Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day Eighteen.....Barcaldin

O.M.G!!!!!!  Am I glad that we decided to rest at Jericho prior to tackling the 190 odd K to Longreach.

The trip took us around 3 hours with a couple of stops and I have to say it was the worst bit of road we have seen thus far.   Barely wide enough for two cars and as undulating as the Looner Park roller coaster, I forgot to turn on the UHF and consequently was a little caught out by the site of a road train in my side mirror as he was passing us at over 100k an hour....S...T I thought hang on and slow down to let him through.

Quickly turned on to station 40 in time to get the heads up from a tourist coach coming through.... promise to self to invest in a rearview camera to give us a little more warning. 

When we got to Longreach we saw the road train on the side of the road and it was only a little one... about 40 meters long.

We had a short stop at Barcaldin where we parked in front of the Artesian Hotel, the only one not to be burned down during the Shearers uprising in 1891.

Across the road was the Monument to the Tree Of Knowledge, an unusual structure but quite clever in design with varing lengths of wooden beams hanging from the ceiling which when the wind blew clanked together with a rather plesant timber (Ha! ha!)

Inside this Monument is located the Tree of Knowledge under which the beginnings of the Labor Union movement began.  

Not wishing to take away from this important piece of Australian history,I could nevertheless, not stop myself from wondering if there were any parallels to be taken from this vision...  The dead tree is supported by almost invisable guy wires like the strings of a puppet and I invisaged them to be not unlike the Trade Union Power Brokers silently dictating to the Labor Party...  I could almost hear the chimes sighing....

'Goodbye Kevin Rudd, 
farewell Neville Wran,
it's a long long way for Julia Gillard
so she better take care....

The fact that water is without doubt the most valuable and important commodity in the outback, it is therefore with interest that I took these photos of one of the first Windmills built to pump this precious liquid up from the depths.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Seventeen......Sapphire

It was with a degree of sadness that we said our farewells to the friends we have made here in Sapphire and packed up for the next leg of our journey.

Longreach with an overnight stop at the town of Jericho.  In hindsight we could have done it in one day but it would have been a big day and there really is no rush.

Filled up with diesel at $1.58.9 a litre (that hurt)

The road is as straight as far as the eye can see and rises to 553 meters above see level, at one point it was down to second gear but the beast did us proud.

Road trains out this way are 53meters long and have three dogs, so not much passing done, by us at least....

Eileen says hi! to family and friends at one of our comfort stops at a toilet block in the middle of
nowhere. (and spotlessly clean to boot)

Arrived at Jericho show Ground around 12 noon and set up a quick camp.

Eileen set up to make cauliflower cheese and chicken for lunch/tea so Dad promptly decided on a quick nap in his chair while Pepper lay guard.

Don't you dare touch my Dad!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day Sixteen......

Our last day for this part of our trip and we decided to backtrack a little (around 60k each way) to Emerald for a bit of sight seeing and to give Pepper a bath and restock on groceries at an affordable price.  We went to Coles in Emerald and discovered that it had just reopened after a complete refit due to the 2011 floods.   There was a line about a meter above floor level which was the depth of the water through the shop and when one has a look around the town you quickly realise just how much water must have gone through here.

When we got back to Sapphire we were a little tired so decided on a restful afternoon. 

Took Pep for a afternoon walk and took these photos of some Guineafowl which wake us up in the morning. 

 Their call sound distinctly like someone jumping up and down on an innerspring matress. I kid you not.

An Aphostle Bird

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Fifteen........

Eileen wanted to do some washing and clean the home today, so I took the opportunity to have a little fossick along the Retreat River and quickly discovered that I was no where near prepared and after a couple of hours panning with no result, I decided that it was a mugs game and taking in the scenery was a better option.  Here are a few of the visions that I came across.

I had a chat with these fellows and learnt quite a bit about how to look for sapphires and upon reflection realised that I came totally unprepared.....

Will know better next time, and Eileen and I agree that there will be a next time and a little longer than 5 nights.

This is a Sulphurcrested Cockatoo, quite a big bird and they congregate in large groups and make the most apalling screaching cry.

I believe that they can render a fair bit of havoc with those strong beaks.

This old gum tree is struggling to survive the recent floods which have washed away a considerable part of the river bank and left the tree in the river.
I learnt that prospecting around fallen trees and submerged roots is a good place to fine Sapphires and Zircons

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Fourteen......

Looking for Elderado

Today we went for a drive around the gemfields and wow! what an eyeopener as to how some people are prepared to eek out a living with the hope of finding that elusive 'BIG ONE'.

We discovered that Archibald John Richardson is the man responsible for this fever.

Wherever you look in the gemfield you will see tents, shanties and caravans and people digging holes.

We visited the Blue Hollow Mine where in fact a big one had been found.  The owners told us that it was there ritirement fund and was worth in the vicinity of $300K. 

They are still looking for the big one......

Eileen and I decided to go back to Pats Place and buy a bucket of dirt and see how our luck panned out...

Three buckets later ($8 a bucket) we had this sorry lot to show for our backbreaking toil.   Worth about $2.00 it reminded me about the story of 'How to make a small fortune fossiking for gems'......

Start with a big one......

On the way out after a lovely cup of coffee and a quiet sit in the sun, I spied these lovely sapphires and got them for Eileen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Thirteen.....

Arose in the morning to 5 degree temp (bloddy freezing) and although I wanted to sleep in, Pepper was having none of it and after jumping all over me, I decided that I had better get out of bed and take her for her morning walk.

After breakfast Eileen and I decided to have a go at this fossicking deal, so as advised by the locals, we drove out to Pats Place and purchased a bucket of dirt and began our search.

Eileen gives out a shout "Look darling we can retire now!" at which I rush over to see that it is just another stone.... keep looking sweetie...

This is me washing the stones so that we can see if we have any precious ones....ha ha

To be totally honest we did find a few but will have to keep working for a while yet.

We noticed a lot of residents walking around the park staring at the road this morning and upon asking what they were looking for, I was advised that one of the guests had found a 16carot blue sapphire that morning. (the road had been surfaced with tailings from the dig and this one had been missed)

After such tiring work, we had a rest in the afternoon and I went over to the Happy Hour later and met a nice German couple and had a chat while listening to some great old timer music.

I think that the sign over the shed says it all

"No strangers here....
Just friends you haven't met .." 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day Twelve......

Departed Midgee at 9.00am and todays drive went well although the road was mostly as rough as guts with a surface not unlike a patchwork quilt.  I do believe that there were more repairs than original road.

It was a long drive (as caravaners go) at 341klms, and we only stopped once for fuel and a bite to eat just outside Blackwater.

This is true MUMOFA country with little to see but dead kangaroos, cotton fields and dead kangaroos. 

We did see this Power Station and have sent a photo to Julia Gillard... talk about spewing carbon!!!!

Arrived at The Blue Gem Caravan Park at 1.45pm.  A small park with tight sites (much fun parking the van, but did it with relative ease much to the surprise of the onlookers).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Eleven.......Rockhampton

Today Eileen and I spent a lovely day at the Rockhampton Heritage Village.  The Village is situated on just over 11 hectares and portrays life as it was from the 1850's through to the 1950's.

We had an eye opening day when we saw exactly how the people of this era existed.  It would be impossible to share all of the interesting things that we saw but I wonder how many of us could live happily in any of the following three houses.

Starting with what was originally a two room shack with dirt floor but later extended by the family in order to house the children who followed.

These cottages with horizontal slabs were known as drop slab cottages and would not have had glass windows.

The next house is a four room cottage built in the early 1900's.  It was owned by the Woods family.

The photos of the following rooms of this home actually seem larger than they are.  In order of appearance we have the Kitchen, the Parlour, the main Bedroom and the Children's room.

With no TV, Computers, Internet or Video games, entertainment was usually cards or singing around the piano.

This next home is actually Rosewood Homestead and was built in 1988 by the Egan family.  The homestead is of horizontal slab construction with iron bark timbers felled from the property and dressed by adze and broad axe.

It is not difficult to see that these people were considerably better off than either of the previous home owners in that the home is much larger and has glass windows and pressed metal walls and ceilings imported from Britain.  The kitchen building is separate from the living area for coolness and also to reduce the risk of fire.  The floor was made from a mixture of earth or termite nest, cow manure and ox blood which set as a solid floor.  This home was occupied till 1984, water was never connected to the house and electricity was provided by generator from 1955 to 1981 when it was connected to the power grid.

I can't describe the feelings that flow over you when you witness historic villages such as these and our sincere thanks goes out to all of the volunteer's who give their time in order for us to experience this pleasure.

Perhaps it can be summed up best by this poem we saw in one of the homes.

I Remember

I remember the cheese of my childhood
and the bread that was cut with a knife.
The children all helped with the housework
and the man went to work not the wife.

The cheese never needed an ice chest
the bread it was crusty and hot.
The children always seemed happy
and the wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the billy
with that lovely cream on the top.
The dinners straight from the oven
and not from the fridge in the shop.

The children were a lot more contented
they didn't need money for kicks.
Games with their mates in the paddock
and sometimes the Saturday flicks.

I remember the shop on the corner
where a pennyworth of lollies were sold.
Do you think i'm a bit too nostalgic
or is it i'm just getting old.

Part two of a dose of nostalgia...

Austin 7


Chevrolet Ute


Model T Ford

Willies Jeep

42 WLA and Indian Scout

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day Ten.........

We drove in to Rockhampton today to restock on provisions at a reasonable price.   Had a look around Rocky  which is a sprawling town with a population of 60,000 situated on the Fitzroy river. It is located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and is  considered the Capital of central Queensland.

The Tropic of Capricorn is one of the Earths major circles of latitude.  It lies 23.5 degrees south of the Equator and marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon.   Running through Australia, Chile, Southern Brazil, and South Africa, it links extreme conditions and dramatic landscapes.

We called in to the Tourist Information Centre and came away surprised at just how much there is to see in this region if only we had the time.  The real lesson the we have learnt today is that we will not be able to see everything on this holiday but we will catalogue the places we would like to see and come back again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day Nine.......... Midgee

Midgee campsite
Midgee has proven to be quite a nice Caravan Park even if the water pressure is just above a trickle.   It is about 10k out of Rockhampton on the main road inbound with the rail on the other side of the highway. 

We get several coal trains heading to the Callied Basin to pick up coal to take to the port in Gladstone.  They are massive around 100 carriages and 3 or 4 engines.

Today our plan was to do a day trip to Agnes Waters and the town of 1770 to meet up with a couple of our friends who have been caretaking a caravan park while the owners are on holiday.  The park is quite nice and the area is lovely.  The beaches are great and becon a morning and evening stroll.  Here is a pic of Agnes Waters.

Agnes Waters

The town of 1770 got its name from the fact that Captain Cook made a stop there for provisions and repairs in that year and just looking at the way the still water in the river mouth is protected by the sandbars from the ocean, it's not difficult to see why.

The mouth of the river

Looking out to thr ocean

The trip was perhaps a little adventurous as the round trip was about 500klms so a lot of time was spent in the car but the scenery was good and we now know that it would be worth another visit in the future.