A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

Mount Surprise to Atherton

Day 41 - Thursday 20 June 2013

We had a cloudy day at Mount Surprise this morning when we got away at about 9:30 am, but we got some sunshine on the way to Atherton. Forecast for Atherton today was 11 to 20 degrees. Our trip today was a relatively short 220 kms and took us through Mount Garnet, Innot Hot Springs and Ravenshoe, the highest town in Queensland. The road from Ravenshoe to Atherton was very narrow as it wound it way over the misty mountains, but unlike the last time we came this way there was no mist.

We arrived at Hallorans Leisure Park in Atherton at about 12:30 and were allocated Site 7, a drive through site, for one night. The caravan park is very picturesque with excellent facilities. We did a quick set-up - power and water only. After lunch we headed for Woolworths, Woollies/Caltex, and BWS for essential supplies. We also checked out the council Dump Point as we will need to make a visit before we head to Wonga Beach in the morning.

Drive through site 7

Drive through site 7

Pool and playground behind the palms

Pool and playground behind the palms

Views across the park

Views across the park

Another view across the park

Another view across the park

Still plenty of sites left

Still plenty of sites left

Posted by TwoAces 00:37 Comments (0)

Mt Surprise - Fossicking tour to O'Briens Creek

Day 40 - Wednesday 19 June 2013

Another nice sunny day in Mount Surprise with a forecast of 13 to 27 degrees. We were up early for a quick breakfast before walking up to the Gem Den for our fossicking tour to O'Brien's Creek with Pete, our guide. We were taken the 43 kms to the gem-fields by Pete driving the mini-bus on a mainly gravel road. We were joined on the tour by Karen and Tracey from Traralgon in Victoria who were having their first fossicking experience.

Pete has a one hectare mining claim close to the creek bed. We were provided with the tools of trade - a pick, a shovel, a sieve and a stand, and given a demonstration of how to use them. The sieving is done dry without water and the topaz stands out in the gravel and sand as it looks like clear glass. After an hour or so with moderate success all round we were provided with morning tea, then it was back to the action for another hour or so.

Karen, Tracey and Di ready for action

Karen, Tracey and Di ready for action

Di digging for Topaz

Di digging for Topaz

A whole lot of shaking going on

A whole lot of shaking going on

Back at the Gem Den the finds for the day were assessed by Pam - everyone had some gem quality topaz worth cutting. Di left one of her stones for cutting - she should get a 5 carat white topaz. She also purchased a ring with an aquamarine and two small white topaz, aquamarine is her birthstone. David thinks that a new camera lens might be just around the corner.

After completing our purchases we all headed for the Mount Surprise Hotel for a few drinks - yes Frosty the beer was indeed cold. Karen and Tracey with their better halves are heading for Cape York in camper trailers. While chatting to the owner of the hotel she told us about her daughter who drives enormous graders and even bigger trucks at the coal mines at Moranbah, which is east of Rockhampton.

Posted by TwoAces 02:11 Comments (0)

Mt Surprise - Morning tour to the Undura Lava Tubes

Day 39 - Tuesday 18 June 2013

We are starting to get used to life without newspapers - nothing since last Thursday. Forecast for today in Mount Surprise is 12 to 29 degrees, although the temperature of 13 at 8:00 am did feel a little cool. The sky was mainly clear and a beautiful day beckoned for our bus tour to the Undara Lava Tubes.

We were on the second tour from the caravan park so we got an extra half hour in bed - before we presented ourselves at the office for a 9:00 am departure. Our tour was to take in the Kalkani Crater with a 2.5 km rim walk, before being taken to walk through three of the Lava Tubes at Undara - the "Archway", the "Ballroom" and the "Wind Tunnel".

One of Bedrock Villages many tour buses

One of Bedrock Villages many tour buses

Briefing at the start of the Kalkani Walk

Briefing at the start of the Kalkani Walk

Kalkani Circuit Track - 2.5 kms

Kalkani Circuit Track - 2.5 kms

Nearby Volcanos from the Rim Track

Nearby Volcanos from the Rim Track

Wildflowers beside the track

Wildflowers beside the track

Undara Volcano in the distance

Undara Volcano in the distance

Floor of Kalkani Crater

Floor of Kalkani Crater

Greener foliage indicates a collapsed Lava Tube

Greener foliage indicates a collapsed Lava Tube

Smoko at the end of the Kalkani Rim Walk

Smoko at the end of the Kalkani Rim Walk

The lava tubes were formed over 190,000 years ago when the Undara Volcano erupted and spewed an estimated 23 cubic kilometres of lava over a period of 6 to 12 months. The lava flowed down old river beds for more than 90kms to the north and 160 kms to the north-west. The lava tubes were formed when the crust of the flow cooled and solidified, while the hot lava inside continued to flow, leaving a void behind. Many of the tubes have collapsed giving access to some of the tubes that remain in place.

Di at a lava tube entrance

Di at a lava tube entrance

Bush turkey's nest

Bush turkey's nest

Entering the Lava Tube

Entering the Lava Tube

Entering the Archway

Entering the Archway

Inside the Archway

Inside the Archway

Coloured walls in the Archway

Coloured walls in the Archway

Looking back through the Archway

Looking back through the Archway

Looking down into the Ballroom

Looking down into the Ballroom

Inside the Ballroom

Inside the Ballroom

End of the flow

End of the flow

Di at the end of the lava tube

Di at the end of the lava tube

Cane Toads get everywhere!

Cane Toads get everywhere!

Bats on the Wind Tunnel ceiling

Bats on the Wind Tunnel ceiling

Walls in the Wind Tunnel

Walls in the Wind Tunnel

Collapsed lava tube outside the Wind Tunnel

Collapsed lava tube outside the Wind Tunnel

After our tour of the Lava Tubes we were driven back to Bedrock Village in time for lunch. After a sandwich we went for a walk around the sites of Mount Surprise. We started with the Gem Den to check up on our fossicking tour tomorrow morning. We will need to be at the store at 7:45 am to be transported to their claim for the morning dig. We continued on our way around town passing the old Telegraph Office and the Police Station. We finished our walk around town at the Mount Surprise Hotel where we took the opportunity to see whether the beer was cold - it was!

Our camp at Bedrock Village

Our camp at Bedrock Village

Old Post Office and Telegraph Office

Old Post Office and Telegraph Office

Beware of the Police Wife?

Beware of the Police Wife?

Mount Surprise Hotel

Mount Surprise Hotel

Posted by TwoAces 00:32 Comments (1)

Normanton to Mount Surprise

Day 38 - Monday 17 June 2013

A sunny day in Normanton today with a forecast of 16 to 31 degrees. We were on the road by 9:30 am after filling up with diesel and buying fresh bread at Normanton Traders. Our trip today is a longish 393 kms from Normanton to Mount Surprise. Once again traffic was very light - mainly caravans and very few road-trains. We filled up with diesel at Croydon and stopped for lunch at the Gilbert River rest area. While we were stopped for lunch a female cyclist (aged in her 60s) came along - she is riding from Cairns to Broome for a holiday. You would have to be keen!

The road from Normanton to Gilbert River was an excellent two-lane sealed highway. Between Gilbert River and Georgetown there were a couple of single lane sections of about 20 kms each. The final section from Georgetown to Mount Surprise was mainly single lane although there were quite a few sections with road-works or recent road-works. No doubt in a couple of years the road will be two lanes from the east coast to Normanton.

We arrived at the Bedrock Village Caravan Village in Mount Surprise at about 2:30 pm and were allocated a drive through site for three nights. We did a full set up with power, water, awning, mats, and satellite dish. Mount Surprise has analogue TV only which is vertically polarised and of poor quality at the caravan park. We did not fare much better with the satellite dish as we have a perfect picture on SBS (3 and 30) but nothing on any other channel. We will give VAST a call tomorrow to seek a solution.

We have booked for the morning tour to the Undarra Lava Tubes tomorrow morning, and hope to do the fossicking tour to O'Briens Creek on Wednesday with Mount Surprise Gems. Mount Surprise is the home of the Blue Topaz.

No photos today.

Posted by TwoAces 02:16 Comments (0)

Lunch at Karumba

Day 37 - Sunday 16 June 2013

Another sunny day in Normanton today with a forecast of 16 to 31 degrees (this is getting boring?), and a forecast of 16 to 29 degrees for Karumba. Our plan for today is to drive to Karumba for lunch at the Sunset Tavern - Di is looking forward to having barramundi again. The drive from Normanton to Karumba is about 75 kms across the flood plains and is therefore flat and generally uninteresting. Just outside Karumba we were held up by a large mob of cattle being driven down the road by a group of aboriginal stockmen.

Cattle on the long paddock

Cattle on the long paddock

Cattle beside the road

Cattle beside the road

We drove into Karumba for a quick look around, then out to Karumba Point and parked outside the Sunset Tavern. Sadly our lunch did not live up to expectations, with our crumbed barramundi overcooked and near cold on the plate - sack the chef I say!!!. We sat outside for a couple of drinks and chatted to several couples that we fist met at Cloncurry and again at Normanton. One couple from Canberra had driven to Karumba for lunch like us and are staying in the park at Normanton. The other two couples from Victoria have moved to one of the caravan parks at Karumba for 6 nights, but are now wondering what they will do for that length of time.

Di at the Gulf

Di at the Gulf

Pelican taking off

Pelican taking off

A Kite riding the thermals

A Kite riding the thermals

Posted by TwoAces 03:28 Comments (0)

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