• Day73

    Charters Towers up to Dalby 12/7-20/7

    July 31, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    CHARTERS TOWERS TO DALBY 12/7/18 to 20/7/18
    While in Charters Towers we enjoyed walking around the city admiring the lovely historic buildings as well as re-stocking at the supermarket and enjoying lunch in the historic Stock Exchange Arcade. Frank also arranged to have the Pajero serviced while we were there. We drove about 10 km out of town to see the picturesque weir on the Burdekin River which was built to provide a permanent water supply for Charters Towers. We had a very enjoyable three day stay and then headed off on the long drive south to Clermont along the sealed Gregory Developmental Road which was quite rough in places. The countryside was flat and dry with very little grass beneath the eucalypts and the road was straight to the horizon in places. We stopped for lunch at Belyando Crossing (not a town but a general store/service station in the middle of nowhere) and continued our journey. As we drew near Clermont we passed mountains of spoil from the huge open-cut coal mines near the town. After our overnight stay at the caravan park we looked around the town with its wide empty main street – being a Sunday no shops were open. At one end of the main street was a large, well-maintained corner hotel and opposite were four old rail wagons with murals painted on the side depicting the history of Clermont. We also drove to the information centre where there was a huge piece of equipment from the local coal mine, called a drag line bucket which was so big our caravan could have fitted inside it.
    We drove on to Emerald and checked in to the caravan park and enjoyed happy hour entertainment around the fire pit in the evening. During our three day stay we walked around the botanic gardens beside the Nogoa River, the town centre, admiring the restored old railway station and lovely tree-lined main street with its striking sculpture, and neat parkland with a giant easel and painting in the centre. We also spent a day visiting the gemfield towns of Sapphire, Rubyvale and Anakie. The area has lots of piles of dirt which has been dug from small mines. Rubyvale is the larger town and has a few houses, a hotel and some gem shops where gems or jewellery can be bought. I learned that sapphires are not only blue but also red (these are rubys), green, yellow and multi-coloured (called parti-coloured). The golden yellow and parti-coloured gems are the most stunning and highly valued. There is a strong German influence in Rubyvale and all the towns have old rusty mining equipment lying around and lots of character. After looking through a couple of gem shops (but not making any purchases – damn!) we returned to Emerald.
    Continuing south on the Gregory Highway we visited Lake Maraboon where we overlooked the huge lake from a lookout near the Fairbairn Dam wall. The effect of the drought was apparent as the lake level was low and no water was flowing over the spillway. We drove on towards Springsure and the landscape became more hilly as we neared the rocky Minerva Range. The rocky outcrops of the mountain range are a backdrop to the neat little township of Springsure. We drove further through the town of Rolleston and as we continued past dry farmland we encountered several huge herds of cattle with drovers moving slowly along beside the road and railway line in the opposite direction. The yellow, dry grass is obviously nutritious enough for the cattle to be fattened on their journey to the saleyards somewhere north. Each herd had a water tanker and troughs to supply water. We hadn’t seen herds of this size on the move before. We checked into the caravan park in Moura after crossing the wide Dawson River on the edge of town. The next day we had a look around the small town which has a large grain silo next to the disused rail line and little old station. The silo had a beautiful mural depicting a budgerigar and some cotton plants painted on the side. We headed east to the town of Banana (yes, and it’s in Banana Shire) and then turned south down the Leichhardt Highway through more farming countryside. As we approached Miles we crossed a mountain range with rocky outcrops and headed off road along a very rough dirt track to a lookout at a spot called Isla Gorge where had lunch and enjoyed views of the forested and rocky mountains and gorge. Continuing, we crossed the dry Dogwood Creek on the edge of Miles and stopped at the caravan park which supplies towels, bath mats and toiletries in their en-suite style amenities block! That was a first!!
    Before leaving Miles next day we visited the Historical Village Museum where we spent a couple of hours looking through the old buildings in a streetscape setting filled with lots of memorabilia. We then headed south-east along the Warrego Highway passing enormous man-made mountains of spoil from the huge open-cut coal mines nearby. We arrived in Dalby caravan park mid-afternoon and spent a couple of days in the town which has a large business centre.
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    christine Perram

    Have been eagerly looking forward to this instalment. The train station looks very grand for the outback.