Tag Archives: RFDS

Country Hospitality in Yaraka and Stonehenge, Sth West Qld!

From the moment we walked into the Yaraka Hotel we were greeted with ‘Welcome to Yaraka‘ from Hotel owner Gerry Gimblett! This set the tone for a wonderful stay in this little town that was nearly forgotten, if not for Gerry & husband Chris buying the Hotel 7 years ago and helping to bring back customers (travelling & local) to this small community. They both lived in the area for many years prior so they can attest to the changes that have occurred since the 1980’s.

Out the back is a Caravan Park with 3-4 powered sites with slabs, and heaps of room for un-powered (all sites $5 per night/$27 per week!) The Council Park area nearby has lush grass, BBQ and seating with amenities including showers. The pool wasn’t able to be used when we were visiting, but the tennis courts were open. The RFDS clinic within the park visits every 2nd Wednesday, and that happened to be the day I baked some Boozie Scones for the hotel workers and the RFDS staff.

There are drives you can take: about 40 klms south is Magees Shanty (according to folklore Banjo Paterson wrote the iconic poem “A Bush Christening” at this site). It’s out on a vast claypan, along with goldminer Richard Magoffin’s lone grave (perished in 1885 chasing his fortune). On Budgerigar Rd opposite the claypan are the remains of the survey pegs for the proposed town of Welford (that never eventuated). Chris at the Hotel can give you a mud map with more things to see.

Every evening Chris conducts a 2 hour tour in his mini bus up to Mt Slowcombe for 360-degree sunset views and some history about the district all for a donation to the RFDS. We did this on a Friday night and pre-ordered our delicious Pizzas to be ready on our return! We added an extra day onto our week so we could have pizzas again!!

The “End of the Line” museum is housed in the original railway station.  For nature lovers, Kevin the Emu wanders the town and we also saw Mr Emu and his 9 chicks hanging around the town dam behind the van park along with Brolgas, a sand monitor & heaps of birds.

After a week we reluctantly said goodbye to Yaraka and headed west along dirt roads to the town of Stonehenge.  We bee-lined for the caravan park opposite the Hotel (so handy!) This was a Council run park but now the Hotel runs it. They ask for a donation to the RFDS and/or patronage at the Hotel. The Hotel is small but the drinks are reasonably priced and meals filling!

Stonehenge’s claim to fame: as one of only three areas in Australia chosen as a base for an over-the-horizon Radar Defence Initiative. It’s also the right spot for an earthquake monitoring installation to provide an early warning system for the Pacific Rim!

The Stonehenge Community Centre is the info centre, RFDS clinic, library & internet service hub with a wonderful arid garden created by the locals. The 7 klm John Egan Pioneer Track is worth a drive to see the country & rocky outcrops this region produces (would be better after rain to see water in the rock pools).

Temperatures are rising now we’re into Spring so we will be moving on soon….Stay tuned! 🙂

Isisford-Ravenswood-Lara Wetlands@Barcaldine Qld

Continuing out revisiting trip around Central & Western Queensland we headed to Isisford, south of Longreach & Ilfracombe.

The Council seems more than happy to have Travellers come and stay and we were able to camp wherever it suited us, all for the same exorbitant price of $6 per day!!! 😛  hahaha

We checked out the camps along the river (repairs being done on the Weir so lots of machinery working week days) so moved on and found camp areas around the local Tennis Court, Pool and Skatepark. Water available, unpowered with public amenities and showers available. What a wonderful spot!  As we have done so much in the past, if you have the time, slow down and stop in these smaller towns and learn their history, meet their locals and enjoy country hospitality!

Due to lockdowns and 14-day isolations along areas of the coast, some travel plans were changed. We did happen to find a wonderful spot with a Hotspring and lots of bird life. I can’t say where it is cause then EVERYONE will know!! But we did enjoy 4-5 days there before heading north again to Ravenswood (south-east of Charters Towers).

Spent a week exploring this area including the Burdekin Falls Dam and both Hotels! It’s a mining town and at end of shifts the main street is swamped with vehicles, buses and workers! We especially enjoyed the tour of the Outback Railway Hotel with owner Terry. For a donation to the RFDS, he will show you around his Hotel and tell you stories of its history. LOVED his underground Whiskey Room….

From there it was south again to Lara Wetlands, 28klms south of Barcaldine. We stopped 2 nights (we had already visited a month earlier). Not as busy now as the tourist season winds down (April-September). Beautiful lagoon with lots of waterbirds & spectacular sunsets & sunrises to keep cameras busy. The Hotsprings are ‘therapeutic’ but stay too long and you might overheat! That’s where the Cold Pool helps!

New owner Jodie Muntelwit has taken on not just a working cattle station but a tourist destination – ‘Oasis in the Outback’ with visitors trooping through 6 months of the year.  She fits in a tour twice a week of the old Homestead with morning teas in her busy schedule. $25 per night unpowered with amenities.

Onwards further south….to be continued….!

Birdsville Races September 2018

Yes I am aware it’s now November!! I have been a tad busy of late but finally got some photos together of our Birdsville Races trip this year. We had been to the Big Red Bash in July, did a bolt over to the coast for a couple of weeks then a bolt back to Birdsville!! Note to self: it’s a bit of a distance – don’t do that again!!!

We met up with some ‘mates on the road’ friends we hadn’t seen in years and set up camp in the same spot we camped back in 2014! Near a tap about half way to racetrack & town.  In case anyone wants to know: there are 10 taps along the town common to the river.

We watched the common and town grow from a few hundred to around 7000! We aren’t into racing, but it’s really the atmosphere at the Hotel, the vendors and entertainment that contributes to make it a special event. Fred Brophy’s Boxing Troupe, The Old Hospital puts on a Pancake Palace, Salty the Blacksmith, the RFDS Fun Run, Riversands Wines from St George have a stall and all the food vendors including wood fired pizzas, chinese, RFDS food tent, Donuts, Kebabs etc plus a Western Outfitters – it’s all here!

Every couple of weeks the Fruit & Vege truck makes a visit and the locals and visitors can top up on fresh produce at reasonable prices.

The races are held over two days, but they have things happening the week prior. A bus service runs for these two days from the town, out along the common to the racetrack and back for a RFDS donation. Brilliant. Alcohol tickets are purchased at the Birdsville Hotel before going to the racetrack.

Surprisingly I had a win!!! Broke even (plus a bit) on a hunch.

We spent a few more days after the races watching the almost immediate evacuation of Birdsville! By then the roads were clear but a bit rugged due to so much traffic (as they were after the Big Red Bash). The town and occupants of Birdsville do a marvelous job in all respects: from the council services, the accommodations, the fuel and food services to cater for so many people. They should be proud of their community.

My advice to anyone heading to the BRB or Races in Birdsville: arrive early and leave later. Take everything you need (fuel up BEFORE Windorah, Birdsville or Marree) but support the locals as best you can. Most importantly: enjoy the Outback Hospitality!

Birdsville Hotel