Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In the Towers

Everywhere you look here in Charters Towers it is dry, very dry. There is one hill in the middle of town, so I went to take a look.

The hill is populated with mine shafts, WWII bunkers and technology.

The miners in the past dug holes in the ground and this is the remains of John Clark's efforts.

Today the hill is covered in technology, both old and new.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Eton sports field to Charters Towers

Stayed three nights free camping at the back end of the sports field in Eton which is about 26km west of Mackay. There is no power but water is available at the tap nearest to the club house for filling the tanks. Some have complained about the traffic on the Peak Downs Highway which is about 100m away but I didn't think it was a problem.

From Eton I traveled west towards Nebo and turned north about 5km before Nebo to Lake Elphinstone which was somewhat full, of caravans, not in the lake, so I didn't stop there, but continued west on the Suttor Development Road to Mount Coolon. About 100km of this road is gravel but in reasonable condition. There are a couple of places that you need to slow down, one creek which is crossed twice in about 1km with sharp turns leading into or out of and a couple of soft patches of bull dust that you need to avoid. Parts of this road are unfenced and cattle wander on the road, along with emus, roos and pigs. I love Australia.

Mount Coolon doesn't have a lot to offer except a pub where you can park your van but didn't stay so I don't know about the facilities. It was once a mining settlement. Mobile phone with Telstra here but none between here and Charters Towers.

Then it was west again for another 53km of gravel road to Belyando Crossing. They were just finishing grading this road at the western end when I went through and it was very good all the way. Between Lake Elphinstone and Belyando Crossing I saw only one other caravan which was at Mount Coolon and only a handful of other cars and two semis.

Belyando Crossing has a caravan and camping area behind the roadhouse and for a site with power and one person it was $30. They do have hot showers and toilets but the caravans are parked very close together and after being the third one to park there, another seven came in and I was unlucky enough to have someone with a noisy reverse cycle conditioner on all night next to me. You should plan your trip to avoid buying fuel at Belyando Crossing and there is no mobile phone service, internet or television there.

I must get some thick rubber to fill the gap in the back of the ute to stop some of this dust getting in.

From Belyando Crossing it is about 209km to Charters Towers, all bitumen, but a lot of road trains and b-doubles. Heading north I kept thinking that I was going the wrong way. There must have been about thirty caravans or more heading south towards Belyando Crossing. Once again a lot of road kill, including at least two cattle that I saw. Most of this trip the country is very flat with very few small hills and very dry.

Maternal grandparents

Visited the grave of my maternal grandparents in Charters Towers.

Walter Edward Ernest McDOUGALL


Emily Laura McDOUGALL (nee BAXTER)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sapphire to Peak Downs Hwy

Today I did the trip north from Sapphire through Rubyvale to Capella and then east to Dysart and then continuing east to the Fitzroy Dev Road, then north towards the Peak Downs Hwy.

I have stopped about 24km south of the Peak Downs Hwy at a gravel storage area where I will freecamp for the night and then tomorrow I will do the last 130km into Mackay.

This is one of many hills I saw on the way near Dysart, all of which look like they are the result of some volcanic activity in the past. They mostly appear out in the middle of the plains rather than a part of a mountain range.

The area from Sapphire to Rubyvale exhibits a lot of activity, both past and present, in the never ending search for those precious gem stones. I will return to this area for an extended stay at some time and do a little digging myself.