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.