Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We left Karumba on the north coast of QLD (see map) and returned to Normanton before continuing along The Savannah Way towards Lawn Hill National Park. 
 This building is a bank in Normanton. It is a typical example of "The Queenslander"  architecture,  where the house is built on stilts above the ground and it has a wide verandah all the way around to keep it cool.

 The Carpentaria Shire Council building is unique in that it was designed like a hotel but it never has been one.

 This is Krys the crocodile. It is a replica of the largest crocodile to be shot in the world. It was shot in 1957 by Krystina Powlowski on the MacAthur Bank, Norman River near Normanton.
 It measured 28ft 4in (8.63m) and estimated to weigh 2 tons. My friend, George, poses to show the scale compared to a man.

 Then we drove for 2 hours to our next stop, Camp 119. It is the camp site of the famous explorers, Bourke and Wills when they almost reached the north coast of Australia after leaving Melbourne on the south coast 6 months before in 1860. It was a tragic expedition. 19 men started with horses, wagons and camels but by half way many had pulled out and only four continued. On the return journey they all died of starvation except one, John King, who was rescued by aborigines. It was the custom to 'blaze' trees with an axe. It was a signature to prove where explorers had been. The blaze is still evident over 150 years later, on many trees at this campsite.  However, they appear low on the trunk but that is because the ground level has risen through years of silt being deposited in wet seasons.

After morning tea it was back in the coach for many more miles. We passed through dry plains and....

we crossed many rivers and,,,,,

 we passed through many cattle stations. American Long Horn cattle have just been introduced.

 Our picnic lunch stop was at Leichhardt Falls. The tour guides were very excited because this is the first time they had seen water flowing. They have done the trip for many years but these tours can only occur during the dry season as the roads are under water in the wet season. However, this year the wet season was very late so we were lucky to see the falls still running.

After flicking off flies while eating a wrap for lunch, we continued on the long journey to Adels Grove near Lawn Hill NP.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


After our historic train ride from nowhere to nowhere, the coach picked us up and we drove to Karumba. (see map). A port town on the north coast of Queensland in the Gulf of Carpentaria. No sooner had we booked into our motel, our guides walked us to the beach. We were reminded to keep a look out for crocodiles. We climbed aboard a little boat for a sunset cruise to a sand island where we had a crab and prawn dinner.
It took about 30 mins to arrive at a small sand island only inhabited by a flock of pelicans.

 As we disembarked we were handed a souvenir wine glass with "Croc and Crab Cruise" etched on it.

Soon we all had it filled with our choice of wine.

 As the sun was setting the organisers set up tables and chairs and a buffet of prawns, crabs, chicken, barramundi fish, salads and quiche.

I didn't take any crab as I find them difficult to eat and I wanted to take photos of the sunset. It was hard enough balancing the plate, the glass of wine and a big camera.

 After the delicious picnic washed down with more wine, I danced to the end of the island to see the pelicans.

It was so peaceful watching the sun go down over the gulf in the warm, balmy, tropical evening. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016


I arrived at the Degani Cafe at Loganholm Hyperdome to find Birthday Bear waiting for me dressed in a Hawaiin outfit together with palm tree an frangipani flowers. There was also a card "Aloha Hawaii." How did Bear know that we have planned to go to Hawaii next year? She looks keen to come with us.
 If you want to know about our Birthday Bear tradition click here.
 Mary was the inspiration behind Bear's dress this time and it was my birthday the day before. I love bear's bikini top and grass skirt.

Our little group is getting smaller. Chris and Bob are on the road again and we sadly miss Paul.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

THE GULFLANDER (Savannah Way 4)

Part of our tour on The Savannah Way was a trip on the historic train called The Gulflander. It was originally built to connect the once busy river port of Normanton with the goldfields of Croydon in 1888.Today it is a tourist train and a working tribute to the early pioneers of the Gulf of Carpentaria. (see map). The rail line isn't part of any other network and it is affectionately said to go from nowhere to nowhere. It is heritage listed and retains its original rails and steel sleepers used to withstand the annual wet season and floods. The driver and guide tells about the history of the area.
 We didn't do the full five hour trip from Crodon to Normanton but a shorter two hour ride from Critters Camp to Normanton. (Named by early rail workers who found a myriad of creepy crawlies when camped there.) Don't you love the station.....four posts and grass roof to provide shade? The temperature was 35°C in winter.

 Our tour coach arrived at the same time as the train but we still had time for a few snaps.

I was wishing Bill was with me. He would have loved this part of the trip but he didn't come because he doesn't like travelling miles and miles in a coach with nothing much between stops. Nor does he like the tropical heat. So I made a video for him which will be at the bottom of the post.

 From the train we saw some Sarus Cranes, they stand six feet tall with an eight foot wing span.

 The old train was noisy and rocking so much it was impossible to stand and take shots or movies. We travelled through savannah land and over dry river beds.

 When we reached the historic station of Normanton we did a loop to turn the train around.

 The coach was here to meet us but first we looked through the rail museum and had an ice block which melted faster than you could eat it.

 Normanton Station.
Come for one minute ride on the Gulflander.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

OUTBACK TOWNS (Savannah Way 3)

The next stage of our tour was from Cobbold Gorge to Karumba on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Far North Queensland. (see map)
Through the coach window I saw miles and miles of Savannah-land.

 The clouds were something different to look at and a huge wedge tailed eagle could be glimpsed now and then.

We stopped in little outback towns to stretch our legs, to get fuel and supplies, to have morning tea or lunch. This is Georgetown, the administration centre for the huge shire of Etheridge. (39,000 square kilometres). The population of Georgetown is 250. It is so quiet that you can stand in the middle of the road to take a photo without having any traffic passing. However, we did see a helicopter land next to the hotel on the right of the photo. The pilot got out and went into the hotel and bought a carton of beer. Then he got back in his helicopter and flew off. That's the outback for you.

The only hotel in Georgetown burnt down some years ago but the publican started to rebuild it. However, it took him a long time. In the meantime he continued running his business from a shed. The locals kept asking, "When are you going to finish the hotel ?" When it was finally finished he named it "Wenaru Hotel"

Georgetown was originally a gold mining town in the 1870's but by 1900 grazing became the main industry. The Shire Hall was built in 1908 and restored in 1998.

The galahs and the cows watched us have morning tea in the local park. The park was next to the dried up river but in the wet season it would be a raging torrent.

After another two and a half hours driving we arrived in Croydon another small town with a population of 312 people. However, the shire covers an area of 300,000 sq km.
In 1880, Croydon was a 5,000 sq km pastoral run owned by William Brown born in Croydon, England. In 1885 gold was discovered and Croydon had a population of 7,000. The gold lasted until 1926. Recently Croydon has successfully reinvented itself as a tourist stop. The old buildings have been restored as museums and entry is free. Some of the lamp posts are the originals.

 The old police sergeants house.

The old courthouse.
After a stroll through the information centre and a picnic lunch in the park, we were off again. Soon we would be boarding the historic Gulflander Train to Normanton and then stay at Karumba on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, where we were promised a cruise and prawn and crab dinner watching the sunset from a sand island. (see header photo)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

COBBOLD GORGE (Savannah Way 2)

We left Cairns early by small coach and climbed up the ranges to the Atherton Tableland. See map

 From the bus window I could see the morning mist still trapped in the valleys of the Great Dividing Range.

 We stopped at the beautiful Millaa Millaa Falls for morning tea.

 Then we drove for miles into the Savannah Country and crossed many empty rivers because this is the dry season now.We stopped at the small town of Mt Surprise for a picnic lunch and then continued on through many huge cattle stations until we reached the 330,000 acre Robin Hood Station owned by the Terry family. Cob and Mary have been working the station with their seven children since 1964. It wasn't until 1994 when the youngest son Simon and a friend decided to take a boat down to the creek and went up stream did they discover the wondrous gorge on their property.

 Simon and his wife Gaye recognised the potential of developing a tourism venture. Starting with a small camp site it has now grown into a beautiful resort with cabins, bar, restaurant, gift shop and the most modern swimming pool.

 After we checked in it was time for a cruise along the gorge. We were driven in 4 wheel drive busses through the rough terrain for 4k then we transferred to silent electric boats only 2 metres wide and carrying 8 passengers.

 The gorge was formed through sedimentation of the Hamstead Sandstone 134 million years ago, followed by compression, faulting and erosion. It has created a very narrow gorge with 30ft high cliffs. Can you see the boat ahead squeezing between the cliffs?

 It was quiet and eerie; narrow and wondrous. 

 After a while the boats can go no further there is not enough room for them to turn around but there is a tiny motor at each end and the driver just swap ends to go back.

 I couldn't stop taking photos. We didn't see any crocodiles.

 Almost back to the jetty.

Next morning we had breakfast here overlooking the pool and the river. It was a little bit of paradise in the isolated outback. We were to stop at quite a few of these lovely spots during the course of our tour.