Saturday, July 29, 2017

Camooweal Billabong - tranquility and fishing success

We keep coming across nicer and nicer new camping areas, which are, not surprisingly, popular with other travellers as well.  The three billabongs at Camooweal are lovely and peaceful to stay at.  We were advised that the last one is the nicest and we spent three restful days here.

Denny has bought an opera house net which you put in the water with some bait and hope red claws come and are tempted.  Advice as to the best sort of bait to use vary markedly.  Vegie peelings and sunlight soap seem popular.  Denny has been reasonably successful, but to date this has been the first opportunity for her to share her catch with us as the takings up to now have been few.

Andrew holding one of the little critters

and in the frypan.  They tasted really yummie.

Getting ready for pizza making in the camp oven once again - all the ingredients laid out and aglass of wine in hand.

Evening at the billabong.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mt Isa

Mt Isa is a long way from anywhere where tireless miners and their machines toil away around the clock, keeping the town prosperous.

We saw some of the equipment in a mine tour of the Hard Times Mine which is a simulated mine especially built for tourists as the real mine stopped running conducted tours after someone with a broken ankle sued.

Cameras were not supposed to be used but I smuggled mine in and took a couple of shots mainly of the crib room.  This is the room where the miners underground are gathered when a new blast is taking place - it is a place of safety.

This is the emergency rescue capsule which has room for 11 people and which is equipped with oxygen and emergency food supplies in case of an emergency situation where the air is poisonous underground.  It keeps the men safe for 14 hours until help arrives.

We then visited the underground hospital.  This was built in 1942 after Darwin was bombed when it was expected that Mt Isa would be the next target.  It was designed as an air raid shelter for patients and built fairly quickly by volunteers but in fact it never needed to be used as the expected bombings did not happen.  In 1997 restoration of the small hospital commenced.

Unfortunately my photos all came out blurred apart from this one lone shot of an electric breast pump which some wit remarked was very much like a bit of a mine equipment.

I have to mention that Mt Isa has a very good club called Buffs Club.  Not only is the food excellent in the restaurant - where else does one have black squid risotto at a club - but the establishment will send a bus to pick you up at your caravan park and will also deliver you back at the end of the evening.  And the liquor store at the club also has available some good wines at very reasonable prices.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Corella Dam

This is another magic spot to free camp - along with some 200 other vehicles, caravans and motor homes.  Along the lakefront there are ongoing and never ending little peninsulas where people can camp and hide away so in parts it does not seem so very crowded.

Some of these photos were taken by Andrew as he did the approximately 15 kms walk around the whole dam.  It took him just over 5 hours.

We spent three lovely days here but some people stay for weeks on end.  It is a very relaxing environment and people are very friendly.  Campers chat to each other and recommend places to stay all over the country.  Happy hours abound and stories exchanged.

There are birds aplenty.

As well as plenty of cows.  They come and graze right alongside the campers.

And some people build enormous fireplaces - like the one below.  Camp fires are a serious business and we are getting keener and keener as we try new and exciting things in Denny and Rob's camp oven.  We have made roast pork, roast chicken, bread and butter pudding and damper.  I did cook Carbonnade de Flamande - Flemish stew, consisting of beef in Guinness, but due to inexperience, it was slightly charred.  Edible but not my best effort.  My forte is the pressure cooker in which I can produce a small pot-roasted leg of lamb in 30 minutes.

Gathering firewood suitable for burning in a camp fireplace occurs on our way somewhere where we anticipate that a fire will be OK.  We stop on the roadside and gather wood.  People with chainsaws are able to bring large logs.  We are more limited in that regard.  But we manage lovely fires nevertheless.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Exploring Australia's pre-historic (as well as historic) past

12 kms south of Winton is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Centre.  A daunting 3 1/2 hour tour is in store for the interested visitor.  As we had done a shorter and very good similar tour in Utah a few years back, Nikki did not take part but spent the time dog-sitting and reading.  For Andrew, the continuation of the subject matter in Australian terms, plus plenty of scope for walking, proved irresistible.

The dinosaur gallery, the beginning of the recreation of the environment.

After the tour, we camped at the Long Waterhole, the rest area 2kms out of Winton which was, while dry and reasonably dusty, nevertheless very lovely by the water.  People who are not into camping and travelling in outback Australia perhaps do not appreciate how lovely these little oases are.

One of the incredible tree roots in minimal soil.

We then visited two sites which are iconic aspects of Australia's past, long ago and also more recently.  After Winton, on our way to Cloncurry we visited the Combo waterhole, where Banjo Patterson allegedly penned the words of Waltzing Matilda by the banks of the creek there.

Then at McKinlay, we dropped in for a beer at the Walkabout Creek Hotel where the film Crocodile Dundee was shot.  The pub is full of memorabilia from that experience.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Travelling on

We re-visited Oma Waterhole, out of Isisford, all 12 kms of dirt road, more corrugated than out to Lara.  But we had a blissful two days out there on the banks of the Barcoo River where keen fishermen come and where they are holding a great fishing competition next weekend.

Judy and her husband 'Wombat' have been staying out here for a month and are staying for the fishing comp.  They have made themselves comfortable in their caravan with a carpet out the front under the awning.  Wombat is quite a talented artist doing mainly water colours and I bought one of his paintings, well a print, in vivid colours, which will bring lovely memories of this nice relaxed spot.

There were four small dogs here and they all got along well.

Denny cooked a marvelous roast pork in the camp oven, complete with perfect crackling.

Get an eyeful of this!  It tasted as good as it looked.

We then drove to Ilfracombe where they have a lovely warm thermal pool.  We had sampled this 6 years ago and did not go in this time, just took a piccy.

The town's main street is lined with old farm machinery which is quite an attraction.

The pub which has its ceiling and walls full of hats.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blackall woolscour

This is a living museum attesting to Australia's pioneering era.  The woolscour was set up to clean the sheep's wool.  It closed its doors for operation in 1978.  The buildings were going to be demolished but the local population set up a trust fund to keep it alive as a museum and managed to get a big grant from the Hawke adminstration for the purpose.  It is a now a thriving museum with tours every day, on the hour.

The hot pool providing the water for the cleansing of the wool.

The shearing shed.

The cleaned wool.

The two furnaces.