Quamby to Gregory Downs

After a delightful camp at Quamby Rodeo Grounds where there were no other campers, just us, we set off heading northwards. We saw a communication tower and as we had one bar of service we pulled over to call our dear friend Peter who is recovering from major surgery. We had a lovely long chat and were delighted with their news of a new grandson born on 30th June. Another boy in their family of boys! The birth of a grandchild is a magic thing!

We continued on and the countryside was very scrubby, with dense low shrubs, short trees, lots of rocky ground and still more termite mounds. Needing a cuppa we pulled up at a Rest Area where there was a motorhome camped already. Whilst we made our cuppa a group of three caravans pulled in and after a short chat we realised that they were the vans camped in the Rest Area opposite the abandoned Quamby Hotel. They asked where we camped and when we told them I think they were a bit disappointed they didn’t continue along the road a bit further and camped where we did. I suggested they get WikiCamps.

I think that modern communication is amazing. One of the ladies sat down at a picnic table so she could watch her friends funeral via live stream on her iPad. Isn’t that amazing!

The road to Burke & Wills Roadhouse is a good, wide, two-lane tar road as it is the major road up to Normanton in the Gulf. We made really good time along that stretch.

Around noon we arrived at Burke & Wills Roadhouse and OMG the queues for fuel. So many caravans and campers lined up to get fuel. Richard noticed there was a hi-flow diesel pump separate from the other pumps and there was no one at it. We pulled in and fueled up, easy peasy. Just as I was finished using the pump another vehicle pulled up behind us and the lady came over and asked if the pump was OK. When I replied “yes, but it is a hi-flow pump’ she replied that was OK for them and she wondered why all those other vehicles were queued up. I responded that we wondered the same thing when this pump was sitting there not being used. I guess it’s that herd mentality that humans have. We see a line and we just have to join it.

We had a quick look at the famous roadhouse that looks like it is a transportable building clad to look old. They did have lovely gardens out the front with green grass and flowering bougainvillea. The green grass was an unusual sight in The Outback. The caravan park alongside the roadhouse looked pretty full and I imagine it would be full by nightfall.

Back in the motorhome we took a left turn onto the Burketown Road. It was 145km to Gregory Downs, our destination for the day. The countryside had changed again to large grassland paddocks. It looked like sandy soil and not as many rocks. We were pleasantly surprised by the road. We were expecting another single lane outback road however we found a wide two lane road most of the way to Gregory. There were a few short sections of single lane but mostly it was a really good wide road with little traffic.

We stopped off for a lunch break at a large flat spot near Muttigudi Creek. Muttigudi Creek had no water in it but it is a very deep creek so it must carry a lot of water in the wet season. Back on the road after lunch and Rich made the comment that it was 32 degrees outside. Lovely winter’s day in the north!

Around 2.30pm we arrived in the tiny community of Gregory Downs, population 40. The hotel usually has fuel however they were having some electrical work done and there was no fuel until after 4.30pm. Glad we filled up at Burke & Wills Roadhouse earlier. We enjoyed a cold beer at the hotel and checked it out. It looked like a good spot for dinner maybe. They have tables out the front under the wide verandah and more tables out the back under a covered area, those even have tablecloths.

The Gregory Downs Hotel was once a coach house and changing station for Cobb & Co coaches on their route to Burketown in the gulf. The pub still offers accomodation and even has a small caravan park out the back.

We drove past the free camp up the top of the Gregory River. The free camp has water available. This would be a good spot to camp if you wanted to have a meal at the pub but it was hot and we thought we’d try and get a camp down below right next to the river. We were in luck. There was a great spot just right for the motorhome. Not quite riverside but good enough. We could see the river from our windows and hear the fast flowing water as it rushed past the trees on the rivers edge.

After setting up camp we donned our swimmers and headed straight to the river. OMG the water was freezing but so refreshing on a hot afternoon. The bottom is sandy with lots of round rocks and pebbles. The water is crystal clear. The river is lined on both sides by cabbage palms, pandanas and tea trees with deep sandy banks. It is an outback oasis!

There are lots of campers all the way along the river and people regularly walked by carrying all sorts of floating apparatus so they can get in at one end and float down the river. Every now and then a group of floaters drifted by. Even a couple in a kayak went by. What a beautiful camp spot. I really liked this one and could easily have stayed here for a few days.

I put on a chicken korma for our dinner and got it simmering and we spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing.


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