Chillagoe is a hauntingly beautiful, intriguingly odd place which we liked twenty years ago but hadn’t revisited since then because it’s a bit out of the way even by outback Queensland standards (more on its location later).

The town has a population of only a few hundred people these days but it was an important mining centre a century ago and has significant remnants to show for it. It also has improbable limestone bluffs riddled with caves, and our camping ground featured the best dawn chorus of our two-week northern journey, easily beating Cape Trib and Cooktown.    Continue reading “Chillagoe”

Mud-nest Builders

Mud is a great construction material, as wasps, people and termites realised long ago. Three species of Australian birds use it to make cup-shaped nests in trees, which is a bit unorthodox, and I happened to see two of them on my recent trip up north.

The first is so well known around Townsville that I’m surprised we don’t see their nests more often. The second is a dry-country species, common enough in the west but rare on the coast.

The Pee-wit

Pee-wit on nest
Pee-wit on nest in Cooktown Botanic Gardens

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Cooktown and Cape Trib

Photo: Endeavour River, Cooktown, at sunset

Once again there has been a gap in posting because of an extended camping trip – this time, as the title suggests, to the north. In the last two weeks we have been to Chillagoe, Port Douglas,  Cooktown, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree, spending two or three days at each. In passing we visited Mossman Gorge, the Reef, Granite Gorge near Mareeba, and a few other places of interest.

Most of these will get their own posts in coming days or weeks. I will link to them from this page which will become a hub for the series, like this page for a similar trip to Cobbold Gorge and Undara last year.

Follow these links for posts about …

Mossman Gorge
Swimming hole at Mossman Gorge

These other posts are incidental to the trip:

Capping Uanda Bore

Guest post by Jessie Alford

Diane Alford wrote about Rainsby, a cattle property near Aramac, here nearly ten years ago. Jessie and her husband Tim have taken over its management since then; Jessie wrote this for her Facebook page but was happy to share it more widely.

The people of Western Queensland have depended on artesian bores for a century but have realised that the supply is not endless. Here’s one small step towards reducing the waste.

Bore drain on Rainsby
Uanda bore – permanent water in dry country

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Carnarvon Gorge

Getting to Carnarvon Gorge from Mackay, as we did after our visit to Cape Hillsborough, means a long drive up over the range and South through coal mining country, mostly on good roads made for the miners, to Springsure and then down through Rolleston. There’s a choice of accommodation near the Park entrance or, if you’re lucky, near the information centre in the park itself.

Walking the Gorge

There are day walks up the Gorge and back, as far as you can manage and with a choice of side trips, and multi-day hikes. The longest of them takes you up the Gorge to Big Bend, up a side valley to the tablelands, and back down the Boolimba Bluff track to the starting point.

satellite view of carnarvon gorge
Satellite view of Carnarvon Gorge with Big Bend at top left and Boolimba Bluff just above the (marked) Visitor Centre at right

Fit walkers who don’t take too many side trips or spend too long looking at the plants, wildlife and scenery can get to Big Bend and back in a day or less (see the Walking Track map (pdf) from the National Parks site). Those who start late (as we did) and stop often for photos (as we did) might only get to the Amphitheatre (as we did).

The Boolimba Bluff track has a strenuous section but everything else was quite gentle. An odd realisation was that we were walking on beach sand most of the time, as we had been at Cape Hillsborough – the big difference being that the sand was a hundred million years older.

Sandstone Country

The sandstone highlands extend for hundreds of kilometres through central Queensland, and Carnarvon Gorge is just one of several National Parks between Blackwater, Tambo and Injune (see DES visitor guide – pdf).

On our way back to Townsville we visited Minerva Hills NP to look out over Springsure from Mount Zamia. The geology there is similar: sandstone capped on its highest points with harder volcanic rock. (The last eruptions were 27 – 35 million years ago.) Porcupine Gorge, North of Hughenden, was formed the same way. In each case, cracks in the basalt have opened into gorges or broad valleys, depending on local factors.

We still have so much to explore!