A Travellerspoint blog

Ingham & Wallaman Falls

We arrived to Ingham and Christophe’s third pair of sandals broke down after only a week of using them… We went to all the shops in town that could be selling sandals, but he didn’t find any (as everyone is walking here with ´thongs´ or flip-flops). Maybe we have better luck more North.
They grow and process a lot of sugar cane here in Ingham. We ended up watching a documentary about the local sugar industry and were pretty blown away of all the work and chemicals that goes into making sugar.

It was pretty late already, so we decided to drive to Wallaman falls (the highest waterfalls in the Southern hemisphere) the next day. That was not a good decision. It was rainy and very cloudy & foggy when we drove there. We were wondering if we could even see the falls with that kind of weather… we didn’t. We drove all the way there (51km) and everything was covered by a thick fog. So we had to drive all the way back to the library to blog about this failure.

We went back there anyhow, because we really wanted to see the falls. We camped at a nearby campsite and saw the falls in the evening. In the morning the fog was back, but we walked 2km down in the hopes of seeing them better. Well.. we saw a bit more, but were soaking wet after the walk.

We went back there anyhow, because we really wanted to see the falls. We camped at a nearby campsite and saw the falls in the evening. In the morning the fog was back, but we walked 2km down in the hopes of seeing them better. Well.. we saw a bit more, but were soaking wet after the walk.
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And we went back

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Posted by cjfvdk 21:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Little Crystal Creek, Big Crystal Creek & Jourama falls

After the service we drove North to Little Crystal Creek and had a swim there. The water was pretty cold though. We took some nice pics and were off to Big Crystal Creek where we also stayed the night. Big Crystal Creek had warmer water and it was a nicer place to swim, so we took a dip there too. There were fish and small turtles living in the water. We tried to take some pictures of them, but they didn’t turn out so good.
The next day we went to the nearby rock slides. There wasn’t quite enough of water to slide down the rocks, but it was a perfect place to have another swim!

We continued to Jourama Falls, where Christophe went for another swim. There were eels in the pool where he swam :D We only noticed them when he was coming out. The waterfall itself was with many, drops and it was zig-zagging its way down.

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Posted by cjfvdk 21:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Charters Towers & Townsville

We drove East towards Charters Towers. The weather was not that good and it was Sunday, so nothing was open. We made a quick visit to the information centre, drove around in town, had lunch in the botanical gardens and went to the Towers Hill. There was some nice information to read about the gold mining history of Charters Towers and some of the old ruins were still standing on the hill. We even saw black cockatoos on our way up, and loads of rock wallabies around. We stayed a bit out of town and in the morning decided to drive to Townsville.

Townsville was warm, but a bit windy. We walked around the town and in the strand, where nobody was swimming today because of the wind. We called the guys (Vince and Pat) who we met in Winton (they live in Townsville). They said we could stay at their place for the night and have a nice BBQ there. Before that we climbed to Kissing Point, where they had a lot of history about the second world war, as their was some fighting done between Allies and Japan in the area. The losses of Japan in the battles here were decisive in defeating Japan in the 2nd world war. Kissing point was used as a bunker and they still have army base in Townsville.

We bought a bottle of wine and a chocolate cake and went to meet Pat and Vince. We had a delicious BBQ with sausages and lamb chops at their place. The next morning Pat went to work, but Vince and Christophe started servicing the car. They changed the broken parking light, checked the air filter and the oils, fixed the antenna etc. In the afternoon we went to the Museum of Tropical Queensland. While we were there Patrick called us about servicing the car and said he might know someone in Townsville. So we went to check the place out and managed to book a service for the next morning.
The car was alright, some small things had to be replaced though. Nothing major.
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Posted by cjfvdk 21:22 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hughenden and the Porcupine gorge

We arrived in Hughenden after a long drive and a lot of nothing. We discovered pretty quickly that there is not much to do or see in Hughenden. We strolled around a bit in the town, had lunch and went to the Flinders discovery museum, with a replica of a Muttaburrasaurus fossil (found in Muttaburra). We booked out camping in the Porcupine gorge and were on our way.

There were quite a lot of dead animals on the road again (even a full size dead cow). We arrived at dusk, put up our tent, played cards and heard some weird noises outside the car. We looked with the torch and there was a bettong (a small kangaroo like animal) wandering around the camping. It was pretty cute :)

The next morning we walked down to the gorge, took pictures of the pyramid rock and the beautiful scenery. On our way back to Hughenden we stopped a lot of times, as they had put many points of interest (old graves, lookouts, bores, and that kind of stuff) by the road.

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Posted by cjfvdk 21:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Winton

and the emu story

Nice looking town, a bit smaller than Longreach, but at least as nice. We stayed at the parking of a pub (nice spot, shower and wifi included!). We didn’t have much time on the arrival day. Just had a few drinks on the happy hour of the hotel/pub. We met some people living in Townsville having a bit of a trip to the countryside.

The next day we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, national heritage and history (and other stuff they put in the name). It was a different museum. No displays, just 2 tours. But you have to know a bit of the history for that first. In 1999, a station owner was driving his motorbike around his ´farm` the size of 3 times Belgium, and encountered a rock which looked like a hipbone but was too big to be from a sheep or cow. So he went back a couple weeks later with the rest of the family, and they had a nice day taking pictures, digging some stuff out and sent it to the museum of Queensland. They were like WOW! This is a new kind of dinosaur! So they came and started digging as well and found a lot of pieces of a dinosaur which go the name Elliot (after the farmer). Then they dug more and more and found another dinosaur, which was nearly complete. They gave this one the name Matilda. It was of the family of the Saropauds, and they named it Diamantinasauras Matilda-ay. Right next to it they found another carnivorous smaller dinosaur which they called Banjo, and his species was also new so they got to name him: Australiavenator wintonensis (looked a bit like velociraptors in Jurassic park, velociraptors are the size of chickens actually, and a Trex is feathered and fluffy :P). Pretty cool that they get to name their dinosaurs. So dino digging is still pretty new here (15 years) so the museum was not that big yet. They put the museum on 4500 acres of land they got from a local farmer … . And so far there are two buildings: the gallery where they show dug up bones, and the laboratory where they prepare dug up fossils. We got to touch the fossil of a dinosaur even! Unreal!

So! Who are Banjo and Matilda? And that’s where we are staying now and writing this blog! Banjo peterson is the guy who wrote the song Walzing Matilda (unofficial anthem of Oz), which was preformed for the first time ever in the North Gregory hotel where we are now. It’s a piece of Aussie history, which is really important for Aussies. Lots of people come here to pay a lot to go to museums which tell about the Pioneers of this harsh country. And the tourist business is also clearly focussed on these people. Many of them are travelling in big caravans, and are called grey nomads (sold house and now touring for years and years in caravans). This small town where we are now (Winton) has 300 ppl, but 3 hotels, 3 motels and 3 caravan parks.

Another story is how Winton got its name. The first guy who came to live here, Mr Allen, a former police agent, became the unofficial postmaster. The place was first called Pelican waterhole, but it was very tiring to write that on every stamp to cancel its value, so he got to choose a name for the town, and called it Winton after his birthplace in England!

Another interesting fact is the land here. So dry everywhere, but every town has an abundance of water thanks to the Great Artesian Basin, a great sea (or lake) some kms under the ground. Every town has a bore that gushes out hot water, so they all have rose gardens, and a pool. No water shortage for the ppl!

It hasn’t rained here for three years now, and the land is pretty dry, but we have been told that when it rains, the soil is so superfurtile here (black soil) that the whole area looks green within a week. Apparently you also get bogged if there is as much as 10 mm of rain. Interesting :D! And Winton was the town were QANTAS (Australias airline) got founded officially, their basis of operation was in Longreach. There original name was Queensland And Northerns Territory Airline Service, and they started by bringing the mail and doctors around to the outback regions of Queensland and NT. And so every small town has its own airport, that’s how they get stuff here.

To finish this post one funny, and a bit sad, story about an Emu (of which we’ve seen a couple now) on the island of Percy where we were on the boat trip. Apparently someone once dropped a male Emu on the island. As he was alone for a very long time, every time a boat came, he was running up and down the coast hoping that they brought a female. But as this didn’t happen the horny Emu started humping ppl, with a special interest for people on ladders. One day however, a guy on a ladder was working on trees with a chainsaw and as the Emu started humping him, he turned around and … . That was the sad end of the Emu on Percy island :(.

On our last (Friday) day in Winton they had a party with a DJ, so we decided to stay and check it out. That was only in the evening though, so before that we went to the Blandenburg national park for a safari drive. There were no walks in the park, just a 40km gravel drive. We saw some historical sites, graves and stuff (but not much left from the old times). There were Emus there, lots of kangaroos, and Brolgas. Otherwise the park was dry and a bit dusty, however it had some waterholes and creeks. Miraculously they had water although in the creeks despite it being dry for 3 years.
We saw a lot of kangaroos, wallabies and different kind of birds. Christophe really enjoyed the drive as it was almost like a 4WD safari (without a 4WD) :).

In the evening, we went to the hotel acros the street with the very energetic bartender Ami, and a cowboy called Iggie travelling around, and photographing birds. Edda got some pics with his cowboy hat! The party in the hotel with the DJ was rubbish.

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:34 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Longreach

The town was a bit bigger than we expected. The infocenter was already closed, so we just headed to the camping. The next day we walked in the town more and saw that all the museums and things to do are once again very expensive, so we just did the free stuff (there was not much of it..). We asked a bit around for work, but there wasn’t any. We visited the Quantas museum (from the outside) and the Stockman’s hall of fame (outside too) :D
Off to Winton now. Not much Longreah could offer us. 180 kms of nothing, just red/black soil, a couple of trees, three toilets on the way for a quick pee, and lots of dead kangaroos.

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Barcaldine - Ilfracombe

In the morning in Jericho, we has pancakes! And there was a truck with fresh veggies in town. Apparently this comes once a week, and every two weeks they have the flying doctor coming to visit town. These are the big days in these towns! The day was full of driving, driving and more driving. We arrived to Barcaldine and as usual, walked around a bit, visited the infocenter etc.. We had a free tour of the catholic school where 21 kids were studying. There was a socialist museum (as this was the birthplace of the labour party after a sheared strike), but it was a bit expensive, so we skipped that. Instead we viewed some free stuff that was laid outside, some old machinery and country stuff.
The drive after Barcaldine was 100 kms to Longreach, and was full of dead Kangaroos by the side of the road. Hunger, thirst (no rain for 3 years here) and road trains (trucks with 2+ trailers). But the landscape is unreal. Lots and lots of nothing (ok, black soil and couple of trees). Christophe thought it was amazing. Also had some radio reception on the AM with a guy giving his view on the politics. So in the end, the cassettes went in. Village people and Boney M :).

In Ilrfacombe we saw more machinery, trucks, guns, bottles and stuff. There was an artesian water spa (swimming pool) for only 2.5$/pp. Christophe enjoyed it, but Edda had a migraine the whole day, so she didn’t even bother to go in. In the late afternoon we decided to still drive to Longreach, but that was only 30 kms.
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rubyvale - Jericho

In Emerald we read about the nice sapphire fossicking, museums and other sapphire related things you can do in the ruby/sapphire region. When we arrived there, the area looked pretty disappointing and depressing, or interesting if you wish. We only ended up going to one gallery. The fossicking costed a lot of money, the museum was closed and everything else costed also. We drove around the area, but ended up leaving pretty fast. There was no real town centre in either Sapphire or Rubyvale, only people with their houses/shops/mines where they were getting their precious stones.
We decided to drive past Alpha to Jericho and stay the night there. We has an alcohol test on the way! Luckily negative :)

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Emerald

Emerald was one of the biggest towns in the region (it even had Woolworths and Coles!). People drive 150kms to Emerald to do their grocery shopping. We did ours too. We stayed near the botanic gardens and saw 2 other backpacker cars. It seems that the more West you go, the less backpackers you see.

We did a walk around the town in the evening, saw the train station and the huge Van Gogh sunflower painting referring to the many sunflowers they had in the area. The woman in the information centre was Swedish (Åsa) and came to Australia after meeting a bushman ;). We also got a free hot shower in the sports field! :D

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Springsure

From the gorge we drove to Springsure. Seemed like a nice little town with a free camping (that’s why we stayed there). While walking in the town we saw an advertisement for a rugby match in the evening. It was the local team, The Mountain Men, playing. We decided to go watch despite not knowing the rules at all. We learned a bit :D. The Mountain were leading 24-0 at half time, but then three tries from the opponent made it tight, but then the home team got themselves back together to bring the game home with 36-18.

But this game is so violent, only crazy people can play this. Everybody was injured after the game, luckily only one person was sent to the hospital.
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Posted by cjfvdk 16:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Carnarvon Gorge

The night was really cold, around 4C. We started the walk at around 9am after having a nice and nutritious breakfast. We weren’t sure if we should walk all the way (21km) or just to the Art Gallery, but we saw many elderly people on the way who were going all the way (or at least intended), so why not we!
The gorge is really nice with a lot of river crossings. We saw some aboriginal art on the caves and rocks around the gorge. We first went all the way to the furthest point, about 9 kms, and then started walking back going all the small sidetracks. They were really nice. You could go inside really small gorges, or into a Moss garden which was like a cooling chamber were Moss was growing on the sandstone but not on the basalt layer on top. These gorges are formed such that there was sandstone with volcanic basalt on top. Then the water went through the layers through cracks and they got bigger and bigger until the gorges were formed. One amazing place was the amphitheatre, where a piece of rock just eroded away in the middle of other rock, wiith amazing echos. So Christophe got an instant urge to start signing!

The walk was nice, but as we haven’t walked for a while our legs were pretty tired afterwards. We decided however to stay another day. The next morning we did the walk up to the buff to have a bit of a better overview of the whole area. It was beautiful up there. You should go there to see the sunrise, but it’s quite many stairs and steps, so going there in the dark might be a bit dangerous.

We also did the Mickey Creek which is a narrowing gorge and you have to climb through stones, trees and water to get to the end.

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gladstone - Rockhampton - Rollston

After getting our car from Agnes Waters (and getting ripped off 30$ as the bus took us 30km away from Agnes and we had to take a shuttle in the middle of the night) we stayed one more night at Cool Bananas to do our laundry, write the blog and relax. The next morning we drove to Gladstone and Rockhampton. It was just a short shopping and lunch visit to both towns. In Rockhampton we visited the zoo and saw koalas and crocodiles. Those things are HUGE and scary…!

In the afternoon we started our trip to the west. We stayed the night in Westwood and intended to have a nice local pub experience which totally failed. The people and staff in that pub were not friendly or nice. We drank our small beer and left.

Next morning we drove via Banana and Dingo (they have some pretty funny names of places here) to Rolleston and had lunch there. We ordered a hamburger and got a BIG burger with 2 stakes, chips and onion rings. We finished everything but were stuffed the whole day. There were no free or cheap campsites near Carnarvon gorge, so we didn’t want to drive there yet, but there was nothing to do in Rolleston and we got bored and drove there anyway (paid 38$ for one night of camping at the gorge :S ). There were campfires there with other campers, and we sat around it and listened to their stories and they to ours :).

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Posted by cjfvdk 16:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Great Barrier Reef Sailing trip

14th day

Had a bit more snorkelling in the morning at Border Island, which showed how beautiful the reef really is here with the gorges, lots and lots of fish: parrotfish, green fish, yellow fish, black and white, all kinds of them. Unreal! Then we sailed to Butterfly Bay on Hook Island, another beautiful piece of reef. We managed to get a mooring right next to a piece of reef, so went to explore that, and all around the reef. It was beautiful. Too bad we don’t have underwater cameras, because there are so many colours, shapes, fish and other things to see. Red, pink, blue, orange, green, yellow, purple, and in between that all these colourful fish. Even saw one shark (with triangular head), a couple of stingrays, parrotfish, all those colours! The small fish never swim away from you if you are coming, but the big ones must think you are a shark, so they are more scared of us. Spending the night here, the last supper!

15th day

The last day! We left early and went to Nara inlet, a small gorge with beautiful water and great echo. Christophe lost his sunglasses though :(. We stayed a bit, C had a swim and then we left for Airlie Beach. Not too much wind, so bit of motoring on the way. On the way, we packed, got some tips for places to visit next, booked our bus back to Agnes, and got on land.

In Airlie, we got some new sunglasses, our Wwoofing books (finally) and then took the half-empty bus for 700 kms or 10 hours. Saw the movie Paul, quite funny. The bus dropped us in the middle of nowhere though and we had to pay 30 dollars for the shuttle to Agnes, which was a bit of a bummer. But we met back with Yogi and Pat, our car and teddybear, and had a few hours of sleep in the side streets of Agnes. Now we’ll stay one more night, recharge our batteries and get going again!

This sailing trip was an interesting experience, and if you want it too, look at findacrew.net or crewbay.com! It was a great, and we know now what to ask if we ever do this again. We learned a lot! It was a pity we didn’t have more things in common with the other crew members, because the click between us was the only thing which was missing.
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Posted by cjfvdk 22:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Great Barrier Reef Sailing trip

11th day

Woke up at 4 am and started sailing. All went well, despite some seasickness during the trip. We got there around 3 pm, and the place was beautiful, surrounded by reef, with an amazing lagoon on the land. We walked on the beach, snorkelled and fished, but didn’t manage to see much. There was also lots of stingrays in the water, so we didn’t feel too safe. It was close to shark o’clock (4pm), so we went to the boat and had dinner. Another big sail tomorrow, 50 miles to Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday island! But we won’t leave until 7 am, because we need the tide and the wind in the same direction, or we will have a difficult passage through a smaller channel.

12th day

Big sail today, no seasickness! Wind was smooth, sailing went good and fast and was very enjoyable. We arrived on time for having a smooth passage, and arrived at the magical place of whitehaven beach, which was full of tourists. 4 boats, an airplane, a heli. But soon they were gone and we had the place for ourselves. We snorkelled, walked along the beach which had superfine sand, had a good sand scrub, took some pics, and had a nice shower on the boat. Just nice!

13th day

Had some more time in the morning at the beach, a moment which Edda grasped with both hands to get some sun. Christophe went snorkelling after fish and hoovered over a turtle in the water. Apparently you can grasp their back and enjoy a free ride, but he didn’t do that. After that we sailed for an hour to Border Island, passing Hill inlet on the way, which looked unreal (look for aerial pics on the web), but due to time constraints we couldn’t go in, because you can only go in and out at high tide. Also only boats with a low clearance in the water can get in there (so no monohulls, only multihulls). If we ever get back here, that’s a place to go!

We moved on then to Border Island, which had beautiful snorkelling. It had reef, and in the reef, it had gorges. Christophe got bitten by a small jellyfish and Edda scared as hell, so we went out soon. In the evening Edda was following the fish jumping from the water, which were hunted by bigger fish, until those bigger fish jumped, maybe hunted by a shark. Yes, there are sharks here, but it should be safe during the day, but don’t hit the water after 4pm! Dinner on the boat, and bed time around 8-9 pm. We talked about this with the other guys, and apparently in Queensland, the sun never sets later than 7h30, so they don’t know these nice long evenings in the light. Strange. And sun gets up at 6am. They really lived with the sun too. Get up at sunrise and off to bed shortly after sunset (and the obligatory beers of course).
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Posted by cjfvdk 22:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Great Barrier Reef Sailing trip

8th day

Left at 4 am this morning with engines, but then winds picked up and we started flying. We had a lure out for fish but only got some seaweed. It was a good sail and arrived at 1 pm in Paradise called Percy Island! It was stunningly beautiful with palm trees on the beach and a A-frame house type kind of thing on an amazing beach. The island was inhabited since the 50s and they had a built this A frame to support and welcome sailors who came to the island. There was a hammock, a small kitchen, a table and lots of sings from boats that had helped with things on the island. We explored the beach and the nearby lagoon (accessible at low tide) and got into coconut harvesting. We had quite some fresh coconut water and coconut flesh.

9th day

Went up the island to the homestead which is there with a couple living in it. They were very friendly and looked like Tarzan and Jane, but their names were Marty and Jane. They were taking care of the orchards on the island for the residents who weren’t there at the time, because they were bringing goats to the mainland. There are lots of trees, chickens, dogs (one of them was so beautiful!), goats, kangaroos, wallabies, etc. They harvest the fruit and sometimes kill a goat to eat. It’s a very nice walk up to the homestead with good views on the way. When we were back on the beach we tried to catch some fish, but didn’t quite manage. In the evening we had steaks on the fire with potatoes and corn, which was nice. The people from the homestead were also there and we had a great night with some homemade mango & vanilla vodka, so we decided to stay another day.

10th day

We went to the Island quite early for fishing and coconut harvesting. Christophe got 2 fish with the lure (a dart and a coral trout), so it’s fish for dinner! Edda was peeling/husking a lot of coconuts ready to eat the following days. We also went with a net in the water and caught quite a bit of garfish. In the evening we ate them on the barbecue and they were amazing. The garfish were really good! We met some other travellers/backpackers from another boat, talked to them and stayed up quite late. Tomorrow we will leave Percy and move 60 miles north to Scawfell, so it’s an early wake up again.

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Posted by cjfvdk 22:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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