Wednesday, 29 August 2012

175 - Leichardt Lagoon

A bird on Leichardt lagoon

Hooray I am in the mood to post, so I better get in as much as possible, before I have another slack attack.

Because my lap top is so slow, just to post photos to my blog, I grow a beard just waiting for the bloody things to load....but here goes again.

We left Normanton and headed for Leichardt Lagoon, only a half hour down the road. Now, all of sudden we have become the experts at free camping (not) however this destination was going to be another challenge, however we had all the confidence in the world.

We were told about Leichardt Lagoon when I was working as a guide during my guiding days at Undara in 2010, and have heard a lot about it since. So along with our friends Ray and Val we headed off to Leichardt Lagoon.

We arrived and were met by Lionel and Val, the seasonal caretakers. What great people they were. Lionel showed us to our site, and Ray and Val set up near us. I wandered around and gave all the neighbours the courtesy of our generation needs, only to be greeted by "don't worry us mate" we have one too.

See Leichardt Lagoon has toilets and showers, various untreated water taps, but no power. That's cool, we have got everything we need. We settled in very quickly, and me being the sticky beak I am, I just had to wander around to other campers, and old 'have a chat" here, got to know most at the camp spot.

The dunny and shower block

We had a great time at Leichardt Lagoon. had a community BBQ, went down to the Norman River for look, and had many ales of refreshing amber liquid. It was sad to leave, as I could have spent a week or so there. There are many permanent campers that come up for the winter. Not to sure if i could stay here for months on end...............but to each his own.

Here are a few photos.

Watch out for those snapping hand bags and bities

A magnificent sunset over the lagoon

The bride soaking up the sunset

Toooosday BBQ nite

Ray, Val and the Bride at the BBQ (not one of my better shots)

Some luckless fisherman with Ray and Val looking on

The camp fire.....good stuff

Our camp spot with Ray and Vals' rig next to us.

Our next stop Croyden....stay tooooooooned!!!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

174 - Normanton

Shire council building in Normanton

At the time of doing this post, we are at the Rodeo Grounds in Mareeba. We should be here for a week or two, so apart from shooting down to Cairns to see the Kidz and Grandees, this will give me the chance, amongst other vehicle and van maintenance....should be able to catch up with the blog.

Moving right along......................after we left Bank Bank free camp we ventured into Normanton, a 120km drive of partly single lane goat track, and in parts, super highway. I don't think, in our life time, will we see a complete two lane road between Normaton and Cloncurry...however work is progressing slowly. No wonder west Aussies and NT residence, moan and groan about Queensland roads.

We weren't to sure if we were going to stay in Normanton for a couple of days then head into Karumba, however we heard that Karumba was totally booked big we were in Karumba two years ago, and as we don't fish.....not much else to do there.

We decided on the Normanton Tourist Park over the alternative, once again through the Grey Nomad gossip grapevine.

Just had to do go and say hello to "Kris"

Se we settled in the CP and of course ran into two traveling ladies from WA that we met at Daly Waters, as well as Val, Ray, and Ivan that we met at Bank Bank free camp. 

So what did we do at Normaton!!!!!!!!!!!!........went to the Pub, a couple of times, in between the bride being busy..............had more grogs with our friends while watching some afternoon entertainment, and just had to do the Gulf Lander Train

Three pubs in Normanton. The Purple Pub, Albion and Central.

As above three pubs in Normanton. The Purple Pub, is well known, however looking very tired. The Albion had great atmosphere with us consuming the odd cleansing ale, and the Central, although it looks like it is about to fall down, the evening meals are just of the best meals we have ever eaten. The reason why we went to the Central for a meal, was because the grapevine told us too. A'hhhh you can't beat that gossip from the Geriatric Gypsies. 

The Albion bar with a few of the Normanton characters

Sunday arvo entertainment from the corporate box with Clive and Henny who we ran into at Normaton after not seeing them for 10 years.

Normanton was very social for us..........again...., no wonder I am becoming more rotund than normal....but I'm still handsome though. We decided that while in Normaton, we must go for a ride on the Gulflander Motor Rail. It is the done thing to do for all us Nomads in what did we do on Monday, go for a train ride in the Gulflander to Critters Creek and return.

The bride posing along the Gulflander

The train trip takes about two hours. It is a rattly journey but one has to say "been there done that". We went along with Clive, Henny, Ray and Val. The motor rail (GULFLANDER) makes its way to Critters Creek, getting its name from the builders of the rail line, as there were so many "critters" in that area.

We were given a full commentary by the driver who not only is a Queensland Rail employee, but a Savannah Guide as well. A fair bit of history is associated with the trip, of which I won't bore you with the details, however if you are ever in Normaton this is a must, if you like a bone jarring, teeth shaking and churning up the jelly belly to the point of considering a technicolour yawn ....go for it.

One thing I do remember, even with my KRAFT DISEASE (Kan't Remember A Feeeeeerk'n Thing) that this line associated with Queensland Rail has not made a profit for 120 years. However because us old farts love trains they keep it running. But in saying that, the cost of $45 per head is quite steep for us TAPS (Tight Arse Pensioners) however a 50% concession made the pain a little better.

The Gulflander is driven by a six cylinder diesel motor with a four speed gearbox

Normanton Train Station

Bit more history on Normaton Railway Station

Our trip out to Critters Camp was quite interesting, however the scenery was a little dry and boring....although we came across part of the Norman River, and to think Chinese market gardens were in this arid landscape all those years ago....begs belief. 

A lagoon in the middle of nowhere that serviced the Chinese market gardens

Part of the steam train that built and serviced the line

Some campers under the rail bridge right on the Norman River

As we went over the bridge the driver of the train said anybody camping anywhere on the Norman River were totally insane, as the Norman River has the most concentration of "snapping hand bags" anywhere in the north.  The guide referred to these cuddly animals as "Crocodilis Attackus" Thanks for that bit of info.
Note the outside shower/toilet tent on the bank. Could get quite tricky, running from the car in the raw to the dunny and then bath the body, and a thumping big croc, coming through the tent for a perv.

The Gulflander on the return trip to Normanton

We spent three days in Normanton and quite enjoyable, I will say. However it was time to move on, with our next destination Leichardt Lagoon, half hours drive stay tooooooned!!!!!!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

173 - Cloncurry to Bak Bank Free Camp

Chinamans Lake Cloncurry

Not being the worlds best blogger, one tends to fall behind quite a bit. With a lap top that is as old, and as slow as me, as well as lack of motivation at times, plus being in areas of no communication, it all becomes a little to hard to continually keep up to date..........but  today I am going to bring partly up to date. Well that's the plan

I am writing this blog at Bed Rock CP at Mt. Surprise NQ, and seeing that we have been here before, and being a guide at the Lava Toooooobes two years ago, we are not going anywhere, and having a lazy day. In saying that, I would have loved to have gone back to O'Briens Creek ( see Sept. Oct 2010), however the road would finally kill the Val and the RetroLiner.  Apart from that, the battery in the RetroLiner blew sky high in Croydon, hence we are unable to independent camp for that reason. So until we get to the Tablelands or Cairns and get a new battery, we are relying on the umbilical cord (240 v) to get us through, which means CP's.

The bride at the boat ramp @Chinamans Lake

So I as I mentioned in my last post, we got through NT from Daly Waters fairly quickly, and settled for three nights at Cloncurry. Now as before, we stayed at Cloncurry on our way to Darwin, where we met up with Doug, Jo and Beau. This time we met up with our friends Jeff and Margaret we met at Katherine.

However the bride was busy at Cloncurry, however we did manage to shoot off to Chinamans Lake on the outskirts of Cloncurry. We also took advantage of the miners mess at the park we stayed in. For $20.00 a head, eat what you want. Didn't do my rotund figure much good I assure you. Now I did mention before the Discovery Park on our first trip two years ago, was a pristine park with a million sites. Last time, there was major construction in reference to mining dongas to houes the mining workers. On our return this time more accommodation has been built, again reducing the available van sites. The word has it that within 12 months or even less, there will only be 20 available van sites, with the rest of the park all mining accommodation. No wonder us Geriatric Gypsies are now choosing more and more to free camp.

Pretty impressive lake this one

Afterr Cloncurry we headed to Burke and Wills Roadhouse, with the thought of going up to Gregory Downs and Lorne Hill NP.  We arrived at Burke and Wills Road House...and there everything went pear shaped. B and W was as grotty as ever, and  all we heard was the horror stories of the road and the difficulty in getting any free camping at Gregory it was all to hard.

So it was off to what is another 150 kays or so.............not much........mmmmmm. As we headed towards Normaton, the road deteriorated big time and our journey was slowed by single lanes of tar, causing us to continually head for the nearside shoulder on a zillion occassions.

Now checking the GPS and our arrival time in Normanton was going, to be much later that anticipated, hence seeing that Normanton was really quite busy, our chances of getting a park spot was not good. Weighing all this up, and at the opportune time we passed Bang Bang (a free camp). Stuff it, I said to the bride, we are going to stay here, and free camp the night. We have to bite the bullet sometime, and just do it. For God sake we have got everything we need to free camp, so with no hesitation we pulled into the camp where there were quite a few already in numbers.

Our camp site @ Bank Bank

On selecting a site, I potted over to the near neighbours, and gave them the courtesy, that we will be needing to run a genny. All said no worries....phew that's a relief. To cut a long story short, a camp fire was organised most of the immediate neighbours we met, and we had a great time....and the bride didn't get raped, pillaged or murdered. Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!! we have finally broke down to barriers of free camping. And to add to this, two rivets that hold the lifting scissors to the roof on the pop top, sheared off, as we were putting down the roof. O'h we are in the middle of nowhere, and can't secure the roof. But alas along came Mike with his tool kit, and along with a few nuts and bolts, Mike was able to fix the roof scissors, better than before may I add. I bet that wouldn't happen in a CP. The only down side of our first foray into free camping was the toilets were short of water, hence they were a bit grotty........which didn't excite the bride no less.

We got on our way with knowing we survived the night. We met some great new friends, and the pop top scissor arms are better than new. Yahoo!!!!!!

Stay tooooned for Normaton and Leichardt Lagoon.

Friday, 10 August 2012

172 - Quensland At Last

Yep been a slacko again, however just having a great time. Best I check in though, to esure those we are still in the land of living.

No photos in this short entry. Just want to let you know where we have been since our last post Daly Waters.

We went through NT fairly quickly after Daly Waters. From there we went straight to Three Ways Road House, overnight stay, and from there a direct path along the Barkley Highway straight to Commoweal. Over nighting again at the Post Office Hotel CP. There we ran into our friends Jeff and Margaret from Mataranka.

From there straight to Cloncurry, where once again we spent some time with Jeff and Margaret, however after three days at the Discovery CP, we headed to Normanton, staying overnight at a free camp (yahoo we finally did it.). After another three days in Normaton, we headed to Leichardt Lagoon, (sort of free camp) just down the road from Normaton, for a couple of nights then onto Croydon where we are now.

Over the next couple of days I will revisit our stops from Cloncurry, Bang Bang, Normaton, Leichardt Lagoon and Croyden.

So stay tooned!!!!!!!