Left Cloncurry Thursday 3 November on the Landsborough Highway not making for any particular destination just trying to leave the heat behind. 90 kilometres south east of Cloncurry is McKinley. Not much there, but the McKinley Hotel which is better known as the Walkabout Creek Hotel from Crocodile Dundee. That is what the hotel is now called. Of course McKinley is nowhere near any crocodiles and the country around it is flat Mitchell Grass plains for as far as the eye can see. Oh well the movie was pretty good in spite of this.
Stayed at Winton overnight. Another caravan park with power to run the air conditioning and a swimming pool. Left Winton Friday morning. South of Winton on Dagworth Station and 8 kilometres off the highway on a dirt track is the Combo Waterhole immortalised by Banjo Paterson in “Waltzing Matilda“.
There is a one and a half kilometre walk from the car park into the water hole. It was extremely hot and birds of prey circled overhead as we walked in. We reckoned they probably live on dead tourists who expire in the heat (kept us amused anyway). Not a particularly pretty waterhole but it is not hard to imagine shearers camped here in the great shearing strike that happened on Dagworth Station. It was satisfying to visit a place such as this that is embedded so strongly in the Australian psyche.
It was then on to Longreach where we had a quick wander around town before heading off on the Capricorn Highway. The run from Winton to Longreach was very hot. The temperature inside the car hovered around the 45C mark. Made camp that night at Barcaldine. This towns claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the Australian Labour Party however even they couldn’t arrange a caravan park with a swimming pool! No pool to be had in any of the caravan parks so after much grumbling we had to settle for a park without a pool, we must be getting soft.
Saturday we headed East through Emerald, Blackwater and Dingo until we made camp at Duaringa. We are now on the VBB (very boring bitumen) as opposed to the plain old BB (boring bitumen). Very boring bitumen because we have been on it before. Considerably cooler today and as Duaringa had a good free camp with showers and toilets we made camp there. It was quite comfortable overnight with only our fan going to keep us cool. A real change from the last couple of weeks.
We decided to call into 1770 and check it out on our way to Hervey Bay. I suppose we were just not ready for a tourist style place with its narrow roads after the wide open spaces and hospitality of the outback. Didn’t find much to like about 1770 at all, and worst of all we got badly bitten by march flies, sand flies and mosquitoes. We had to close all the windows and turn the air conditioner on just to keep out the sand flies.
Left 1770 on Tuesday bound for the Pialba Caravan Park in Hervey Bay. Checked with them by phone and they guaranteed no march flies, sand flies or mosquitoes. They better be right! Have the car booked in for a service at the Hervey Bay Nissan Dealer on Thursday. As well as the overheating it has now developed a knock in the engine.
The Pialba Caravan Park is pretty good. It is one of several parks operated by the local council in this area. We have booked in for a week as it is only $130 per week ($18.50 per day). That is about the cheapest price we have paid and it is right on the water! We didn’t take a water front site as that is more expensive but the park is pretty empty and there are no vans between us and the water anyway. We have also gone back to not using 240 volt power as we don’t need to run the air conditioning any more.
The fridge is back to working properly as well. The 90 litre three way absorption type fridges that we have just can not handle the heat. At 30C it starts to lose effectiveness and by the time the ambient temperature reaches 35C it is hovering around 10C. It is strange that you cannot buy an absorption type fridge under 120 litre that has a tropic rating. Maybe a tropic rated absorption fridge of over 120 litres would handle the heat better?
Ever since Emerald we have noticed a deterioration in the roads. Whilst the bitumen is intact the road surface is full of holes and bumps, very uncomfortable to drive on. There are a lot of road works being done, on the Bruce Highway before we turned off for 1770 we were stopped five times by roadworks. The sealed road from 1770 to Bundaberg would have to be the worst sealed road we have been on this trip.
Hervey Bay – Wednesday 9 November 2011