We left Mareeba and drove through the relative lushness of the Atherton Tablelands driving through the town of Atherton and on past Ravenshoe to take a break at the Archer Creek Rest Area for morning tea. After our coffee we walked down to the lower level of the reserve to take a look at the creek and found a fast flowing clear stream coursing over the rocky bottom of the creek. Camping on the banks of this creek would be very pleasant.
Driving on the Kennedy Highway we passed through the small town of Mt Garnet and drove towards the junction with the Gregory Developmental Road and the Gulf Developmental Road. We drove south towards the Lynd rather than west towards Georgetown and eventually reached Greenvale where we stopped for lunch and to top up with fuel. It was only the Nissan that needed topping up as it has a smaller tank and heavier consumption than Bevan’s Mazda.
In this part of Queensland, the drought is obviously biting hard as there is very little feed visible from the road and many of the stock that can be seen from the road are in poor condition. The stock is camped around any available water and are very inactive – one presumes they are feeding away from the water in the cool of the evening or are being fed at the water by the station owners.
We drove through the afternoon eventually arriving at Fletcher Creek Rest Area (http://www.caravancaravan.com.au/entity/fletcher-creek-rest-area/QLD) around four in the afternoon. We set up for our overnight stay then went for a walk to have a look at this very popular camp spot about 40 kms north of Charters Towers. It was our last evening travelling together so we shared a meal and a few drinks before retiring for the night. Next morning we farewelled Bevan and Denise and drove on to Charters Towers where we needed to sort out a little personal business while Bevan and Denise headed west to Hughenden and Richmond.
Back on the road we travelled south from Charters Towers towards Clermont. Just south of Belyando Crossing we encountered a large mob of cattle on the road and drove slowly through the herd of breeder cows, many with calves afoot. The country around Belyando Crossing was as dry as and it was not surprising to see the cattle on the long paddock grazing on the sparse feed available as there seemed to be nothing in the adjoining paddocks.
Further south we passed through harvested paddocks and the country seemed a little better the closer we got to Emerald. Mining is rife around Clermont and Capella and the volume of traffic on the road increased in this area with many mining vehicles on the road. We filled up with diesel at Clermont then drove on to Emerald arriving just after 4:00pm.
Our camp for the evening was adjacent to the Botanic Gardens (http://www.caravancaravan.com.au/entity/emerald-botanic-gardens/QLD) right in the centre of Emerald (http://www.centralhighlands.com.au/) so after setting up for the evening we took a walk through the gardens to stretch muscles that had been inactive during a full day sitting in the car. The campsite is quite noisy being right on the Capricorn Highway and also adjacent to the main western rail line. Road traffic was fairly constant until about 9:00pm but thankfully there were few trains. Next morning the trucks started rolling about 5:00am and a cattle train (there had been a cattle sale the day before) rolled through about 7:00am. All this made for an early start and we were back on the road before 8:00.
Because we hadn’t been that way before, we decided to travel to Agnes Water via Biloela (http://biloela.com/) and Calliope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calliope,_Queensland). We reached Biloela in time for lunch and parked under some trees near a shopping centre to eat our sandwiches and fruit. We picked up a few items and filled the truck then proceeded toward Agnes Water.
In the late seventies and early eighties we lived at Miriam Vale (http://www.queenslandplaces.com.au/miriam-vale-and-miriam-vale-shire) as I worked for the Miriam Vale Shire Council and we had some familiarity with the area from Calliope south; it was quite interesting to see what had changed and what had remained the same in the intervening 30 year period. We reached Miriam Vale and had to divert to one of the back streets to avoid road works being carried out on the highway so we missed the Council office and the residence where we once lived.
We headed for Agnes Water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Water,_Queensland) along a road that thirty years ago was corrugated gravel and is today all bitumen; in a submission to the State Government Grants Commission that I prepared in my time with Miriam Vale Council, it was estimated that if only the level of funding we had available at the time was applied to road improvements it would take one hundred and twenty-eight years to bring the road to a bitumen surfaced standard; obviously a greater level of funding has been achieved as today the road is well constructed and bitumen surfaced all the way to the Discovery Coast – Agnes Water and the Town of Seventeen Seventy.
The Discovery Coast Caravan Park (http://www.discoverycoastcaravanpark.com.au/) was our destination for our visit and we pulled into the park in the late afternoon and were directed to our allocated site. This park is a smaller park located in bushland about 6 kilometres out from Agnes Water. The park is back from the main road and is very quiet with larger sites; bird life is abundant throughout the park. Unlike the park in Agnes Water and the Campground at Seventeen Seventy where campers are packed in like sardines cheek by jowl with their neighbours, there is a spacious feeling at this park that we like.
However, because of the geography of the area television and mobile phone reception at the park is not great; the park owners have addressed the television reception problems by constructing connection points throughout the park to allow connection to caravans via an external cable that can be hired from the office. Mobile telephone reception is another matter entirely.
Despite these minor issues we think the park is good and would be an ideal place to spend a longer caravan holiday.