Lawn Hill 2005
David, Melissa, Dana and Ryan Christensen - 99 GU Patrol and 04 Aussie Swag Camper Rover LX
Note - I have also included references to the ‘Camps Australia Wide 3’ guide in the trip report. This is denoted by (CAW Qld 564) which indicates Qld site reference number 564 in this case. This is a great guide which we would highly recommend.
Day 1 - Saturday 10th September
Odometer reading: 188968
We left home at a late 10:15am after catching up with Melissa’s parents and Auntie and Uncle who popped around for a chat and a look at our camping setup. It is such a relief but also exciting to finally be on holidays. The weather was warm and clear so we could not ask for a better start. Our first leg took us into Brisbane then along the Warrego Highway to James Hedges Park near Helidon (CAW Qld 564) where we stopped for lunch at 12.15pm. The park is very nice and shady and fronts a small creek which we had a gander at after lunch. It was only a quick stop and after devouring our sandwiches we were soon away again at 12:30pm. We had to make a quick stop in Toowoomba to drop some things off at some friends before getting fuel in Wilsonton (49.89 L – 117.5 c/L – 318 km) and making our way to our first stop for the night at friends Paul and Mitzi Staib in Oakey. We arrived at 2:30pm and settled down to drinks, laughs and a great roast dinner.
Distance travelled: 210 km
Day 2 - Sunday 11th September
Odometer reading: 189178
Enjoying a nice little sleep in, we tucked into a big breakfast of bacon and eggs thanks to Paul cooking monster serves for everyone. After showers and goodbyes we were on the highway again at 9:25am. Our start was to an overcast sky with some light rain up until we reached Roma where it began to clear. At 11:30am we stopped for lunch at Miles just under the bridge on the picturesque Dogwood Creek (CAW Qld 585). David took the kids down to the creek to feed the geese some bread while Melissa made lunch. When the troupe arrived back to eat their lunch Dana was bitten by an ant which brought screams of ‘I’m going to die!’ and a seemingly endless flow of tears. Some bribery of soft drink and a lolly saw her settle down and once the drama had subsided we set off again at 12:00pm.
It was very windy between Miles and our destination for the night, Mitchell. The big Nissan swayed from side to side during some big crosswinds and we wondered how caravans could cope sometimes with these sorts of conditions. We arrived at the Neil Turner Weir (CAW Qld 599) on the outskirts of Mitchell at around 2:30pm and proceeded to setup the camper. It was still very windy and quite cool so we rugged up and played some games of Guess Who with the kids before going exploring. This free campsite is quite impressive with a good grassy playground for the kids and nice open spaces along the Weir to setup camp. There weren’t too many other campers around with most only stopping briefly on their long journey home after big trips North. We chatted to a few campers and got some great information on conditions and campsites in the Gulf region. Back at camp we gorged ourselves on nibbles and had a couple of relaxing wines around a nice warm campfire. We decided on a light dinner of soup and Spagasaurus for the kids around the fire and then an early bedtime ready for an early start the next morning.
Distance travelled: 399 km
Day 3 - Monday 12th September
Odometer reading: 189577
David woke before dawn to witness a beautiful sunrise before rudely waking Melissa and the kids with urges of an early start. The morning was quite cold but fine and clear so after a breakfast of cereal and coffee was had and with everything packed we left at 7:32. We headed back into Mitchell for fuel (74.25 L – 132.9 c/L – 425 km) and was soon heading West again on the Warrego Highway.
The area had received some decent rain in the past weeks as the countryside was green and lush and creeks full. We passed several potential campsites along the way including Jamieson Creek 100 km from Mitchell. At 9:45am we stopped for some morning tea at a rest stop and were on the road again at 10:07am. The kids were entertained by several sightings of kangaroos, emus and the occasion Wedge Tailed Eagle.
For lunch we stopped at a rest area 28 km South of Barcaldine (CAW Qld 620) at 12:40pm. It was quite hot and the flies soon descended on us whilst we tried to enjoy our pocket bread and soft drink. Leaving at 1:03pm we meandered our way north passing potentially good camps at Patrick Creek and Alice River which was a nice wide and sandy river. An hour after passing through Barcaldine we were in Longreach fuelling the Patrol (111.31 L – 128.9 c/L – 587 km). David surprised the kids with icy poles as a reward for how well they had travelled so far.
Not long after leaving Longreach we passed another nice camp spot on the Darr River however our destination for the day was Crawford Creek, just south of Winton. We arrived at the Crawford Creek Rest Stop (CAW Qld 355) at 4:00pm but were not that impressed. The area had a couple of campers but was very open and close to the highway which meant the noise from passing trucks was very loud so we decided to drive on to Winton for the night. The free campsite behind the North Gregory Hotel (CAW Qld 356) was full so we stayed at the Caravan park for the night for $16. The camper was setup by 4:35pm however we decided against putting up the awning so we could get a quick getaway the next morning. It wasn’t long before we were showered and enjoying nibbles and wines. The kids scoured the sites looking for feathers and marvelled at the numerous nests around. After our Chicken Stir Fry dinner and a few games of Guess Who we retired for the night.
Distance travelled: 763 km
Day 4 - Tuesday 13th September
Odometer reading: 190340
David once again rose first to watch another magical sunrise. The kettle was boiled and cereal served before the others were out of bed but everyone was soon fed and packed ready for another day on the road. We left Winton at 7:33am to a beautiful sky rich in colour and sounds of birds. The countryside was still green until around 50km north of Winton where it quickly changed to dry and dusty. We stopped briefly to take photos of the sandstone hills that rise unexpectedly south of Kynuna before stopping in Kynuna at 9:28 am for morning tea. We parked next to the fence of the caravan park and were quickly greeted by a couple of large Jabirus. The kids wisely kept their distance so after we had rested left at 9:40am.
We stopped in Cloncurry at 11:45am for fuel (85.39 L – 138.0 c/L – 505.6 km) and food from the supermarket. There were quite a few people in town so we decided to continue and have lunch further down the road. We pulled over at a stand of trees 40km north of Cloncurry at 12:30pm for lunch. Making lunch on the road is so easy with the camper and we were soon eating meat and salad Pocket Breads. During lunch we discovered some old telegraph pole insulators that were dated from the early 60’s however we failed to see any poles around. Once we packed the food away we headed off again at 1:00pm.
We refuelled at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse (29.35 L – 145.5 c/L – 176 km) at 2:45pm then headed North West along the Wills Developmental Road. We encountered a couple of graders that were smoothing the road so the drive was excellent. The area had just seen the annual cattle muster so was very dusty and devoid of grasses. At 4:30pm we arrived at the magnificent Gregory River (CAW Qld 260) which was to be our camp for the night. It was such a beautiful sight to see this clear running river in such dry and dusty surroundings. With only a dozen campers around we easily found a nice spot right next to the river under a stand of paperbark trees. As the days were now quite hot it wasn’t long after setting up camp that we were swimming in the cool waters. David and the kids kept swimming while Melissa prepared a great dinner of Chilli Con Carne and corn chips.
Distance travelled: 652 km
Day 5 - Wednesday 14th September
Odometer reading: 190992
It was lovely to wake up to the sound of a bubbling creek running past your bed. Once up we cooked Pancakes and enjoyed them with Fruit and honey for breakfast. David inflated the small rubber boat we bought for the trip and once again we enjoyed swimming and rafting down the creek. Mid morning we explored the camp area and river which kept the kids amused. Once back at camp, David cooked Nachos for lunch using left over Chilli Con Carne and the camper’s griller. He was proud as punch at the way they turned out so we all sat in the shade and ate. The Nachos didn’t last long so David made a second helping. More swims were had until we packed up camp and left at 12:45pm. Before heading to Lawn Hill, David wanted to check out another nice camp spot he heard about from a fellow traveller back at Mitchell. We found the place easily and were met by a vast area of river stone followed by a string of paperbarks that bordered the Gregory River. There wasn’t a sole in site so we could have had the whole place to ourselves if we wanted. However we had to make Lawn Hill by the end of the day so we were on our way again by 1:20am.
The dirt road was well maintained until the turn off to the Pasminco Century Mine but was quite corrugated in places from then. We stopped briefly to collect firewood on the side of the road due to the restrictions of collecting firewood within the National Park but we were on our way again shortly after. An hour later we were at the entrance to Lawn Hill National Park situated in a natural break of the spectacular Constance Range. After driving 3 km’s along a snaking white road we were in the camping area (CAW Qld 262) at 3:20pm. The camping area was very dry and dusty and all the camping area’s had bollards so it was difficult to get a good position with the camper. The section that was specially set aside for camper trailers and caravans had tents through it so we were disappointed to say the least. Eventually we found a suitable site but elected to go for a swim before setting up due to the nearly 40° heat.
The section of Lawn Hill Gorge adjacent to the campground is lined with Pandanus and Livistonia Palms but every 30 metres or so there was a set of stairs that broke through the lush vegetation and led you down the steep bank of the creek to its emerald waters. We all jumped in for a swim and enjoyed the cool waters. After a refreshing play we went back and setup the camper. David inflated the rubber boat again and took the kids back to the Gorge for further enjoyment while Melissa decided to get some washing done up at the well equipped amenities block. It was difficult to tear the kids away from the water but we were quite exhausted from the heat so we had happy hour at 5:30pm and cooked delicious Pocket Bread Pizzas for dinner under the griller. The kids played with Glow sticks and were in bed shortly after dinner. We stayed up for a little while longer planning the next day’s events before retiring ourselves.
Distance travelled: 125 km
Day 6 - Thursday 15th September
Odometer reading: 191117
Waking to the sounds of birds, we rose and ate a breakfast of Cereal and fruit eager to get started on some of the walks around the Gorges. With plenty of water and some nibbles packed we were soon walking though a grove of Palms and Figs to the Island Stack. The walking track weaved its way though rough outcrops of limestone that resembled an ancient ocean reef.
The first walk we decided to do was the Wild Dog Dreaming track to the Lower Gorge section. This walk took us around the base of the Island Stack with its beautiful red rock cliffs to some sacred Aboriginal carvings and paintings on the Stacks southern side. Further along the track you pass some ancient Aboriginal Middens made up of thousands of shells from shellfish feasts long ago. It doesn’t take long before you’re at the junction of Lawn Hill Creek and a small tributary creek that makes it way around the Eastern side of Island Stack. From here you can see lagoons filled with waterlilies and if lucky enough possibly a Freshwater Crocodile. David heard a large splash when he took the kids down the bank for photos so was hopeful to see one. Unfortunately they were very shy and no sightings were made. Continuing on we stumbled across a Bower Birds bower which was decorated with blue and white objects and the kids were excited to be able to get reasonably close.
With the heat starting to rise we made our way back and followed the track to the top of Island Stack which involved climbing crude steps that scaled the steep cliff face. Carefully guiding the kids up, it wasn’t long before we were at the top enjoying views of the Middle Gorge, Constance Range and the campsite. We followed the 1.7km track around the top of Island stack and marvelled at the fantastic views of the Lower Gorge, Lawn Hill Creek and the parched plains in the distance. David climbed down to the edge of one of the cliffs to take photo’s and was delighted to see a big school of around 30 Barramundi swimming lazily around. Almost all the fish would have been over 1.2m in length and you could hear David curse under his breath about the ‘no fishing’ policy in National Parks.
We finished our morning hiking back down the Island Stack and a quick walk to the Cascades which join the Middle and Lower Gorges of Lawn Hill Creek. The pools were truly beautiful and were lined with Pandanus Palms and huge Paperbarks. The limestone in the water had deposited on the creek bed to build up Tufa formations creating natural pools that cascaded into each other. We were soon in our swimmers and enjoying the cool water which was a relief to the heat in the middle of the day. After our swim we enjoyed some nibbles on the bank of the creek. The kids hand fed the Archer fish and large Sooty Grunters that inhabited the pools and nearly fell of the log laughing when one Archer fish spat water at David trying to get his chip.
Back at camp we lunched on sandwiches before going back down to the creek to take the kids for a paddle in the boat. David took the kids right around the lagoon which thrilled the kids no end. Melissa was content to relax in the shade happy to be out of the heat. Just being near the water saw the temperature drop a few degrees which made it very nice. That afternoon we spent around camp playing games with the kids and enjoying nibbles and wine. David made a Lamb roast diner with roast potatoes and vegies while the kids made friends from an adjacent camp and played around the campsite. After dark David gave Dana and Ryan and all their friends glow sticks which saw the glowing kids darting around the campsite like large fireflies. However it wasn’t long before they were all exhausted and in bed from a big day of walks and swimming. Later that night the wind picked up and there was a slight sprinkling of rain which cooled things down nicely.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 7 - Friday 16th September
Odometer reading: 191117
Today we were going to hire canoes and paddle our way up the Middle Gorge and take in walks of the Upper Gorge. The sky was overcast by the time we hopped out of bed but it was cooler than the previous day which was pleasant. After having toast for brekkie we made our way to the boat ramp to hire a canoe for the morning. We were all able to fit into one which was great and for just $30 for the canoe, life jackets and a gold coin donation to the RFDS for a dry container – it was a cheap tour. At 8:15am, we were slowly paddling up the creek to the spectacular Gorge walls of Middle Gorge. We weren’t in any hurry and were happy to marvel at the ancient landscape. David took us in close to the walls and which revealed turtles and archer fish swimming in the deep water. Where the Pandanus managed to grow on small islands, we could see numerous birdlife and the odd nest. Rounding the Southern end of the Gorge walls, you could see Indirri Falls in the distance which represented the separation of the Middle Gorge from the Upper Gorge by a large Tufa wall. We tied the canoes up to a small jetty adjacent to the falls and started our walk up to the Upper Gorge.
The track was quite long and weaved its way though the cliff walls and thick vegetation that lined the creeks bank. Eventually we were zigzagging our way up a large hill to the Upper Gorge lookout. We were quite puffed by the time we got to the top as David had to carry Ryan on his shoulders for most of the trip but the views were worth it. Unfortunately we could not get any good photographs of the rich colours of the Gorge due to being overcast but we still enjoyed the trek. After some morning tea we made our way back to the canoes where David and Dana jumped into the creek and swam to the falls for a closer look. They climbed the Tufa wall to have a look upstream but there was a lot of debris on top of the water so could not see much. They jumped back in and swam back to the canoes where we cast of and paddled back to the boat ramp arriving at 11:15am.
Back at camp we had noodles and pocket bread for lunch after which we decided to drive to Adel’s Grove (CAW Qld 261) for a look. The campsites at Adel’s Grove were definitely better that the NP and were split into sections depending requirements. They were shady and well set up with the best ones being down in an area called ‘The Grove’ which is right on Lawn Hill Creek. The reception and restaurant is excellent and we were impressed by the setup of the area. Treating ourselves to ice creams we were soon on our way again stopping once again for firewood just outside the NP. By the time we got back to camp Ryan was fast asleep so Dana played with the neighbours for a while and then headed off with David to the creek again with boat in tow and enjoyed more ‘boating on the lake’. After Ryan woke we all went to Cascades for another swim and play. That afternoon we go together with our neighbours for Happy Hour. During our chat, a Photographer from the UK approached our group asking to take photos of our laid back camping style to illustrate a travel guide that he was compiling. Just before dusk we all went back to our camps to prepare dinner. Melissa cooked up Chicken Stroganoff for dinner after which we all had showers and played games of UNO before hitting the sack.
Distance travelled: 21 km
Day 8 - Saturday 17th September
Odometer reading: 191138
The morning was once again fine and clear and after a breakfast of cereal, we packed up camp and left the Lawn Hill campgrounds at 9:15am. Initially we had decided to head back to the Gregory River for a few more days but just past Adel’s Grove we saw a large sign for Kingfisher Camp so David made a split second decision to head in that direction to check it out. The track took us through Lawn Hill Station and across Lawn Hill Creek which was a reasonably shallow crossing. With small KFC signs leading the way we passed through several station properties and dozens of gates which kept Melissa busy jumping in and out of the Patrol. The track was reasonably good and we were able to enjoy long tracts of road where we could drive at 80km/h, however we did encounter numerous sections of bulldust that came out of nowhere with some being quite deep and long. We also crossed many dry creek and river crossings with some having quite steep banks. Although relatively easy with the camper in tow we couldn’t see caravans being able to do the track.
We arrived at Kingfisher Camp at 1:00pm and asked the lady in the reception if we could take a look around before committing to camp. Our first impression was there wasn’t much in the way of good camping but that was because we thought that all the camping was at the homestead area and after some directions to the campground quickly changed our mind when confronted by a large area of grassy campsites well shaded by gums. Whilst the girls checked out the amenities block, David and Ryan walked down to the Nicholson River for a look. The river was quite beautiful and stretched as far as the eye could see. It was more of a long waterhole at that time of year than a river and stretched for about 5 km’s in length. We found a nice campsite shaded by a huge tree and took advantage of the taps situated around the place so we could hose off the bulldust that we had collected from the drive in. With the camper setup we headed back to the homestead and payed for two nights camping so we could relax and enjoy this lovely place.
Back at camp Melissa made a lunch of pocket bread with meats and salad while David and the kids pulled out the Yabbie pots and baited them up. Once lunch was finished it was back down to the river to set them and jump in the river for a swim. You could walk across the river with the water only being around 5 feet deep but it gets a lot deeper as you head upstream. The kids practiced their swimming once they overcame their fear of playing in the slightly murky waters. There is a sandy boat ramp that leads down to the river where there are two small dinghy’s that you can hire. We decided to hire one the next day so we could try our luck fishing up the river and see if we could spot some freshwater crocodiles that have eluded us thus far. Once we were all refreshed we made our way back to camp where David setup the generator to charge the batteries and Melissa started that nights dinner of Beef Goulash.
Distance travelled: 146 km
Day 9 - Sunday 18th September
Odometer reading: 191284
Morning saw David and the kids head down to check the Yabby pots, coming back with a turtle and a nice big Yabby. After some photos the turtle was released back into the river while the Yabby was kept alive in a bucket in case we caught some more for a feed. David cooked up a big breakfast of bacon, eggs and tomatoes and when everything was cleaned up we all headed back to the homestead to hire a boat for the morning. The price was a reasonable $45 and we were lucky enough to get the long punt that had plenty of room. It wasn’t long after that we were motoring our way along the Nicholson River with fishing lines out enjoying the scenery. The river has sandy banks lined with mostly Gum trees but further upstream this gives way to rocky outcrops and some small cliff faces. We didn’t catch any fish but saw a few wild pigs and some piglets down at the waters edge. It wasn’t until we had reached the end of the river that we finally saw some freshwater crocodiles. Actually we saw quite a few and managed to get quite close to some. The smaller ones of about a foot in length manage to climb onto branches that came out of the water to take in the warmth while the larger ones of over a meter were on the rivers bank. We also saw a very large wild pig that we got to within 10 feet of that was fossicking for freshwater mussels just under the water. On the way back we decided to go full throttle and get the breeze happening due to the heat. The kids enjoyed a steer of the boat each which they loved.
Back at camp we had a noodles lunch before once again going to the river for a relaxing swim. David started the fire to get some coals together and baked Cob loaf and cheese and bacon bread. The Yabby pots had a couple more turtles in them which were promptly released but no more Yabby’s. Mid afternoon saw a convoy of ‘Carry Me Camper’ vehicles come into camp and setup. With about 16 vehicles in total, they broke into a little ‘partying’ until the wee hours which did not impress their neighbours much. We finished the day with a fine dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese with fruit salad and custard and numerous games of UNO with the kids.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 10 - Monday 19th September
Odometer reading: 191284
The morning was disturbed by the ‘Carry Me Camper’ convoy which started departing at around 5:00am and continued to around 9:00am. Once again David took Dana and Ryan down to check the Yabby pots as soon as they were out of bed. With no yabbies caught, the pots were packed up and our lonesome Yabby friend that we caught the day before was released. Breakfast was toasted campoven bread that David made with golden syrup and vegemite. Camp was packed up and by 10:30am we were heading out of the campground. Today’s destination was Burketown for a food and fuel resupply. The track out from Kingfisher Camp to the Savannah Way was pretty good and it wasn’t long before we were driving past Doomadgee. The township was an ‘Alcohol Free Zone’ as we came across a mass of beer cans on the edge of the Nicholson River near a restriction sign. It was truly a terrible thing to see on such a beautiful river. Pressing on we made Burketown an hour later and proceeded to refuel (111.05 L – 142.7 c/L – 598 km) and buy some groceries from the Post Office. We decided to keep going and have a late lunch when we got to Gregory River. The road from Burketown to Gregory River was quite rough and corrugated with patches of deep bulldust in places. We passed the Gregory River a few times which snaked its way through the dry countryside like giant green serpents.
We finally pulled into Gregory River at 2:40pm where we found a lovely shaded site right on the waters edge. There weren’t many other campers around so it was easy to find a great site. Once setup, Melissa made a lunch of David’s cheese and bacon bread which we had with ham, cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Togs were soon put on and it was straight into the water for a relaxing swim away from the heat of the day. The water was flowing quite fast past our campsite but was only a couple of feet deep. We all enjoyed floating down the river and playing on a small rope swing right next to our camper. Later in the afternoon we sat quietly on the banks and watched the finches come down to the waters edge to drink and bath. With urges from the kids we once again set the Yabby pots hopeful this time to catch a feed of Yabbies. For dinner Melissa cooked up Lamb chops and vegetables while David made a cosy fire next to the river. We all sat around the fire and discussed the trip so far and listened to the kids rattle of highlight after highlight. It was great to hear that they were enjoying the trip as much as us.
Distance travelled: 280 km
Day 11 - Tuesday 20th September
Odometer reading: 191564
David was up nice and early with the kids to check on the Yabby pots which had a couple of turtles, a yabby and a couple of Sleepy Cod. One cod was a nice size of 48cm so David cleaned it up and put it in the fridge to be cooked up for dinner that night. We also kept the yabby in case we caught some more. For breakfast, we cooked up a stack of pancakes which we all enjoyed with butter, golden syrup and kiwi fruit. David setup the Solar Panel to charge the batteries while the kids eagerly got their togs and sunscreen on and jumped into the river. Before we jumped in we made some jelly cups for dinner later on.
Most of the day was spent in the water or exploring the river. The kids loved the freedom they had of floating down the water and exploring a small island just in front of camp. We loved the fact that we could relax ourselves and still see the kids so it was a win win situation all round. The water in the river was so clean and clear and not harsh on the skin as it was at Lawn Hill. The irritations that we got from swimming at Lawn Hill soon cleared up with the help of the Sorbolene cream and refreshing water. For lunch we had sausages in bread but it was quickly back into the river swimming again. Later that afternoon, Ryan, who was playing near the camper, ran through the fireplace and burnt his foot on some coals. He was extremely lucky that his burns were only minor but it was a timely reminder about fireplace safety. For dinner we had the Sleepy Cod with pasta, beetroot and corn which was all delicious. As a treat for the kids we invented a special dessert called a ‘Burketown Bomb’ which was a jelly cup with custard and marshmallows and a sprinkling of Milo. David packed the solar panel away which managed to put in 38.4 amps for the day which he was happy about. We all finished the night with a couple of hands of UNO and sitting around the fire talking. We stayed up after the kids had gone to bed enjoying each others company and a couple of wines which topped of a near perfect day.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 12 - Wednesday 21st September
Odometer reading: 191564
Another perfect morning saw us up and tucking into a breakfast of cereal and fruit. David and the kids checked the traps again and caught more turtles and another two yabbies which were put in the bucket the other one. On the way back David chatted to a fellow camper just up from us and looked over their caravan setup. They were a couple of retirees that had sold up and were travelling around Australia. They had just come back from a couple of months up at Cape York which they loved. They didn’t seem the type to be roughing it in the bush but they were thoroughly enjoying themselves so good on them. David setup the solar panel again and it was into relaxation mode once again sitting in the water playing with the kids. Lunch was grilled mountain bread with ham and cheese but we were picking at food all day. Later in the afternoon we walked up to the amenities block opposite the Pub and had showers. Back at camp Melissa cooked up Beef with Black Bean sauce and another dessert was invented for the kids called a ‘Gregory Goldmine’. This involved custard, marshmallows, Milo and more custard and kept the kids happy and feeling important as they helped. The solar panel managed to put back 40.8 amps for the day which was the highest amount so far. With the kids in bed we sat around the fire enjoying a few wines and toying with the idea of staying another week but alas we did have to start heading back tomorrow.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 13 - Thursday 22nd September
Odometer reading: 191564
With the intention of a reasonably early start, David got up and headed off to collect the Yabby pots by himself. Unfortunately there were only turtles and a couple of very small Sleepy Cod caught so the pots were packed up and all yabbies, cod and turtles released. He then cooked pancakes for breakfast and after camp was packed up, were leaving this fantastic place at 8:23am. We followed the Wills Developmental Road past the Burke & Wills Roadhouse and onto Julia Creek where we came across a bogged Ute and trailer with Bobcat about 10km from the township. They moved off the road to give way to an oncoming Road Train but became bogged in the soft shoulder of the road. Offering a tow, we unhitched the camper and proceeded to snatch them out with ease for which they were very greatful. With the camper back on we drove through Julia Creek and onto Richmond where we refuelled at 2:30pm (118.68L – 139.9 c/L – 627.9 km).
On the road again we continued to Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond which was a fossil attraction that Dana and Ryan were eager to visit. The tour was very good with lots of original fossils and interactive displays for the kids. We ended up having a lunch of sausage rolls and pies in the cafeteria before taking photos of the kids on the life size dinosaurs outside and heading off again at 4:00pm.
We continued driving to Hughenden arriving at 5:15pm where we checked out a couple of very average looking caravan parks. We eventually booked into the Allan Terry Caravan Park for $23 which seemed like a nice enough spot but were warned by other travellers that it could get pretty noisy during the night from the rail yard workshops that were across the road. Luckily we picked a good night to camp as it was peaceful. While Melissa cooked a dinner of Moroccan Chicken and Pasta, David drove into town to buy some wine for dinner. With dinner finished it was showers and games inside the camper until the kids were asleep. We had a couple more wines and a coffee before retiring ourselves.
Distance travelled: 630 km
Day 14 - Friday 23rd September
Odometer reading: 192194
Eager to get on the road again we were up early and having toast for breakfast before leaving Richmond at 7:26am. We were off to Hughenden then heading south to Muttaburra where we stopped for morning tea at the giant Muttaburrasaurus dinosaur. After checking out the local camping area (CAW Qld 348) which had decent amenities and free power, we were on the road again at 10.30am making our way to Barcaldine. Here we stopped for fuel (80.06L – 134.9 c/L – 474.6 km) and a quick shop for groceries before heading just out of town for a lunch stop (CAW Qld 344). We actually drove into the back of the rest area which was amongst trees so we were able to park in some shade where Melissa made a lunch of Straz and salad sandwiches. We left soon after at 1.10pm to continue to our overnight stop of Emerald. We arrived in Emerald at 4.40pm and checked out two free camp areas. Kiely’s Farm (CAW Qld 331) no longer offered camping and the Emerald Botanical Gardens (CAW Qld 332) was pretty full so we decided on a Caravan Park for the night. After checking in at 5pm and parting with the pricely sum of $25.00 for an unpowered site, we were promptly shown to the back of the park and squeezed in amongst other campers. Not wanting to end the trip on a downer we decided to have a Strawberry and marshmallow chocolate fondue for dessert after a dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese. We followed this with some games of UNO and an early night.
Distance travelled: 671 km
Day 15 - Saturday 24th September
Odometer reading: 192865
Waking early, we ate a quick breakfast of cereal with coffee and were packed up and leaving the Caravan Park at 7.15am. We headed South on the Gregory Highway to Springsure before some road works slowed us down for half an hour but were on the move again following the Dawson Highway to Moura where we stopped for a stretch and toilet break at 10.35am.
Deciding to stop for lunch at Biloela we arrived at 11.30am where we splurged out and got some KFC. We also need fuel but as the Woolworths Petrol Plus had no diesel we filled up at an independent (110.67L – 123.9 c/L – 658 km) and were heading South on the Burnett Highway by 12.10pm. With only a quick toilet stop at Monto we made good time to get home and were pulling into the drive at 6.15pm.
Distance travelled: 812 km
Final Odometer reading: 193677
Total kilometers travelled: 4709 km - Total fuel used: 797.22 L - Economy for trip: 16.92 L/100 km
Final thoughts - 'Why didn't we call in some sick days and spend more time at Gregory?'