The Big Lap 2015 – North-West Queensland – Part 1

Our initial plan upon returning to Queensland was to camp at the Camooweal Billabong for a night but since we arrived in Camooweal before lunch we decided to press on to Mount Isa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Isa). Driving through Camooweal one passes the sculpture of Sid Biondi who grew up in the Barkly Region. The Biondi sculpture is a tribute to all cattle droving horsemen.

Sid Biondi Sculpture in Camooweal

Sid Biondi Sculpture in Camooweal

There is also a Drovers Camp (http://www.droverscamp.com.au/) tourist attraction in Camooweal but we have never visited this.

Main Street Camooweal looking west

Main Street Camooweal looking west

Main Street Camooweal looking east

Main Street Camooweal looking east

Driving on toward the Isa we stopped for lunch at a roadside rest area before covering the final distance into town. The dominant feature on the landscape as you approach Mount Isa is the twin chimneys associated with the mines in the area. From the west you pass lots of mining infrastructure and the airport (with many cars parked) as you move into town.

Mining infrastructure in Mount Isa

Mining infrastructure in Mount Isa

The twin chimneys which dominate the landscape in Mount Isa

The twin chimneys which dominate the landscape in Mount Isa

Welcome to Mount Isa

Welcome to Mount Isa

Mount Isa - Birth Place of Champions

Mount Isa – Birth Place of Champions

We filled the vehicle at a local service station (fuel is relatively cheap in town, no doubt because of the mining activity) and checked into the Mount Isa Caravan Park. We had stayed at this park in 2010 and it didn’t look like too much had changed in the intervening period. The park was almost full and the vans were packed in pretty well – but it was for only one night.

Sunday morning we left Mount Isa heading for Cloncurry.

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

Mary Kathleen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kathleen,_Queensland) was the site of a uranium mine for some 30 years until its closure in 1984; the site lies between Mount Isa and Cloncurry and we decided to take a look at what might remain.

The entry point to Mary Kathleen

The entry point to Mary Kathleen

We drove cautiously across the grid at the entrance and drove very gingerly along a very rapidly deteriorating once bitumen road, across a causeway (half of which has been severely flood eroded) and along to a point where we could turn around with the van before heading back to the main road. We didn’t proceed far enough into the site to see the remains of the town site or the old mine works as we thought the road was not suitable to drag a very heavily laden van across. The site is obviously a popular camping spot as we could see other vans and vehicles in the distance.

Twin pipelines that once served the town of Mary Kathleen

Twin pipelines that once served the town of Mary Kathleen

Road washout on the way in/out at Mary Kathleen

Road washout on the way in/out at Mary Kathleen

Road washout on the way in/out at Mary Kathleen

Road washout on the way in/out at Mary Kathleen

The road approaching the highway at Mary Kathleen

The road approaching the highway at Mary Kathleen

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

The view from the road between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

After a brief morning tea stop a few kilometres down the road from the MK turnoff, we drove on to Cloncurry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloncurry,_Queensland) where we are staying at the Cloncurry Oasis Caravan Park for a couple of days before heading north to Normanton. After checking in and setting up the van, we had lunch and then took a walk around the town.

The Oasis Caravan Park

The Oasis Caravan Park

Mum and Dad at home in the tree above our caravan at Cloncurry

Mum and Dad at home in the tree above our caravan at Cloncurry

Cool motorbike at the caravan park

Cool motorbike at the caravan park

The ‘Curry (http://www.queensland.com/destination%20information/cloncurry) is quite an interesting place with a reasonable complement of businesses to support the local population including a Woolworths supermarket and service station. These days, in addition to the local cattle industry (the saleyards is claimed to be one of the largest in Queensland) there is a lot of mining related activity happening in and around Cloncurry (http://www.mitez.com.au/ourregion/cloncurry/). It would be quite hot in Cloncurry during summer but is quite pleasant weather at the moment in the middle of winter.

Interesting sign outside a building in Cloncurry - made from metal tool discards

Interesting sign outside a building in Cloncurry – made from metal tool discards

Council Chambers Cloncurry

Council Chambers Cloncurry

Building opening plaque on the wall of the Council Offices

Building opening plaque on the wall of the Council Offices

Post Office Hotel Cloncurry (opposite the Post Office)

Post Office Hotel Cloncurry (opposite the Post Office)

Footpath traffic in Cloncurry

Footpath traffic in Cloncurry

Woolworths Cloncurry (for K & K)

Woolworths Cloncurry (for K & K)

Woolies Servo Cloncurry (for K & K)

Woolies Servo Cloncurry (for K & K)

Very old road grader outside the Department of Transport in Cloncurry

Very old road grader outside the Department of Transport in Cloncurry

The site of the Cloncurry Visitor Information Centre – “Cloncurry Unearthed” (http://www.cloncurry.qld.gov.au/visitor-information-centre), is also the site of the Mary Kathleen Park and a museum which includes as one of its main exhibits Burke’s (of Burke and Wills fame) water bottle. We went looking for remnants of Mary Kathleen at the site but found few although we didn’t explore the museum. There are some external exhibits that we looked at and Murray climbed the hill behind the centre to take some photos. The centre is quite substantial and a credit to the community.

Cloncurry Visitor Information Centre

Cloncurry Visitor Information Centre

Mary Kathleen Sign at the Park in Cloncurry

Mary Kathleen Sign at the Park in Cloncurry

Gate to Mary Kathleen at the Park in Cloncurry

Gate to Mary Kathleen at the Park in Cloncurry

Gate to Mary Kathleen at the Park in Cloncurry

Gate to Mary Kathleen at the Park in Cloncurry

Information sign at the park in Cloncurry

Information sign at the park in Cloncurry

Memorial Park opening Plaque

Memorial Park opening Plaque

Information sign at the park in Cloncurry

Information sign at the park in Cloncurry

Opening Plaque originally at Mary Kathleen now relocated to the park in Cloncurry

Opening Plaque originally at Mary Kathleen now relocated to the park in Cloncurry

Old roller on display in the park at Cloncurry

Old roller on display in the park at Cloncurry

Gold around Cloncurry

Gold around Cloncurry

Looking over Cloncurry from the hill behind the Visitor Centre

Looking over Cloncurry from the hill behind the Visitor Centre

Looking over Cloncurry from the hill behind the Visitor Centre

Looking over Cloncurry from the hill behind the Visitor Centre

The road north toward Normanton from Cloncurry starts out as quite a good wide bitumen surfaced road and remains so all the way to the Burke and Wills Roadhouse (https://www.exploroz.com/Places/102477/QLD/Burke__Wills_Roahouse.aspx).

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

We stopped opposite the roadhouse and had our smoko and then went into the roadhouse to see what was on offer.

Across the road from the roadhouse

Across the road from the roadhouse

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Of course you can buy fuel at this point and many were doing just that. Inside the roadhouse food of all sorts can be purchased as can a variety of souvenir items. We purchased a few souvenirs then started the next stage of the journey.

We went to Normanton

We went to Normanton

As we moved further north we left the Cloncurry Shire area and entered the Carpentaria Shire (http://www.carpentaria.qld.gov.au/). Unfortunately this far north has not seen as much money spent on the road as further south and the surface and width of the road deteriorates markedly in places. Generally we didn’t strike too much oncoming traffic in these narrow sections and made it through to Normanton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normanton,_Queensland) without incident by early afternoon.

More Later!

 

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