25th Jun 2008
Cairns to Innot Hot Springs.

Left Crystal Cascades CP in Redlynch (North of Cairns) at 9am for our 172kms drive to Innot Hot Springs. Drove up to Kuranda in misty rain. Most of the uphill was in 2nd gear at 3,000rpm. No dramas at all. Stayed at Kuranda for a coffee and donut.
Light rain to Atherton and onto Ravenshoe (Ravens hoe). Overcast all the way to Innot Hot Springs.

The Navara handled everything that the roads threw at it. They were generally very good, with only a single bitumen bit just before Atherton from memory.
Arrived at Innot Hot Springs CP about 2pm and spent over an hour in the medium spa (38C.) Didn't go for the hot spa(45C) - too hot.
Walked over to the Pub which involved crossing the creek where the hot springs comes from. The backpackers were laying in the creek and the water varied from cool to very hot. Arrived at the Innot Hot Springs Pub and what a pub! Brilliant! Had a couple of VBs and are going back for dinner. Tried to talk Marg into adding her bra to the collection over the bar. No go.
Dinner was great. I had a mixed grill with a schooner of VB and Marg had crumbed prawns and a lemonade.

Internet reception was zero on the 'blue toaster' and 2 bars on the GME AE915 aerial. This was the first time that I have had to use my aerial.

Us in Kuranda behind the main street.

Us in Kuranda behind the main street.

Our Lunch spot at Ravenshoe.

Innot Hot Springs Pub.

Outdoor hot spas.

Indoor hot spas.

26th Jun 2008
Innot Hot Springs to Mt Surprise.

As today was only 139kms, we didn't have to leave camp early, so we left about 10am. First we had to have another hot springs spa, which lasted about 45 minutes and was great. Met my first road train today. Gees it's big, but no drama. Just pulled over and let it pass. The road was generally 2 lane but with sections of single lane bitumen (Where we met the Road train) totalling up to 10kms.

There was one fatality this morning. I ran over a snake. It must have been over 2 meters long as it covered the whole left lane with its head on the right hand lane. I couldn't miss it so aimed at its head. Hopefully I killed it instantly. It had a black head and a striped body, I think that it was a python but I didn't stop to check.
Arrived at Mt Surprise (Joe and Jo's Bedrock Village CP) about 11:30am. Marg and I drove into town, which consists of a General Store, a Railway Station, a Police Station, a Primary School (with 7 children ranging from prep to Grade 6) and a Pub (with cold VB on tap). Had a wood fire pizza for tea that the CP cooked. It was beautiful.
Internet reception was 5 bars on the GME AE915 aerial.
Tomorrow we are still at Mt Surprise and going on a morning tour of the Undara Lava Tubes. Should be fun.

Overcast driving.

Mt Surprise - Welcome sign.

Mt Surprise - Welcome sign.

Tough Cows.

Joe and Jo's Bedrock Village CP.

Our camp at Bedrock.

27th Jun 2008
Mt Surprise and Undara Lava Tubes tour.

Ok, up and at the Office with 18 other adventurers by 9am, ready for our Lava Tubes tour.
Joe appears at first to be a very shy man, but he is a Savannah Guide, Guitar playing singer, mechanic and a heap of other things. Well it is approx 40kms from camp to the lava tubes and Joe gave a non stop commentary over the PA in the 20 seater bus.
First stop was at the Kalkani Volcano. We walked up to the top of the rim (600m) and then the whole way around the perimeter (1.3km). The views were spectacular. Marg whimped out half way up the hill and stayed with one of the other hikers till we came back. Her theory is - you've seen one volcano, you've seen 'em all.
Back to the picnic area for morning tea and then into the bus for trip back along the unmade road to the lava tubes. The lava tubes that we visited consisted of 3 different sections and were really interesting. That night at camp, I purchased a camp cooked steak and fish with salad, and then we sat around the campfire with Joe and his guitar, singing all the usual Aussie songs, such as On the Good Ship Venus and Eskimo Nell to name a few. Nah, only joking. He sang Click go the shears and Waltzing Matilda etc.
We met Peter and John who are riding bicycles around Australia unassisted. Bloody awesome effort! They have ridden 4,000kms since leaving Canberra in April.
Internet reception was 5 bars on the GME AE915 aerial.
Tomorrow we have a pleasant 240km drive to Croydon CP.

View at the top of Kalkani Volcano.

The Rim.

Entering one of the Lava tubes at Undarra.

Marg in a Lava tube.

Exiting a large Lava tube.

Kalkani Volcano from afar.

28th Jun 2008
Mt Surprise to Croydon.

Left Joe and Jo about 9am and as we went through Mount Surprise, there is a car wash apparatus that cleans the underneath of the car and caravans to get rid of weeds and any seeds. The road was a normal 2 lane bitumen road. Absolutely great after the single lane sections of the past few days. I set cruise control to 90kpm and away we went.
Georgetown was the only sign of life between Mt Surprise and Croydon. Gees Australia is huge! So we stopped at a service station for diesel. It was $1.92 a litre, as I was paying for it, this guy (read DH) casually said that it was $1.85 around the corner. Too late.
Continued on our way to Croydon. We were amazed by the ant hills or termite mounds, whichever they were. Arrived at Croydon CP, not the biggest town in the world, but probably has the widest streets in the world. So... set up camp and was all set to wash the van, when a couple stopped for a chat. 4 cans of VB later they left. Consequently, the van is still dirty.
Went to bed early and slept well.
Today's temperature got to 30. Internet reception was 5 bars on the GME AE915 aerial.
Tomorrow we have a little 155km jaunt to Normanton Tourist Park.

No traffic.

Will we catch him? We eventually did.

Pete and John riding around Oz. Cause they can.

A Road Train. There are longer ones.

Our pitstop at Georgetown.

Our camp at Croydon CP.

29th Jun 2008
Croydon to Normanton.

Got up and kept an eye out for our friendly couple. Relaxed after they left the camping ground early.
We left and drove the 155kms to Normanton. Set the cruise set on 90kph and away we went. Stopped at Gilbert River for a smoko - a beautiful rest area.
Arrived at Normanton. Very similar town to Croydon - big wide streets. Being Sunday, you could have shot a cannon off and missed everyone. We setup camp next to a young Dutch couple, who are touring Australia in a motor home. We invited them to stay at our house when they are in Melbourne for the Australian tennis Open in 2009.
During the arvo Marg and I went swimming in the 25m pool, then in the hot artesian spa. Beeaauuttiiffuull.
Today's temperature got to 31.5 inside the van parked in the shade with all windows open. Bloody hot, mate.
Internet reception was 5 bars without an aerial.
Tomorrow is a rest day in Normanton.

Sunrise at Croydon CP.

Sunrise at Croydon CP.

Our rig at Blackbull Siding.

30th Jun 2008
Frying in Normanton.

Rest day today.
Said goodbye to our Dutch neighbours. Drove into 'town' for some diesel and food.
It has taken me all day to update this website. Last night was hot, sheet only and with all windows and door open, temperature only dropped to 22. Today's temperature got to 31 inside the van, parked in the shade with all windows open, so we weakened, closed all openings and put the AirCon. Now it is a pleasant 23 inside and 31 outside.
Internet reception was 5 bars without an aerial.
Tomorrow we have a day trip to Karumba to visit Frank and June , a couple that we met at Mt Surprise.

The famous Purple Pub.

Replica of a 28ft Croc caught in the Norman River, True.

The famous Purple Pub in full colour.

1st Jul 2008
Day trip to Karumba.

Well, the time has come to check out Karumba. A lot of people say it's a must see and others say don't bother.
Weather in Normanton is a pleasant 30 and clear blue sky. So we pointed the Navara northward and sat on 110kph to Karumba without the van. The road was good. We passed our neighbours, Rex and Pru, from last night, about 20kms from Karumba. They're staying at Karumba for 11 nights.
Karumba is split into 2 distinct sections, Karumba and Karumba Point. The popular place is Karumba Point. This has a pub which overlooks the mouth of the Norman river and the Gulf. The view is to die for and it faces west, so the sunsets are even more beautiful. That's it. Unless you like fishing and rumour has it that the fish aren't biting this year.
We had lunch at the Sunset Tavern and it had great views. I had grilled Gulf Barramundi and Marg had lamb cutlets. Yummy. Drove through both sections. There were boat trailers everywhere. It is really a fisherman's mecca. The only problem was that the fish were not biting.
Drove back to Normanton and visited the railway station. This has been fully restored and is very good. Got back to camp and Pete and John (the 2 cyclists that are cycling around Australia and that we met in Mount Surprise) have arrived after riding for 4 days since we last saw them. Marg and I were back in the pool to cool off, and then had a warm spa.
Dinner was sandwiches tonight and a few VBs. Last night was the same as the previous night, which was hot, sheet only and all windows and door open, temperature dropped to 21. Today's temperature got to 32 inside the van. Internet reception is still 5 bars without an aerial. We are right opposite a telstra tower, but our mobile still won't get a signal.
Tomorrow we start our trip home. Well not really. We head south for the first time. We have a stop over at Burke and Wills Roadhouse about 200kms south of Normanton and approx 180kms north of Cloncurry, on our way to Mount Isa.

View on the way to Karumba.

Sunset Tavern. Top pub with sensational views over the water.

View from the beer garden.

2nd Jul 2008
Normanton to Terry Smith Lookout Rest area.

Our plan for today was to leave Normanton and head south along the Matilda Highway aka Burke Development Rd to Burke and Wills Roadhouse about 200kms in total. That changed after we met Dean and his wife at a rest area about 60kms south of Normanton. They told Marg how they were going to 'free camp' at Terry Smith Lookout Rest Area. We thought that this would be a good time to join them for our first 'Free camp', so we agreed to meet them at the Rest Area.
So off we go and get to Burke and Wills Roadhouse for lunch. We filled up with diesel $1.93 a litre and pulled over and made lunch. Just as we are about to leave Dean arrives and we confirm that we will stay with them tonight. We got to Terry's rest area about 3:30pm and it is approx 320kms south of Normanton or 60kms north of Cloncurry. It is a rest area with toilet and a dump point for emptying the 'shitter'. Apparently it is very rare for a rest area to have a dump point. We setup camp, which consisted of finding a nice level bit of ground, with easy access for leaving in the morning.
There was one motorhome there when we arrived and shortly after, Dean arrived and parked directly behind us. By nightfall there were 5 vans and a motorhome and a backpacker in a mini van. The site was quiet with very little road noise or traffic. There were a couple of road trains that rumbled past, but generally, it was quiet and peaceful and very starry. So there is no power or water available, that's the whole idea of 'free camping'. We tried to scan for analogue and/or digital TV reception, but there wasn't any and we didn't expect any either. I could have setup the Sat TV dish, but for one night, I couldn't be bothered. The van has 2 x 100Ah batteries, so we had more than enough power for one night. The fridge was running on gas, so my beer was still cold. Marg made spagetti for dinner, as usual, it was yumma. I put the aerial up for the internet and fired up the laptop, it registered zero bars out of 5, so I thought that this would be the first time without internet connection, but no need to worry. I still managed to login and I sent a photo of our campsite to my former workmates.
On our laptop, I have added some hardware to allow us to tape TV shows, so after dinner, I connected my laptop to the TV and we sat back and watched last week's episodes of Bones and Amazing Race. You can see that we are roughing it in style. Now off to the land of nod.

Hiding my stressful life.

Sunset at Terry Smith's Lookout Rest area.

At Terry Smith's Lookout Rest area.

3rd Jul 2008
Terry Smith Lookout Rest area to Mount Isa.

Today's drive is an easy 180kms to Mount Isa, via Cloncurry. After a pleasant sleep, I was up early just before sunrise to take some photos of the sunrise. We decided that we would forgo breakfast and drive into Cloncurry and have Maccas for breaky. Only one problem - there's no Maccas in Cloncurry! We left camp and headed into Cloncurry. First stop was the NAB to pick up my Visacard. Remember the saga? Well guess what! My visacard hasn't arrived in Cloncurry! It is still in Melbourne!!!!!! The staff are investigating what is happening and we will call back to the branch next Tuesday after we leave Mount Isa. We left them our email address so they could email us if it turns up. Stay tuned for another gripping instalment...
Then went to the cafe next door, for the largest bacon and eggs I have ever seen. The road from Cloncurry to Mount Isa was very good - bitumen the whole way. No single lane sections at all. We got to Argylla CP and setup camp. TV reception is only ABC, 7 and a snowy WIN, so I setup the Satellite dish and TV is sharp and clean. As the Navara is booked in for a service, we drove to the dealer,to check that the booking was all correct. Why me? The booking would have been correct if it was for Saturday. Sure enough, they had me booked in for Saturday, even though, they are not open on Saturday. Go figure! So my booking is changed to Friday.
Today's temperature at Mount Isa was about 25.
Internet reception is 5 bars without an aerial.
Tomorrow we are shopping and sightseeing and have booked the Navara in for its 20,000km service.

4th Jul 2008
Resting in Mount Isa.

I was actually cold in bed, I had on 2 blankets, but still cold, so I got up and found my sleeping bag, I didn't realise that it gets cold overnight in Isa.
Up at 6:30am and showered, drove the Navara to the dealer arrived at 7:15 and was driven back to camp by their courtesy bus. I was back at camp at 7:30, before Marg even knew I had gone.
Checked the emails. NO EMAIL ABOUT THE VISA CARD. While waiting for the dealer to ring, I did the washing. It was sheet washing day.
The dealer rang about 10am and we caught the midday courtesy bus back to the dealer. The service cost $296.
We picked up the Navara and off to the Telstra shop, as we have not had any phone reception since we left Cairns. We have decided to buy a Next G mobile phone. $179 later we have our new Samsung A411 Next G mobile phone.
As you approach Mount Isa from the Cloncurry direction, your first sight of Mount Isa is the 2 large chimmney stacks, read bloody huge. We drove up to the lookout hill which overlooks Mount Isa, took a heap of photos and we have to go back at night to see the mine under lights. Bumped into June and Frank at the lookout so caught up on what had been happening.
Today's temperature at Mount Isa was again about 25 with no clouds and a light breeze (Shorts and T shirt weather) after the cold start.
Internet reception is 5 bars without an aerial.
Tomorrow we are relaxing.

Our camp at Argylla CP, Mt Isa.

Mount Isa Mines - Northern section.

Mount Isa Mines - Southern section.

Road Train coming into Mount Isa. - Big Mother.

Sunset shot of the mines and town from the lookout.

Another sunset shot of the mines and town from the lookout.

Sat 5th Jul

Another cold night, but I was prepared this time with my warm sleeping bag. I was as snug as a bug in a rug.
Checked the emails. NO EMAIL ABOUT THE VISA CARD. As you may or may not know, Marg and I love our internet and TV, so this morning, I have worked out how to record the TV shows from the Sat TV onto my laptop. Gees, I am a genius, it all works, so as I am writing this, I am recording the V8 supercars onto my laptop, in preparation for the start of the Tour de France tonight.
So while I am playing computer man, I had to drive Marg to the Irish Club, so she could play the pokies.
Today's temperature at Mount Isa was again about 25 with no clouds and a light breeze (Shorts and T shirt weather) after another cold start.
Internet reception is 5 bars without an aerial.

Sun 6th Jul

Another cold night.
I drove to the outskirts of town to take photos of approachimg Mount Isa. I spent most of the day watching the V8 supercars and processing all my photos.
We decided to visit the Irish club for dinner, for $16 it has an all you can eat buffet. I took it on, I had roast lamb, scallop potatoes, vegies then I ate Marg's leftovers and then went back for fish and chips and salad. Marg wanted to go and play the pokies, so we agreed to give 30 minutes. I went back and had some jelly. After 30 minutes, I went and got Marg, she had just won a mini jackpot of $137. Great work.
We went back to camp to get my camera, as it was dark, I wanted to take some photos of the mine with lights on, from the lookout, which we did.
Today's temperature at Mount Isa was again about 25 with no clouds and a light breeze (Shorts and T shirt weather) after another cold start.
Internet reception is 5 bars without an aerial.

7th Jul 2008
Mount Isa Mines tour.

What a day.
We were booked on the Campbell's Mine tour via bus. We had to be at Outback at Isa by 10:45am, ready for our 11am departure. Our driver was Ron, as it turns out he had worked underground at the MIM for 25 years, and his knowledge was awesome or he was 'full of bullshit'. We drive through the actual mine area, at one stage, we had to pullover as a 50 tonne water truck needed to pass us. The new open cut mine is just plain gigantic.
The tour was the best tour so far on our trip, it lasted 2 hours.

The rest of the day was relaxing and then starting to dismantle camp ready for tomorrow's departure.

Mount Isa Mines sign at the Southern entrance.

View from just outside the fence - check out the clouds.

Mount Isa Mines - Tonka Trucks in a big sandpit.

Mount Isa Mines sign at the Southern entrance.

View from just outside the fence - check out the clouds.

Mount Isa Mines - Tonka Trucks in a big sandpit.

*2008 - Index page*

**NEXT - Heading to Kynuna**