Thursday, September 6, 2012

Passing through Mt Isa and onwards and The Strand, Townsville

The Strand, Townsville
From Richmond we travelled on passing through Charters Towers and then
stopped overnight just fifty kilometres west of Townsville. There is a very
large free camping area adjacent to the Ross River and we camped along with
about thirty other camping groups. We are still very impressed with the
facilities provided for the travelling population and this facility was very
well maintained with bitumen driveways, well-marked fencing and very clean
toilet facilities. Top marks to the cleaning contractor who arrived while
we were still there to clean the facilities - not a job too many people
would be keen to take on.

The drive into Townsville was very quick and much more interesting. From
Charters Towers through to Townsville there are houses scattered along the
highway and small settlements. Evidence of the tropics soon become apparent
with coconut palms swaying in the wind. We had previously booked into the
Big 4 caravan park in Townsville - this is a popular caravan park with lots
of cabins and caravan sites and we are surrounded by couples and families
enjoying holidays of various lengths.

Townsville city centre has some beautiful architecture with large buildings
with wide verandahs in the typical Queenslander style. The foreshore area
known as The Strand has been well set up with walking paths, picnic and BBQ
facilities, children's playground and a large water play area then swimming
pool. Of course there are the customary restaurants and bars. We enjoyed
lunch at a bar looking over the water and then went walking the length of
the foreshore. It was really lovely. The temperatures are cooler in
Townsville with the daily temperatures now around 27 - 28 degrees which is a
lot cooler than the 36 degrees we had left in Darwin. Still the days are
warm and the skies are blue even though the afternoons have been quite

Townsville area has a number of very large rocky hills and we were surprised
to see a waterfall as we drove along the Strand. There was certainly a good
stream of water falling.

Passing Through Mount Isa and Onwards
The distance from Darwin to Townsville is approximately 2,500 kilometres. We had previously travelled the road from Three Ways on Stuart Highway through to Mt Isa. This is a distance of approximately 640 kilometres and has to be the most boring road that we have travelled, and we have now travelled it twice. The road is long and straight and there are two stopping opportunities - one is Barkly Homestead which is a roadhouse and camping area and then the small one shop town of Camooweal which is two hundred kilometres west of Mt Isa. We chose to basically drive straight through so leaving Three Ways in the morning, we stopped briefly at Barkly Homestead for a stretch and bathroom stop, then continued on through Camooweal to fifty kilometres west of Mt Isa. It was a long day and quite boring. We stayed overnight at a very large free camping area along with about another ten caravans.
Sunday morning we again hit the road with the aim to continue about another 500 kilometres. We soon passed through Mt Isa and it was interesting to return. As we had stayed a number of days last year we decided there was no need to stay over again so after filling with diesel (surprisingly Mt Isa is one of the cheapest places to buy diesel - we understand that the price is possibly subsidised by the mining companies) we spent an hour or so cleaning the caravan. We are still trying to get rid of the red dust of the west.
Continuing towards the east we passed through Cloncurry then Julia Creek which is a really lovely small rural town. We stopped for a while in Julia Creek and enjoyed a wander window shopping (all the shops were closed being Sunday afternoon). The small town has a population of under 400 and is a centre for the beef and wool farmers and now the BHP Bulliton mine at nearby Cannington. The town had excellent facilities for the passing traffic and we were disappointed that the new information centre wasn't open. Another place to visit another time.
We decided to stay overnight at Richmond which is one of the three small towns in the dinosaur triangle - Winton, Hughenden and Richmond. We had visited both Winton and Hughenden last July as we made our way north to Cairns. As we arrived in Richmond after 4 pm and being Sunday the information centre was closed but we were able to take a photo of the dinosaur figure out the front.
The caravan park was on the edge of a lake so after a cuppa we set off to walk around the lake to get some exercise after sitting all day. On the way around we passed the playground and the little boy was still alive in Peter as he enjoyed a play with the water cannon. We certainly know some other children who would have loved to drench those around them if they had had the opportunity.
We were now over 2000 kilometres from Darwin and still around 500 kilometres to go to Townsville.

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