Friday, 18 September 2009

Crossing Queensland to the Eastcoast

It sure gets hot in this part of Australia, even though its only Springtime. To keep myself cool I have adopted the approach, get up early, leave early to get over the driving before the heat of the day really sets in.

Only about 190km from Camooweal to the Copper City of Mount Isa, where I arrive before 10 am. I urgently need to buy some food items at the Supermarket before I book myself in at my 'old' camp ground. My next-door neighbors are four guys from Ballarat in Victoria, just pre-retirement age, each of them on a big Motorbike, one Harley Davidson, one British Triumph (2.2litre engine, about 520kg in weight) one Honda Gullwing and a Canadian 3-wheeler, 2 in front and one at the back. (They passed me on the highway about halfway back toward Camooweal.

Each of the boys had a tent to sleep in, all of them pulling a small trailer each with all their gear. We spent the evening talking. They left early the following morning while I stayed another night for an early-morning start.

The next bigger town on my way east is Cloncurry, yet another town that was founded on the back of the Gold rush in the late 1880s. The road from Mt. Isa to Cloncurry is quite interesting as the road crosses mountainous terrain, winding its way up and down, all the way to Cloncurry.

Hill country before Cloncurry

I continue on till I get to the Town of Richmond, Dinosaurus country. I visit the local display hall where some of the more interesting finds are on display, among other things, the most complete fossil of a Pliosaur and a fossil of an armored Dinosaur complete with fossilised skin. No, whats on display there are not replicas but the actual fossils.

A complete Fossil about 110 Million years old

The gentleman doing the guided tour through the display is Robert Ievers, 'Robbo' for short. Robbo actually owns and runs a cattle homestead and has been thoroughly enthused to finding more of these well preserved fossils. (He is also the owner since all these finds were on his property.)

He explains that the Pliosaur was discovered by him while mustering cattle, the tip of the head sticking out of the sand of the river bank, in fact, he tells, that his brother gave it a good kick which broke off a chunk but lead to them taking a closer look and discovering there was more. A team from the University came to dig it out, the most complete vertebrate fossil ever found in Australia.

Richmond is a tidy town, lots of friendly and motivated people that live there. Obviously, tourism is a source of income Richmond is also catering to, when the town established a man-made lake for swimming and other water sports.

Lake Fred Tritton at Richmond before sunrise

The road from Cloncurry to Charters Towers is flat savannah, golden grass to the horizon. Cattle country with the occasional bunch of horses.

Horses in cattle country, some where near Charters Towers

Even though I enjoy the wide open spaces, it also tends to get monotonous, hour after hour of unchanging views. I assume that a lot of this flat country gets flooded during the 'wet' (rainy season) as there are countless floodways forever crossing the highway. The state of the road is also quite bad with many dips in the road that only become visible at close range,so not enough time to slow down sufficiently. Result, quite often the feeling of total lift-off with subsequent bounce that stretches my vehicle suspension to the limit.

I take myself all around this Gold Mining Town on my bike. A lot of Gold has been recovered from there, the Mine still being operated today, albeit with modern methods and technology.

When I leave this morning, its on to Townsville, a bustling city in the Tropics. As I drive east, mountain ranges appear, the vegetation appears much more colourful, indicating a larger amount of rainfall as I get closer to the east coast. The trees that grow on the mountain ranges are quite green, growing right to the very top of hills which look a lot like the backs of giant dragons. It reminds me a lot of Hanalea valley on Kauaii where I once spent some time on my travels.

When I arrive at Townsville I visit the wife of an old mate George, who passed away a short time ago, to say hello and catch up. By 11am I am on my way again to drive to Ingham, about 100km north of Townsville.

The soft light at Ingham, the smoke is from the sugar mill.

It is mild and balmy, a breeze coming in from the Ocean, its partly cloudy, the light soft, not like the glare I have experienced in the interior of Australia.

No comments: