Combo Waterhole and Waltzing Matilda

combo7Combo Waterhole is a refreshing change even in the driest times, a pleasant place to camp by a billabong and wait while your billy boils. Situated 7km south of Kynuna, between Cloncurry and Winton, there is a short trip off the bitumen of the Landsborough Highway to some interpretative signs and a walking track to the waterhole, which in the wet season is one of many channels of the Diamantina River.combo2What little water there is kept in place by stone overshots installed on Dagworth Station in the 1890s. Teams of labourers used horses, drays and baskets to cart in stone and soil laid in tightly packed rows strengthened by keystones. The water has become a haven for wildlife that thrives under the shade of its coolibah trees.combo1It’s not known if Banjo Paterson witnessed the building of these overshots when he visited Dagworth in 1895 with his fiance Sarah Riley but it was another tale of that visit that has remained strong in the Australian imagination. Paterson, then 31, practised as a solicitor, but had also started a writing career. From 1885, he began submitting and having poetry published in The Bulletin.combo3His fiance Sarah was a friend of Christina Macpherson, sister of station owner Bob Macpherson. Christina was a talented musician and while there Paterson heard her play on her zither a “catchy, whimsical, haunting tune that deserves words to keep it alive”. Christina was playing the Scottish tune called Bonnie Wood O’ Craigielea. She heard it at the races in Victoria that year and the catchy tune stuck in her head. Now Paterson set about composing words to Australianise the song combining two local legends for the purpose.combo5One day he and Bob Macpherson and Banjo stopped at the Combo Waterhole where they found the remains of a recently slaughtered sheep killed by a swagman. The incident reminded Macpherson that a year earlier Dagworth had been through a bitter shearers’ strike (one of many in the 1890s). As Macpherson planned to start shearing with non-union labour, unionists used the cover of nightfall and gunfire to set the woolshed alight, killing around 140 sheep. When police investigated the suicide of Samuel “French” Hoffmeister who shot himself at the strikers’ camp a day later, they found a burned letter which linked him with the woolshed fire.combo6The second legend was of a trooper pursuing a man who had killed an Aboriginal youth, who stumbled on a swagman who thought the trooper was looking for him because he’d killed a sheep for food. The swagman tried to escape but drowned in a waterhole. The name for Paterson’s new ditty came to him when he and Macpherson found a swagman on the road and Macpherson said “that’s what they call waltzing matilda”.combo5

 

The song was first performed at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton. It was an instant success that soon swept across Australia, becoming the favourite song of Australian troops fighting in the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign. The song became associated with Winton and its tourist centre (now being rebuilt after fire) is named the Waltzing Matilda Centre.  But the song was born at Combo Waterhole, 160km further to the north.

 

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A trip to the Birdsville Races

The first thing noticeable as you arrive into Birdsville is the planes. There must have been hundreds parked at the airport of every size and dimension and from all parts of Australia.
The second noticeable thing just outside the airport was the steam. It is arising from the artesian bore piping water up from the Great Artesian Basin.  The bore was drilled in 1961 and has a water temperature of just below boiling point. A series of cooling tubes and a parallel plate heat exchanger brings the temperature down.

birdsville1bSituated on the eastern fringe of the Simpson Desert, the area around Birdsville was the home of the Wangkangurru-Yarluyandi people. The first Europeans came in 1844 when SA Survey-General and explorer Charles Sturt led expeditions to the area. Burke and Wills‘ Camp 76 was also in the region on their return trek in 1860-1. The township of Birdsville grew out of the colonial need to create a customs post between South Australia and Queensland. Before the days of motorised transport Afghan cameleers brought supplies up the Birdsville Track. But today was all about horses. The 135th running of the Birdsville Cup.

They came from all parts with the town of 200 swelling to 6500 for the weekend. I have been to Birdsville many times before (most recently to the 2017 Big Red Bash) but this was my first time here for the races. The main street was set up with market and food stalls.

Before the races the place to meet was the Birdsville Hotel. They came dressed in all kinds of costumes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has an association with Birdsville having visited twice since 2015 to check out the town’s internet and mobile capability. He wasn’t there today but a mechanical bull named in his honour was there.

The pub was the site of the Calcutta for the races. A Calcutta is an open auction where each horse goes to the highest bidder. The practice originated with the Colonial British (of course) in Calcutta, India.

As a photographer I’m always on the lookout for colourful costumes or groups so not surprisingly my eye was drawn to these guys. I asked them where they were from. “Orange,” they replied. “Of course,” I said and they laughed. “You serious?” I said doubting them. But indeed, they came from Orange, NSW. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birdsville Bakery is a little bit away from the action across the town oval. But it is always worth a visit for its famous camel pies. Permanently parked out the front is Onslo the VW Beetle.  It was owned by author and journalist Kelly Theobald, who was killed in a car crash on the Birdsville Track in 2015, aged just 27.

As I headed back across the oval, a plane came in overhead with distinctive RAAF markings. I knew exactly who it was. Earlier I had bumped into the Diamantina Mayor Geoff Morton but he was in a rush and couldn’t stop to talk to me. When I picked up my media pass I was told why, the Governor General of Australia Peter Cosgrove was expected in town at 11am. And here just a minute or two after 11 was his plane.

I walked back to the airport, conveniently located in the middle of town, just opposite the pub and saw Cosgrove come off the plane with his wife to be greeted by Mayor Morton. They were quickly whisked away on a tour of town. 

That tour probably included a visit inside the pub at some stage. William Blair built the Birdsville Hotel in 1884 and its weathered sandstone walls have been there almost as long as the races. The hotel is heritage-listed as one of three surviving masonry buildings in Birdsville and is a rare surviving late 19th century outback hotel.

One of the other two (along with the courthouse) is the ruins of the 1883-vintage Royal Hotel. Though only a year older than the Birdsville Hotel, it has suffered more from the ravages of time. From 1923 to 1937, the building was leased by the Rev John Flynn’s Presbyterian Australian Inland Mission as its first bush nursing home and Alfred Traeger installed one of his first bush pedal radio stations there. Afterwards it was used as a residence, then abandoned before it partially collapsed.

Continuing to seek out colourful groups, these three ladies were happy to have their photo taken, “Girls Trip in Progress”. Someone later told me the Birdsville Races was a “schoolies for the over 50s” and the evidence for that was everywhere.

Like all schoolies they needed holiday accommodation and tent cities were set up at every vantage point.

Having completed my tour of the town, it was time to head to the races. The racecourse is a few kilometres south of the town across the Diamantina River, which is part of the endorheic Lake Eyre Basin. We’ve had hardly any rain for six months in western and north west Queensland so I was surprised to see how much permanent water was still in the river. The river attracts the bird life and explains how the town got its name.

The entrance to the track was THE place to get your photo taken, or in my case, to take your photos.

The set up was impressive for a bush race meeting and the 6500 punters were catered for with ease. Needless to say it was full of colourfully-dressed characters from all over Australia like these “Dust Angels” from Brisbane. Behind them is the “Black Tower”, the communications and media centre at the meet. The Black Tower is, in typical inverted Aussie bush style, white.

Believe it or not, there was actual horse racing at the Birdsville Races. Two days of it on Friday and Saturday. I got there for the Saturday and this is Race 1 with Mount Isa jockey Dan Ballard storming home to win on Nuncius.

As well as the novelty outfits there were many people dressed up in proper attire. The fashions on the field attracted big prizes and were hotly contested by women, men, couples and even families.

The Governor-General came along to watch the fashions and as he did so, he handed out a medal to a young girl watching on. I asked him what that was about. He said it was the Governor General’s medal and it was a random decision to give it to that girl. He had never met her before but must have liked her smile.

I didn’t have any medals to hand out but these two ladies were my favourite: Christine the Angel and Peta the Devil, both from Melbourne. Like the GG it was a random choice, but it reminds me of this scene in Full Metal Jacket. “I think I was trying to say something about the duality of man, sir “. 

After a big day at the track, it was time for the 135th running of the Birdsville Cup. Victory went to Roma horse Fast Fella ridden by Rockhampton jockey Adrian Coome.

And the GG was on hand to present the gleaming gold trophy to winning Roma trainer Craig Smith. While they celebrated it was time for me to bid adieu to Birdsville for another year.

A trip to Lake Julius

My newspaper the North West Star covers an enormous territory, almost a half a million square kilometres of North West Queensland. As editor I’ve set myself the task of seeing as much of that territory as possible in my time here, a not inconsiderable task given it is an area larger than Spain but with very few people and very few serviceable roads.julius1To get to many places you need a four wheel drive, a bit of planning and a sense of adventure because if you do get into strife, the options for help may not be there with very little traffic and no mobile reception. The picture above is barely 25kms from Mount Isa, after leaving the highway and heading north on the dirt road to Lake Julius and Kajabbi. Every time I drive from Isa to Cloncurry I see the turn-off but until this Saturday, I’d never taken it.julius2The winter dry season terrain is red with pockets of green. There’s not much traffic but you see it well in advance thanks to the large amount of dust any vehicle raises, rising like a plume 20m into the air above. One particular plume went higher still and when I got up close I found it was a slow-moving cattle truck. I had to wait ages for an opportunity to overtake it as the dust it raised made the view ahead negligible and dangerous.julius3After 70km up the dirt road, I came to this junction signpost. The kilometres are wrong in both direction. It’s 70km to the highway then another 20km to Isa while it’s at least 50km to Kajabbi.  In any case my destination was Lake Julius and that one was accurate. The Dam was 14km away to the left.julius4Looking at the road in that direction it was clear some climbing into the hills lay ahead.julius5Lake Julius is carved out of the Leichhardt River and there is not much water in that river at this time of year. None at all in fact. The trip to the Dam heads over the causeway of the river here as it winds its way north to empty into the Gulf (well, it does in summer anyway).julius6Above is the view from the middle of the causeway looking at the river south towards to the dam. It’s empty now but locals say it doesn’t take much rain to fill and when it does the workers at the Dam are cut off, sometimes for weeks or more, with access only from the air.julius8Finally I got to the house which overlooked the dam. It was a private house but it had access to visitors, picnic tables and a lookout with a great vista over the dam.julius7And what a view. Julius Dam is located at the junction of Paroo Creek and the Leichhardt River, 70 kms north-east of Mount Isa. There may not be any water in the Leichhardt upstream but here there was plenty dammed in. As of the latest figures provided by the Mount Isa Water Board (August 14, 2017) Lake Julius is 87.9% full. Sometimes the dam is well over 100 percent full and the water rushes over the top. That would be a sight to behold although difficult to capture without air transport as the access road is cut off.julius9Lake Julius is a human-made dam. It was built at the height of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen construction era in the mid to late 1970s and opened on October 8, 1978. julius10Lake Julius has a full supply capacity of 127,000 megalitres, a surface area of 1255 hectares with an average depth of 8.9 metres.  The concrete multiple arch and buttress structure is unique in Queensland.julius11I walked from the lookout down to the boat ramp. Lake Julius supplies several mines in the region via the Mount Isa Water Board and North West Queensland Water Pipeline Company, which pipes water from the Dam to their customers. It also acts as a back-up supply for Lake Moondarra as a supply of Mount Isa town water but its distance from town makes it expensive to pump outside times of drought. The state government is now providing money to use a solar pump to get the water to town more cheaply.julius12Assuming the Dam is not overflowing, it is a perfect spot for boating and recreational fishing. It’s also miles from anywhere so you’ll likely have the wilderness of the lake to yourself.julius13This map shows the many channels of the lake formed by the Dam.

julius14The dam cost $30 million at the time and was financed by the Mount Isa City Council with assistance from Mount Isa Mines. According to the Canberra Times, April 30 1977, the council were still $6m short and could face bankruptcy if they didn’t get the extra money from the federal government. The feds eventually came to the party.julius15This is the view looking downstream as the Leichhardt makes its way to the Gulf of Carpentaria past Augustus Downs station. The road leading up to the dam is visible centre left.julius16I drove back to the junction and believing the sign I thought Kajabbi was just 32km north and set off in that direction. One of the many hilltops in this region (though likely not this one) is Battle Mountain, scene of the Kalkadoon people’s last stand against settlers and native police in 1884. The rough terrain meant their independence lasted longer than most but the might of European Snyder weapons was eventually too powerful.julius17I got to 32km but where Kajabbi should have been according to the sign all there was was a cattle outstation. I drove further north a while until I got to an unmarked junction and not willing to gamble further I drove back to Mount Isa. Kajabbi will have to wait for another trip.

Saving the Great Artesian Basin

gab-mapOne of Australia’s greatest hidden gifts to the life that colonised it is an enormous water resource far below the ground. Spanning four states and territories over a fifth of the continent and continuing out into the Gulf of Carpentaria it is the Great Artesian Basin, and is the largest and deepest artesian water basin in the world. In some places it does resemble a basin, but it is mostly solid rock with water stored in the pores.

The GAB’s water is ancient, falling as rain or leaks from rivers west of the Great Dividing Range over a million years ago. That water takes a slow journey of one to five metres a year percolating through cracks in sandstone sheets (aquifers) held together under pressure from the impermeable stones (aquitards) above and beneath. As well as heading roughly west the water also trickles down under gravity.

Over time water is stored in vast quantities. It emerges to the ground naturally under pressure through springs and geological faults. Native plants and animals relied on springs in parched landscapes, particularly in the south-west where the Basin is shallower. Humans arrived on the continent 50,000 years ago and quickly fanned out to every corner. It is likely they swiftly found this precious resource. Burial sites 20,000 years old showed evidence of trading posts alongside artesian springs. Use of bore water dramatically increased with the arrival of Europeans into central Australia.

The first bore in 1878 found water 53m below the surface at Killara in north-west New South Wales. Within ten years, substantial finds were made at Cunnamulla and especially Barcaldine, both in Queensland. The Barcaldine bore pumped 700,000 litres a day unleashing a drilling boom and pastoral settlement in the central west. By 1900 there were more than 500 bores in the Basin thought it wasn’t easy to find water and not all were successful.

Enough reliable water was pumped out to support 120 towns and hundreds of properties in Outback Australia. Initially the pastoral industries took the most water but more recently water release by oil and gas has caught up. Mining of copper, uranium, coal, bauxite and opals also depends on water, much of it artesian, while tourist spas are also an intensive user of Basin water.

Human activity will unlikely ever dry up the Basin. In 120 years of bores about 0.1 percent of the total water was extracted from the Basin. But what it has done is lower the pressure declining the flow of water, sometimes by 80%. A third of bores have stopped flowing altogether. The springs have been severely damaged by excavation, stock and humans while exotic pests degrade the area around springs.  Early bore technology was flawed too with many leaking and most were uncontrolled in their discharge of water, and 95% of the water ended up into open drains.

Diminishing flow was recognised as early as 1912 when New South Wales introduced licensing of bores and eventually vested groundwater to the state. They also brought in bore construction standards. In 1990 governments agreed on a Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) to cap and pipe bores. Across Australia capping programs rehabilitated free-flowing bores and replaced drains with pipes but the majority of the 3000 uncontrolled bores and 34,000km of open drains remain in place.

A Strategic Management Plan was put in place in 2000 and agreed by the Council Of Australian Governments.  But just like the Murray Darling (river) Basin plan,  the issue of licences and multiple jurisdictions means the issue is inescapably political. The jury remains out on the impact of the extraction of large use of water for mining, especially coal seam gas mining.  Graziers have to be convinced capping and piping will help them decrease their operating costs as well as increasing the pressure of the water and the reliability of its supply.

In Queensland the GAB is managed by a 10-year-plan which expires in June this year. Queensland’s government wants to cap and pipe all its uncapped bores and bore drains in the next 10-year cycle. It is, as the government policy maker I spoke to told me, “an aspirational target” but it helps show the state is serious about the problem. The new draft plan (now out for community consultation) allows for action if a licence holder fails to comply with conditions.

There are estimated to be more than 25,000 bores tapping the Queensland GAB, taking 315,000 ML a year. A diagram from the draft plan I saw at a Mount Isa community meeting showed that in 2016 around 90,400 ML was accounted for in losses through seepage and evaporation from uncontrolled bores and open bore drains. This exceeds the amount extracted by stock and domestic of 66,000 ML and the oil and gas industries 64,000 ML with other uses accounting for 93,000 ML.

Since 1989 almost 1000 bores have been rehabilitated under government-funded program but an estimated one in five uncapped bores in Queensland remain untreated while 28% of bore drains have yet to be replaced with pipelines. Under the plan all stock and domestic water users will be required to deliver water through water-tight delivery systems by the time the plan expires in 2027. Stock and domestic licences that permit free flowing bores or bore drains will require a bore management plan outlining what steps will be taken to deliver a water-tight delivery system.

The future of the Great Artesian Basin is exciting if it is managed properly. GAB water has a future as an energy source. Birdsville already has a geothermal power plant and other towns such as Winton are looking to copy it. It will make water available for future development and social and cultural activities that depend on water, including for the aspirations of Indigenous peoples in native title areas. It is crucial it is not destroyed in the same way humans are destroying Australia’s other natural wonder: the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Mount Isa to Brisbane via Blackall

In November I drove from Mount Isa to Brisbane via Winton. A few weeks later I was back down the same road heading back to Brisbane for Christmas, again taking two days to do the 1900km drive, but this time stopping at Blackall overnight. This first photo is of the Blue Heeler Hotel in Kynuna, 160km north of Winton. The historic little timber building can trace its existence back to the 1880s when it was a Cobb and Co post. Thirsty travellers still seek out its wares, though it was shut as I drove past mid-morning.

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After a long stretch of flat country south of Cloncurry it was good to see some hills again north of Winton. These mesa-like structures remind me of the American west.

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Recent rains means there is plenty of grass so the cattle are well fed and fat again in the West. The two to three year drought was broken by heavy falls across the region.

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A brief glimpse of the Boeing 747 at the Qantas Founders Museum as I drove past Longreach. The Museum tells the story of the founders of Qantas and the 747 is pride of place. All Qantas Boeing 747-400 aircraft carry the word “Longreach” as part of the livery as well as their city name, signifying the “long reach” of the aircraft and the town where Qantas commenced operations.

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Just 27km east of Longreach is Ilfracombe. This tiny town is home to the 100-year-old Wellshot Hotel, one of the most famous pubs in the outback (I stayed a raucous night there in 2002) and also the Ilfracombe Machinery and Heritage Museum which has artifacts dotted along the side of the road, known as The Great Machinery Mile. The Museum is home to everything from standing engines to earthmoving machinery and illustrates the evolution of the pastoral and transport industries.

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About halfway between Longreach and Barcaldine I stumbled upon the appropriately named Christmas Creek. I felt very festive in this part of Tinseltown.

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I spent the night in Blackall which at 900km to Mount Isa and 1000km to Brisbane is the closest town to the halfway mark. Blackall is the biggest town in the central west, developed on the sheep’s back. I visited the Woolscour, too late for the last tour of the day but I was able to roam the grounds for free. The Woolscour operated commercially from 1908 to 1978 and was restored in 1989 by the Blackall Historical Woolscour Association. The plant has the only intact steam-powered wool washing plant left in Australia.

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Blackall’s association with wool is underscored by Australia’s most famous shearer Jackie Howe. In 1892 at a property outside Blackall, Howe shore a record of 321 sheep in 7 hours 40 minutes. A memorial statue is located outside Blackall’s Universal Garden Centre in Shamrock St. Inside is a gallery, with a historic display, relating to Howe and local history. Howe was a committed trade unionist and active during the shearer strikes of 1891 and 1894. After he died in 1920, Queensland Premier T. J. Ryan wrote a telegram to Howe’s widow, “I have lost a true and trusted friend and Labor has lost a champion”.

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There wasn’t much water in the evocatively named Barcoo River when I went to check it out in Blackall. The first white explorer in the region, Sir Thomas Mitchell, gave it a different name when he arrived in 1846, calling it the Victoria, after Britain’s monarch. This was because Mitchell thought the north-flowing stream might be a “river leading to India”, in other words, cross the northern part of the continent before emptying into the Indian Ocean as the “Victoria River” already named in the Northern Territory. Mitchell’s second-in-command Edmund Kennedy later followed the course of the river, finding it turned abruptly south-west and ending up in the Lake Eyre Basin. Kennedy renamed it the Aboriginal word Barcoo.

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I was greeted by a moody and beautiful dawn the following morning as I set off south on the second half of my journey down the Landsborough Highway.

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About halfway between Blackall and Tambo I crossed the Wild Dog Barrier Fence. The fence was built in the 1880s to keep dingoes out of the south-east part of the continent to protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland. It is one of the longest structures in the world and is the world’s longest fence. It stretches 5614 km east to west from Jimbour on the Darling Downs near Dalby ending west of Eyre peninsula on the Nullarbor Plain at Nundroo, South Australia. It has not been completely successful at keeping out the dingoes but is still regularly maintained.

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After 12 hours of driving I arrived in Brisbane. I was reminded again that evening of the festive season as I walked down the Queen St Mall right in to the middle of a Christmas pageant and parade. I didn’t hang around with the Gingerbread Man and the elves for long being very thirsty after two days in the saddle and very much ready to “bend the arm”. Cheers.

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Next stop Mackay

After my day on GKI, I drove north the following morning from Rockhampton to Mackay, where I was booked into another motel.There is 300km of nothing much between Rocky and Sarina, which sits on the edge of Mackay canefield belt. At Sarina I detoured inland through the canefields then up in the ranges to Eungella Chalet. I stopped here the last time I did this run but it was raining. Though the clouds threatened again today, it cleared by the time I got to the top of the range and enjoyed a great view down to the valley below as I had lunch in the Chalet.

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After a short walk in the local National Park, I drove the 70km down below and into Mackay. After checking in, I drove across the Pioneer River and up through Mackay’s northern beach suburbs until I hit Slade Point. It was yet another spot named by  Captain James Cook in 1770 after Sir Thomas Slade, Surveyor to the Navy 1755-71. This is the view north to Dolphin’s Head.mackay2

I expected to see some heavy industry around here as the home of two coal ports at Hay Point (seen in the left of the image below) and Dalrymple Bay, but I was more surprised to find a 73 hectare reserve, Slade Point Reserve. I went for a long walk in the Reserve, first hugging the shore with good views from Lamberts Lookout and then inland through the dunes.mackay3

As afternoon turned to evening I drove south back to town, detouring through Mackay Marina which glistened in the late sunshine.mackay4

The following day I had to get to Airlie Beach which was less than two hours away. So there was time for a detour back to Cape Hillsborough National Park. Again, this was another spot I visited last time but its beauty demands repeat visits. The beach was empty on a cloudy morning and I came too late to see the kangaroos feeding at dawn.mackay5

Unlike last time the tide was out so I was able to the full walk circuit of the Cape by walking along the rocks before finding the path up the hill. At low tide Wedge Island is linked to the mainland via a causeway but signs recommend you only head out there on a falling tide and I didn’t want to take the risk of being stranded out there for six hours. I was content to admire the view of the island from one of the lookouts on the Andrews Point 5.2km walk.mackay6

This is the view from the south of the Cape at Turtle Point looking south across Shoal Point to Belmunda.mackay7

The walk affords many gorgeous views of the beaches below at Cape Hillsborough. I’m back in the vicinity at New Year’s Eve and looking forward to checking out the other walks at this beautiful place.mackay8

Noosa to Capricorn Coast

After my day in Noosa, it was up early for the six hour drive to Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast. In the past I would done this drive straight up the Bruce Hwy but after checking out Google Maps I decided on a slight detour that was actually a short cut. That meant diverting west after Gympie to the Wide Bay highway and north via Woolooga and Biggenden and picking up the highway again between Childers and Gin Gin. First stop was the Rusty Ute cafe in Woolooga. Its owners were rock and roll fans and the cafe is laid out with musical paraphernalia and even a small stage. I asked the owners about it and they said they wanted to attract musicians to play there on weekends. Did I know of any, they asked. I didn’t, but if you are keen on a country gig in lovely surrounds 40km north-west of Gympie, the Rusty Ute would love to hear from you.rocky1

Then it was on past some pretty country and very little traffic (with a short gravel road section) near Biggenden. The photo below is of the granite outcrop of Mount Walsh which has its own National Park.rocky2

I arrived in Rockhampton around lunchtime, checked into a motel and then drove another 40km to Yeppoon, the biggest town on the Capricorn Coast. Yeppoon has a relaxed and confident air about it. Hard to believe the town suffered considerable damage less than two years ago in Tropical Cyclone Marcia.rocky3

Directly behind the main street is Yeppoon beach which stretches for 1.4km from the low intertidal rocks at Spring Head south to the mouth of Ross Creek, where there is a small breakwater. Erosion has plagued the beach and it is backed by a seawall. High tide goes all the way to the seawall. The beach is protected from waves by the Keppel Island group, and waves average only half a metre. This view below stretches south to the Keppel Island ferry at Rosslyn Bay Harbour. But that is tomorrow’s fun.

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After lunch in Yeppoon I head south along the tourist drive to Bluff Point. Starting from the beach there is an enjoyable 2.5km walk that goes over Bluff Point with great views along the way.

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This view is from the top of Bluff Point looking north to Rosslyn Bay. Further north still is Byfield National Park behind Yeppoon where smoke from a bushfire can be seen.

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This view from Bluff Point is to the south to Mulambin Beach, Mulambin Creek and another bushfire this time near the Flat Top Ranges near the Fitzroy River estuary.  I drove back to Rockhampton hoping to enjoy the view from the top of Mount Archer which dominates the town. Frustratingly the road to the summit was closed to repair damage from TC Marcia. rocky7