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Built on Gold

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.

Like Croydon and many other Queensland towns, Charters Towers was founded after the discovery of gold in 1872. And just like Croydon, many of the buildings were constructed to service the booming young town still exist. But these are different. Most of them are grand, colonial style buildings still in use today.

Almost every building in the centre of town is heritage listed and at night they’re beautifully lit.

Old signs retained on the buildings tell the story of their original purpose, some not that different from today.

The tiny town of Ravenswood, an hour east of Charters Towers, also flourished when gold was discovered. Even though the population dwindled from a peak of 5,000 in 1912 to fewer than 130, many of the gold rush era buildings still stand and the whole town is now heritage listed.

In Ravenswood though, most structures were utilitarian: family dwellings, government offices and community buildings.

Only two of the 50 pubs which once quenched the thirst of the people of Ravenswood remain. And while most of the town’s buildings are quite plain, the elaborate façades of these hotels are an indication of the prosperity brought by gold.

Living History in Croydon

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland. 

The Savannah Way passes right through the centre of Croydon and it would be easy to drive on without stopping. But this little town, isolated in the vastness of the Gulf Country, has a history worth learning about. 

Today Croydon has a population of just 266, but in the late 1880s it was the third largest town in Queensland. The reason for this population boom was, of course, the discovery of gold. People flocked to the area after the first discovery was made in 1885 and, by 1887, the town had a police station, general store, hospital and 36 pubs!

The population may have dwindled over time but the buildings from the gold rush era remain in Croydon, preserved in a Heritage Precinct on Samwell Street. We enjoyed a gentle stroll from one building to the next, going inside each to read their stories and look at the photos of times past. 

The Police Sergeant’s residence (1897)

The Police Station and Old Gaol (1896)

Croydon Court House (1887) 

Croydon Town Hall (1892) 

Club Hotel (1887)

Hospital Male Ward (1887)

In earlier times, kerosene lamps lit the streets of Croydon. Today four original lamps have been joined by several replicas along the length of Samwell Street, adding to its historic character.

After wandering through town on foot, we used our car for the next part of our exploration, to the site where Chinatown and the Chinese Temple once stood. The foundations of the temple are the only remnants left of this once bustling area of Croydon. More than 300 Chinese people lived in Croydon, mostly working in their market gardens growing fruit and vegetables to supply the settlement. 

Plaques telling the stories of some of the Chinese families are set beside the walking track. 

Another couple of kilometres along the road we came to Lake Belmore, an earth walled dam constructed in 1995. The lake may be far more modern than the historic structures in town but its legacy is just as important. It is the largest body of fresh water in the region and supplies the town and surrounding area. The lake is a popular venue for water sports and fishing.

On our way back into Croydon we stopped at Diehm’s Lookout. Its location in the hills behind Croydon gave us just enough elevation to look down on the historic town, isolated by the seemingly limitless expanse of woodlands and savannah of the Gulf Country. 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Bush Camping at Undara Experience

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland. 

While camping is not permitted in Undara Volcanic National Park, there’s a fabulous campsite nearby which had everything we needed and more. 

Undara Experience, just outside the national park, offers a range of options from unpowered bush camping and large powered sites to tents, cabins and luxury converted railway carriages. Our powered site was perfect – shaded in the afternoon, close to the amenities and a short walk to the bistro.   

We visited the bistro at Undara Central every day. It was the ideal location to enjoy an invigorating morning coffee, a tasty lunch or a refreshing ice cream after a long walk. 

Seven bush walks, ranging from 1.5 to 12 kilometres, all begin from Undara Central and there’s plenty of wildlife around the camp ground and on the tracks. While we loved seeing the pretty face wallabies, kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets, I was less than excited when I came face to face with a huge goanna sunning himself outside the toilets one morning!

Even in May the afternoon temperatures rose to the high 20s C. The swimming pool was a popular spot. 

Best of all was the delicious dinner we enjoyed at Undara Experience: macadamia crusted barramundi with chips and salad followed by a chocolate lava cake for dessert. It was bush camping with a touch of luxury!

More Than a Fuel Stop

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland. 

In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but red dirt and bush, is the Lynd Oasis Roadhouse. Located close to the junction of the Kennedy Developmental Road and the Gregory Highway, the roadhouse is a natural stopping point for travellers wanting to top up their fuel tanks.

We had an extra reason to stop at the roadhouse. It houses Australia’s Smallest Bar and Glen, being a beer connoisseur, wanted to try it out.

I’m no beer drinker so while Glen sat in the shade enjoying one cold beverage I had something even better – a delicious macadamia mango Weis bar.

I didn’t need to go to Australia’s Smallest Bar for that!

Up The Hill

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland. 

When is a mountain not a mountain? 

When it falls short of the required 300 metres in elevation by a mere 14 metres.

Castle Hill might just miss out on mountain status but at 286 metres it dominates the city of Townsville. The pink granite monolith, also known by its indigenous name of Cootharinga, is popular with both locals and visitors who can either walk up the famous Goat Track with its 758 stairs or drive up the 2.6 kilometre sealed road to the top. On a steamy 33° afternoon we did not walk up the Goat Track. 

Once at the summit we could easily have just stayed at the car park lookout which has spectacular 360° views – Townsville’s sprawling suburbs spread across the coastal plain, Hervey Range in the distance and Magnetic Island 10 kilometres off the coast.

But after avoiding the long walk up the hill we had energy reserved for the short walks at the top. The Radar Hill walk was closed for renovations so we set off on the Summit Walk to Hynes Lookout. 

From here we could see the CBD, where we’d walked the Street Art Trail in the morning, the busy Port of Townsville and Cape Cleveland far away on the horizon. 

Closer to the coast, Magnetic Island was veiled by a humid haze. 

Further round to the north east the Pill Box Walking Trail, which leads to a relic of World War Two, was our next destination.  

This track and lookout gave us a slightly different perspective on the same views. But it was the history connected to the site which made it interesting. 

A 1942 Observation Bunker, once an important part of Australia’s wartime defence system, now stands disused, a silent reminder of a time when the country was under threat of invasion. 

The people who worked here had huge responsibilities. They also had the best view in town!

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Street Art in Townsville

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland. 

How often do you find the recommended time to see an attraction is simply not enough?

The Street Art Walking Trail in Townsville’s CBD, featuring 27 works of art commissioned by the City Council, winds its way around six city blocks. The brochure with descriptions of each painting and a map of the trail suggests 45 minutes is sufficient.

Perhaps they didn’t allow for us actually being able to find the paintings and then taking photographs of them. We spent more than two hours wandering through the city seeking out all the spectacular works of art.

Some were tucked away down the sides of buildings or dingy back alleys and sadly, some had rubbish bins and large skips right in front of them or graffiti sprayed across them. Some were on tricky angles, making them hard to photograph. But we did manage to take photos of several fabulous creations. 

This collection of street art continues to grow as new works are added. If you’re in Townsville, pick up a map of the Street Art Walking Trail at the Tourist Information Centre and be sure to allow plenty of time to see them all. 

Croc and Turtle – ROA, 2015

The Barrier – TELLAS, 2017

Sound and Movement Personified – Claire Foxton, 2018

Mother Earth – LEANS, 2017

Girroogul and the Soap Tree – Garth Jankovic and Nicky Bidju Pryor, 2016

L to R:

Concord – James Giddy, 2019

Cat and Mouse – 815K1, 2020

The Smizler – Lee Harnden, 2014

Brolga Dance and Song – Nicky Bidju Pryor, 2018

Under the Sea – HAFLEG, 2020

And this mural of tropical fauna we spotted on a large water tank up on the hill, not in the brochure but still worthy of inclusion. 

Joining Marsha for Photographing Public Art and Jo for Monday Walks

Brought Back To Life

Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre, Warwick, Queensland

On the drive towards Warwick along the New England Highway, the scenery is beautiful. On the eastern side, the forested mountains of Main Range National Park rise abruptly from the land. To the west, the fertile plains of the southern Darling Downs extend all the way to the horizon.

Not far from Warwick, this spectacular vista is interrupted as an elegant two storey house comes into view. Glengallan Homestead has stood here, surrounded by farmland, since 1867. Built by Scottish pastoralist John Deuchar and his wife Elizabeth, the house was once known as the most elegant in the colony. But in 1949, after passing through the hands of several owners, the homestead was left unoccupied. Exposure to the weather began to take its toll, with some sections of the veranda collapsing and water leaking inside. In 1993 a project to restore the homestead began; grants and donations allowed an army of volunteers to rebuild the home before it was opened to the public in 2002.

The exterior walls of the house are made of huge blocks of sandstone excavated locally. Deep verandas on the ground and first floors shelter the interior from both the high temperatures of summer and cold winter winds.

Inside, the building has been restored just enough for visitors to visualise its former glory. The house tells its own story though, with deterioration caused by decades of neglect not completely covered up. In some rooms, the original construction methods are visible.

The garden too is a mere remnant of what once existed. A wide curving drive originally led to a tennis court and extensive orchard. All that remains is the rose garden and, like the house, its faded beauty tells of a much grander past.

Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre are open 10am to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday.

#28 Happy Beermas!

I’m joining Becky in her February Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word Odd, referencing one of these definitions: different to what is usual or expected, or strange; a number of items, with one left over as a remainder when divided by two; happening or occurring infrequently and irregularly, or occasionally; separated from a usual pair or set and therefore out of place or mismatched. Look for #Squareodds.

While we didn’t travel as much as usual in 2021, we were fortunate to enjoy several holidays in our home state of Queensland and one short trip over the border into New South Wales. Join me this month in a retrospective look at the very odd year of 2021. 

Highfields QLD, December 2021

We’ve reached the end of Becky’s February Square Odds challenge and my retrospective gallery of our travels in 2021.

Our last outing for the year, just before Christmas, was to a new craft brewery at Highfields where we enjoyed a delicious dinner with special friends.

The brewery’s seasonal decorations were a little unconventional but fitted their surroundings perfectly.

Happy Beermas to all!

#18 The Launch Pad

I’m joining Becky in her February Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word Odd, referencing one of these definitions: different to what is usual or expected, or strange; a number of items, with one left over as a remainder when divided by two; happening or occurring infrequently and irregularly, or occasionally; separated from a usual pair or set and therefore out of place or mismatched. Look for #SquareOdds.

While we didn’t travel as much as usual in 2021, we were fortunate to enjoy several holidays in our home state of Queensland and one short trip over the border in New South Wales. Join me this month in a retrospective look at the very odd year of 2021. 

 Eungella QLD, May 2021

After driving up the long, winding road from the Pioneer Valley to the top of the Great Dividing Range, the first building we came to was the Eungella Chalet.

The chalet has long been famous for its spectacular views of the valley and its delicious Devonshire Teas.

We weren’t quite sure why these motorbikes were parked in this strange location at the edge of the escarpment. And the thought of leaping off this launch pad strapped into a hang glider was quite freaky.

It wasn’t enough to put me off my afternoon tea though!

#15 At the Beach

I’m joining Becky in her February Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word Odd, referencing one of these definitions: different to what is usual or expected, or strange; a number of items, with one left over as a remainder when divided by two; happening or occurring infrequently and irregularly, or occasionally; separated from a usual pair or set and therefore out of place or mismatched. Look for #SquareOdds.

While we didn’t travel as much as usual in 2021, we were fortunate to enjoy several holidays in our home state of Queensland and one short trip over the border in New South Wales. Join me this month in a retrospective look at the very odd year of 2021. 

Kirra Beach QLD, April 2021

From the bush in February to the beach in April: a week at Kirra Beach brought a welcome change of scene. Every day we sat on our balcony enjoying these stunning views of the southern end of the Gold Coast.

It wasn’t just the scenery we enjoyed. We saw some unexpected human activity too.

One morning, a group of paragliders drifted down from the sky and landed effortlessly on the sand.

Early on Saturday morning, people more energetic than those of us on holiday competed in a triathlon. We watched the swim leg from our balcony.

And, most unfamiliar of all in the days when interstate airline travel was just restarting, an occasional plane would fly past. With the Gold Coast Airport nearby, they would fly up the coast before circling back around to begin their descent.