Fort William

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4 travelers at this place

  • Day40


    June 28, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    The annual Cloncurry show happened to be on the day we arrived so we wandered into town and spent a couple of hours looking around. All the shops in town were closed for the show even though it was a Friday. After checking out the Cloncurry bakery for their famous pies, we headed off through more hilly, red soil countryside along the Barkley Highway. At one point we almost hit a huge wedge-tailed eagle which was feeding on road kill. They are very slow to take to the air and are very slow to decide it’s time to make a move so Frank has started to sound our horn when we’re approaching. As we drove nearer to Mount Isa the terrain became more rugged with rocky outcrops at the top of the mountains which had been eroded over time. We stopped to see the site of the Mary Kathleeen town which was abandoned when the huge open cut uranium mine closed down. There is nothing more than the concrete slabs where buildings once stood and lots of decaying sealed roadways. We didn’t venture further to see the old mine as we were reluctant to tow the van into the area so we continued to Mount Isa where we stopped at the caravan park on the main road into the city. That was probably a mistake as the huge road trains thundered past until about 11 pm and our site happened to be very close to the road. We had booked three nights!! Nevertheless we enjoyed our stay, going on a Hard Times Mine underground tour with a guide who had worked in the mine for 40 odd years and who gave us lots of information about mining in the past. First we donned our orange disposable overalls, a hard hat (with light) and gumboots and were taken down into the mine in an alimak cage. The mine was purpose built for tourism but contained all the old equipment and machinery, some of which was still working. We each had a go at drilling into the wall with the huge drill and experienced the sound and vibration of an explosion underground. We even had smoko in the underground crib room before being driven out of the mine. Mount Isa has three operating mines and the deepest one has tunnels that are two kilometres underground. They mine mostly copper, lead and silver. The city is flanked one one side by the enormous pile of overburden from the mines, a bit like a man-made mountain. It is a major inland city with supermarkets etc. and traffic lights which we haven’t encountered for about 3 weeks. We made sure to stock up on groceries ready for our travels further north. We also drove to the nearby Lake Moondarra which was constructed to supply water for the city of 21,000 people as well as the mines. It was a huge lake with picturesque parkland and picnic areas around it. We returned via the lookout which overlooks the city, the huge mullock pile and the processing plant where the ore is crushed and treated to extract the metals.
    After setting off from Mount Isa we headed west again through hilly and eucalypt forested countryside with some rocky outcrops. The landscape became flat again with grassy plains, very red soil and thousands of red termite mounds. Some people get a kick out of dressing some of the termite nests in old clothing like workers hi-vis shirts and hard hats or even dresses. Approaching Camooweal we pulled in to the Drovers Camp Museum where we were taken on a guided tour by a chap who had spent his life in the outback and told us about many of the old items on display and gave us an insight into the life of the drovers over the years. We then checked in to the Post Office Hotel caravan park where we ate an evening meal in the pub. There are not many buildings in Camooweal now but it was once a major centre for drovers and stage coaches etc. These days it falls in the shire of Mount Isa and is considered an outer suburb – albeit 188 kilometres away.
    We then backtracked along the Barkly Highway for 70 km before turning north towards Gregory Downs along sealed road for another 70 km. Then we turned off towards Adels Grove along dirt road for the remainder of the journey. Some parts were very stony, some corrugated and some reasonably smooth but overall it was pretty rough. The landscape changed from flat to hilly with the Constance Range in the distance and as we turned left onto the Riversleigh Road we came closer to the rugged range with its rocky outcrops of red sandstone. We finally arrived at the Adels Grove camping ground mid afternoon and after setting up, walked along by the very pretty Lawn Hill Creek. During the four days at Adels Grove we spent two days at Lawn Hill Gorge which is a 10 km drive from the camp ground. One day we went on a four hour hike along the gorge where we saw the Indarri Falls before continuing to the upper gorge lookout where we looked down on the emerald waters from the top of 70 metre cliffs. The paths were steep and rocky in places but the scenery spectacular with areas of lush green vegetation – pandanus and cabbage palms etc. lining the edge of the water. The second day at the Gorge we hired a canoe and paddled up the picturesque lower gorge until we reached Indarri Falls where some people were having a swim. Here we had to haul our canoe out and carry/drag it about 30 metres to a point where we entered the water in the upper gorge and continued our paddle upstream. It was heavy and awkward work but worth the effort to experience the upper gorge. We paddled to the furthest point that we could reach where the water is bubbling out from the undergrowth, called the cascades. This is near the source where the water emerges from the underground basin which feeds the Lawn Hill Creek year round and it never dries up. We hauled our canoe out of the water and had a swim in the beautiful clear water which was about 25 degrees, so not cold. There were no crocs to be seen anywhere so we took the plunge! One evening we went on a sunset excursion to a lookout near Adels Grove with a group and a guide where we enjoyed drinks and nibbles while watching the sun set over the Constance Range. On another day we went on a bus trip to Riversleigh Fossil Field World Heritage site where our guide told us all about and showed us some of the Mega Fauna fossils which have been found embedded in the limestone rocks in that part of the Lawn Hill National Park. On our last night at Adels Grove we enjoyed a roast dinner in the restaurant in the camping ground. All in all it was a really enjoyable stay.
    We have included a photo of the skeleton of a crocodile head in the rock face. See if you can make it out.
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Fort William