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Saturday 9th September:
Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Great way to spend your birthday being a nomad.
Left Charters Towers for Hughenden some 250km away. Arrived at 12:30pm ish and was able to check in and unload the car. A wander downtown and we found some very yummy Chinese for lunch.
Then back in the car and off to Porcupine Gorge NP (150km round trip). The gorge is in the middle of nowhere north of Hughenden and it is very spectacular. We hiked down to the bottom and back up (2.5km). Luckily we had a bit of a breeze with some cloud to keep us cool ish. We will sleep well tonight with Magnum ice creams as reward for our “big” walk.
Sunday 10th September:
As we only had a 120km drive to Richmond today we spent some time wandering round the streets of Hughenden. Visited the museum, as this area is renowned for its fossils. They have a very good collection there.
We managed to get some free WiFi outside the Information centre sitting on the footpath. All 100MB of it. Was able to check email and facebook and that was it.
Arrive in Richmond at 12:30pm but the cabin wasn’t ready yet (It is 2:00pm check in). So we had lunch at the local roadhouse. Mmmmmm very average meal.
Back to the cabin and all checked in for a relaxing afternoon with a cup of tea and a lay down. Oooohhh and we have usable WiFi in Richmond.
Monday 11th September:
Short run this morning from Richmond to Julia Creek (150km). Before we left Richmond we visited the museum and all the Bougainvilleas in flower on the main street.
Arrived in Julia Creek at 12:30pm and got into our very nice cabin straight away. Had a light lunch in the cabin as we are attending the big bush dinner put on by the local community at the caravan park tonight.
As it was pretty hot we rested up in the air-conditioning for the afternoon. At 6:00pm we made our way to the camp kitchen area for the big bush dinner.
$15:00 each bought you a ticket to dinner with mains (Very nice Lasagna) and desert (A yummy truffle thing). They also had an entertainer who sang a few songs and told a few jokes. All very entertaining for the 80 ish people who turned up (From the paid caravan park and the free camp across town).
Tuesday 12th September:
Another short run from Julia Creek to Cloncurry (145km). But before leaving Julia Creek we visited the visitor information centre to see the feeding of the Fat Tailed Dunnart.
The Dumnarts are a mouse like creature that only lives round Julia Creek and were thought to be extinct. A small colony was found and the locals set about to ensure that they survive.
A fully fenced reserve has been built and a number of captive breed / wild Dunnarts have been released. The Dunnarts are surviving but only just. At the visitor centre they keep two males who are rotated round once a day for a feeding schedule. They are very cute and it would indeed be very sad to lose them.
Arrived in Cloncurry and unpacked into our very nice cabin for the night. Off downtown to the Leichardt Hotel for lunch. We ordered 6 oyster Kilpatrick and a 400gm steak to share and luckily we did, as it was huge.
Then visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) museum. The RFDS originated in Cloncurry by John Flynn (took him 10 years). The first RFDS plane was actually a Qantas leased aircraft and the first flight took off on May 17th 1928 from Cloncurry. The RFDS then went on to become a nationwide service.
One way these remote communities could help themselves while waiting for the RFDS was to utilize the RFDS medical kit. It was quite extensive and every item was labeled with a number. When somebody was crook you would call the RFDS on the radio and the doctor would instruct you how to treat the patient by telling you what numbered product to use. Very efficient for people with zero medical experience.
A quick visit to the Information Centre museum to see the gemstone collection consisting of specimens from Australia and overseas.
Wednesday 12th September:
Another short run from Cloncurry to Mount Isa (145km). Arrived before midday so off to the information centre to look at tours and points of interest in the Mount. We booked two tours. One day tour and one evening tour.
Checked in at 1:00pm and settled under the aircon for the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon we did a drive round Mount Isa and checked out the lookout.
Thursday 13th September:
First tour of the day was round Mount Isa and the edge of the mine. Philip our guide was full of knowledge and filled us in on all the history as we toured the Mount.
Second tour was The Hard Times Mine tour. This is an actual old working mine that was built by the locals and miners from the mine to replicate an older working mine complete with working equipment.
Earl our guide, worked in the mines for 34 years so was excellent in telling us all the history and stories of mine mishaps. We even get to use the drilling rig at a shaft face. Sadly no pictures were allowed in the mine but it was an excellent tour.
We treated ourselves to dinner at the Isa Hotel for the best steak in town. It is our 12-year anniversary (On the 16th actually) of being together. The steak was awesome. Finished the night with Magnum ice cream.
Friday 14th September:
Off this morning to visit the underground hospital. In 1942 after the Darwin hospital was bombed it was thought that Mount Isa could be a prime target for the Japanese. So with the help of the Mount Isa miners an underground hospital was built.
The facility was never used in danger. Drills were constantly run to evacuate the patients to the underground. The most use it did receive was by the doctors and nurses coming off night shift who would bunk down underground, as it was dark and cool.
After the war the facility fell into disrepair but in 1997 a committee was formed to restore the hospital. Once again volunteers from the local and mining community came together and restored the underground hospital.
Next stop was The School of the Air. The first school of the air was founded in Cloncurry in 1960. In 1964 it was moved to Mount Isa where it remains to this day. There are now seven schools of the air in Queensland.
They have approximately 170 children from 110 families living in an area, which extends from the NT border in the west to Richmond in the east, Burketown in the north and Winton in the south.
Children participating are from prep through to year 10. Children participating in distance education receive printed curriculum papers supplemented by a daily phone lesson to participate in a class and to access teacher help. Web based teaching is slowly creeping in as communication improves in outback regions.
Finished off the day with a Lake Moondarra Sunset tour. Guy and I were the only guests so feeling very pampered. Philip and Phil were our guides and who just happen to be our guides on the Mount Isa day tour. The lake is 15km out of town and is actually a dam that supplies Mount Isa.
Awesome sunset as we had cheese, fruit and the odd drink or two.
Life is good.
Trevor & Guy