Thursday, 1 December 2011

Honeymoon of Awesomeness Day 8

Here we were in the middle of the QLD Outback, camped under the ghost gums along the Burke River. The night sky was growing lighter, dawn was nearly here. We rose just before sunrise, had some breakfast and a little morning walk around our site. By this stage of the trip packing up was easy, everything had an order and everything had its place. It didn't take long and we were ready to tackle the days drive from Boulia to Winton, an easy drive of 362km. That wouldn't take long at all!! We left our wonderful campsite after putting out our campfire.




As we turned onto the main road we could see quite a thick cloud bank on the horizon, which was stopping a lot of light from shining through. Sunrise may just have been a non event. Only a few kms after leaving we spotted something off in the distance on the Western side of the road... Camels!! Woohoo!! They were another tick on the list of outback creatures!! As we walked up pretty close to them we realised they must frequent this spot regularly as there was an abundance of water and you could tell they had resting spots… Just then the cloud gave way and some light shone through. Awesome!!
We stayed here for a good 20 minutes or so watching these guys.
Now according to one of our many books, Explore Australia I think, it had listed our drive from Boulia to Winton - "The most scenic drive in Queensland, if not Australia". We have seen a fair bit of Australia and some beautiful areas with magnificent drives so we were a little unsure if we should believe this statement or not... We were making our way across down the Kennedy Developmental Road, over the barren plains when we caught sight of another flock of Emus. 11 this time, the most we had seen in one go now. We had been on the road for around 1 1/2 hours when our first POI came into sight. The Hamilton Hotel Ruins. We pulled in here to have a bit of morning tea. We wandered around the ruins, all that is left is a brick chimney. There was a good rest stop here as well, with fresh water and a picnic table. I liked the windmill and clouds!
We chatted to a couple who were travelling to Birdsville, hoping to tackle the French Line 4wd track over to Alice Springs. They didn't know it was well under water still and closed. They had been on the road for 2 months and working their way down from the Cape. After a good chat we were on our way again. Next stop, the famous Min Min Hotel site. No, we didn't see any orbs!! Just a massive pile of broken bottles and an unnamed grave.
It was 10 past 10 when we left Min Min and we were starting to think that our book was telling a few fibs about the scenery. We were about 100km in to our journey already and it was just flat, dead grass.
Another half hour on we started to see what appeared to be a mountain range starting to rise from the horizon. There was a lot of heat haze. Yep, sure enough as we got closer these rocky and rich red coloured hills started to fill our windscreen... Wow!! (The photos that I have taken do not do this stretch of road justice)
We started to weave our way through these outcrops I was reminded of all those photos I have seen of Arizona. We passed many of these that had big caves in the side of them. Part of me wanted to go and check these out and see what I could find. The other part of me was a little more cautious of the remoteness we were in. As we come to another POI, we pulled over, and put the Patrol into low range. The steep rocky track to our right was worth it. Cawpore Lookout!! What an amazing view! We parked on the highest point of the ridge and looked out at the red hills surrounding us, it really was mind blowing!! Christine headed over to the information signs around the picnic bench. I took a photo of the hill beside us.
I was happy I found somewhere cool to explore!! Christine was still busy reading, I took off. Up a steep slope and around a bend. I wanted a photo looking down on the lookout from above. It hadn't felt like long at all, I was near the bottom of this short but steep cliff face. I looked around to see Christine frantically searching for me. I whistled to her to catch her attention, she waved back!! All was good so I quickly climbed the cliff face. She took the chance to grab a shot with my camera and long lens.
After making it back to the vehicle, we headed off. Stopping all the time for the scenery.
We would start, drive a bit and then stop again…
We even took some photos of ourselves.

This went on for quite a while until we finally started to make our way from the outcrops and towards the small town of Middleton. We had one more stop before we reached there and that was for an old car on the side of the road. I just liked the looks of it. Besides it was a good time for a drink break.
We stopped again in Middleton, for a walk around town. We didn't stay long as the only places were the pub, the old store which has long been closed down (which used to be the pub) and the Hilton Hotel. You can camp here for free!

As we left town we had a very close call! We were on a single lane culvert crossing a series of creek beds when a Road Train came over the rise in front of us at full speed. I had to accelerate quickly to make it to the end of the culvert as the drop off was near a metre deep. We made it just in time onto the shoulder of the road only to have to slam on the brakes as there was a nice solid timber guide post right in front of us (its that close to the bullbar you can't even see it). Through the excitement, Christine still managed to take a photo though...
This last stretch of road was nice we still saw some red rock hills.
And also came across another POI, the unfinished and now abandoned railway line from Winton to Boulia. By 2.40pm we reached Winton, quite a long day with all the starting and stopping and we were hungry. We grabbed a nice feed at the Twilight Cafe. It wasn't bad at all. We wandered the streets, and had a look through the shops. We checked out the dinosaur museum in the Corfield and Fitzmaurice Building and the Waltzing Matilda Centre (which was awesome) (note the dinosaur foot bin holder)
As we drove around town (Winton is quite large) we decided that we would stay the night in a cabin so we could have a decent shower. We found a place called Banjo's it looked nice from the front. As we entered our cabin, we were greeted by a room that honestly looked like it belonged to a bad 70's porn film. The colour scheme was shocking!! (I now wish I took a photo). We unpacked our stuff we needed and left it in the room as we headed out again to look for a place for sunset as the cloud had been so promising all day. We drove out of town and down one road to the waterhole where the free campsite was hoping we could find some nice reflections… FAIL!! We turned around and headed back into town and running out of time we headed back towards Boulia where I saw a track in the grass that looked like it headed towards a river. It did, but it was bone dry... FAIL!! As I followed this track that I had no idea where it went we came upon a small clearing where we found this beauty... It was here we stayed until after dark.
While exploring this spot I was tempted to go for a quick dip in this little stream further down.
But I thought better of it as my Sandfly and Midgee bites had really started to itch bad... So so bad... I felt bad for Christine as hers were worse!! We got these on top of Big Red, on the edge of the desert on Day 6, the last thing we expected out there!! The itch we found out would last for over a week!!
After a win with both location and sunset we headed back into town, stopped by the garage to top up with Diesel. $1.59 it was starting to get cheaper again!! We stocked up on Ice Breaks while we were here as they had been a bit scarce the last few days. We then headed back to Banjo's for some noodles for tea. The water in Winton was awful, it was safe to drink, nice and clean but it smelled like rotten eggs. This is due to Hydrogen Sulphate gas that is present in the water that comes straight from the Artesian Basin. Pegs were definitely needed while showering. We had still to decide on where we were headed the next day, South towards the dinosaur digs, North East towards the other dinosaur towns of Hughendon and Richmond... We would sleep on it and decide in the morning.  After all the detours and stopping we did on Day 8 we travelled 395km, which is a total of 3406km. A short distance that really did take nearly all day. We personally believe it did live up to that earlier statement we read, Boulia to Winton - "The most scenic drive in Queensland"!!

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