Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lets look around Mount Isa

Last night we were treated to yet another beautiful sunset
Ask anyone what they know about Mount Isa and the main answer you would get would be mining. Mount Isa Mines is the main employer in the town. Mount Isa Mines is one of the biggest mining operations in Australia. The main material mined is copper and zinc, with the largest zinc resourse base and the biggest underground network of mines in the world. At the moment there is a bit of a slump in the mining industry due to the stock market, but prior to the downturn they had almost 4,000 employees.
No matter where you are in the city you can see the mine
I have visited a number of mining towns around Australia but Mount Isa has a different feel about it. It's not just mining there is a lot of other infrastructure in the city. Today we decided to do a bit of touristy stuff. One attraction you can do it an underground mine tour at Hard Times Mine. It's supposed to be really good but seeing Shane has worked in an underground mine and I have toured in a working mine we decided we didn't need to do the tour. The manager of the caravan park told us about a lookout that not many people know about so that was our first destination, and we certainly weren't disappointed. The 360o views were amazing.
360o views,with spinifex everywhere
Then it was off to the Underground Hospital, Tent House and Beth Anderson Museum. The Underground Hospital was built in 1942 following the bombing of Darwin in February of that year, resulting in heavy casualties. It was feared Mount Isa could be their next target due to the location of such a big mine. With this event Mount Isa Hospital Board decided to excavate the hills behind the existing hospital for an underground hospital to care for patients and handle casualties in the event of a raid. The hospital was finished in a manner of weeks with surgical, medical and maternity facilities. Luckily the raids  never eventuated but it did provide a place for a cool and quiet sleep for nurses on night shift. After many years of disrepair in 1977 the underground hospital was rediscovered and is now a very popular place for us tourists to visit.
One of the entries to the Underground Hospital
Patients beds

Babies cots lined up
 Our adventure ended with a visit and a picnic at Lake Moondarra which is Mount Isa's main water supply. It is a bit weird driving up and seeing such a large body of water out here in the outback. The lake was dammed back in 1950's as there was a great demand for a water supply. The lake now is also a place for many water activities and quiet a pretty place to sit and enjoy.
Lake Moondarra
Lake Moondarra reflections
While eating lunch we had a visit from 3 very friendly peacocks. My they make a lot of noise, just like a trumpet.
Our lunch time visitors

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo

Here I sit on the third day of Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo. This rodeo is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and runs for 3 days and we have been here for all 3 days. I have been to a rodeo before when I was in Broome but that one was tiny compared to Mount Isa's Rodeo. Our 3 day pass cost $90 per person and gave us access to the Rodeo, the circus, the boxing tent and sideshow alley but we have spent the majority of our time sitting and watching the rodeo. Prior to seeing a real rodeo I was always concerned about the treatment of the animals. But from what I've seen they are treated extremely well and the Cowboys have come off second best as there have been a few broken bones and injuries. Although I must add that one horse did go down probably with a broken leg and I am presuming the vet that was on hand within seconds may have euthanized him. It was very sad to see but the cowboys handled it very well for the crowd and you could see that they were visibly upset.

Ouch!!

The Protection Clowns did an amazing job protecting the cowboys from the bulls,
sometimes putting their owns lives in danger

There certainly was no shortage of cowboys

This is one angry bull and one brave cowboy
Over the weekend there have been some great events one that the crowd loved was the Poddy Ride, which is young calves trying to buck of very young children. I say children as there was one little girl riding. But the winner was a young 7 year old Aboriginal boy. He was so adorable and really played up to the crowd. When he was interviewed and asked what he wanted to be when grew up and his answer was "a cowboy". It was so super cute. 

The winner (hat on) of the Poddy Calf ride was pretty adorable.
 The other little cowboy was runner up and broke his arm 

Get off my back!!!



The Pick Up Riders (think that's what they were called)
certainly were something to witness.
Their connection with the horses was nothing short of totally amazing 



Well I'm now back sitting in Myrtle (camper) after a fabulous 3 days, but I must say I am totally exhausted. After a nice hot shower to wash all the dust off I am just about ready to tuck myself into bed after having a fantastic three days.









History, Gorges, Fish and more in Queensland

At last I have reached a location where I have either electricity or enough Internet coverage to update my blog. After we left Croydon we headed west for the fishing village of Karumba. Karumba is locally known as the Barramundi and Prawn capital of Australia. Now anyone who knows me knows how much I love seafood. We went fishing a couple of times and caught a couple of Spotted Grunters which were very tasty. Then just to make sure we had enough seafood we went to a seafood buffet at the Karumba Sunset Tavern - oh my goodness it was amazing.




There was one down side at this location, I killed a kangaroo. The poor thing just jumped straight out into the car and I didn't he it until it was too late. I felt very sad. A couple of interesting Karumba facts are that it was a base for the famous Empire Flying Boats on their trek from Australia and England. Also the skies in this area are always filled Whistling Kites and the magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle, which are the largest in the world with a wingspan of 2.5 metres.
There certainly were some beautiful sunsets in Karumba
It was amazing how the rocks along the beach were made up of millions of seashells
 There isn't really a lot to do in Karumba but the caravan park we stayed at - Karumba Point Tourist Park provided lots of entertainment for the parks guests. Saturday nights they even put on fried fresh fish for everyone.All we had to bring along was our chair and some salad on our plate. I would say there would have easily been 100 people eating. Leaving Karumba we headed south, our first stop was in Normanton. There was a tiny bit more history in Normanton but that's about all.
Our stop for the night was at Burke and Wills Roadhouse. Unfortunately on our days drive we had another rock hit the windscreen. So now we had a star chunk and a long crack in the windscreen.
Burke and Wills roadhouse was pretty basic, but it was only for the night.
Out in the middle of nowhere and we come across this guy riding a pushbike
We decided to spend the next couple of nights camped on the banks of the Gregory River. The township of Gregory was really only a pub and the smallest general store I have ever seen. Even though we had no electricity, now water and really nothing to do. But I just loved this location being able to sit by a fire each night and falling asleep listening to the water flowing.
What a view from our front door

This is certainly the smallest General Store I've ever seen
Adels Grove was our next stop, which is located just outside Lawn Hill National Park. Driving towards Adels Grove the countryside was extremely dry and quite barren and then we hit Adels Grove which was like an oasis. This was also a location with no electricity, no water but they were not missed at all. While at Adels Grove we drove into Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill National Park) to do a cruise up through the Gorge. It was a beautiful quiet peaceful place to spend some time.
Lawn Hill Gorge 


Mother Nature allows trees to grow anywhere


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Croydon, Queensland

Croydon is now a small township in the middle of the base of the Gulf of Carpentaria but in its heyday it was the fourth largest town in Queensland and was a bustling town surrounded by gold hysteria. These days it is a town like so many other outback towns trying to survive the drought and modern times. But fortunately a number of heritage buildings have been kept and this gives travellers a glimpse of what Croydon was like in the 1800's.

The Club Hotel, built in 1887 is now the last of 36 hotels that were here in the gold rush days. 

The Croydon General Store is the longest continually running store in Queensland and also claims to be the oldest store in Australia. It was built in 1887 and now houses a lot of local memorabilia and artifices as well as groceries, tyres, fuel and souvenirs. 

The Croydon Court House was needed after the initial gold strike in 1885. The court house played an important role in the life of early Croydon. This is where disputes over mining claims were heard. Today it has been set up so visitors can sit in the gallery and listen to a recreation of poor Betty getting two months for swearing and she left for goal with a Chinese boss who also got two months for supplying his workers with opium. 


The Iguana Consols Mining Museum is an area containing various mining equipment now rusting but still very impressive. There is also the shell of the original Bing Chew family home. I love the way they built the low veranda to keep the house cooler. 



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mt Surprise and Undara Lava Tubes

Mt Surprise is a tiny community of around 65 people situated on the Savannah Way, which is the road that runs from Cairns on the east coast of Australia to Broome on the west coast. This part of the world is most famous for the Undara Lava Tubes. I have wanted to visit the tubes since I visited the  Atherton Tablelands five years ago, but I didn't have enough time to drive here. But I am finally here and today was my time to venture out. The half day tour started by heading into the Undara Volcanic National Park and our 2.5 kilometre walk up and around the rim of Kalkani Crater. The walk was a bit steep but the group took it nice and slowly stopping along the way to learn about the surrounds such as the three other volcanoes in the area. Kalkani Crater was created some 200,000 to 400,000 years ago.

The view was the crater rim was pretty spectacular
After returning to the base and having some refreshments it was back in the bus to head to the Wind Tunnel Complex, which is a system of intertwining lava tubes. Here we were to explore the three different sections of the Undara Lava Tubes. Here we made our decent down some rocky terrain, luckily we had a rope to hold onto. This first chamber was the smaller with a height of around eight metres.

The moss on the rocks looked amazing but was a bit slippery to walk on
After a short walk through the bush we came to the larger tube which consisted of two tunnels and had a height of around eleven metres. Once again it was a bit of a climb both in and out with the help of the rope. I was pretty pleased, I handled the rocks a lot better than I thought I would. Thank goodness it's only my right arm that won't work properly and my legs are still in good working order. There was one guy who had had previously had two knee reconstructions and he struggled a bit.

Heading down into our first lava tube
The ceilings and walls in parts of the tubes were some pretty amazing designs and colours. We were all given torches to help us look around the tubes as they were pretty dark when we moved away from the rocky opening.

Inside the larger lava tube was amazing

Without our torches we would never have seen the spectacular colours


Plus we would have fell over as parts of the floor were a bit bumpy


Looking towards our exit route

Looking back into the tube as I climbed out
This is definitely one location I would recommend someone visit. I think the only other location lava tubes such as these can be visited are in Hawaii. Tomorrow is going to be a lazy day before we head further west on Saturday.






Ravenshoe

Well our visit to the beautiful Atherton Tablelands ends tomorrow. We have stayed at Ravenshoe Railway grounds for almost a week and have loved it, even though it has rained most of the time. This time of the year is normally the dry season up in these parts but for some reason Mother Nature has put the wet on for all of us. Ravenshoe is claimed to be the highest town in Queensland and the Ravenshoe Hotel claims to be the Highest Pub in Queensland but while in Herberton the other day a local said that their pub was the highest. Mmmm a bit of country town rivalry it seems.

Ravenshoe Hotel 
Just west of Ravenshoe are the Millstream Falls which are said to be the widest falls in Australia. I would say that measurement would be when the falls are flowing in the wet season during summer.
Millstream Falls
 Today we drove some 35km to Innot Hot Springs. You can soak in the creek for free, but I have tried that and the water was so hot I couldn't even put my toe into it. So today we decided to pay the $10 entry fee to the caravan park and indulge in the 6 pools. Although I only got into five as one felt just like the creek did - hot! As I am still having some very annoying issues with my frozen shoulder it was nice to have a soak in the hot mineral water.


This pool was about 28c

So relaxing