Monday 4th June 2012
Day 16 - Tambo to Winton - 491kms.

I woke at 6am, while Marg managed to sleep in. No fog this morning, just overcast with threatening look of rain.
There was no news on the bridge, so I decided to walk down to the south end of town and check out the trucks and caravans. Just as I left, it started to drizzle, so it delayed me by about 10 minutes, that was the last bit of rain that we have seen and I hope that it stays that way. I wandered down the main street of Tambo, with my UHF hand held radio listening to ch40(truckies channel) for any useful chatter. About 200 meters from camp, the first truck I saw was a monster, a B Quad (4 trailers). As you look down the side streets, there are cars, caravans setup with and without generators and trucks galore with the people just sitting around chatting, as there isn't much else to do. I spoke to some truckies as I was checking out their trucks, they were in a friendly mood.

Back at camp, Marg and I decided that we will stay another night in the beautiful town of Tambo, so we did some clothes washing and cleaned the van. Occassionally, there would be an odd truck or caravan or car drive past us towards the blockade, all the time I had my UHF radio on, but there wasn't much chatter. At 10am, I walked over to the office and paid another $27.50 for tonight's accommodation, my logic was, when the bridge opens there will be queues of traffic and the convoy would be going slowly and it would be a pain, so we will stay another night and leave first thing in the morning.

About 10:30am ish, there was a bit of positive chatter saying that the traffic was starting to move. I confirmed this by talking on Ch40. We still decided to stay at Tambo. By 11am ish I had been watching the traffic heading north and there wasn't any rush of traffic, it was very light, SO we had a change of plans and packed up and were leaving Tambo at 11:40am. We quickly caught 2 B Triples just outside of Tambo and sat comfortably behind them until the blockage, expecting traffic everywhere. Well, the blockage is 60 kms north of Tambo and we were passed by 2 cars, that's it. When the 3 of us (2 B triples and us) arrived at the blockage, there was no queue, just a stop/go workman, in fact, we didn't even come to a halt, as we approached we got the slow sign and we just drove over the sidetrack and on our way to Blackall in beautiful sunshine.

At the blockage, see the photo, I couldn't see any recent roadworks done, so I assume that the problem was water over the sidetrack. Anyway, we were on our way in beautiful sunshine which was great news. Our first rest stop was at the rest area about 10kms south of Blackall, then after 130kms we stopped on the outskirts of Barcaldine heading towards Longreach. We stopped at Ilfracombe for some food at 3:12pm, hot chips yumma. We then stopped at Longreach to refuel and decided to continue the further 180kms, which meant that we would not arrive in Winton until approx 6:30pm in the dark.
The scenery during that 180kms into a setting sun was absolutley magnificent and to top it off we had a full moon raising behind us. It was a drive that we will never forget, just absolutely beautiful, Mother Nature at its best.

We setup in the dark, which included backing our rig into our site with a concrete slab, with Marg directing me via the handheld UHF radio, I did the best backing job ever and no one saw it. Bugger. Usually when you arrive there are people around camp that see your backing effort. Not this time.

Tomorrow, we plan to check out Winton. I don't like our chances of visiting Larks Quarry and Opalton, as the gravel roads look boggy and muddy, due to the recent rains.

B Quad.

Camp anywhere and they did.

At least, the cattle trucks were empty.

Following the B Triples through the sidetrack.

This was the culprit, the sidetrack.

Still following the B Triples.

Great scenery.


Magnificent moon.

Marg and the man in the moon.

Taking in the sunset. Just Beautiuful.

Tuesday 5th June 2012
Day 17 - Checking out Winton.

Woke up to outside temperature of 5.5°, clear skies and sunny.
It was a cold night, back to using my sleepingbag. After a lazy morning and a couple of loads of washing, we went into downtown Winton and visited the Info Centre. It appears that the road from Opalton to Lark Quarry is not useable due to the recent rains, so we have decided to give Opalton amiss and visit Lark Quarry tomorrow. After leaving the info centre, we walked up and down the main street, checking out various shops, mainly the ones selling boulder opal. As we are no longer visiting Opalton, I am going to buy a nice piece of Boulder Opal. After visiting all the shops, I bought a couple of pieces of Boulder Opal. While on our walk, we past the Bakery, so we drove back to the Bakery and had some very yumma home made pies for lunch.

Australian Age of Dinosaurs which is located on top of a jump up(a flat top plateau) about 65 meters above the plains. The tour consisted of a video and then seeing real fossilised bones and then walked over to the laboratory where we watched the volunteers remove the rock from the bones. This was very interesting and very slow work. The views from the plateau were very spectacular.

Marg made damper for dinner. It was YUMMA.
Another quiet night, as we have a busy day tomorrow visiting Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways.

Winton's main shopping strip.

George was there to welcome us.

Banjo the Dinosaur is on the right, if you couldn't tell.

A Dinosaur bone compared to a similar cow bone.

Bones stored awaiting restoration.

Being restored.

Beautiful views from the top of the 'Jump Up'.

Beautiful views from the top of the 'Jump Up'.

Beautiful views from the top of the 'Jump Up'.

the 10km driveway to Australian Age of Dinosaurs.

Winton is on the left horizon about 14kms away.

Wednesday 6th June 2012
Day 18 - Visiting Lark Quarry Conservation park.

Woke up to outside temperature of 10.3° with an overcast skies.
It was another cold night, back to using my sleepingbag. As we were going to Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways for the 12:00pm guided tour, we left camp at 8:45am, as it is about 110kms mostly on gravel roads. The roads were in better conditions than I expected and that we had heaps of time up our sleeve, I slowed down to about 65kph and enjoyed the scenery. I stopped and tried to photograph a wedge tailed eagle, but it flew before I could get it. The kangaroos were grazing along side the road and I slowed to pass it and he just stood there and watched us go by. We arrived at Lark Quarry about 11:15am and the 1st carpark was full, so we parked in the 2nd carpark. To fill in time, we checked out the centre and then walked to the lookout overlooking the complex and took some photos of the stunning scenery. A bit after 12pm, Bill our tour guide, started our tour with the history of the Dinosaurs and how the footprints were saved for the millions years. We were vey lucky that they were preserved so well. Bill's tour went for approx 1.25 hours, we could take photos of anything we wanted. At the end of the tour, we went back to the mighty Navara and had our sandwiches that Marg made before we left camp. On the way back, we spotted another wedge tailed eagle and I managed to take a couple of photos. These birds rival George as my favourite birds. Back in Winton, we stopped at the supermarket and bought some supplies and topped up with fuel, in preparation for our departure tomorrow to Cloncurry.

Only 110kms to Lark Quarry.

The local was watching us drive by.

We finally arrived.

Marg outside the building.

There are a total of 3,300 footprints.

Marg was engrossed.

The big footprints belonged to the aggressor.

The manager's residence.

The crow waits his turn.

As he leaves the crow moves in.

How beautiful is this.

We didn't go to Opalton.

This is the Dinosaur Stampede complex.

The scenery was beautiful.

Thursday 7th June 2012
Day 19 - Winton to Cloncurry - 347 kms.

It was another cold night, still using my sleepingbag. We finished packing up and left camp at 8:50am and stopped at the CMCA dump point, it was busier than Bourke St, we were 4th in the queue. There was a hose but no tap connection, so we had to use our own. After emptying the shitter, we headed out of Winton in beautiful sunshine and warmth in the car but still cold outside. We drove past the rest area where I took the photo of our rig with the 'jump up' in the background, way back on 9th July 2008. Our first rest stop was about 73kms from Winton at a rest area, about 20 minutes further up the road we had a 9 minute stop at road works. About 11:30am, we stopped at another rest area about 150kms from Cloncurry. At the Fullerton river, where we go fossicking for garnets, we stopped for our final rest stop, this is where a huge mining truck pulled up alongside us, so naturally, I took a photo.

We arrived in Cloncurry at 1:30pm and setup camp, I had trouble setting up the dish as we have trees everywhere, but I finally got it working.
At 4:30pm we had a meeting with a guy from the fossicking internet forum, who gave us directions to some fossicking sites. Tomorrow, we go looking for zig zag amethyst, Saturday off to Fullerton river looking for garnets, Sunday off to Mt Frosty (like the name) looking for Maltese Crosses, believe it or not, the rocks look like maltese crosses, so we thought that we would go looking for them and on Monday, we drive over to Kuridala looking for more amethyst. So we will be busy.

We had take away Burgers and Kebabs for dinner on our way home from our meeting.

This was the busiest stretch of road, just after the road works.

How nice is the weather!! Very good out of the wind.

This is one bloody huge truck. It's on the left, if you are unsure.

Friday 8th June 2012
Day 20 - Fossicking for Zig Zag Amethyst and Tourmaline.

Woke up to outside temperature of 10.7°, with high level cloud, but by the time we left at 10:15am, it was clear skies and sunny.
It was a mild night, and only 2 blankets, I think it is time for the sleepingbag to be put away. We did a couple of loads of washing and then got our fossicking gear and headed off to 7kms north of the Quamby Pub on the road to Normanton, but first we topped with diesel.
BUT before that we past this old dude walking his bull down the main highway, we also saw him yesterday going the other way. Very Strange. As we approached the highway north of town, there were road works on the bridge causing it down to one lane, so we were delayed by a few minutes, no drama.
It was 47kms from camp to the Quamby Pub and then a few 7kms to the site, we found it and drove into the area and parked. We spent 1 hour 20 minutes fossicking for zig zag amethyst. We found some. On our way back to camp we visited an old mine site and it was full of black tourmaline, ranging in size from bloody huge boulders down to very small about the size of your thumb. We ended up with a chunk about the size of 2 house bricks and a number of smaller bits. The drive into the old mine was on a dirt track which was quite firm.

Back in town, we stopped at Woollies and bought some food supplies for tonight's dinner (sausages, eggs, spagetti and tomato), absolutely yumma!
We arrived back at camp at 2:46pm and had a look at out collection, we were very pleased with today's fossicking. Tonight was spent watching a taped viewing of this week's Amazing Race Australia, I taped it from the Satellite TV.

Tomorrow, we head off to Fullerton River to find a bucket full of garnet, we hope!!!!

Update: The Tourmaline is actually Hornblende.

The old dude and his bull.

Marg finding zig zag amethyst.

Some of our zig zag amethyst.

Marg surrounded by Tourmaline (Black, Green and Pink).

Comparison photo, my gumnboots are size 13. Big chunk of Tourmaline.

Tourmaline everywhere.

The quarry walls of tourmaline.

Our Tourmaline finds.

Our Tourmaline finds.

Saturday 9th June 2012
Day 21 - Fossicking for Fullarton Garnets.

Woke up to outside temperature of 7°, with not a cloud in the sky.
It was another mild night, and only 2 blankets, I DID put my sleepingbag away. We left camp at 8:50am and headed out of town southwards towards the Fullarton river about 45kms away, there we turned onto the gravel tracks, we drove through 4 gates, 3 that Marg had to open and close, across 3 raging rivers, well, they would be raging if there was any water in them, but there wasn't. There were numerous herds of cattle roaming along the track and there were a group of 5 roos, just sunning themselves beside the track, we got to about 50 meters before they bounded off. We arrived at the garnet area after missing a turn, while photographing 3 emus, so we backtracked and continued along the correct route, arriving at the garnet area at 10:33am.
We had the fossicking area all to ourselves, not another soul within cooee. We found a spot and I carried all our gear halfway up the ridge and started digging alongside a rock ledge, we spent a couple of hours fossicking and we found a few garnets. Photos will come when we get to Townsville.

With the sun beating down on us, we were getting buggered, so we finished fossicking and sat in the shade under the trees beside the mighty Navara and had lunch, it was so beautiful and peaceful with only the sounds of nature. On the way back, we took some panoramic photos to try and capture the beauty. We arrived back at camp at 2:54pm and headed straight to the showers, they were magic with heaps of water pressure. The rest of the arvo was spent relaxing in the shade.

Tomorrow, we head off to Kuridala to hunt for more Amethyst.

Move, ya bums!!!

Marg the gate Keeper.

Thanks God, the road had dried out.

Emu to the right of us.

Roos sat and watch us.

Just resting.

The steep ridge above us.

Marg the fossicker.

Lunch in the shade, after a hard day fossicking.

Stunning views.

Stunning views.

Sunday 10th June 2012
Day 22 - Fossicking at Kuridala Amethyst fields.

This is the norm, woke up to cool morning, with not a cloud in the sky. It was another mild night with 2 blankets.
We left camp at 8:20am and headed out of town northwards towards Mt Isa, but turned left and headed south towards Malbon about 50kms away on bitumen road. At the Malbon turnoff we had 34kms of gravel road then 6kms of a rough goat track, which lead us to the Amethyst site. The first person to find Amethyst here has to be a lunatic, what would possess someone to dig a hole in the ground in the middle of nowhere, bloody miles of anything, yet here we were digging holes and finding Amethyst. It is just amazing.
Anyway, we arrived at the site which is just a gully in the middle of nowhere after 6kms of the roughest 4WD track that we have driven. The mighty Navara didn't miss a beat, we were in 4WD High the whole way, parked in the shade and unpacked our fossicking gear. We, sorry I, carried our fossicking gear to an existing diggings and started to extend the existing hole, shortly after starting, I saw a small section of an amethyst crystal covered in dirt, so I dug it out and put it in our carry bag. We continued on fossicking for nearly 2 hours and ended up with a tub full of amethyst. We will post some photos of the rest of our find, when we get some time. Just before we left, another fossicker arrived and he was staying there for at least 2 nights, sleeping in his ute. It takes all types. We showed him our haul and he was impressed and said that my big crystal will probably be mostly clay holding the crystals together and when I wash it, it will probably fall apart. We left the site at 12:19pm and headed back along the goat track, we visited the old Kuridala Smelter and took scenery photos from the top of the slag heap.

As we turned right onto the Mt Isa-Cloncurry road, we saw at least 6 B Double transporters of the V8 Supercars heading towards Hidden Valley, Darwin for this weekend's rounds. Go Lowndesy.
Back at camp, the first thing I did was put the big amethyst in a bucket full of water and guess what, it was one bloody big chunk of amethyst, it was a solid bit, not numerous individual crystals, but numerous crystals stuck to a single chunk. We are more than happy.
The rest of the arvo was spent relaxing. We do quite a bit of that.

Tomorrow is rest day, no more fossicking until Wednesday at Richmond.

Heading towards Kuridale.

Heading towards Kuridale.

Heading towards the Amethyst gully.

Heading towards the Amethyst gully.

The fossicking area. Marg is hiding in the centre.

See, I didn't lie.

Still at it.

The car park and lunch spot.

I climbed to the top of the slag heap.

We are very happy with this.

Check put the crystal - top left

Check out the crystal - middle front - it's a ripper.

We drive into the wild, blue yonder.

Views from the top of the slag heap.

Views from the top of the slag heap.

Scenic views.

Monday 11th June 2012
Day 23 - Rest day at Cloncurry.

This is the norm, woke up to cool morning, with not a cloud in the sky. I had to retrieve my sleepingbag at 4:06am, as I was to cool with just the 2 blankets, it must have worked because I slept until 7:36am the latest morning so far this trip, or was I just buggered from all our fossicking.
Today was a rest day and consequently, I did some washing and we eventually went into downtown Cloncurry, but Woollies was shut, due to it being Queen's Diamond Jubilee holiday, but luckily, the Foodworks was open, so we did a shop and on the way back to camp, I topped up with diesel and air as we drive to Richmond tomorrow.
I had to empty and repack the mighty Navara as we have collected several bags of amethyst, zigzag amethyst, hornblende, tourmaline and garnets while we are in Cloncurry. I also had to sweep the red dust from the tub, as it gets everywhere.

While Marg had a nanna nap in the arvo, I sat outside in the shade, as it is 23°s and bloody beautiful, just sitting in my chair with a chilled refresher. I also packed up a few things ready for tomorrows departure.
Tonight for dinner we will be making mini pizzas.

Tomorrow we drive approx 286kms to Richmond and stay 2 nights.

Our full collection of Kuridala Amethyst.

Right hand side.

Left hand side.

*2012 - Index page*

Heading to Richmond.