Normanton to Mount Isa
It is a lovely spot with a great picnic area and Kym who ran the caravan park told us they often swim there in spite of several sightings of crocodiles. She reckoned they were only freshies any way and therefore of little consequence.
Signs like this, proclaiming a population of 2500 spread out over 68,000 square kilometres, really bring home the vastness of the country.
Anyway, we trundled on to Normanton and being a public holiday a lot of things were closed including the Public Toilets which were only opened during office hours!!!!! We finally got some diesel (two of the three servos were out of it) and went for a bit of a walk around.
We saw the Purple Pub (National Hotel) where Neville Shute stayed while gathering material for his novel ‘A Town Like Alice’.
And we saw the statue of ‘Krys the Savannah King’, the largest recorded salt water crocodile captured in the world…..and it was done by a woman!!!!!
The croc was shot on the MacArthur Bank, Norman River in July 1957 by Krystina Pawlowski.
After our walk we adjourned to the old bridge for lunch over the Norman River
We were the only ones there (apart from 1,000,000 flies) and I did feel a bit vulnerable. During the night it got a bit windy and there were some unexplained bumps in the night and barking of dogs. I assumed murderers and wild dogs but it turned out that another van had pulled in so we escaped unscathed and sallied forth the next morning.
Tuesday 2nd October
A little further on, we came across a couple of fellows droving cattle (the old fashioned way)
A little further on, we stopped at a rest area (277) Terry Smith Lookout. We thought it a bit of a stretch since the best place to actually see any view was from half way up the ramp to the toilet
We stopped at (278) Quamby purely for a photo stop because my 6th class teacher’s name was Mr Quamby. The pub was closed down and looked like it had been for quite some time
We continued on to Cloncurry and did the groceries and replenished the wine cellar.
There have been some extensive grass fires around Mt Isa area in the last few weeks and we saw a lot of places where it had been burnt out but this area is still green.
Wednesday 3rd October
We woke to a lovely cool breeze and breakfasted under the awning. Then we settled into a full day of relaxation. By lunch time the temperature had risen but we still had a bit of breeze.
The man next door popped over for a chat – quite disturbing actually. It seems that at about 2 O’clock on Monday morning one of the men in the camp had a heart attack and died. A couple of campers did CPR until the police and ambos came. It took about 45 minutes for them to arrive since the camp is 60km from Cloncurry and 60km for Mount Isa. Any way, it seems his wife is unable to drive the car and caravan and has to wait there now till relatives from Victoria can come and get her on Saturday. Fortunately a couple of other folk are able to postpone their travels and stay with her.
After that two men in a ute carrying explosives stopped for a smoke. They assured us we had no need for concern unless they had jumped out and started running down the road.
Thursday 4th October
We have decided to travel on to Mount Isa today and stay there for a day to recharge and replenish water supplies.
We stopped at the tourist information centre and picked up some info. then did our grocery shop.
I bought myself some new swimmers; my old ones had definitely seen better days. All the elastin had long since disappeared and they had literally become ‘neck to knees’. We popped into the Buffs Club and had a coffee and that was nice. Then it was off to the Mount Isa Caravan Park and a swim in their pool in my new togs.
What a glamour-puss!!!!!!
After scouring the entire Mount Isa CBD and environs and discovering it was entirely bereft of Stanley Wine Casks we purchased instead a sufficient supply of Berri Estate Crisp Dry White 5 litre casks…..four of them in fact!!!!!!
Once you cross the border into the Northern Territory you can only purchase 2 litre casks at extortionate prices. So this will keep us in Happy Hours for a while!!!!!
Camooweal Billabong To Daly Waters
Friday 5th October
After we left Mount Isa, we drove through to Camooweal. We bought fuel at highway robbery prices and drove over the bridge to (315) Camooweal Billabong.
We stopped here for lunch last year on our trip to Darwin and there was more water then.
We met the couple next door, Gordon and Carol. They are on their way back home to Hervey Bay after five months in Darwin. They winter in Darwin every year and have done for the last five years.
Their names were George and Anne. They are on their way to Darwin.
Turns out, we had seen them at (249) Cumberland Chimney last Friday but had not spoken to them. They are travelling together but in separate caravans.
Saturday 6th October
Then we settled down to some more serious relaxation. George tried his hand at fishing (to no avail) and we all teased him mercilessly. We all got together again for sun downers until we were forced inside by a combination of hunger and being nibbled on by biting things.
About 8 o’clock a van of Asian back packers arrived and squeezed in between Indie and Anne’s caravan.
Angus, the driver, came over and introduced himself and I went over for a bit of a chat and was introduced to the others: Jack, Annie and Fannie. Angus was from Hong Kong originally but had been in Adelaide when he met up with the others and decided to come to Queensland.
Sunday 7th October
We filled up with water and I washed and rinsed our clothes and then put them in the bucket with water and the lid on to continue rinsing with agitator (a.k.a. the motion of Indie as we travel).
We found our way to the shower and it was cold and the floor was really grotty but it was still one of the best showers I have ever had.
We drove along the Barkly Highway for a couple of kilometres and then we hit the road works and about 15km of dirt!
Fortunately we were back on the bitumen before we met up with a road train going the same way as us. He was carrying some kind of metal things and a big earth mover and I don’t know what else (mainly because I had my eyes closed). It was Indie’s first time overtaking a road train (and according to Ron hopefully our last).
There are many different modes of transport out here but I’m betting Indie without air conditioning is still better than riding a bicycle!!!
We finally saw the Northern Territory’s floral emblem, Sturt’s Desert Rose growing by the roadside. It is really delicate and the plant itself is quite spindly and leggy
The temperature was really high and the country very dry. It was soooooooooo hot inside Indie but the cattle really had it tough.
We finally pulled in to (11) Brunette Downs in the mid afternoon. I got out my bucket of washing and could not believe it-the temperature of the water was about the same as a cup of tea!!!!!! Sadly, the dye had run out of one of my frocks and my undies now have a blue-purple tie dyed look!!!! But dauntless we set up camp in the middle of nowhere and I’m sure we looked like real Hill Billies. Luckily there were not a lot of passers-by
After I had the laundry done, I went for a bit of a walk up the back of our camp and just near a little tiny water hole, I came across some kangaroos having a drink. Of course as soon as they became aware of me, they bounded off.
Being so isolated, the stars were absolutely amazing.
We decided to get an early start in the morning to try to beat a lot of the heat while travelling
Monday 8th October
In fact, they give you 20km notice of an overtaking lane which actually turns out to be just the normal two lanes. One good thing, there is not much traffic.
We continued on to Cape Crawford and the Heartbreak Hotel Campground at the junction of the Tablelands and Carpentaria Highways.
We had to fill up with fuel, no choice because it was the first fuel since Barkly Homestead, some 367 kilometres.
As we drove on we saw heaps of Kapok trees and I picked a pod.
The landscape was very much the same but there were more signs of where grass fires had been through recently and we even saw one fire on the side of the road.
We arrived at Daly Waters Pub and got a powered site $24.00 and went straight in to the bar and had a beer and a lemonade and ordered our Beef and Barra dinner for 6.30 pm. We then adjourned to Indie for a rest in air conditioned comfort.
Daryl, Sharron, Callum and Morgan are from Victoria and I met them in the Croydon pub while they were watching the AFL Grand Final. They were the ones that gave us the magazines in the caravan park. Any way, we had dinner with them and it seems our paths crossed in Mount Isa (they spotted us across the road but we did not see them) and will probably cross again as they are headed to Darwin as well.