|5th August, 2013
We left Mt. Surprise this morning in clear sky and sunny day and we are heading for Georgetown.
There are many one lane bridges out this way and this was the first one where we had to stop and give way to a truck. Don’t think I would have liked to call his bluff; he was much bigger than us.
The scenery is changing yet again, it is becoming a lot drier and the kapok trees are out in flower.
There are no trees now, well not as we know them. There would be hardly any at all that are over 7 feet high.
The Black Cockatoos are becoming more numerous as well. They have such a mournful cry.
When people say “the outback” the first image that comes to mind is “flat and dry”. Well, the dry part is right but it’s not as flat as you would imagine.
We are now going down a hill where the trucks have to use low gear so it isn’t a “little” hill.
We arrived in Georgetown where in 1869 there were 13 hotels, 4 stores, 4 butcher shops and several hundred miners, mostly Europeans and some Chinese. Cobb and Co also did a run to Georgetown from the Coast. This would have been a long, dusty and bumpy ride I’m sure.
Georgetown is recognised as the centre of the Ethridge Goldfields and is located among some of the best gem fields in Queensland. The area was once known as the “poorman’s goldfield” because gold nuggets could be just picked up off the ground without the expensive equipment usually needed to either mine or pan for gold.
It is also known for its semi-precious gemstones such as Topaz, Quartz, Spinel, Garnet, Aquamarine and Sapphires.
We paid a visit to the TerrEstrial, the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection which has an incredible array of over 4,500 minerals, gemstones and fossils. This collection consisted mainly of Australian specimens but also some from overseas.
For one man to devote his lifetime, since the age of 12, to amassing this display it is no wonder that he has received many awards from various groups around the world.
Leaving Georgetown we saw our first flock of Budgies, hundreds of them all flying in formation.
We travelled on to a place called Cumberland Chimney to make camp for the night.
The Chimney is all that is left of a gold crushing plant built by the Cornish Masons. The area was once a thriving little village with shops, hotels, churches and a school. With the drying up of the available gold the village died a natural death.
The lagoon that is at the Chimney teems with wildlife, waterlilies and some reptiles. The original dam wall is still there and holds the water back to form the lagoon.
6th August, 2013
We woke to a beautiful clear morning and we are heading for Croydon.
Croydon is situated in the heart of the Gulf Savannah country and has a gold heritage much like most of the towns in this area.
The Gulf lander train also overnights it Croydon on its run down from Normanton. Unfortunately today wasn’t the day for it to be in.
We stopped at the visitor information centre where we watched a film of the town and then went out the back to the gardens where they have two original houses and some lovely gardens and statues of animals made from scrap.
We did the heritage walk where some of the buildings date back to 1887, had morning tea and then headed for north once more.
For your epicurean pleasure today’s menu consists of:
Kangaroo Tail soup or medallions of Kangaroo with wild mushrooms and gum leaf dressing.
Wallaby Fricassee with mashed yams or
Roast Pig and wild apple sauce or
Wild Cat casserole.
Dingo Surprise or Piglet Parfait.
All if today’s delightful meals come with the compliments of THE ROAD KILL PANTRY CO-OP.
Seriously, the amount of road kill and the eagles and kites feasting on them has to be seen to be believed.
We camped at Leichardt’s Lagoon tonight but there will be no fishing or kayaking for Rob.
Upon arrival the caretaker stipulates that there are to be absolutely NO WATER ACTIVITIES and you even have to sign a waiver to say that you won’t hold the owners of the property for any injury or death associated with your stay.
There are, according to the signs, crocodiles and poisonous snakes not to mention other nasties I’m sure.
We will spend two nights here and apart from the lack of water activities it is a nice place just to sit back and watch the pelicans, ducks, geese, black swans and brolgas and generally relax.
The herd of Droughtmaster cattle come down to take a drink and the fish jump and for once we are camped beside water and I haven’t had one bite.
8th August, 2013.
We didn’t see any crocodile during our stay at the lagoon and today we are heading for Karumba Point some 170ks west and situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
We just had our first fatality of the trip……….a little Kangaroo who couldn’t make up his mind which way to go and then decided he wanted to be behind us not in front of us.
You can tell when things are heating up when you can see mirages on the road ahead. Hope it doesn’t get too hot though.
The sign says “WELCOME TO CARPENTARIA” so I guess that means that we are now in THE GULF.
We didn’t stop in Normanton as we thought to give this very historic town a thorough going through on our way back down next week. There is far too much to see there than just an hour would facilitate.
We arrived in Karumba Point and booked into the Sunset Caravan Park. This will be home for the next seven days.
There was a lovely breeze blowing and I sure do hope it doesn’t peter out as that will be my saving grace with regards to sand flies. Evidently this area is sandfly heaven.
Karumba is at the mouth of the Norman River and is the centre of the Gulf’s prawning and barramundi industries.
The mudflats and wetlands and meandering saltwater tidal estuaries that surround Karumba are the natural habitat of the saltwater crocodiles and also the home of the pelican, brolga and black swan.
Karumba is the only beach in the Gulf Savannah serviced by a sealed road which has access most of the year except sometimes in the wet season when it floods.
The port of Karumba was originally a refuelling and repair stop for the Empire Flying Boats and also supported a WWII Catalina Flying Boat Base for the RAAF.
Rob did a few stop overs here early in his RAAF career when all there was here was the tavern, which is still here today.
After we set up and had a cuppa we took a drive into Karumba itself.
I don’t know what I expected really but it was I would think a bit more than what is here.
There are the basics, supermarket (a little one), butcher, hairdresser, medical clinic and not a lot more.
There are of course outlets for fresh Barramundi and at $20 per kilo not too bad. Also live mud crabs and other species of fish as well.
There are a couple of boat hire places but most of the touristy type things seem to be out at Karumba Point where we are staying.
The Century Mine which is locates some 304 Kilometres away at Lawn Hill have an underground pipeline to the Karumba Port and dewatering facility. From here the Century’s MV Wunma transfers the concentrate to export ships anchored offshore in the Gulf of Carpentaria. We actually saw this ship on its way back into port this afternoon.
The Century Mine produces Zinc and Lead concentrate and also silver.
I think the most that will be happening over the next week will be Rob fishing and me trying to keep cool and out of the reach of the sand flies and midges.