Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Saturday 29th May 2004 to Monday 31st May 2004

Saturday 29th May 2004

A very early start this morning, in fact one of us was up at 5.15 am and the other one fell out of bed at about the same time. Then after discovering our hot water system wasn't working properly due to a gas line blockage of some sort, we were ready to move by about 6.15am, however it was still a little dark and having some concern about kangaroos on the side of the road, we delayed our departure until 6.30am.

We found our way out of Charters Towers without any wrong turns and then headed out east toward Hughendon. First we past through Balfes Creek, Homestead, Pentland, Torrens Creek, Prairie before arriving in Hughendon. We drove around Hughendon looking for a National Bank ATM but only found a bank, not an ATM. We also found a dinosaur wandering around the street, we think someone forgot to tell him that he is extinct and no longer exists in real life, but we didn't enlighten him just in case he became a bit upset about the news. Hughendon is the location of recent dinosaur bone discoveries and along with the neighbouring town of Richmond, has been the main area of this kind of finds over a number of years.

From Hughendon we had to find the road that was to take us to Winton and after a false start, we managed to start out of town on the correct one. This was about 212 kilometres of pretty average road and after the first few kilometres, the trees seemed to disappear so there was not a lot of scenery to keep our interest along the way and only a roadhouse at Stamford and a hotel (if you could call it that) at Corfield, the only two places along the way before we reached Winton.

As we will be returning to Winton when we leave Longreach we did not have a look at the town and just headed south west on the A2 highway to Longreach. There were no towns along this 177 kilometres of road but about 60 km out of longreach we started to come into some more trees and thicker undergrowth.

On arrival at Longreach at 3.15pm we found the 'Gunnadoo Caravan Park' were we booked in for a couple of nights and then the task of attempting to get the gas working started. After much mumbling it appears to be better but not fixed yet so maybe more work on it tomorrow.

Doesn't he know he is extinct?

Where have all the big trees gone?

Sunday 30 May 2004

We managed a sleep in this morning and didn't leave the caravan park until after to have a look around the town of Longreach. We found the cheapest fuel (102.9 cpl) but it isn't open on Sunday and is not accessible until about Monday (tomorrow) and by that time we hope to be a fair way down the road. The only service station that has it's fuel price posted shows diesel at 105.9 cpl that may be our only option. In reality it is only about $4.50 difference on a fill up of about 150 litres (about $159.00) that we need, not much if we say it fast.

After that we drove down the main street and 'one of us' replenished her purse from a local ATM, bought a TV Week (there are no TV program booklets in the weekend papers like in WA) and then it was off to the 'Stockman Hall Of Fame'.

The building the hall of fame is housed in is very impressive, just like it is seen in the many photographs of it. Entry fee is $20.00 each and this gives access to 5 galleries and also a slide presentation that is accompanied by audio commentary and music.

We first entered the slide presentation and followed that by strolling through each of the five galleries in order of footprints of time in the Australian Outback. (1) This started with the 'Discovery' period of the continent, which includes the aboriginal people before the first fleet and inland exploration. (2) It then moved on to the 'Pioneers' which included the early cultivation of the nation and the early development of the then untamed outback. (3) From here we moved on to the 'Outback Properties' where the life of the families were depicted when they first pushed their way out into this baron land. (4) Next came 'Life in the Outback' which including the extensive involvement of women in the pioneering years of outback Australia and the development of the social structure of this vast continent. (5) The last gallery covered the stock worker and the modern approach to the outback properties and lifestyle.

There was a huge amount of information displayed in poster format all around the galleries and it would have taken all day to read it all (or maybe even longer), however we were there for almost three hours and managed to see and understand each of the galleries. This was a great experience and 'one of us' considers that although it is small in comparison, it was second only to the Australian War Museum. It told the story of the Australian Outback and the development of these vast areas very well and in detail. Although Longreach is a long way from the usual tourist drives along the coastline, it is a must to visit for anyone passing this way.

We then returned to the caravan and had lunch before heading over to the QANTAS Founders Museum which is situated at the airport, across the road from the caravan park. Entry to this museum was $15.00 each and the viewing started with a video presentation giving some of the history of the museum and QANTAS. This video was narrated by Michael Caton and as 'one of us' really likes him, she decided the whole museum was going to be great.

After the video we entered the main area of the museum which housed an old AVRO aircraft that is one of only two licensed flying versions of this type of aircraft in the world. There were quite a number of interactive video screens and displays that provided information on a range of subjects, a lot of them being about the isolation of the outback, QANTAS and the flying doctor service. From this area we walked out of this building and into the original hanger that was constructed and used in the early days of the Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services. This hanger had a replica of one of the early aircraft used by QANTAS, along with a few more engines and other memorabilia.

We then left the museum building and went back out to the car park where a 747 400 was parked. There are tours over this aircraft that take about an hour and a half, however we were too late to take one today and didn't consider it worth delaying our departure from Longreach another day just to do that tour.

It was then time to return to the caravan park, pick up the spare diesel containers and find the cheapest fuel around town - yes it was 105.9 cents per litre and we needed 141.5 litres.

To finish the day off we have purchased tickets ($10 each) for a smorgasbord roast dinner with the trimmings and at 7.30pm there is a bush poet performing if we wish to stay a little longer.

Tomorrow is another one of those early starts and about 630 kilometres to travel to Mount Isa, so a good night sleep is planned.

Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame - Longreach

Must be getting old - I can remember shearing on a shearing plant just like this one

747 (City of Bunbury) in the car park
QANTAS Founders Museum

Monday 31st May 2004

Yesterday ended with a meal at the 'Gunnadoo Outback Restaurant' which was a few plastic chairs and tables around a fire in the middle of the caravan park. This was at a cost of $10 each and consisted of either roast pork of beef, or a combination of both (which 'one of us' couldn't resist) On completion of the main coarse, sweets were served for an extra $2.50 each and was either apple pie with ice cream or apple struedel and custard. Drinks were BYO and/or coffee and tea before the Bush Poet appeared.

Entertainment was provided by a local 'Bush Poet' who gave a good number of his own renditions and also kept the crowd on their toes with his humour, often at someone else's expense. It was a bit cool for some people but the night was well worth the three hours it took. We even bought a CD and a book with a collection of his poems when we left.

We had an early start to the day again today, waking up at about 5.20am and moving out of the caravan park by about 6.45am. After driving through Longreach we headed back out the highway through Morella (which appeared to be a sign only) toward Winton. On arrival at Winton we drove through the town and out the other side without finding a need to stop, then continued out the highway toward Kynuna. About 50 km out of Winton we stopped for morning tea in a truck stop on the side of the road near some break-away hills. This was a change from the flat fairly tree-less country we had been driving through for the previous 200 km.

After morning tea we set off again and kept going until we came to Kynuna where we stopped to take a photograph of the local pub before continuing on down that highway. Our next stop was at the Walkabout Hotel in McKinlay. This hotel was the one that featured in the movie 'Crocodile Dundee' so we had to go in and have a drink at the bar while we took the odd photograph or two and remembered the scenes that were played out at this bar for the movie

Then it was off again with 'one of us' exclaiming (Numerous times) the she had been sitting at the bar of the Walkabout Hotel. We drove on for about another fifteen kilometres before stopping and having lunch on the side of the road. After lunch we continued on to Cloncurry and then headed for Mount Isa. The road between Cloncurry and Mount Isa was a real change of scenery, driving through a range of break-away hills and ranges that at times was quite magnificent.

We arrived in Mount Isa at about 4.00pm after traveling 662 kilometres. We then booked into the caravan park before driving down town to the Coles store where we purchased some additional supplies before fueling up at the Shell Service Station and returning to the caravan park for the night.

Another early start in the morning as we head for the Northern Territory border.

PLEASE NOTE: As we hope to be at the 'Three Ways' in the Northern Territory tomorrow night, we expect that we will not have telephone connection access so will not be able to upload the web page, so will do so when we reach Katherine the day after.

Morning Tea stop 50 km North West of Winton

Walkabout Hotel - Crocodile Dundee's Pub

Lunchtime wine stop - Walkabout Hotel