|28th August, 2018
Leaving Longreach this morning and heading a bit further south.
Only a couple of kilometres outside Longreach and the road is back to single lane bitumen. The scenery is still much the same but we both love it. Having said it’s much the same it is also very different every kilometre you travel. The earth is a different colour; the trees have different foliage and the animals you see are in different proportions. You, well we, could never say it is boring that’s for sure.
Our first port of call after the drive from Longreach is a place called Stonehenge. It is about 6ks off the main road and is 151ks southwest of Longreach.
Stonehenge was gazetted in 1887 and is on the Thompson River. The highest flood recorded was 6.88 metres on the 31st January, 1974.
Stonehenge boasts the biggest visitor’s book in the world, just outside the town and it covers acres and acres and you write your name in stone on the ground. It would look rather impressive from the air I am sure.
They have a little caravan park, a pub, visitor’s centre and community hall. The mobile fruit and vegie man was in attendance when we arrived and it is also occasion for the ladies of the area to get together for a chin wag.
The Stonehenge pub lost its roof, along with other buildings and houses in the nearby area when a very large and very strong “willy willy” blew in in January.
We pushed on towards Jundah and along the way we came across a mob of cattle being herded by drovers on motor bikes and ATV’s. Something seems to have been lost with the mechanisation of droving instead of horses but I suppose it is more efficient.
Jundah is the next stop today and the pub is supposed to have a couple of powered sites available so we will stay there for the night if there is a vacancy.
Jundah is the administrative centre of the Barcoo Shire and is also along the Thompson River.
The first settlers of the Jundah area were the Archer brothers, Tom and Fred who drove 1600 head of cattle from Warrnambool in Victoria in 1871-1872.
They named their 300 square mile holding “Carella” and built a bush timber hut tied together with greenhide and cane grass.
In 1872 the township of Jundah grew around this hut and became an actual township in 1883.
The shop front is over a century old and the mural was painted in 1997 by the local school children. The building was originally the general store.
We enquired at the pub but we were about 5 minutes too late to get a site for the night so we pushed on and the next stop is Windorah.
Out in the middle of nowhere we came across the first emergency airstrip we have seen, where the road has been widened to allow for the RFDS to land their plane should the occasion necessitate. The white lines are about three times the size of the ones you see normally, both in length and width and the shoulders of the road, although dirt, are well maintained and very wide. At the start and finish of the “strip” there is a big white cross.
Here in the outback they don’t have overtaking lanes or signs pertaining to same, they have “overtaking opportunities”. The signs could indicate that this “opportunity” is some 35 kilometres away but at least you know you will be able to overtake a slower vehicle if you need to or for someone to overtake you without causing too much of a problem.
You all know the story about the three little pigs……………well…………………WE SAW THEM. They ran straight across the road in front of us. These were the first LIVE pigs we had seen; all the others were dinner for the birds, courtesy of Road Kill Pantry.
We arrived in Windorah and found the caravan park. It’s a park where you pick you spot, get settled and eventually the range will come around and find you to collect your money. $10 per night, all amenities…………bargain.
We went for a walk around the block and paid a call to the “local”, quenched the thirst and also had a bit of a squiz in the Outback store.
The Windorah Pub is also the last pub for 386ks so it’s a long dry run from Windorah to Birdsville.
Windorah is the aboriginal word meaning Big Fish and lies 35kilometres below where the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers join to form Coopers Creek. This is the only place in the world where two rivers become a creek.
The Outback Shop and residence was built in the 1880’s and still retains the wooden floor and tables.
Sheep and Cattle grazing has always been the chief industry in this area with the settlement by the Costello, Durak, Hammond and Tully families being the main settlers and they still hold property in the area today, some even being on the original family property.
The Cooper Creek splits and subdivides itself into a sprawling tangle of creeks and gullies that are now commonly called The Channel Country and once every six years or so this water, in times of flood, will reach Lake Eyre.
Rob spent a few hours out at the creek and caught some yellow belly, so he was one happy camper.
Just outside town on the Birdsville Road there are numerous red sand hills which contrast magnificently with the green/grey of the grass and trees. These are mostly on private property so you just have to appreciate there grandeur from behind the fence line.
Windorah is also an area of extreme temperatures some being as low as -1.8 Celsius and as high as 47.1 degrees.
Dust storms are very prevalent in this area as well.
The unrecorded record flood in Coopers Creek was in 1881 but the highest recorded flood was on 2nd February, 1974 at a height of 8.48 metres.
The original slab hut built in the area was in 1906 on the banks of the Whitula Creek and has been relocated to town and eventually will be the centrepiece of the replica settlement they hope to recreate.
Windorah is also now home to an amazing Solar Electricity power plant and can generate power enough to supply the whole of Windorah.
Each “dish” is 13.7 metres across and contains 112 mirrors. The dishes follow the sun and can generate up to 360,000 kilowatt hours per year.
The area we have come through, Stonehenge, Jundah and Windorah are located deep in the Channel Country and is one of the most remote shires in Queensland with an area of some 61,974 square kilometres and is one of the largest council areas in Queensland too.
We have enjoyed our couple of days in Windorah and will definitely be coming back again, but only during the middle of winter. Just a tad too hot for me and next time we will camp along the rivers and creeks we have seen over the last few days.
Next time we want to go out to have a look at the site of the JC Hotel – Canterbury.
According to the information we found in 1865 John Costello took up a property on Kyabra Creek near Eromanga and carved his initials in a tree while he waited for his billy to boil and at a later date a hotel was built nearby and a camping reserve was proclaimed in 1881 and called JC Waterhole.
In 1884 a township was laid out and because the Postmaster General wouldn’t recognise a town being called JC they decided to call it Canterbury but the hotel remained the JC Hotel.
The owner of the Waveney Station, Mr. Walter Shaffer bought the hotel so that he could close it down because he felt his stockmen were being led astray and wasting their money. The roof was pulled off in 1956 and because of the mud type construction (called pise) the structure melted in the weather.
All that is left out there is a mound of dirt where the hotel once stood and a cemetery.