Day 63 Thursday Aug 7th 2014 Mt Isa to Kynuna
The road to Cloncurry is busy with vans and horse floats heading to The Isa. We go out to the Cloncurry airfield to see where the first Qantas flight (Longreach to Cloncurry) landed. Although still in use part of the hangar roof is flapping in the breeze.
The town, although small is a busy commercial hub. There is a charming wooden post office and across the road is an old pub built of metal cladding.
The Landsborough Highway is now known as the Matilda Way. The landscape is dry and scrubby but our interest is kept up by spotting clothed termite mounds. This really is a sport in these parts.
It is dry and dusty as we fuel up at McKinley and have a cold drink at the only other commercial structure in town, the Walkabout Creek Hotel. The hotel featured in the movie Crocodile Dundee and has been moved to the highway from its original location, wherever that was. Sadly, it has little character and is just a handy spot to stretch the legs. There are only a handful of houses and one has a magnificent motor home in its shed, the motor home would be worth more than all the houses here combined. But, there’s more to this town than meets the eye. Out at the Cannington Mine they extract lead and zinc concentrates which they ship overseas from the port of Townsville at the rate of 10,000 tonnes per day. These concentrates have a particularly high silver content.
I’m eating lunch with a brolga! We’ve continued on along the flat featureless highway for another 80kms to Kynuna. Now there is very little at Kynuna except a roadhouse, a couple of houses, the Blue Heeler Hotel and a population of sixteen. Yet every true blue Aussie has sung about this town. This town is the home of the Combo Waterhole and the Combo Waterhole is the billabong that Banjo Paterson wrote about when he penned Waltzing Matilda back in 1895.
When we’ve pulled into the Kynuna Roadhouse the two very funny ladies who run it have warned us not to feed the brolgas and no sooner we parked the van than a brolga wandered over and took ownership of us. We were warned “When you leave the toilet close the door the brolgas poop in there and then people complain when they step in it. They don’t like brolga poop between their toes.” Thus I’m now eating lunch while a big grey brolga peers through the window at me, I daren’t eat outside or else I’ll lose my sandwich.
The Blue Heeler Hotel has been here since the 1860’s when it was a Cobb and Co coach stop and the gnarly old floorboards look like they’re original. If that’s not enough this hotel was where the shearers celebrated during the great shearer’s strike of 1894 when they set fire to the woolshed at Dagworth station, which was also the basis of the Waltzing Matilda story. The owner of Dagworth station later died in the bar of the Blue Heeler Hotel. To cap off this colourful history, R.M Williams the legendary bushman and bushman’s outfitter built a fireplace in the pub to celebrate its centenary.
I wander over to the roadhouse to get some hot chips from the girls and return to find that two hungry brolgas have bailed Woody up and want our sausages.
Our neighbours are Melburnians. Desperate for good coffee but too tight to pay for a powered site they take their coffee machine over to the picnic table and plug into a power point. Such a hassle when it only cost $20 for a powered site.
Towing Kms: 304Kms