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The Last Camp

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.

On 20th August 1860 an expeditionary party of 19 men set off from Melbourne with the goal of travelling across Australia from south to north. Led by Robert O’Hara Burke and William Wills, their destination was the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

173 days later, on 9th February 1816, four of the original party reached the Little Bynoe River in far north Queensland. Here they set up Camp 119. John King and Charles Gray stayed at the camp while Burke and Wills continued north in an attempt to reach the gulf. With their way ahead blocked by swamps, Burke and Wills turned back after 24 kilometres and the decision was made to return south. 

The expedition ended in disaster, with food supplies running out and illness and exhaustion taking their toll. Gray died in April 1861, while Burke and Wills died in June. John King owed his survival to a group of Aboriginal people who gave him food and shelter. He was found by a search party on 15 September 1861 and eventually returned to Melbourne, but he never fully recovered from the physical effects of the expedition and died in 1872.     

The site of Camp 119, the final camp of the party on their northern route, is located 38 kilometres from the town of Normanton. The explorers and their fateful journey across Australia are commemorated by a set of plaques and information boards. 

While Gray and King waited for Burke and Wills to return from the gulf, they blazed 15 trees at the campsite. A couple of the marked trees are still alive and the location of each of the others is marked with metal poles or plaques. 

The expedition may have ended in failure but the explorers’ efforts left an important legacy. Five further expeditions, all travelling in different directions, were sent to search for the lost men. The knowledge gained during all these journeys contributed to the development of inland Australia. 

The town of Normanton was settled in 1867, just six years after that first exploration. With the discovery of gold in the region, the building of the railway and the development of the fishing industry, Normanton flourished.  

After paying our respects to the Burke and Wills expedition at Camp 119, we made our way to Normanton. Unlike those unfortunate explorers we had no trouble finding lunch, at the iconic Purple Pub on Landsborough Street. 

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!

Advice Worth Taking

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.  

Before we left home, a friend gave me some very important advice. 

“While you’re in Townsville, make sure you go to Juliette’s Gelateria on the Strand,” she said. 

And of course we did – twice!

 Our first visit came after we’d walked the Street Art Trail in the morning and explored Castle Hill in the afternoon, so a double scoop was well-earned. The extensive range of flavours meant choosing just two was difficult.

I decided on caramel biscotti topped with Malteser. Delicious!

The next afternoon we found ourselves on the Strand again, so we returned for seconds. This time I had vanilla choc cherry and chai latte – also delicious.

If you went to Juliette’s, what would you choose?

23 Treasure Hunters

I’m joining Becky in her July 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 tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Rubyvale, The Gemfields

There’s more to the Gemfields than precious gems.

The strudels at Muggachinno’s Strudel Hut in Rubyvale have an excellent reputation and we need no incentive to try them for ourselves.

Gunter is the strudel maker. Originally from a small village high in the Austrian Alps, he’s lived in in Australia for 65 years. Using his mother’s recipe he bakes fresh strudels every day, sometimes working a 20 hour day to keep up with demand. He tells us his strudels are better than the modern ones made in Austria because he sticks to tradition, never deviating from the original centuries-old formula.

The apostle birds and blue-faced honeyeaters have heard about Gunter’s strudels too. But they’ll have to wait their turn.

We have no intention of sharing ours – apple strudel on the left and cherry on the right.

We’ll leave the gem fossicking to others. We’ve found our treasure!

3 Sweet Treats

I’m joining Becky in her July 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 tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Sarina

From a high vantage point, the Pioneer Valley resembles a sea of green. Tree-lined fields full of lush crops are surrounded by the densely forested mountains of the Clarke Range.

Down at ground level, the reason for the greenery is evident. The fields are full of sky high sugar cane.

The Sugar Shed in Sarina is the place to learn all about the cane industry.

The Plane Creek Mill, next door to the Sugar Shed, is one of five sugar mills in the Mackay district. It processes around 1.2 million tonnes of sugar cane each year.

There’s a collection of vintage cane harvesters and a miniature working mill, where the tour guide shows how the sugar cane is processed.

The best part of the tour is the tasting session. The Sugar Shed has its own distillery and produces a range of liqueurs. They also make jams, chutneys and sauces and visitors have the opportunity to taste them all.

They also make fairy floss, a frosted pink concoction of spun sugar.

It’s even tree-shaped!

24 Warm on the Inside

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B, I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

Postcards from America

After a chilly day at Alcatraz, the twinkling lights and illuminated sign at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company drew us in like moths to a flame. 

We needed to warm up fast. Perhaps a couple of hot fudge sundaes would do the job.  

Did they fulfil our expectations?

Oh yes, they did!

14 Super Sweet

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B, I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

Postcards from America

The vibrant display of candy at Las Vegas M&M’s World was astounding. With 16 different colours, a myriad of flavours and a range of products spread over four floors, making a purchase took time and careful consideration. It was almost too hard to choose.

The struggle was real, but we managed!

Close Up

SquareUp Photo Challenge: Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020 #27

The hairy fruit of a sandpaper fig may not look tempting but once the skin is removed, the flesh inside is very sweet.

In January I’m joining in with Becky’s Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word up. Look for #SquareUp

A Nut By Another Name

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #5 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Bauple

Have you ever eaten a bauple nut? You’re probably shaking your head, but chances are you have and you didn’t even know it!

The trees on which the nuts grow are native to northern New South Wales and south eastern Queensland and were named by the local indigenous people who once lived in the region. Enterprising farmers began growing grafted trees as early as the 1860s and in the 1880s they were introduced to Hawaii, where they became one of the state’s most important crops. Today the nutritious nuts are grown commercially in 13 countries, in a global industry valued at more than one billion US dollars. The bauple nut is Australia’s only native food source grown in other countries.

Have you guessed which nut I’m talking about? The bauple nut, also called the Queensland nut, is most commonly known as the macadamia.

Original ungrafted bauple trees still grow on the slopes of Mt Bauple in the Fraser Coast region of Queensland, in a national park reserved for scientific study.

Three original trees also grow in the grounds of the Mt Bauple Museum in the nearby town of Bauple, which celebrates the famous nut in a festival each November.

Next time you pop a macadamia in your mouth, take a moment to remember all those trees growing wild on the slopes of Mt Bauple and the indigenous people who prized the nuts as a delicacy.

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare.

Everything You Could Want

Square Perspectives Photo Challenge ~ Australian Landscapes #4

Destination: Murray’s Craft Brewing Co, Bobs Farm Port Stephens, New South Wales

When you’re hungry and thirsty, Murray’s Craft Brewing Co on Nelson Bay Road is the place to be.

There’s plenty of beer on tap, along with local wines created by Port Stephens Winery. The restaurant has an extensive menu and the servings are generous and delicious.

After your cravings have been satisfied there’s room out on the grass for a friendly game,

which is sure to leave you feeling thirsty again.

 

While our travel plans are on hold I’m joining in every day with Becky’s July Square Perspectives Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme of perspective. My posts represent the definition of perspective as a vista – seeing something over distance or time.