Winton to Middleton

After our fabulous tour with Red Dirt Tours out to Lark Quarry we were dropped right back at our motorhome. We quickly got going. Rich dropped me at the Spar to get some supplies whilst he went to get a gas bottle. Next stop was the bottle shop to stock up on some wine then we were driving west out of Winton.

A few kms out of town we took a left off the Cloncurry Road and turned onto the Kennedy Development Road that would take us all the way to Boulia 365km away.

The road for the first part of this journey is a narrow tar road surrounded by flat native grasslands. In the distance you can see ‘jump ups’ (mesa hills) and they shimmer a blue colour in the far distance.

About 65km out of Winton we came to the Diamantina Causeway. This is a long stretch where the narrow road crosses over many floodways. Some of these were low bridges and a few of the channels underneath had water in them. All these channels feed into the Diamantina River. Some of the floodway markers were 2m tall so I can’t imagine what it would be like when there is that much water going down these channels.

The landscape changed after crossing the Diamantina. There were lots more trees and the soil was really black like it had been burnt.

The road was a one lane narrow tar one but every now and then it would widen into a two lane road to enable people to overtake safely. Crests of hills were also wider. I was surprised how good the road was. A few times we needed to get off the edge of the road to allow others coming towards us get past. This just means slowing right down and putting half our vehicle on the shoulder to give them enough room. A couple of times we had to get right off the road to allow big triple trailer road trains go by.

We made it into Middleton just as the sun was setting and found Sally & Kevin already set up camp and had a BBQ dinner ready to go. We enjoyed not having to cook.

After dinner we all wandered across to the historic Midddleton Hotel where we enjoyed a cold beer and chatted to the lady owner Clara. Her and her partner have taken over the hotel from his parents and have great plans for the future of the hotel while still preserving its history. We wish them luck. One thing they could do immediately is to start charging a camping fee. They provide a large flat space for campers, toilets and showers and I don’t think any campers would mind paying $10 per night to camp there. We gave a $10 donation into the RFDS tin on the bar to cover our camping fee.

The hotel, in the middle of nowhere, was once a Cobb & Co changing station. Cobb & Co’s first run through Middleton was in February 1865. The hotel would have been a welcome relief for passengers where they could get a meal and have a rest after being jolted about in the coach. I don’t think traveling by coach was particularly comfortable.

The last Cobb & Co Coach to pass this way was in the early 1920’s. Middleton was once a thriving little town proclaimed in 1908 and had a police station, store, hall, school and the changing station and hotel. Only the hotel remains.

The Middleton Hotel is the last changing station remaining on the Winton to Boulia mail route.


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