Day 1 (for some)
– two cars met up at the twin servo’s Caboolture at the leisurely hour of about 7:45am. After a quick breakfast, Lucy, Lee and Kathleen set off on day 1 of the Dinosaur Run travelling from Brisbane to the small unknown town of Duaringa. This was a total distance of about 760kms. Lucy was the navigator and chose to follow the gospel of Google Maps which led us on some nice 100km and 110km country roads. A highlight was a lunch stop at the driver reviver “The Black Stump – Gateway to Mundubbera”. A lovely rest area with plenty of parking, an undercover picnic area, flushing toilets that are serviced at least once per day, a lovely park and …. Drumroll … free WiFi!!!! (See picture for proof!)
We then travelled on the “back road” from Cynthia through to Monto that was unexpected in its scenery (think old tractor on island in middle of pond) as well as for its rollercoaster like ups and downs. Lee was unhappy that we had gone off the main road but Google Maps proved trustworthy!
There was an afternoon tea stop (that woke Lucy from a nap) by the side of the road outside of our original proposed overnight stop Dululu (Good call on everyone for telling us to steer clear). What prompted the stop is that the cars had just driven through a hoard of bugs and it was getting difficult to see out of the windscreen. Kathleen came up with the brilliant solution of using a spare dishwashing scouring pad and the windscreens soon became clean. Lee was a little too enthusiastic with the scouring and we will now need to live with some ‘fine lines’ on the windscreen … but at least there were no more bugs!
Onward we travelled to Duaringa. We were greeted by the occupants of Car number 3, Ross and Karen who had already indulged in happy hour and were quick to get us out of the cars so that we too could indulge in happy hour.
The Duaringa Hotel and Caravan Park was an inexpensive camping option ($5 unpowered, $15 powered) and we were excited to find out we were the only ones camping. The ground was a bit hard so pegging was difficult. After the hard work of shelter construction was completed, a short walk to the pub and dinner. The staff were very welcoming as were the locals. The meals were large and tasty and the jukebox had a good selection.
After dinner we trudged back to the tents and swags. It was a bit breezy and a little chilly but nothing too bad. A relatively early bedtime because we had another full days driving and off to bed we went. Now Car 4, the Wenzelmeirs, had started their holiday days before us and we later found out had passed through Duaringa and stayed the night. They neglected to inform us of one important feature of the Duaringa Hotel and Caravan Park … it is RIGHT NEXT to a train line that services 100+ carriage coal trains. Not an issue when you are in the pub but camping next to it when the trains run all through the night not so great.
At 1:10am a gust of wind came through the camp ground and the Gazebo that Lee and Lucy’s tent was attached to, decided to try and fly away and fell back across the dozing couple. The exclamations from inside roused Kathleen, Ross and Karen (everyone was still awake because of the *&^%$ trains) who assisted in fixing up the shelter so that we could all once again doze. Only problem with this was that the tent attached to the gazebo now had lovely rips in the side seams letting in all the fresh air – 2 extra windows! There is still debate about if it was the wind that caused this in combination with poor workmanship or the gazebo tipping over ripped them. Either way the tent was now useless for future nights.
Day 2 –
We had agreed upon a 7:30am departure time however everyone was up and awake 6am at the latest thanks to the trains so we were all ready to go at about 7am. We discovered that Ross and Karen have certain expectations when it comes to what food will be eaten and where to purchase it.
We travelled to Emerald for our first stop of the day which was breakfast. A nice and warm café was found with pies and hot chocolates and coffees. We then searched for the toilets and ended up at the Emerald Botanic Garden. This is a lovely free camp site with good toilets and delightful surrounds.
We continued driving and stopped for a kerbside lunch at Barcaldine. There is a lot of history in these small towns and we all agreed that we could spend a lot more time exploring however, we restrained ourselves and continued on.
There was a brief driver reviver stop before Ilfracombe where we came across this delightful example of how Australia will kill me. The picture doesn’t do it justice but it’s bite can cause anaphylaxis. We were all in awe of the landscape:
aught up with Car 4 (the Wenzelmeirs) and Car 5 (Peter and Leanne). We stayed at the Tattersalls Hotel and Caravan Park which is really more designed for caravans rather than those of us camping on the floor. Lee was grateful that Lucy was ‘right’ when she insisted on putting in the fourth wall for the Gazebo so that they could camp directly in the Gazebo! Everyone decided that it wasn’t fair that Peter and Leanne had a caravan although they assured us that the fuel bill was their penance. The showers and toilets were lovely with the exception of the sulphur smell in the water.
Day 3 –
We started early by driving 2 hours to Lark Quarry and the Dinosaur Stampede. It was interesting and quite amazing to see the dinosaur footprints in the rock slab. There was a nice lookout and a couple of different walks that you could take if you had the time. For those who don’t fancy the 2970km round trip from Brisbane, a copy of the stampede is available to see for free at the Queensland Museum.
On our return to Winton, the group split up as there are many interesting places to see. These amazing places included the new Waltzing Matilda centre which is full of history. The displays have been designed with children in mind and are very interesting. They are a mix of visual, audio and sound.
Other Winton highlights include the opal shops as well as “Arno’s Wall”. The wall is constructed out of household items no longer in use and is quite amazing to see.
Winton is also where we came across the Country Women’s Associate selling the infamous “Willy Washer”:
Day 4 –
Pack up day and moving on to Ilfracome. Some needed to start earlier than others and EVERYONE was jealous of the diesel heater in the caravan.
We made it to the Age of Dinosaur’s Museum in time for the first tour of the day but found we were split up as a group. The highlights included being able to see real dinosaur bones, touch a real dinosaur bone and tour the outside sculpture galleries. This is another attraction designed for children and included a lot of activities to make it interesting and fun. Each of the outside galleries had etchings for the big and little kids to do! Again, there were a number of different walks to go on if you had time.
We all had lunch then travelled onto Ilfracome after a quick stop at the Longreach Visitor Information Centre. This information centre is brilliant. Really friendly and ready to provide you will all the information you need about Longreach and it’s surrounds.
We stayed at the Ilfracombe Caravan Park with its ‘happy hour’ shed. The shower and toilet facilities were excellent however we did feel a little bit like sardines the way we were crammed into the park. Ilfracombe is infamous for the ‘machinery mile’ that is another attraction for old and young.
Day 5 –
we headed into Longreach with the first stop being the Stockman’s hall of fame. This is a somewhat dated attraction however they had a man making a whip that captivated Kathleen and he did a nice whip demonstration once it was made. Some of us chose to pay the extra and attend the daytime show which was a nice and family friendly mixture of music, horsemanship, dogmanship and jokes.
After the hall of fame we all split up again but at the end of the day found ourselves enjoying the same attractions! Longreach sits on the Tropic of Capricorn. There is also a beautiful tree carving and a river.
Lee enjoyed the QANTAS museum and was fortunate to go on one of the plane tours.
That night was Wednesday night and state of origin night. We had a fantastic meal at the pub, followed by some watching the state of origin and some falling asleep!
Day 6 –
Pack up morning and travelling onto Charleville except for Leanne and Peter who left the group to travel a different route and see different things. The other four cars gave a sigh of relief because it was hard having a non-Toyota travelling in convoy with us. We also didn’t want to be reminded about the diesel heater. (Have I mentioned that it was cold?!)
It was another great drive; lots of games over the UHF including trivia (that Lucy forgot the answers to the questions that she asked). On arrival in Charleville, Kathleen needed to get fuel so we all waited and waited some more until over the radio she asks us where we are then proceeds to tell us that she made it to the camp ground! In unison every one said “THAT’S A FINE!”
We stayed at the Cobb and Co Caravan Park. Lee and Lucy piked on camping in the gazebo with the breeze coming through the bottom and splashed out on a cabin. Everyone else shivered through some very cold nights. The Cobb and Co Caravan Park had a fire and happy hour sit around which was really lovely. We did a little exploring and visited a park which had old ‘rainmaker’ machines, Frisbee golf and a pond with very food orientated ducks, geese and chickens!
Day 7 –
We headed first to the Charleville Royal Flying Doctors Museum. This is a free museum and you only need about 20-30 minutes to go through it but is quite interesting.
After that we went on to the Charleville Cosmos Centre where we did a Sun Gazing tour. The highlight of this (other than looking at the sun close up without going blind) was that the resident emu’s decided to visit to.
The cosmos centre is a great attraction. Very informative with lots of hands on displays for old and young. We also got to take part in a meteor information session and touched rocks from out of space!
After our sun gazing session, the group once again split up. Some of us went to a local pub for a very civilised lunch before continuing on our separate sightseeing ways. There is something for everyone in Charleville. Plenty of historical houses and tours as well as a Yellow Footed Wallaby breeding program at the National Parks and Wildlife Centre as well as the Bilby House.
We all had an early dinner (Thanks for the entertainment Rolly and Maria. It was like a scene from the movie ‘Birds’ while you were cooking!) before heading back to the cosmos centre for the night sky session. We got to see 6 night-time objects including two planets and 4 stars or star clusters. Our guides were very knowledgeable and we all got a solar powered red light to take home.
Day 8 –
Pack up and go home dayL. We had aimed to be ready to go by 7am and everyone achieved that! We met at a bakery to have some breakfast and everyone needed to remember that it wasn’t dirt on the windscreen but ice! The campers had shivered through the coldest night yet in minus degree C temps.
Our journey home was a slow return to the hustle and bustle of living in the city. With only Lee hitting an eagle we had all managed to come through the almost 3000kms of driving without incident. We all learnt that stainless steel toilets in winter are no good and one must remember to take one’s own toilet roll at all roadside toilets! We all said farewell at Toowoomba after a really great trip with lots of laughs. It was fantastic to get to spend more time with everyone and get to know people better. Here’s to the next trip!