Monday August 15th, Tuesday August 16th and Wednesday August 17th
We drove from Winton to Kynuna, with a stop at Combo Waterhole, one of the purported sites for Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Mathilda. We were delayed after leaving the caravan park by long lines of vans at the fuel station and my discovery that we had a slight leak, presumably from the fuel infill line. We also had to do a gas bottle exchange as we didn’t like to wait until we possibly could get a refill.
We stopped at an automotive repair place, but they couldn’t do even look at it until the next day. We found a place in Cloncurry which would take a look, so decided to wait until then. We stayed overnight at a roadhouse in Kynuna, very basic and the unpowered sites were nicely located at the back where we had very little road noise.
At our lunch spot yesterday we saw some stockmen mustering cattle. I went out with the GoPro and one of them joked that we could post it on Youtube and make money. Of course, our little channel doesn’t make money, but it was fun to get the shots. The cattle run every which way and have to be herded to follow the main body, so there was quite a lot of action to see before they moved off into the distance. The mob had come very close to the road because of the terrain, it was the only level ground.
At the Combo Waterhole there are a number of billabongs on a track, but we only walked in a little way and thought the first waterhole was a good representation. Stephen posed squatting next to it for a Jolly Swagman shot.
This morning we got away in good time, only have to use the dump point and fill up with water before leaving Kynuna. We arrived in Cloncurry and went to have our line checked. The person we were to see wasn’t there, so we went to a lookout and had our usual lunch of bread, cheese and chutney, followed by bread and honey and bananas. I tried using the toaster over near the door and it didn’t set off the fire alarm.
When we went back, it was confirmed that it was the fill line, but he couldn’t replace it and didn’t want to even tighten it up in case the whole thing was deteriorated and fell apart. We will have to live with it until we can find someone to replace it. We only lose a little bit of fuel and just have to hope that it doesn’t collapse when we are a long way from a large town.
Tonight we are camping at a place recommended by Frederick and Sherene called Corella Dam. It is quite a large body of water in a bushland setting, and very popular. We have chosen to be away from the main shoreline as it’s more private. There is another Suncamper Sherwood here, just across the way. The road in was a bit hairy, with large ruts in places, and we were glad to be in the Hilux. However, there are lots of motorhomes, some very large, and they had to get here the same way, so we could have done it in our camper van. After all, our friends have a camper van and it isn’t 4WD.
There are lots of birds, in fact it’s quite noisy. There is a strong breeze as well, which meant that although it was warm in the sun we were comfortable without putting the fan on.
Yesterday (Wednesday) was a day for restocking with food, emptying the loo and getting water, all possible in Mt Isa, where we have spent the night. In the afternoon we went to get more fuel, and the leak from the infill pipe seemed worse. A local person noticed and recommended a local mechanic.
They weren’t able to help until next week, so we kept ringing around and on the third try were able to make an appointment with Autofirst Service and Repairs. We spent some time at the Visitor Centre, which we both remembered from last time we were here, then went there at about 4.00 p.m. It was the tidiest, cleanest mechanics shop we have ever seen, staffed with people from overseas. They had very much a ‘can do’ attitude to our problem. Someone went to the local Toyota dealership to pick up a pipe that they thought might fit, It didn’t, so they have patched it, using a special glue and duct tape. We talked with the joint manager on reception. She was quite lovely. She wanted us to understand that this wasn’t a permanent fix and we should get a new pipe when we return home.
For all the time they charged us for one hour of labour, plus a little extra for the tape. But nothing for their courtesy, kindness and the actual length of time it took.
We experienced more kindness when we got to our overnight spot, the carpark of an oval belonging to the nearby Irish Club. We stayed here last time we were in Mt Isa. The local council disapproves of this arrangement and a notice at the gate says we must pay $15 and have a written permit saying that all caravan parks are full. We did try one caravan park which was full, but by 6.00 p.m. when we left Autofirst it was closed and driving there to get the permit was impossible. Some caravan parks won’t supply permits anyway. The Irish Club thinks as it is their private land they should be able to do what they like with it. So, as last time, we stayed for free, though last time I think we went to the club for a meal. Then Stephen was looking for a bin for our rubbish and a local person kindly offered to take it home and put it in their rubbish. And one of the other people staying here said that the rangers never check this spot anyway.
We had a peaceful night, slightly smelly from the nearby mining operation, but otherwise just what we needed, somewhere safe to sleep.