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Lorella Springs to Burketown

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 1 August 2016 | Views [461]

Just to prove - we were at Hells Gate Roadhouse!

Just to prove - we were at Hells Gate Roadhouse!

On Sunday 24th we left Lawn Hill with some of the group choosing to go directly to King Ash Bay whilst some of us chose to travel via Cape Crawford with an overnight stop and a visit to the Heartbreak Hotel.

On our way down to Cape Crawford we came across a couple towing a caravan with a Mazda BT50, their virtually brand new Mazda fitted bulbar which was bright, shiny and sleek looking was threatening to come adrift of the car. We stopped and provided what assistance we could before they headed off – very slowly. We came across them again a couple of days later and learnt that the alloy mounts on the bulbar had fractured and were in the process of being re welded and reinforced. This episode proves that if you travel into this type of country you do need quality, rugged equipment designed for the conditions – not just designed to look good driving around town!

We had a good run into Cape Crawford with much better than expected road conditions, we settled into the camp area behind the roadhouse and enjoyed one of their large and delicious pies for lunch,  then that evening we went to the ‘famous’ Heartbreak Hotel for a meal. As is typical of some of these country pubs they serve massive meals and I would defy anyone to say they were not happy with the size of the meals served.

The next day we headed off for King Ash Bay with a stop in Borroloola to do some shopping. After checking in at King Ash Bay we caught up with the rest of the group who had arrived the day before travelling directly from Lorella Springs. King Ash Bay is essentially a fishing location on the Macarthur River that would be the largest of this type we have ever seen, and it is extremely well organised and run. It has excellent facilities even down to the Groper Bar and Grill where they served good meals and provided live entertainment – all of this is owned and run by the King Ash Bay Fishing Club. Many of the people there seem to go there for months at a time and from as far away as WA.

We did learn that again you really needed a boat to do any good fishing – and a decent sized boat so that you could get out near the mouth of the river. A couple of guys camped very near us went out on the rest day we had there and came back with 10 big Barramundie, a Queenfish and 2 Cod. We were lucky enough to be the recipients of one of the Barra – when filleted it provided enough fish for 2 meals and it was delicious!

This trip seems to be one that no matter where we are we will run into someone we know. We took a walk down to the shops and who should drive in and pull up but Greg Meredith, formerly of Camden. We seem to run into Greg frequently in our travels – Greg and his wife are travelling in the opposite direction to us and their next stop was Limmen Fishing Camp in the Lmmen NP.

The next day we headed back into Borroloola for restocking and fuel before heading out on the 520km across the Savannah Way. The road was in really good condition and once we were able to establish suitable distances to keep out of the dust we were able to maintain a good pace, so good in fact that we made it to Hells Gate Roadhouse for our overnight stop. This roadhouse is also one of the iconic roadhouses in the outback, camping is really cheap and the camp area is good for an outback area.

The following morning we set out on the relatively short run into Burketown and arrived there by lunchtime, most of the road from Hells Gate into Burketown is bitumen. We did stop for morning tea at the roadhouse in Doomadgee, some in our group ordered a coffee and it was so bad that after a couple of sips they binned it!

On arriving in Burketown and finding the caravan park we set  up and headed out to look at some of the historical sights around Burketown, we visited the rusted remains of the old Boiling works where beef was rendered down before export, the Landsborough tree which barely remains. The Landsborough Tree was a tree where Landsborough buried supplies in his search for Burke and Wills. Then on to the hot bore that has continually released water at about 67 degrees for around 130 years. This has created a wetlands where animals and birdlife abound. However the promised influx of birdlife at sunset did not eventuate – the same old story “you should have been here last week”.

We also visited the Burketown whalf precinct, this is a very well designed and built whalf on the Albert River and is capable of docking quite large vessels as well as being able to cope with the large change in river levels as the tide changes. The whalf was built partly by funding from the Commonwealth Government – so Bob Katter is doing his thing for the people of northern Queensland!

Burketown itself is a nice tidy town that is well looked after but the surrounds are flat, featureless and boring. Tomorrow it is off to one of our favourite spots Lawn Hill, more later ....

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