The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

31 August, 2014

Middleton, Qld (Hilton Hotel) & The Bilby Way

After having the Throttle body on the Tojo replaced ($$$) at Charter Towers we started heading west in the general direction of Boulia passing through Hughenden again and Winton.

The first overnight stop was at the town of Corfield about 83km North East of Winton.  Corfield was established in the late 19th century when the railway line between Hughenden and Winton was built. This line carried wool at least once a week during the shearing season and the towns population peaked at around 30 to 40 people.  Today the town has a sporting club and the population peaks when the Corfield Cup is run and punters come to experience the real "Corfield Cup".

The Corfield free camp, we finished up with about 10 cmpers this night

At 5 O'Clock the pub (community sporting club) is opened for drinks and a meal

We couldn't pass up on a beer and a $10 meal, "to support the locals"

The next morning we traveled to Winton - on arrival the engine warning light came on again bugger!!!. Being a Saturday the local mechanic "Butch" was open in the morning but couldn't do any repairs.  Fortunately he also had the appropriate instruments to hook up and diagnose the fault. Would recommend "Butch" at Central Motors Winton. The light indicated the same fault which was repaired previously.  During the diagnosis the light went off, so, was it all good again??  We did a test run 30km out of town and back all seemed great so a decision was made to press on rather than stay in Winton until Monday (we are now in Adelaide when writing this post and the light has not come back on!).

We eventually decided to press on towards Boulia with the intention of stopping at the "Hilton Hotel" Middleton about 120km west of Winton.

Middleton Qld, an oasis 

Last section of road and barren country side coming into Middleton

We pulled up at the Hilton Hotel, only camping available ....... no beer!!

Decision was made to cross the road to the Middleton Pub

For a beer on the veranda
 Even though the Middleton Pub had cold beer we decided not to stay at the "Hilton Hotel" camp that night but rather travel towards Hamilton Hotel ruins. This was a good decision, not only did we have less flies when travelling but the well established camping area had flushing toilets and shower - cold & extremely refreshing!
Hamilton Hotel ruins, 77km east of Boulia

Drove through many kms of yellow plains (Mitchell grass) to Boulia then onto Bedourie. Decided not to stay at Bedourie although people we have spoken to since had enjoyed their stay @ the Council Caravan Park.  We headed bush and found a lovely quiet spot on Kings Creek (approx 21kms from Bedourie). This waterhole on Kings Creek was a favourite overnight stop for Afgan cameleers travelling the track between Birdsville and Bedourie.  The natural stone causeway was also an excellent crossing point.

Waddi Trees (Acacia Puece) outside Boulia are a rare and ancient species from the days of dinosaurs - the needle leaf wattle takes over 100 years to reach 9-10 meters - the local Pitta Pitta people use the wood to make many items including weapons.

Our camp on the King River north of Birdsville nestled amoung the trees.
Cacoory Ruins 80km north of Birdsville - one of the first properties Sir Sydney Kidman purchased in 1899

Next stop Birdsville.

26 August, 2014

On the road again !!

We have left Atherton and now travelling again, going bush!!!  Points of interest in this blog are the camp spots for those heading past the area, Ravenshoe to Hughenden, Qld.

We traveled from Artherton through Ravenshoe then decided to stay 16km south of Ravenshoe over night at the Archer Creek Rest Area.  This was ok for 1 night with running water behind the camp, some had even set up to catch up on washing because the water was clean and running.

Archer Creek Rest Area

Rather than take the shorter road to Hughenden we decided to travel to Charters Towers and top up on shopping.  We had heard about Fletcher Creek camp spot as a favorable camping spot.  Sure was as there are 3 separate areas and would have had more than 50 vans in total.  Still with plenty of room we stayed for 2 nights.  The days were becoming warmer and we enjoyed the sun. Only one morning had a heavy fog until around 9 o'clock.

Early morning at Fletcher Creek camp.

Later in the day when the sun was out, creek is to the right.

Picturesque along the Fletcher Creek near camp

From Fletcher Creek camp traveled into Charters Towers and with a quick shop was on our way to Hughenden.

Main street of Hughenden, there are some shops, but had to get another windmill photo!!
We arrived in Hughenden late afternoon and decided to stay the night recharge the 240v stuff and head towards Winton early next day.  Well after fueling up in the afternoon I noticed a warning light on the Tojo saying there was a malfunction and take me to a Toyota service center. When back at camp this had gone so all was good for an early start the next morning.

We set off towards Winton, about 10km down the road the light was back on with a noticeable lack of power.  So back to Hughenden to find a Toyota mechanic.  The nearest was back in Charters Towers so we limped back the 245km slowing down to 50 kph for some hills and getting up to 80 kph for the down hill sections.  When the warning light went off we had full power and was able to get going again but that only lasted about 70km.

Now we are waiting for a "black box" to come up from Brisbane before we get going again!!

10 August, 2014

Tablelands - Mareeba Historical Museum

We have passed through Mareeba several times on our way to various points of interest and on each occasion there was always a large number of vehicles parked around the Information and Heritage Museum.
Decided to have a day visit - it's a worthwhile visit with a collection of memorabilia from the area and only a gold coin donation.  The Historical Society also hosts a gold panning competition which just happened to coincide with the Saturday market.
The contestants would get 6 pieces of gold (size of a pin head) put into their pan and basically covered with a shovel of dirt and gravel.  The first contestant to retrieve the pieces of gold in the quickest time was the winner.

Panning for gold demonstration

Each time the demonstration found 3 small pieces of gold which he would put back into the pan for the next demonstration.

Telephone exchange at the Heritage Museum

The old Mareeba rail ambulance

Not sure what to say about this character

I had a chat to a couple of old timers while waiting to use the dunny, they sat and listened to me for ages!!

Butcher was too busy to serve Helen, so she had to walk away. Oh well salad for dinner tonight.

Tablelands - Herberton Range

There are several drives from Atherton, one which starts basically from the front of our house which is called Herberton Range Ridge Road.  This travels from Atherton in the State Forest through Baldy Mountain Forest Reserve to Herberton.  The track is a 2 wheel track going through the tropical forest and increasing in altitude with the highest point being approx 1217m above sea level.  This track closes on wet days as there are some steep climbs which could become quite slippery.

Herberton Range Ridge Road
The Herberton Range Ridge Rd comes back onto the main bitumen road about 10km north of Herberton so it's an easy drive into town for a coffee.  Herberton is the oldest town in the Tablelands with the entire precinct listed on the National Heritage Register.  The area is known for the extensive Tin mines which are scattered around the town and out towards Irvinebank.  We were recommended to visit the Spy & Camera Museum in Herberton where some of the rarest spy and antique cameras are housed collected by a former spy.  Really glad we paid for the tour as we were guided through the exhibits by the owner with excellent history and story telling about the exhibits.  So very interesting to see and hear stories of the various Russian & American inventions with tiny cameras inside like buttons, cigarette cases, glasses etc.  If anyone gets the chance this is sure a great place to spend some time.
Five Head Stamp Battery, brought to Herberton in 1880

Herberton looking north, the Spy Camera Museum is on the corner - this building was a Jack & Newell Store in 1882, renown in the Tablelands

Herberton looking south

The information and mining museum, a small display showing mining in the area. 

Inside the Spy Camera Museum, the original owner was a Spy!
Another drive was to Mareeba then west towards Chilliagoe turning south towards Herberton at Petford. This took us through some much dryer country and back into the mining area of Irvinebank and Herberton.  The road which was also a Cobb & Co route passed through Emuford a small community established in the late 1800s as a result of  tin mining in the area.

The remains of Emuford, once a mining community which Cobb & Co passed through.
We also visited Montalbion Pioneer Cemetery - Montalbion being another mining town which we couldn't find the actual town site.  The cementry is the resting place for 68 people of which 32 were children under 10yrs, just another reminder of the hard times some of the early settlers faced. Montalbion was also another stop for Cobb & Co.

One of the elaborate grave sites

Irvinebank established in 1882 has many century old buildings.  The region was prosperous at the turn of the century when the 'Mighty Vulcan' mine was in operation providing the purest available tin in the world.

Irvinebank dam with the Loudoun mill on the bank in the background.

School of the Arts building, opened in 1900 with the Qld nation Bank in the background.

Mango cottage built in 1906

The roundabout on the main road through Watsonville between Herberton and Irvinebank has a windmill in the centre - novel!!

Tablelands - Mt Baldy walks

While we have been at Atherton I've been able to walk most mornings -instead of walking along beaches  & bush tracks I've been able to tackle some hills. We are within walking distance to Mt Baldy and the Herberton Range State Forrest which offers plenty of walks and even Mountain Bike Trails for those keen to venture on 2 wheels.
Most mornings I have either walked along the flat or walked to the peak of Mt Baldy or another hill close by named  "The Widow Maker", usually a return walk of just over an hour, this is dependent on my recovery time after reaching the peak!

View over Lake Tinaroo from "The widow maker" with Atherton in the foreground

First time to the top of "The Widow Maker" buggered to say the least, and the sun couldn't even peak through the clouds.

These are the tracks; B=Mt Baldy D=Widow Maker 

You know it's steep when the path has non-slip grip and rope handrails, near the top of Mt Baldy.

At the top of Mt Baldy, while I was recovering a couple of army guys ran past!!! 

View from Mt Baldy to The Widow Maker peak.

Another misty morning in the clouds

Tablelands - Mareeba Coffee World, Kuranda & Mossman

While we have been house sitting at Atherton we have visited various local markets and some tourist spots of interest.

Coffee Works @ Mareeba was always going to be on the 'to visit list' to buy some strong coffee.  Decided to pay the entrance fee and was surprised at the number of flavours of coffee, tea, chocolate and liqueur for sampling.
From the tastings we ventured into the museum which holds the largest collection of coffee artifacts in the world. Absolutely amazed at the collection of coffee & tea making artifacts and also the age and condition of some of the old peculators, tea pots, commercial coffee machines etc.  What was really enjoyable was the set up where you pick up an audio handset and key the number of the exhibited item which then relates the history of the item on display.  Its a great way to wander around the museum and dialing up the items you are interested instead of having lots of reading material to wade through. We would never have gone out of our way to visit a Coffee Museum however after walking through this one we were totally blown away at the collection and would recommend a visit to everyone.

We finished up buying a supply of  PNG Dark coffee -  nice and strong!

Notice board with photos of the various exhibits

Hels getting ready to make a cappuccino! 

We  took a trip to the Kuranda markets - these are a popular tourist destination which we have visited several time before, so it was a walk through the streets and down to the Railway Station before finding a suitable lunch spot.  The market is very popular with people travelling on the train from Cairns as a stop off before returning back down from the range either by train or cable car.

Kuranda Railway Station

Further north from Cairns along the coast to Port Douglas is Mossman Gorge - this is another very popular tourist destination with nice walks through the gorge area.  It has certainly changed since we visited in 1988 and now caters for tourist with a bus which transports you from the information centre to the gorge.  They have developed the walks with access platforms made from recycled material and opened it up to cater for the large number or tourist who visit each year.