Julia Creek was our next overnight stop and it was a classic Queensland outback town. It had a few pubs and a couple of overpriced grocery stores—and no bakery. But I thought it was cool.
We drove from JC to Richmond because I was keen to find some fossils and the place is quite fossilful. You pay $5 at Kronosaurus Korner and drive 10 km to a couple of sites where you can break some rocks and every child wins a prize. There’s fossilised stuff in all of the rocks you crack. Shells are the most numerous, but I was dying to find a fish. In fact I dropped the rest of the family back to the van so I could spend more time cracking those layers looking for the big one. No such luck, but I did get a heap of shells.
We got an early start the next day and did the 400 or more kms to Charters Towers. We stopped in Hughenden to look for Johnny Whaleboat. I mentioned him in the last post, but got all my facts mixed up, as he was a solid guy; it turns out the cane knife culprit was Brett B in Tully, which makes more sense, as Hughenden, as charming as it is, would not grow a stick of sugarcane. It did have a Holden themed café though and we stopped there for morning tea. The business is for sale if you’re interested.
The Big 4 was our home away from home at Charters and it was just around the corner from Tor’s Drive-in, so we decided to introduce the kids to the joys of sitting in a car to watch a movie (although Lou and Monja sat just outside). I am proud to say that I remembered to remove the speaker from the window before we drove away. Charters Towers is quite a large and busy town that had it’s hey day in the gold rush times. I was amazed to see so many wonderful old buildings that were so well preserved. The place was full of them. It made me wonder what Brisbane may have looked like if we had have had a far sighted, sensitive, intelligent leader guiding us through those boom years of the seventies and the eighties rather than a rat cunning, maniacal, jack booted dictator who was hell bent on lining the pockets of every slick, greedy shyster that could fill a brown paper bag with cash and write ‘To Joh with love’ on it. Charters was another revelation. There has been countless places that we have visited on this trip that I had heard of and pictured as being about as interesting as a cold bowl of celery soup (without sour cream), but they have turned out to be little gems with their own unique offering waiting to be uncovered.
Tim and I looked at the map and decided to take the Gregory Developmental Road up the inside to get from Charters to the Atherton Tablelands. The Undara lava tubes were on the way and who doesn’t luv a tube? We spent two nights at a homestead called Pinnarendi near the national park. This homestead stay included PUPPIES!! Lou says it was the best place ever. She thought she’d died and gone to heaven. We did the Undara Experience the next day. You have to go to the resort and see the tubes as a part of a tour, as you cannot enter the area without having a guide. The tubes can fill with CO2 and apparently a few people have gone down for a poke around and never returned.
Next stop – the greener pastures of the Atherton Tablelands