Sunday, July 01, 2007

The trip north

Pictures from the trip are at Picasaweb

June 9

Tat picked me up around 10 and we set off. We stopped at Shepparton for a quick bite around 12.30 and a quick run around the SPC Ardmona shop to buy some odds and ends to eat on the trip.

After Shepparton we crossed the Murray to Tocumwal followed by a short stop at Finley. The weather was glorious - a clear sky and no wind, though it wasn't madly warm out of the car.

We pressed on to Narrandera where we found a camping spot in the caravan park.

June 10

It was a very cold night on the ground in the tent - the first of many. Today we moved on to Dubbo, not going to the Warrambungles as originally planned. The weather continues clear and fine. Through Forbes and Parkes - then on to the radio telescope just outside Parkes where we stopped for a lunch break; the telescope is an amazing sight. We booked into a cabin in the caravan park at Gilgandra. The cabin had a TV so we were able to catch Robin Hood and Life on Mars.

June 11

We set off before 9 and left the Newell Highway for the Castlereagh. Travelled through Gulargambone (a place I'd heard about as a child, but never believed actually existed) with its umpteen corrugated iron sculptures of galahs and on to Coonamble and beyond.

We made a short stop at Lightning Ridge for lunch (a rather weird place mainly populated by people digging for opals, though there's not much left) before crossing the border into Queensland at Hebel. After a short stop at Hebel we moved on to St George. Here we stopped while Tat worked out what we should do. We decided to press on to Surat which would get us 120km closer to Carnarvon Gorge, thus shortening our drive tomorrow. Cold night in tent at Surat.

June 12

We hit the road after 9, stopping in Roma to pick up some food and drink at the local Safeway (sorry, Woolworths).

We set up camp in Carnarvon Gorge and met up with P&ML who had been there for a couple of days on their way home from an extended trip north. We all had dinner in the shelter-shed (sounds worse than it was) before retiring.

June 13

After breakfast we set off to climb to the Bluff lookout. It was a hard climb, but well worth the view from the top. After this walk we set off to walk up the Gorge to the Art Gallery, but I was too pooped to continue and wandered slowly back to the car. Tat continued on and did the whole walk.

June 14 (Happy birthday to me)

We set off early, filling up with fuel at Emerald and stopping for a birthday lunch of rather nice pies at Clermont. We had a short rest stop in the afternoon at Belyando Crossing before pressing on through driving rain for Charters Towers.

June 15

After a quick look around Charters Towers went drove to Ayr (with a side trip to Home Hill where the family was living when I was born). The weather by this time was overcast and cool. In Townsville it was still wet but we spent an enjoyable hour or so at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. It has an excellent exhibition about the wreck of the Pandora, which was sent to take the Bounty mutineers back to England.

We stayed the night in a room in a donger (sp?) at the YHA in Cardwell. A group of Rebels motorcyclists arrived with much rumbling late and left early the next morning. The hostel kitchen was a total mess with only one (damp) tea-towel which had disappeared by the morning.

June 16

Drove through South Mission Beach (still overcast and raining) and on to Innisfail. We stopped at a "fisho" by the road and bought some fish and prawns for dinner(s). We arrived at Port Douglas and booked into the unit. Then out to the supermarket to shop for provisions.

June 17

We had a rest day: shopping in the morning and Tat went for a walk in the afternoon while I relaxed a bit.

June 18

We had quite heavy rain all day. Went for a drive to Cape Tribulation. We took the ferry across the Daintree River and drove along the windy road towards Cape Trib but unfortunately we were turned back by a river in flood across the road. On the way back we stopped and had a very enjoyable, if damp, walk through a rain-forest area with well laid out boardwalks. Unfortunately we didn't see any cassowaries.

When we got back to Port Douglas we bought a few more things for dinner. I made a Thai-style curry to use up more of the prawns.

June 19

Drove to the Atherton Tableland: through Talgo, Atherton and to the Dinner Falls on the Bowen River. As well as Millstream Falls we saw three more near Milaa Milaa. All the falls were in full flood because of all the rain. Then we saw the Curtain and Cathedral Figs, amazing examples of tropical figs with extraordinary adventitious roots.

June 20

Tat went off to walk the Bump track and I wandered around amusing myself. That night we had the tasting menu at Nautilus restaurant - it was seven courses of excellent food and came with six accompanying wines. Delicious!

June 21-22

On June 21 Tat spent the day out on the reef; for our last night we had a tasty meal of fish and chips at the restaurant opposite the unit.

June 23

We had an early start - Tat drove me to Cairns to catch the plane back home. The flight was unremarkable apart from the St Kilda footballer sitting two rows ahead. SP came around for a meal and de-breifing on Sunday - he had a good time looking after the house.

It was a great trip and despite the overcast and rain it was at least warm most of the time (except the nights in central NSW).


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