The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

30 May, 2016

Corrella Dam

From Longreach travelled to Winton, Kynuna (didn't even stop at the Blue Heeler pub for a drink), and drove on also passing Walkabout Creek Hotel at McKinlay (no one at pub and no one at Caravan Park!).  Free camped at Fullerton River North Rest Area approx 62kms SE Cloncurry.

Drove into Cloncurry where we met up with friends Jody & Michael and Chris & Mike and after grabbing a few supplies, continued onto Corella Dam (turn off at Clem Walton Park) .  Quite a few vans camped here - certainly a popular spot.  Found room for 3 vans and had a great couple of nights enjoying company of friends - even got the brazier out!  Not too successful with catching red claw though.

Checking out Corella Dam

Corella Dam 

Great catch up with friends

Bonus - got the hairdresser into action!
Departed company with Jody, Michael, Chris and Mike as they travelled back to Cloncurry then north to Burke & Wills Road House.  We headed across the Barkly Highway to Camooweal where we stayed at the second billabong which was less populated than the first one.  Found a top spot where we could watch the abundance of birdlife including Wedge-tail eagles, brolgas, ducks, whistling kites, pelicans.   The day was quite warm (33 degrees) but luckily the night cooled considerably.

Camooweal billabong

Protector of the home

24 May, 2016

Toompine to Longreach

Toompine Pub, about 120 km north of Yowah - called in for a night as offered free accommodation and stayed 3 nights!! Free accommodation but the Pub sure did OK out of us as we had happy hour and meals each night - Managers Dogga Dave and Robyn certainly know the meaning of hospitality.  Great to visit these Aussie Pubs and feel the character of the place.  The extra days stay were due to Friday night entertainment by Country Music singer Adam Kilpatrick followed by Saturday's Quick Shears Competition.
Toompine Pub, you camp next to the community tennis courts and community hall for free!!

This little pony looks calm now but when the gate was left open you couldn't see him for dust as he bolted down the road, not returning until late the next day. 
I rode my bike down a track looking for a Waterhole, dodging emus and swarm of bees.  Didn't find the Waterhole, however was successful the next day after getting more detailed directions.  Another 10 vans came in on the Friday night and enjoyed a great smorgasbord dinner followed by entertainment by Adam Kilpatrick.  Adam did a live (free to air) stream so messaged Briony in NZ who watched it on her phone!!  Amazing as we were able to say hello to her in between his songs.

Watched the setting up of the Quick Shears Competition - around 5.30pm the action started with 3 sections, Beginners, Intermediate and Open.  All in all approx 20 shearers were present each trying to beat each others time to shear a sheep.  Before the open final they conducted an Auction to buy a Shearer and have a chance of sharing in the winnings - one shearer was auctioned for $700, and he won!  A lot of money was raised for the Flying Doctor and once the competition was over, the music was cranked up and the party began.  They had a great time and partied hard - good on them!   Said goodbye to Robyn in the pub the next morning and noticed a few sad, sorry heads sitting around.

Crowd gathers for the quick shear competition.

And they didn't take long to shear a sheep.

The eventual winner in the Open Section - in under 35 seconds.

Entertained  by Adam Kilpatrick who live streamed the performance and Briony could watch it live in NZ.

After the excitement of the weekend drove on to Quilpie where we fuelled up and continued out to free camp at Lake Houdraman.  Found a nice spot overlooking the Lake with plenty of birdlife incl. Pelicans and Black Swans.  Certainly a much quieter night tonight!

Lake Houdraman 6km east of Quilpie
Next day had a look around Quilpie before driving to Windorah.  Someone was getting an absolute downpoor as rain clouds to our NE were very black.  Weather was 32 degrees which was quite warm for this time of year.

Main access through Quilpie
Called into pub at Windorah for a coldie before camping at free camp on banks of Coopers Creek approx 10kms east of Windorah.  Hels did mention if it rains I'm in big trouble!! And yes it did rain for about 1/2 hr and after assessing the situation made a plan to take off if rain persisted.  Rain actually cooled temp down and a huge moon lit up the night sky. Thankfully the ground had dried a little by the time we had left but could see wheel tracks from a couple of campers who had left during the night.

Windorah Solar generation station

Cooper's Creek bridge constructed between 1946 & 1949

Stopped at the Windorah Pub for a coldie.
Headed back to Windorah before turning North to Jundah where we stopped for morning tea on the banks of the Thompson River.  Jundah received 9mm rain last night following a 35mm rain a couple of weeks ago!  Drove onto Swanvale Jump Up where we stayed the night - great view of the countryside and thought that if it did rain we would be on solid high ground.  Had a nice fire but Hels was attacked by Mozzies so was not able to enjoy the moon and stars.

Swanvale Jump Up camp
View from Swanvale Jump Up lookout

Thomson Development Rd between Windorah and Longreach, not a lot to see and the lone tree to stop by for morning coffee!

On way to Longreach called into Stonehenge where we did a slow drive through.  Didn't stop although after reading the Outback Book should have as there was suppose to be an area where you could leave your home suburb name by laying stones (would have been difficult for us as we tow our home!!!)  The drive into Longreach was very barren.  Booked into the Caravan Park which was a bit small and a bit 'all over the place' but was ok for a couple of days.  Quite warm with temp reaching 36 degrees.

Previous times we have visited Longreach we have gone through the Stockman's Hall of Fame so this time we went to the Qantas Museum.  Great place displaying history of Qantas and viewed theatre presentations on how Qantas started.  Easily spent a couple of hours wandering around - climbing into some of the old planes.  Definitely worth the visit.

18 May, 2016

At last - back on the road!!

So great to be back travelling again, although takes a while to get back into the routine of hitching on/ setting up - seemed to miss a couple of steps for a few days.  Hels is ecstatic to be on the road again and can finally sleep lying down!!

Left Burleigh Heads after needing to have mixer tap in shower fixed and travelled through Canungra, Beaudesert, Boonah, Aratula and onto Warrick where we stayed at Rose City Caravan Park.  Small park but OK for a night although in the morning had a massive job trying to clean bird poo off the cruiser!!  Continued to Inglewood, Goondiwindi then onto Nindigully Pub where we stayed the night. Decided to have a meal at the Pub but bit disappointed as selection was minimal and cost was high - perhaps that explained why we were one of only 3 couples dining when 30 odd vans stayed the night!

Sunrise over some campers at Nindigully Pub

Nindigully Pub

Departed next day to St George then onto Bollon where we stayed at a free camp by Wallam Creek, with a walking track into town. Was a lovely camp spot -very popular and also provided a beautiful sunset.
The Bollon overnight camp is next to the cemetary and this night provided a great sunset.

Main street of Bollon and the pub at sunrise 

This sunset was exceptional, so nice to be back on the road.

Drove along Balonne Highway to Cunnamulla where we called into the Information Centre and were warmly greeted and given lots of information about the area.  On our journey towards Eulo, we encountered heaps of Emus and the countryside was quite green in patches due to recent rains. Camped at 5 mile Waterhole approx 10km SW Eulo on the Paroo River - great spot and even better we had it to ourselves!!

Camped at 5 mile Waterhole just out from Eulo - living life outdoors again ;)
Helen decided it looked like rain and Hels insisted we had to get out of the area due to clay surface, so had an early start to the day!  En route to Eulo we came across some Brolgas, then after having a look around the town, headed towards Thargominda.  We turned off before Thargominda on the Bullo Development Road to Yowah.

Hels trying to show how good the arm is now by measuring the road width - lucky outback Qld roads are only one lane!!
Yowah - the town and surrounds is one of Australia's famous opal mining areas and is known for it's unique and distinctive matrix opal and much sought after "Yowah Nut" opal. After settling into Caravan Park went for a walk around the town but everything was shut due to a Town Meeting!  After enjoying Happy Hour with a group from Sunshine Coast, booked into a Town Tour on their recommendation.

Yowah Artesian Bore, sunk in1911 to a depth of 1468 ft (447m)

Artesian Baths at Caravan Park - had to give them a shot, note no roof so you can have a million star bath!
Colin picked us up the next morning and drove around the mine area, viewing various claims.  His commentary was both entertaining and informative.  The tour ended at his mine, where he guided us underground viewing opal lines (seams).  We were then treated to tea and scones and wonderful hospitality from Colin and his wife Georgina. Unfortunately Colin and Georgina lost everything in the Victoria Black Saturday Bushfires (2009).  Had a great few hours chatting and having a few laughs as both Colin and Georgina had a great sense of humour.

Colin showing us through his mine

One of Colin's sample stones - Yowah Nut opal

The tour provided scones and coffee - great that Helen does not like scones and I had to have her share!

10 May, 2016

Staying around GC till May

Hels, back in hospital with a infection, I had 5 days rest!!
With the Engagement excitement behind us we settled into Burleigh Beach Caravan Park for a bit of a rest however Helen noticed a discharge from her arm (most unusual as their was no surgery), so we drove to Robina Hospital.  From arrival time to being attended was only minutes and from then all hell broke loose as they took off the immobilizer and what was left of the webbing leaving a very black looking swollen arm.  Pressure sores had formed under the webbing and had busted open causing a very serious infection. Additionally the webbing had been pulled too tight cutting off circulation to her arm! One hole in her under arm was 1cm deep.  The smell also had one orthopedic specialist gagging and another nurse spraying Glen 20 around Helen!!  Luckily the person attending Helen had specialized in wound caring and did a fantastic job cleaning up the arm and packing the wounds.  Helen did not realise how close she came to a severe blood infection and was surprised when they admitted her to a ward where she remained for 5 days pumping her full of antibiotics.  The infection became priority so no physio could be started until infection had cleared up which set Helen back quite a few weeks.

After her discharge from Hospital we drove to our arranged housesit at Burleigh Waters where we looked after Gael & Tim's lovely home and cared for their Border Collie, Lady, for 2 weeks.  This beautiful dog looked exactly like our beloved dog Brodie who we had for 15 years (although she was much slimmer!).  The likeness was incredible and even caught ourselves calling her Brodie sometimes!! She was a well trained dog and I got plenty of exercise walking her twice a day.

Lady - a beautiful dog in looks and nature

Our weeks consisted of visits to the outpatients for x-rays & wound dressing then once cleared up, physio commenced.  The Doctors at Robina Hospital would not let us continue our travelling until all infection was gone - seemed to think living in a Caravan was a bit primitive!!! Also this set back meant Helen still had to sleep sitting up which went on for another 3 months!

Tallebudgera Creek

"The girls" @ Miami Beach on the Gold Coast

After our housesit @ Burleigh Waters we stayed in Tallebudgera Caravan Park for a couple of weeks before heading back to Reedy Creek to housesit again for Brad & Kim for 2 weeks including the Easter Break.  Once again we were close to Todd and Tenelle and thoroughly enjoyed their visits, particularly knowing at the end of March they were leaving Australia for Canada where they intend working and travelling for at least a year or two!  This also prompted another visit from Briony so we were together again for Easter celebrations.

On the morning of 30th March took Todd and Tenelle to the Brisbane Airport for commencement of their adventure then in the afternoon took Briony to Gold Coast Airport for her flight back to NZ. Very emotional day saying Goodbye to the kids!

Todd & Tenelle on their way to Canada

Briony on her way to NZ

After completing the housesit travelled back to Kooralbyn where we stayed until end of April having a couple of visits to Outpatients and Physio. Once we had a couple of weeks between appointments we drove up to Hervey Bay to visit Stephen & Annette for a week knowing Stephen's condition was not good.  Departing Hervey Bay we drove to Woodforde where we stayed at the Showgrounds for a couple of days - enjoyed exploring the area.  Had a great catch up with friends John & Heather from Bribie Island at the Woodforde Pub.  Travelled back to Tallebudgera Caravan Park to have final Doctors appointments

Back on the road again - morning tea stop @ Goondiwindi Reserve

FINALLY 4 months after Helen's accident we were given the all clear to travel as infection had cleared up and she had a series of physio exercises to help gain movement,  By this time we were biting at the bit to get on the road again.