Sunday, 17 June 2018

Plans Keep Changing - But That's OK!!

Our plan – that keeps changing – was to stay at Mungallala Rest Area free camp overnight. About 170km from Wallumbilla, it is a large area with toilets and picnic tables. It is an interesting rest area with painted toilets and a time capsule to be opened in 2029. The town is small and is approximately halfway between Mitchell and Morven on the Warrego Highway. Then name means food and water and is located on the Mungallala Creek. The railway came in 1885 and the town developed soon after. There was a cypress mill that was the towns only attraction, but the mill burnt down in 2007, so now it is a great place to stop for lunch or overnight. The rest area west of town is approximately where the Cobb and Co. coaches would stop for the changeover of horses.
We had lunch and decided to go a further 44km to Morven Recreation Ground. It was just after 2pm and there were already many vans there. The grounds have power and water for $10 a night or non-powered sites for $5 per night. It rained overnight and was drizzling the next day, so we decided to stay another night.
The town is not very big and is also on the mail route from Brisbane to Charleville. It was originally known as Sadlier's Waterhole by travellers and Cobb and Co, who would stop there. Named after Captain TJ Sadlier and his wife who camped there. In 1876, a post office was opened and it was called Morven. The town was officially surveyed in 1889 and the name became official. Morven does have a library and a museum. We didn't go into the museum as the two days we were there it was raining slightly. The museum looked good so maybe next time. There is a little grocery store, where we did try to buy some groceries, but the lady was not very welcoming - bordering on rude – and all the bread on display was reserved, and all the milk expired the next day or two. We didn't bother buying anything, and waited until Augathella to stock up on a few groceries. 
Leaving Morven the next day we travelled 93km along Landsborough Highway to Augathella. We have been here a few times, always from Charleville, so it was good to try this part of the highway. There are 3 free camps at Augathella, situated on the Warrego River: one behind the pub, one across the road from the pub and one over the river from the pub.
The Australian story Smiley originated in Augathella, and tells a lot about the history of the town. The main street has many wrought iron sculptures and murals depicting the towns history.
The area started with pastoral runs in the 1860's and and the tracks from Charleville and Tambo lead to Burenda Station and joined at a camp spot on the Warrego River. This is where the town was established and was originally named Ellangowan. The name was changed to Augathella from the Aboriginal word 'thella' meaning water hole, when the town was surveyed in 1883. Once the railway came the town grew.
As one drives down from the highway to the main street one is greeted by a large sculpture of a meat-ant, the name of the local footie team. It is 5 metres long and made of steel and copper. Across the road is the Friendly Grocer where we picked up some groceries and then back to the highway headed to Tambo.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Wallumbilla and the Kelly Gang?

We left Chinchilla and travelled 156km along the Warrego Highway to Wallumbilla and the Showgrounds. There were already a few vans connected to power and spread out. We found a site and for $10 donation we had power and water. Wallumbilla is the largest of three towns in the former Bendemere Shire, and is only 40km from Roma. The name Wallumbilla comes from the Mandandanji Aboriginal people and means 'plenty of jewfish'. One of the first pastoral runs was taken up in 1852 and was named Wallumbilla – this is how the town got its name. The Wallumbilla township was surveyed in 1889 after the Queensland Government introduced a scheme to develop 'village' settlements to attract colonists to the land.
Calico Cottage is worth a visit with lots of crafts and home made jams and treats. It is situated at the old railway station with plenty of caravan parking. Also located at the old station is an interesting display of photos and artefacts, especially about the railway.
An intriguing story around the local recluse Harry Thompson, is that he was really Kelly Gang member Steve Hart. Those who read my blog regularly know that I have an a keen interest in the history of Matthew Flinders and also the Kelly Gang. Wallumbilla Council have dedicated a 1km walk to Harry Thompson. Harry was a recluse and was reported to carry a pistol and not a rifle. Locals suspected that he was hiding from someone or something. One local remembers that Harry Thompson had two cattle brands – N2K and K2N. I thought Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were killed at Glenrowan, but upon 'Googling' it appears both bodies were charred remains in the hotel fire started by the police to flush them out and would have been unidentifiable, even though family took the bodies to be buried. Dan Kelly is believed to have lived in the Dalby/Bell area of Queensland, and is buried in Toowoomba. I know the pub at Hebel on the NSW/QLD border claims to have had Kelly Gang drink there, so it is possible. Could Harry really be Steve Hart?

Monday, 11 June 2018

Continuing the Journey: Chinchilla, Queensland

We stopped at Woolies in Chinchilla to get groceries and headed to Chinchilla Weir, about 10km south. It was packed and even overflowing into the 'no camping beyond this point' section. We found great spot along the fence as we don't need power and spent a lovely peaceful evening. The following morning most people left, so we moved to a powered site. Not bad for $5 donation a night. There is a toilet block a short walk away and it is so quiet. The weather has been good, a little over cast Saturday, but no rain or wind. The internet and phone reception is hit and miss, but we were not worried. We decided to stay the weekend and explore some more of the area.
Chinchilla is named after Chinchilla Station which was established in 1848. The word Chinchilla comes from the Aboriginal word 'jinchilla', which was the name for the cypress pine which grows in the area.  The Aboriginal Barunggam clan lived and moved through the area. The first European to the area was Allan Cunningham in 1827 and settler moved in the 1840's. The railway arrived in 1878 and a town was established.
Chinchilla is famous for two things: petrified wood, and the 'Miracle Bug'.
We went to look at one of the fossicking areas. To fossick in Queensland one needs to get a permit, and here in Chinchilla the two fossicking sites are on private property so a fee is also paid to the land owners via the tourist information centre. We are not fossickers and wouldn't even know what to look for. The petrified wood in Chinchilla dates back to the Jurassic period (140-180 million years ago) when trees were covered with volcanic ash and buried in a lava or mud flow. We had a look along the top of the soil, but......
We went and had a walk down the old historic side of town, not many buildings left there now. One of the historic signs said Aboriginals knew not to camp at the location, and it took whites 60 years of floods to realise they needed to move the town. We drove out to the other free camp north of town, which is located on a waterhole. Looked nice. The town has a food works, petrol stations, clubs and fast food takeaway. We filled up the car and went to look at the “Shanti” Bug Farm Memorial Wall and Shed. This was very interesting. It is a replica of the end of a shed used to breed the cactoblastis moth to help to eradicate the prickly pear. The memorial is situated near the entrance of the property. We have often wondered if prickly pear was an introduced species. There was nothing written about the introduction of the plant at the Bug Farm Memorial, and no one at the information centre seemed to know, so I Googled it when we had reception. Admiral Phillip led the First Fleet to Australia in 1788, he brought with him the prickly pear plant in order to create a dye factory and produce red dye from the plant for the soldiers jackets. Some 60 years later Matthew Goggs brought the plant to the Chinchilla district. By 1870 the plant was out of control, and was later listed as a noxious weed. 
Chinchilla also has a watermelon festival every two years which we must look at visiting one year. I didn't know that 25% of Australia's melons are grown in the Chinchilla area.