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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

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.

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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

We popped in to see Digby today. That’s the name of the Julia Creek Dunnart kept in captivity in a dark habitat in the town of Julia Creek. He’s lived a good bit longer than dunnarts in the wild and is doing his bit to promote the fact that his fellow dunnarts are endangered as a species.

This 3 year old was kind enough to occasionally stand still for the shortest of moments to enable these photos.

Julia Creek dunnart 2

Julia Creek dunnart 1

Saturday 7 September

For Freddy, from whom I first learned about Lawn Hill.

We drove up from Adel’s Gorge to Boodjamulla / Lawn Hill National Park soon after breakfast.

The morning canoe paddle began on a placid waterway. The fish were jumping and darters were drying their wings before their next piscine onslaught.  Schools of Archer Fish and Sooty Grunters swam beneath us, and cuckoos flew above.  It was early enough in the morning for the breeze to be cool and for some shade to be cast by the cliff faces.

The trip up the Middle Gorge requires a 2 minute canoe drag to the Upper Gorge.  Not a mean feat given we had a three-man canoe and only one man was pulling it.

As I was getting back into the canoe, the distance between the vessel and the small jetty rapidly increased. Let’s just say it was at a pace that beat my reflexes.

From the water, I reverted to my go-to curse word (an ungracious but hugely satisfying response under the circumstances) as Himself kept his cool, reminding me that my camera case had joined me in the drink.

Me: “*!#*!  !#*!”

Himself: “Camera! Camera!”

Any shin grazes and bruises aside, the camera and lenses survived. The second leg was happily uneventful.

Lawn Hill Gorge - canoeunderwater lilies - Lawn Hill Gorge

waterfall vignette - Lawn Hill Gorge

Archer fish - Lawn Hill Gorge

cascade bubbles - Lawn Hill Gorge

Adel’s Grove is a shady and luxuriant camping spot in the midst of some pretty dry territory.

paperbark cross-section - Adel's Grove Adel's Grove reflections

En route to the shade and water, we visited the Riversleigh Fossil World Heritage Site where fragments of the Thunderbird, a 5 metre Freshwater Crocodile and an ancient ancestor of the Gulf Snapping Turtle can be found in situ on public display.

Here’s a lower leg of the “Big Bird”, a limb cross-section of the crocodile and pieces of the turtle’s shell.

Riversleigh panorama

Thunderbird leg fossil

limb cross-section - freshwater crocodile

Freshwater chelid turtle shell fragment fossil