Monthly Archives: September 2013

in our wake

This is the last post in the “on the road” category until we set off on the next trip on the menu – time and destination at this point unknown.  (Please note – the blog will continue on other themes as usual).

As I watched the wake at the end of today’s boat trip, I started to reflect on what will be stored in the memory bank.  Not in any particular order, here’s a selection for deposit.

bloody van 1


moon on Wolfe Creek Crater

big skies

on top of the dune - Big Red

big dunes

Lizard Racing Track

bush entertainment


country pubs


tides writ large from the air

deck chairs - Broome's outdoor cinema

outdoor cinema

road train on the Tanami

road trains


small towns

Bitter Springs reflection 1

swimming holes

Closed sign - Fran's Teahouse

care-free attitudes

Old Derby gaol


Wyndham - Rusty Shed Cafe

good coffee in out-of-the-way places

Chambers Pillar 1

tall features in the desert

1 August wildflower


Blanche Cup


Giekie Gorge afternoon 1


Matso's Brewery

alcoholic ginger beer at Matso’s

fishing beach - Cape Leveque

white sand beaches

Freshie - Lake Argyle


1 Aug - behind Little Merten Falls


Kati Thandi - Lake Eyre sunset



eating out

1 Aug - ripped tyre

evidence of road conditions

fresh tracks

over 17,000 kilometres

Flight 3

awesome aerial views

blue winged kookaburra water colour and pencil

bird life

Five Rivers Lookout 1

big landscapes

Purnululu fire place

campfire conversations

Yesterday the wind was blowing at 20 knots, twice the rate it was today.  The sea swell was around 1.4 metres as we set off to Platypus Bay to see humpback whales.

This map is from and is provided for my map-loving reader as a last indicator of where we are at the end of our 12 week adventure.

Queensland - map of Fraser Island regionMarina

From the marina, it was nearly an hour before we were in the whales’ rest and recreation area. The mothers certainly need the rest after giving birth to their calves and before heading back to Antarctic waters. Hervey Bay is where mother whales fatten up their ‘small’ ones with up to 200 litres of milk per day before heading back to their own food source of krill in the Southern Ocean.

I was hopeful of catching some magic shots of breaching and tail waving.  Instead we were treated to mostly mother and calf pods. As the calves are feeding (and with 200 litres to consume it must be for a good portion of the day), they were the ones surfacing for a breather before the next drink. We saw the occasional mother near the surface. They apparently tend to stay underwater in either vertical or sideways position to feed their offspring.  The males were even less obvious, although the hydrophone dropped in to the water indicated that they were around as pod escorts.

The large swell and the necessity to mostly hang on to the boat (and the camera) meant that today’s shots were going to be hit or miss.  This is the best of a blurry lot.
Humpback watching 2Humpback watching 1Humpback watching 3

We have been moving slowly south towards home via Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton enjoying the hospitality and company of family and friends.

The blog inspiration has morphed into the ‘heading home’ headspace.  So there are no photographs of Agnes Water. You’ll just have to trust me that it is a beautiful part of the world.

Travelling south

As we get closer to the home front dear ones, I thought you might appreciate an analysis of the common phenomenon of waving to each other that you will notice on the open road if you ever decide to get out there and tow anything akin to a caravan. Here are a few of my observations.

The point.  “I see you mate, let’s not make too much of a deal of this”.

The lazy index finger lift.  “If I have to”.

The enthusiastic full-hand-all-over-the-place wave can mean a number of things. You have to be particularly careful not to ignore such apparently over-the-top excitement because if it’s point 3, it’s to your advantage to pay attention.

1 “We’ve only been on the road for a day and I’m excited”.

2 “I ooze friendly and I love this game.”

3 “The load on top of your car is listing very dangerously to the left.”

The V for Victory wave. “Yay, dude”.

The backwards middle finger wave. Now that’s just rude!

The sorry I was a bit late with that wave.  You’ll never know what that one looked like.

The compensating passenger wave. “My husband doesn’t do waving”.

The salute. “I see you”.  Often this wave is given when the opposing driver recognises a mirror copy of his rig is coming his way and he is complimenting you on your shared good taste.

The no wave at all.  Be careful not to interpret this as discourteous as I’ve identified a number of scenarios where the no wave is appropriate.

“You and I both know we can’t let go of the bloody steering wheel because these *$!#ing road corrugations are REALLY bad”

“This is a bendy bit of the road. I hope you understand”.

“I don’t wave” Still not necessarily discourteous. Sometimes you just don’t feel like waving to someone you’ve never met and are very unlikely to do so given you are traveling in opposite directions.

Occasionally on this trip, I’ve felt a bit like the poet Stevie Smith when she wrote “not waving but drowning”. Ten days out from arriving home, I am pleased to say that I have largely survived being out of my comfort zone, but I tell you something.

I don’t wave.

The Zara Clark Museum is run by the National Trust.

In my view, this small museum is well curated. The objects are grouped in themes. There is largely a focus on the local history of Charters Towers.  Importantly, there are stories of the people associated with the objects. One of the more poignant pieces is a letter from a soldier to his mother, placed beside an unfinished pair of knitted socks.

I took quite a lot of photographs here this morning, largely as source ideas for Now and Then.  Watch that other space in the near future for stories behind each of these images once further research is done.

pianola Billy Tea bass drummer Hope Charteris

Charters Towers would not have existed were it not for the discovery of gold. We followed what you might call the supply chain story today which included a visit to the Venus Battery. It’s here that miners took their ore to be smashed to bits, splashed with mercury and soaked in cyanide to get the very most out of it for their effort. Charters Towers is extremely hot in summer. This was a sweaty, noisy, dusty and chemically dangerous place for anyone to work.

Venus Battery 1 - Ancient Canvas effect

Venus Battery 2 - Ancient Canvas effect

Venus Battery 3 - Ancient Canvas effectVenus Battery 4Venus Battery 5Venus Battery 6

Everything associated with gold digs was established in Charters Towers, including a Stock Exchange, countless banks and pubs, and what were euphemistically referred to as dance houses.  The article from The Northern Miner of 12 February 1880 may provide some clues.

Calling of the cardbank vault

The Northern Miner - dance houses

A stroll down Gill and Mosman Streets in Charters Towers will reveal some lovely surprises and details in the looking up and looking down. Beyond the commercial realities of current businesses in the town are the remnants of previous design including painted glass, lead light work, iron lace and pressed tin.

Reardons sign 3Reardons sign 2Reardons sign 1Stan PollardStan Pollard - DrapersStan Pollard - MercersStan Pollard shopfront detailbuilding detail - Charters TowersPressed tin shopfront - Charters TowersStock Exchange building tilesWorld Theatre tiles

Charters Towers began its life as a town when a 12 year old Aboriginal boy by the name of Jupiter Mosman found a nugget of gold in 1871. Thus sparked a growth spurt of banks, hotels and other businesses supporting this modest rush in the scheme of gold mining in Australia.

Many of those buildings are still in use today. For some of them, it’s hard to imagine their glory days as the advertising logos, hoardings and awnings take away some of the shine.

The Northern Miner newspaper’s building is still there. I love the reuse of the Excelsior Hotel as the local library. The old bank pictured is now a pharmacy.

City Hall - vintage FXThe Northern Miner - Vintage FXcurrent pharmacy - Charters Towers - FX VintageExcelsior Library - Vintage FX

I hope we can actually get inside some of these establishments tomorrow now that we know that many of the attractions in Charters Towers have limited opening hours. We started our walk around the town at 2.00 pm.  The Zara Clark Museum opens only 4 hours each day. The Miner’s Cottage closes ‘mid-afternoon’ and the World Theatre closes at 1.00 pm on a Wednesday.

MuseumMuseum opening hourhsclosedThe World Theatre - gates

Just when you thought the reporting of gorges was done and dusted, here’s some images of Porcupine Gorge north of Hughenden (with a dragon fly thrown in for good measure).  Down at the bottom of the gorge walk is The Pyramid. Only a few water holes have held on in this very dry season.

Porcupine Gorge near Hughenden
The Pyramid - Porcupine GorgeThe Pyramid panoramadragon fly 2


We are still in dinosaur country.  According to the Dinosaur Centre in Hughenden, the most distinguishing feature of the Muttaburrasaurus was its enlarged nasal passages.  It is surmised that the big resonating chamber created a honking sound that could be heard by every other dinosaur in the surrounding district.

MuttaburrasaurusMuttaburrasaurus did have other interesting characteristics none the least of which was he munched on nothing but plant matter to stave off hunger. I imagine he could smell a cycad miles away with that snout.

Muttaburrasaurus - Dinosaur Centre Hughenden

remnants of an inland seaMillions of years ago, there were varying forms of an inland sea cutting itself across what is now the terrestrial continent of Australia.

Richmond, among other centres in Central Queensland, boasts some amazing dinosaur and other fossil finds. There’s a treasure trove of bones still waiting to be uncovered in this region.

Here’s a selection of what’s in the collection at “Kronosaurus Korner”.

Turtle headturtle head 2

fish skeletonfish skeleton 2

fish skeleton 3

fish head

reedsKronosaurus tooth

Kronosaurus Korner