Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Wednesday 16th August 2006 to Friday 18th August 2006

Wednesday 16th August 2006

It was time to leave Charleville this morning, however as there were a lot of caravans packed into a smaller space, we took our time getting ready to go so that as many other caravans would have pulled out before we worked our way out around the trees etc. It was about 9:30am before we pulled out onto the road and headed north through town and out onto the Mitchell Highway.

The highway was a typical outback road for Queensland, well sealed but plenty of bumps and rough surface to keep us well awake on the drive. This was a bit ironic when we came to some signs saying it was a federally funded road scheme providing better roads for Queensland.... Not sure what they must have been like before. Maybe this is a little unfair on them, but the roads certainly are not up to the standard of most other states roads.

About 6 kilometres before we reached Augathella, we turned left off the Mitchell Highway onto the Landsborough Highway. Then we drove into Augathella townsite which was just off the highway, then we were back out on the highway again and making our way toward Tambo, a further 120 kilometres up the road.

Once we reached Tambo there were shrieks from the passenger seat and we had to scream to a stop in the main street as this was where the Tambo Teddy Bears are born. Once the dust had cleared from the emergency stop, we walked down the main street a short way to the shop where the teddy bears are born and 'One of Us' was in and cuddling teddys like they were going out of fashion. Although they were priced right out of the 'Other Ones' credit card range, Molly has joined us for the rest of the journey around Australia. 'One of Us' assured the 'Other One' that Molly's mum couldn't keep her and all the other little teddys, and molly had asked us to adopt her, the rest is history...

Although we had originally thought we would only travel as far as Tambo today, we found we were there by midday and the adoption of Molly had been completed early, so we purchased a chicken and salad roll from the local cafe and then pulled out of town heading north again by about 12:40pm.

The next town along the highway was Blackall and there was no reason to stop before then, however we decided to stop in Blackall for two nights as there is a wool scour Living Museum to take a tour of and a few other things to look at around the town. Blackall, on the Barcoo River, was the home of Jack Howe, legendary shearer who in 1892 shore 321 sheep in 7 hours 40 minutes. He is buried in the local cemetery and there is a memorial stature of him in Shamrock Street.

After settling in and starting to put the days activities on the website, another caravan couple pulled in and found they couldn't get the door of their caravan open, so after a while Pammy was talking to them and then called the 'Other One' over to give a hand and assist them pull a window out to get into the caravan. Once the window was out the door catch was removed and eventually the door was opened, all that was required then was to tighten up a screw that had come loose and was jamming the door, then figure out how to put the door catch back together again. All this was finally achieved and the website was completed before it was time to start the happy hour.

Tambo Teddys
Tambo Teddys

Blackall Caravan Park
Blackall Caravan Park

Thursday 17th August 2006

The Barcoo River - Blackall
The Barcoo River - Blackall
The Main Street of Blackall
The Main Street of Blackall
Jackie Howe - Champion blade shears Shearer
Two old shearers - But only one Champion

The sun greeted a beautiful clear blue sky this morning and warmed all the good souls who ventured into it, not only that ,we felt warm as well.... It was the first morning we have enjoyed our morning cup of tea sitting outside the caravan in shorts whilst 'One of Us' was doing a 'Mrs Mangles' (sticky beaking) around the park but the 'Other One' was just inadvertently observing park activities.

Blackall water supply comes from an artesian bore and is hot as it comes out of the ground, it also smells very strongly of sulphur. At first this seemed a bit of a problem, however the water is perfectly ok to drink they say (if you don't mind the taste of sulphur.) and when put through a filter jug is fine. The great part of it is the hot water, we have tuned off our gas hot water system as the water out of the tap is quite hot and we don't need any additional hot water at all, in fact when showering it would be handy to have a little cooler water. Pammy took advantage of the hot cold water and called the morning a washing day. Most laundries have signs saying 'Cold Water Wash only' but Blackall laundry say 'Hot Water Wash only'.

Once we were organised we drove into the town centre where we visited the local IGA store and once again 'Stocked up' on those essential item we needed, such as potato crisps, cake mixes and similar necessities. We then walked up and down the main street where we took a photograph of the statue of John Robert (Jackie) Howe, champion shearer who in 1892 shore 321 sheep in 7 hours 40 minutes using blade shears. This is a blade shearing record that has never been beaten. Within a few weeks in that same year he also set a new machine shearing record, shearing 237 sheep in an eight hour day. It was jack's first shed using the 'new' machine shears. To those who haven't shorn a sheep, this may seem a pretty big task, but for those of us who have worked on the board with the machine shears, it is pretty awesome. The machine shearing record has since been broken on a number of occasions, using wide combs and modern gear, but no one has ever broken his record using hand shears. We entered the replica 'Universal Hotel' which was one of the hotels Jackie Howe once owned but the replica is really only a facade to a souvenir shop, owned by Jackies Grandaughter, however it doesn't have as many souvenirs in it now that 'One of Us' has been in there.

Next we visited the Barcoo River which is only a few hundred yards out of town, but at this time there is very little water in the river. This river is possibly best known from the A.B. (Banjo) Patterson poem, 'A Bush Christening'.

After Pammy crossed the Barcoo River on foot, we drove out of town about four kilometres to the Blackall Wool Scour. This is the last existing steam driven wool scour incorporating a shearing board in Australia and although it hasn't been operating commercially since 1978, it was restored and again started using steam to run the machinery in 2002. There is no wool scouring done now but it does attract a large number of tourists, the tours through it commence on the hour every day of the week. This was well worth the $11 each that it costs per adult for the tour.

On the way back into town we stopped off at the local cemetery and found the grave site of Jackie Howe, who died of a heart attack on 21st July 1920 at the age of 59 years. Our next stop was at the 'Black Stump' which is in Thistle Street and was used by surveyors who placed their theodolites on the stump for latitude and longitude observations. At that time it was considered that the country to the west of this area was 'Beyond The Black Stump'. Unfortunately the original stump was burnt out so they replaced it with a fossilised tree stump so at least this one won't get burnt out.

It was then time to return to the caravan park via a fuel station where we picked up about 76 litres of diesel at 141.5 cents per litre. Once back at the park we called it a day and settled down for the rest of the afternoon, however we were a bit shocked to see a little bit of fluffy white sort of stuff in the blue sky on the horizon.... not sure what is was but someone said they were clouds.... It's that long since we have seen clouds we must have forgotten what they looked like... Life sure is tough, but someone has to do it. Tomorrow on to Longreach.

The Wool Scouring Shed - Blackall
The Wool Scouring Shed - Blackall

Artesian Bore Water - Wool Scour
Artesian Bore Water & Pammy - Blackall

Pammy sitting on the Black Stump
Pammy sitting on the Black Stump

Friday 18th August 2006

Theres a Railway Hotel in every town
Theres a Railway Hotel in every town - Barcaldine
Pammys kind of store in Barcaldine
Pammys kind of store in Barcaldine

It was almost 9:am when we pulled out of the Blackall caravan park this morning, after our warm cold showers. We finally learned how to get the shower temperature right, we turned the cold water tap on to get the hot artesian water, then turned the hot water top on to get the colder water out of the hot water heater that wasn't turned on and the water had cooled off in the tank. Our stay in Blackall was quite an interesting experience.

Once we were on the road we headed north for about 106 kilometres until we came to the town of Barcaldine where we drove through the main street then 'One of Us' wanted to park in that street, the 'Other One' realized why after stopping as we had pulled up in front of the Railway Hotel. It was a bit of a battle to keep her out of it but this was achieved, then it was realised why we had stopped in front of a hotel, There were four of them in the street, two of them together, one about four shops up the street and the other only about 100 metres further on. They must have a big thirst in Barcaldine...

Barcaldine has a 'Tree of Knowledge' which it is said to have been used by the shearers who sat under it in 1891 during the shearers strike and met there to endorse shearer Tommy Ryan as the first Labor Party candidate

We walked up and down the street where Pammy found a shop that she thought was made for her as it was painted pink, so this required a visit before continuing our walk. Next we called in to the Information Centre where we left a little cash in the town in exchange for a trinket or two. Daughter Kym will be very pleased because Pammy purchased a couple of tubs of Lanolin hand cream that she tried out in Blackall and has been using constantly.

From Barcaldine we continued further north along the highway for about another 90 kilometres before we came to Ilfracombe where we stopped to take some photographs of some of the old machinery that they have on display along the side of the main highway through the town and 'One of Us' found her way into the local general store to buy an ice cream.

It was only another 28 kilometres then to reach Longreach where we arrived at about 12:30pm and booked into the Gunnadoo Caravan Park for the next two nights. Once we had set up the caravan we drove out to the QANTAS Museum and booked a tour of the Boeing 747 (on display there) for the morning at 9:30am and included tickets to visit the museum again. The combined 747 tour and museum entry fee was $25 each. Next we drove over to the Stockman's Hall of Fame where we took some photographs and then visited the entry and souvenir store where once again we contributed to the local economy. We did not take a tour of the Hall of Fame as we did so last time through here in 2004, but really do think the building and the statue out the front of the Hall of Fame is truly worth a second visit.

After the Hall of Fame we drove into the town centre of Longreach but did not stop, then returned to the caravan park for the rest of the afternoon until 5:30pm when we are attending a campfire dinner where at 7:pm we will be entertained by a country singer.

Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge
Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge

The Genersl Store in Ilfracombe
The General Store in Ilfracombe

The Stockmans Hall Of Fame - Longreach
The Stockman's Hall Of Fame - Longreach
Pammy & Wayne just hangin' around with a stockman
Just hangin' around with a stockman
Guess what this machine is... in Ilfracombe
Guess what this machine is... in Ilfracombe

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