Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Friday 25th August 2006 to Sunday 27th August 2006

Friday 25th August 2006

View from Basalt Drive - near Hughenden
View from Basalt Drive - near Hughenden

Our last full day in Hughenden today and yes, it was still warm with a clear blue sky and a gentle breeze to make a very pleasant day.

The usual activities were conducted early then we had a little wait for Linda to come over to our caravan to have a look through it, as she had mentioned she would like to the previous evening, as she had never seen inside a caravan as big as ours before, their caravan was only 16 foot and they had two teenagers with them. This resulted in a bit longer chat for a while as her husband Dick and children Claire and Jesse made their caravan ready to head off to Charters Towers this morning.

At about 10am we headed out of the caravan park in the Patrol and made our way through town and on to the 4WD Basalt Tourist Byway. This took us out into some cattle station country and through some quite scenic hills and black basalt rock territory, along with some short stretches of flat grassed plains. Not long into our drive we rose into the hills and stopped at a lookout that provided great views back over the plains to Hughenden. After a photograph or two from this spot we then continued out the Basalt drive and Pammy showed her experience and expertise as a gate opener on about three occasions..

A short distance further along the road we had to stop and wait for an emu and two chicks to slowly walk along the road at a very leisurely pace, but after a photograph or two of them and some video footage, we eventually had to drive slowly past them and they then trotted off into the bush. Once past the emu and chicks, we continued through more ranges and plains before coming to an intersection where we had the choice of continuing out on the Byway for another 50 kilometres before returning to the new Richmond Highway, however we chose to return along the Old Richmond Highway which brought us back to Hughenden via the flat plains and over the Flinders River. Having made the comment several times about the Flinders River not having any water in it, we did find a little pool of water in it this time right beside the road crossing. On the edge of this pool there were little swarms of bright green and black butterflies.

The whole journey was about 94 kilometres and very pleasant, taken at a very leisurely pace and we can not really understand why they say it is a 4WD road as any sedan would have been able to cover the drive we made with ease. On arrival back at Hughenden we stopped in at a service station or roadhouse on the edge of town and filled the Patrol with fuel, using 90.7 litres of diesel at 140.9 cents per litre. This is the cheapest we have been able to purchase diesel since we left Kalamunda (correction, even Kalamunda was more expensive) at the start of this trip.

From here we called in to a local grocery store and picked up a couple of items before returning to the caravan for lunch. After lunch the final preparation of the tax return papers was done, a letter was written and a few other small matters attended to before the tax papers and the letter were taken down the street to the post office and dispatched to their final destinations. We also called in to one of the local butchers and purchased a selection of flavoured sausages as we had been told they make a great range (22 different flavoureds of sausages) of good products.

On return from the town, the Patrol was given a birthday as there is a washing bay provided for vehicles and caravans, so out came the wash brush and elbow grease and Hey Presto, there was a vehicle under that dust....

The rest of the afternoon (what there was left of it) was taken pretty easy until Happy Hour, then for dinner we tried out some of the sausages we acquired before an early night as we intend to travel through Richmond, Julia Creek and on to Cloncurry tomorrow, a distance of almost 400 kilometres.

Emu and chicks on a stroll
Emu and chicks out for a stroll down the road

Pammy on gate duty on the Bassalt Drive
Pammy on gate duty on the Basalt Drive

Crossing the Flinders River on Basalt Drive
Crossing the Flinders River on Basalt Drive

The Flinders River - Yes there is water
The Flinders River - Yes there is a little water

Saturday 26th August 2008

Time to leave Hughenden behind and head out West this morning, so we were up a little earlier and hooked up, packed up and ready to leave the caravan park before 8am. We were on the road out of town by 8:05am with only about 114 kilometres to travel before reaching Richmond.

The drive to Richmond started out through some fairly flat plain country with very few trees and after about 50 kilometres, we found we were in flat plain country without many trees. As we came close to Richmond the country was fairly flat plains with few trees to mar the view, however we were in for a very pleasant surprise as we came into Richmond as there is a large man made (or is that person made?) lake that provides boating, fishing and swimming opportunities for locals and visitors alike. This required a quick stop to take a photo or two before moving on into the town.

We drove through the street of Richmond before pulling up at Kronosaurus Korner where there is a large building housing an extensive collection of fossils, mainly marine creatures from when this part of Australia was under about 60 metres of water. Outside the entrance to the building is a full size reproduction of a Kronosaurus that has been modeled on the skeletal remains of one found in the area in the 1930's.

We took the time to enter the display and were amazed at the number of fossils on display and the range of skeletal remains that have been found in the area and it appears they are still being found on a reasonably regular basis. Hanging from the roof of one room was a model of a Pliosaur and in another room is the skeletal remains of another Pliosaur. They say these remains are the most intact fossilized remains ever found in the world and is almost 100 percent intact. With an understanding of how old these remains are it is absolutely mind boggling that there can be so much of it in such good condition after the millions of years it has been since it died and sank to the bottom of the then ocean in the area.

The whole display was an experience to see, particularly with the knowledge that what we were looking at was not a reproduction of the fossils that had been found, but they were the real thing and many of them had not been fully examined and studied by the experts yet. It was about an hour and a half after pulling in at Kronosaurus Korner that we finally pulled out again and continued on our way toward Julia Creek and Cloncurry.

Just out of Richmond we found ourselves back in the flat treeless plain country with the occasional creek or two, some even had some water in them. This terrain continued right through the 145 kilometres to Julia Creek and well into the 135 kilometres from there to Cloncurry. Julia Creek did not offer us any outstanding reason to stop so we continued straight through, happy that we had seen most of the town on the way past. About 20 kilometres from Cloncurry we finally came into some rocky outcrops and the closer we came to town the more rugged the country became.

On arrival in Cloncurry at about 2:15pm we pulled straight into the caravan park and set up for the next three nights. Once the satellite TV was connected, the air conditioner cranked up and the awning out, we had a lunch of cracker biscuits, cheese, tomato and a few other little tit bits, then drove into the town centre of Cloncurry to see what we could find. The town is not large, but it does have a Woolworths store and Woolworths Plus service station with diesel being priced at about 148.9 cents per litre. On Sunday night the caravan park has a fish BBQ night at a cost of $10 per head, of which I'm certain we will attend, but we don't believe there is any entertainment provided.

Tomorrow we intend to visit the Flying Doctor Museum and display centre and Monday may see us do a little food shopping in preparation for the journey to Normanton and back to Cairns through the Atherton Tablelands.

Sorry kids, the Kronosaurus ate Dad
Sorry kids, the Kronosaurus ate Dad

Full size model of a Pliosaur
Full size model of a Pliosaur

This one is real Pliosaur skeleton
This one is a real Pliosaur skeleton

Sunday 27th August 2006

The stars last night were very bright and clear in the sky, but we guess that can be expected when there is not a lot of artificial light around the area to dim the terrestrial view.

This morning dawned well before we did, but it was very pleasant to sit outside the caravan with a cup of tea and biscuit in the cooler morning air. As it was Sunday, a day of rest, we took that literally and didn't move too fast in our morning activities but we were still ready to go out by about 9:10am.

We first drove around part of the town again before calling in at John Flynn Place which is the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum and the Fred McKay Art Gallery. The entry fee was $8.80 and that gave us access to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) displays and the McKay Art Gallery. The Art Gallery was in the same building and consisted a a number of paintings from various less known artist, mainly of outback subjects, that have been collected over the past few years.

A lot of the RFDS display consisted of information boards on the walls but the information itself was very interesting and well worth taking the time to read it all. There was also displays of model aircraft originally used, pedal radio sets and similar items of interest, along with a couple of short video displays.

As most people may know, Cloncurry was the birth place of the RFDS which was the brain child of John Flynn, a Baptist Minister, and it was made possible with the assistance of QANTAS who supplied a DeHavilland 50 aircraft (G-AUER) under hire or lease. Communication was established with the brilliant South Australian radio engineer Alfred Traeger who solved the communication problem with his invention of the pedal radio 1n 1927. The first Flying Doctor was Dr Kenyon St Vincent Welch. The first The first pilot from QANTAS was Captain Arthur Afleck and the first official flight was made on 17th May 1928 when they flew to Julia Creek to attend an injured stockman.

The RFDS museum and the Art Gallery kept us occupied for over an hour and a half and we walked out at just after 11am. We drove around the town a bit more and saw just about all there is to see of the town before calling in to the Foodworks store to pick up a loaf of bread, then returned to the caravan park around 11:30am. On the way into the park we stopped at the office and booked and paid for our BBQ Fish dinner to be enjoyed at the camp kitchen tonight. We were informed that there will be a limited number attending this dinner tonight as the truck that brings it down from Kurumba did not load the fish on board so there was a limited supply at this time.

The afternoon was used up catching up on data entry of expenditure into our MYOB program and also study of text entered onto paper in a thing called a book. It appears there is not a lot of tourist sites to visit in Cloncurry so tomorrow may be a quiet day also, oh! and with a "good" shop at Woolworths.

Painting of Johm Flynn  - Flynn of the Inland
Painting of Johm Flynn - Flynn of the Inland

25:1 model DeHavilland 50
25:1 model DeHavilland 50 - RFDS first

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