Woke the other morning to discover there was no 240v power in the van. Went to check the pole outside, no, it's fine, back inside to look at the circuit breaker.
the old one
The circuit breaker is inside a small cupboard and when I open it I notice a couple of very small brown ants wandering around apparently lost, I mean, why would they be in here, there's no bread, no sugar and nothing else that they would like. Wrong.
the new one
The circuit breaker is a nice secluded place to hide where the little brown ants can get in but nothing else can. It doesn't take many of the little buggers to mess with the internal workings of the circuit breaker. They are a sealed unit just to stop us OAPs from playing with them and so they have to be replaced. $99 and ten minutes later, I get to make my toast and coffee. Now I have to spend more money to buy some chemicals to try to keep the little buggers at bay.
The good thing about not having a plan or timetable, is that you can do things on the spur of the moment. Today I did a one day trip to Mt Isa. It is only 121km from Cloncurry on a good road which is shared with a number of road trains, mostly four wagon side tippers going to and from Mt Isa. 70km west of Cloncurry is the once thriving Mary Kathleen uranium mine and today there is just a small sign showing where it is.
The whole of the mine site is now on private property and this is the view of the entrance on the Barkly Highway. I saw one section of road on the property which is out of bounds to visitors and you do have to keep an eye out for cattle. If you have a four legged companion with you, be aware that 1080 poison baits are distributed on the property.
These next three photographs are of the original township. You will see a number of caravans parked in this area, allowed by the property owner, for free camping.
All that remains of the township are the roads and some concrete slabs, which I assume are where the car ports stood next to the houses. (click on any photo to see a larger view)
This area is well patronized and I saw about a dozen caravans parked in here. You have to be self sufficient with your own water and power. There is more than enough room so that you don't have to be right next to another van with a generator. No fires are allowed on the property.
There is a bitumen road (lots of potholes, farmer wont have the resources to maintain it) from the entrance of the property on the highway leading back into the property and if you follow it you will find the main entrance to the township shown on the right.
Following the road back behind the photographer in the last shot for a few kilometers you will come to the end of the bitumen and barely 50 meters further on the right you will find a two wheeled track leading to the right.
A short distance later you will see these concrete structures and if you continue to the left of these you will arrive at another road at which you turn right. At the end of this road, which has been blocked by loads of big rocks to stop you driving any further, you will find some walking tracks that lead to the big pit. It is a nice place to explore and on a future trip I will stay here and explore the rest of the property.
It wasn't a pleasant start in Ilfracombe on Saturday morning. Once the inside of the van was sorted I had to go out in the rain and prepare everything and hook up the van. Just after 9am I headed off through Longreach and north to Winton 212km away. Still wet but I stopped to have some lunch. I went to the local bakery where I saw some pies and asked for one with meat in it. "All of our pies have meat in them" came the reply, so I had a plain one for $4.00. Back to the van and made a cup of tea to go with my meat pie. I'm guessing that there was meat attached to the gristle at some stage, but it wasn't in my pie. Disappointing, very disappointing. Fuel in Winton was $1.26 a litre. I decided that Cloncurry was only another 361km to the north and that I should be there by 5.30pm, so once again I headed off. All of this trip I am only doing a maximum of 90km per hour and soon the southerners were passing me, obviously in a hurry to make the most of their limited time where I don't have a timetable so it doesn't matter how far I go in one day. About 4pm I found a large truck stop 60km south of Cloncurry S 21 01.267 (01' 16.0") E 140 56.355 (56' 21.3") and decided to stop there for the night. Being a large truck stop and having seen several road trains around I decided to park on the dirt up close to the farm fence about 30m away from the bitumen area. It was mostly hard and the few soft patches were easy to spot and avoid and it turned out to be a good choice. A refrigerated road train came in during the night and I was glad I wasn't parked next to it. Sunday the 17th I arrive in Cloncurry where diesel fuel is $1.29 a litre and I have settled in at Wal's Camp on the south side of town. It is still overcast and drizzling at times.
It is 10am Friday the 15th, sitting in my van looking out the window on a miserable day. It has been raining all night and the weather radar shows that it is clearing, so is the caravan park. The rain is light now but there is a south-westerly blowing which makes it much colder than it should be. I imagine that if you were free camping in the area last night you wont be going anywhere for a while. A little rain makes the soil soft, slippery and boggy. Out here you don't drive off the bitumen if it has been raining. I will be leaving tomorrow morning for Winton and I hope that the rain and wind ease up a little more later today so that I can do a few things to be ready to leave in the morning. Better go make another cup of hot coffee.
I left Mt Morgan Motel and Van Park on Sunday 10th of July and traveled to Dululu and then turned north to the Capricorn Highway where I turned west to Emerald which is 273 kilometers from Mt. Morgan. I stopped in the car park of the shopping centre in Emerald, as did several other caravans, for lunch and also refueled at the Woolworths service station. There is easy access to both for caravans. Fuel, in my case diesel, is ten cents a litre cheaper ($1.15) than in Rockhampton ($1.25). After having lunch there I traveled to Bogantungan to stay in the free camp for the night.
After I traveled 101 km from Emerald I found this sign on the highway, and from this road junction it is very short distance to the railway station and the free camp is along the side of the road outside the station. Yes, there were two trains during the night, but nothing to bother most people.
This is the scene outside the railway station which is on the right side of the photograph. There were eight caravans that stayed for the night and there are three houses on the left of the road. There is a turn around area at the end of the road to the right of the photographer.
The railway station at Bogantugan which is one kilometer west of the cemetery. An eight o'clock start on Monday the 11th saw me heading further west towards Ilfracombe which is 299km along the Capricorn Highway from Bogantugan. On the northern side of the highway at this coordinate, S 23 39.639 (39' 38.3") E 146 55.849 (55' 50.9") you will find the Major Mitchell cairn. Sorry I didn't record the distance from Bogantugan.
Five kilometers before Ilfracombe, S 23 30.098 (30' 05.9") E 144 33.105 (33' 06.3") there is a turnoff to the south for a large area for free camping and it seems to be well patronized. There is currently light rain falling which makes it slippery and the mud will stick to the tires. Leaving the bitumen in this part of the country can be dangerous, even in dry weather. I am staying in the only caravan park in Ilfracombe which seems to be cheaper than those in Longreach which is only 22km further down the highway. Although there are sixty sites it is busy and during the winter months it is best to ring ahead and book a site. Even though I saw a large number of vans heading east, there are still a lot of them out here. There is a free camp at Newstead Creek 3km east of Ilfracombe which had about half a dozen vans in it when I passed. There is good phone reception for both major carriers in the area. On arrival at the caravan park I was handed nine pages of information on places to visit. Prices were quoted for all but as a pensioner I was a bit surprised and I think families would be more surprised. An example is the Quantas Museum. For a pensioner, a self guided tour is $23, but no planes, museum only. A 1.5 hour guided tour of museum and the 747 and 707 is $53, no wing walk, no flight deck (cockpit for those who remember) just the seats inside. After that the more you include the dearer it is. The same applies to all the other attractions in the area. Diesel fuel at the only pump in Ilfracombe is $1.35 a litre.