We left Caboolture and headed inland for our outback Queensland adventure. Having 2 weeks to get to Birdsville we slowly made our way west stopping the first night a free camp at Lake Clarendon. We spent the afternoon going for a long walk along the dam wall where we saw the biggest water rat we had both ever seen, it was the size of a small dog. The bird life was incredible with many flying to this area to nest, we must have gotten too close to one Kites nest as we were swooped and then stalked at almost eye level by the bird for the next kilometre as we walked at a fast speed away from it.
The following morning we were happy to get moving on from this camp site, we spent most of the day driving, though Toowoomba where we stopped for lunch and also picked up a USB charger for the caravan so we can charge our phone inside and not off the fridge in the back of the ute. We continued to drive onto Wanui to a free camp right on the river we had a peaceful afternoon watching the surrounding birdlife.
The next morning we pushed on again to head towards Roma, where we wanted to get to by Thursday to go to the saleyards which only happen twice a week Tuesday and Thursday. We stopped about 40km out of Roma in the town of Wallumbilla, a very small town that offered free power and water including flushing toilets and hot showers at the showgrounds ( something we have never come across before). Once we set up for the night we rode our bikes across to the small visitor centre. We were so glad we did, once we picked up some homemade tomato relish and shortbread. We only stayed here for one night so the next morning we could get to Roma for the early morning cow and bull sales tour. The tour was fantastic, fascinating and FREE. Our local tour guide explained the beef industry as we went underneath the sale yards to look face to face at the bulls and cows that were up for auction. After watching a few sales we walked up the stairs to watch from above to where you watch the cattle walk over the scales. Everyone was trying to figure out how much each sale went for because the auctioneer spoke so fast but the guide told us that no one really knew, it wasn’t until the farmer went to pay for his beast that he found out what he really paid for them.
After the morning spent at the saleyards we headed into town to the information centre to get free Wi-Fi so mick could do his tax return, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise and the money from both our tax returns will keep us going for a while.
After leaving Roma late Thurday afternoon we moved on to Mitchell, staying at another free camp at the Weir with many other campers. After driving around for a while trying to find a spot, we found a nice shay spot where we parked up for the next couple of days. As we had plenty of time to get to Birdsville we decided to stay here for a few nights and get to know the town a bit better. The next morning we went into the town to find that they had an artesian spa which is heated by the hot waters of the artesian basin they also had a gym attached to it so we went home and picked our bathers and runners so we could do a work out before relaxing in the spa. The gym was a community gym so it was free and the spa was $6.50 for all day you could come and go as you like. We ended up coming back in the afternoon for another spa.
After a couple of days in Mitchell visiting the attractions and trying there “ award winning pies “ it was time to keep moving on to Charleville. Once arriving we made the decision to stay in the caravan park here as we needed to have a decent shower, fill up our water tanks and the sign out the front saying “camp oven dinners” had us sold. A night around the campfire we enjoyed a red wine beef and vegetable stew with campfire damper, apple charlotte and billy tea.
Charleville to Quilpie was a nice drive most of the time you were driving with no one in sight, it was single lane roads so when it came to passing another car you would have to dropped the left tires into the gravel shoulder flicking up rocks and dust but making sure you slow down enough that they don’t flick onto the passing car. We arrived in Quilpie mid-morning after leaving early to miss the heat of the day, we had to stay is a caravan park here because there wasn’t any free camps that were close to town, the caravan park was really nice we got the night stay cheaper because we didn’t get power. Once all set up mick and I went for a walk around town going into the opal shop, butcher, newsagent and the information centre, we got talking to the lady in the information centre and she said that down the road 4km you could fossick for opals without a licence. We didn’t waste any time we drove down the road to dig around with our shovels fossicking finding what I believe were gems.
After spending the afternoon fossicking we went back to the caravan park to relax in the artesian spas and spent the rest of the night by the campfire listening to the live entertainment that the caravan put on for travellers heading towards Birdsville.
The next morning we left Quilpie and headed off to Windorah the last town before the road becomes unsealed to Birdsville. Windorah was a small town located on the Cooper Creek. We set up for the night in the caravan parks over flow area, we put our sneakers on and went for a walk around town. We didn’t get too far before we ended up at the small country pub located on the main drag in town, we stopped in for a beer and then continued on our walk.
Woken early the next morning by our grey nomad neighbours who raised there stabilisers with a rattle gun. There was no going back to sleep after that so we were on the road nice and early heading towards Betoota. The sealed road lasted about 100km out of Windorah before we turned left on to the Birdsville development road hitting the start of the dirt road. After about 100km on the dirt road we had arrive in the ghost town of Betoota, which comes alive one a year for the annual Betoota races. This was just the start of the Simpson Desert Spring Racing Carnival.
Read next week to see what we get up to at the outback country races visiting Betoota, Birdsville and Bedourie.