Mt Isa

Left Avon Downs Wednesday 18th and crossed into Queensland from the Northern Territory. At Camooweal we saw an Australian Electoral Commission banner hanging outside the general store/post office. Went in and found we could vote and so we have now lodged our vote. This little Early Voting Centre had copies of voting papers for every electorate in Australian.

P8180005 It was then onto Mt Isa which proved to be a huge disappointment. We first of all tried to find a free camp near the town and in fact there is supposed to be one 20 kilometres west. There is even a sign saying “5 klm to the rest area” however there was no sign indicating a rest area and all we could find was a barren paddock that might have been it. It was obvious that the caravan parks in Mt Isa had ensured that there was no free camping closer than 60 klm’s to the town.

So with no other option we booked into the Big4 park. This would have to be one of the worst parks it has been my misfortune to be in. Because we don’t need 240 volt power we went into the “camping area”. An area of dead grass, prickles, little shade and no water taps.  The powered sites on the other hand were the smallest sites it would be physically possible to have. If a caravan opened its awning it would almost touch the next van. There were only 2 tents and us in the camping area, all the camper trailers and most tents seemed to need 240 volt power! I have since learnt that one company owns four caravan parks (including the Big4) in Mt Isa and its priority is providing cheap accommodation for workers.

Had a look around Isa on Thursday. The town seems rundown and dirty, if you had a special interest in mines I suppose the town could be of interest to you but for us there was nothing of interest. This was in contrast to the other big mining town of Broken Hill that seemed to have real community spirit. I suppose it is good to see these towns so that you can judge them yourself but for us Mt Isa is in the “don’t go there” category.

P8200014 Seeing as we had managed to vote there was nothing to hold us in Mt Isa so on Friday we headed east. Around 60 kilometres east we turned onto a 2 kilometre dirt road that brought us to the Corella Dam. This is a small dam that used to supply water to the now defunct Mary Kathleen uranium mine and camping whilst not advertised is allowed.

What a terrific camp site, only a couple of other campers, lots of water birds and a cool breeze from the water. The last few days have been really hot with temperatures in the mid 30’s, our car thermometer has been recording outside temperatures of over 40C. P8210015  At the moment the temperature has cooled by about 10C but it is supposed to rise again tomorrow.

As there is no TV reception and only poor wireless reception here we had planned to go to Cloncurry for Saturday night so that we could watch the vote count on TV however it is so nice here we will stay a few days.

We did take a trip into the defunct uranium mining town of Mary Kathleen, leaving our caravan at Corella Dam. This is about 5 kilometres north of the highway. The mine started in 1954 and mining ceased in 1984. When mining ceased the town was auctioned off and everything carted away. There is now very little to show of the old town just some concrete house slabs, some sealed road and guttering. The bush has reclaimed most of it.

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We drove to the old open pit mine which was a bit of a 4WD scramble over old mullock heaps. Didn’t think we should swim in the pit, maybe we would have glowed in the dark. It was an interesting exploration.

Returned to our camp to find that a few more caravans had showed up and parked right behind us, and you guessed it, they then proceeded to fire up their generators!

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