Monday, October 19, 2009

Mission Beach to Macrossan

October 16

We had a slow start to the morning as we only planned to go the short distance to Townsville. The caretaker's old dog was having a slow start too.

Brother-in-law Doug was heading home to Sydney from a business trip and we had arranged to meet at Townsville airport.

It's a pretty dull drive with nothing much to stop for, although we found a pretty creek-side place to have our picnic lunch in the tiny town of Rollingstone. The swimming hole was inviting, but we were taking heed of all the crocodile warnings.

We got to Townsville in plenty of time, so we went off in search of a small electric fan to cool down our home-on-wheels. With no A/C and the high temps we'd been travelling in, we needed something to make sleeping more comfortable.

The airport was cool, Doug was there to meet us, and a celebration was called for. Doug bought beer for himself and Michael, and a tiny bottle of bubbly for me. It was a very successful rendezvous!

When we parted company with Doug, we decided to hit the road west even though it was already after 4 and it gets dark early this far north. Sundown is at 6.

"There's nothing between here and Charters Towers", Doug told us, having just come from there. Doug is wrong. There is Macrossan, a blip on the landscape beside the Burdekin River. It has a great old railway bridge across the river, and beside it is a very basic campsite with toilets and a shower that produces a trickle of water.

As we drove in on the short dirt road, a herd of small kangaroos leaped across in front of the van. Definitely time to get off the road for the day.

There were a few other vans and trailers scattered around among the dusty tracks and tufts of grass, and a gnarled caretaker with a snarly dog. The dog didn't like me any more than I liked it, so the guy took it off to put it on a chain.

The park had a recently installed billboard with interesting information about the area, including that the river had been named by explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in honour of the lady grocer who had provisioned his expedition. Since he had received no government funding, Leichhardt was under no obligation to name topographical features after officials in the British Empire's bureaucracy, as so many other explorers were.

On the far bank of the river was a marker showing the levels to which floodwaters had risen in previous years.

The Burdekin Dam upriver, which has a capacity three times that of Sydney Harbour has made floods less likely in the last decade.

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