Day 526: Tannum Sands to Biloela
This week sees us travelling from the beach to the outback. We have just reached a major milestone on our journey with our speedo reading 59740. We’ve travelled 40,000 km since leaving Mission Beach on January 14, 2019. That’s now 76 weeks! We were due back home by now but COVID-19 put a spanner in the works.
On the road at 9.00am and it’s a very pleasant 17 degrees. We have left the Bruce Highway and travelling out along the Dawson Highway to Biloela. The landscape changes. The creeks are mostly dry. It always amazes me how the foliage of the trees are green but the earth is so parched, just desperate for a drop of rain.
Biloela is located in the Banana Shire and has a population of just under 6,000. Coal mining, cattle production, power generation, cotton & lucerne are the main industries in the region.
We are staying at the Queensland Heritage Park. It’s a low cost camp offering showers, toilets, power & water for $15 a night. Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the price. I chatted with Cindy who was working in the centre today who told me that they are a volunteer run organisation trying to be self sustainable. The council only gives them $9,000 annually in funding. It’s such a shame that their council is not focussed on tourism in this area.
This afternoon we head over to look at the water tank art. Spirit of the Land mural artwork seamlessly pieces together the stories of the surrounding country, from its pre-historic beginnings to early 20th Century times. It spans 100 metres and is definitely worth stopping to have a look.
Wildlife: cattle, dead kangaroos, dead snake, crows, cockatoos, dead echidna.
Day 527: Biloela
During the night Andrew got up and put the heater on. We are waking up to 5 degrees this morning. There’s a cold front moving in over Queensland so we’ll be experiencing a few more cold mornings. We’ve filled the thermos and are heading out to the Callide Dam for a drive. It’s only about 12km from Biloela and our neighbours were telling us that there is a nice caravan park out there. The park is quite full and it would appear that social distancing practices are not being adhered to here.
The dam is currently sitting at 29% and was constructed in 1965 to supply water to the power station. Today it supplies water for irrigation purposes and for the town. Callide Power Station is now run on coal. The park area is lush and green and the picnic tables are all brightly coloured and lovely and clean. The breeze is fresh. It’s a nice spot to have a coffee or picnic.
I’m off to the shops this afternoon to have a browse around. Something I very rarely do. For a small town, Biloela has 3 cheap shops so I’m keen to check them out. I managed to pick up some bargains, a few extra things that were needed for the van. Back at the park we have a look around the museum that is housed inside the Heritage Centre. There is a large display of pioneering history celebrating their rich primary and secondary industries.
The temperature is dropping so it’s time to head inside for the night.
Wildlife: horses, cattle, cranes, ducks.
Day 528: Biloela to Dingo
I can’t believe the temperature is only 3 degrees when I get up just before 7.00am. I’m enjoying my cuppa in bed and I’m not too keen to move just yet. By 9.30am we are on the road again and it’s climbed to 12 degrees. We are travelling through the Central Highlands region on the Capricorn Highway.
Our journey today is 191km which takes us into Dingo which sits on the junction of two major highways that service the beef, timber and coal industries. Dingo is home to the annual World Dingo Trap Throwing Competition, held in conjunction with a country race day in August. The traps are tossed like a hammer throw, with the record currently standing at 48 metres. Interesting fact!
We are staying at the local caravan park run by Jen. It’s a small park with loads of personality. We can choose our site and while the amenities are old they are spotlessly clean and there’s a massive book exchange. Andrew swaps 3 books straight away. Jen offers us home grown tomatoes and tells us to pick anything from the veggie garden.
The camp fire is lit at 5.00pm so we head over with drinks and meet all the other campers who arrived throughout the afternoon. Maxi and Hope are Jen’s two dogs and Hope immediately makes herself at home on Andrews lap. It’s a great night chatting with everyone. We all have the same plans for tomorrow and that’s to visit the Blackdown Tableland National Park.
Wildlife: Malleefowl, dead rabbit, pheasant, crows, swans, kookaburras, lorikeets.
Day 529: Blackdown National Park
A cold start to the morning at 8 degrees. We have packed up morning tea and heading to the Blackdown Tableland by 9.30am As we head up the mountain the temperature gauge drops from 17 to 10. The sealed road in takes us through unfenced cattle grazing land and the cows are slowly wandering across the road in various places. Reminds me of trips to cattle properties with Mum and Dad during my childhood.
The next 6km in is dirt road and it’s quite corrugated. The turn off to the Rainbow Waterfall is a further 8km along another narrow dirt track. Reading about the falls and camping area clearly states that the road is not suitable for caravans or trailers. Their is a camp ground for tents only. To our surprise on the dirt track we have an oncoming caravan. We pull off as far as we can on the track. What an idiot and it’s not even an off road caravan. We are thankful we didn’t have to pass him on the very steep winding sealed road climbing the mountain. For those who have been on the Paluma Range, this road is narrower and worse. Further along the track there is a motor home approaching. There is very little room to pull over. Another idiot! We arrive at the car park and can clearly see that the motor home and caravan have been illegally camping here overnight. Their grey water is lying all over the ground. Whilst the earth may be desperate for water it clearly states you must take everything in and leave nothing behind. Which includes water.
Three other people arrive to do the walk in to the waterfall. We head off before them and it takes us about 45 minutes to walk the 2km track. The sign says the falls are 240 steps away. Here we go! Going down is the easy part.
When we arrive at the bottom we climb over a few rocks to find a stunning oasis of sandstone cliff with a trickle of water cascading down its face into a sparkling clean, crystal clear pond. It looks pristine. It’s just us and the waterfall. We take in all of its beauty.
We can just imagine how busy it would be in summer on a steamy hot day. Given it’s only 10 degrees we enjoy just looking. The palm trees are reaching up high to the sunlight. Tree ferns are abundant and I take a million photos. Enjoy the short video of peace and tranquility.
We head back up the steps and I have to stop several times to get my breath. The colours in the sandstone rocks are amazing.
At the top of the lookout is another sandy track which takes you to the spa pools. The water is crystal clear again and flowing slowly down to the waterfall. The scenery is so beautiful. Cloudless blue skies meet the reedy banks. There’s a pair of jeans floating in the water… more photos then it is time to head back up the track to the car park.
We’ve spent about 3 hours doing the walk and admiring all that the Blackdown Tableland has to offer. On the way home we pass another caravan coming along the dirt track. We just can’t believe how stupid some people are. They obviously have not researched the area before venturing in. We pull over as far as we can again and just shake our heads. We have had an amazing day.
Back at the park we join the happy hour around the fire again and swap stories with all the other campers. Hope has made herself comfortable on my lap tonight. Jen is feeding the kookaburras and a large hawk swoops down as well. It’s a great night and we bid farewell to everyone before heading back to the van for our slow cooked beef cheeks and dumplings.
Wildlife: galahs, cattle, cockatoo, finches, blue wren, kookaburras, hawk, lorikeets.
Day 530 – 531: Dingo to Capella
Last night was slightly warmer than the previous week. We’ve said goodbye to Jen and our neighbours Jim and Carol and we are on the road by 9.30am. It’s 13 degrees. We are in shorts. I think we were both being a bit brave. Morning tea is at Comet and the wind is blowing a gale. I’m having a drive today and will take us through to Emerald. The road in is quite bumpy. I continue on to Capella. Jen from Dingo recommended this park so we have decided to stay for two nights. Jodie the owner is away for a short break before the borders open and their daughter Ruby greets us. We have a drive through site so I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to reverse the van in! There is nothing much at Capella so we’ll have two days relaxing before we head into Nebo.
Wildlife: cockatoo, dead kangaroos, galahs, parrots, horses, cattle.
Day 532: Capella to Nebo
Yesterday was a quiet day with a few hours work completed and then time to finish reading my book. Yes, I have actually read a book….It’s taken about 3 months, but I’ve finally finished it. I’ve swapped one of Andrew’s books in the book exchange so I my aim is to start reading again.
We are heading off by 9.00am and it’s another shorts day with a lovely temperature of 15 degrees. We are heading to Nebo which will be a journey of 232km. We’re going through Dysart rather than Clermont as it’s the shortest route today. Well….what we didn’t expect was a dirt road after driving about 20km. Andrew doesn’t like dirt road driving at all. It’s an experience and it’s not nearly as bad as the drive into Blackdown Tableland. We are both quite excited to see a mob of emus along the way.
The region we’ve been travelling through is home to over 9 Bowen basin coal mines. We passed the Peak Downs Coal Mine today and it is the biggest mine site that we have ever seen. It stretched for miles and miles. According to google it processes 2.5 million tons of coal each year. We had to stop at the railway line as one of the coal trains travelled past, it was over 2km long. Coal from the open cut mine is transported to Mackay, Bowen and Gladstone for shipping.
Andrew drives through to our morning tea stop at the back of a roadhouse near the Moranbah turnoff. It’s time for me to take over and have another drive. I take us through to Nebo. We are staying at the Stay a While Caravan Park. It’s one of those parks that you drive past and think oh gosh we’re not staying here! BUT, it’s $10 a night for power, water and hot showers so it’s good enough for us. We’re having 2 nights here. Amy greets us and tells us to park up wherever we like. She’s minding the park for the owner as he works away. It’s very run down and needs a lot of love and attention.
Well that’s it for this week’s journey, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along.
Wildlife: cattle, horses, dead kangaroos, crows, emus.
Week 76 total expenses: $469.02 under budget!
That’s a wrap for life back on the road.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!