Saturday, 14 October 2017

"The Nobbies" , Cloncurry, and 'Friendly' Reunions

Although our "Adventure of Exploration" to FNQ and the Gulf  was almost over, we did not get home until the end of June 2016. The latter part of our Adventure included a stopover at The Nobbies station near Cloncurry, four nights at the Pera Court Hilton, Townsville, the four weeks as volunteer caretakers at Nairana NP and 5 weeks housesitting at Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast.  In all we were away from home for a total of 134 days and we travelled a distance of 8388kms, not including our short day trips around the Sunshine Coast.  It was certainly an "Adventure of Exploration".

"The Nobbies"
Leaving Lawn Hill NP behind our journey today would take us to "The Nobbies" - a cattle property just north of Cloncurry. The owner, Peter, had invited us to visit if we were ever in the region, after the OWO had assisted him at Nairana the previous year. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with Peter and his wife and to spend a little time on a cattle property. The property is about 42,000 acres in size and they have some wonderful Drought-Master cattle.

The road into their property was all dirt and about 35kms from the main bitumen road. It was in reasonably good condition despite recent rain and took around 35 minutes to get from their property entrance gate to their homestead!

We enjoyed a very pleasant evening with them and the OWO had the opportunity of going out with Peter to see some of the property first hand.
Road to The Nobbies
Property entrance - 35kms to Homestead

Sunset over The Nobbies

Sunset at the dam

Something special to see

Leaving "The Nobbies" around 9am we stopped in Cloncurry for a short coffee break before continuing east along the Flinders Highway.  There is some fascinating history in Cloncurry and I would have liked more time to explore. This is where John Flynn started the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) - his image is on our 20 dollar note - and this is also the home of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine.  This was an open cut mine operating from 1954 to 1982. The town was built for the mining of uranium oxide and there is a wonderful museum at the Info Centre about the mine and the development of the town.

Although we had planned to travel as far as Prairie, east of Hughenden, we had lingered a little longer in Cloncurry than expected and after five hours on the road we found a great "free" camp beside a billabong away from the main road. About 50 kms west of Richmond it provided a very peaceful place to rest our weary bodies  -- not to mention the beautiful sunset provided free of charge!  This is "Dinosaur" Country and the surrounding countryside eventually changed from flat open plains to mountain range as we passed through Richmond, Hughenden, Charters Towers and on to Townsville.
John Flynn - our $20 note adventurer
Cloncurry - the "Uranium" Mining town
Cloncurry history museum park
Taking flight at night

Dusk at the Billabong
More superb sunsets in CQ
Divine moonlight

Paluma Range into Townsville
Richmond Info Centre
Changing landscapes
Hughenden CBD
Billabong "free camp"

Pera Court Hilton
From the billabong to the "Hilton"!!!!  What a delight to be visiting Miss Carmel and "Paddington Bear" once again. Three days of "girlie" delights for me and "man-time" for the OWO. Craft classes, retail therapy, fabric shopping and stitching - wonderful company and delicious meals and good wine  - what more could weary travellers ask for! So love my annual visit with my Stitching Sister.

There was a bonus for me with this little visit though. On the last morning of our visit Miss Carmel and I spent time at Lincraft and at the behest of the OWO we bought me a light weight sewing machine for travelling.  Woohoo!! The OWO is the best and I am now the happy owner of a Toyota Quilter 99 that can travel with us.

As always our time at the Pera Court Hilton was perfect and we hope we can continue our annual visit (and maybe fit in a few others) for many more years to come. But for now it was time to move on again to Nairana NP for our annual volunteer caretaking duties - only this time there was a promise that Miss Carmel and "Paddington Bear" would join us for a few days in two weeks time.

Forsayth to Lawn Hill

CATCH-UP #2 - 14th-21st April 2016 - a precis of our travels after leaving Cobbold Gorge -- Warning : There is a "jump break" inserted as this post has many photos and may take awhile to upload. 

Free Camp at Gilbert River

After such an exciting start to the day the rest of the day seemed a little "ho-hum". Our planned destination today was to be Croydon back on the Savannah Way. Didn't quite make it there!
We had a short stop in Georgetown for fuel, lunch and a stop at the post office - which proved very fruitful as we found a new wi-fi device for just $45 - much to the delight of the OWO after all the hassles back in Atherton!! Whilst in Georgetown I took the time to visit the gem display at the Info Centre.  Wow! What a magnificent collection - over 4,500 items on display.
On the outskirts of Georgetown, 25kms west, there is a tall brick chimney known as The Cumberland. Built by Cornish masons it is all that remains of the gold crushing plant from the goldrush days. There is also a lovely lagoon here and we had planned to "free" camp for the night but unfortunately the area was closed off so we continued west towards Croydon.

Funny how we Retirees tend to Ramble along the way and often find little "gems" to add to our adventures.  This little gem was a "free" camp alongside the Gilbert River. We set up about 2.30pm in 39 degree heat and half an hour later another off-road van pulled in.  OWO, as per normal, went to chat with the fellow traveller, Dave, and an hour later we were all enjoying a lovely cool soaking in the Gilbert River. Another unusual experience as this river is usually DRY at this time of the year!

Gilbert river flats

Cooling off in the Gilbert
Gilbert River in April 2016
AJ Bond Bridge, Gilbert River

Leaving the Gilbert River we arrived Croydon mid-morning and chose to stay in the Council van park.  Caretakers here offer a discount for Defence Force veterans so if any of our DF retirees are staying there don't forget to mention you are ex-defence.
Only hotel in Croydon

Once a busy town there is very little here now with one pub (there were 64 in the town's hey days), a couple of local stores - one being the oldest general store in Australia still operating since 1887! -- an information centre, and an historic precinct that has some wonderful restored buildings.  There were some wonderful murals around the pub verandah.
Murals at Croydon
Oldest General Store in Qld
This is also the end of the line for the Gulflander train that travels from Normanton to Croydon once a week (unfortunately not running whilst we were in this region). The station was full of historical memorabilia .

As I was finding the heat a little "draining" (high 30s during the day and 28-30 degrees at night) we decided to stay two nights in the park so we had power to run the air-con for a few hours. On our second day we met up with fellow travellers, Gary and Marilyn, who had been camped next to us at Cobbold Gorge!

Leichardt Lagoon
Happy Travellers at Rest
And we found another "gem" just east of Normanton - $16 per night camped beside a lagoon filled with waterlilies and hundreds of Magpie Geese and their young.  Sunsets were awesome and the sighting of a white bellied sea eagle delighted the OWO.
Afternoon light on the Lagoon

OWO's delight - White-breasted sea eagle
Magpie Goose in Flight
YES!! I did see a snake!

Rajah Shelduck
Leichardt Lagoon
And they WERE SUPERB!!

Family of Magpie Geese
After dark at the Lagoon

Dusk at the Lagoon

Glorious sunsets

Superb Sunset
Sunsets at the Lagoon
When we left the Lagoon around 9.30am it was already 32 degrees. We had planned to go to Kuranda from here but the road conditions were still questionable so we decided to continue onto Lawn Hill NP via Burketown and Doomagee.  The road from Normanton towards Burketown and Doomagee was mainly dirt.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Cobbold Gorge

So here we start with the CATCH UP - so long ago but worth recording for those who have never been to this beautiful Gorge and surrounding area. There are more photos on the Cobbold Gorge Page in the side bar for those interested.

Monday -- Thursday, 11th - 14th April, 2016
Our time at Cobbold Gorge was all too quickly over as each day was filled with different adventures.

Ada safely camped
On arrival at the Resort we were greeted by very friendly staff providing us with all the relevant information about camping, tours and bushwalks. After a little difficulty in finding the right track down to the campground (the driver didn't want to listen to the navigator, that sort of thing!), we were delighted to find ourselves camped right next to a bower bird's nest. The beautiful male bird provided us with hours of delight as we watched him 'strut his stuff'.
Poolside bar
Cooling off after a dusty drive
All settled in, our first 'expedition' was to the bar and the infinity pool - what a delight that was in the very hot afternoon - both cold beer and cool pool.
At the end of the first day we were totally relaxed and refreshed ready for our tour in the next morning.

 Tuesday, 12th April -- Gorge tour
Savannah Guide, Stephen
Gorge Transport "Ugly"
River crossing - a rare sight!
At 10am we boarded a people mover nicknamed "Ugly" - and 'ugly' she was - an old troopie Land Rover that had been converted for the purpose of transporting guests from the "village" to the landing jetty for our guided walk and boat tour. We were transported over some very rugged tracks, across the Robertson River (which actually had water flowing) and on into an extremely large information shed. Here our Savannah Guide, Stephen, explained how the Cobbold Gorge Reserve was created and we learned about the local vegetation that we could expect to see on our guided walk.

John Corbett's grave
Stephen advised that the guided walk was a little steep and rocky in some places as we would be walking to a viewing spot above the Gorge.  Along the way we were introduced to some of the "fruits of the forest" used by the local indigenous people of the region; we learned about the special functions of the large termite mounds that covered much of the land in the area; and we visited the grave of John Corbett,

We returned along the same track to the jetty to board a small water vessel for our tour up the Gorge.

Narrow waterways
Colours of the Gorge
St Andrews Cross spider
Fascinating colour formations
This Gorge was only discovered in 1992 and can only be navigated with a tour guide.  So narrow in some places we could actually touch the cliffs on both sides as we glided quietly through cliffs that towered some 30 metres above us.  The colours and patterns formed by flood waters and rain are truly amazing. No photos can give a true image of the outstanding beauty of this gorge. It is just breathtaking, and the silence is eerie.
 Our guide pointed out special features of the cliffs, including unusual spider webs only found in the gorge, and he provided a wonderful background history of the formation and discovery of the gorge.
We spotted some freshwater crocs and learned more about the unusual St Andrews Cross spiders and their fascinating webs.
Weathered rock formations
Cruising the Gorge
Colours, colours and more

It was a wonderful experience and left all guests on the tour a little more than awestruck.

Back at the 'village' we spent the rest of the afternoon soaking and relaxing around the infinity pool bar, chatting with some of the other guests - Morna, Ian, Gwen and Tom - and staff member, Glenda.

Wednesday, 13th April - Chilled out
It was a BIG day exploring yesterday so today we spent the day chilling out around camp, with a lovely short walk around the dam in the late afternoon capturing some of the birdlife on camera.
Great Bowerbird
The Great Bowerbird building a bower near our camp spot continued to entertain us as he tried to stop the Apostle birds stealing his bower "ornaments".
Red-backed fairy wren 
Sacred Kingfisher
Pale headed rosella at pool
Rainbow bee-eater
At first impression there didn't seem to be much birdlife in this area but after we started exploring we discovered a surprising variety.  The 'village' staff had given us a list of the birds in the area and we were soon able to tick off quite a number.

Aside from our entertainers, the Great Bowerbird and Apostle birds, we spotted the Sacred Kingfisher, red-backed fairy wrens, rainbow bee-eaters, pale-headed rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, red-winged parrots, black bitterns, bush stone curlews, blue-faced honeyeaters, black kites, whistling kites, boobook owl, and galahs.
Yellow honeyeater

The OWO was also clever enough to spot (and photograph) the yellow honeyeater, which was NOT on the bird list compiled by the 'village'.  That was quite a variety of birds over two days - just imagine how many more we would find if we were here for a longer period! (Photos in the Cobbold Gorge Page in the side bar).

Thursday, 14th April - Early start and goodbye to the Gorge
R44 at 7am
A vast property on the Robertson river
Thursday morning was full of exciting anticipation for me as at 7am we boarded an R44 helicopter for a 15 minute flight over the Gorge and the Robin Hood cattle station. It was awesome! We were blown away with the magnificent formations and the ruggedness of the country and the vastness of this cattle property. It's no wonder the Gorge was not discovered until 1992!

Thank you Cobbold Gorge - this has been a wonderful experience and adventure!

Our next stop will be Croydon on the Savannah Way - what other gems will be find on our NQ Adventure?