When I left Longreach I travelled to Winton and then took the Kennedy Development road which was a bit skinny at the Winton end but by the time I reached Hughenden it was like a normal road, and thankfully, being a Sunday perhaps? I had no road trains to contend with so that was a relief. From Hughenden on to Prairie for the night and I camped at the back of the Prairie pub. Ken and I had visited the Prairie pub in our ‘Harley Days’ when we rode out to Julia Creek and I’d remembered what a great pub it was, so was keen to re-visit. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. There were half a dozen other caravans and campers there and we enjoyed drinks and chatting and then dinner at a long table where it almost felt like a ‘family Sunday dinner’. It was a great night.
My week in Townsville was fantastic! I caught up with loads of friends, and it felt really good to be back. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 25 or 26 degrees every day, and it had me thinking that perhaps I could spend two or three months here each year in Winter? Hmmm food for thought! I stayed a night out on the property of my friends John & Linley which was very relaxing, and the following day set up the caravan at a caravan park close to the city and went to a Ukelele lesson at the West End pub that night. I was amazed that there were close to fifty or more other keen Uke players at the pub; a very friendly and welcoming club, I’ll have to try and find something like that when I eventually get home. I walked (very fast!) up to the top and back down Castle Hill one evening with my friend Heather, went to water aerobics with Alison one morning and caught up with one of Ken’s old friends Tony one night and our old friends John and Vicki (who we’d almost lost touch with) one night then finished the week off with a fabulous Tarts “Root”. (Back in the days when I used to work at Telstra and long after that, we would have a regular ‘ROOT’ – a Reunion Of Old Tarts – the name of our team. This was the first time in six years that all of us had got together so we had a wonderful Saturday lunch and afternoon together.
My next stop was Paronella Park. The story behind Paronella is truly inspiring and though the Castle has been hit by floods, cyclones and fire it is still a very beautiful place to visit. My entry ticket included a day time tour as well as a tour at night which was really special. So special in fact that I plan to go back there next week and take Meredith. Meredith and I have been friends since we were twelve, and even though we’ve had some Gap Years, the friendship continues and she is flying into Cairns tomorrow to join me for the next six weeks as we travel together on this epic trip. I can’t wait!
So now, here I am in Dimbulah and even though I’ve had some enjoyable rest days and caught up on maintenance of the van and cleaning the red dust off the car, I’ve also had some nice day trips to discover new places. Chillago was one of those places and after lunch at the pub (a Pot and a toasted sandwich) I took a tour of one of the caves. These are dry limestone caves, so are different to the wet caves like Jenolan, Abercrombie or Buchan caves but still fascinating to see.
I also drove out to Mount Mulligan. This was an unexpected and really moving trip. The road out was red dirt, corrugated with some sandy drifts in parts which made the drive interesting. The actual township of Mount Mulligan is no longer, and only the ruins are there but the moving part of the whole place is the cemetery. Rows of unmarked graves as well as headstones that tell the story of the tragedy that occurred on 19th September 1921 when the largest mine explosion in Queensland occurred, killing 75 men (some were young boys in their late teens). Such a moving place that brought me to tears, but so glad that I had taken the drive there. I was also witness to mustering that was happening whilst I drove through Mt Mulligan station. Both chopper and quad bikes were being used and I got to have a brief chat with those on the bikes. There was certainly something very special about watching a herd of Brahman cattle arriving in a creek bed at the same time that I was driving through it, and that will remain a fabulous memory (don’t worry, the Station hand assured me that it was OK for me to be driving through and to ‘just ignore those cattle’).
So that’s it for another week. Years ago when Meredith and I were in High School, I was always called Smelly Vally and Meredith was Skinny Minnie. So stay tuned for ‘part 8’ next week as the ‘Adventures of Smelly and Skinny’ begin!
Till then Hoo Roo !