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  • Day63

    Georgetown upto Charters Towers 5/7-11/7

    July 21, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    We arrived in Georgetown mid afternoon and after setting up camp, we walked through the town which, like many outback towns, has some restored historic buildings, well-kept gardens and wide main streets. The wide Etheridge River flows through Georgetown, but only in the wet season. It was a completely dry wide bed of river sand as we walked across it. The information centre also has an extensive gemstone and mineral display of more than 4.500 specimens and we enjoyed having a look through it. After spending a few hours the next day in town we headed off for the short drive to Forsayth on partly sealed and partly gravel road. We passed through forested and hilly countryside with some rocky outcrops in places. After checking onto the van park we set off to investigate the small but friendly town which has a combined pub/general store/post office/coffee shop, a police station which is manned by one officer, a railway station for the Savannahlander train and a hospital which is run by one nurse who is on duty from 9 am to 4.30 pm, five days a week. If you get sick out of those hours, you have to drive to Georgetown for medical help! Oh, and there is an air-strip and the flying doctor comes in once a fortnight. We really take for granted our facilities in the cities!! All the towns in this part of the world were established in the gold rush era of the late 1800s and usually have relics of gold mining equipment on display. Leaving the van, the following day we drove on mostly rough dirt road to Cobbold Gorge where we were booked on a gorge cruise. Arriving late morning, we had time for a walk beside the dry bed of the Robertson River. The day was very warm so we enjoyed lunch on the covered deck of the café which overlooks an infinity pool and dam which are for the use of the campers who stay there. We then boarded the bus with other passengers and a couple of guides for the short drive out to the gorge, driving across the dry sandy bed of the Robertson River on the way. This river only flows in the wet season, however water continues to flow underground and is pumped up from a bore in the river bed to supply water for the resort and camping ground. On arriving at the gorge, we were broken into two groups with one group going on a hike to the escarpment to overlook the gorge while our group had first turn to go on the flat-bottomed boat which quietly motors up the gorge. We spotted a fresh-water crocodile on the sandy bank at the start then entered the spectacular and narrow gorge. The rich brown and orange coloured sandstone cliffs towered above us and in places were no more than two metres wide. The water is fed by an underground spring and is about 9 metres deep and the surface of the sandstone has been worn smooth over thousands of years by the power of the water which becomes a raging torrent in the wet season and can then only be viewed from the air. After motoring back down the gorge we swapped with the other group and it was our turn to walk up to the escarpment with our guide giving lots of information about the vegetation and geology until we were able to look down into the deep gorge from above. We thoroughly enjoyed our day and returned to Forsayth where we treated ourselves to dinner in the pub. We were the only customers as everyone else from town had driven to Georgetown for the evening to watch the rodeo.
    We headed off from Forsayth towards Einasleigh along more gravel road which was freshly graded in places but still had sections of corrugation. We pulled up across from the pub which is one of the few buildings in the very small town and headed off for the short stroll to see yet another gorge. This one called Copperfield Gorge is strikingly different but equally beautiful. The gorge takes its name from the Copperfield River which flows through it and is formed from dark grey basalt which has been worn smooth by the water and the rock has strange circular shapes eroded into the surface. The river was barely flowing but is obviously a torrent in the wet season. We returned to the pub where we found the owners preparing a barbeque for lunch and even had a singer for entertainment so naturally we decided to stay for lunch. We then continued along more rough and corrugated dirt road to the remote Lind Junction where we camped for the night at the Oasis Road House which is the only building there.
    The next day we continued our journey south on the Kennedy Development Road which was partly sealed. The countryside was flat and mostly eucalypt forested with herds of pale grey Brahman (or cross breed) cattle congregated around dams or waterholes. Often they wander across the road in unfenced areas. As we journeyed further the landscape became more hilly and densely forested. We turned off towards Porcupine Gorge lookout which is about 3 Km off the road, parked and walked a short distance to the lookout. From our vantage point we overlooked the deep gorge with its layers of basalt and richly coloured sandstone which is known as Australia’s little grand canyon. There were intermittent waterholes and some vegetation lining the base. From there we continued to Hughenden where we set up at the caravan park.
    Hughenden is situated in Queensland’s dinosaur country and we visited the information centre and museum which has lots of information about the dinosaur fossils which have been discovered in the area and a huge life-sized replica of a dinosaur skeleton which was found near Hughenden. There are also other dinosaur sculptures in the streets of the town. All the main streets of outback towns are really wide – usually with parking down the centre of the road as well as on either side. Frank enquired at one point why this was the case and was told that they were made wide enough for bullock teams and wagons to be turned around in years gone by. Another thing we’ve noticed is that many towns have sculpture parks and/or murals painted on the side of buildings or even public toilet blocks. Art is big in the outback. We looked around Hughenden and crossed the bridge over the dry bed of the Flinders River and walked along the river bank through well-kept parkland with metal sculptures. Frank had been craving some Chinese food and we found a restaurant where we enjoyed a surprisingly good Chinese meal that evening. The next day we headed east along the sealed Flinders Highway and stopped for lunch in the small town of Pentland. We then continued to Charters Towers. At one point we were forced to pull off the road and stop to let an enormous load of equipment on the back of a semi pass in the opposite direction. We suspect it was to be installed at a new solar and wind farm being built near Hughenden. We checked in to the Dalrymple Caravan park in Charters Towers where we had stayed three years ago. What a great park – home-made slice for everyone on arrival and a spit roast was organized on the first night of our stay which of course we enjoyed. We met lots of Victorians there (I wonder what they would all be doing up this way???) Parked opposite us was a couple who came from Bendigo but after talking to them we found that the chap named Ray Wilson used to live a couple of hundred yards up the road on the corner of Munro Ave/Dent St when Frank was a teenager. Small world!
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