To reach Brisbane, and to complete our six week camping adventure, we headed inland to avoid the flooding along the QLD coast. This alternate route took us south through the central highlands of QLD, following the Great Inland Way. At Roma we turned east, stopping briefly in Toowoomba and Ipswich, before taking up residence in Brisbane for the next month.
Some final thoughts on this trip and camping in AU: I'm not really much of a camper but for this trip it was the only way to go. Because of distances involved, if you want to visit remote areas in the outback, it just makes the most sense. Although no one would accuse us of "glamping," the presence of the AU camp kitchen certainly makes things more palatable for a reformed "never camper" like me. And the characters you meet...that's icing on the cake!
Emerald is considered to be the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields. It gets its name from it's green hills rather than from a green gem. We spent the night in Emerald before heading to the town of Sapphire to make our fortune. We also visited the famous Van Gogh Sunflower painting. It just goes to show that with a little ingenuity, a town can come up with a new tourist attraction and call it the largest something??? I think that Emerald used to produce a lot of sunflowers.
This is the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel. It is 82 ft. high and has 13.6 tons of steel.
We skipped the digging and bought a bucket of wash. It provided a good two hours of entertainment. We ended up with a little stash of worthless sapphires...still quite fun!
As the man in the background is demonstrating, the technique first involved taking a sieve full of wash to this trough to be cleaned. Once the dirt is gone, you swirl the remaining rocks until the sapphires (which are heavier) settle in the middle. Then you spread the rocks out to dry, looking for anything that sparkles.
Springsure derived its name from the permanent springs in the creek and gullies in the area. The town was founded because of all the wagon teams that camped by the springs, on their way to the coast. It is a small town ( under 1,000) but it has a lot of nearby attractions and interesting history. It is probably most famous for a rock formation that is said to resemble the Vigin Mary cradling Jesus. Also, at nearby Garden Creek, AU's worst massacre took place in 1861. Called Wills Massacre, the lives of 19 settlers were taken secondary to Aboriginal unrest.
On display In the park, we saw this huge wagon. My picture doesn't adequately show just how big this wagon is. We tried to imagine exactly how much "horsepower" it took to move this wagon.
I can never pass up the opportunity to take a picture of a Comet. To me, there is nothing that says "outback" quite like seeing one of them!
Mt Zambia overlooks the town of Springsure. The road into the actual park was washed out, so we could only view it from below.
At night there are lights focused on the Virgin Mary rock formation on the left. Although, we also saw it at night, my pictures show it better in the daylight. That being said, to the naked eye, it is more visible at night. I read that the original resemblance has been blurred by years of erosion.
Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Carnarvon Gorge NP is made up of white limestone cliffs and narrow gorges that have been carved by the Carnavon Creek. It is a remote park, so several large areas requirie a lot of hiking to reach. We stuck to the more accessible areas at the bottom of the gorge.
We walked to a gap in the Clematis Ridge; this is where the Aboriginal people have entered the Carnarvon Gorge for thousands of years. On a small sandstone overhang at Baloon Cave, we saw this stenciled Aboriginal rock art.
Some areas of the park have these friendly swamp wallabies hanging out. This was the first time that we had seen this particular type of wallaby. Such a cute face!
The Carnarvon Creek. We did not go to the Rock Pool as it involved wading across this creek.
We hiked into the Mickey Creek Gorge. Here we got a glimpse of the white sandstone walls.
Sometimes the journey to and from a destination (Carnarvon NP) ends up being just as interesting as the final stop. Along the road we encountered:
No, we did not ask him to move! We drove several miles through the Rewan Station. A fair amount of the drive was on unsealed roads, through road construction, and over low water bridges.
We saw a pair of these birds along the road.
On a flight from Darwin to Brisbane, this military plane was caught up in an electrical storm and crashed here on November 16th,1943.
The Rewan Memorial commerates the fourteen AU soldiers, and the five US military personnel killed in an air crash on the Rewan Station.
The body of the American Dakota C-47 aircraft.
Roma is located about 300 miles directly west of Brisbane. It is a business center for this Western Downs area, and sometimes it is called the "gateway to the outback." The pioneers of the oil and gas industry in AU got their start here. While drilling an artesian water bore here, natural gas was discovered for the first time in AU. The area has rich grazing land; it also has AU's largest sale yard for cattle. And last but not least, it is here that we learned that a bottle tree is not the same as a boab tree. There is an Avenue of Heroes here that has 140 bottle trees; each tree is dedicated to a local soldier who died in WWI.
On Edwardes St, we found the oldest bottle tree in Roma; it is estimated to be over a hundred years old. It's girth is over 29 feet. Bottle trees only grow naturally in parts of central and southern QLD. They are not related to the boab trees we saw in WA and the NT.
The most famous attraction in Roma is probably the Big Rig. This is where you can learn about AU's history in gas and oil exploration.
The "real driller" is a man named John Machado; he came from California to teach oil drilling techniques to the Australians.. He stayed, became a AU citizen, and eventually went on to convert oil bores to water bores for the city. When this "imposter" agrees to a pic, he sometimes forgets that it might eventually show up here.
The Lenroy Slab Hut was built in 1893 to house a family of 11. Made of local cypress, only the verandah has been replaced.
It seems like all we see, are humped back variety, but there are actually a lot of the herefords here also. Because that is what my Dad raised, the poll herefords have always been my personal favorite.
Our last night out we camped at a free site just outside Toowoomba. At this point, we were looking forward to once again living the city life...this time in Brisbane.