Sunday, 16 January 2011

Dubbo dallying

We had stayed at Byrock overnight, arriving there around 8:30pm (NSW time).  All were tired from the day's exertions and were in bed fairly soon after our (thermal-cooked) dinner!

We were back on the road around 9:00am the next morning and stopped for quite a late lunch at Dubbo.   (Although the Visitor Information Centre is visible in the background, the office had been temporarily located across the road due to recent flooding).

We arrived  home at around 9:00pm.  There aren't many pics from the return trip.  I think I was too busy looking at all the flooded areas - and taking footage! 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Wet start!

Not a very auspicious start!
The storm broke just as we headed out of Yowah and the heavy rain made for several substantial water crossings not far out of town, causing much excitement!

Hopefully I'll work out how to upload some "footage"!

Rolling out

Nick and I got up at 5:00am when Greg's roster announced the morning.

Sleeping had been so difficult in the sticky conditions that there didn't seem much point continuing the effort!
Gizmo getting comfy!



Even with our very early start and everyone's best efforts, it was noon before we were ready to depart.

A storm was rolling in and Gizmo was quite scared, so jumped into Elmer as we were parked at the Rural Transaction Centre!


There was much laughter as even though he is such a short dog, he still managed to get in quicker than me!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Packing up

Vaughan assisting Nick with the tie-down.
We are never keen for packing up but the very humid conditions made our efforts particularly unpleasant.

(It was still steamy at 9:20pm when I noted in my journal that writing was difficult as my glasses kept misting up)!

Filed frogs?!

It had rained again overnight and during the day at different points.

Our packing was frequently interrupted by the need to relocate various froggy friends - because we didn't want to pack any, nor leave any locked in the shack!


In the pic above Erin has a handful of frogs, set for relocation.  We noticed just recently that one has writing across his face?!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Photo opportunity!

Happy Hamby Campers!
We headed up to the Bluff in the evening to enjoy the golden light just before sunset.

It seemed a good opportunity for a group shot, so we did that too.

Erin stayed in the car to avoid touching any vegetation. (Sadly, her medication causes a severe plant allergy, which first became evident during our stay).  Nissa's feet were still blistered from sandfly bites, which impacted on her ability to wear shoes - hence she climbed onto the roof to foil ant attack.

Of course, Vaughan wanted to sit on the roof with Nissa but had to make-do with perching on Elmer's bull-bar.

He insisted that his "frog grasshopper" be included in the group shot though (closer view at right)!

Mouse house

Erin had been sitting talking to Keegan (her rainbow lorikeet) during the afternoon and looked up to see this mouse peering down on her!

As you can see he/she was not shy, so I easily snapped a couple of pics!

Frog files!

It was a day of quiet pottering for the most part.  We started thinking about the pack-up, so Nick and Vaughan worked on cleaning the trailer. 

There were so many frogs!  Vaughan was in charge of their relocation.

Swimming pool action!

video

Mine swimming pool!

Nick left early to check on his "swimming pool" but the water level was still very high, especially given more overnight rain, so he was soon home again.
 
(The mine flooded a few days before the end of our July stay also).

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Dux Tyres


















It was an afternoon for tyre business. While Elmer was being fitted for two new front tyres, Erin and I purchased a new bike inner tube from the sports supply store (that doubled as a shoe shop)!

The girls and I had a quick FaceBook fix while we were waiting for the tyre-fitting to finish - before losing reception again when we drove out of town!

Eulo Picnic

Vaughan enjoying lunch at Eulo.
We had taken a few minutes to purchase frozen bread and cold meat from the Yowah Nut Cafe before departing for Eulo/Cunnamulla.

By the time we reached Eulo the bread (and devon) had defrosted nicely, so we made sandwiches on Elmer's back tray and served them with icy cold drinks from one of the Engels.  Super civilised - especially as the drinks stayed cold in our bargain Aladdin thermal mugs (purchased from Clarkson's liquidators)!

Funny/sad story:  when Renee was rummaging through the Cafe's freezer stock, she found a frozen frog!

Emu parade

We often saw emu groups as we drove around.  This Dad and his half-grown offspring wandered over the road not far from Yowah. 

You can just see their reflections in Elmer's bonnet - that's how close they were!

Tyres and tribulations!

My handiwork - completely split the sidewall.
As much as the rest of us were enjoying lazing about on the RTC verandah Erin was not, so I dropped her "home".

Sadly I strayed from the track a little when returning to the RTC.

I ran over a log, which wouldn't have been such a huge issue but for the age of this (formerly the spare) tyre. Given our "luck" during the trip, we decided to head into Cunnamulla to have new tyres fitted - particularly as there were a few more days before we were scheduled to head home.

Frog friend!

This guy was gorgeous!  He/she was so happy to pose and seemed to be shifting position just for the camera's benefit!

He/she would move a little, pause and glance over - then move again for a different angle!  Too funny!

(You can just see Nissa smiling in the background of this shot).

Poetry in motion!

We spent much of the morning sitting on the RTC verandah, chatting with various locals (after borrowing some books from the library).  Vaughan caught this lovely gecko, who happily posed on our library books - and Nick's hat!

Wave-off?!

It seemed the lady lizard's waving could have been a warning of the incoming rain, rather than an indication of where the "colour" might be!

Nick headed over quite early but the overnight rain had (again) turned the mine into a mini swimming pool.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

(More) stacks of rocks!

Not their own work!
Nick, Vaughan and I saw three emu just out of town on the drive up to the Bluff in the late afternoon.

We had seen a large owl on another visit and tried to get a better look at him/her this time but lucked out.

Rock-stacking is a popular Yowah activity and the boys added a few stacks (and/or piles of rubble!) to the increasing Bluff collection.

(Vaughan continues to make rock stacks every so often, even now that we have been home for six months).

Lady lizard's royal wave!

Seemingly she waved a few times (but not on camera)!
As usual, Nick spent some time at his mine in the afternoon.

When he arrived, this lady was in the hole but climbed out when he climbed in. She walked around the mine and kept climbing onto higher mounds.

Nick stopped to watch her and realised she was waving to him from each high point!
As you can see, she was definitely ready to lay her eggs.

After a while she started digging in the soft sand near the bottom of one of Nick's discard piles, presumably looking for a suitable egg-laying spot.

Given the pile was still in use, Nick ushered her gently to a better place - and shortly after she wandered off.




When Nick returned home that night, he brought some rocks showing bits of colour. He later commented that his new plan was to dig in the direction of the lady lizard's waves!

Not Bluffing!

The clouds were amazing!
After "specking" for opal in the morning, Nick suggested a lunchtime drive down the back road from the Bluff, along the power lines. 

The girls weren't keen for the rough track so Nick and I headed off with Vaughan with stops for ice-cream (and lizards) en route!


We could hear the wasps that lived in these caves.
We took a drinks break at an interesting rise in the country, just a bit higher than the road.

The heat was intense in contrast to Elmer's air-conditioning and I half-expected my drink to evaporate (in spite of it's insulated cup)!



(I'm not sure what the temperature was then but it was 35 degrees at 3:30pm later in the afternoon).

Monday, 10 January 2011

Not Joking!

Wide-mouthed frog - really, that's his name!
It rained heavily soon after our return from Quilpie, so Nick headed out to speck for opal. (He had been looking in the backyard where all the rocks seemed pre-licked because of the rain)!

After dinner Vaughan and Nick went out frog catching.  They returned soon afterward, greatly excited, with the huge fellow in the pic above.  Nick was highly amused when the captive was identified as a wide-mouthed frog!  For those who don't know the joke, you can read it here:-

http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/humor-comedy/wide-mouth-frog-300620.html

Lake Houdraman

Lake Houdraman is six kilometres from Quilpie, so we drove out to see it after lunch.

When full, the lake covers a 22 hectare area - and at certain times of the year it's banks are lined with white waterlillies.

The Opal Altar


"Home to one of Quilpie Shire's most iconic attractions, St Finbarr's Church rests on the foundations of an intriguing history.

In 1976, the Priest at the time, Father John Ryan, decided to compliment the opal mining background of the area by commissioning local miner, Des Burton, to install a border of opal around the carving of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

Instead, Des offered the Priest 'a bit on the wall'. This turned out to be almost an entire wall, which is now installed on St Finbarr's altar, lectern and baptismal font.

Des Burton, the father of the boulder opal industry, is largely responsible for putting Queensland Boulder Opals on the world stage. He was a chemist with a pharmacy in Quilpie and spent many years mining opal and opening up the market worldwide. By the 1980s, Des had opened several retailing outlets including Quilpie Opals in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall."

Quilpie!

Quilpie had a geocache (and incredibly hot rocks)!
We spent some time at the museum attached to the Visitor Information Centre.

Descendants of early pioneers told stories of the area's history in an interactive CD video/slideshow, which was very interesting.



Quilpie is particularly known for it's boulder opal - quite different to the nuts found at Yowah. 

The blue shop in the background is that of The Opal Hunter and Nick chatted with the proprietor, Ed Lunney, for quite a while. 



There is a documentary on The Opal Hunter's website, showing a "king stone" being split open, which is worth a look:-

http://www.opalhunter.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6&Itemid=31

Baldy Top

Jonesy recommended we visit Baldy Top on the way to Quilpie - we were glad we took her advice! 

The girls weren't keen for the climb and stayed in the car with Keegan while Nick, Vaughan and I trekked up the hill.


Looking down to Elmer, the girls - and Keegan!
The Baldy Top bluff extended further than is obvious from these pics.

There was another smaller escarpment further behind Baldy and we spotted the tracks leading to it - praps something to explore on another visit!

Wedgie

About an hour after leaving Toompine, we disturbed this Wedge-tailed Eagle on the road.

I managed a few quick shots before it flew out of range.

They are all camera-shy!

Toilet stop at Toompine

The pub was built in 1893 (after the original burnt down)
We had been on the road about two hours by the time we reached Toompine at around 9:00am, so a break and toilet stop was very much appreciated.

We chatted with Jonesy about her life, while watching her many "pet" goats wander about. Seemingly she generally heads to Victoria in January and stays down there for about ten weeks before returning to Toompine.

As we were talking, Vaughan caught another small Central Netted Dragon who was Jonesy's (ice cream) fridge lizard!

Rock n Roll

We had driven past this small escarpment a few times. It was notable only because the rest of the ground was so very flat! I particularly liked the huge rock resting at the bottom as if it had only "recently" rolled down.

Galah-vanting!

Noisy clouds of galahs would rise from the grass every so often as we were driving.

I snapped quickly, not expecting much but was pleased to have caught one of my favourite sights along these roads.

Sssnake!

Nick took the snake pic - the rest of us stayed in the car!
We were on the road early for our Quilpie adventure and spotted this Mulga snake not far out of Yowah.

Although we had expected more, we only saw four snakes while away - all on the road, two alive and two dead.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Happy Bore-thday!

100 years old and still going strong - the bore that is!
Although the exact date was a mystery, the Yowah bore had originally been sunk in January 1911.

As none of the locals seemed keen to mark the occasion, we decided 9 January was as good a day as any to celebrate.

We took the cake, birthday hats, party poppers and a few whistles to the borehead where we sang "Happy Birthday" very quickly, trying to avoid being over-run by the many ants!

(Nissa and Vaughan had done good work with the cake and Nick later took a piece over to Ryan, who was quite appreciative).

Smiling Chefs

Nick and Erin went out fossicking in the afternoon. Vaughan was supposed to go with them but whinged so much, he was left behind with Nissa and I!

I prepared our dinner in the thermal cooker while Nissa improvised a recipe so she and Vaughan could chef a birthday cake.

It was good to see Nissa's Christmas gifts being used - ingredients were measured with the Babushka cups and the cake was made in a giant cupcake mould (but she forgot to wear her apron)!

Yowah (Cafe) Nuts!

We visited the Cafe most days during our stay - eating icecreams or chippies on the verandah, chatting with the locals and watching the world go by.

It was a very pleasant way to pass some time ...

No time for make-up?!

Just grin and bear it!
When Nick returned from mining we were mostly ready to visit the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC).

All was still closed when we arrived though, so we drove slowly along one of the tracks behind the town to explore a little.


Vaughan was very pleased to catch this bearded dragon. (Interestingly, unlike the one caught the previous day, it wasn't wearing any bright orange eyeshadow)!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Roos on the road

We spotted these two kangaroos not far from Yowah (comparatively speaking).

I was driving at that point, so Nick was playing photographer.

He did very good work and managed to get a shot of them in mid-hop (see below)!

They weren't keen to stand still as I edged the car closer but we enjoyed a good look even so.

We had seen cattle and emus not long after leaving Toompine - and needed to keep an eye out for lizards blending into road shadows along the way.

Where are ewe going?

We were used to seeing lizards, kangaroos, emus and cattle beside or on the road. It was quite un-ewe-sual to see sheep!

One ewe had a new-ish lamb, already starting to take on a reddish tinge from the dust!

Monitored!

We were making our way back from the "cemery", along the track to the pub when Nissa spotted this very-much-alive goanna. Nick turned Elmer around and we all enjoyed a better look without getting out of the car.

Although Nick was keen, we decided against an attempted catch and release of this fellow (who had already demonstrated his quickness).

It was late afternoon by this stage, so we started heading back to Yowah soon after.

Toompine "Cemery"


















After we watched Jonesy lock up the many "pet" goats, she suggested we drive down the back and try to spot the donkey. The donkey obviously wasn't keen to be spotted but we did see an emu - and the "cemery".

Although not all the graves were marked there were a few from the 1900s, including that of John James Jacob Gothmann (known as Goodman) who was a merchant seaman and husband to Ellen, a camel driver! As Toompine is probably about 1,000 kilometres west of Brisbane (presumably the nearest sea port), it seemed a very unlikely match! (There was no grave for Ellen and I wondered what had happened to her).

Netted a dragon?!


Vaughan and Erin spotted this Central Netted Dragon while walking outside the pub. As you can see, he/she lived beneath an old log.

Vaughan was intent on catching the small dragon - though Erin tried to dissuade him!


Once caught, we all had a good look and took some photos for posterity - before Vaughan released his catch back near the log.

(We watched the goats and alpacas too but couldn't catch them)!

Always open!

Another sign declared "Yes, Toompine is open (always)"!
I think it is more than fair to say that the Thargomindah barmaid could have taken quite a few lessons in hospitality from her Toompine counter-part, "Jonesy"!

It was around 2:30pm when we rocked in to "the pub without a town" but we were assured lunch was no problem at all. The only slight technical issue was the lack of EFTPOS facilities. Luckily Nissa was more cashed up than us so funds were pooled and we all enjoyed a rather fine repast, before exploring outside.