Tuesday we intended to leave Normanton, free camping a couple of nights on our way to the Undara Volcanic National Park, where we had booked a site and thought we would camp a few days so we could tour the lava tubes and enjoy some of the bush walks.
Just outside Normanton we turned left on to the Savannah Highway, once again pondering the quality of the road, and to our relief it was 2 lanes all the way to Croydon. The terrain changed yet again, this time to very thick bush with small stubby trees about 2-3 metres in height. Along the way a ute towing a horse float containing 2 horses passed us and then a bit further along we see it parked off the road and inside a station gate. This must be the modern way of droving, because even further along the road here was the jackaroo driving a herd of cattle along the side of the road toward the open gate where he had parked. We also noticed that there was a lot of quite full dams and billabongs just off the road, inside the station fences, there is a lot of water in this part of Queensland.
Arriving in Croydon about 11ish we noticed some amazing iron sculptures, parked alongside the Memorial Park and went to have a closer look. From here we went to the visitor centre, were the history of the gold mining town and more iron sculpture were on display. Very interesting!
Continuing our journey we stopped at the Gilbert River Camp Site for lunch, another great free camp location. Then we hit the single lane road about 55 kilometres west of Georgetown; which alternated between single and double lanes about every 1-2 kilometres for about 10 kilometres, (much more single and double lane).
We travelled for about 30 kilometres along the road to our camp for the night Cumberland Mine Historic Site. What a fantastic location, about 1 kilometre off the main road the old mine chimney is still standing, the toxic waste dumps have been sign posted and there is a billabong loaded with lilies and of birds. The best bit, a good number of the sites overlook the billabong with a back drop of hills. We counted 20 campers of various styles and types camped in the site for the night.
Wednesday morning we headed for Undara National Park, with a lot of cattle and horses along the way. We refuelled in Georgetown, lucky for us diesel the only fuel they had in the tanks and there were a few cars waiting around for the tankers to deliver the unleaded! Once we left Georgetown the roads deteriorated markedly, with flood damage for the next 45 kilometres being worked on by the road crews. The blessing of this mess was that the traffic flow was down to one lane at a time and controlled either by lights or a lollipop person (No trying to pass road trains on a single lane – phew!)
We arrived at Undara mid-morning, parked and went to check-in. When we made the booking, from Normanton, I asked for a powered site for a 6.3 metre van, the heavily accented female took our particulars and then sent a confirmation email. When we read through it said we had been booked into the Safari Camp which form the brochures was unpowered and would not take any rigs over 6 metres. I rang her back, questioning the suitability of the Safari Camp and explained again what we needed and she assured me that we were booked into a powered site.
I explained to the receptionist that we were a bit concerned and told the story, she looked at me very concerned, and another woman on the reception also muttered something under her breath and shook her head. Then she explained that we had indeed been booked into the wrong area but that she would go and see what could be done. Both women on reception spoke with the heavily accented women, she said sorry, they both shook their heads and said the best they could do was a powered site without water! Derick and I discussed the option, and decided it was not good enough, let the crowded reception know that they had totally messed up our booking, that we were not happy and had decided to keep going.
So Plan B, camp at the Archer Creek Rest Area tonight and then head on to Lake Eacham Tourist Park a day early!! We phoned on ahead, booked the extra day at Lake Eacham and moved on 🙂 (We were going to have to be frugal with our water and hope the toilet would last just one more day).
Our journey from Undara to Archer Creek was very scenic beautiful views across some majestic ranges. There was also the alternating single to double lane road, and more road reparation and improvement works. Archer Creek was just off the side of the road, with about 9 cans and campers already setup for the night. We found a spot for us, setup camp and relaxed with a cuppa while chatting with some of the other campers. It was a cold night; we needed to find our jumpers and windcheaters to keep warm.
Next morning we counted 20 campers, tents and whiz-bangs, it was 9° C at 8:30 and warmer outside in the sun than in the caravan.
Our journey to the town or Atherton was via some very steep and winding roads as we entered the Atherton Tablelands through beautiful forest, and passed dairy farms with the Misty Mountains as a back drop. On arrival in Atherton we parked the van and just walked the main streets of the town, much easier when we don’t know the roads or the traffic and we were desperate for a lengthy walk for some exercise. We found the main shopping centre where we bought a few bits and pieces and then found our way back to the van taking an alternate path. We visited the tourist information centre collecting maps and brochures of the local sites and historical buildings then headed on to the Lake Eacham Tourist Park, which is located just outside the Crater Lakes National Park.
We have now been on the road for 6 weeks and still loving every minute of exploring this wonderful country of ours 🙂 🙂