Three full weeks of 4wd’g, mud, dirt, blacktop and lots of adventures from Townsville – Undarra – Croydon – Leichhardt Lagoons – Normanton – Karumba – via Burketown – Tiranna Roadhouse – Gregory Downs – Lawn Hill – Riversleigh – Camooweal – West Leichhardt (Mt Isa) – McKinley – Winton…….
Date: 14 May – 3 June, 2016
Trip Leader: Brad Jones
Members: Brad, Fiona, Reg, Barb, Lindsay, Heather, Howard
Day One – Sat 14 May
Townsville – Undara Experience
- Brad and Fiona hit the road. Brad impressed with Fi ready at 0720 just before departure time of 0730
- Good trip up through Milla Milla (17 degrees) up to Undara Experience for 2 nights camp
- Camp setup about 60 min deciding the best campsite and leveling the camper trailer
- Overnight 10 hrs sleep – to awake with no 12 volt in the trailer (ahhhh!). Checked fridge still working, so something amiss with the 12v lights – have to sort out in Normanton – lucky for 2 car batteries and an extra point in the back of the Cruiser!
Day Two – Sun 15 May
- Early rise at 0630 – with Brad cooking bacon, eggs and getting the coffee on!
- Set off for the Undara Active Explorer tour which covered the Lava Tubes and a great amount of history of the area. The guide was just awesome – well worth the $$$ if you haven’t been up here before
- Set out for a short stroll of about 8klm to the Flat Rock and checked out the Swamp.
- Back in camp – stole some power outside the gents facilities near our campsite and charged the Macbook Pro and attempted to upload some photo’s with only 1 bar courtesy of Telstra!
- Awaiting Reg & Barbs arrival – most likely hit the ‘bar’ for a drink this evening!
Day Three – Mon 16 May
Undara Experience – Gilbert River then onto Croydon (unexpected detour)
- Brad, Fi, Reg & Barb
- Departed Undara around 0915
- Cruised through to Georgetown where we had a pit stop and a great coffee at the Midway Caravan Park and Service Station – cheap at $5 for a Grande size coffee and you could smell the beans when they were roasting! Well worth the stop.
- Georgetown – unleaded $1.26! … cheaper than Townsville
- Found an old Chimney between Georgetown and Gilbert River from the gold rush era – great spot if you wanted to sneak an overnighter – new toilet facilities and picnic tables with covers
- Uneventful road trip – got to Gilbert River – very limited water and a bit of a dustbowel. Decided to venture onto Croydon
- Arrived in Croydon around 1400
- Stopped into the “I” centre and found Belmore Lake! Spot of finishing for the afternoon
- Roughed it at the local caravan park – only non powered campers in sight! Brad & Fi setup now 30 min – getting quicker!
- Headed to Belmore Lakes for fishing
- Reg nearly fined for snagging lure on reeds then swimming out to unsnage, only to find Brad 5 min later doing the same, then Fiona snagged, Reg volunteered to get Fi’s snag, then Brad again. Too many fines to count!
- No Barra for dinner, saw a few jumping out of the water, but no luck on this fishing expedition
- Back to camp – happy hour until the sun went down – gorgeous sunset photos
- Dinner and posts on facebook – another great day of adventure
- Heading off to Leichardt Lagoon to meet up with Lindsay, Heather and Howard tomorrow.
Day Four – Tues 17 May
Croydon – Leichhart Lagoons
- No alarms today, leisurely get up and bacon and eggs for brekkie – this roughing it is tough!!!
- Arrived at Leichhardt Lagoons around 12 noon – setup camp awaiting Heather, Lindsay and Howard.
- Was told in no uncertain terms not to take the canoes out into the lagoon and don’t go for a swim!
- Brad received a star burst on his windscreen from an oncoming caravan but rest assured a quick trip into Normanton after arrival to Leichhardt Lagoons and the local servo had a kit to fix it and you wouldn’t even know a rock hit the windscreen – another trick to add into the long-haul kit.
- Heather, Lindsay and Howard arrived and setup camp. A warm 35° degrees!
- Brad and Reg decided that going fishing for Barra would be a good thing around Leichhardt Lagoons – got directions from the local caretaker… 750 metres later in 35° hiking through the long grass, waiting for the local Leichhardt River to appear to no avail… then back to camp after several attempts down dirt tracks and grabbed the car to take us to the river. Drove down under the river to find mud knee deep.
- Both Brad & Reg decided that it was good to wade through the mud to the river bank to fish (in croc territory). Fi decided it was better to stay near the car. After several attempts through bushes and the river bank to fish, the guys decided that they come back to camp to get further directions.
- Fi bailed after the gents set off for the 3rd attempt to catch Barra, back after about 1 hr and the guys thought sunset and swapland probably wasn’t the best idea to find Barra and called it quits. Barra ‘1’ – Brad & Reg none!!!
- Dinner was setup around a group BBQ with all the regular locals who stay at Leichhardt Lagoons, A sing-song from a local and a bush poet who is also a regular called ‘Duck’.
Day Five – Wed 18 May
Leichhart Lagoons – Karumba (Day Trip)
- Everyone in cruise mode, we decided to take a day trip to Karumba.
- Heather & Lindsay had been there before, but it was great to see the fishing port and the locals.
- We took an interest in the ‘local caravan parks’ with their almost full setups already and if you didn’t enjoy fishing … focus for the ladies you could join in to ‘craft’.
- Everyone in the 4WD crew thought that was a bit past us and that we all were way too young to even think of that, so we decided that we would never fit in to the caravan parks with the ‘grey nomads’.
- Lunch at the Sunset Tavern with majority seafood picks and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to camp to Leichardt Lagoons. Stocked up from the local Four Square store and paid double the price for most supplies that we do in Townsville – always an eye opener in regional remote Queensland!
- On way back from Normanton to Leichhardt Lagoons (everyone made their own way back) Reg and Howard travelled together and Reg was convinced the directions that Barb were giving were correct, continued past the turn towards Cloncurry. Barb insisted he was going the wrong way, Reg insisted he wasn’t, Howard knew the wrong way but followed along ….. finally Reg realized Barbara was right and he was wrong and he turned around to get over his geographical embarrassment. Definitely a fine due for that one!~
- Our new nickname for Reg is “Rally Reg” as he prefers to focus on the road and not read ‘big’ signs or take directions!
Day Six – Thurs 19 May
Leichhardt Lagoons – Proposed Leichhardt Falls, onto Burketown
- Today started off with our ‘scavangar hunt’ with the letter “L”. All were briefed with the rules of a ‘zip lock bag’ to hold their scavenger hunt items and no double ups for the trip.
- Another day of adventure, we decided to head off and investigate
‘Camp 8 book favoured tick’ at Leichhardt Falls.
- On the way we had a stop at Camp 119 of the Burke & Wills Camps. Interesting bit of history and recognition how hard it would have been to travel through this outback country.
- Another 120 klms down the road and we arrived at Leichhardt Falls to somewhat disappointment with a lot of rock, no shade and very limited spots to fit 4 setups.
- A group decision after lunch to head onto Burketown, which gave us an opportunity to top up on fuel and water, but also proved not to trust the ‘Camp 8’ book. Two camp spots were found not suitable either side of town. One spot has been fenced off by Carpentaria Land Council for paid camping ($35 a nigh!) and the second spot was right on the river with mangroves and looked like a mosquito haven!
- Further onto the next spot and we decided to check out an abandoned Roadhouse, which turned out not to be not so abandoned about 15 klm out of Burketown called the Tiranna Roadhouse – Beamsbrook.
- A night of warm showers and a camp fire refreshed everyone and we were on our way again.
Day Seven – Fri 20 May
Tiranna – Gregory Downs
- After a night a Tiranna camp site we set out with all our hopes to Gregory Downs.
- About 90klm down the road and we pulled into the Gregory Downs pub with hopes to find a great campsite.
- Brad ran in firstly to check that they played the NRL for tonights game of the Cowboys vs Broncos and then secondly to get directions for the river camping.
- Less than 2 mins down the road to the river and we started to explore. East side of the river seemed pretty dense with bushland so we ventured over the old bridge to the west side of the Gregory River to explore.
- A few Wobble Boxes (caravans) were on the river bank and Howard went onto explore a dirt tack where he found a great spot.
- We all ventured in to find we all fitted into the spot with 4 of us right on the river – just the best spot with our very own canoe entry point and walk in to take a dip spot!
- We seemed to have a way as every car that has explored down to us has ultimately turned around and gone back to the mass gathering with the Wobble Boxes right on the old road into town.
- Brad & Reg decided that attempting canoeing while trying to put in yabbie pots was a good idea – probably very sensible except for the rapids!
- Barb thought Brad was racing the rapids and doing a fine job until he toppled out of the canoe and Reg, well…..Reg lost his very new pot as he fell off the canoe and tried to save himself! It was a great laugh of a story to share for a few days!
- We all had dinner and headed back up to the local pub to watch the NRL.
- What a great atmosphere at the local pub with 18 guests gathering around the only big screen.
- The local pub crew were great, looking after us with our drinks and also taking care of the Elder who seemed to already have his fair share of drinks!
Day Eight – Sat 21 May
- Lazy day around camp. Brad & Fi first to awake at a leisurely 7am and and went for a paddle in the canoes up the river for about an hour. After a leisurely stroll to some beautiful spots on the Gregory Downs River, bacon and eggs + coffee were back on the agenda.
- By about 9.30am everyone was surfacing and reading, strolling, ramping up the inputs to solar on a cloudy day was in order.
- Everyone seemed to go for a stroll/drive again back into town to either fuel up, top up on drink or just to check everything out
- Back to camp and a leisurely day.
- Happy hour started at 4pm with a slow few drinks, a couple of camp ovens on coals and we had a good laugh on the last couple of days events.
Day Nine – Sun 22 May
Gregory Downs to Lawn Hill
- A bit of rain overnight but nothing that seemed to phase us well travelled campers and we packup (a little damp) but headed up to the pub to top up on last minute supplies, fuel, etc before heading to Lawn Hill
- The pub was a wash with visitors who had travelled that morning to get out of Lawn Hill after 40 mms of rain – we were told that Adels Grove had closed the road and it was unpassable L
- So after many a chat with the pub guys and people travelling back from Lawn Hill who advised the roads were just about impassable, we went back down to the river (but on higher ground as we were told it would flood shortly) and setup for morning tea and ponder thoughts.
- ‘At around noon Brad and Fi headed back to the pub for an update, some people were still making it through from Lawn Hill and one of the guys at the pub (the one who nearly lost his head from a ceiling fan after jumping up on the bar during the Cowboys/Broncos game) said he had travelled on the road many a times much worse than now.
- So back to morning tea camp and consensus was we would give it a go… around 97 klm to Lawn Hill.
- Well ….. the rain was teaming down and the road was great on the so called ‘blacktop for about 30-40 klms’ then the mud started.
- We were after some 4WD’g but we didn’t expect so much mud, however we were enlightened once we passed a road train that had been pulled out of the mud, that the road, must be ok and just passable.
- So another 30+klm along, lots of mud washes, slipping and sliding and finally we hit a sign that said Adels Grove. No one got bogged and no one complained, we were sometimes a passenger in our cars as the trailers and mud slosh took us on it’s own route.
- Passing Adels Grove, we knew we were definitely nearly the end – the road opened up and turned somewhat ok and we finally came to the gates of Boojamulla National Park. When we couldn’t believe our eyes. Mud from top to tail and beyond.
- I don’t think I’ve heard our drivers enjoy corrugation as much as they did from Adels Grove to Lawn Hill NP!
- Another 7klm on and we finally made it to camp! We got our sites and I don’t think we have ever done this before……but an hour of getting mud off the important parts of the trailer – like the pole carrier, maybe the kitchen and the tool box – before we even attempted to setup the camper and awning.
- So a normal ¾ hour setup probably took us the better part of 2 hours, but what a great experience and the campsite was only half full (as we found out most people didn’t attempt the journey).
- Happy hour was of course on the cards and we all recovered with a few beverages
- Check out all the highlights, video and photo’s on FB!
Day Ten – Mon 23 May
Lawn Hill National Park
- Still very overcast with some rain about, light drizzle. Everyone is starting to run their cars for a while to keep the batteries alight for their fridge/freezers (no generators allowed in national parks and no sun for the solars)
- Time to start exploring, Heather & Lindsay, set off for a bush walk. Fiona and Brad carried the canoes to the water and headed off to Indarri Falls and Reg & Barb + Howard enjoyed the scenery and got their camp setup. A relatively lazy day, recovering from the hard drive the previous day and having a good laugh at all the mess on the gear still.
- Happy Hour again – could get used to this!!!!
Day Eleven – Tues 24 May
Lawn Hill National Park
- Things are looking a little grim with the weather, still very overcast, no sun to generate solar, cars running idle to keep fridge/freezers cold
- Getting into this touring stuff – lazy day, a few walks, a bit of tidy up and the crew decided to go down to Adels Grove for an early Happy Hour and check the place out.
- The area was bog city in the camping grounds and we met a few of the crew back at Lawn Hill who gave Adels a miss.
Day Twelve – Wed 25 May
Lawn Hill National Park
- Sun peaking through but teasing us, solars out awaiting for the full sun to come through
- A morning trip to Riversleigh Fossil Fields and a quick wash off in the Gregory River again
- Checked out the road to the Riversliegh Fossil Fields to see how boggy it is to determine whether in 2 days it’s passible for the camper trailers, as some parts are all black soil.
- Fi managed to get a great puddle and bring water into the car via the open windows – Brad very unimpressed but Fi thought it was a hoot!!!
- Back to camp and a walk, swims and reading by a few and another happy hour
- Some discussion was had over the days past Lawn Hill and it was decided to try Camonweel, then West Leichhart then onto Walkabout Creek Hotel (famous for Crocodile Dundee) for the 1st State Of Origin – cannot wait for the atmosphere on this night!
Day 13 – Thurs 26 May
Lawn Hill National Park
- Finally brilliant, sunny, 35° day!
- Brad and Fi decided to do a spot of enthusiastic canoeing to the upper gorge and spot some more crocodiles.
- Heather and Lindsay did some more bush walks, setting the standard for seeing the most parts in the park of the walking trails
- Group walk up to Constance Range for sunset this evening – great view!
- Barb unfortunately took a spill coming back down from the walk and survived grazed knees, arm and some fingers slightly swollen.
- And of course another Happy Hour!
Day 14 – Fri 27 May
Lawn Hill National Park
- Decided last night on the walk that we would tackle “The Island Stack” – 200 m straight up; Barb stayed home to rest with Howard
- We had to be ferried across by Brad by canoe as the walkway bridge had been washed away – no one fell out on their little canoe ride which was good!
- What a view from the Island Stack with Brad & Reg both seeing how close they could get to some of the gorge cliffs
- Back down the Island Stack after the walk around the top and we headed to the Cascades – all of us very much looking forward to a refreshing dip!
- Unfortunately there was no water flowing so it was a bit of a stagnant water spot with a few fish swimming around. Back through to the start of the walk and we began the ferrying again.
- This evenings “Happy Hour” included the end of the scavenger hunt – which spelt out Lawn Hill. Some creative letter items were found, an ant hill, a piece of bush metal, Barb made an awesome incy wincy spider with matchsticks and a Best Creative Lawn Hill Scavenger Hunt prize was awarded to Barb & Reg and Lindsay & Heather getting runners up.
Day 15 – Sat 28 May
Lawn Hill National Park – Camooweal
- At 0900 departure was set and somehow Reg lost track of time, so will be bringing his ‘fine money’ to the next meeting – 40 min later we departed
- We all headed off down the Riversleigh Road and stopped for a quick morning tea at the Isa/Riversleigh turn off – dirt road all the way.
- We arrived in at Camoonweal early afternoon. Stocked up on petrol a few little supplies and off down the river to find a campsite.
- The river was already packed with lots of Wobble Boxes so we ventured down past all the ‘grey nomands’ to a great spot where we all setup camp.
- A fire was started and most of us did a dinner in the camp oven
- A great night around the fire with some laughs and ready to head onto to Mt Isa in the morning.
Day 16 – Sun 29 May
Camoonweal to Mt Isa
- Mostly black top all the way. Amazing how quick you travel along black top compared to dirt
- Arrived in Mt Isa around midday and stopped to stock up on fuel and basic supplies
- Lindsay and Heather headed off to Super Cheap to get a battery after one went while at Lawn Hill
- Reg & Barb got some new wiper blades
- And Brad, Fi stocked up on the priorities – alcohol and left the food for tomorrow!
- We all met again at the Information Centre and decided to head straight out to West Leichhardt Station approx. 35 min out of town (back east).
- Great little camping spot around the station – green watered grass, hot showers and flushing toilets and guess what “Happy Hour” at 5pm every day. The place was made for us!
- Another setup and meeting the station locals at Happy Hour
Day 17 – Mon 30 May
- Rest day for all – Brad & Fi headed back into town to stock up on supplies – some food and have a general look around. Brad worked out of Mt Isa back in the early 90’s and reminisced about all the local surroundings. Two new Akubras were bought and need of a bit of wearing in!
- Heather & Lindsay went to town and came back with a clean car (they found a carwash where washing mud off wasn’t an issue – you just couldn’t wash pig/roo guts off your ute)!!!
- Reg & Barb went for an adventure to town hunting down a paper from last week (didn’t get to the bottom of why but they couldn’t find one) and also did the mine tour
- Howard rested around camp
- Back to camp after lunch rest and relaxation – started getting our camp fires ready and organized again for another ‘happy hour’ – looks like a bit of detox will need to be had after this trip!
Day 18 – Tues 31 May
- Howard decided to head back to Townsville to get ready for Heather & Lindsay’s Carnarvon Trip.
- Fi & Brad went on the mine tour and headed back to camp after getting most of the mud off the car at the carwash – probably donated at least $30 in coin to the local carwash and could have probably done more buta t least most of the mud is generally off the topside of the car and the guards
Day 19 – Wed 1 June
Mt Isa – McKinley
- Rain overnight and drizzle in the morning during pack up.
- Headed to Cloncurry to find an awesome bakery, where we all indulged in Pies, Sweets and Coffee
- Cool day and the rain got heavier, kept on to McKinley arriving sometime after lunch
- Lucky for our early arrival at the Walkabout Creek Hotel camp area – after setup and a few showers it was a steady progression of Wobble Boxes and some last minute campers
- One BMW X5 with their awesome, super long, Wobble Box decided to take a turn through the mud (what we all think they thought was sand!) and the wife jump out and highly concerned with the amount of mud on the tyres of the caravan. We were going to show her the photo’s of our trip into Lawn Hill, but thought she wouldn’t appreciate it. We think she was a little out of her depth!
- Good grub at the pub and a great night watching the 1st State of Origin. Great win to Qld.
Day 20 – Thur 2 June
McKinley – Winton
- Unfortunately original plans had to change from all the rain and the black soil.
- Headed towards Winton and checked out Combo Water Hole south of Kynuna and all the history. Said to be the location for the draft poetry behind Waltzing Matilda before music was put to it.
- Onto Winton and went straight to the ‘I’ centre and found a free stop just outside of town called ‘long water hole’. Lots of black soil and predicted to rain overnight so made a group decision to play it safe (and not get stuck) and stay in town
- Setup camp and went for a walk around town and enjoyed a local pub for Happy Hour
- Settled into a good night sleep as Brad & Fi had to ventured back to Townsville
Day 21 – Fri 3 June
- Brad & Fi packed up and sad their adventure is just about to end – a fantastic 3 weeks of touring, 4wd’g – lots of laughs !
- Heather & Lindsay heading towards Porcepine Gorge
- Reg & Barb stayed to enjoy the Winton Show
Briiliant trip, a good amount of off road, 4WDing and adventures. Due to the rain in NW Qld some of our planned day trips couldn’t be attempted, but we will store those ones up for our next trip.
Thanks Lindsay, Heather, Reg, Barb and Howard for their company.