Tuesday 27 October: Charleville to Quilpie 240 km Charleville Hotel Corones built 1924-1929 occupying the whole block and still has the original beautiful interior Out in the Mulga west of Charleville Cooladdi All that remains of Cooladdi, a once prosperous town of 270 when it was a major rail settlement An isolated Bottle Tree at Cooladdi Cheepie Cheepie is another “ghost town” formed when the railway first came through in 1914 At last, live kangaroos beside the road What would have caused this windmill to collapse? Quilpie Lunch under the shade of the gum trees lining Lake Houdraman, about 10 km east of Quilpie Emu making a run for it Every house in Quilpie has two water tanks One to cool the 75°C sulphurous artesian bore water, the other for rain water The old Quilpie Hotel, now the Heritage Inn, but known as “The Brick”was built in 1926 I used to stay here 50 years ago: it was one of three Quilpie pubs (the others burnt down in the 1990s) We planned on camping behind the pub but it is closed indefinitely because they can’t get staff The joke was you could get kicked out of one pub for being drunk and you’d be sober by the time you crossed the road to the other pub Opal altar in St Finbarr’s Church, Quilpie Quilpie is the “End of the Line” The Western Railway line reached Quilpie in 1917 and the last passenger train left in 1994 Baldy Top, a few kilometres west of Quilpie, at sunset We took a stroll along Quilpie’s Bulloo River Walk in the morning Wednesday 28 October: Quilpie to Eromanga 200 km
It’s only 106 km from Quilpie to Eromanga on the Cooper Development Road but we decided to go the longer route via the Thylungra and Kyabra Waterholes. A good choice, there’s a constantly changing landscape, waterholes and even a few sand dunes.
Thousands of dead Boree Trees cover the Grey Range as a result of the 1937 locust plague Silver-leaf Boree shimmering in the sunlight Giber – a desert surface covered with closely packed rock fragments Kyabra Waterhole, like an inland sea in a desert Brolgas at the Waterhole Driving across flat plains, green after recent rain when … … suddenly a red sand dune appears Eromanga Eromanga is famous for being the furthest town from the ocean in Australia It’s also the end of the known world – last phone service! The Royal Hotel, mud-and-brick structure built in 1885, was once a Cobb&Co Staging Post The Royal doesn’t have a cook right now so a woman comes from a station to make the pub food This is a “half steak” with vegetables, including mashed potatoes and chips Thursday 29 October: Eromanga to Noccundra 180 km Bellalie Waterhole, no camping permitted but a great stop for smoko Cave Hill would be a good place to camp Leave only footprints These cows just didn’t want to get off the road We pulled over to let a Road Train pass – wildflowers beside the road in bloom after the rain Noccundra Noccundra Hotel, originally a Cobb&Co stop, is second oldest pub in Queensland It was rebuilt in 1882 of sandstone transported 250 km by Camel Train from NSW The doors were made low so the stockmen couldn’t ride their horses into the bar, or so the story goes We are having a beer in the Noccundra Pub when a helicopter lands on the road outside. The pilot gets out, leaving it running, comes into the pub and grabs a slab of XXXX then gets back into the helicopter and takes off. Only in outback Australia! Camping on the Noccundra Waterhole on the Wilson River, 500 meters from the pub Pelicans on the Waterhole Friday 30 October: Noccundra to Thargomindah 140 km I used to fly the crews out here when they were prospecting for oil; looks like they struck rich Just in case you thought it was all pretty waterholes out here White cows on red ground Another mesa rises from the desert floor Thargomindah Thargomindah was the third in the world (after Paris & London) to have electric lighting (but not today) Powered by artesian bore water at 84 degrees celsius from 800 metres down Exposed roots of a tree in the Bulloo River Thargomindah Leahy House built 1885 from locally made mud brick was continuously lived in until 1995 Thargo thunderbox out the back Thargo Post Office also built from local mud bricks in 1870 Thargo lockup from 1899 to 1960 Saturday 31 November: Thargomindah to Eulo 140 km is about 40 km east of Thargomindah. A string of salt and freshwater lakes in a desert landscape attract thousands of waterbirds. There’s a 9.2 km walking track listed as 3 hours but for us it was 11.3 km in 2 hours 20 minutes including a diversion to the bird watching site. Conditions were perfect – cool and clear; there is no shade. Link to Wikiloc track Lake Bindegolly National Park . here Start of the Lake Bindegolly circuit track Tracks in the sand There were lots of kangaroos this morning but very wary of us Pelicans, Black Swans and Ducks together on a blue salt water lake in a desert The track across a salt pan – at times, the lakes are completely dry; at other times flooded Luckily it had rained a week before At first glance it is barren but there are dozen of wildflowers in bloom An abandoned sheep station and shearing shed Eulo Eulo artesian mud springs are centuries old but the springs are no longer active Bee keepers even bring their bees from south to feed on the local Yapunyah trees The trees did not flower last year because of the drought so we could not get any Yapunyah honey Why would Eulo (pop 95) have an air raid shelter? During World War Two Eulo was an important radio relay station Pam bought a beautiful local opal necklace from the Eulo Queen Opal Center in the old Post Office No, not this – its a rare and expensive Yowah Nut We really did camp by a Billabong under the shade of a Coolibah Tree a few km out of town It was one of the best places we stayed and we had it all to ourselves with only the birds for company This colony of Pelicans sat here all day and did nothing: next morning they were gone Spoonbill shares the tree with Pelicans at Eulo Billabong Some of the smaller birds at the Billabong