Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Posts tagged ‘Queensland’

Day 26 Hell’s Gate to King Ash Bay

I don’t feel I did Hell’s Gate justice in my previous post, the place really is an oasis and the owners are implementing improvements as they can. My day started with a nice hot shower. For us it was great being able to choose our spot, there was plenty of space for everyone. I also liked the quirky signs etc around the place, it adds a bit of fun.

We knew we would be travelling on mostly dirt road today and after listening to the current “Most Spectacular Beard Owner” we thought we’d camp at one of the riverside areas he mentioned only about 170kms from Hell’s Gate. That didn’t work out. By the time we’d travelled 90 kms I felt I needed to keep my jaw clamped shut so my fillings didn’t shake out. We passed two graders working on the road but even as we were able to drive on a section they’d passed it was still terrible. Later we came across another grader and when Alex asked on the UHF if we could come through he said just come on the left. I didn’t think he gave us much room but the road did seem a bit better where he’d been.

The corrugations were the worst we’ve ever driven over for such a long stretch and we hoped we could take a break and camp at the Calvert River. Although there was a little creek tinkling past the camping spots there was no view and no river access. Another couple with a caravan pulled in, they’d come from the opposite direction and were hoping the worst of the road was behind them. We know now it wasn’t! They told us about the King Ash Bay Campground which is owned by an Angling Club, 22kms beyond Borroloola which is where we thought we’d stop.

After that short interlude we continued on. You could almost tell the type of road surface coming up by the change in vegetation, some trees seemed to grow where there was white rocky ground. Different grasses and trees were where the dirt was red and the corrugations particularly bad.

When the second suggested camp area appeared near the Robinson River it wasn’t appealing at all. One person had squeezed his rig off the road into a spot right beside the river but the other possibilities were all high above the river which couldn’t even be seen. We juddered on.

We were surprised by the hills, I don’t recall ever seeing hills marked on a map of the area and we’ve never been on the Savannah Way this far north west. I’d hoped that when we crossed into NT the road might improve but it didn’t. At one stage we heard a conversation between two lots of caravanners, a plaintive voice asking, “Do you think this road’s been graded, Reg?” Maybe he was hoping to come across a grader and from then on have a smooth ride.

When we reached Borroloola there wasn’t anything that made us want to stay so we followed the recommendation we’d been given and came along to King Ash Bay. Now we’re in recovery mode! Even Fergus took a while to perk up after his seven hour marathon on the back seat and all the vibrations caused two unopened cans of Ginger Beer to leak in the fridge. Thank goodness that’s the end of rough roads for a while!

Day 25 Leichardt Falls to Hells Gate

We’ve decided we should be on commission for Pioneer Mitchell Camper-trailers. When we were in Barcaldine a woman came up before we’d even opened everything out she was asking questions and putting her head inside to see the interior dimensions. She went away and checked out prices and availability online. At Aramac she turned up right next door and was dubbed, “Alex’ Stalker”. That time she was glued to our packing up operation in her PJs with her morning coffee! At Karumba the night-arriving neighbours were very taken with our set up, it was obviously more appealing with indoor sitting area and attached kitchen etc. The man was going to investigate Pioneers. Last night it was a neighbour who had a Tvan, the “standard” for hybrid campers, who preferred ours and was going to modify his to get some of our kitchen features. His wife has told him if she sees a secondhand one she’ll buy it for the headspace alone.

This morning early it was obvious those campers who’d chosen their spot for its river view, serious looking people were heading from their vans etc across to bushy private areas in the opposite direction. Before we left the Falls we walked around the camp areas then crossed to the other side of the river to see if any falling water was visible but it wasn’t. Many birds were out and busy while the croc we could see was lying low near a bank, maybe hoping some dozy bird would come to the water’s edge.


The road from the Falls to Burketown was bitumen of varying widths and condition. Brahman cattle were often on the road, apparently they like the heat it still holds in the early morning.

Burketown was another place we’d been told that had a full Caravan Park but it clearly hadn’t. We think the best part of the town is the central park area and the Morning Glory Bakery and Cafe.

We were surprised to find one of the river crossings actually had water across the road.

The next community was Doomadgee the only part of it beside the road is the Roadhouse and we didn’t need anything so we continued on. It’s difficult to know the criteria used to determine which sections of road are renewed, they seem to be random. Sections of both sides of the road had been strategically burnt and in places logs were still burning.

We’d decided that Hell’s Gate would be an interesting place to stay for the night and I didn’t have high expectations but it’s a nice place. In the 1800s police escorts would see travellers to a gap between high rocks but travel no further towards the NT. The gap was called, “Hell’s Gates”.

The Roadhouse and camping area is a section of a cattle station and the owners have made a real effort to make it attractive. The new Amenities Block is interesting for two reasons, firstly it’s all corrugated iron with an open corridor down the middle. Showers are on one side and toilets the other, secondly it’s all unisex. When I went for a shower I was ready to step into nice warm water when a man’s voice boomed out, “Have you got hot water?” I think there were three female responses all negative. It was only minutes later I could hear banging right beside my tin wall as a gas cylinder was moved out and a new one rolled in. Too late for me though, I had a cold shower!

Wildlife seen today, there are lots of birds visiting the birdbath here at Hell’s Gate.

We’ve had a tasty meal over at the Roadhouse, the trees and area nearby are lit by moving lights.

Day 24 Karumba to Leichardt Falls

As we walked back from our last delicious drinks at the Spiltmilk Van this morning I noticed that some of the Corella feathers that carpet the ground were different shapes.

Alex managed to show off to our night arrival neighbours, parked right behind us, when he connected up the camper unaided with only one realignment. With 4288 kms on the clock since we started we left Karumba, passing the line-up of boat trailers outside the pub on our way out.

About half the road between Karumba and Leichardt Falls was bitumen. Alex had to FOCUS to cross some of the creeks and rivers that had no guard rails or edges to stop you going off the side. Brolgas became a familiar sight.

Because we came here last year we’re familiar with the rocky, difficult access from one direction so we made sure to use the alternative one. Instead of camping on the rocky area we also continued past most of the campers to a much more spacious spot on mostly sandy ground. We haven’t seen any water cascading over the rocks but there is plenty in the river so it is coming in somewhere.

I deserted Alex and Fergus to sit down on a rock and take in the scenery, it was wonderful.

I’m using “the brick” to power the computer because this is strictly a self sufficient campers only site, remarkably we do have phone coverage.

Tomorrow our intention is to move on to Burketown then Hell’s Gate. That should be interesting.