Sapphire to Charters Towers
Jun 2, 2013
|1st June, 2013
We left Sapphire this morning in nice sunshine and are heading for Charters Towers via Rubyvale, and Belyando Crossing.
Sapphire and Rubyvale are very similar to other mining towns, gem shops every few hundred yards, old mining equipment left to rust in the paddocks and shanty type houses. There are a few nice houses here and there but it isn’t somewhere I would like to live. Good to go and see how things are done there though, it’s quite interesting.
Passing through Clermont I thought to myself, this is very much like a “company town”.
Some kilometres outside Clermont is one of the biggest coal mines I have seen, well the chitter heaps are huge and it’s anybody’s guess how big the mining site actually is as you can’t see it from the road.
The mine is Clermont Coal Mine and is owned by Rio Tinto and they usually set up homes and infrastructure for their miners, particularly in the outlying areas as it’s too far to compute from any major centre.
Along the road is the coal belt which runs for miles and miles and goes to the rail head and washery out in the back of beyond. It must have been cheaper to run the coal to the train rather than put in a rail line to the mine.
Also there are acres and acres of sorghum growing. It is very healthy with very large full brown heads and it’s quite pretty really with all the green and brown of the crops and the darker brown of the soil that has been ploughed for the next crop.
Belyando Crossing is the only place to camp up in this neck of the woods. $30 per night power only, no water. We opted for the $15 a night, no power no water and figured that was exorbitant as well but there is no other choice.
We set up camp and went to the shop for lunch.
On the walk to the shop there was a brown snake, OK, it was only little but HEY….IT WAS A SNAKE!!! And where there are little ones there are BIG ones.
I don’t know who got the biggest scare Carolyn or me; we are both petrified of snakes!!
I had the worst chicken burger I have ever had in my life, you couldn’t even cut it with a serrated edged knife.
The diesel was $1.76 a litre and seeing as how there are no outlets for 200ks in any direction you can’t do much.
2ND JUNE, 2013
There a lot of apostle birds here and they must have thought Carolyn had some feed for them as they came in a large flock and came right up to us.
We left Belyando and I won’t miss it. The smell of the septic was not at all nice and seemed to be a lot stronger during the night.
It was quite a pleasant drive into Charters Towers.
We had already booked for three nights at the Dalrymple Caravan Park. We have stayed here before about 4 years ago and it’s a nice clean little park.
We booked in, there are new owners now, and found our sites and would you believe I directed Rob beside the slab ON THE FIRST GO. Go me YEH!!
We went for a drive up the street thinking to have something for lunch and Greg noticed that the Irish Pub had a buffet for $10 so we decided that would be the go. It was very nice with roast beef, mango chicken, roast potato and pumpkin and a mixed veggie mornay.
They have happy hour in the camp kitchen at 4.30 and the campfire is alight and the music is playing. Good music too, none of this doof doof stuff either.
We had a chat to a few people and then came back to the van for the rest of the night.
We still didn’t feel like eating after such a big lunch but I had to cook the brains that I had taken out of the freezer earlier as you can’t refreeze stuff like that.
2nd June, 2013 – MONDAY
Chore time today, washing and cleaning.
There was such a line up in the laundry that we decided to go into town first and do the washing later.
We finally found the Akubra hats that we wanted, our original ones were stolen out of the car down at Moruya the last time we were there, and they were reduced so we were pretty happy about that. Not going to leave these ones in the car.
We went and had breakfast at the Outback Shack, Rob had his usual savour mince and I had eggs benedict and they were really nice. About time I got something that turned out to be and tasted as it should. Rob said his mince was pretty good as well.
We went shopping to restock the cupboards and the freezer and found the meat at the butcher to be a very reasonable price and you certainly couldn’t complain about the service, both the young girls were very pleasant and even packed the meat how I wanted it……at no extra cost.
Came back to the van and did the laundry and finished cleaning up. It won’t take very long for the sheets and clothes to dry today…..26 degrees with a nice little breeze.
Now for today’s history lesson:
Gold was first discovered in Charters Towers, after a thunderstorm, in 1871 by Hugh Mossman, George Clarisse, John Frazer and the party’s aboriginal houseboy Jupiter.
There were a large number of miners hoping to strike it rich with mines being dug under Tower Hill from 1872 to 1924 and there are approximately 30 vertical shafts under Tower Hill to this day.
There was a 55 meter chimney called Brown’s Monument on tower hill but it was demolished in 1942 because it was a navigation hazard to the military.
Charters Towers played a critical role in the defence of Australia in 1941 to 1945 and within 70 kilometres of the city there was 6 airforce bases, and inland fuel depot, replenishing centre, communications stations, search light and anti-aircraft batteries, 5 service hospitals, military workshops, detention barracks and the Sellheim Army Camp.
More than 15,000 American servicemen were based in the area along with Australian army and airforce personnel. RAAF No. 3 Replenishing Centre was established in September 1942 and 30 bunkers were constructed at Tower Hill and arranged in four groups to store munitions.
The Bunkers were almost completely camouflaged by dirt from the mullock heaps from the surrounding mine workings
Here endeth the history lesson. LOL
There is a picture up on tower hill of the main street early last century so I took one today so you can see the old and the new.
Charters Towers was also where they developed the Droughtmaster cattle and they are uniquely Australian and have, as their name suggests, resilience during the times of drought. They are a very large breed of animal and very well-muscled.
Charters Towers also boast some Country Singers but at this stage I haven’t been able to find out who they are.
The town has some lovely parks and along the middle of the highway out to the van park are the most magnificent poinsettia with white roses intermingled. Being where they are and the nice lush green grass sure does make for a nice aspect when you are driving into the Town.