river’s flowing the water levels can really truly rise!!
My first stop was the sleepy town of Charters Towers. With a region covering an area the size of Tasmania, today the main hub of the town is a shell of the grandeur that it once was back in the late 1800’s. But driving down the main street you can still sense the past in the beautifully maintained buildings that remain from the Golden Days. Put your imagination caps on and you can see the horse and carts riding along the roads, the crowds walking here and there in all their Sunday finery.
As I was keen to put a few more kilometres on the clock I kept driving and found a do-able rest stop for the night. Just me, the toilet block, and the family with the generator. UUgh! It would do for a night 🙂 250kms on day one, a good few hours of driving to say the least, and a campfire to finish the day wasn’t a bad start to my inland drive.
The next day I drove all the way down to Clermont, around 300kms down south. The road was taking me through country scattered with enormous cattle stations. Only the signs indicating where they were and how far from the main road gave you any idea that something was actually being farmed out here.
BEAUTY IN THE BIG AND THE BOLD
I had to stop and take a photo of the coal mine heap, just because it made such an impact that barely changed over a few 100 kilometres. And the mining equipment (which I later found out was a bucket that gets attached to a dragline!! Mining talk, you see) was so HUGE and so RED. How could you possibly pass this photo opportunity up??
Clermont was to be my lunch and petrol stop for the day. A pretty little park down by the Lagoon. And though it was stinking hot with temperatures already reaching into the high 30(c)’s, a local informed me that the water wasn’t fit for swimming in. Oh how I longed for a waterhole that day!!
Onto Emerald and the hope of a decent campground. The location was just beautiful, right in front of the Botanical gardens, but the camping in the bitumen car park, under the railroad bridge and next to the highway was far less appealing to me. So after a walk round the gardens (just a fraction of it really for this park is just so BIG!), I decided to jump back in the car and cruise to the next stop.
400+ km’s later, from one camp to the next!!
The Virgin Mary Rest Area was my saving grace of a stop. But the only thing truly religious about this site is the outline of Mary and child worn into the side of Mount Zamia, which over time has slowly faded away. But they still put the lights on each night to help you better see the wonder. Bless ’em!!
That night I had the pleasure of sharing a meal, some wine, a roaring campfire and the great company of two lovely brothers on their way home from the trip to the tip of Australia. All the way up at Cape York!!
I got to see all the photos and hear of the crazy adventures that they had experienced from a part of this country that I’m so eager to get to. Someday, Someway!! We spent the night watching the bush tele (the campfire), gazing at the Virgin and the stars during the breaks 🙂 and discussing all the tools of their proper and complete camp set up. I had serious camp envy by the time we were done!!
I spent two nights camping at this sweet little spot. Time to rest, write, research and just lounging in the shade on another hot 39c SPRING day. Needed to conserve my energy and get myself set for the next adventure. For tomorrow I was off to spectacular Carnarvon Gorge and a 14km walk to bask in all its natural wonders.