Archive | May, 2014
29 May 2014

Longreach goes home

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Longreach I passed through 11 years ago. Didn’t have time to stop, just a fleeting glance at the Stockmans Hall of Fame & Outback Centre, sufficient to whet the appetite and then onwards.

This time I was determined to see all. First stop though was the Qantas Museum – a 747 parked by the main road beside a 707 certainly looked out of place, enough to suck us in. Opted for a guided tour which as it turns out is the only a you get to see in the two planes – 1 1/2 hours well spent – fascinating facts and interesting stories. The museum itself is also fascinating and very well done – it includes the original on site Qantas workshop/hanger where they actually built or assembled early aeroplanes along with many of the early planes on display. Lots of film, TV, static and audio displays and a couple of old girls really sucked in…

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There was too much to see in one sitting so we took off to the “Harry Redford Old Fashioned Tent Show” for what turned out to be one of the funniest show routines we’ve seen in recent years – a take on a moment in history of cattle rustler Harry Redford or ‘Captain Starlight’..

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Weren’t allowed to take photos in the show but  have to tell you the horse is a real character, the dogs the cow and the donkey are also good actors and the routine is hilarious.

After the show (lunchtime) we went back to the Qantas Museum to finish off. Booked a sunset river cruise for the next night (Saturday). During the day explored the Stockmans Hall of Fame – didn’t finish on Saturday even with lunch on site, went back Sunday. This is one of the most comprehensive collations of the history of the country and its people in the outback as it was explored and developed. Even after two days I know we didn’t read all of the individual stories or see all the shows that were on offer- altogether too much for our simple minds to absorb. However, the Outback Show behind the pavilion was almost as good as the Friday harry Redford show. One central character supported by several animals. And again, the animals stole the show….

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and yes, that’s a Brahman bull he’s riding. The dogs all came out of the arena to meet the audience at the end of the show – altogether a very entertaining hour or so. The animals are so well trained.
















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The “hall” is a beautiful building as well.

Saturday nights sunset river cruise and sound and light show and bushmans tucker dinner with a bush poet for entertainment was great fun. The sound and light show focussed again on the story of Captain Starlight/Harry Redford, the cattle rustler, and episode that lasted just 3 months in the history of the outback, but a story that seems entrenched in the psyche of Longreach. The bushmans dinner was simple beef stew, the bush poet was even simpler and the boat cruise even less complicated but the whole experience added up to a most enjoyable few hours..

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The mother and baby possums have made the hand basin in the boats toilet home and users are warned off washing their hands. The rooster is part of the act back on land – we were demonstrated its reversing mode – doodlecock, doodlecock. Very funny routine by the same characters playing in the Harry Redford tent Show from yesterday.

As it turns out the Friday show and this Saturday nights program are all part of the Kinnon & Co stable. This company holds a 60,000 acre run with around 4,000 head of cattle which some years ago was doing poorly so diversification seemed to provide a financial solution. I think they originally offered stage coach rides to tourists, then opened the outback attire store in town, added the tent show out back then the river cruises etc and now the lot is run by and performed by Richard Kinnon and two of his sons. When you look around town you sort of get the impression that the Kinnons own it. Richard was also the bus driver in what appeared to be a very new 50 seat coach so it seems that Kinnon & Co are now doing quite well. Impressive.

We had a ball in Longreach




25 May 2014

Socialists Shrine

Ah Barcaldine the home of the ALP and unionism. Didn’t expect to find much of interest here and wasn’t disappointed. Everything focusses on the shearers strike of 1891 and the subsequent rise of unionism and the union formation of the ALP. The so-called “tree of knowledge” which these days is not much more than a fossil is enshrined in a huge monument dedicated to the meeting place for those originally discussing the formation of the Australian Labor Party. I must admit as a commemorative sight it is well done….

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Then there is the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, a village dedicated to unionism, Labor Party and the continuing fight against the capitalists. Again, well done and to some probably very creditable…

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All of this is dedicated to the workers struggles against the proletariat and the stories of the rise of individuals within the Labor movement. The old buildings, the displays, the site itself is all very well done and is unquestionably interesting.

Barcaldine has an interesting history – if you walk the main street it features 5 pubs of the original 7 and nearly every building has an information panel in front outlining the number of times it burnt down and was subsequently rebuilt ( all at least 3 times) since the late 1800’s up to as late as circa 1952.

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These are but a sample of the information panels scattered around the town but it is good to see them and follow the historic town walk.

This leads us on to Longreach but as we spent a lot more time in that town I think I need to devote a whole post to it so… wait for the next instalment.

What I did forget to include previously was reference to the “Black Stump”. Situated in Blackall, the last place we visited before Barcaldine it is hard to rationalise its significance in the Australian idiom. It is simply  a stump upon which a theodolite was placed at a time when a land survey took place and it was considered a datum point for measurements.

But it is iconic……

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We have been beyond the black stump before and since visiting it.



22 May 2014

Charleville – Blackall

Almost a bustling metropolis, particularly after Quilpie, Eromanga, Thargomindah and Eulo. Even had difficulty parking there were so many locals in town and then found the first servo was sold out of fuel.

A couple of things of interest were the Historic House Museum and the cloud seeding guns..

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The house is an old bank and managers residence dating back to the late 1800’s, restored by a committee of locals many years ago and stocked with the detritus of an old town – telephone switchboards, kettles, horse equipment, medical equipment, old vehicles and so on but the most photogenic was the old building out back that looks like the next puff of wind will take down. The bank safe, closed to visitors, was in fact unlocked and I managed a peep inside only to be scolded by the caretaker. Upon asking what was so “secret” I was told that there were things inside that needed to be kept safe but to the further enquiry as to what, I was informed that nobody knew what it all was. Ah well! (they might have to kill me if they told me) And the caretaker had been there for over 40 years. Curiosity would have got the better of me!

The cloud seeding guns are another anomaly – there are some strange things out here.

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You can read the story by double clicking on the info panels and  blowing them up. I guess if one of these guns went off today the old shed above would just fall down.

The courthouse is a lovely old building..

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but I’m a lousy photographer.

Onwards forge the intrepid explorers. Blackall beckons.

Robyn had engaged us  with stories of an old friend named Stuart who in earlier days when first met was a drover and  now lives in Blackall. By description a fairly laconic individual who in fact did not disappoint.

But first the Blackall Wool Scourer  –  the “what?” I hear you say! Some of you may be better informed but I presumed that  a wool scourer was just a person who cleaned wool fleeces once off the sheeps back …..  no, no, no. This is brilliant 1800’s steam fed mechanisation. First built in the UK in the late 1800’s, this whole plant was transported out here by ship and bullock dray to mechanise the cleaning of wool straight off the sheeps back. A steam driven shearers stand of 20 fed wool to it. Some 2,000,000 sheep fleeces went through before its demise in 1976.

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The wool is fed in one end, goes through a series of combs all operated by steam driven pulleys and ultimately through washes to dryers then is pumped upstairs where it exits the system through the little gate above the storage bin. There it is classed, moved manually over to the wool press and is bagged and branded ready for shipping.

Some 15 or so years ago after the place had fallen into disrepair the locals sought to reclaim it as a tourist attraction and have brought many parts of it back to life. It is thoroughly fascinating and has just won an  award – I admire their dedication.

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There were a few other noteworthy exhibits..

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not the least of which is the 130 year old artesian bore still flowing at great pressure and 58C. And hows that for the dream holiday unit.

Up to the information centre/historical village where Robyns friend Stuart works. Acquiring and restoring exhibits is what he works at these days but I think its more than work – its a fetish. This little village is a credit to all involved – its beautiful and the things that should work do, all credit to Stuart.

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Stuart knocked off and we all went for tea – home to meet Roslyn and a tour of the backyard collection

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Thank you Stuart and Ros for your hospitality. Real pleased to meet all three of you.






We overnighted at a couple of “free” camps both before and after Blackall to see both moonrise and sunset. I’m still trying for that elusive, magical sunset shot but here goes.

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I know, I know – keep trying, but its the best so far.

Barcaldine for the socialists is yet to follow and then there’s Longreach for the intrepid journeymen, but more another day.


18 May 2014

Eromanga, Eromanga

But there are no songs written about Eromanga.

Its an old town dating back to 1879 but there’s not much left that hasn’t been eaten up by rust and general decay (despite the oil). Today its only significance is oil – about 150 million barrels  year, and its own small scale refinery. We filled with the local diesel at ‘only’ $1.66 but compared to Thargomindah, cheap. Opal mining has played a part in the area as well as sheep and cattle but there is very little evidence of  any of these things other than in the ‘long paddock’ which we discovered on departure.

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The pub also dates back to the 1880’s but is well disguised as a tin shanty despite being substantially built from locally made bricks.

The caravan park/motel we stayed in was probably one of the worst we’ve yet experienced. Yes, it was only $20.00 for the night but I’m glad we were self contained. I did try the showers but the hot was cold and the cold colder. The mould must have accumulated in warmer times…..IMGP3323 (1280x960)

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We connected to the water only to be told by the management that they wouldn’t use it and that they relied on rain water only. Don’t know what the poor “guests” did in their ‘dongas’. Heading out….

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was a challenge.

Oil is part of the landscape although most of these rigs are out of sight from the roads we are able to travel…

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On to Quilpie where we hope the accommodation is of a higher standard. Whilst hereafter there are patches of road that two vehicles may pass on, most is just one single lane of black stuff nearly all the way from Eromanga to Quilpie. Mind you this has been so from as far back as Eulo except there have been no passing lanes. I learnt to play bluff with anything smaller than me but very quickly slowed and off-roaded for the road trains. In fairness the locals nearly always drove off the road and came to a stop to allow us to pass but we were told it is a matter of self preservation cos like us they only get one free windscreen a year from their insurers too.DSC00321 (1280x853) DSC00322 (1280x853) DSC00323 (1280x853)






I know I stopped in Quilpie when Keith Layton and I did Birdsville back in 2005 but I’m damned if I remember it. We spent some time in a pub chatting with locals and a pipe engineer who told us a lot about the mechanics of the oil and gas pipes but the only pub in town today is not what I remember. I’m sure its even on the other side of the road, but the publican tells me its been the only pub since 1982 so I guess I am headed for early alzheimers.

Sunday in Quilpie is not bustling. We’ve stopped here cos the mail is being delivered to the PO, but it turned into a two night stopover in a reasonably good caravan park cos all the mail didn’t arrive before Tuesday. It was a pleasant stopover with a roaring campfire each night in the community area (even though the temperature didn’t fall below 24), artesian spas and good modernised facilities.IMGP3346 (1280x960)


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As you can see, the church got the better part of the deal in opals and over in the convent I’d reckon the nuns had the greatest amount of fun on the fire escape. IMGP3360 (1280x960)








Jude and I with Robyn following made up the traffic on the main street. It was a bit busier on Monday – think I counted 10 or so vehicles as we walked into town from the caravan park.

The information centre was good with a small localised museum and a gallery displaying photos as part of a local competition. It was also nice to be able to buy some fresh bread at a reasonable price, a luxury we’ed been without for many days (bread purchased in Thargomindah came from Quilpie and I reckon it was via camel train).

By now we’ve spent more nights in caravan parks than we have in ‘free’ camps, spent more on fuel than I had expected because it’s a long way between anything plus our fuel economy has suffered with the extra 320kg of the new trailer – we’re now averaging 22.9l/100km, up 1.2l from last year. So far we’ve covered about 4500km.

There is not much to report of “outback” Queensland to this point – its pretty flat, pretty desolate and pretty devoid of people (apart from a smattering of nomads of the grey variety). We’ve seen emus, kangaroos, cattle and sheep but nothing very exciting, although we did see one koala at Somerset – pretty wild Huh! There is some history but so far it has all been minor stuff with the possible exception of Jimbour Station.

Well onwards – there is much more to discover.


16 May 2014

We went up a hill today

Yowah to Thargomindah to Noccundra to Eromanga. Along the way we went up a hill….

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This was a highlight, 193 metres above sea level.

However Thargomindah has some fame as the first Australian town to run on hydro-electric power…..

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A turbine is driven by water from an artesian bore at both great pressure and temperature. The bore is over 1000 metres deep, drilled by the yellow drill tower which in turn was powered by the portable steam engine. What’s truly remarkable about this is it dates back to 1891. The last picture is of the “switchboard”. If I remember correctly this electricity source was in use to about 1950 when diesel generation took over. Thargo currently has a population of about 350 but was quite a bit larger years ago. This is a long way from civilization and everything is expensive –  $5.95 for loaf of bread, $1.86 per litre of diesel, $2.00 for an apple. The normal servo was out of fuel so we had to go to the Toyota dealer. The Toyota dealer was out of cars, just brings them in to order – Gotta buy ’em off the net.  But, it’s a tidy town and the Council operated caravan park was quite good. Lot of history….

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100km or so onwards to Noccundra for lunch. A pub in the middle of nowhere somewhere south of Nockatunga Station which is somewhere north of somewhere else but there is a road going there so we followed it. We were it. The publican finally agreed to do lunch but it wasn’t with much grace. The food was Ok though but $15.0 for a burger was probably a bit over the top. Dining room was closed.

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We thought the hosts would have been happy to see us and take our money but we got the impression that we were just a nuisance and the sooner we left the happier they would be. I didn’t see a lot of traffic!  There is an airstrip but I’m not sure whyIMGP3322 (1280x960)








From Noccundra it was on to Eromanga – Wow! But we did go up another hill.

By the way – Nockatunga Station is on the ‘smaller’ scale of stations at just 2,200,000 acres, although it was interesting to learn that at capacity it only runs about 29,000 head of cattle ie one beast for every 75 acres. Imagine rounding them up.




11 May 2014

Yowah – no really!

Probably the most notable aspect of the Qld portion of the journey so far has been the FLAT. Also, maybe, has been the desolate nature of the landscape. Couple these two aspects and it’s a long way to anything.

I headed the last entry “Yowah”  but failed to actually get there. Well I was probably dying of boredom. 100km of nothing is fine but 200kms is bloody boring and its typically that far from anything to anything else. Yowah is 70km off the road from Eulo to Thargomindah and its just a thin strip of bitumen going through the middle of nothing. Why anyone found a need to be here in the first place defies belief and to do it 130 years ago on horseback just seems stupid. Well the story is that the person who did make it here first was drunk but he must have stayed drunk for several weeks. How he recognised opals beats the s… out of me. We’re told they lay on the surface back then but I can tell you with absolute certainty they don’t now. Now to add to interest Judes and Robyns aunt and uncle had a mine out here in the 70’s and Robyn actually went down it in a visit in 1979. Bugger -we couldn’t find it. We’re no better off than we were when we got here – we didn’t strike it rich. Mind you when you encounter the locals here it becomes very apparent that nor did they Every IMGP3309 (1280x960) IMGP3310 (1280x960)DSC00240 (1280x853)one of the present 80 residents live in less than salubrious surroundings…













There are hundreds of mines/claims around the place and there must be 10 or 15 purveyors of opals but I guess you’ve got to love these stones cos I had difficulty seeing their worth. We stayed in the local caravan park at $20 for the night – power and water but both were a bit slimy and the toilets/showers were ……. (basic).

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(the white posts are claims/leases). There are a couple of serious miners out here with heavy equipment but most are still pick and shovel. All water is from an artesian bore and it comes out under some pressure at over 50c – which explains why the showers were at least hot.

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Engrossing landscape broken only by the need to pass another vehicle.

Back to the highway!!! and on to Thargomindah, the first hydroelectric powered township in Australia, but more tomorrow or next day cos  I can only put one dot on the map per entry so Yowah is it today.


8 May 2014


There’s a name for it but I can’t remember – I know where we are cos there’s a sign out front but I can’t remember where we’ve been except to say that in looking back at the last post I know we were headed for Nindigully.

Reference the map – next stop the Nindigully Pub. Now about 45km south of St George for those anal enough to care, we drive  past a sign that says “free showers and toilets Nindigully Hotel”. Well they’ve got me, and, about 10000 other grey nomads. The Pub is a shed (albeit not called such and a bit more interestingly fitted out), is very old but is clearly a significant stopover for nomads and truckies – vans, motor homes, trucks everywhere. An extensive but also relatively expensive menu for dinner but not much of it available tonight. What we had was quite good but not what we actually hungered for in the first place. BUT, the place was unique and unquestionably worth a visit……DSC00174 (1280x853) DSC00180 (1280x853) DSC00182 (1280x853).











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On to St George. Robyn has friends here with whom we shared a BBQ at the caravan park on Saturday night. Delightful company, Coralie and Ian Hannah. Ian runs a road maintenance and construction business after leaving the land some years ago and now spends an awful lot of time in the car travelling around the various work sites throughout southern Qld – 1000km a day is not uncommon.

The St. George show was on Sunday, an event not to be missed! Horses, hot dogs, cattle, tractors, side shows, bands, donuts, beer, produce competitions, art shows, fireworks and even a demolition derby. Oh such fun!…..DSC00197 (1280x853)

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I know you can’t discern much of the demolition derby from the photos but nor could we at the ground. We saw the “winner” on display at the local servo the next day but who really cares. The Unique Egg was something of a local attraction we had to see before leaving town….IMGP3223 (1280x960) IMGP3225 (1280x960) IMGP3226 (1280x960) IMGP3227 (1280x960) IMGP3228 (1280x960) IMGP3229 (1280x960) IMGP3231 (1280x960) IMGP3232 (1280x960) IMGP3245 (1280x960)




































These are emu eggs, carved by a Greek who emigrated here some 50 or 60 years ago. Whilst presently in Greece on holidays he will be back to continue his art. It’s fantastic and what you see above are just a few examples of what’s on display. Stunning.


Well time like us moves on. After all the fun of the fair it was time to continue the voyage of discovery, so after morning tea with the Hannahs we moved further west. Robyn had found a free camp at Bollon on a prior trip so there we headed, all of 110 km for the day. Well,  every one that was at Nindigully must have also known the spot and soDSC00228 DSC00224 we were inundated with nomads.

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Ended up spending two nights parked up with the companionship of Bob & Marg McCulloch of Maryborough (Qld) who were waiting on four or five others to turn up to go to the Eulo music festival and then were joined by Dale and Cathy Cash, friends of Robyns with whom we toured the Great Ocean Road a couple of years ago. A couple of really great nights around a roaring fire.




Interesting site this – apparently privately owned land but developed for the tourists with fresh water, toilets and showers for a donation. I would imagine in wetter times the river (Wallam Creek) and environs would be quite attractive but as it was so dry the water was low the grounds were dusty and the river was full of Carp.DSC00222 (1280x853) IMGP3255 IMGP3257 (1280x960) IMGP3264 (1280x960)















I guess the cemetery at the end of the road was also  an attractive feature for many of the nomads.

Moved on to Eulo taking lots of photos of nothing. This is a very desolate part of Australia…..IMGP3271 (1280x960) IMGP3272 (1280x960) IMGP3276 (1280x960)















with Cunnamulla somewhere in there, just in time for lunch…IMGP3274 (1280x960)





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no power or water but toilets and what passed as a shower. At least the water was hot.

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Above are the advertised (billboards along the road) “grassy sites”, the beer garden, the local fauna, the main street and the heavy traffic of Eulo. 16km out of town on dirt road which I wasn’t game to tackle was the Eulo country music festival. As best we can judge, hundreds of people have headed there for its four days and its literally in the middle of nowhere –  go figure!

To avoid sounding like a travelogue I’ll leave tonights  adventure for another day.

4 May 2014

To The “Bun”

A week at Lake Moogerah awaiting the end of the busy season so Robyn can finally get away, delightfully spent in the company of Masons and Dovers finally saw us depart for places generally west on Tuesday 29th April.DSC00077


Here’s Robyn on the court (somewhere) attending to those last minute details.





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However, first to Somerset Dam via the Hinze Dam for an overnight at Moogerahs competition. Bigger but not really any better, certainly newer facilities but not well maintained and at $26.00 for an unpowered unwatered site for the night quite on the high side for cost. Did have a free go at their 18 hole mini-golf course and got terribly pummelled by sister in law. I’m sure she’s had practice. The park and its environs are nonetheless attractive and would indeed be a nice place to stay if you’re into fishing or boating…… 

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On to the “Bun” – Kaimkillenbun, about 150km west of Brisvegas, is an unlikely place to end up unless you had some prior knowledge. It seems Robyn turned up there 18 months or so ago on her personal sabbatical to encounter the re-opening of the Bun Pub, so we had to share in the experience this time around. Well the pub is open and it is a very lively place – I’ve no idea where the patronage comes from but it was darts night and the place was packed. Just maybe they really came to compete with the dog…..IMGP3148 (1280x960)

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At every throw of the dart he leapt through the window trying to catch it.

The reds and the whites we kept in the fridge so I just had a beer like the locals. Dinner was OK but we were surrounded by tributes to Brockie (Peter Brock of you know what fame)IMGP3140 (1280x960)

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and a funny little camp ground…..DSC00107 (1280x853)


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where the fare was only $17.00 per night.

On to Dalby via Bell and Jimbour where we were exposed to two different religions….DSC00119 (800x533)


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The church is still in use and Jimbour is still a working station albeit a little smaller than its original 300000 acres, now just 11000.

Dalby awaited for the big birthday bash ($10.00 per head) then on to Lake Broadwater for the night

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Overnight the heavens opened and we thought we might sail away (I thought it might have been judgement day after my expressions of  disbelief at Bell) but we survived and the next day decided to not linger in  cold and wet – lets find some sunshine further west. On to Nindigully where indeed it was warmer, but more on that in the next instalment.