Posts

Welcome to our travel blog

Welcome to the Touring Wombats blog and website for our 2022 Bailey Caravan Tagalong. This website serves two purposes…

  1. The Touring Wombats Travel blog for his trip, which is basically split into 3 categories:
    • Pre-Tagalong22 where we travel from Melbourne to Mudjimba (QLD) via the Kidman Way to Longreach & Winton, then Carnarvon Gorge, Roma etc
    • Tagalong22 with 17 Bailey caravans traveling through QLD over 4 weeks
    • Post-Tagalong22 where we head back to Melbourne via the east coast
    • Check out the Blog Index page for a searchable list of all posts
  2. The Bailey Tagalong22 Member’s website, including:
    • The Itinerary for Tagalong22
    • Locations the tagalong will be visiting along with planned activities and attractions

Check out the map for the trip on the Tour Map web page.

Click here to view some STATS from this trip (places & number of nights stayed,Kms travelled & fuel used etc)

Contact Neil via email – touringwombats@gmail.com for further details.


Jerilderie NSW

About Jerilderie

Jerilderie, which is located on the Newell Highway in the heart of the Riverina, is famous for its connections with Ned Kelly. It is reputedly the only town in New South Wales where Ned Kelly and his gang robbed the local bank and Ned’s famous defence of his lifestyle and explanation for why he became a bushranger is known as the Jerilderie Letter because it was during the robbery that he handed it over hoping that it would be published. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Jerilderie is a 323km trip (route map) from our home in Melbourne. Up the Hume Fwy, taking the Shepparton turn-off thru to Tocumwal and then the Newell Hwy to Jerilderie.

It’s so good to be back on the road again, heading north away from the cold of Melbourne. The 1st morning in Jerilderie was only 2 degrees, so we really didn’t escape the cold too much 🤣

Accommodation

We arrived at the Jerilderie Motel & Caravan Park late in the arvo. It’s a really nice park with plenty of room. The caravan park is in town so it’s an easy walk into check it out (maplink). We had two nights here before moving on to Griffith.

Around Jerilderie

One thing we didn’t know about Jerilderie was…

Ned Kelly came to Jerilderie in 1879 – with a bounty on his head, he could be shot on sight by anyone. Yet Ned boldly relieved the Bank of £2000, chopped down the telegraph poles, locked the police in their own cells, booked up the cost of shoeing his horses to the police. He held more than 30 hostages while shouting the bar and burned the mortgages held in the bank’s safe – all in three days

No person aware of Ned Kelly’s presence in Jerilderie took advantage of the AUD260,000 reward for his capture or made an attempt on his assassination. The main purpose of Ned Kelly’s visit to Jerilderie was to have his 40 page manifesto published – now known as The Jerilderie Letter. The document didn’t surface until 100 years after the event.

Found on the visitnsw.com website

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Jerilderie Motel & Caravan Park (03) 5886 1366
    • Cost per night – $35.00 (@ 17-Jul-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • Facilities – fairly modern and very clean
    • CP Location121 Jerilderie St Jerilderie
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score8/10 – well maintained park
  • Was it a nice town to visit?not a bad town, a good stop-over spot
    • Activities & places of interest not much – Ned Kelly story was interesting
    • Tourist info centre?63 Jerilderie St, Jerilderie – 0448 878 597
    • Would we return?only as a stop-over spot & may free camp next time (great spot near the lake)
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsPleasant enough town to visit and the caravan park was good. Went to the pub for dinner on the Saturday night and that was a bit of a disappointment – took nearly 2 hours to get our meals 😠.

Griffith NSW

About Griffith

Getting there – Coleambally stopover

It’s a fairly short 132km drive from Jerilderie (route map) but along the way we pulled into the town of Coleambally to check out their unique water tower and street art. Both were very impressive; we debated the shape of the water tower and couldn’t agree on being a wine glass, schooner or a mortar bomb. Its mosaic depicts the history and amenities of Coleambally. 24½ metres in height, with a capacity of over 1 million litres, it is filled from two deep bores and is the towns water supply. The street art is in the form of a giant Brolga (just in front of the water tower) as well as some unique lizards in the median strips made from welded chains.

Accommodation

Arriving at the Griffith Tourist Caravan Park (maplink) we were a bit disappointed as it looked pretty run down, but a young couple had just taken it over with a huge project ahead to get it up to scratch. We had 3 days to spend exploring what Griffith had to offer before moving on to Cobar.

Around Griffith

The Hermits Cave

The Hermit’s Cave is well worth a visit – perched high on the ridge of Scenic Hill, part of the McPherson Ranges, it offers a fabulous view across irrigated farmland to the Binya Hills and Cocoparra National Park in the distance.

The cave was once the home of Valerio Ricetti, a miner from Broken Hill who lived the life of a hermit in his cave on Scenic Hill for many years from 1929 to 1952. A keen gardener, Valerio transformed the rocky escarpment and created dry-stone-walls, paths and stone steps creating access to areas that he called, the Garden, the Chapel and the Main Cave. The walls of the Main Cave feature paintings of small daisies, created by Ricetti. Read more on Wikipedia

De Bortoli Winery

We then took a trip out to the De Bortoli Winery in Bilbul (maplink) for a bit of a tasting. Our host, Dominique, provided the wine tasting, making our visit very enjoyable and interesting. We ended up purchasing some whites and a bottle of their Old Boys 21 Years Barrel Aged Tawny (yum!).

Centenary Sculptures at IOOF Park

Griffith celebrated 100 years of progress in 2016. The Centenary Celebrations hinged around the 17 day International Sculpture Symposium, which was held during May. Seven of the world’s best hard stone sculptors converged on Griffith to transform 20 tonnes of granite into beautiful pieces of public art. The granite sculptures, which reflect the theme ‘Griffith’s cultural diversity and the meaning of water’ are located on Centenary Walk, in the IOOF Park in Kookora Street (maplink). This is really cool and well worth a visit.

 

Whitton Malt House

While we were at the De Bortoli Winery we asked our host about other places to visit and she suggested we check out the Whitton Malt House (about 48kms south of Griffith), so off we went and found it to be a pretty amazing place, only having been created in 2020.

The Malthouse is truly amazing with accommodation, a man-made lake where you can fish (catch & release Murray Cod), a special golf course where you pitch at targets in the lake (pretty cool), some great metal art – especially the horse created from all sorts of metal objects from spanners, cutlery, machinery parts, chains etc. This is just an add-on to the wonderful distillery and function centre which is the jewel in the crown.

Make sure that you pay the Malthouse a visit if you’re ever in the area – totally well worth it!

 

Some friendly Parrots

On our last afternoon here we discovered the source of the crap over our car; it was a pair of beautiful Australian Ringneck Parrots. They were eating the fruit on the tree next to our van and after 1 chew the fruit was discarded onto the car, before the next piece of fruit was chosen. They were forgiven as they were so beautiful – so I just moved the car 😄. The sunset that evening was also pretty special with a nice orange sky.

Summing up…

  • AccommodationGriffith Tourist Caravan Park (02) 6964 2144
    • Cost per night – $30.00 (@ 17-July-2022)
    • Stayed for3 nights
    • Facilities – Pretty poor – need a lot of work
    • CP Location – 919 Willandra Ave Griffith NSW
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score4/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? – Yes
    • Activities & places of interest Plenty to do
    • Tourist info centre? – 1 Jondaryan Avenue Griffith
    • Would we return?Probably not – been there & done that
    • We rate the town – 7/10
  • Overall thoughtsNot a bad town to visit and we really enjoyed taking in the places of interest. If we were to stay here again we’d pick another caravan park as this one was pretty run down; however – a young couple have only recently taken over the park and we wish them luck updating it to a better one.

Cobar NSW

About Cobar

For over 100 years Cobar has been a mining town. Even today an essential part of every visitor’s itinerary is a visit to the New Cobar Open Cut Gold Mine and the Peak Gold Mine. Cobar is one of those deceptive country towns which, on the surface, just looks like any one of a hundred rural service centres. However just beneath this ordinary exterior there is an exceptional museum, an excellent Mining Heritage Park, a remarkable Sound Chapel and a superb display of Aboriginal rock art at Mount Grenfell. Mining still drives the local economy but, in the winter months, it becomes popular with tourists driving from the coast to Broken Hill (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a 367km trip from Griffith (route map) and we stopped off along the way at a small rural town called Merriwagga (maplink), where the term “The Black Stump” is said to have originated.

We went looking for the black stump memorial and couldn’t find it, so just checked out the town discovering that the Black Stump Hotel is said to have the highest bar and bar-stools in Australia (lofty 1.3 meters high). Local legend has it that the original publican built the bar this high so that local ringers could ride their horses right up to the bar! Pity that it was closed as we were too early in the day to check it out. Next stop-off was Hillston for a coffee and a photo taken with the local emu before moving onto our destination of Cobar.

Accommodation

Checked into the Cobar Caravan Park which has really nice big sites, but amenities need to be seriously updated. 2 nights here before moving on to Bourke.

 

Cobar Museum and Miners Memorial

The Cobar Tourist Information Centre includes a museum highlight mining in the area and was a great place to spend some time.

We then ventured over the road to the Cobar Miners Heritage Park, which is a memorial been built to pay tribute to the hundreds of miner’s who have lost their lives mining in the Cobar Shire. It was only built in 2020 & opened in 2021.

Just around the corner from there is the famous Cobar Town Monument which is the iconic gateway to Cobar. Anyone travelling to or through Cobar must have a photo of these remains of what would have been a huge copper smelter

Fort Bourke Hill Lookout & Peak Gold Mines

Fort Bourke Lookout is just minutes out of town (maplink) and the view from the viewing platform provides a vista over the open pit and entrance to the underground mines.

The rich Cobar mineral belt is clearly visible in a straight line from North to South (line up the head-frames). The mining here is all underground now with the entrance at the bottom of the pit.

Cobar’s water comes from Burrendong Dam 400km away and is pumped from Nyngan via a 135km pipeline into storage tanks on top of Fort Bourke hill.

Cobar Sound Chapel

The Cobar Sound Chapel is located on a dirt road a few kilometers north-east of Cobar, along a dirt road (maplink). It’s basically a large old metal water tank that has been converted into a musical art-piece. It’s quite amazing. It was completed in early 2022 and is a creation by composer / sound artist Georges Lentz.

The Sound Chapel is locked and you need to get to get the keys from the Cobar Visitors Centre, BUT there is a catch as you need to pay a $300 (cash only) deposit to get these keys! We didn’t have that much cash on us (who does these days!) so drove out to check it out from the outside. You can actually hear the music from outside which is still pretty cool.

Summing up…

  • AccommodationCobar Caravan Park (02) 6836 2425
    • Cost per night$43.20 (G’Day discount @ 20-Jul-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • Facilities Very old and need an update
    • CP Location101 Marshall St Cobar – great location close to town
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?yes
    • Activities & places of interesta fair bit to do – 2 nights was enough though
    • Tourist info centre?Great Cobar Heritage Centre (02) 6836 2448
    • Would we return?yes – only as a stop-over though
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsCobar was a great place to visit and would recommend 2 days as adequate time to stay.

Bourke NSW

About Bourke

Getting there

It’s a fairly short 167km trip to Bourke (route map) with nothing much to see along the way but some emu’s and goats.

Accommodation

We booked into the Mitchell Caravan Park for 3 nights. Bourke had recently had a lot of rain and there were only 50% of the sites available, so it was great that we’d pre-booked as a lot of people were turned away. It’s nice park BUT if you ever stay there try to get a site of the north side of the park NOT the south side (where we were) at the highway is about 5 metres behind these site with heaps of trucks going past on the highway.

Port of Bourke

The old Bourke Wharf is a great pot to check out, situated on the famous Darling River with great views along the river. The Crossley Engine next door was not working when we were there but is apparently pretty cool when it’s being demonstrated.

Back of Bourke Centre

The Bourke Visitors Information Centre is a must visit place as it houses stories of Outback Legends like Barefoot Harry, Captain Starlight, the Camel traders, WWI Prisoners of War, Charles Bean the man behind the Australian War Memorials.

The entry fee also includes the showing of a locally produced animated story called Lifeblood which was absolutely fascinating. From the Producer – “Lifeblood is a film about the intersection of place, history, and our identity. Who are we as Australians? We are disconnected from our true cultural identity. We don’t understand our environment, and therefore we don’t know how to protect the delicate equilibriums that have existed for millions of years on our planet“.

North Bourke Bridge

The original road bridge over the Darling River is now closed (and looking pretty sad). We stopped off to check it out and to find out a bit about the Paddle Steamer PV Jandra but it was closed due to the river being in flood – would have been a great experience 😞.

 

Gundabooka National Park – Aboriginal Art Site

We ventured out to check out the Yappa (Mulgowan) Aboriginal Art Site in Gundabooka National Park, 73kms south of Bourke, for a day trip. We’d heard the rock art was pretty good.

After turning off the highway we were then on 16kms of red dirt road, which was still wet in places, giving us a bit of red mud fun. There were also plenty of emus along the road, which never run in a straight line!

The 700m walking track into the rock art area is well defined and easy to navigate. It just gets a bit hairy crossing the small creek in front of the rock art area. Returning to the car-park we came across a inquisitive Bearded Dragon (lizard) sunning himself on the track. Then it was time for lunch in the great picnic area (no lizards were eaten).

Here’s a video of some emu’s we met along the access road. Looked like one was having a bath on side of the road…

 

Fred Hollows Grave

On our return trip from the national park we stopped off at the Bourke Cemetery to take a stroll among some of the history of people buried there as well as visiting the grave site of the famous Australian Eye Surgeon Fred Hollows.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation – Mitchell Caravan Park (02) 6872 2791
    • Cost per night – $34.37 (@ 22-Jul-2022)
    • Stayed for3 nights
    • Facilities – Basic but clean
    • CP Location – 2 Becker St Bourke
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?yes
    • Activities & places of interestnot as many as expected
    • Tourist info centre?Back O’Bourke Information & Exhibition Centre (02) 6872 1321
    • Would we return?probably not – maybe just as a one night stop-over
    • We rate the town6/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe enjoyed our stay here but it was another of those “Been there and seen that” type of stays.

Cunnamulla QLD

About Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla is a rural service centre which is the administrative seat of the Paroo Shire – a vast shire which covers 47,617 sq. km of South-West Queensland. With a population of over 1600 in 2011, Cunnamulla is significantly larger than the other towns in the shire – Eulo, Yowah and Wyandra. While the town offers little to tempt the curious traveller, it does have a distinct old world charm. The hotels in the main street have remained unchanged for over half a century, the shops still have a pre-supermarket feel to them, and the tree-lined streets evoke the world of the country town long past. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Yet another fairly boring 258km drive north along the Mitchell Hwy (route map) from Bourke to Cunnamulla. At least it took us into Queensland. 😄

Accommodation

Staying at the Cunnamulla Tourist Park wasn’t too bad. It’s a G’Day park so we got the 10% discount. It’s close enough to town (maplink) enabling us to take a leisurely stroll into do some shopping. @ nights here before moving on to Charleville.

Outback Stockman Show

We found out about the Outback Stockman Show show at our caravan park. It’s run by a fantastic bloke called Paul Clarkson. He takes the crowd through how a bushman’s horse is trained along with their working dogs. This is a brilliant show with plenty of laughs and great stories. Paul shows how much he loves his animals and how much trust they have in him.

Totally recommend the Outback Stockman Show. It’s on run at the Cunnamulla Show Grounds every morning at 11am – book through the Cunnamulla Visitors Centre and it’s $25 per person.

 

Cunnamulla Fella

Located out the front of the Cunnamulla Visitors Centre is a massive bronze statue called the Cunnamulla Fella.

The Cunnamulla Fella is a song written by Stan Coster and sung by Slim Dusty. He is an iconic Australian Bush character. The town of Cunnamulla has erected a statue of the Cunnamulla Fella as a tribute to Stan and Slim and to the ‘ringers’ of the bush. The statue is double life size bronze. It was created by sculptor Archie Sinclair from a drawing by Mike Nicholas. The statue is located in front of the Paroo Shire Hall in Cunnamulla gazing across the centre of the town.

Song’s Lyrics

Here’s a great YouTube video by Australian C&W singer Lee Kernaghan singing the Cunnamulla Fella…

Cunnamulla Water Tower

The Cunnamulla & Charleville Water Towers were painted by renowned artist Guido van Helten in 2019.

Separated by 200 km, Cunnamulla and Charleville are joined by the rivalry they share of a simple game. They meet twice a year, then complete in a grand final where they are destined to try and best each other. The murals of both represents the significance of the game to the community. 

Allan Tannock Weir

A short 5km trip out of town takes you to the Allan Tannock Weir on the Warrego River. Pretty cool weir and it shows how high the river is at the moment. They recently had a lot of rain here and there’s plenty of evidence that the river had flooded over the weir uprooting trees and leaving plenty of debris behind.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation – Cunnamulla Tourist Park (07) 4655 1421
    • Cost per night – $36.00 (@ 25-Jul-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • Facilities – Dated but always clean
    • CP Location69 Watson St Cunnamulla – close to town
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?yes
    • Activities & places of interest– not much to do but we still enjoyed ourselves
    • Tourist info centre? – Cunnamulla Visitors Centre (07) 4655 8470
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • We rate the town – 7/10
  • Overall thoughts – This was a great place to stop. IGA was a bit pricey but the town was nice.

Charleville QLD

About Charleville

Charleville is a rural service centre on the Warrego River. With a population of over 3,000, it is the largest town in South West Queensland. Surrounded by rich pastoral land, it grew to prominence as an important transportation stopover between the vast properties of western Queensland and the vital rail-head at Roma. Today the town is an important centre with offices of both the School of Distance Education and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Its a 201km trip from Cunnamulla to Charleville travelling straight north on the Mitchell Hwy (route map). We made a couple of stops along the way…

Wyandra

Wyrandra is exactly half way between Cunnamulla to Charleville, so we pulled in for coffees. There’s really only one thing in this town worth stopping for and it’s the Wyandra Post Office, General Store and Caravan Park (maplink). The bloke who runs this place is a real scream who serves great brewed coffee and freshly made scones. His humour is something else! Find it n WikiCamps

Angellala Bridge Monument

On Friday 5th September 2014, a truck carrying 52.8 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was involved in a single-vehicle incident. The blast radius was more than 1 kilometre and was the equivalent power to 10-15 tonnes of TNT; so powerful that 30 km away Charleville residents thought there was an earthquake. A police car travelling to the scene was damaged about 200 metres away from the blast.

In fact, the explosion was measured as a seismic event measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale. The explosion site looked like a war zone with the complete demolition of the road bridge and as well as the Angellala rail bridge, that had stood since 1897. Thankfully not a life was lost.

The monument symbolises the bridge and the information boards provided represent the human and historic aspects of the site. The memorial is located 8.2kms north of the town of Bakers bend (maplink)

Accommodation

It’s pretty funny as I’d listed the phone number of another caravan park for the one we intended to stay at, so upon arrival all we got was “you’re not booked in here mate!” so with a quick phone call we discovered that we’d actually booked the Bailey Bar Caravan Park instead and it proved to be a pretty good mistake.

Even though this park is in need of some pretty serious upgrading (one WikiCamp review said “This Park should be demolished, the Public Health need to visit!! Only shining light was Darren a lovely guy) we enjoyed our stay here. A camp barby on our 1st night and then a camp oven stew on our last night was excellent. Our hosts were really nice and put on a great dinner too. We had 3 nights staying here.

Around the town

Charleville Historic House & Museum

Dating back to 1887 the building was purpose built as Charleville’s first national bank, before it went onto become a private boarding house until the 1970’s.

Filled to the brim with treasures of yesteryear, some dating back as far as the 1800’s, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find and it’s well worth your time to take a look. It’s located in Alfred Street Charleville (maplink).

Many of the original features of the bank still remain which include marble fireplaces and the vault. The display is completed with a large early day machinery display in the grounds including a life size replica Cobb & Co Coach, Rail Ambulance and Steam Engine.

Charleville Water Tower

The Charleville & Cunnamulla Water Towers were painted by renowned artist Guido van Helten in 2019. It’s located in Parry Street Charleville (maplink).

Separated by 200 km, Cunnamulla and Charleville are joined by the rivalry they share of a simple game. They meet twice a year, then complete in a grand final where they are destined to try and best each other. The murals of both represents the significance of the game to the community.

Charleville Railway Station

Charleville railway station is a heritage-listed railway station on the Western line in King Street (maplink). It was built from 1888 to 1957.

The tourist information centre is located in the station building. While we were there a train was waiting at the platform to begin it’s 17.5 hour trip to Brisbane.

Cosmos Centre

With great expectations we booked into the Charleville Cosmos Centre for their evening show called the Big Sky Observatory and it was terribly disappointing. With the sales pitch beginning with “A mesmerising sky filled with thousands of stars, combined with the beauty of deep celestial objects all come alive in front of your very eyes during your adventure to the Big Sky Observatory” you’d expect to see some pretty spectacular stuff but you just get an enlargement of watch you see with the naked eye. I’m sorry but it sucked! The guy doing the presentation is really knowledgable, so no complaints there, it’s just it didn’t even come close to my expectations of what the telescope would show you of our galaxy. Even the final “coup-de-graph” of viewing Saturn was a total disappointment. My score is a lowly 2 out of 10.

WW II Secret Airbase

An interesting fact we discovered was that, during WW II the US established a strategic Secret Airbase in Charleville. In 1943 there were 3500 United States Army Air Force personnel stationed in here.

We made 2 visits to the airbase – a self guided tour through the museum and then a 2 hour “tagalong” with a guide around what used to be the secret US airbase. It’s located at the Charleville Airport (maplink)

1st visit – Secret Airbase Museum

Our 1st visit was to the static display housed in the main building. There’s plenty to learn about this “secret base” and it’s really well set-up. The interactive bomb drop is great and out of the 4 of us only Merrisa could successfully drop the bomb on the target.

The rumour is (no facts here because it’s still an official secret place) that the Americans set-up the base to act as a strategic location, far enough inland that the Japanese bombers could not reach it.

2nd visit – Secret Airbase grounds tour

Back again to the secret airbase, this time to take the tagalong tour through some of the vast area the original base had occupied.

Taking up 25sq km with 101 Australian purpose built buildings, 3 runways and many large unique planes flying in and out on a regular basis- this little town was sworn to secrecy. All in a massive effort to conceal and protect the location of this TOP SECRET AF base. But what made it so special was the object that was being so heavily protected was the Nordon Bombsight, the prize piece of the American’s upper hand in the Battle of the Coral Sea….. And not even the base soldiers knew it was there – Just Incredible!

Bilby Rescue Centre

Bilby Rescue was initiated by a couple of guys by the name of Frank Manthey and Peter McRae, whose passion to rescue these tiny marsupials from certain extinction is something of an absolute wonder. They created an organisation called Save the Bilby Fund in 1999 and what has occurred from their early work has been areas set aside for the Bilbies to safely re-populate their species.

The Bilby Fence at Currawinya National Park was designed to protect bilbies from feral animals and predators to enable them to live and breed in safety. It opened in 2003 and cost $500,000 to build the 25sq km electrified predator-exclusion fence. Save the Bilby breed and release captive bilbies to a sanctuary surrounded by a predator exclusion fence in Currawinya National Park with the aim of building a population of 400 free-living bilbies; and it’s working.

Summing up…

  • AccommodationBailey Bar Caravan Park (07) 4654 1744
    • Cost per night$34.20 (@ 27-Jul-2022)Stayed for3 nights
    • FacilitiesVery old and really need some sprucing up
    • CP Location 196 King St Charleville
    • CP map couldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score7/10 despite the negative reviews on WikiCamps we actually liked this park
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes – typical outback town with lots of friendly locals
    • Activities & places of interest plenty to see and do here. A great place to visit
    • Tourist info centre?Charleville Visitor Information Centre (07) 4656 8359
    • Would we return?yes – but a long way from Victoria
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsLoved our stay here and were also happy with the accommodation.

Lara Wetlands Station QLD

About Lara Wetlands Station

Getting there

Leaving Charleville we headed north on the Matilda Way (Landsborough Hwy) stopping off along the way to check out the towns of Augathella and Tambo as well as a refuel in Blackall (route map) before turning left off the highway at about 79kms from Blackall onto the Lara Wetlands access road – red dirt for 14kms to get to the wetlands.

Augathella stop-over

A nice little town famous for it’s mascot called the “Meat Eating Ant.” The town chose the enormous insect as its mascot not because it’s overrun with the (much smaller) real-life version, but because of its football team. There is also a nicely painted water tower in town worth a look.

Great Artesian Basin

Tambo stop-over

Another nice little town famous for it’s “Tambo Teddies store” which Google says it’s open until 1:00pm on Saturdays but we discovered it was actually 12:00pm and therefore closed. Probably saved a hit on the budget anyway . Lunch at Fannymaes then back on the road again.

Accommodation

Lara Wetlands Station was a really great place to stay. We pulled up facing the water so our Bailey caravan’s windows showcased it each day. There’s no power but accessible drinking water (fill your tanks from one of their many hoses but can’t stay connected). A fire pit every night was so good to get around.

The road in and out of Lara Wetlands is 13kms of red dirt from the highway and still a but boggy from rains from 2 weeks ago.

The Campground

There’s plenty of space around the wetlands to set-up. The lake’s probably no more deeper than 1metre (in the middle) and it takes around 30 minutes to do the lap. It’s a very pretty place and the dead trees in the lake make for a good photo or 12.

 

I had a paddle across the lake in one of their free canoes and followed up with a dip in their thermal pool – serenity!

 

Sunsets and Sunrises

What a great spot for either sunset or sunrise. Great colours in the sky and a sliver of moon in the sunset too.

Bird life

We’d heard that it’s a haven for birds but there wasn’t that many but enough to fill the film roll.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation – Lara Wetlands Campground 0457 661 243
    • Cost per night – $25.00 (@ 30-Jul-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • Facilities – Very rustic but with flushing toilets & wood-chip heated showers
    • CP Location – 39052 Landsborough Hwy Barcaldine
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?This is not in a town, just a bush setting with no shops around
    • Activities & places of interest– just a walk around the lake and bird watching or a swim in thermal pool
    • Tourist info centre? – none
    • Would we return? – Yes
    • We rate the town – 8/10
  • Overall thoughts – A really great spot to stay. They have fresh water but no power. The staff are really friendly. It’s a bit of a drive in from the highway (13km or red dirt) but really worth the effort. 2 nights would be a sufficient enough time to stay here.

Longreach QLD

About Longreach

Longreach is the largest town in central Queensland and, as such, is an important rural service centre for one of the state’s most prosperous wool and beef areas. Located on the Tropic of Capricorn it services an ever-growing tourism industry which has been driven by the success of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a fairly short 134km drive from Lara Wetlands northwards to our new destination, so no stops along the way.

Accommodation

We pulled into the Longreach Tourist Park and found our site among the other 300+ sites in the park. This place is absolutely huge and tends to fill-up and empty out on a pretty regular basis. We have 4 nights here.

It was pretty amazing when, in the morning at least 50% of the park empties out and later in the afternoon it was full again. That would mean that every day there would be over 150 caravans going from or coming into Longreach!

 

Stockmans Hall of Fame

The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre is Australia’s premier outback heritage institution. The centre provides visitors with a spectacular outback experience.The outback is as prosperous, tough and unforgiving as it ever was. It’s where hard yakka, guts and resilience built our nation’s identity and why the great Australian stockman – the legend of the bush – became our national hero.

The enduring journey of the stockman, the challenges and demands, and the evolution of this epic industry continue to this day. The museum will awaken you to the hardships, passion, bush comradery and industry changes that have shaped the industry that has made our country great.

The Cinema Experience and Live Show

We booked into the Stockmans Experience Tour ($68ph) which begins with a 30 minute movie showcasing virtual and real footage across a 16m screen featuring the birth of a nation through the eyes of the Australian stockman.

Then it was outside to be seated under a massive roof (out of the hot sun) to experience a brilliant display of horsemanship by Lachie Cossor who runs the live show. He’s an experienced stockman, horseman, rodeo rider, entertainer, and now singer as well. This was so entertaining and we all learned a lot about the stockman and their life on the land. Plenty of laughs were had when Lachie showed the crowd how to groom his horse called Ernie. Ernie was the perfect showman/horse upstaging Lachie many times – a real hoot!

The show also included his working dogs (also plenty of laughs) rounding up the sheep and concluded with an introduction to this massive 1000kg bull named Jigsaw, who Lachie rides out to meet the crowd.

We rate the show a 10 out of 10 – a must see when in Longreach.

The Museum

The museum experience is simply icing on the cake to what was one of the best experiences we have had on this trip so far.

Cracking the whip

While we were exploring the museum we met Anthony Rennick who was creating another of his beautiful stockman whips. The Wagga Wagga whipmaker has been wintering in Longreach for over a decade now, moving his operation to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre where he is a living exhibit.

Our friend Jackie was so impressed that she purchased one of Anthony’s whips and it included a free training session out the back of the Hall of Fame, which we all participated in.

Here’s a couple of examples of Merrisa attempting to crack the newly created whip and absolutely nailing it on 1st attempt at two whipping styles…

And then it was Neil’s turn…

Around the town

Longreach has so much to offer the visitor. Even a stroll through the town centre throws up some unexpected delights such as “The Drovers”, which were part of “The Human Factor” sculptures by John Underwood, created for the Brisbane World Expo ’88.

 

Starlight’s River Cruise

We were picked up at our caravan park a 4:45pm and then bused out to the Thomson River to participate in Starlight’s Cruise Experience run by the Kinnon family.

We took a gentle cruise at sunset east down the Thomson River on the Thomson Belle, a very old paddle wheeler, following their recently introduced Pride of the Murray paddle wheeler. As the sun sets of the trees in the west we return to to the jetty.

After the cruise we disembarked to enjoy a traditional stockman’s campfire dinner followed by bush poetry with a local outback storyteller, Scotty reciting bush poetry and a few funny yarns. Scotty was an ageless old soul, who when about 16 years old seriously injured both feet and cannot wear shoes (they make him fall over) so goes everywhere barefooted. The legend has it that he was banned from doing his lawn mowing rounds by Work Cover and so his mate mate him a pair of boots with no soles so he could trick the inspector 😂.

Afterwards, we moved down to the seated area on the riverbank to watch the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Show – a unique big-screen presentation featuring the Kinnon & Co family and locals in the amazing adventures of the notorious local cattle thief known as ‘Captain Starlight’.

Finally, in the atmospheric surroundings of the bush at night, we enjoyed the timeless favourite – billy tea and damper. Then it was back to our accommodation after wonderful 4.5 hours of mesmerising dinner and shows.

Cost of experience was $125pp, including pick-up at accom, river cruise, dinner & show, movie, tea & damper and return to accom. 4.5 hours of total enjoyment!

We also rate the show a 10 out of 10 – a must see when in Longreach.

The Cruise

The Dinner & Show

Dinner consists of bush stew and mashed spuds with bread to mop up the gravy. Dessert was an apple cake with custard. Then the show begins with Jeremy Kinnon providing an insight into the stockman’s travels and gear they use. Pretty funny, especially the many items he says are “available at me mum’s shop in town“. Then out comes Scotty to tell us his bush poetry and some funny yarns.

After dinner the crowd moves down to be seated for an after-dark Captain Starlight movie in outdoor riverbank theater and brothers Jeremy and Lane Kinnon begin the movie with an introduction which is an absolute scream. Please enjoy the video below, which is only part of the intro…

 

QANTAS Museum

They’ve gone all out at the QANTAS Museum in Longreach. You just cannot miss the place as you drive into town from the Barcaldine direction. There’s now a massive carport style roof built over the 4 planes, including a Jumbo Jet.

The Tour

We began our tour under the massive roof as our guide spoke about each of these amazing aircraft in great detail, about their life and how they arrived at the museum. We then were taken through

DC3

Starting its life as a C-47 with the United States Army Air Force in 1944, it was given to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944 before becoming a QANTAS Empire Airways aircraft and being converted to civilian DC -3 standard as VH -EAP in 1948. The aircraft still has the large double C-47 style doors.

Developed from the earlier DC1 and DC2, the DC3 revolutionised air travel in the 1930s. It was relatively fast, reliable and able to carry up to 28 passengers in comfort. Despite its success, QANTAS did not begin to operate the DC3/C47 until 1945 when military C47s became available in large numbers. After service with QANTAS in New Guinea, VH-EAP was sold in 1960 but continued to fly in New Guinea. In 1982 it returned to Australia and was flown by Bush Pilots Airways (later Air Queensland). There were a number of other owners and last flew in January 1993. VH-EAP was later donated to QANTAS Founders Museum by John Williams, with the aircraft being dismantled, transported to Longreach and repainted in its original QANTAS Empire Airways colours by retired and serving QANTAS staff.

When I was 5 years old we moved to Madang in Papua New Guinea for 3 years as my father took over as the head Met Officer (Meteorologist) and we flew from Port Moresby to Madang in a DC3 just like the one at the museum.

707

This particular Boeing 707 – 138 – originally VH-EBA – was the first jet of thirteen 138 purchased by QANTAS from Boeing and the very first civilian jet aircraft registered in Australia. The 707 replaced the propeller driven Super Constellations and practically halved the flying time on QANTAS overseas routes. The new Boeing 707s were so fast they also introduced Australians to “jet lag” for the first time. After serving with QANTAS, the aircraft was operated by other airlines and private operators. After several years lying derelict at Southend Airport in the United Kingdom and about to be scrapped, it was purchased by QANTAS Founders Museum and restored and flown to Longreach in June 2007 by a dedicated group of volunteers, mostly retired QANTAS engineers.

747

VH-EBQ, “City of Bunbury”, was the first QANTAS aircraft named after a West Australian provincial town to mark the 150th Anniversary of Western Australia and Bunbury being declared a city. VH-EBQ was accepted from Boeing by QANTAS on 10th December 1979. During its working life with QANTAS it is estimated the aircraft carried over 5.4 million passengers and flew over 82.54 million kilometres – equivalent to more than 2000 trips around the world or ten round trips to the moon or ten years continuous flying.

VH-EBQ is unique in being the only surviving Boeing 747 – 200 with Rolls Royce engines. VH-EBQ was donated to QANTAS Founders Museum by Qantas Airways and landed at Longreach on 16th November 2002.

Super Constellation

QANTAS operated Constellations on the Kangaroo Route between Sydney and London from 1947 -1955 before the Super Constellation operated the route from 1954-1962. The Constellation was the first aircraft that enabled QANTAS to establish and sustain long-range overseas air service in its own right and it was the longest air service in the world using the same aircraft all the way.

Constellations were  the first QANTAS aircraft to feature flight hostesses (female cabin crew) and be pressurised. QANTAS Super Constellations operated the first ever regular round-the-world air service via both hemispheres in 1958. The Museum’s Super Constellation was built for the US Navy in 1953 before being used as a cargo aircraft. The aircraft has been repainted to resemble the QANTAS Super Constellation “Southern Spray” VH-EAM.

A stroll through the Museum

The museum tells the story of Australia’s national airline, from its early days in Outback Queensland to present day.  Characters of the early QANTAS days and their pioneering spirit contributing to the impact the airline had for all Australians is brought to life through life size exhibits, historical artefacts and interactive displays including the National Heritage Listed QANTAS hangar.

We found a full replica of the Avro 504K which was the first QANTAS aircraft and was used by the airline for five years. Powered by a 100 h.p. Sunbeam Dyak engine, it was modified to carry up to two passengers as well as the pilot.

A real, full sized, Catalina flying Fortress is also parked behind the museum. Catalina flying boats played important roles for QANTAS in two eras. During the 1950s, they enabled air services to be provided to remote villages in New Guinea and around the South Pacific where aerodromes hadn’t yet been built. But, it was in the last two years of World War Two that they became the lifeline which helped keep QANTAS alive and maintained communications between Australia and the United Kingdom.

And that concludes our 3 day Longreach visit.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Longreach Tourist Park (07) 4658 1781
    • Cost per night – $40.50 (@ 1-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for4 nights
    • Facilities – Not too shabby but a bit of a walk
    • CP Location – 12 Thrush Rd, Longreach – in a good location & a short drive into town
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? – Yes – a great town!
    • Activities & places of interest – plenty to do – 4 nights was good for us
    • Tourist info centre? 99A Eagle St, Longreach (07) 4658 4141
    • Would we return? – probably
    • We rate the town – 8/10
  • Overall thoughts – – We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. There’s plenty to do and the 3 main attractions we attended were absolutely fantastic.

Winton QLD

About Winton

The Winton Shire covers 53,935 square kilometres and has a population of just 1,600 people. It is the centre of an important cattle and sheep raising region of predominantly flat grassland known as the Channel Country. The area around the town is technically described as “hot, semi-arid.” The town has two very legitimate claims to fame: it was where that alternative national anthem, Waltzing Matilda, was written and first performed and it has some of the best dinosaur fossil remains in the world. Oh, yes, and it was where QANTAS started. In fact there are an excess of interesting and unusual attractions: the Musical Fence, the Truck Museum, the memorabilia inside the North Gregory Hotel; the Australian Age of Dinosaurs exhibits and tours. It would be very easy to spend two or three days just exploring the attractions around this genuinely fascinating town (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a straight 179km run from Longreach through to Winton with no stops along the way (route map).

Accommodation

We pulled into the Winton Roadhouse Caravan Park to find that the two sites we were given were like a rock pile (average size was 25-30mm diameter) so not q very happy start to our stay. Making the most out of it we settled. That night we were provided with yet another central Queensland sunset.

Musical Fence and QANTAS Monument

This unique attraction was found just behind our caravan park. The Musical Fence, designed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leak, is a wire fence that can be played as a musical instrument and it is the first Permanent musical fence installation in the world. It was opened in 2003. We had a bit of a jam session with a lot of laughs as we tried to belt out a tune. We also discovered the actual fence was not very musical at all LOL!

There’s a lot of conjecture up in central QLD about where QANTAS actually started up. We were told in Charleville that it’s there town to receive the 1st QANTAS flight but the 1st paid passenger flight was actually in Winton. QANTAS actually set-up their base in Longreach (where the museum is). In April 2021 a special monument was erected right behind the Musical Fence to honour the 1st QANTAS flight into Winton. (maplink)

Around the Town

Winton is a really neat and tidy town. A stroll through town presents lots of quirky and different items of interest, like metal sheep on the median in the main street, toilets with “rams & ewes” and rubbish bins in dinosaur feet. There’s plenty of beautiful buildings as well as really weird looking ones – all worth checking out.

Waltzing Matilda Centre

This beautiful building was constructed following the original one was destroyed by fire in 2015. It incorporates the visitor info centre as well and was a very interesting place to visit. You could split into two things – history of Banjo Patterson and the museum of old stuff out the back.

Banjo Patterson Exhibit

As you would expect, this centre is a shrine to Banjo Patterson and Waltzing Matilda, which was written in the district. The Banjo Patterson gallery is just one in this complex, and all are worth seeing. Expect to spend quite some time here, soaking up the atmosphere.

The Museum

Outside, and part of the complex, is a museum with an eclectic collection. Not sure why some things are here as I remember them clearly from my childhood. Having spent 15 years of my career, I loved the old enamel Council signs spell out some bureaucratic rules.

 

Arno’s Wall

One of the quirky attractions is Arno’s Wall. It’s a modern wonder of art and architecture, Arno Grotjahn’s wall contains almost every household item you can imagine and more (maplink).

The walls reach two metres high and extend for at least 70 metres. They are constructed of concrete and rock brought from Arno’s opal mine at Opalton and studded with rusted lawnmower parts, boat propellers, vintage typewriters and sewing machines and even a couple of complete motorbikes.

Arno was born in 1930 and spent his youth as a merchant seaman travelling the world. He immigrated to Australia from Germany some 30 years ago and spends his time in and around Winton opal mining.

 

Australian Age of Dinosaurs

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. So it was a 26km drive south-east of Winton (maplink) to check it out and it sure didn’t disappoint us. Totally recommend it as a “must do” if you’re in the area.

We purchased tickets for the The Ultimate Dinosaur Pass tour of the facility as outlined below, for $38pp.

It’s an amazing complex with very young guides who are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable they must have all grown up being dinosaur fanatics.

The Fossil Prep Laboratory tour

During this part of our tour we were guided behind-the-scenes through the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. Our guide, Riley, explained to us how dinosaurs are found and recovered, and showed us the remnants of an ancient world with huge sea shells and plant fossils on display. We even had the chance to touch a real dinosaur fossil and watched as fossil technicians prepare dinosaur bones for research and display.

The Collection Room

The Collection Room houses the only known specimens of Australia’s largest, and most complete carnivorous dinosaur – Australovenator wintonensis, nicknamed “Banjo, as well as Australia’s most complete sauropod Diamantinasaurus matildae, nicknamed “Matilda and Savannasaurus elliottorum, nicknamed “Wade”.

Our passionate guide told the story of “Banjo” and “Matilda” and how they are inextricably linked for eternity. We then sat back and enjoyed parts of the documentary “Monsters in the Outback” and watched as the fossils were put together and the dinosaurs brought back to life – very cool!

The “March of the Titanosaurs” Exhibition at Dinosaur Canyon

Outside Walk

After viewing the “March of the Titanosaurs” exhibition it was outside to witness the “attack of the flies” as fly-nets were put on our heads and meet the two awesome Titanosaurs for a quick “photo op”. Then it was time to take a stroll along the 300m elevated walkway perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking Dinosaur Canyon. The exhibits have been created in an environment to simulate life as it would have appeared about 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

 

Bladensburg National Park

Loved this place and it was only 21kms south of Winton (maplink)! The national park is located on a former pastoral sheep station called Bladensburg Station.

Using an excellent guide obtained from the Winton Info Centre we took the Route of the River Gum circuit (PDF). You need a 4WD for the majority of the circuit but it would be pretty messy if it’s been raining. Lots of roos in the park, a few brolgas as well and so much bird life, especially the flocks of budgerigars – which are impossible to photograph when in flight.

Another highlight of our trip to Winton. Here’s our experiences…

Shearers Strike Memorial Cairn

In 1891 there was a shearers’ strike which was one of Australia’s earliest and most important industrial disputes. The dispute was primarily between unionised and non-unionised wool shearers. It resulted in the formation of large camps of striking workers, and minor instances of sabotage and violence on both sides. Wikipedia

The Cairn commemorates the site where striking shearers camped for four months during the 1891 strike and is dedicated to the memory of those shearers. Loved the pic-a-boo kangaroos in the long grass.

The Bladensburg Homestead

At the original homestead complex there are information boards which told us about the early days of station life and the park’s plants and animals.

Scrammy Lookout

The trip to Scammy’s lookout and gorge were well worth it, an easy drive in a 4wd as the tracks are in good condition and lots of wildlife about. The views over the plains from the lookout are absolutely amazing.

Scrammy Gorge

Like the lookout, this is also a beautiful location too.

Engine Hole

A billabong in the middle of these dry plains was unexpected but also beautiful. The birdlife was amazing.

Skull Hole

The 1901 Skull Hole massacre at Bladensburg Station near Winton is one of the greatest atrocities of the frontier wars. Sergeant Moran of Winton police station set out to find those who had killed a European man. During his investigations, he was attacked by local Indigenous people. In response, Winton sent out native police who murdered around 200 Koa people.

We visited this location and were appalled to learn about this massacre.

Creek Crossing

Along the track we crossed Mistake Creek and wouldn’t want to be when it was in flood.

Our last night – The Bushman Poet

Our caravan park has this bush poet guy appearing in the camp kitchen every night and we finally got to check it out on our last night. The poet’s name is Gregory North and he is absolutely amazing. Not only does he tell us some great bush poems and limericks he does it by using his hands and facial expressions to enhance the story. He’s an absolute scream. The show went for an hour keeping the audience of all ages totally enthralled.

In the last segment he recited the Man from Snowy River poem by Banjo Paterson. His version is slightly different though as each verse is performed in a different language (Japanese, French, Italian, Mexican etc) changing hats to match the language. This had the audience in stitches of laughter.

And that ends our 4 day stay in Winton.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Winton Roadhouse Caravan Park (07) 4657 0404
    • Cost per night$35.00 (@ 5-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for4 nights (should have been 3)
    • Facilities – Pretty basic but always kept clean
    • CP Location43 Chirnside St Winton
    • Park MapPDFwe had site 32 (terrible) – will try for sites 23 to 31 next time
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Wasn’t too bad
    • Activities & places of interest Plenty to do and see
    • Tourist info centre?At the Waltzing Matilda Centre (07) 4657 1466
    • Would we return? – Not really, but glad we came and did stuff
    • We rate the town – 7/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe really enjoyed Winton and it was better than expected. The caravan park’s poet was absolutely the “icing on the cake” part of our stay.

Barcaldine QLD

About Barcaldine

Barcaldine is a hugely important and symbolic destination for visitors and travellers interested in the history of working people in Australia. It was here in 1891 that shearers, confronted with lower pay, went on strike, joined together in a camp outside the town and held meeting under “The Tree of Knowledge” – all events which played an important role in the formation of the Australian Labor Party. Today the town celebrates its historic radicalism with a Workers Heritage Centre, a Heritage Listed Shearers’ Strike Camp Site and a beautifully re-created ‘Tree of Knowledge’. The town is central to the Barcaldine Regional Council which covers 53,677 square kilometres and includes the towns of Alpha, Jericho, Aramac, and Muttaburra (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It was another straight drive from one destination to the other (Winton to Barcaldine route map) with a quick stop-over in Longreach for fuel.

Accommodation

It was so nice to pull into the Homestead Caravan Park (maplink) and set-up on a grassy site with sweet (non stinky) water to drink. It was also a bargain at $25 per night for power & water.

A really nice park and the people who run it were so friendly. They put arvo tea on every day with free tea & coffee served with damper.

We did have a couple of great sunsets out the back of our caravan park too.

Around Town

It’s a pretty small town with a fair bit to offer, but it can be all taken in within a day. There was one attraction that we didn’t do and that was the Australian Workers Heritage Centre which is a tribute to the beginning of the Australian Labour Party who is supposed to have started in Barcaldine.

 

Tree of Knowledge

The historic Tree of Knowledge is famous for being the birthplace of the Australian Labour movement. The tree was poisoned in 2006, preserved and placed under an award-winning timber structure. It is now a place of inspiration, reflection and celebration. It is beautifully lit up every night, giving the illusion that the tree is still living. There are also interpretive panels and a sculpture that celebrates the leaders of the 1891 Shearers’ Strike and the history of the Labor movement.

We returned that night to check it out all “lit-up”, which was pretty cool.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Homestead Caravan Park (07) 4651 1308
    • Cost per night$25.00 (@ 11-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • FacilitiesBasic but clean
    • CP Location24 Box St Barcaldine
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score7/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest enough to fill in 2 nights
    • Tourist info centre?149 Oak St, Barcaldine (07) 4651 1724
    • Would we return? – Only if it’s on our travel route – but next time we would make sure to do the “Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail” (info on this PDF) as it looks fantastic!
    • We rate the town – 7/10
  • Overall thoughts – Nice town and very tidy. The caravan park was great with arvo tea & damper served every day. Would stay there again, if coming this way.

Emerald QLD

About Emerald

Emerald is a thriving rural service centre with a rural training college, a large number of farm machinery sales outlets, a huge irrigation dam and an airport. Established in 1879 as the base for the railway line, it has slowly grown to be the major regional centre of the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Central Western district. The Capricorn hinterland contains the largest sapphire gemfields in the world. Emerald grew very rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s as a dormitory town for major new coal mines in the Bowen Basin (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It’s a 311km drive from Barcaldine to Emerald (route map) so we broke the drive up with a couple of stops along the way, which turned out to be worthwhile stops at that.

Jericho stop-over

Jericho is a beautiful little town and a great place to stop-over while travelling through. Just needs a good coffee shop. With a population of about 100 people, it really punches above it’s weight!

The Jericho Trumpeter is a great barbwire and metal sculpture by local artist Milynda Rogers. The sculpture is dressed in period costume playing a trumpet.

The Jericho Information Centre has a fantastic display of pottery houses from around the town. It has been handcrafted by Alice McLaughlan and local artists and there are a total of 43 buildings and houses on display. The detail that has gone into the Clay Village is amazing, this is definitely a must-see!

The Crystal Trumpeters is a fairly significant sized art exhibit created by a team of local residents which is apparently meant to tell the biblical story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho & how he won the Battle of Jericho. We found it a bit confusing, but still appreciated the amount of work that had been put in to build it.

There’s also some interesting things to check out such as the old (closed) café, drive-in theatre and town hall; which is a pretty good indication of Jericho’s age. Also love the spelling displayed in a shop window. The Jericho drive-in is the smallest operating drive-in theatre in the southern hemisphere. The 36-car theatre is located in the main street called Darwin Street and it operates once per month.

Alpha stop-over

The next small town (population about 500) is Alpha, where we stopped for lunch. The only place to buy food is Tilston’s Café, located in the only service station in town. They make awesome egg & bacon rolls too!

Across the road is a set of fossilised tree sculptures. The Alpha region is famous for its petrified wood and its latest attraction the Fossilised Forest sculpture reflects this. The sculpture by Cedar Creek artist Antone Bruinsma is a representation of a boulder which has been opened to reveal its treasures and mysteries. The exterior of the sculpture has interesting forms, carvings and stone attachments that reflect the history of the prehistoric area in which petrified wood formed.

Accommodation

Arriving at the Emerald Cabin & Caravan Village we ended up in drive trough sites which was OK but it was all stone with a slab made for a 14ft caravan, but beggars cannot be choosers. It is a large caravan park situated next to the Emerald Golf Course (maplink) and the club put on a great counter meal too.

 

Big Van Gogh painting

The world’s biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting is situated in Emerald’s Morton Park (maplink). Also called “The Big Easel” the superstructure is 25 metres high with approximately 13.6 tonnes of steel involved in its construction. It is part of a concept by Cameron Cross to erect seven Sunflower sculptures in seven different countries, reproducing Van Gogh’s seven different Sunflower paintings. Emerald’s Sunflower Painting was finished on 8 November 1999. The painting celebrates the Central Highland’s past as a major sunflower producer.

Centenary of Federation Mosaic Pathway

The Centenary of Federation Mosaic Pathway leads you through 100 years in 100 metres of Emerald’s colourful history. The footpath features intricately tiled designs that trace history from the beginning of the universe through to visions of the future.

Lake Maraboon (Fairbairn Dam)

Looking to find something interesting to do (wasn’t all that much to do in Emerald itself) we took the 20km trip (route map) out to have a look at Lake Maraboon, stopping at the Fairbairn Dam Wall for lunch. The lake is currently at 20% capacity and has apparently been very low for over 12 years.

Day trip to check out the Gemfields Festival

We (thought) we were really fortunate to discover that the inaugural Gemfields Festival was happening in the Anakie-Rubvale-Sapphire region, so out we went to discover that we weren’t all that into gem fossicking.

So, we wondered around the market stalls where serious gem fossickers were doing business trying to sell their gems, which were rather tiny and insignificant but still bloody expensive. The best part of the trip was having lunch at Pat’s Café which had the biggest crowd of all the places we visited on the trip (LOL)

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Emerald Cabin & Caravan Village (07) 4982 1300
    • Cost per night$35.00 (@ 11-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for – 3 nights (could have been 2)
    • FacilitiesSingle room toilet/shower suites – always had wet floors
    • CP Location64 Opal St Emerald
    • CP MapPDF
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score5/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Not to bad
    • Activities & places of interest Really disappointed of what attractions were on offer
    • Tourist info centre?3 Clermont St, Emerald (07) 4982 4142
    • Would we return?No
    • We rate the town5/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe went to Emerald with big expectations but were pretty disappointed with what there was to do there. Won’t be going back – 3 night stay is probably a bit generous

Carnarvon Gorge QLD

About Carnarvon Gorge

Getting there

Leaving Emerald we took the 240km drive to Carnarvon Gorge, stopping off at Springsure for a coffee break and to say “see ya” to our travel buddies Liam & Jackie as they were staying at Rolleston for a couple of night before re-joining us in Carnarvon Gorge (route map) in another 2 days.

It was then a non-stop trip from Springsure to Carnarvon Gorge except for the several road blocks created by the local cattle on the drive into our destination from the Warrego Highway. It was quite comical with the cows just standing in the road trying to stare us down as we were stopped by them. It was almost like they were trying to tell us to “pee off and leave us alone”.

 

Accommodation

There are two locations in the Carnarvon Gorge where you can stay in your caravan/motor home etc…

We stayed at Sandstone Park Campground (maplink), as you need to have booked about 12 months in advance to get into the Breeze CP. We loved this location as it sits up on a ridge with expansive views over the sandstone cliffs and surrounding countryside – until the wind gets up and it’s a fairly exposed spot!

1st sunset over Carnarvon Gorge

It was up to the special sunset area near the CP office to joining together with the other campers to experience another great sunset.

The park manager, Gayle, was great explaining to everyone that they MUST stay longer than expected after the sun has gone down to experience a “proper Carnarvon Gorge sunset. She was not wrong as the colours were amazing!

1st day’s exploring

Mickey Creek Walk

Leaving Sandstone Park and heading into the gorge the 1st walk you find is Mickey Creek, which is a short 1.5km track from the carpark. It’s a Grade 3 level walk and was a great way to ease into our exploring the gorge. Along the way we discovered some miniature bush orchards, thankfully marked on the track by an earlier walker.

 

Wurrumba Gorge

There’s an off-shoot along the Mickey Creek Walk to the Wurrumba Gorge and WOW was it worth the effort. We got to the gorge to find a sign saying “end of formed track” but were advised by other walkers to continue up into the gorge proper. It reminded us a lot of our trip to Cobbold Gorge in 2020 (link to post), just on a smaller scale.

TIP: Walk to the end of the Mickey Creek trail 1st and then take the signposted turn left turn off the track to experience Wurrumba Gorge on the return to the car park, it’s only 600m to the end of the formed track.

The Rock Pools

Next along the road into the gorge proper is the Rock Pools Walk, which is only 150m from the car-park and also has a Grade 3 rating. It’s recommended to come here after one of the longer (10+km) walks and cool your feet off in the water. I can tell you now it would be like sticking your feet into an esky full of ice, as the water is freezing!

It was a lovely quiet spot to have lunch and then do some exploring, where we came across some tortoises in the pools and the bird life is exceptional.

2nd day’s exploring

It was a rather quiet 2nd day, with a bit of a sleep in and just cruising around Sandstone Park. Then it was up to the end of the road into the gorge to the ranger’s station to check out what was on offer. We did the Nature Trail, then had lunch before heading back to our caravan for a (very) early happy hour 🍺 🍺 😁.

Nature Trail

The Nature Trail starts near the Ranger’s Station and is an easy Grade 3 walk along the shady banks of Carnarvon Creek. We were told that there’s a platypus further along the trail and it was an easy location to find as there were a number of people quietly waiting to spot this unique marsupial. We eventually did see the platypus but was on the other side of the water hole and not wanting to provide the ultimate photo. At one point somebody pointed out a 2nd platypus swimming toward us and all camera’s swung onto it but it was a large water rat LOL!

3rd day’s walking

Today was the “big walk” into the Carnarvon Gorge with 6 of us heading out for what ended being just over a 14km return walk from the Ranger’s Station. We were joined in today’s exploring by Jackie’s brother Joe and his partner Bron so the intrepid group of six headed out on the next adventure.

 

Moss Garden

The Moss Garden is another Grade 3 walk along a well maintained track, 3.5km from Ranger’s Station (1.3km from main gorge track). It’s not until you get to the end of the track do you get to experience the quiet spectacle of this attraction. It is a great place to just pause, quietly breathe in the sweet pure air and appreciate your surroundings..

Water drips constantly from the sandstone walls of the Moss Garden, supporting a lush carpet of mosses and ferns. Beneath the tree ferns straining for sunlight, a small waterfall tumbles over a rock ledge into an icy pool.

 

The Amphitheater

Our last location on today’s walk was to be The Amphitheater, which is another Grade 3 walk along a rougher type of track with several (easy to do) creek crossings track, 4.3km from Ranger’s Station (1.2km from main gorge track).

We were told by most people we met that it’s an “absolute must do” but you must take care on the “ladder climb” at the end of the track to access the Amphitheater. This was a bit of concern for all of our group as we pictured climbing up this vertical ladder bolted to the canyon wall! It turned out to be a series of pretty steep stairs, like you’d see on a ship – all good!

You enter though a short chasm to enter the Amphitheater and I must say that any aches and pains from taking the walk are instantly forgotten as your breathe is taken away by the grandeur of this place.

My 1st thought was that there had to have been a greater being responsible for this glorious place to have been created in the 1st place, for us humans to sit and wonder at it’s absolute beauty.

There were a couple of other must do’s in the gorge such as Ward’s Canyon and the Art Gallery but we all agreed it was getting a bit late in the day and time to head back to the start.

…suppose that means we will just have to return in the future to continue our explorations of Carnarvon Gorge!

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Sandstone Park Campground 1800 874 444
  • Was it a nice town to visit? One of our favourite stays
    • Activities & places of interest All activities are related to the gorge
    • Tourist info centre?NONE – some info available at Ranger’s Station
    • Would we return?YES
    • We rate the town9/10
  • Overall thoughtsTotally enjoyed our stay at Carnarvon Gorge and would love to return one day and maybe do some fitness training beforehand 😄.

Roma QLD

About Roma

Roma is a substantial rural service centre which lies at the heart of a rich sheep and cattle grazing area. From the 1840s it has been seen as a land of plenty with Sir Thomas Mitchell describing the countryside as “the finest country I had ever seen in a primeval state – a champaign region, spotted with wood, stretching as far as human vision or even the telescope could reach.” Today, calling itself the Capital of the Western Downs, it is a prosperous town with a number of historic buildings and considerable pride in the fact that it was the first place, in the vast Surat Basin, to discover gas and oil (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Leaving Sandstone Park, in Carnarvon Gorge, we trundled back along the road for 40kms to the highway behind 6 other caravans (was like a train!), stopping to allow the cattle to move off or across the road multiple times (it’s actually quite funny). Turning right we headed south for 206kms toward Roma.

A stop-over at Café On Second for coffees in Injune was a nice break before heading off again to Roma.

Accommodation

Our selected accommodation was the Roma Gun Club Caravan Park and it was with a bit of uncertainty and trepidation as we rolled up and checked in for a 4 night stay. The caravan park is sort of part of the Gun Club’s carpark but after settling in we found that it was a good choice after all. We also had a look at the other caravan parks whilst in Roma and agreed that this one came out on top.

 

Clay Target Shooting

Turning up on a Thursday turned out to be opportunistic as they have a “clay shoot” afternoon available to the CP guests for $15 per head.

You get 2 shots at each of 5 stations, using only the bottom barrel of an “under & over” shotgun.

Club stalwart, Iain Campbell (AKA Lumpie), was our coach and he took us through all of the process to safely blow an orange hand sized piece of clay out of the sky.

Scores were – Neil – 3 hits, Liam-1 hit, Merrisa & Jackie both had 0 hits. We all had a ball!

Merrisa flies home

Merrisa flew out after our 1st night heading home for 6 days to attend a special wedding. Neil’s hoping that she makes it back in time to begin our Bailey Tagalong in Mudjimba on the 25th of August.

Up the Creek Garage

Looking for things to do in Roma we discovered the Up the Creek Garage which is a collection of old cars a couple, Robert and Edith Burton, who have built up their collection as one of the major tourist attractions in town (maplink).

They even have 2 Texas Longhorn cattle in their set-up. It was a bit sad to see two large animals housed in a pretty small corral and I’m hoping they can get out to “stretch the legs” on a regular basis.

The Big Rig

Located behind the Roma tourist info centre the Big Rig is a great place to visit (maplink) to discover the history of oil and gas exploration in the area.

A message board type of self managed tour takes you through the history of the search for oil & gas and is absolutely amazing learning about this history dating back to the 1800’s.

A viewing tower takes you up 195 steps to a platform which provides a vista over all of Roma. If you’re feeling a bit tired or lazy you can cheat and use the lift instead of the steps. The 2nd level of the tower opens up to a tree walk beside the creek and it was really hard to fathom how this small quiet creek has flooded the town multiple times.

 

Roma’s Sculptures Out Back

We were fortunate to time our visit to Roma at the same time as the Sculptures of the Outback Exhibition was being run. The inaugural Sculptures Out Back Acquisitive Competition and Exhibition was hailed a huge success when it was launched in Roma last year.

The quality of the work was truly amazing. The images below also contain the story board displayed on each art piece. The ranges of pricing was rather interesting and the number sold (🔴 red dots) was impressive.

The Largest Bottle Tree in Roma

Every town in country Australia tends to have a “BIG” something and in Roma it’s the Largest Bottle Tree!

Roma’s largest bottle tree, which has the incredible girth of 9.62 metres, a height of 15 metres and a crown of 23 metres, was transplanted by Roma Town Council to its present location from a local property in 1927. The tree was fairly well grown at the time of the transplant and quite possibly originated in the nineteenth century. They say that no trip to Roma is complete without a selfie with the Big Bottle Tree!

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Roma Gun Club 0476 674 514
    • Cost per night$25.00 (@ 18-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for4 nights
    • FacilitiesVery good – part of the members club
    • CP Location155 Geoghegan Rd Roma
    • CP Mapcouldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest Not much to do here – I think we covered it all with what’s in the post above
    • Tourist info centre?2 Riggers Rd, Roma (07) 4622 8676
    • Would we return?Probably not
    • We rate the town7/10
  • Overall thoughtsWe enjoyed our stay here but would probably not return (been there & seen that), but if we were we’d definitely stay at the Gun Club again.

Dalby QLD

About Dalby

Getting there

It was a fairly straight 270km drive from Roma to Dalby (route map) along roads that went from nice & smooth to broken asphalt, pot holed and shake the shite out of everything.

Accommodation

Arriving at the Pioneer Caravan Park, only 2kms out of Dalby (maplink), first impressions were that of a fairly run down, tried looking caravan park. But after meeting Lisa, the park owner, and settling in we soon changed that impression to a much better one. The site was a good size, water was good and amenities were spotless with the (artificial) flowers and little positive quotes in every toilet.

 

Day trip to Bunya Mountains NP

With Merrisa back in Melbourne, I decided to hit the trails in Bunya Mountains National Park.

It was a 64km trip from Dalby to the national park (route map), so off I went, stocked up with plenty of water and lunch in the backpack. The road up the mountain is extremely narrow and very windy (no caravans allowed). As the road opens out at the top I found JS Fisher Lookout with some amazing views across the countryside, well worth the stop, but photos don’t do the breathtaking views.

Barker Creek Circuit

The walk I chose was the Barker Creek Circuit, which is a 10km (Grade 3) track taking in several water falls and view points over the national park. The walk begins at a rather unique looking access point where you must run your walking shoes over a thick brush then a wash by pushing down on a metal pad, which sprays water over the bottom of your shoes. This is to protect the Bunya Pine trees from Phytophthora (a microscopic disease-causing plant pathogen).

The Barker Creek circuit is fairly flat and you just cannot miss the enormity of the Bunya Pines, some with a heights over 100ft and 15ft diameter.

Tim Shea Falls

The 1st set of falls along the track are the Tim Shea Falls, which are not all that fantastic, but the sound of bubbling water down rocks is always a pleasant experience while walking through a forest. Tim Shea Falls can dry out completely. Best time to visit is after decent rain.

Big Falls Lookout Lunch break

A spur off the main Barker Creek track takes you to Big Falls & Barker Creek Lookouts. It was a perfect spot to rest the legs and sit back and take in the view while devouring a couple of sangers. You look out this beautiful valley which is one of those views that a photograph could never do any justice.

Heading back onto the main track took me out of the forest onto open grassy plains. All was fine until, coming around a bend, I came across this massive wild boar which was a bit of a “whoa” moment. Turns out it was dead (found out it had been baited by the rangers)

Little Falls

Back into the forest again the next stop is at Little Falls, which is a nice quiet place with a water fall that is about 5 metres high. Not a torrent of water coming over but it was still nice to sit and reflect for a while.

Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls are about the same height but much wider than the other falls I visited, with just a trickle of water running down the rock face. I would love to be here when there’s been a decent fall of rain in the catchment.

Last section of the walk

For the whole duration of the walk I could hear all types of bird calls but hardly saw any birds. Leaving Paradise Falls the last 3 kilometres of the track takes you through more dense forest but it’s here that you start to see the birds which you’ve been hearing for the last couple of hours. It made this section of the walk just as fascinating as seeing the water falls and magnificent Bunya Pines.

Ending back at the start of my walk I cleaned my boots off at the cleaning station once again and was greeted by this cute wallaby hiding in the long grass.

Thus ends my trek through the Bunya National Park, returning to Dalby to prepare for the last leg of our “Pre Tagalong 22” trip to Mudjimba.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Pioneer Caravan Park (07) 4662 1811
    • Cost per night$33.00 (@ 22-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for2 nights
    • FacilitiesBasic but clean, with nice flowers on the benches & quirky notes on the dunny doors
    • CP Location28 Black St Dalby QLD
    • CP map couldn’t find one 😢
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score5/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Not bad – good water & heaps of shops
    • Activities & places of interest probably best choice would be the Bunya Mountains
    • Tourist info centre?Drayton St, Dalby (in Thomas Jack Park) (07) 4679 4461
    • Would we return?Probably not
    • We rate the town6/10
  • Overall thoughtsStaying for only 2 nights in a location makes it difficult to rate, but my research beforehand indicated that there’s not much to do here. A trip to the visitors center may uncover something interesting.

Mudjimba QLD

About Mudjimba

Mudjimba is a coastal suburb in the Sunshine Coast Region, Queensland, Australia, and forms part of the Maroochydore urban centre. In the 2016 census Mudjimba had a population of 2,540 people (sourced from the Wikipedia website – click for more).

About the Sunshine Coast

Getting there

It was a 263km trip from Dalby to Mudjimba (route map) with nothing much to see on the way. The drive through the Glasshouse Mountains was pretty amazing – will have to go back to check them out in more detail later on.

Accommodation

Arriving at Mudjimba Beach Holiday Park we discovered that this “older” caravan park still has sites built for 15ft vans and don’t easily accommodate vans that are 21’6″ (29ft total)! Not only did we just squeeze in but the slab was only half the length of the van (I can handle that) and the remaining grass section went uphill so sharply you just could not sit there comfortably. To top it all off, the grey water pit was actually uphill and higher than the vans grey water outlet.

I know it’s a bit of a winge but it was hopelessly useless! When the Bailey Tagalong group booked the caravan sites a list of every caravan was provided, with the caravan’s total length (inc drawbar) and you’d think that would be all that’s needed. When we asked about this, the response was “the person who took those details has left and we don’t have a record” – WTF!!! And we paid $52/night for this, which should have been more like a $25/night type experience.

1st Happy Hour – meeting old & new friends

Well we’ve all arrived for the start of the next Bailey Caravan Tagalong. This year sees 18 Bailey’s joining up for a 4 week trip through Queensland, beginning in Mudjimba.

As in past years it was a matter of getting things rolling with a happy hour, getting through the formalities and meeting this years tagalong mascot by the name of Bailey Bear.

 

Noosa River Sunset Cruise

The Tagalong committee had booked our the Noosa River Queen for a leisurely cruise up the Noosa River to take in a glorious Noosa sunset – pity about the heavy clouds.

Meeting a Brahminy Kite

Before departing on our cruise we got a visit from the local Brahminy Kite who’s best friend, the boat skipper, had some treats cast out from the back of the boat. We all got to see this beautiful majestic creature swooping down out of the heavens to score some fresh chicken. Spectacular photo opportunity!

The cruise

What better way to begin a holiday with 33 other people, some you know and other just met, than a couple of “quiet ones” on a cruise bot up a river. The tagalong committee had done a brilliant job organising nibbles for all. You just had to be wary of the cheeky butcher birds who kept trying to pinch food out of your fingers.

Hinterland Tourist Drive #23

We attempted to complete the Hinterland tourist drive known as the Blackall Tourist Range Drive #23 which is a total return trip of 114kms (click for Google’s route map) but after our 1st stop (see below) the weather put an end to it all.

Kondalilla Falls National Park

This was our 1st stop on the drive and from the signage we saw it appeared to be a fairly “short walk” to check out the falls in this park. It turned out to be a 4.6km round trip. It was a pretty arduous track to take but the sets of falls we got to see were pretty awesome.

Montville for lunch

The rain started coming down as we left Kondalilla Falls so we stopped of at Montville to try out the Montville Cafe Bar & Grill for lunch. Some lovely Moroccan spiced pumpkin soup and toast went down really well – yummo! Then all we could do was to give up on the rest of the drive and return back to the caravan.

Tagalong games night

One of our intrepid organising committee put on a games nigh for all. It was a shame that we were actually going our for dinner and missed all the fun. All reports were that it was a scream and apparently created some new tagalong legends.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Mudjimba Beach Holiday Park (07) 5448 7157
    • Cost per night$52.00 (@ 24-Aug-2022)
    • Stayed for8 nights (4 by ourselves & 4 with Tagalong group)
    • FacilitiesA bit old but new ones being built which look top class
    • CP LocationCottonwood St Mudjimba
    • CP map PDF – we had site 113 (a shocker!) – would choose 223 or 222 next time
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score3/10a very low score as they have no idea how long a site should be to fit a caravan on – totally hopeless!
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes – love it
  • Overall thoughtsWe loved our stay in Mudjimba but would definitely stay at another location; maybe at Cotton Tree, where we have stayed before.

Hervey Bay QLD

About Hervey Bay

Getting there

It’s another non-eventful trip from Mudjimba to Hervey Bay (or so we thought). One of our travelling group had pulled over in Gympie and caught one of their caravan tyres on a piece of broken kerb ripping a 6″ hole in the tyre. So we pulled up to help out before continuing on, stopping off in Maryborough for lunch.

Accommodation

The Pier Caravan Park in Hervey Bay is only a few years old and it was such a relief to finally get into a park with modern facilities, flat sites and easy access to power, water & grey water (compared to our last park in Mudjimba.)

The caravan park is the newest in Hervey Bay, being opened in June 2018. It’s been built on what used to be the old railway maintenance yards, which explains why it’s a rather longish shape. There’s a beautiful bench seat near the swimming pool with a plaque which reads “Who’s vision to create this park was inspired by the romance of Hervey Bay where they met, and to provide a landscape to build positive lasting memories for families and community alike

 

Half day Whale Watching Cruise

The Tagalong22 organising team had arranged for the whole group to do a half-day whale watching tour from Hervey Bay, with Whalesong Cruises. It was great day out on the water and the crew on the boat were fantastic. We managed to see several whales, with a few mother and calf sightings.

There was heaps of flipper splashing and tail flapping. We came across one calf who wanted to show us their latest skill of breaching. Fantastic!

Flipper Action

Tail Splashes

Breaches

From the boat

While returning to Hervey Bay I unfortunately lost my Akubra hat, which has travelled all over the place with him, when a gust of wind sent it flying over the top of the boat and into it’s wake (and they would not go back for it) but, apparently my brother in-law saw this on Channel 7 news in Melbourne that night…

 

Hervey Bay Pier

We took a stroll out along the (used to be 1.1km – now 868m long) Hervey Bay Pier, which is a “must do” whilst you’re in Hervey Bay. Stopping at the entrance to the pier we joined in with the “Young boy and fish singing the Happy Fisherman’s song” statue for a song.

History of the Pier

Urangan Pier is a former deep-water, cargo-handling facility originally built to facilitate the export of sugar, timber and coal.  Construction began in 1913 and to reach the deep water channel, it was required to extend 1.1 kilometres out to sea.  The Urangan railway line also began construction in 1913 and branched off the main railway line at Pialba.  Once it was completed, the Pier served as one of the main ports of Queensland facilitating the transfer of cargo between rail and ships.

The Pier was closed after the last ship docked in 1985.  It was in serious need of repairs and a decision was made by the Queensland Government to dismantle the entire pier. 239 metres of it was demolished, however, due to large public outcry, rallying and petitions, the demolition was stopped. In late 1985, the Queensland Government handed the pier to the council, and the council pledged to restore the pier.  Restoration commenced in the late 1990s and included removing the rail tracks from the pier, encasing the wooden pylons with steel, repairing sleepers, repairing hand rails, and repairing lights.  In 1999, the pier was restored to a length of 868 meters and re-opened.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Pier Caravan Park (07) 4125 4499
    • Cost per night$36.00 (@ 1-Sep-2022)Stayed for5 nights (probably could have done 4)
    • FacilitiesFantastic – very newish and modern
    • CP Location11 Pier St Urangan
    • CP MapPDF file we had site #41 – no slab & very muddy after rain
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Definitely
    • Activities & places of interest Plenty to do here, but we’ve visited before.
    • Tourist info centre?Hervey Bay Tourist Centre (07) 4125 9800
    • Would we return?Yes
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsLoved our stay here. Great CP and would probably stay here next time as well.

Bargara QLD

About Bargara

Bargara is a seaside holiday resort town with a road which runs along the coast – The Esplanade, Miller Street and Woongarra Scenic Drive – and a long strip of holiday homes, flats, apartments and motels all built between the beach and the hinterland. As recently as the 1980s Bargara (pronounced b’gara) was a sleepy coastal village full of interesting historic artifacts. There was a swimming pool which had been built out of the local volcanic rocks by the Kanakas – the slave labour brought from the South Pacific – and equally the kanakas had built impressive stone walls. Today the gods of development have taken over. The main street is full of chic cafes, a huge modern pub and lots of gift shoppes. The sea front – which in the 1980s was just a collection of fibro holiday homes – is now a solid row of five storey apartment blocks with land for development selling, in 2017, for $3.5 million and apartments trading for upwards of $700,000. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

It’s only 138kms from Hervey Bay to Bargara (route map via Childers) so it was a fairly easy drive.

Childers for a coffee break

Childers is such a great spot to break your journey for a coffee break. There are so many cafés and bakeries in town to choose from, plus there’s heaps of RV parking behind the main street.

We chose the Insane café located at 79 Churchill Street for our stop-over and what a great choice it turned out to be.

Accommodation

 

This will be our 4th stay at Bagara Breeze Big4 Caravan Park and we’re so happy to be returning. It’s a great park with really helpful and friendly staff, plus it’s right opposite the beach and a “stones throw” walk to cafés and restaurants in town. Bundaberg is also only 20kms away.

 

Fancy Dress Happy Hour

As the Tagalong22 group are all party animals it was probably an appropriate idea to have a fancy dress inspired happy hour. Boy, did the team get right into the concept, as the photos below will show…

Barefoot Bowling

So, it was off to the Bargara Bowls Club for dinner and a bit of “bare foot bowling” afterward. Another great night with fantastic food and plenty of laughs on the bowling green.

The bowling green is synthetic and recently the total area was covered by a $2.5m roof, which looks incredible.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Big4 Breeze Holiday Park (07) 4159 2228
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes – our 4th visit here
  • Overall thoughtsWe love this area with plenty of things to do, but we’re starting to run out of new locations to check out. It’s always a great spot to stop on the way north.

Cania Gorge National Park

About Cania Gorge

Cania Gorge preserves a valuable remnant of the Brigalow Belt natural region. More than 150 different types of plant community are found in this region, including brigalow forest, eucalypt woodland, cypress pine woodland, dry rainforest and grassland.
The park is home to more than 90 species of bird. Brush-tailed rock-wallabies and common bent-wing bats are also seen.
Aboriginal people have lived in Cania Gorge for at least 19,000 years. Freehand art on the sandstone walls is a reminder of their special way of life. (sourced from QLD Govt’s Parks & Forests website – click for more).

Getting there

It was a pretty hairy trip from Bargara to Cania Gorge as we had heard several good/bad stories about the various routes you could take with the safest one being over 100kms longer than the one the Tagalong group had selected. So, with several phone calls and a new map created for our Tagalongers to follow the (now) 16 caravans headed off in groups of 2 along the route shown below…

Everyone arrived safely and the chosen route was actually pretty good but a bumpy one.

Accommodation

Arriving at Cania Gorge Tourist Park we discovered a beautiful bush setting (maplink) with lots of grass and trees run by the wonderful and cheerful Marie. There’s plenty of birdlife, including chooks and heaps of VERY friendly king parrots who may cheekily even venture right into your caravan.

As mentioned above; this is how friendly the king parrots are, looking for food of course (which was not given)…

Bird feeding

Every afternoon at 4:00pm Marie comes over to feed the birds. They all flock in to get their share of the seeds on offer providing plenty of special photo opportunities to those present.

Here’s a quick video of the bird feeding…

 

Cania Gorge Walks

There are multiple walks which are easily accessed from the caravan park or just up the road at the main picnic ground. Click here for a map of Cania Gorge Walks (PDF). All of the tracks are rated at moderate (Class 3).

These are the walks that we took…

Dragon Cave

A moderately steep track leads to the cliff face, where a sidetrack branches north to Dragon Cave. Here, the natural black mural of a ‘dragon’ can be seen highlighted against the white sandstone wall.

Bloodwood Cave

The Dragon Cave track continues to Bloodwood Cave, so called because the roots of a bloodwood tree can be seen at the left hand side of the cave. There were large moths in the roof of the cave that had large eyes on their wings which look so human like.

Dripping Rock

This track winds through eucalypt woodland and dry rainforest. At Dripping Rock, cool water that seeps from the sandstone creates a haven for ferns and mosses.

The Overhang

From Dripping Rock, the track continues on past the most beautifully weathered caves of vivid yellow and red ochres, ending at The Overhang, where water has eroded the base of the sandstone cliff.

Cania Dam

Following our walks we ventured out to view Cania Dam. It’s a beautiful spot, but you really need a kayak or boat to appreciate the place. We then ventured off to check out the Shamrock Mine Site, which was fairly underwhelming to say the least.

Some music around the camp fire

We all gathered around a couple of fire bits after dinner to have a singalong with our mate Paul. It was another great night shared by all under a cloudy full moon sky. Jan also made some damper in the camp oven to share around & it was soooo yummy too.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Cania Gorge Tourist Park (07) 4167 8110
    • Cost per night$36.10 (@ 9-Sep-2022)
    • Stayed for3 nights
    • FacilitiesRustic but always very clean
    • CP Location1253 Cania Rd Monto QLD
    • CP MapPDF
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score9/10one of the nicest places we’ve stayed in!
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest Mainly the walks which are fairly easy to do
    • Tourist info centre?Lister Street, Monto24.8km from CP 1300 696 272
    • Would we return?Yes – mainly for a stay in this caravan park
    • We rate the town8/10
  • Overall thoughtsLoved the location with the “greenness” of the caravan park. It will be interesting to see how it goes with the new owners as current owners recently sold.

Kingaroy QLD

About Kingaroy

Kingaroy is known as the ‘Peanut Capital of Australia’. During the 1980s it was one of Australia’s best known country towns because it was the home of the late Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, long time Premier of Queensland, would-be aspirant Prime Minister in the ‘Joh for PM’ campaign, and one of the most controversial, frustrating and entertaining politicians of recent times. Today the town is dominated by peanuts. There are big peanut signs in the street; a peanut selling point known as ‘The Peanut Van’ sells the local product around South East Queensland and as far south as Casino; the huge peanut silos dominate the town; and even the Visitors Centre has peanuts for sale. The district is now one of Australia’s major peanut producers with part of the crop being exported to New Zealand, Britain and Japan. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

According to our friend Google there’s several ways to get from Cania Gorge to Kingaroy but our “well travelled” Queensland travel buddies said “don’t take the shortest route as it will mean driving through narrow, rough & steep mountain roads. So we went with the longer 341kms route along the A3.

 

As we passed through Monto, at the beginning of the trip, we stopped to check out the Three Moon Silo Art which is pretty cool. Three Moon Creek was named according to legend where a swag-man, Aboriginal stockman or a Chinese station cook, was boiling his billy on the banks of the creek and noticed three moons – one in the sky, one reflecting on the creek and one reflecting in his billy.

Accommodation

Kingaroy Holiday Park ownership was only taken over in January 2022 by two young couples and you can already see the new life they are breathing into what looks to have been a pretty tired old park. The amenities have been upgraded and while we were a new swimming pool was being installed.

If you’re ever looking for a good caravan park then select this one as it was a great spot to stay and pretty close to town; you can even walk to Bunnings! We stayed here for 3 nights.

 

Tagalonger’s Dinner

A tradition (started last year) is to have a group dinner where each caravan provides a casserole or salad. It was a total success with heaps of great food and plenty of laughter and enjoyment. That’s exactly what our Tagalong’s are all about!

 

Return Trip to Bunya Mountains National Park

Back in August I took a solo day-trip up to the Bunya Mountains National Park from Dalby (click here to view the earlier post).

This time it was a trip back to the same spot with a large number of our Tagalong group for lunch in the Bunya Mountains Tavern and then a walk to check out the Festoon Falls (which I missed last time).

The Kingaroy “Peanut Van”

The Peanut Van is a bit of an institution in Kingaroy which draws in the tourists like bears to a honey pot. We took the “mandatory stop” to check it out and buy some peanuts and peanut butter (which we did not like at all). There’s also a new “Big Peanut” in the park over the road – every town needs a “big” something.

Summing up…

  • Accommodation Kingaroy Holiday Park (07) 4162 1808
    • Cost per night$35.10 (@ 12-Sep-2022)
    • Stayed for4 nights
    • FacilitiesRecently upgraded and well maintained
    • CP Location48 Walter Rd, Kingaroy
    • CP MapPDF – we had site 39 – not too bad but a bit “tight” for our 21’6″ van
    • WikiCampsfollow this link
    • Our rating/score7/10a lot of work being done by new owners
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest was enough for a 3 day stay
    • Tourist info centre?128 Haly St, Kingaroy (07) 4189 9555
    • Would we return?probably not
    • We rate the town6/10
  • Overall thoughtsEnjoyed our stay but probably would not stay here again.

Spring Creek (Toowoomba) QLD

About Toowoomba

Not too much info on Spring Creek (where we stayed). But about Toowoomba – it is the largest inland settlement in Queensland and one of the largest inland cities in Australia. It has been described as ‘Regional Capital of the Darling Downs’ and ‘The Garden City’. Both descriptions are accurate. It is a city to be enjoyed for its history, its elegant buildings, its superb parks (particularly in spring) and the very impressive – and huge – Cobb & Co Museum. (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Getting there

Another standard sized trip of 209km from Kingaroy to Spring Creek (route map) with no dramas except battling the traffic through Toowoomba.

Accommodation

Spring Creek Caravan Park (Facebook link) was selected by the Tagalong organisers as all of the caravan parks in Toowoomba were booked out due to the Toowoomba’s Annual Carnival of Flowers.

The caravan park is right beside the New England Highway (maplink) and was quite noisy from the passing road traffic. There’s plenty of room for large caravan’s like ours. The amenities were not the best but the owners were super friendly.

 

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers

This is a massive occasion and we didn’t realise how massive until we turned up on the Saturday. Our Tagalong group travelled in by bus and had pre-booked seats for the big parade.

The Carnival of Flowers Parade

We are from Melbourne and the 1st thing I thought of when the parade began was our “Moomba Parade“, but this is probably bigger with so many community and multi-cultural groups participating. It was a fantastic start to our big day in Toowoomba, with more to come.

Lunch at Urban Grounds Café

After the parade it was back onto the bus and off to another part of town for lunch at Urban Grounds Café with a table booked for 31 people. It was a fantastic meal with the usual banter and laughter, which is always the way this Tagalong group roll.

Laurel Bank Park Flowers

After lunch is was just a matter of crossing the road from Urban Grounds Café to Laurel Bank Park (maplink) to view the magnificent flower beds, craftily built by the gardeners who maintain this large park. There were literally thousands of people taking in the flower displays of multiple colourful plants.

Open House Gardens

It was back onto the bus again and off to view some of this years award winning gardens. They were pretty cool but we were left a bit flat after being in the flower paradise in Laurel Bank Park.

The views fro