Sunday, August 28, 2016

Richmond - Outback Queensland

Richmond is situated on the Overlanders Way halfway between Mount Isa and Townsville. It lays on the banks of the Flinders River which is the longest river in Queensland. The only thing with that is that the river only runs in the wet season between December and March. The rest of the year there are only some permanent waterholes. As with a lot of Australia's small settlements Richmond was born out of a Gold Rush. But today it is not known for it's gold but instead it is known for its fossils. Richmond is part of the Dinosaur Trail triangle of Richmond, Hughenden and Winton. 110 million years ago the Richmond landscape was covered by an inland sea with a depth of 40 metres. Over the earth's evolution and receding of the waters the area has become a huge marine fossil find. Kronosaurus Korner is Australia's premier marine fossil museum and is certainly an unforgettable prehistoric adventure.
Kronosaurus Korner - Richmond 
Fossils of Ammonites
A Cooyoo fossil

An artist impression of the Cooyoo
The streamline body and powerful fins of the Cooyoo
suggest it was a fast moving active predator.

The amazing fossil of the Richmond Pliosaur

An artist impression of the Pliosaur. 
I could never do the discovery of this amazing fossil justice so I have included the photos of the discovery of the Richmond Pliosaur.

Although the museum is mostly comprised of marine creatures, there was one dinosaurs discovered.
Minmi lived approx. 100 million years ago
The majority of the finds have been found by locals on their properties, but 12kms out of town there are two fossil hunting sites and a number of fossils have been found by visitors to the area.
We headed out to have a look and I couldn't help myself and had a scratch around. I didn't make any major finds but I did find a rock with some clear Quartz in it and also a small piece with according to the expert at Kronosaurus Korner is a Belemnite Fossil. Belemnites were a group of small squid like cephalopods which are extinct today.  

There was quite a large area the public could search for fossils

There were also quite a few people with heads down and bums up

One of my little finds, a Belemnite fossil
 Anyone who needs convincing of what our Earth looked like 100 million years ago or if you have a child or grandchild that is into Dinosaurs this area is certainly a must visit.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Julia Creek

Julia Creek is another very small township in the McKinlay Shire. It has the main shops you might need and a pub, so I guess that's all taken care of. The main reason I wanted to visit here is because the Visitors Centre, known as 'At the Creek' has a display and feeding twice a day of the Fat Tailed Dunnart. The Julia Creek Dunnart is a tiny bright eyed insect eating marsupial only found in the Mitchell grass downs of North West Queensland. They would be mistakingly taken for a mouse but they are actually in the family of the Tasmanian Devil. They are pretty cute and extremely tiny.
One interesting fact I learnt was that the Dunnart store fat at the base of their tail when food is plentiful. This fat is then converted to energy when food is scarce in the colder months.
A Fat Tailed Dunnart
There's not much else to see in town but at night the towns water tower looks impressive. The 30 metre wine glass shaped water tower has the capacity to hold 454,000 litres of water and stands above the fourth bore that was sunk in Julia Creek. 

30 metre water tower
Another impressive sight is the metal sculpture named the Spirit of the Light Horse, a sculpture saluting McKinlay Shires servicemen and women.

Spirit of the Light Horse 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Crocodile Dundee Walkabout Hotel, McKinlay

As usual our last night in Mount Isa we went out for dinner. This time is was a visit to the Mount Isa Irish Club. The meal was pretty good but my main fascination was to why an Irish Club in Mount Isa would have a Melbourne tram inside the building, featuring as it's Tram Stop Cafe?? 

Mount Isa Mine at night

Tram Stop Cafe
Next morning it was off to McKinlay. McKinlay was named after the Australian explorer John McKinlay who passed through the area in 1862 during his epic travels from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria in search of the ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills. 

The local police station lock up
 - although it's not used as it doesn't comply with standards

Queensland's smallest library - used as the tour office in the movie

This building has had many uses included being a Pool Hall
We decided to have a couple of nights at the Walkabout Creek Hotel which was featured in the Crocodile Dundee movies starring Paul Hogan.  With a population of only 20 there is not much to see in this little village but there is a lot of history. The new owners of two years have done a lot to give the tourists a real Crocodile Dundee feel. Only recently they were contacted by the personal assistant of John Cornell "Strep" who in the past was Paul Hogans manager to see if the hotel would like all the artefacts from the sets from the pub scenes of the first two movies. Of course the pub owners jumped at the chance. John Cornell had kept all the paraphernalia in a storage unit for 30 years and had decided it was time for others to enjoy it.
Walkabout Creek Hotel

A replica of the vehicle they used in the movie

The actual bar, bottles, barrel, boar's head and swizzle sticks
 used in the first two Crocodile Dundee movies.
Then whilst talking to the pub owner he asked if we would like to jump in his car and go for a drive around this tiny in size but big in history village.  Of course we jumped at the chance. Prior to being featured in the movies the pub was called the Federal Hotel, but when the movies became so popular there was a name change. The pub was also originally down the what was then the main road but when it needed to be re stumped it was moved onto the now highway. From what I could tell it certainly does get a lot of visitors dropping in to checkout this Aussie Icon.

The once main street of  McKinlay
We also went for a drive up the road (80 kms) to another interesting pub,The Blue Heeler Pub. It's literally a pub in the middle of nowhere. But this pub has an interesting history as it is said to be where the famous Banjo Patterson wrote the iconic Australian song Waltzing Matilda.

Kynuna Blue Heeler Pub

The walls and ceiling of the main bar area re covered in names.
The earliest I could see was 1994
During our last night we had quite a lot of rain and we were greeted by a bit of flooding at our front door when we woke up. Oh well it's not the first time I've been flooded as I was a lot back in my tent camping days.
Here come the clouds
Our little lake we woke to. 

It's very flat flat land out here, and a lot of sky
More interesting landscape - well the clouds are at least

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.


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