Day 48, 30/8/2019 Friday, Mulambin to Cania Gorge, warm 26
Another beautiful morning and we quickly slip back into the old pack up routine. There are farewells all round as we’re the first to leave. The others will catch us down the track shortly.
It’s already 22 degrees at 9:00am and we call into Rockhampton for a few supplies. Fruit and Vegies at Doblo’s fabulous fruit barn and spelt bread at Allenstown.
We’ve been advised to avoid the New England Highway as the drought has caused Stanthorpe, Tenterfield and Tamworth to be critically low on water.
Thus we pick up the Burnett Highway just south of town and the old ‘new road’ excitement kicks in.
It’s sad to see that the Bouldercombe Hotel has closed. That was our first ever pub stay, one we’ll never forget. It’s a tight steep pinch for about 5kms up the Razorback Ridge to the old gold mining town of Mt Morgan.
There are big well worn and homely ‘Queenslanders’ lining the street and we follow the sign to the Info Centre which is in the restored railway station. The lady manager is a ‘pocket rocket’ and she shepherds us about the place determined that we’ll learn a bit of history. They have a vintage rail motor which reminds me of the local train that I used to ride daily as a teenager. There’s also a video presentation of the building of the Rack Rail line across the ridge. It’s a fascinating story of the difficulties of getting gold over what these days we refer to as ‘a steep pinch’.
The open cut and tall mine chimney dominate the landscape. In the heart of town there are several pubs, which is a sign of prosperity, and some superb old buildings. Where a shady meeting place fig tree once stood there is now a modern rather whimsical arbor of bougainvillea.
We press on and the district is as dry as a chip, rivers and creeks just dry furrows of rocks. Yet at Dululu we find some irrigated paddocks and spot an emu with a brace of chicks in the long green grass. It’s crops and cattle now.
We grab a couple of large lamb pies at the Top Rise Bakery in Biloela, we had vaguely remembered this place from 5 years ago. The pies are chunky and juicy.
The highway is quiet now, the farms dry and there’s roadkill and overhead clouds are building. “Ooh look clouds!” Bottle trees have started to appear in the paddocks.
It’s a tiring drive and we’re starting to count down the kilometres on the GPS, until 0. We’re there! No we’re not! That’s a dirt track, hardly the entrance to a National Park. Bloody Gaz Garmin has done it again!
We press on for another 9kms to the real turn off to be greeted with two signs to the park, one 20kms the other 30kms. We don’t know which to choose, the phone signal has dropped out so we just grab the first park and almost fall into the office with exhaustion.
The lady manager is a bit of a character and the park is a neat and tidy bush camp. Although they’ve dropped their affiliation with Top Parks they still give us our member discount. The prime sites are on a bend of the very dry river and are grassy but tight. We take a spacious spot under slender trees (not widow makers). At 4:00pm the birds are fed and there’s a cacophony of lorikeets, king parrots and currawongs.
Wearily we knock up a noodle stir fry in the wok. The most used pan on the van. We save our scraps for the park manager’s chooks.
Summary 293kms, power, water, toilets, showers, accom $34.20 a seemingly longer drive than it is