After two relaxing days at Lake Tinaroo it was time to start our drive across the Savannah Way our first stop Innot Springs. The springs are natural mineral springs, which are pumped from the river, there are six bathing pools the first one at about 25c increasing to 30c, 35c 38c and the tester 43c, I tried them all, Pam being wiser only went into the 30c pool. This place is not expensive at $10.00.per head, however if you stay at their caravan park its $25.00. a night which includes entry to the hot springs. Lunch, then on our way to catch up with friends Arthur and Wendy joining them at the Pinnarendi farm stay about a 50km drive. A popular stop over with large sites $15.00 unpowered and $25.00 powered. The owners put on a meal each night set fee $25.00. a head, food over priced for what you get, but the farm is quiet, safe and has a clean amenities block. When taking my morning shower, I started talking to a Frenchman young fellow who told me he was walking round Australia, in fact we saw him earlier in the day walking along the road pushing a pram filled with his camping gear, his destination Adelaide where he intended sailing from there along the south and east coast. I don’t think he is aware of what conditions he is about to run into hopefully he will be OK. It was great catching up with A&W, much chatter and laughter. Tomorrow they head east and we west.
Tuesday 7th August.
On our way by 10am heading towards Normanton, at first the road was excellent wide and smooth then it became a single bitumen road, which meant you had to pass oncoming vehicles by moving off the bitumen we expected that this was going to be the road surface from now on, but no, suddenly we are back on very good wide bitumen road again, then back to narrow then to wide, this trend continued through to our destination. We arrived at Georgetown by midday topped up the petrol tank and stopped near a park for a light lunch. After a visit to the information centre we decided to visit this area again, there is such a lot to see. A stopover they suggested we visit is the Cumberland Historic mine site, which is on our route. This site is a bird watcher’s paradise, a manmade lagoon and a haven for many species of birds. The lagoon was originally constructed to provide ample water to the mine. The only remnants of the mine remaining are the Lagoon and a large very well constructed chimney known as the Cumberland Chimney, constructed by Welsh tradesman. We so liked this place we decided to stay the night.
Wednesday 8th August
On our way to Normanton by 9.30am with an east wind on the tail, the road again wide for a few kilometres then back to a single narrow bitumen road again, after about 70km the road remained a wide, very good bitumen surface. We arrived at Croydon by 11.30am topped up the petrol tank enjoyed a coffee then off to see over this historic town. The information centre shows a one hour film giving in depth information about Croydon’s history but the lines men were working on the power supply so no movie today. So off to visit the town historic centre and this was fascinating, Croydon was at one time Queensland’s fourth largest town with a population of over 6000, hard to believe as today’s population is just over 100. Croydon’s fame is that it had three very profitable gold mines and the miners did not have to dig deep to find their fortune.
The mines closed after the first world war through a shortage of labour and flooding of the mines, today only one small mine remains. At Croydon’s peak, the population was some 30% Chinese, not miners but farmers and traders with some families becoming successful owning general stores, hotels and cattle farms. Jenny khee the fashion designer’s grandparents lived in Croydon and she still has relatives here today. Unfortunately, racism was a problem as it still is today and many Chinese suffered from those who were envious of their success. Croydon is a neat tidy town their buildings all well maintained and a pleasant surprise they had the original gas lamps still lining part of the highway. Just outside Croydon is Lake Belmore and Pam and I decided to have lunch there, a nice lake quite large with boating allowed, which surprised us as it is the town water supply. As happens when travelling, people make recommendations and we were pointed towards the Leichardt Lagoon another farm stay and this place did not disappoint. At $16.00. a night very reasonable, there are hot showers, toilets, and the running of generators permitted. But what makes this place special is the lagoon. The Norman river which feeds the lagoon is fresh water and is damned to hold water in the lagoon, beyond the lagoon the river is tidal with a vast variety of fish in the river, of course they can feel safe from me, but I may throw in a line tomorrow. The warning sign however is interesting it states, no diving, no swimming, no paddling. Fresh and salt water crocodiles are in the lagoon and river. In the toilet on the back of the door it reads please close the toilet lid as green frogs enter the bowl and poisonous snakes come into the toilets to eat the frogs. But not only that we had to sign a disclaimer in case we got taken by a croc or bitten by a snake, can’t say we weren’t informed. This place is a paradise and worth the risks, we as others will no doubt take great care whilst here.
Thursday 9th August.
Today we drove the short 20km to Normanton mainly as we could only get phone reception there and we needed to do some banking. Normanton at one time boasted 46 hotels it was a thriving town, also and to my surprise it is the birth place of Burns Phillip an old highly reputed Australian company still operating today. Burns Phillip were so successful they were permitted to print their own currency which was covered by gold reserves, this because the government had run out of five and ten pound notes, I guess our currency was printed in England in the 1800’s. Today Normanton has three hotels two service stations with one also being the general store. Being only 70km from Karumba Normanton it is not a popular tourist stopover. Lunch at the Purple Pub a quick drive around the town then back to the Leichardt Lagoon. We liked the Leichardt lagoon so much that we decided to stay a few more days.
Friday 10th August.
Pam and I went for a walk along the river and caught up with some fellow campers fishing off the dam wall, during our chat we saw Agro the local Salty meandering his way down the river, big bugger. Two boats had just launched and one of these chaps is an old hand at fishing these waters we watched as they headed on down the river at great pace. From there Pam and I walked to the historic Cobb & Co river crossing it is just remarkable what our early pioneers could do, this would have been no easy crossing. A lazy book reading afternoon. Later our fishermen returned empty handed.
Saturday 11th Sunday 12th
More walking, bird watching, AFL, reading and relaxing, no fishing Agro looked to hungry.
Monday 13th through to Thursday 16th August.
On our way to Karumba a short 90km drive. We booked into the Sunset Point caravan park, which is opposite the boat ramp and very popular with fishermen, can’t understand how they let us in obviously my reputation for fishing had not yet reached here. The camp site all set up so a walk around the town and later off to the highly reputed Asher’s place for fish and chips for dinner, we were not disappointed.
I decided to book a fishing Cruise with the Kerry D fishing charter and the only day available was Wednesday 15th an afternoon trip. This seemed a good way to get some pointers. Tuesday was a day to do some house work, Pam washing and I general tidying up the car and getting my fishing gear in order, afterwards a trip to the general store. I had a chat to some fellow campers asking how the fishing had been going and to my surprise they all said it had been quiet apparently the water temperature to cold, however the blue salmon were just starting to come in and once the wind dropped fishing should be OK. Wednesday. I was up early and looking forward to the fishing trip such that I was the first person at the boat ramp. The boat all loaded seven of us off fishing 5 men and 2 women one with a banana, now we all know women and bananas are bad luck on a boat, this was not a good omen. Sure enough, we spent an hour at our first stop no fish. Next, we moved further out to sea still no fish so now on the move again along the channel not far from a sand island and across the channel in about 3ft of water. Lines cast again, after about 10 minutes I had the first fish a nice Blue Salmon, next they were on and we were all catching salmon, or should I say landing about one of four strikes, obviously the banana had been consumed. These fish are great fighters, fun fishing, all up we caught 22 fish my tally six. Of course, it was salmon for dinner. Thursday, today I put the boat in nerves about crocs put to one side I invited our neighbour Tom from Tasmania to join me and by 10.30am we were off to make a great catch. We fished several areas without success so off to where the charter boat got all the fish yesterday, we had several fish hooked but did not land them, Tom had his line cut through three times he didn’t have a wire trace. Tom had many strikes but not a fish landed he was getting frustrated. Finally, I had one hooked and after a great fight landed it, a 40cm Blue Salmon. We should have had at least five fish, we were just inexperienced to anxious and did not allow them to run before striking, a lesson learned. I might say every other fisherman had at least six fish some twelve all nice fish. Some info on Karumba, Karumba was established as the point to have a telegraph cable station to Java, however later it was decided that Darwin was a more suitable location. Karumba was also a supply point for those trading in the gulf its location being at the mouth of the Norman river and able to service Croydon at the height of the gold mining period. A short- lived meat works operated in the 1930s and a sheltered part of the river was used for a flying boat base for refuelling. During the second world war a Catalina long -range bomber base operated with some 1000 aircraft personnel on duty. A prawn processing plant was established now closed as prawns are caught and processed at sea, frozen and shipped overseas. Live cattle exports have also taken place from Karumba. The port today mainly services the exports from Pasminco’s mine of Zink and Lead concentrates. An enterprise pleasing to see is the Morr Morr Pastoral company, which is wholly owned and operated by the local Aboriginal people, Aboriginal Elders Dick Sterling and Jubilee Slattery experienced stockmen purchased the station in 1982 and this station has operated successfully since.
Friday 17th and Saturday 18th August.
One goal achieved, next Lorne Hill but first to spend two days at Normanton with phone communication some banking catching up with family and friends, relaxing in the swimming pool and spa at the caravan park, it’s getting hot here.