Thats not a knife …

We had planned to make a small journey of 110 kilometres from Cloncurry to McKinlay and stay at the Walkabout Creek Hotel.
 
We arrived fairly early in McKinlay and visited the Walkabout Creek Hotel which was the hotel they filmed Crocodile Dundee.
 
There was a bit of film memorabilia but not enough to keep us here for the night so we continued on to Kynuna down the track.
 
I think the Kynuna township had a population of 16, but there was at least double that camped in the Kynuna Roadhouse Campground.
 
We spent the afternoon chatting with a couple, Gavin and Margaret, travelling from Griffith, NSW.
 
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It’s a Pretty Blue but don’t be swimming in it …

We only had 120 kilometres to travel from Mt Isa to Cloncurry but it took 4 hours. And it wasn’t because of geocaching – well not entirely.
 
Half way between the two towns is the old site of the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine, which operated from 1954 to 1984.
 
Even though there are no buildings left on the site, you can go up to the old open cut pit to see the vivid blue water but not sure you would want to go for a swim in there.
 
Back at the old town site, the bitumen roads and concrete gutters are still there as is all the concrete pads where all the houses and shops used to sit.
 
It was surreal given that we had watched the film from the 60’s showing life in the town. You could pick where the old town square was and the beer garden. The bowling club was also recognisable.
 
It is not all that abandoned with it now a highly recommended free camp with many caravans, motorhomes and tents utilising the old house pads.
 
Along the way we stopped at the Clem Walton Reserve or Corella Dam which was built to supply water to the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine. We thought it sounded like a good spot to either have lunch or free camp but about 200 other vans had the same idea. It was a great spot but if we are going to be packed in like a caravan park, we might as well stay in one closer to town.
 
Arriving at the Cloncurry Caravan Park Oasis, there was a bit of a queue but luckily they have an overflow area. 
I am not sure we are in the overflow though as we were directed to a site near the entrance and ablution block.
 
We spent the afternoon exploring the town including the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park where some of the buildings from the mine have been moved to live a new life.
 
To the north of town, at the airport is one of the original Qantas hangers. Its has been restored and there are some information panels to read on the outside. The other original hanger is in Longreach.
 
From the airport we headed to the Chinamans Creek Dam which provides water to the town as well as the mines that are in the area. 
 
There was a lookout that gave views over town and afar. We waited around for sunset but as there were no clouds to speak of, it wasn’t all that spectacular.
 
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Lets go mining …

A pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. OK, I know a bit corny but hey I am a dad.
 
Sunday is pancake day at the Sunset Top Park, so Jenny headed out to grab a pancake and she came back with a plate full.
 
The plan for the day was to head underground at the Hard Times Underground Mine Tour
 
With the Mt Isa Mine no longer doing mine tours, this purpose built tourist mine has taken over.
 
It was constructed to the same design and standards as the normal mine with all the equipment being retired gear from the main mine.
 
The tour guides are all retired miners and ours was Steve.
 
Before heading down, you get to dress up with bright orange paper overalls, an orange hard hat and light and gum boots. We looked like road cones on steroids.
 
After the obligatory shot at the elevator (to sell to us later) we descended down in the elevator to the mine tunnel.
 
Even though it is only 15 metres down, you could have been at any depth as there is no noise from above.
 
It was dark, warm with high humidity similar to a normal mine but apparently the real deal is a lot hotter.
 
Steve took us through the history of Mt Isa mining with the different decades of machinery and techniques.
 
We learnt how to blow a face then got the chance to do some drilling.
 
There was even a front end loader that he fired up and moved around for us. It is extremely loud in the confined tunnels as are all the other machinery demonstrated.
 
The tour finished with a meal in the crib room underground and plenty of stories of Steves times in the mines and the pranks that were carried out.
 
We were taken back to the surface on the back of a Toyota carrier. The tour had lasted 3 hours.
 
It was well worth going on this tour and would recommend it to anyone travelling to Mt Isa.
 
It was time to spend some time above ground and we headed out to Lake Moondarra to have a look and grab some geocaches.
 
Lake Moondarra is the water supply to Mt Isa and the Mine built by the Mine. 
 
As well as providing water, it is a place to go fishing, water skiing, canoeing, 4WDing and of course geocaching.
 
There was plenty of bird life particularly on the 4WD track following the edge of the lake back to town.
 
Tomorrow we continue our travels east.
 
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Hello Queensland …

It was windy all night and it didn’t let up this morning so we were in no hurry to get on the road.
 
To keep the fuel economy good, there was no speeding until a couple of road trains passed then I hooked on the back and got pulled along.
 
There were a couple of stops along the way to look for things and after a couple of hours we arrived in Mt Isa.
 
There was no way you didn’t know where it was. The copper smelter was firing on all cylinders and the black smoke was pumping out of the stack.
 
Luckily the wind was blowing away from town as there was only a little creek separating the mine from the town.
 
After settling the van into the Sunset Top Park, Jenny was dropped off at the shops to get here fix while I discovered the town through geocaching.
 
After picking up Jenny we checked out the town from the highest point at the lookout. From here you can see most of the surrounding landscape.
 
For the last couple of years there has been an ad for the Buffs Club on the satellite TV, so tonight we had to check it out for a meal.
 
It wasn’t a bad meal and was obviously the most popular place in town.
 
After our time at the Buffs Club, it was back up to the lookout to check out the view at night. The mine was certainly lit up and the full moon didn’t disguise the smoke from the copper smelter.
 
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Farewell to NT …

We hadn’t even gone to sleep when we got a call from the US. It was just after midnight and apparently it is Rachael’s 21st birthday here in Oz so she gave us a call.
 
I am sure we celebrated it a month ago. Oh well, happy 21st again Rachael.
 
When we woke up and looked outside there was an empty campground with us the only one in the park.
 
After filling up with almost our most expensive fuel ($1.899), it was onto the road to Queensland.
 
I had read that the Barkly Highway was a rough ride but the road yesterday was some of the best we had been on and it started out the same today.
 
As soon as we hit the floodplains though the road became a roller coaster ride. The soil must be reactive here with the water in the wet season and lots of ups and downs and bumps.
 
It certainly showed today why it was called the Tablelands. The lands for as far as you could see was as flat as a table.
This is cattle country and there was plenty of cattle today and even some horses to see.
 
We farewelled Northern Territory and welcomed Queensland with the obligatory Border photos.
 
Today’s camp was Camooweal with its drover history. Not much here except for a couple of servo’s, a pub and a couple of caravan parks.
 
After setting up camp, we headed down to Camooweal Caves National Park to have a look. It seemed to be a claytons National Park with cattle roaming all over the place.
 
These caves are similar to the Nullarbor Plain but are not open to have a look. All you can see are a couple of sinkhole cave entrances.
 
Before heading to the van we checked out Lake Francis free camp on the western side of town. It was packed with vans lining the banks for about a kilometre.
 
You might as well be in a caravan park being that crammed in.
 
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Turn left for Queensland …

Not a big day today and when we woke at 9am and looked out all we saw was grass with only 3 other vans still here after being packed last night.
 
We farewelled our neighbours, Ian and Cheryl from Mt Gambier and headed south but only for 80 kilometres.
 
At Three Ways, with the second most expensive fuel at $1.89 but as I was sniffing fumes, had to fill up.
 
It was then time to turn left and start the journey to Queensland.
 
There was plenty of heavy transport from the east on the Barkly Highway but didn’t seem to be as much headed our direction.
 
Another quick drive pulling into the Barkly Homestead oasis around 1pm.
 
No problems getting a powered site with a patch of lawn with the wave of vans coming in about an hour later.
 
Another Country and Western singer for happy hour but was very loud in the indoor venue so back to the van where you could still hear him.
 
Jenny tried to burn the van down by using the air frier when it was still full of plastic bits.
 
Spent the night doing a binge watch of “Code Black“.
 
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Blowing in the wind …

Having been on the road now for almost a month, there has been no wind to talk of until today. It started as soon as we left Daly Waters and continued until we reached our destination at Banka Banka Station.
 
It had an effect on fuel consumption with over 20 litres per 100 km.
 
Digs for the night was Banka Banka Station and we did the grey nomad thing getting in around 1230pm and luckily we did as we managed a grassed site in the shade.
 
Even though there is no power here, the hot showers are good.
 
We must have been spoilt last night with the entertainment as tonight’s Country and Western singer was not quite up to the same standard.
 
Diesel was $1.719 at the Hi-Way Inn at Daly Waters.
 
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Daly Waters Pub stopover …

We had intended to get up early, pack up the van and then go for one last soak. So much for that plan.
 
The alarm went off, snooze was hit and we then snoozed until 930. So it was pack up the van and hit the road around 1030.
 
That’s OK, there was only a couple of hours travelling today with camp for the night at the famous Daly Waters Pub.
 
Getting in early has its rewards with a shady powered site at the campgrounds with water. You do have to collect your grey water but can put it around the trees.
 
Dinners are done a little bit different here due to the popularity. You are booked into a sitting and being in early meant that we have the first sitting at 630pm. Sittings are then every half hour until 8pm.
 
It was a big night for entertainment while we waited for our meal.
 
First up was the Pitts Family Circus. They were a family of 5 acrobatic troupe with the youngest being 2 years old although they didn’t do too much with him but the other 2 kids were involved. They put on a good show but a couple of times you gasped with the kids.
 
Next was the old favourite, Country and Western singer Tom Maxwell. He was here last year as well. Mid way through his set we one the Barra Bingo and got our meal.
 
It was a good meal with Beef, Barra and salads.
 
Following on from Tom Maxwell was some more singers, this time from Nimbin NSW, “Lou Bradley and Phil“. They were also Country and Western with some comedy thrown in as well as some Banjo playing.
 
It was a good night overall and we were back to the van by 9pm.
 
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More soaking …

After a sleep-in, it was down for some more soaking at the thermal pool. It must be getting closer to school holidays as the number of kids is starting to outnumber the oldies.
 
Spoke with a few and most have taken their kids out of school early as holidays dont start for a week.
 
The afternoon session was a little bit better with the pool clearing around 5pm. By 6pm there was half a dozen of us in there to enjoy the nightly flight of the flying foxes and the near full moon rising.
 
It was getting cooler out but eventually we had to get out after 2 1/2 hours soaking.
 
Just for something different, we headed down to watch Nathan “Whippy” Griggs and his whip cracking show. That is now the 10th time I have seen the show.
 
This is our last night here and it is time to move on further south before heading east into Queensland.
 
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Springs not too Bitter …

Sunday in Mataranka is Market Day. It is not a large market but I was able to fill the car at the servo across the road while Jenny checked out the market.
 
I guess it didn’t break into our soaking time all that much but Jenny did get her dried mango.
 
It was then onto Bitter Springs. The workers had excelled themselves as the concrete paths were all finished so it was an easy walk to the entry point of the Springs.
 
For some reason, it wasn’t all that busy which allowed for peaceful float down the creek each time.
 
There was even wildlife to see each time with turtles sunning themselves, plenty of kingfishers grabbing insects from the water and even a water monitor on a tree root.
 
After 3 hours, we headed back to camp for lunch and a chat with some of our neighbours.
 
There was still daylight, so back down into the thermal pool for another couple of hours.
 
On dusk, the flying foxes were active darting around grabbing the mozzies and other insects.
 
I tried the satellite dish one more time and finally a signal. This meant that we could watch the Rugby State of Origin.
 
It would have been good for Queensland to tie the series but that was not to happen with NSW taking the series 2-0.
 
Diesel in Mataranka was $1.525 a litre after a 5c discount.
 
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