Wednesday, 24th September.
Getting up was not too bad this morning. First, it wasn’t as early as yesterday, 6am today. Second, we have a shorter more relaxed day ahead of us. Third, we actually got to sit down to enjoy breakfast and a cuppa. This was a great free camp, Monte Cristo. Bit of road noise but didn’t wake us. Temperature was around 13 here.
700km to cover today. Hit the road at 7am on the Leichhardt Highway, heading to Miles for morning tea. Bit windy today and getting warmer as we head North. Lots of crops along the way, at least now we have some idea of what they are thanks to our truckie mate. Now we know what chickpea crops look like, sort of like miniature canola plants. Lots of road trains on the road up here.
About ten kilometres out of Miles we came across the airport. There was a plane on the tarmac offloading the next shift of fly in/fly out workers for the mines. A number of coaches were lined up to transport the workers in their clean uniforms. In Miles we came across a lot of miners in their high vis gear which looked brand new and lots of mine vehicles which were still clean. We stopped at a park on Dogwood Creek to have our saos, cuppa and a bit of a walk along the creek bank.
Between Miles and the town of Wondowan we came across a herd of cattle being moved to another paddock down the road. It was not a small herd, couple of hundred head. They were being escorted by three or four young drovers on their horses, two of which were jillaroos, joining them were a couple of cattle dogs. We threaded our way through them, slowly. They would have stretched along the highway for a kilometre or more. The cattle were reasonably orderly, although some wanted to stop for a nibble on some sweet looking trees. The herd were mostly Brahmans and were lovely colours of greys, creams and a gorgeous caramel.
Next we drove through the town of Taroom. Not much activity here but a nice little town. We were escorted, and almost directed, around a corner and out of town by a cute little fox terrier whom we can only assume is like the mayor around here with an authoritative look and walk. I could see him watch us leave in the rear view mirror almost as if to say, “And don’t come back, ya hear!” What a laugh of a little fellow.
On through Theodore. Lunch would be nice, and a toilet, but Murray wanted to press on. After going on past some rest areas but no loos, we decided that the next town would be our pit stop. Banana, yes you heard me correctly, a small but quaint little town but no decent park for lunch.
About another 137km down the road things were becoming desperate. Firstly where are the toilets? Also, lunch would be really nice, now. It was after all 2pm well past a girl’s lunchtime. Bring on Wowan, another pretty and nostalgic town. On the left a sign, “Public Toilets”. Yay!! Take the bend follow the sign and we were in another picturesque spot for our lunch break. Lots of old machinery and memorabilia in this historic little place.
Almost an hour later we arrived in the historic gold mining town of Mt Morgan. Ahhh, memories. This was where Murray’s nan and pop lived and where Murray’s mum, Gladys and her four siblings grew up. Pop Chatterton used to work in the gold mine here as a shift supervisor. I remember staying with Nan on many of our trips up here before and after we got married and having to use her wringer washing machine without losing a finger. The original house at 64 Pattison Street was burnt down many years ago after nan passed but we drove up to the new abode on her block which is nowhere near as tidy as when we used to visit. The town itself is still like time stood still. Nothing has changed over the past eighteen years since we last came through. Ramm’s electrical shop is still open though and as the owners are distant relatives of Murray’s we thought it was time to catch up with them. John Ramm and his brother Keith run the family business which was their father’s many years ago. It was lovely to meet John who was in charge that day.
Travelling down the Mt Morgan Range brings Rockhampton into view, and what a beautiful view it is. We drive through Bouldercombe and on to Gracemere. It is here that 26 years ago I first met Uncle Bill an his family.
4pm, arriving at Gracemere Caravan Park at last. Lovely park, great facilities and friendly staff. Set up and time for a well earnt shower then happy hour. Fish and chips for dinner with Murray’s dad, Rus and his brother, John who have also been road tripping from Malanda and Townsville to get here.
Tomorrow is Uncle Bill’s funeral. It will be a celebration of a wonderful man’s life.