Sunday 19th May, (Hughenden).

We have moved north 214km to Hughenden; this is the first leg of turning around and heading for the coast.

I managed to get quite a few photos of the township of Winton yesterday. We had a special reason for getting more shots taken than usual, as Linda’s best friend from back home was raised in Winton and we thought that we would take some photos of things that would interest her. We then printed some of them so Linda can either mail or take them back to her when she returns home in July.

We have learned once again that it is hard to estimate what a town is like from maps and books that we have. Hughenden gave us the impression that is a larger town than Winton, but when we arrived the opposite proved to be the case. It is one of the sleepiest little towns we have yet visited. After having a short drive around the town we decided that we had then seen all that we want to see and apart from the pubs, which are still big, there is basically nothing else I would want to photograph.

We are planning on having a day trip, or two, while here to see some national parks and gorges, eg the Porcupine Gorge, about 60km north of here.

There are others on our way to Townsville and we are hopeful that they contain campsites so we can stay over night, but unfortunately, according to the visitors info centre, most have access only via gravel roads so it may be staying in towns and day tripping.


Thursday 16th May, (Winton).

We are now at Winton, 200km further northwest, and we are quite surprised how our feelings about places can change so easily. The impression we get after only being here since one o’clock this afternoon is one that we have experienced often before, that this is a town that we could stay quite a while, meaning days. It appears that Longreach could in itself have made us feel the way we did while there, and we thought it was the area in general. We don’t know what it is; it is still as dry here, but not quite as dusty, but the feeling is totally different.

We have just had a quick look about the town and found several things to do while here, so now we must decide what we will do and how long we need to stay here to do them.

Friday 17th May, (Winton).

We had yesterday decided that with an early start we would be able to see all we intended to at Winton and then be free to move on tomorrow. Plans can easily come undone; after sleeping in until 10 o’clock it was too late to do what we intended, so we went and visited the Waltzing Matilda Centre, which gave us a pass for an opal and Dinosaur display and the open air cinema. This filled in the intended time allocated for the day so we have booked in for another day to complete what we had intended.

The Waltzing Matilda Centre is a display that must be seen, giving descriptions of the origin of the song and other nationally known icons. They house a museum with contents of old memorabilia and tools and articles of old, some of which brought back old memories of using some of them.

The opal museum was something spectacular, if you are into gemstones and opals. They also had a collection of old relics as well.

The open-air theatre is exactly what it suggests, a movie theatre with no roof. It is still in working order and is still used on a regular basis. They also had a display of opals and old relics, which lead me to suspect that nobody in this area throws anything out. When they build up a collection of old things they just seem to open a museum with them.

Tomorrow is allocated for walking around town taking photos of the place and buildings, and that will do for touristy things for here, then we will be free to move on.

I had a win with the management last evening after attending a talk given by them about what is to see in the area. We were the only ones in attendance and afterward we had a chat, and in this chat was a discussion of using mobile phones to access the Internet. It turns out that the management often use their mobiles to access the net and are displeased with the cost of calling a local fee number and then paying for the net as well. I then informed them of my connection procedures and minimal costs and then gave them details of what number I use and the settings needed. When booking in today I asked how they went, and they were ecstatic that it worked and that it would be a lot cheaper for them.

We also talked about digital photography, as the boss’s co-worker is into digital and has been teaching the manageress how they work. I think I also gave them some handy information regarding that subject as well.


Tuesday 14th May, (Longreach).

We had our meal out last night that was included in a riverboat cruise on the local river. The river is only a river as such when it is raining and then apparently the river can be several miles wide.

At the moment, not having rained, the river is actually the largest natural inland body of water in Queensland. It is about 50 metres wide and about 24 feet deep; I can’t remember how many kilometres long it is. The boat we travelled on was a flat bottom punt type; there is also a paddle steamer although a pretend one. All in all the evening was very enjoyable and quite worth doing. We journeyed a fair way up river and was given a running commentary while our meal orders were taken and cooking started. Then we turned around and returned back down river a short way when it was time to observe the sunset. Being on the river, below the land level by about 10 feet, the sunset is made a little more spectacular, especially when they moored the boat and we were free to disembark and watch the sunset above the ripple free river, even more spectacular.

As darkness set in we sat down to dine on our return trip and after the meal we were treated to a poetic recital by the crew. I get the impression the locals are heavily into poetry, recitals and writing, as a past time.

We booked into the caravan park for an extra couple of days as I have ordered more tobacco from Tassie and it generally takes a full week to turn up. This lot turned up today after only 3 working days, makes one wonder why they can’t manage it all the time, so we will now have to decide how long we will stay here. We are not likely to give up a paid for day but we did get one free after paying for a total of 6, so that one won’t matter. We are looking forward to getting back to the coast.

It is now looking as though, if we don’t stay too long at each visit on the way, we might meet up with Denis and Sue Bowden at Townsville. Denis and Sue are another couple from Tassie and Denis used to work with me. He received a package at the same time as I, and he was actually the one who had to stay back and see all the others off before he left.


Saturday 11th May, (Ilfracombe).

We passed a small town called Ilfracombe on the way here that had a large display of machinery on the side of the road and we decided, seeing it is only 30km from Longreach, that we would return for a trip rather than stop on the way. Today we returned and had a look, and it was spectacular. All of the machinery was very old and some were actually one of only several made. An old bulldozer for eg was one of only three ever made and some of the mechanics is something to behold.

Another example was an old war tank, one of which was sold after the war in new condition for 5 pounds. Some people were known to buy them, fit blades to the front and sell them for 500 pounds or so. The one on display is one such item.

This was a very interesting and worthwhile visit. Some of the other machinery consisted of a pair of wagons, 6 wheeled, powered from the tractor by tail shaft and had steering mechanics you wouldn’t believe. They had pivoting hubs, front and rear linked together so when the front turned one way the rear turned the other, and very ingenious I thought.


Friday 10th May, (Longreach).

Some of the attractions available were passed by us, as all had an admission charge that we thought was a little excessive as we are living on a budget, so the last couple of days were spent not doing much.

We are now at Longreach, a further 100km west.

Sentiments shown by both of us indicated that we are in a position of having had just about enough of the outback and its dry conditions. Linda is suffering from a very dry and irritable throat that can only be caused by the dry conditions. I am also noticing it in the airways but it doesn’t appear to be bothering me as much as her. It seems that we are both getting to the point that we would much rather be on the coast where it would be a little more moist, humid and green. We only have Winton to come to the west and then our plans could take us on a path back to the coast to Townsville so we will have to endure the situation until then. Maybe after a couple of days here we may change our minds, who knows.

If we had have visited Longreach first on the list in the outback I am sure I would have said it is a very nice town, but with our present attitude, our summation is somewhat diminishing to an extent lower than that. We will have a look around and see a few things and we may end up changing our minds.

There does seem to be quite a bit to do in town, but again everything interesting enough to see costs, as if the town is turning everything into an attraction to extract the tourist dollar. This situation does not suit us, as I am sure I have said before, because we are living on a reasonably tight budget and we simply can’t afford to visit everything.

Even the Caravan Park we booked into is a little depressing, as I would consider the charges they have applied are in excess of what it is worth. They are doing the park up somewhat, but not yet complete, and maybe this is a way of raising funds, but they don’t really have any competition so I guess they can do what they like. There is another caravan park in town but it is rather small and would be continually booked out due to people going there because of the high cost of this one.

We have booked a trip on a river cruise and meal for Monday night as a treat because we have not eaten out in such a long time, so we are looking forward to the trip being as good as it is led to believe.