Diary for 2001 GO BUSH Safari Queensland Odyssey

 

Day 1

Monday, 13th August, 2001

Brisbane

There was some time for R&R before John Sinclair turned up with the bus.  He was feeling crippled as he had just slipped over on the footpath and sprained his ankle.  However he was able to drive and led us to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to enable everyone to have a close encounter with some unique Australian fauna, 

This excursion was followed by a trip to the summit of Mount Cootha for a panoramic view of Brisbane before descending the mountain to have dinner at the Italo  —Australian Club with a number of conservationists from around Brisbane.  

Day 2

Tuesday, 14th August, 2001

NSW - Queensland Border Ranges

After negotiating the rush hour traffic the group was ready to be picked up at 8.30 a.m. - we managed to drive away at 8.25!  We had a diversion to pick up a new microphone, collected Ian and Bill on the way and then drove through the outskirts of Brisbane towards our first stop at Beaudesert - to make ourselves comfortable.

We admired the Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), seed pods of Pride of India, and Grevillea robusta.  We drove through the Logan Valley along Summerland Way passing many cattle pastures and as we did so Mt. Lindsay came into view. 

A photo stop was requested and then we drove on to Bell Bird Rest Area for coffee/tea stop.  The call of the bellbirds was non stop, and very realistic - a unique bird call but not one which you would want if one was camping overnight!  Rubus rosifolius and Violas were admired during our stop.

 Shortly after leaving we stopped at a billabong, where cattle were 'grazing' in the water on the red Azolla(?)  White-faced Heron, Great Egret and Black Swan with cygnets were some of the birds that were observed. 

As we continued to drive through the Tweed Valley deliberate bush burning was observed and shortly afterwards we crossed the border into New South Wales.  There was a brief stop to photograph and admire very good stands of large Grass Trees (Xanthorea spp.) and nearby a brown falcon was spotted. 

Arriving rather late at Wiangaree we met Margaret's friends, filled up with diesel and then headed for Forest Tops picnic site in the Border Range National Park.  Fortunately there was a sheltered area protecting us from the shower of rain while we prepared, and ate a very substantial lunch.  Our distractions during this time were Grey fantails, Yellow robins, Scrub wrens, Satin Bower bird and the Whip bird called very distinctively from the forest.

After lunch we said goodby to Margaret's friends and drove to Brindle Creek and walked along the Helmholtzia loop walk.  Specialities seen were Atlantic Beech, Red Cedar, Hoop Pine, Crow's nest fern, Walking Stick Palm and many small lichens, mosses, liverworts and ferns,  This was our first experience of walking in a rain forest.  The creek was full of Helmholtzia lily plants and the large leaves of Alucasia were admired. 

Back in the bus we drove on to the Black Butt picnic area where we had a good view of the Caldera with Mt. Warning summit in mist.  Finally we drove to the Bar Mountain picnic area, the highst point on the Caldera for an improved view of Mt. Warning and a close look at an Antarcic Beech (Nothofagus antarcticus) which could have been as old as 2000years old.

As time was getting short we took the Lions road north via the Border Loop as the light faded to Beaudesert where we had an excellent buffet meal in the 'Dinnig', 'Dinning', Dinng Room of the Bow-y Eating Place.  We were surprised when we returnd to Brisbane to find there had been a very recent shower of rain and hoped that we woud escape it the following day.  

 

Day 3

Wednesday, 15 August, 2001

Brisbane to Dilli Village 

Fearless Leader arrived 8.00 in much better shape with his ankle and we left Brisbane in great  spirit, with F.L telling us about the delights of the unique Queensland vernacular architecture - basic box and verandah sitting up on stilts mid 19th Century.

After a short photo stop to admire the Glasshouse Mountains we saw our first sugar cane  and the remains of a ginger plantation near Pomona.  This was a great place with old buildings and the Majestic Cinema where they still show silent movies-“Son of the Shiek”. Opposite it is Mount Cooroora 438 metres where there is an annual race to the summit.

Morning tea at Kin Kin where the highlhght was a sighting of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths.  Here we were requested to be quick with getting finished with morning tea so that we could catch the low tide on Fraser Island.(!!!!!!!!!!)  And so we soldiered on and took a short cut through the pine plantations, which would have been a good idea except that there was the small matter of fuel for the bus and this turned out to be in short supply.  When we ran out of fuel we were still some kilometres from a petrol station! 

After some considerable time and trouble our heroic Uncle Longnose found some fuel and we kept on our merry way to Rainbow Beach - lunch of sorts - and then some delay as we transferred to four 4-wheel-drive vehicles for use on the island.   (Note the graphic photographs of dead vehicles which had chanced the high tide on the beach at Fraser Island.)

And so to the barge, a very short voyage across to Fraser Island where the tide was too high for us to use the beach with any safety.  The road which follows the coastline is about the worst road on earth and even worse than the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley (Is that possible?)  Highlight of this part of the trip was the finding of a fine Carpet Python which we were able to photograph and also a dingo which was as interested in us as we of it.

And so at last we arrived at Dilli Camp (named by John Sinclair after the totally disliked Dillingham Corporation which had made such a mess of the island with its sand-mining some years before).  Settled in for the evening with a very well-earned "Happy hour" and a lovely dinner cooked by our Fearless Leader - and an early night for all.

 

A day when Ian captured a carpet python and the bus ran out of diesel

by FHP.

 

The Longnose and the John Sinclair

Went strolling on the strand :

They kept apart, could not be seen

Walking hand in hand.

Catch me, Longnose, the Sinclair said

That long thing lurking in the scrub,

The Longnose pounced - but here's the rub,

He came back with - a diesel hose

And that was very good because

FL was needing one of those.

 

Day 4

Thursday, 16 August, 2001

Fraser Island — Lakes Run

Started with a dawn chorus of "Why are we waiting?" with the unnoisy Bill bird still roosting. 

After breakfast we hit the trail leaving behind Sean with a delicate constitution and a saucepan of potatoes still boiling away on a flaming stove.  Luckily Sean discovered this oversight at 1.00 pm by which time the potatoes were unrecognizable as such but the saucepan was still intact and a disaster was averted.  

Still oblivious odd the things left behind the intrepid travellers bounced along to stop beside a burnt out heath on a former lake bed of what is now Gerrawea Creek.  Here we had a description by FL of dune levels 1 to 6.  The non scientific amongst us at least grasped that "beach sand is sand coloured".  

Drove through banksia woods and past Scribbly gum to Lake Boomanjin, largest perched dune lake in the world240 feet above sea level and over 200 hectares.  It was the most beautiful lake of the day in a bleached, understated way.  We spent over an hour wandering around its shores exhilarating in aesthetic pleasure. 

Saw a flash of a king parrot at our lunch stop at Lake Birrabeen as we stopped to replenish our digestive systems before driving on to Central Station.  Reminded of Franklyn's comments that there is more need of a hard hat on Fraser Island when driving, than on any building site in the UK. 

We then walked along Wanggoolba Creek to Pile Valley through strangler figs, Picabeen palms and past a box tree orchid. 

As the daylight was fast fading we drove on to Lake McKenzie but the urgency to beat the rapidly rising tide was calling us. We reluctantly truncated our stay at this lovely lake and drove on to Eurong. 

Our Fearless Leader raced down to Eurong and onto the beach, the tide was also racing.  The drive was one you would pay good money for at a fairground.  One driver commented on another quoting Banjo Patterson, the great Australian bush bard, that his style of driving was "irregular and rash with mighty little science with a mighty lot of dash."

Our dinner at night was started by a short verse from Franklyn inspired by Lewis Carroll and was followed by other bush verse. 

 

THE PROBLEMS OF TRAVEL WITH GO-BUSH SAFARIS

Alan Monger

 

Go Bush safaris will take you any place

But once in a while our fearless leader has a very red face!

Well here we are in Queensland with the sunshine beating down

And the pine plantations towering - we are Fraser Island bound.

We took a short cut through the pines but fate is ever cruel

After beating round the bush for hours, we ran right out of fuel.

"Never fear" said Ian, "There's a jerry can in the trailer."

What a shame that it is empty. John has gone a little paler.

Longnose goes a-walking, heaps of diesel he needs to find.

Minutes later he heaves in sight - a truckie's been very kind.

The cheer goes up "We're rescued!" but we're premature with our shout:

Its all very well to have diesel fuel but we cannot get it out!

The botanists have disappeared, a herb or two to find:

They've drifted in so many directions that they could be left behind.

And suddenly its one o'clock but we cannot eat our lunch:

We're hoping the fuel comes along soon so we can roar on - and here's the crunch:

We're dependant on the low tide to get to our place of rest -

We cannot delay for part of a day, even for eating: O what a pest!

 

And it came to pass that Ian returned with overflowing jerry can.

He tipped it up, the engine roared and from the bush we ran.

And so to Rainbow Beach we went, the bus we swapped for cars -

Shonky 4 Wheel drives we took - they looked like they'd been driven on Mars.

We took the road to the end of the beach, the barge towards us roared

As we heard that mighty voice call out: "All Aboard!"

 

Day 5

Friday, 17 August, 2001

Fraser Island — Beach Run

Dawn chorus started by white cheeked honey ears, followed by kookaburras, then yellow robins and grey shriek thrush.  Other highlights included Lewin honey eaters and 20 yellowtailed blacks.  White cockatoos then destroyed a banksia tree.

8:30 we set out along the beach - this time with more sand to drive on - seeing morning glory, spinifex and fan flowers.  Along the beach saw crested terns, dotterels, plover and gold billed terns.  We passed a wandering creek and a plane on the beach. 

Walked up the sand blow to Lake Wabby with the sand abrading our legs, kicking up white sand with our footprints, under the yellow sand.  Ian rescued a white breasted wood swallow, caught on a dead tree stump.  We stood in the canopy of the tallest tree (at least in Queensland) - of course we were standing on sand in the topmost branches of the melaleuca and could not see the roots.

Walked down to Wabby Lake which was a slightly unappetizing green, and saw to little black cormorants, a little pied cormorant and a darter. 

BB "There is a darter over there in that bank". 

FP  "Ah, a data bank!"

It was a pleasant walk back among the trees, highlights included two orchids Dendrobium aemulum (sp?) and Caladenia alba.  We went back to the vehicles and drove 20k to Eli Creek.  Swimming in the creek were fish, eels, Lydia, Jenny, Margaret P, Franklyn and Olive complete with hat. Then the hunters and gatherers amassed a small pile of wongs (pipis).

We then went to the coloured sands at Red Canyon, 54k from base.  Last was a short trip along the Lake Allom track where we saw transitional rain forest including a very dramatic specimen of a strangler fig. 

We drove home along the beach, passing the wreck again, with pink sunlight on the waves and the tide coming in fast!  We were further delayed by a dingo which posed for the cameras against the sunset. 

"Why did the Range Rover stop?" "Din'go".      

 

FRANTIC ON FRASER by AEM

(With apologies to L Carroll)

 

"Will you drive a little faster" said the Longnose to FL:

"There's a Bino close behind us and an MM on his tail".

We were hurtling down the beach highway, the waves began to threaten;

At every creek the water was deep and Alan was really sweatin'.

The tide was on the rise, the wind was up, the sun was settin'.

 

"The time has come", the Longnose said, "to talk of making camp -

Of bogging in the sand dunes just before the exit ramp."

 

The sand was soft and Ian's car was somewhat nil in power,

And all that those who sat within could think of was a shower

(Except for Franklyn and only because he was identifying a flower).

Now passing at speed, Bino took the lead and John was looking sour,

But then he took off and passed again - he wasn't one to cower.

The Dilli camp appeared in the dunes - you could tell by its radio tower -

And all was well: we'd arrived at base in time for Happy Hour!!

 

Day 6

Saturday, 18 August, 2001

Fraser Island to Bunya Mountains

We were packed and ready to go right on time at 9am after 2 magnificent days on Fraser Island.  Judy and Margaret were much recovered, and the journey along the beach to Hood Point to take the barge to Inskip Point (Rainbow Beach) was smooth and uneventful. 

It took some time to unload and load all the gear again and we left Rainbow Beach after 11am heading for Gympie.  We passed the Cooloola National Park  whose ecosystem is based on the Noosa River as well as its dune systems which have lakes and dunes similar to Fraser Island.  We admired the Cooloola Wax flower (Eriostemon australiensis) along the roadside and had a 5 minute ( = 20 minutes!) wildflower stop on a side road and also spotted two cane toads. 

We had lunch in the park in Gympie under a Flindersia australiensis while FL purchased supplies, and then proceeded to Kingaroy via Kilkivan and Murgon. 

On the surrounding hills are plantations of corkwood (Duboisia leichardtii) whose dried leaves are used in ophthalmology to dilute the pupil.  It was noted that the pickers have to stay indoors for a few days after harvesting.  Peanuts are also grown on the red soil in the area.  At Wooroolin soya beans, maize and olives were cultivated.  After leaving Kumbia we saw 2 Australian bustards were spotted on a ploughed field. 

Then we started on the climb to the Bunya NP via the least steep road but soon found that the load was to great for the bus to cope with the incline (20% slope) and the passengers had to abandon the bus on two occasions!  The men pushed and the bus moved slowly upwards!  Eventually we arrived at the NP in the dark at 5.50pm and located our accommodation at Dandabah. 

The low temperature and strong wind were immediately noticeable.  The group was divided into three well-appointed chalets and we had dinner in Pinewood chalet.  There was a rush for the washing machine and the drier!  — Our first opportunity to do any laundering.

 

The Road to Dandabah

Franklyn Perring 

Its only 10 more Ks to Dandabah!

Its only 10 more Ks to Dandabah!

If the engine does not fail

Beside the Holy Grail

There'll be only 9 more Ks to Dandabah.

 

It's only 9 more Ks to Dandabah!

It's only 9 more Ks to Dandabah!

But if we do our best

And push it to the crest

There'll be only 8 more Ks to Dandabah

 

It's be only 8 more Ks to Dandabah

It's be only 8 more Ks to Dandabah

If we chock the buses wheels

And think of juicy meals

There'll only be 7 more Ks to Danadabah

 

It's only be 7 more Ks to Danadabah

It's only be 7 more Ks to Danadabah

If we get a bit more power

While we dream of Happy Hour

There'll be only 6 more Ks to Dandabah

 

It's be only 6 more Ks to Dandabah

It's be only 6 more Ks to Dandabah

If we don't all get a chill

When we are coastig down the hill

There'll only 5 more Ks to Dandabah

 

There'll only 5 more Ks to Dandabah

There'll only 5 more Ks to Dandabah

If we don't pause at the well

We could all stand up and yell

"It's only 4 more Ks to Dandabah!"

 

Its only 4 more Ks to Dandabah

Its only 4 more Ks to Dandabah

When we see a Bunya pine

We'll know we're doing fine

And it's only 3 more Ks to Dandabah

 

It's only 3 more Ks to Dandabah

It's only 3 more Ks to Dandabah

If it doesn't get to dark

Before we reach the park

There'll be only 2 more Ks to Dandabah

 

It's only 2 more Ks to Dandabah

It's be only 2 more Ks to Dandabah

If the driver's not an ass

And we don't run out of gas

There'll be only 1 more K to Dandabah

 

There'll be only 1 more K to Dandabah

There'll be only 1 more K to Dandabah

If we do not hit a roo

It's a messy thing to do

There'll be no more Ks to go to Dandabah

 

There're no more Ks to go to Dandabah

There're no more Ks to go to Dandabah

Now we've got toDandabah

Which is our Shangri La

There're no more Ks to go to Dandabah 

 

Day 7

Sunday, 19 August, 2001

Bunya Mountains to Taroom

We awoke to a freezing (4 degrees C) morning which turned into a beautiful sunny day.  The whole party walked down to the National Park entrance, where people were feeding King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas, and then into the forest.  This proved to be quite spectacular with some huge and ancient trees, notably Bunya Bunya Pines, Hoop Pines and Red Cedar.  Also the big mounds built by scrub turkeys for incubating their eggs.  Very big stinging trees also seen.  After viewing the Bower of a Satin Bower Bird, with its attendant bits and pieces - always of blue material such as bottle tops, drinking straws etc. - we walked to a "Grassy Bald" a feature of this park.  This is where the forest stops abruptly for an area of grassland.  Beautiful views to the east were to be had from this vantage point.

After our walk, we drove down the western side of the Bunya Moutain Range and onto the Darling Downs, a fertile area of Queensland, which produces a very large percentage of its food.  Lunch was at Warra where we admired the local Centenary of Federation Project - the re-furbishment of the railway station and its surrounds.

Shortly after, we passed through Boonarga where the local hall commemorates the Cactoblastis Beetle which was introduced so successfully in 1936 to combat the prickly pear cactus which was devastating the countryside.  We noted some fine examples of prickly pear right next to the hall - a bit ironic?

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful apart from a near miss when a local yokel slowed down in front of the bus.  Now this would be OK except that whn John went to pass, said yokel "did a righty" in front of us and we all nearly came to grief.  All was well with some brilliant evasive action by our Fearless Leader........

Through Brigalow Country in the Chinchilla area and on to Taroom for the night.  Here we stayed at the local Motel and the proprietors went out of their way to make us as comfortable as possible with an excellent meal for dinner.

 

Day 8

Monday, 20 August, 2001

Taroom to Springsure 

We left the Cattle Camp Motel before 9am and made our first stop at Palm Tree Creek, by the Roy Staines bridge, to observe the Livingstonia palm sp. and Brigalow.

Jim Barrow also found in this area a piece of dead cactus covered with cochinel insects.

The journey carried on to Isla Gorge with its magnificent rock formations and excellent views.  Then followed a short shopping stop in Theodore and meeting by the water tower, with its water feature (+soap suds).

We continued to the mining area of Moura, where we stopped at the picnic site for lunch.

An interesting feature at this site was the collection of open cast mining artefacts.  At times we saw in the distance evidence of this coal mining.  Later we stopped for a 'photo opportunity' of bottle trees, before our last stop where there was a very co-operative whip tailed wallaby, complete with joey in pouch.  Above there was a huddled roost of white breated swallows - new arrivals, settling in with a tail waggle.

In the same area were fine examples of the ancient relic Macrozamia.  We were glad to reach Springsure and the Zamia motel as dusk was falling - some of the party having to go to their rooms at the pub but joining us for dinner.  During the day both kangaroos and emus were observed.

 

Day 9

Tuesday, 21 August, 2001

Springsure to Barcaldine

Before breakfast some of the party enjoyed watching tiny cisticolas in a nearby creek.  By 8.30 we were on our way stopping briefly to look at the Virgin Rock on Mt Zamia.  On the way Jim followed by Franklin gave us an idea of the problems of the re-classification of Eucalypts and Bino Bill updated the bird list.

We turned off to the lookout at Fairbairn Dam to see what bird life was about on Lake Marraboon.  Many night herons were roosting i some trees and flew up when disturbed.  Also seen were pelicans, darters, caspian terns, little pied cormorants and two short-necked turtles.  We continued into Emerald for morning tea and shopping passing the largest citrus orchard in Australia.

In Emerald we admired the elaborate Railway station still in use. A visit to the Dept of Primary Industry provided books and much information.

We lunched in Anakie finding that the Big Sapphire gem field information centre had provided and excellent picnic area.  Complete with apostle birds, spotted bower bird, mudlark, and others lining up for a share of our lunch.  Many enjoyed looking at the sapphires.  The owners showed us a captive rather gruesome bird-eating spider.

On the way to Alpha we stopped at the Drummond Range lookout noting on the way the gully erosion typical of the central highlands.

After filling up with diesel and refreshments, we continued to Jericho.  Here we were amused to see the outdoor cinema and admired the modern sculpture, the Crystal Trumpeters, inspired by those that blew down the walls of Jericho.

A short stop o the final leg of the journey to see the first grevilleas and a Eucalyptus leichhardtii with many emus, black-breasted buzzards, kangaroos and wallabies to see before arriving at Barcaldine.

Finally before dinner poor Lydia failed the tick inspection!  Willing helpers removed it for her.  Dinner was served in the courtyard helped by the proprietor's delightful children.

 

Day 10

Wednesday, 22 August, 2001

Barcaldine to Winton

Another glorious day and we first went on a tour of Barcaldine to look at some of the architecture.  Some buildings that were of interest were the Masonic Hall with its decorated front and corrugated iron sides, St Peters church.  We then had a look at the Tree of Knowledge situated in front of the Railway Station and the Commercial Hotel with its decorative facade. 

Next stop was the Australian Workers Heritage Centre where we spent an hour looking at the displays - development of the ALP and the political history of Queensland, as well as railway expansion and schooling in the outback. 

We then drove west along the Landsborough Highway to Longreach travelling through Mitchell Grass plains.  On the way we saw black kites and many emus and passed through Ilfracombe with its "portable" pub and display of old farm machinery. 

At Longreach we went to the Stockmans Hall of Fame where there were displays of the early settlements in Australia demonstrating the hard life of both men and women.  A particularly interesting display showed the paths of the early explorers. 

At this stage (1.30) we had not had lunch and were feeling very hungry but had to send a sheep dog (Franklyn) in to round up the Mongers!  When everybody was on board we found a lunch spot nearby which was very much enjoyed by the group. 

We stopped at the Thomson River which runs into Coopers Creek, and had good views of whistling kite and great egret.  Continuing our journey towards Winton it was noticeable that the number of trees had decreased, the predominant remaining one being Gidgee (Acacia cambageii).  Amongst the grassland brolgas, bustards, emus and kangaroos were spotted. 

At one point we came across a herd of cows with a stockman and three dogs and he obligingly allowed us to take photographs.  A little further on a train was seen approaching us along the railroad which had been running parallel to us for the whole day.  As the only trains we had previously seen were "road trains" everyone took photographs. 

We arrived in Winton about 5pm and settled into the Matilda Motel.  After a delicious BBQ meal eaten under the stars some of us went to the Royal Cinema - an open-air cinema with canvas deck chairs - to see the regular Wednesday night screening of old cartoons and Movietone newsreels.  What fun!

Day 11

Thursday, 23 August, 2001

Winton to Mt. Isa

Another beautiful day and, in a cool morning, we had our magnificent breakfast al fresco - the motel proprietors had done us proud!

Before departure, we visited the opal shop and the Matilda Museum.  Also the sculptures and decoration in the main street which depicted Waltzing Matilda and Banjo Patterson.  Near Winton was where the legendary swagman "jumped into the billabong" - he was probably shot - and where Patterson penned the immortal song.  Winton also happens to be the birthplace of QANTAS airways (in the 1920's?)

On our way west from Winton, our fearless leader told us of the "Min Min lights" which are mysterious balls of light which are occasionally seen in this area by travellers and have also been noted by the aborigines.  Nobody knows what causes these lights.

The scenery was generally desolate and monotonous grasslands apart from one short stretch which consisted of low laterite hills set on a gibber base - gibbers being small stones.  Tea break was at Combo Waterhole, part of the Diamantina River system, where the events dramatised in Waltzing Matilda were played out.  Here the road was used by Cobb and Co in years past and the waterhole was crossed by a paved causeway, built by Chinese labour and still in very good condition.  Some birds were seen here but the important finds were of a large (dead) freshwater crab and a small freshwater snail (Vivipara waterhousei) which is notable because it produces live young instead of laying eggs.

A brief stop at Kynuna was notable for having four brolgas pottering about the place and "posing" for numerous photographs.  Not much further on was McKinlay where we had lunch.  This place contains the "Walkabout Creek Hotel" which featured as the outback hotel in the film "Crocodile Dundee".  The houses were notably dilapidated shacks (apart from the rather smart police station).

Around about here the rivers were noted to change from running south towards Lake Eyre to running north towards the Gulf of Carpentaria.  And so to Cloncurry where there was a brief stop at the old river crossing to look at some birds, notably a Jabiru.  Shortly after Cloncurry was a memorial to the original aboriginal tribe of the area (Kalkadoon) and a terrible massacre (battle) which took place near here in 1884  We were sorry to see that the memorial had been defaced to the point of near-destruction. 

Here also we crossed the Selwyn Range and entered a pleasantly scenic area of lots of trees and rugged hills which continued as far as Mount Isa.  On this stretch, john told us of his adventures chasing fresh water Sharks - marine creatures which can live for section Fearless Leader also told us about his adventures in the Gulf area to establish the presence of sharks (Carcas carcarinus) which can spend many years in fresh water.  They enter the rivers during floods looking for easy food and then get trapped.  John also gave his impression of the problems of Dingo management on Fraser Island.

At Mount Isa, after a short stop for provisions we headed out of town to Lake Moondarra where we settled in to a youth camp on its shore.  Plenty of Euros and birds to be seen.

 

Day 12

Friday, 24 August, 2001

Mt. Isa to Lawn Hill Gorge

Another uneventful day.

Before we left Lake Moondarra, climbed the ridge and saw the extent of the water system.  Those unfamiliar with spinifex, made its intimate acquaintance in the scramble up.   Also found Acacia chisholmii with sticky pods.

At Mt Isa, went to the Riversleigh centre to help get a grip on the fossil site itself, later in the day.   Many of the fossils come from about 20 million years ago, with another big deposit of about 20,000 years ago.

Today was a day of serious driving.  Saw Eucalyptus pruinosa, the silver leaved box, by the roadside in large stands and the cockroach bush (Senna notabilis).    Also found Acacia retivenea, the very well veined wattle.   There were many cries of 'wedge tailed eagle'.

The road became red and rough.  After several hours, a short detour for bird watching at a bilabong, led to disaster.  The bus was bogged in the sandy stuff.  Bill "I think we need to have a cup of tea and think about it."

ON THE ROAD TO LAWN HILL

 

Lawn Hill's the aim, we're flying along

We're a particularly merry band

When FL spies a fine billabong

Surrounded by firm stones and sand.

 

He screams to a halt, and turns off the road

Zooms in for a cuppa and some grub

Hits the soft sand like a giant cane toad

He's bogged to the top of the hub.

 

Bino's disgusted "We'll never get out"

But gets a spade and starts digging muck

"Hark, a vehicle," says a passenger scout

"I think there's an approaching truck."

 

"Stop them!" shouts FL, and Lydia leaves the pond

To flag down this potential saviour

Liz says we should always carry a blond

To take advantage of male behaviour.

 

And so we flagged down three lovely buddies

They hopped from there ancient truck

Before they could act, they sank a few stubbies

And then threatened to run amock.

 

They attached a chain, and took a run

With violent driving and fuss

They seemed to think it would be fun

To remove the front of the bus.

 

These yobos of Quensland were running hot

We all a sent a mighty cheer

As the bus emerged from its sandy spot

And they opened some more beer.

 

They removed the trailer as well as the bus

Without using very much brain

And as they departed from FL and us

We realized they'd nicked the chain.

 

Now the Brits in the bus has experienced hell

And being liberated their spirits soared

As they heard the familiar call from FL

ALL ABOARD

So you see an uneventful day.

 

Day 13

Saturday, 25 August,2001

Lawn Hill Gorge

The first point of interest after listening to some early bird calls was the Greater Bower bird whose beautiful bower was built under the nearby bushes.  The bird was obviously agitated but many saw him actually visiting his bower. 

After some confusion about availability of canoes it transpired that there were none until the afternoon.  We therefore set off on an exploration of the Island Stack but after a while our way was blocked by a change of water course caused by earlier flooding.  However, we were able to see fruiting figs some, Agile Wallabys and a few flowering bushes including a lovely yellow Abutilon. 

We then set of to the Indara Falls stopping near the ranger's house to watch a friendly White Browed Robin a specialty of the area.  Some of us climbed over the ridge route and on to the Falls looking at the views on the way.  Those who made it to the Falls enjoyed a swim, before hurrying back along the easy path for lunch.  The 7 people who opted to canoe enjoyed a couple of hours paddling, more swims and admiring the beautiful ferns and the huge Liverstonia palm trees. 

On returning Alan took a group of us on the route he pioneered climbing along fallen tree trunks to reach the Island Stack path.  This was a lovely walk taking in some Aboriginal Rock Art and a cave that was once occupied.  We reached the other stretch of water and enjoyed the views and the peace.  On the return loop we found flowering water lilies and unfortunately a dead crocodile - a Cane Toad casualty perhaps. 

Returning to camp we found that others had enjoyed a restful afternoon in camp under F.L.'s gigantic yellow awning, or in the shade of the bushes.  Dinner was eaten round the camp fire with stories and poems to entertain us.

 

Day 14

Sunday, 26 August, 2001

Lawn Hill Gorge - Normanton

After packing up we were lucky to see Purple - crowned Fairy wrens and a large Olive Python (2.2 m) before leaving Lawn Hill National Park. 

We stopped at Adel's Grove named after a French botanist who lived there for some years, and then proceeded on roads of varying quality towards Gregory Downs Hotel. 

Morning tea was taken by the Gregory River - birds of note were Crimson, Double barred and masked Finches.  The  landscape we passed through was very flat grassland and before lunch we crossed the Leichhardt River.

Lunch was taken at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse which appeared to be the only centre of activity for hundreds of kilometers. 

The next stop was to take termite mound photographs where the Kapok bush was admired by the botanists.  When we came to the Flinders River several birds were spotted as well as a fresh water crocodile. 

We drove through Normanton to the wetlands where the Jacana, Burdekin Duck, Glossy Ibis, Jabiru and other water birds were noted as well as the beautiful display of water lilies.  We settled into our motel accommodation after another long drive.

 

Day 15

Monday, 27 August, 2001

Normanton - Undara

All arose early to a wondrous pink dawn (but rather windy) and an early breakfast so that we could be at the railway station in time for one of the GREAT Railway Journeys of the World (???)  The "Gulflander" train goes "from nowhere to nowhere" and was a lot of fun as we headed east from Normanton about 20km, over the Norman River and as far as "Critters Camp" at which we turned and returned to Normanton.  All very dry and not a great deal to see on the way.

After some delay for shopping and fuel, we travelled 150km to Croydon for lunch.  Croydon is a very small town, formerly the centre of great gold-mining activity, and with many interesting buildings.  It seemed to all that the town is really trying to become a tourist centre, many of the buildings having been nicely restored and some with very interesting exhibitions inside.  One of these was the old Court House, another the police station with an exhibition of photographs of the town at various times.  The Club Hotel was quaint.  Liz managed to find out that the Hotel has a resident ghost, possibly of a prostitute, but who knows?  It is only heard, never seen, rattling the cutlery and opening the fridge.  The population of Croydon was once 3700, now about 300.

Croydon's gold was first discovered in 1885 and 1

 

Day 16

Tuesday, 28 August, 2001

Undara to Tinaroo

UNDARA VOLCANIC TUBES - ALRIGHTY

 

We went down the tube today

Benchmark lava, drip and dribble

We learnt them all without a quibble

Alrighty.

Rock wallabies watched us in bemusement.

Stopped at Forty Mile Scrub, with kurrajongs and Austromyrtus bidwillii (the python tree).  Unfortunately Franklyn's camera also stopped here.  It was the Grevillea parallelas that saved the day.  A rescue mission was launched which, breaking the Burke and Wills tradition, was successful.

We made a quick platypus stop - however they were all taking siestas unlike the local school children, who were not.  The wind farm was also active in a leisurely sort of way.

Drove on across the Atherton Tableland with patches of rainforest amidst cleared cattle country. Stopped at Mt Hypipamee and saw a wonderful example of caulifory - clusters of flowers and fruit on a trunk - on a yellow mahogany.  We took the nature walk to the Crater and learned that a hole in the ground can be a diatreme.  Despite strenuous endeavours, we did not see any tree kangaroos but did see Podocarpus elatus, the plum pine, with red new leaves and Schefflera actinophylla, the umbrella tree.

At Tinaroo Terraces we walked down to the lake and breathed in the calm and took in the sunset over the water. 

Day 17

Wednesday, 29 August, 2001

Tinaroo to Cape Tribulation

After some brief explorations of the lake shore, the lookout over the dam and some bird watching, we left at 8.30 a.m.  We drove past the dam and along the shores of Lake Tinaroo eventually entering the Danbulla State Forest.  Some of this contains plantations of Hoop Pines and other commercial trees, some was regenerating forest. 

As we drove F.L. in his excitement, saw a 'Yellow - orange footed Jungle Scrub Fowl' or a Yellow-footed Scrub Fowl.  A brief visit was made to a crater lake Euramoo before moving on to the Cathedral tree.  This amazing Fig (Ficus virens) is over 500 years old with a crown extending over 0.2 hectares and 50 metres high.  

On to Lake Eacham we had morning tea, followed by a walk in the forest where the ingenuity of the Lawyer's Vine was most impressive.  A Rifle bird was seen by some and heard by most - very noisy! 

We then set out towards Mareeba for lunch, but stopped at a very interesting Woodcraft shop at Tolga when many people bought some of the beautiful goods on display. 

We continued our journey leaving the Atherton Tableland, passing a lake area associated with a Mr. George Quaid, an unpopular entrepreneur.  Passing Mount Lewis we dropped down a zig-zag road through spectacular forest at Mossman for fuel, drinks and ices. 

On to the ferry over the Daintree river, and a quick purchase of fresh bananas, we had a quick visit to the Alexandra Lookout for a view of Cape Tribulation and the coast.  Here we saw Black Palm and the Fan Palm. 

Back to Jindalba for an hour's concentrated study of the primitive rainforest trees and plants.  We saw another Cycad (Lepidozamia), Ginger fruits and the Alexandra Pine as well as regrowth of an area damaged by cyclone Roma in 1999.  We left a 5.00, stopping for a photo of Thornton's Peak before arriving at Coconut Beach to sort out our accommodation! 

We were joined at dinner by Hugh Spencer and his research team.

 

Day 18

Thursday, 30 August, 2001

At Cape Tribulation

The day began early yet again as we all went to Cape Tribulation to admire the view from the lookout and farewell the intrepid reef sailors.  Bino Bill was very excited to see the red-necked rail before setting sail on the catarmaran sailing vessel, "Rum Runner". 

Those who went to the reef were Margaret P, Joyce, Liz, Olive, Lydia, Judy, Jim and Lyn, Shaun and Bino.  Of the rest, Jenny and Alan (Mighty Mollusc Man) went to the beach and searched the rock platform for shells in the morning as there was a good low tide, and in the afternoon returned to the same area for some snorkelling. 

That left the botany group (FL, Ian, Franklyn, Margaret H, Jean, Mike and Jackie) who met Hugh Spencer from the AUSTROP Foundation and initially were introduced to the bats - more later.  As we walked towards the Dubuji board walk the group was shown areas of land which were under regeneration, and it was interesting to see how quickly some of the trees grew. 

The plants seen from the board walk were growing on old beach sands, and it was pointed out  that the land is gradually rising from the sea.  The area had been affected by the 1999 cyclone and during the walk wet rainforest, and rainforest plants were seen growing on sand as well as an area of mangrove as we moved nearer the sea.  It was good to have time to see the plants from the different sections, and to have explanations about some of them from Hugh. One interesting sighting was a Peppermint Stick insect, eating Pandanus leaves! 

The group were ready for lunch when we finished the walk and while we waited for the bus to arrive we had a look round the Bat Information Centre.  On their return the reef party reported a very successful visit to the reef, well looked after by the Rum Runner crew.  Many colourful corals, fish and giant clams were seen by the party.     

 

Day 19

Friday, 31 August, 2001

CapeTribulation to Cairns 

Another fine and sunny day!  Our adventures started with a stroll at very slow pace through the Marrdja Boardwalk a few kilometres to the south of Cape Trib.  We were led by Hugh Spencer who is an authority on rainforest plants and it was marvelous to hear his descriptions and names for many of the trees an plants we saw.  This boardwalk goes through the mangroves which are always fascinating.  We were shown the seed and tree of "satinwood" (Idiospermum autralense), a very primitive plant indeed.  Perhaps the highlight of this walk was the sighting of a male Cassowary which we all admired. We were also lucky to see a Catbird feeding its young on the nest.  Several species of orchid were also seen on the way.

Following the boardwalk, Hugh took us to visit his bats at the research centre.  He explained his air-conditioning system and showed us how his solar collectors work.

And so we said farewell to the beautiful Cape Tribulation and journeyed south.  A major disaster threatened when Jim choked on a piece of orange and had to be attended to immediately.  Being parked in the middle of the road on a hill and with a double line was a bit of a worry but Alan and Franklyn turned their hand to traffic policemen and had a lovely time directing cars around the bus while Jim recovered.

Following this we drove to Mossman without further mishap, admiring the many and beautiful butterflies as we went, notably Ulysses and "Blue Triangles".  A quick lunch in the park and then we visited the lovely Mossman Gorge where we took an aboriginal guide, Aaron or Gundoodooro (which means "blunt spear") and he showed us aspects of the forest from an aboriginal point of view.  A fine afternoon tea with damper finished off the tour with flair.

The day was completed with group photographs and the drive of about 70km to Cairns.  We had a short diversion to look at Port Douglas and its ritzy resorts on the way.  The tour was completed as we drove into the motel in Cairns where we all booked in for our last night.

Editors Note:  Fearless Leader apologizes for the delay in delivering this Diary. It is as it was composed.   Four months after the sprain he is still hobbling at times and getting physiotherapy for his ankle.  Ian Morris though has actually been away from home even more than Fearless Leader since the Queensland Odyssey. 

WALTZING MATILDA

(A NEW VERSION)

by Alan Monger

 

Once a jolly tour bus stopped by a billabong

Finches and owls and other birds to see;

And it sank in the sand so that it would not go along:

Oh what a disaster to happen to me!

 

CHORUS

            Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda,

            You'll come a'waltzing matilda with me

            Sunk up to its axles, so it wouldn't go along

            You'll come a'waltzing matilda with me.

 

Out jumped our leader to look at his predicament,

"We'll never ever go again!" said he.

"Just take it easy" says Bino through his gritted teeth,

"We'll talk it over with a cup of tea."

 

CHORUS

            Waltzing matilda etc

            Someone will come to pull us from the billabong

            You'll come a walzing matilda with me.

 

Along came three yobbos, riding on their 4-wheel drive:

Up jumped Lydia and grabbed them with glee!

"Come and look at what we've done, see if you can pull us free".

"We'll have a beer and then we'll see!"

 

CHORUS

            Waltzing matilda etc.

            "Lets have another beer and then we'll pull you out again."

            You'll come a'waltzing matilda with me.

 

Then they tugged and pulled our bus like billio.

Suddenly it lurched and then it was free.

"All aboard" said leader, as we took off from Billabong,

You'll come a'waltzing matilda with me.

 

CHORUS (as normal)

 

 

 


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