Farewell to The Outback

We packed up our camp at Lara Wetlands, said fond farewells to cousins Ross & Jenny, and departed Lara around 9am. What an enjoyable 3 days we’d had. Great company and one of our favourite camp spots.

While Ross & Jenny went for a drive to see the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail we spent the day reading and relaxing. It had been very windy during the night and the wind kept up most of the day. I ended up putting our awning down in the early afternoon.

The wind finally eased up in the late afternoon and I took my kayak out for a paddle. While I was out on the water Ross & Jenny returned from their drive. They only ended up doing half the sculpture trail as it would have taken them all day to do the whole 200km of trail. Jenny enjoyed seeing the sculpture however Ross thought it was a waste of time. He would much prefer to have the sculptures in a park where you can wander around and view them all instead of having to drive for miles. They did enjoy seeing Lake Dunn and thought it looked like a good place to camp.

Our first stop after leaving Lara was the small town of Barcaldine, only 28km north of Lara. Barcaldine has a population of 1,500 and was established in 1886. The little town sits on the junction of the Landsborough and Capricorn Highways. Barcaldine still has 5 pubs but at one time it had 11. All the streets of Barcaldine are named after trees.

The Tree of Knowledge is Barcaldine’s most famous landmark and it sits right on the Main Street in front of the historic Railway Station. The tree, a Ghost Gum, became famous because it was there during the Shearer’s Strike in 1891 that shearers would meet to discuss their struggle for fair pay and better conditions. It was under this tree that the beginnings of the labor movement began.

Sadly the 200 year old tree was poisoned in 2006 and tree died. However the whole tree including its root ball was excavated and treated for chemical preservation. This process took over 12 months. The new memorial was constructed over the tree and the hanging timbers above represents the leaves of the tree.

My next stop was to visit the Australian Workers Heritage Centre. This fabulous museum is dedicated to Australian workers and our working history. The museum is housed on a few acres with 14 different buildings each housing displays. You can just wander at your own pace around the garden and into each building.

The buildings themselves are all of historical significance such as the Kunwarara Railway Station, The Toogoolawah Police Lock-up, The original Australian Bi-Centennial Tent Theatre, The AWU Shearers Hall, and the Torrens Creek one teacher school. The displays inside feature all manner of workers from police, railway, teaching, shearers, state politicians, postal workers, health workers, women in the workforce, roads workers, emergency services and even power workers such as those who worked on Snowy Hydro.

I spent a couple of hours wandering this fabulous centre.

I met up with Rich back at the motorhome and we continued on the road east towards Jericho, The countryside had become thick grasslands with lots of trees. I felt we were leaving The Outback behind.

Along the way we saw lots of termite mounds but why do people feel they need to dress them in t-shirts and shirts? It just looks weird!

Stopped for fuel in the tiny town of Alpha and had to get a photo of the very clever sculpture of a bull, all made out of barbed wire. Next to him is a sculpture of a cow and calf made from scrap metal.

Alpha, population 350, is known as The Gateway to West. So heading east from Alpha we were no longer in what is considered The Outback. We were now in Central Queensland.

About 60km east of Alpha we came to an area of low hills and small mountains. These are the Drummond Range and we called in to check out the Drummond Range Lookout. There were a couple of caravans that looked like they were getting ready to camp the night but as it was only 3pm we decided to keep going.

We turned off the Capricornia Highway and went northwards into The Gemfields. We cruised into Sapphire and went to check out their RV Camp but unfortunately it was full and the only spots left were on a sloping hill. What to do? Looks like we’d be stealth camping again!

We turned back and took the gravel road out to the Cemetery that follows the banks of the dry river and we found a spot opposite the cemetery. It’s a no through road and there’s only a couple of houses at the end so I don’t think we’ll be disturbed at this spot.

We’d only just got our chairs out and dinner on when a car and camper came along. They were obviously looking for a camp spot too. They turned around and a little while later I spied them on the other side of the river still looking for a spot. I think I can just see the camper through the trees so they’ve found a camp for the night.


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