After spending 10 weeks in Bundaberg during Covid19 it was great to be able to hit the road again. With the Queensland border still closed to the southerners, it was only Queenslanders on the move. After doing some shopping in Bundaberg I headed for Gin Gin and on to New Moonta where I stayed a couple of nights to catch up with some friends who were house sitting at a rural property there.
Just before Mount Perry I took a short detour to see Boolboonda Tunnel. An abandoned heritage-listed railway tunnel, it is 192 metres in length, making it the longest unsupported tunnel in Queensland. It was built between 1881 and 1884. It was constructed to service the Mount Perry copper mines. I had a bit of a look around Mount Perry township. Unfortunately a lot of the small town museums are still not opened.
Monto was a pleasant little town, very neat and I spent 3 nights here at the RV Park at the end of the main street. About 20km out of town on the way to Biloela is Cania Gorge. I was planning on heading there but as it was raining on the morning of my departure I decided to give it a miss. I stopped a couple of nights at Biloela at Heritage Park. The township was much larger than I expected as it services quite a large rural area. Unfortunately it rained all day so I didn’t get around to seeing a great deal. There is a Museum at Heritage Park so I had a look through that. The displays were well set out but not the best one I have been to.
I was headed to Moura next but along the way I came across the town of Banana. I suppose that if New South Wales can have a town named Orange, Queensland is entitled to a town named Banana. There is even a Shire of Banana. Although really only a Roadhouse, a Pub and a Primary School to boast I loved the little park on the hill next to the Memorial Hall and so stayed here for 3 nights. I was on my own aprt from the first night when a caravan pulled in overnight. There is not a single Banana tree in sight but rather the town was named after a much loved bullock. A favourite of local stockmen in the 1860’s, Banana the Bullock , so named for his yellowish colouring, would help herd wild cattle into holding yards. When Banana died, the gully was given the name in honour of his feats.
Moura was only a short drive away. Another of the many mining towns in the area, it had a small township and a very good Memorial Park dedicated to the miners who had lost their lives over the years from mainly underground mining tragedies. There had been 3 major disasters with multiple deaths on each occasion. Following the last tragedy in 1994, underground mining ceased and there is now just open cut mining.
Rolleston was my next stop where I booked into the caravan park for 3 nights. I met up with a friend here and we travelled out to nearby Carnarvon Gorge together. There is a campground at the Gorge but it is only open in School holiday time and the caravan park there had mixed reviews. The choice to stay at Rolleston was a good one as it was one of the nicest and cleanest I have stopped at. A fruit and vegie truck comes through every Sunday evening and locals stock up at the opportunity. The truck does a 1,000km round trip from Brisbane each week and services all the small communities from Roma north.
Carnarvon Gorge should be a bucket list item. There are a number of different walks and some adventurers do 5 or 6 day hikes. The main walk is 5.3km along the bottom of the gorge. Different walks branch off from here either side. Cathedral Cave is a further 4km on. A couple of people told us that the extra 4km there and back was not worth it neccessarily so we only went as far as Art Gallery. On the way back diversions included Wards Canyon, The Amphitheatre and Moss Garden. Each side track was a few hundred metres in to up to a couple of kilometres. Most contained numerous steps. Wards Canyon and Moss Garden were my favourite, especially Moss Garden. Just enough water flowing to have the waterfalls gleaming in the sunlight. It was cold when you were deep under the canopy but pleasant conditions otherwise. All up it was a day of 17.8km and 61 floors of steps. It is the steps that are the killer and a reminder of your walk a couple of days later.
From Rolleston to Springsure was only 75km but it was a nice little town and a great campground at Virgin Rock just north of town. A late afternoon beer looking out at Virgin Rock as the backdrop was ideal. The Rocks are lit up at night for a spectacular display. Depending on the direction of sunlight during the day, an outline of The Virgin Mary can be seen in the cliff face.
Next was the town of Emerald via Fairbairn Dam and Lake Maraboon. The dam is currently running at only about 10% capacity. This whole area is just so dry. Emerald is quite a large regional town with a population of about 14,000. It is spread out and after a visit to the Visitor Centre a walk around the Federation Walk in the adjacent park was in order. This park houses the world’s largest painting on an easel. “Sunflowers” by Van Gough. Every town needs something big and this is Emerald’s. A walk through the Botanical Gardens is also worth while, as is a trip to the local bakery!