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Motorhome Travels - September 2007

01/09/2007

Before we left Kakadu we were treated to a fantastic sunset  from the top of an escarpment overlooking some wetlands.

Tracey stretched by a wide angle lens near sunset, NT. - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Tracey stretched by a
wide angle lens near
sunset, NT.

It was here that I discovered a major issue with super-wide angle lenses ... at 12mm it is almost impossible to exclude anything from the image! I took this photo of Tracey before switching to a more sensible lens that was able to exclude all of the sunset spectators from the image.

 

Much of the Aboriginal rock art in the park is quite amazing - unlike any we have seen before. It is far more detailed and seems to have been painted with great care - unlike the simple images we have seen in the past.

 

Our paths crossed the Big Black Bus and her crew a few times while in the park. As we enjoyed a beer at the Mataranka pub (while watching the NT police breath test every vehicle passing through the town) the BBB pulled up outside the pub. We all dined at the pub then we retired to the local airfield (that we had discovered earlier) while Shane, Isabelle and the girls went to the local rodeo. They then parked their bus beside us for the evening.

Early (and I do mean early) the next day Shane suggested that we might like to try a flight in his microlite - as you can imagine, we jumped at the opportunity.

The microlite takes to the air - I am not screaming, NT. - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
The microlite takes to the air - I
am not screaming, NT.

Tracey waves from the microlite (Shane concentrates on not crashing), NT - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Tracey waves from the microlite
(Shane concentrates on not
crashing), NT

It took about 30 minutes to assemble the aircraft and when complete, it looked like something Q would provide James Bond with.

 

I was first ... it was one hell of a rush. I was just amazed at how smooth and how quickly it took to the air. Shane got to about 3500 ft and cut the engine. We glided for a good 10 minutes before he restarted the engine for landing. Tracey was the next on the passenger list. Shane flew her over the springs and the old homestead. She was grinning like me by the time they landed. Many thanks Shane and Isabelle - it was an awesome ride! We spent just one more evening with the BBB before we parted ways - they are heading for Alice Springs as we headed east for Queensland.

 

A few weeks ago we read that an lunar eclipse was to occur on the 28th of August (an especially wonderful date in history). We were looking for a nice place to stop for a night or two, well away from any lights, to watch the eclipse. We found a nice spot on top of an escarpment. With no cloud, no lights and very little smoke and dust in the air, it was a great show.

The lunar eclipse is almost complete, NT. - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
The lunar eclipse is almost
complete, NT.

We have now made it into Queensland! We have decided to camp at the Camooweal lagoon for a few days and relax (and of course do a few things around the motorhome). Thankfully it is a few degrees cooler down here and parking here by the water is very pleasant.

 

 

28/09/2007

Camooweal lagoon was very nice and we did get a few jobs done around the motorhome - but the heat (which we are told is unusual for this time of the year) was still quite unpleasant.

Just east of Mt Isa we visited the ghost town of Mary Kathleen. This was a very strange place - Mary Kathleen was a very active and productive uranium mine. A complete town was constructed close to the mine to house the workers. In the mid 1980's world uranium  prices fell dramatically and the mine became un-viable. The mine was closed and hundreds of houses and other buildings from the town were sold and relocated. Today all that is left is a maze of nicely laid-out bitumen streets and the concrete slabs where the buildings used to be.  It is easy to stand in the middle of one of the round-abouts and imagine the town in full swing. We parked the motorhome on one of the two tennis courts while we did some work on the diff - nice and level! We took the Moke out and managed to find the mine site - now just a giant hole in the ground filled with bright blue water - it looked very inviting but I suspect that an abandoned uranium mine is not a good place to swim.

 

Just east of Mary Kathleen following the directions of a fellow traveller we found the most wonderful campsite. It is about 5 km from the main road and was originally constructed as a recreational area for the residents of Mary Kathleen. It is a large shady area that stretches for a kilometre or more along a small stream. Underneath the thick covering of corse weed, the water was clear and fresh. The covering of weed was so dense that Tivoli (our Burmese cat) assumed that it was solid and ok to walk upon.

Corella Dam camping area, near Mary Kathleen, Qld - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Corella Dam camping area, near Mary
Kathleen, Qld

This of course did not go quite as she expected. She leapt off the bank and disappeared beneath the weed layer briefly only to surface about two meters from the bank with an extremely surprised look on her face. She managed to scramble to the bank and spent the next week looking at the stream with utter distaste as though it had somehow conspired against her.

For almost a week we enjoyed the quiet secluded spot and saw almost nobody.

 

We visited the famous Stockman's Hall of Fame at Longreach - and we agree with the reviews ... is is well worth the time to visit.   From Longreach we turned south to visit the small town of Isisford. A town with a reputation for being friendly to motor-homers. The local council has constructed facilities along the river and encourages campers to enjoy the large area set aside. Why can't more councils adopt that stance rather than actively chasing  travellers out of towns?

 

The return to the main road took us through the town of Blackall (famous for its slogan designed to attract people to the town ... "There is more than stuff-all in Blackall" - I hope they did not pay anybody too much for that masterpiece).

 

The temperature dropped considerably once we crossed the Great Dividing Range (a laughable ridiculous name for a small mound that we crossed in the motorhome without changing gear).

We spent a very pleasant few days back on the gem fields near Emerald - camped in the exact same place that we camped in April of 2004. Tracey did not take long to start fossicking for gems.

 

Look, another giant zircon! - Tracey fossicks. Qld. - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Look, another giant zircon! - Tracey
fossicks. Qld.

This did not take long to show dividends - a few fine sapphires, a couple of emeralds were found not far from the motorhome - (these alone will keep us in diesel for a year (so long as we don't try to start the motorhome)). However the item to attract the most attention by far, was a zircon. The most amazing thing about the zircon was that Tracey actually managed to find it at all!  It was so small that I needed a magnifying glass to see it! However, it would make a great engagement ring stone for an underdeveloped flea (to be honest, I am fairly sure it is just an unusually small grain of sand, but I didn't have the heart to tell Tracey this).

 


 

We have now made our way to Rockhampton and I have spent the last two days working with the drive shaft balancing man. We discovered a few weeks ago that the front drive shaft (that was a combination of Isuzu and Bedford bits) was out of balance. This was causing a nasty vibration at particular speeds. Once the Rockhampton expert had a look at the shaft he convinced me that we should rebuild the front shaft completely and balance the other two. I left the front shaft with him and he promised to make a start on it while I removed the other two from the motorhome. I returned a few hours later with the two shafts to discover that no work had been done on the first at all. Clearly I would have to stay in the workshop for the duration of the work or it just was not going to get done this side of Xmas.

Two days later I know more about drive shafts and universal joints than I ever wanted to but the job is done and they seem to be much better.

The next big job is the motorhome springs - next Tuesday the motorhome visits the local spring works and receives two new rear springs pack and has the front springs re-set. This should rid us of at least the buses sagging rear end. We still need to do some work on the steering sometime soon and we are thinking about fitting power assist at the same time.  Geez - then we will be flasher than a Swagman ah?

 

 

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