A Travellerspoint blog

July 2015

Fletcher Creek to Mount Surprise

Sunday 12 July 2015

Fine and clear again with a temperature in the high 20s.

We were on the road for our 368 km trip to Mount Surprise by about 9:30 am, stopping for fuel and lunch at the Greenvale Roadhouse. Once again not much traffic going our way and only a few trucks and road-trains going the other. While we were having lunch ay Greenvale about six road-trains went south almost nose to tail - a nightmare for anyone wishing to overtake.

We arrived at Mount Surprise at about 3:00 pm and checked into Bedrock Village Caravan Park. We have stayed here several times and it is quite a pleasant park themed on Fred and Thelma of the Flintstones TV series.

After setting up camp for two nights we headed over to the Gem Shop to book in for a fossicking tour. However they no longer do tours, but issued us with a licence and hired us the equipment to go fossicking on our own. Last time we were here the couple that ran the Gem Shop were hoping to sell the business and move on. apparently no interest so they are still in Mount Surprise.

Back at camp we were talking to a young couple from Launceston in Tasmania, travelling in a very large 5th wheeler towed by a Ford F250. They are going west to the Gulf and eventually Darwin.

No Photos today.

Posted by TwoAces 03:13 Comments (0)

Winton to Fletcher Creek, near Charters Towers

Saturday 11 July 2015

Fine and clear again with a temperature in the high 20s.

A big day today - 503 km from Winton to Fletcher Creek via Hughenden and Charters Towers. The road from Winton to Hughenden, the Kennedy Developmental Road, was quite good with the re-sealing upgrade to a two lane highway having been completed in 2014. Not many trucks in either direction but quite a few caravans travelling in the other direction. We stopped for fuel, papers, and lunch in Hughenden, but being Saturday there was not much action in Hughenden.

After lunch we continued east on the Flinders Highway towards Charters Towers. This road was somewhat busier as it is the main link from Townsville to Mount Isa. We stopped briefly for an afternoon coffee at the Campaspe Rest Area, where half a dozen caravans had already set up for the night. We refuelled on the outskirts of Charters Towers, before turning north-west on the Gregory Development Road for the Fletcher Creek free camp which is about 35 km from Charters Towers.

The Fletcher Creek free camp is an official camp site maintained by the Charters Towers Council. Our neighbours in the camp who have stayed many times claimed that they have seen up to 250 vans parked up for the night. The camp straddles the highway and the creek and has flushing toilets and a dump point.


Fletcher Creek camp ground.


Across the road at the Fletcher Creek camp ground.


Fletcher Creek looking upstream under the road bridge.


fletcher Creek looking downstream.

Posted by TwoAces 03:10 Comments (0)

The Age of Dinosaurs Museum, Winton

Friday 10 July 2015

Clear and sunny and 28 degrees today.

Today we went to the Age of Dinosaurs Museum which is about 13 km south of Winton on the Landsborough Highway, and then a further 12 km south east on a gravel road. The Museum is located on the top of an ancient mesa called The Jump-Up, with huge rocky outcrops, cliffs and canyons, and spectacular views. The museum is the home of the largest Australian collection of preserved dinosaur fossils, and the most productive fossil preparation laboratory in the southern hemisphere. The visit is in two parts - firstly a conducted tour of preserved dinosaur fossils collection followed by a tour of the fossil preparation laboratory.

The fossil display is centred on the fossilised bones of two dinosaurs found together in what is believed to be the site of an ancient billabong. Firstly, Banjo a carnivorous dinosaur of medium size, with large claws and slashing teeth, about half a tonne and five metres long. Secondly, Matilda a large plant eating dinosaur the size of a Tyrannosaurus, 20 tonnes and about 15 metres long.

The Fossil Preparation Laboratory shows the collection of fossils that have been wrapped in newspaper and plaster while they await restoration. About a dozen volunteers are working on preserving the fossils for display in the museum. At the present rate of discovery of fossilised bones there is about 10 years work on hand.


View from the Age of Dinosaurs Centre.


Dinosaur bones.


More dinosaur bones.


Still more dinosaur bones.


Banjo the carnivore skeleton.


Matilda's foot.


Banjo the carnivore.


Dinosaur bones encased in plaster for protection.


Dinosaur backbone compared to a cow.

Posted by TwoAces 05:01 Comments (0)

Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry

Thursday 9 July 2015

Fine and sunny and 26 degrees today.

Today we made the 110 km trip to Lark Quarry which is south-west from Winton. The road is a mix of sealed road and gravel road. The first 45 km is sealed and the rest is gravel with 4 or 5 sealed "Overtaking Opportunities" every 10 km or so. Even so the gravel sections were quite reasonable. We arrived at the quarry site about 11:30 am in plenty of time for the second conducted tour at 12:00 noon. While we were waiting for our tour to start we did a short walk to a nearby lookout and back to the site through the Spinifex.

Ninety-five million years ago Lark Quarry was part of a great river plain, with sandy channels, swamps and lakes brimming with freshwater mussels, lungfish and crocodiles. Rainfall was over a metre per year, so the surrounding lowland forest was lush and green.

On the day the drama unfolded, herds of small two-legged dinosaurs came to drink at the lake. There were at least 150 dinosaurs of two different kinds - carnivorous coelurosaurs about the size of chickens, and slightly larger plant-eating ornithopods, some of them as large as emus. A huge meat-eating theropod, smaller than a Tyrannosaurus, approached the lake. It slowed, saw the other dinosaurs gathered at the water’s edge and began to stalk, then turned and charged. The stampeding herd of smaller dinosaurs left a chaotic mass of footprints in the mud as they ran to escape.

When the dinosaurs stampeded, they left perfect footprints in the half dried and still plastic mud. Sun, wind and rain would normally destroy tracks like this. But just a few days after the footprints were made, it began to rain and the lake rose gently, covering the tracks with sandy sediments before the mud had dried enough to crack. The next flood buried them below a meter of sand and a meter of mud. As millions of years passed, the sediment layers were compressed to form rock.

Local Station Manager, Glen Seymour, first discovered the Dinosaur Track-ways in the 1960s. He thought they were fossilised bird tracks, and showed them to local enthusiast Peter Knowles. What they were looking at was, and still is today, the world's only recorded evidence of a dinosaur stampede. The dinosaur tracks are now protected from the elements in a purpose built building while further research continues. While the footprints of the larger dinosaur are clearly visible the smaller footprints require some imagination to make out.

Back at camp we lit the fire pot and spent a pleasant evening with a young couple from Bendigo, The had travelled to the Gold Coast for the Gold Coast Marathon - he ran a respectable 3 hours 20 minutes. They were returning to Bendigo via Mount Isa and the Birdsville Track. The previous night we had been talking to a few campers who were on their way to the Boulia Camel Races. Apparently you can travel to Boulia on a sealed road, albeit a single lane sealed road. We might put Boulia on the bucket list for a future year.


View from the Lark Quarry car park.


Lark Quarry Building from the car park.


Lark Quarry Building from the Lookout.


Di at the Lark Quarry Lookout.


View from the Lark Quarry Lookout.


Spinifex clumps at Lark Quarry.


Close up of a spinifex clump.


Nearby hill from the Lark Quarry car park.


Large footprints at Lark Quarry.


Inside the fossil building.


More footprints at Lark Quarry.

Posted by TwoAces 03:14 Comments (1)

Barcaldine to Winton

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Fine and sunny and 15 degrees today for our 286 km trip from Barcaldine to Winton. We stopped for lunch at Longreach and topped up with fuel.

Our camp-site tonight was the Long Waterhole - a free camp about 2 km south of Winton - however it was completely lacking in facilities. Good camping spots were in short supply as the drought has left the ground badly cracked and very rough. We finally selected a camp site on the levee bank with a view down the waterhole. The waterhole is man-made with a large levee bank to protect the town of Winton in times of flood. While setting up camp we disturbed a Goanna that had been taking the sun.


Camped on the levee bank at the Long Waterhole.


Goanna sunning itself on the levee bank.


Goanna about to disappear down a hole.


Large cracks in the ground at the Long waterhole - no recent rain.


A view of the Long waterhole.


Another view of the Long Waterhole.


Sunset over Winton.


Another view of the sunset over Winton.

Posted by TwoAces 04:50 Comments (1)

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