Leichardt Lagoon

July 26 Leichardt Lagoon is a free camping spot 25 Kms south of Normanton on a small cattle property next to a lovely lagoon full of bird life. (Well, not quite free, it is $7 per person). There are showers and toilets and the night sky is fantastic with no town lights to interfere. We camp here as the last stop before Karumba tomorrow.

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Croydon

July 24, 25 Now it is the turn of the Gulf Developmental Road heading towards Normanton. It is a little disconcerting to be driving on what is really only a one lane track and seeing big road trains heading towards the car. The secret is to give them a wide berth and give way in plenty of time (can be difficult on a single lane bridge though).

We stop in Croydon for 2 nights. The historic goldrush town of Croydon is located in the heart of the Gulf Savannah, Croydon was first settled in the 1880s. The town’s name is derived from a pastoral run name, used by Alexander Brown and William Chalmers Brown, pastoralists, who reportedly were born in Croydon, England. Gold was discovered in 1885 and by 1887, the town’s population had reached 7,000. Gold was to be the main economic production of the area for four decades. The Mining Warden left in 1926 as there were too few miners left on the field. During its heyday, Croydon was the fourth largest town in the colony of Queensland. Today only 266 people remain. We found Croydon to be full of interesting history and really enjoyed our short stay, including a trip to the local Lake Belmore only 4 kms out of town.

A couple of interesting notes from Croydon – the sheep who joined us at the camp fire every night and the plastic grass greens at the local golf course (yes, plastic grass!!).

Mount Surprise

July 22, 23 So now we make a concerted effort to finally head for Karumba. Still a long way to go. An overnight stop at Bluewater Springs, sharing a camp site with all the road workers working on the Harvey Range Developmental Road (and it does need some work !!). Then another stop in Mount Surprise which lies 1,722 kilometres north west of Brisbane and 285 kilometres west of Cairns. At the 2006 census, Mount Surprise and the surrounding area had a population of 162. The GPS got lost on the way (see photo).

Townsville, Rollingstone, Balgal Beach

July 19,20, 21 Had a small problem with the caravan awning – spring needed to be replaced. Tried lots of places in Townsville but all booked up for ages. Finally found a Coromal dealer who could look at it after the weekend. So we had to hang around Townsville for 3 nights. First night was a free camp in a field next to a service station – more than adequate. Second night at a very busy free camp at Rollingstone Beach. They were so busy that we had to double park in front of a motor home who was leaving after us in the morning. Third night was at a free camp at Balgal Beach. This must rank as one of the best we have stayed at in terms of its position right on the beach.

We took a trip up to Paluma which is 3,000 feet up a mountain. The road was built by unemployment relief workers in the depression in the early 1930’s. Beautiful views with a lovely stream with waterfalls and swimming holes on the way up.

Farewell Groper Creek

July 19 After 37 days of fishing and friends it is time to move on from Groper Creek. Last memories … Queensland winning State of Origin … Loud Shirt night around the campfire … last Jaffle iron night … farewell dinner with friends at the Home Hill Motel (3 course meal for $15.00). Special thanks must go to Kevin, Richard and Allan for letting us have a spare spot in their boats to make the fishing so memorable. (Kevin – I thought you making me wear a blindfold until we got to your favourite spots was a bit over the top !!)

Yet More Happenings At Groper Creek

July 11 Much more of the same … golf at Home Hill (see local paper for results!) … sunrise on the water … twenty dollars in the washing machine … yabbie pumping (lots of yabbies in the bucket) … cows crossing the creek … a great day’s catch of mud crab, flathead and lots of whiting (thanks again to Kevin and his boat) … an 80th birthday around the campfire … a frog in the shower … a day out in Townsville … it’s a tough life.