Monday, 22 August 2016

Monto Queensland

On our last trip we drove through Monto to stay at Mulgildie Pub - which was great - but this trip we wanted to spend a few days in Monto looking at the town, and then do side trips to the Mulgildie Bunyip Hole and the Cania Gorge.
We stayed at the old railway station right in the centre of the town, although the town is not very big, at $5 per night. There is a caretaker on site and toilets, bbq's and tables in the main street adjacent. The railway arrived in 1928. The main street has many historic buildings. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, and most shops were closed or closing, so walking up and down the main street was good as we could enjoy the architecture of the buildings without other people walking around. We also didn't realise it was a long weekend - for the Brisbane Show!!!! Go figure! We did run into an elderly couple who were complaining about where to get food 'in this bloody place' - we sent them to the pub LOL.
Monto apparently translates from the Aboriginal word meaning 'plains with ridges'. The Monto area was first settled in the 1840's as exploration from Brisbane headed north and west. The Archer Brothers helped open up the area in 1848 with sheep stations. It wasn't until 1870's, when gold was discovered at Three Moon Creek that the population increased. After the gold finds dwindled, the settlers in the area turned to logging and farming. What started as sheep station became cattle and dairy properties. Monto township was not formally recognised until 1924 when the Post Office opened and became the first town in Queensland to be planned by town planners. Along the railway are art works depicting the history of the area.
Coal and limestone deposits have been discovered in the area. After setting up we had a lovely walk up and down the main street. We went to the local IGA grocer to stock up for the last few days of this trip. Sadly the quilt shop was closed.
We then decided to drive to the Mulgildie Bunyip Hole and to have a look at Wuruma Dam and Lake. When we stayed at Mulgildie Pub earlier this year but as we were not comfortable leaving the van to look at the surrounding area, so this trip was ideal. The legend of the Mulgildie Bunyip came about during the gold mining days, when cattle would drink at the hole and then disappear.
The waterhole feeds into a small section of Three Moon Creek, and a small weir has been put in place. We did see a caravan not far away from the water hole free camping. Think I would be a little scared with the isolation and bunyip around :)
We then took some back dirt roads heading to Wuruma Dam. This is a day use area and very well presented. There are rangers quarters and picnic tables and heaps of kangaroos.

We had read a lot about Wurumba Lake free camp, so we were keen to have a look. We were impressed. We drove along each road to look at each camp area. The caravan would have got there easily, slowly, but easily. There were so many great sites. We may come for a few days.

After our 4 hour excursion to Mulgildie Bunyip Hole and Wuruma Lake, we decided to have dinner at the Monto Grand Hotel, just across the road from the camp.
Many travellers told us about how good the food was at the pub, so we had to try it. Only half the dining room was open and most of the tables were already taken. The food was ok. The chips and salad were great. The white mayo sauce was perfect. Peter ordered a surf and turf with steak and calamari. The calamari was good. I ordered barramundi and chips with tartare sauce. The barmaid asked if we wanted Australian Barra, as it was better (and more expensive) - Peter said Barra is Australian, overseas it is Bass :)
So anyway, both meals came with sweet chilli sauce, Peter ordered pepper sauce ($2) and I ordered garlic sauce ($2) extra. Neither were much good. BUT ... the mayo sauce (maybe it was suppose to be tartare) was perfect, as were the chips. Peter left most of the steak as it was very tough and difficult to eat. I ate one of the Barra fillets and it was very dry. Peter ate one also, as he didn't eat much of his steak. That left one on the plate. We would eat here again, but probably just have the chips, salad and that wonderful sauce. I sort of wish I had tried the honey chicken.  
We did enjoy staying at Monto, and will probably stay again another time. Oh, by the way, actor Michael Caton was born in Monto in 1943, and artist Gil Jamieson was born here in 1934 and died here in 1992. Tomorrow we are going to Cania Gorge.

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