We headed north from Longreach, towards Muttaburra, the “road” for much of the way is two wheel tracks over dead flat, black soil plain. Thankfully there had not been any rain recently. Back onto bitumen and into Muttaburra. It does not take long to look over Muttaburra and we pushed onto Hughenden. We found the cheapest fuel on the whole trip here at the unmanned servo –approx. 20c cheaper than most places, look it up if you are going through.
67K’s west is our next camp. Porcupine Gorge NP. There were only two other camps in the whole area, a couple who were really keen photographers and a couple of French backpackers. The gorge walk is not difficult and the scenery is great, as is the view from a lookout at the top of the gorge near the road. The country is very flat and unless you make the effort to go and look you would not know that a huge “trench” cuts through it. There is a lot of bird life around and in the gorge because of the water, and we were visited by a Rufus Bettong after dark. It was unafraid and hung about for some time just on the limit of the light. They are a large hopping “rat like ”mammal and if frightened can move extremely quickly and change direction whilst in full flight. We must have been near their feeding area as we were visited by quite a few of them through the night.
We visited the marine Dinosaur exhibit in Richmond. It is a really good exhibit and well worth the $40.00. We spent hours there and ended up staying overnight in Richmond. Not a bad CP! The exhibit is the result of a lucky find made by a local grazier after heavy rain had eroded a creek bank and it has spawned lots of digs in the area. Then it was back into Hughenden for more cheap fuel before hitting the road again. It started raining about half way to Gregory Downs and by the time we got there it was bucketing down. It was decided that a pub meal was warranted so we camped behind the pub – not very salubrious. The rain eased whilst we put up the tent, then pelted down again whilst we walked to the bar! That’s why we have dryasabones.
Julia Creek was to be a refuel stop but the truck had broken down and there was no diesel in the place, so we stocked up on local meat from the lady butcher and headed towards Cloncurry which added approx. 100K’s to the planned trip, but plans are only made to be amended!!!
Cloncurry-Burketown roads are road train country, give them right of way and there is never a problem and always a friendly “thank you’ wave. There is a really good baker in Burketown, we know because we had to buy pies for lunch because the phone lines were down. No phone = No plastic=No fuel. After this we ensured we ALWAYS had enough cash for a full load of fuel. Luckily the line was restored whilst we demolished the pies.
We were heading approx. 100 K’s west of Doomagee, an aboriginal community, towards Kingfisher Camp. The last 20 K’s were “interesting” mud, slush and water. There had been 33mm of rain the night before and the fuel truck had been in and out ahead of us. We got through but were covered in mud. Kingfisher Camp is on a working cattle property, they were drafting weaners whilst we were there. It is a really peaceful, beautiful setting on the Nicholson River (yep salties warnings are everywhere!) The caretakers were Kiwis who come back each year for “the tourist season”. They know the country and were able to give advice on walks and scenery. We settled in for a few days as there were only a few camps amongst towering trees and some green grass. We did a walk the caretakers had spoken about, great scenery, wildflowers, birds and a Golden Headed tree snake. It was travelling very quickly across the ground and did not “break speed” to take refuge from us up in a tree.
We met a couple who had come from King Ash Bay, a fishing camp north of Boorooloola. It was the first “sad fish story” that we were to be told over the next few weeks”. The lack of a wet season meant that the rivers had not been flushed and the fish had plenty of tucker available so the fisher people were missing out. Lucky we can get by without fishing!
Two weeks out, another 1500K’s, the rain has stopped, the sun is shining and we still have 3 and a half months to go. Bliss
Next time, more fishing camps and Limmen NP