021. 25th July 2006. Another long trip and we are getting a bigger taste of things to come…

Barely a month after the Proserpine rally we are heading North for 2 weeks, this time to join the Far North Nomads at their Christmas in July Rally. This is a very popular event with about 250 rigs attending.
We also planned a bit of a look around prior to and after the rally. First stop was Rollingstone North of Townsville
where we spent a quiet night and where we found Bill from the Sugarloafers camped nearby. We joined him and a few other people for happy hour. Rollingstone is becoming almost a tradition to stay overnight as we travel North.
Next day the intention was to push on to the Atherton District and camp somewhere near Mareeba.
Along the way we stopped at a bakery at Ingham, bought some cakes and some chicken from our favourite KFC (at this point I must mention we rarely eat takeaway, however before we met, Donnis and I had always stopped here for chicken or coffee when travelling to Cairns. It seemed like a good idea to continue our combined tradition) across the street. We continued North, stopping at Five Mile Creek a little before Cardwell where we picnicked on cold KFC and coffee and cakes. Lovely spot and it would be a very popular swimming hole in summer. Gee what a tough life! Regrettably dining at Five Mile Creek meant I had to forgo a hot pie and cold beer for lunch at Cardwell. The pie van at the beach car park has wonderful pies kept hot in a wood fired pie heater. It adds a certain smokey flavour to the pies.

Later, after passing through Innisfail and as we made our way up the Palmerston Range to Malanda, Donnis recalled being in the area before and announced she would like to go to Innot Hot springs. Again! Although it was in the opposite direction to where we were going, we travelled to the hot-springs where we had a wonderful sauna like experience. Afterwards we went towards Herberton, camping at Archer Creek for the night.






Archer Creek campsite

This is a wonderful large Freedom camp-site and as the night cooled down quickly, out came the doona. It was needed. Tomorrow we would head to Mareeba and make further plans on arrival.

As we approached Mareeba (and left on our way to Chillagoe) we were struck by the number of rigs camped up in Freedom campsites, all waiting for the rally to commence. We had a day up our sleeve and choose to drive the extra 130 Klms to Chillagoe – for the experience. Chillagoe is a – well abandoned is not quite the right word but it conveys the right impression- town of limited population and resources. It was once a gold mining and smelting town.


Abandoned mine site chimney stack - Chillagoe

 The gold ran out, the people left. It is now a limestone and marble quarrying area with some dry limestone caves just out of town. Overall we loved it and would enjoy returning and spending more time exploring. However we would only come in the winter. Even late July was plenty hot enough and we also began to understand the need to carry lots of water with you, not just on the bus! In July it is still hot and very dry out here and we dehydrated quickly, especially as we walked among the massive limestone cliffs. Natural history tells us this area was once a coral reef and


Limestone Cliffs at Chillagoe - Sort of looks like a rabbit!

sometime after the water receded there was some shifting and folding in the earths crust and the reef was turned 180 degrees forming the mountain like sheer structure we see today. Like an iceberg, seven eighths of the limestone is below the ground.

We spent the night at the Eco Resort where we planned to take an observatory tour. They have a mini dome telescope


Observatory at Eco Resort Chillagoe.

on site. Alas it was booked out for a schoolkids tour. (The other caravan park in town had 140 kids booked in) We also passed on dining at the “restaurant” when a dog walked out of the kitchen and sat under a table. We bought a bottle of wine though. Reasonably priced considering the remoteness of this town and 26 Klms of bad road. This road was so bad it bounced three electrical fuses out of their dashboard mounting! The Eco Resort also has an outdoor theatre with a structure like a mini drive-in screen with speakers similar to drive-in speakers around the area of the screen. People just roll up with their deck chairs or blanket and watch outdoor movies!

There was also a budget camping section with what they call budget showers and toilets. Marked Mens & Womens it is a bush carpentry type structure screened by hessian sackcloth. To get water to the shower you turn on a garden type tap outside the hessian screen and turn on a tap near the shower. Cold water only. The toilets are pit type structures.

He had happy hour with a group of caravanners sitting around a log fire. Not sure why there was a fire it was warm enough without it. The talk around the campfire was there are lots of sights to explore, many need a 4Wd but others can be reached by conventional vehicles.

We did not need the doona here as the night was much milder, in fact quite warm as were the nights to follow.

Next day it was back to Mareeba, arriving at the Showgrounds mid afternoon and missing the original mad rush to get inside. We managed to get a site away from the mainstream of rigs and close to toilets and showers. Although we are self-sufficient we decided to use local facilities and only use our toilet at night. Christmas in July at Mareeba? Great.


Christmas in July camp site at Showgrounds - Mareeba.

The Far North Nomads get full council backing and lots of sponsorship. They have a good sized budget and were able to put on great entertainment every night. Christmas dinner was very good if just a tad clinical. Serving staff dished out the food so everybody got the same portion. It was the most efficient serving line I have ever encountered and full marks to the organisers. The evening’s entertainment was first rate. A huge multi instrument local band with some very talented musicians and singers. While we sat and ate food in the huge marquee the band had a raised undercover stage where they belted out some lively music. Hundreds of us got up and danced on the grass. It was a mild night and most people were dressed up for Christmas but it was only cool enough for shirts and trousers. A few people with their minds still living in the South wore jackets and felt the heat.

Once again we met people and happy houred and social dinnered and inspected other rigs and went for walks and just vegged out. Len and Lyn, friends from the Sugarloafers were nearby and we spent some time with them.

All too soon it was over and time to leave. We left our departure until as late as possible and thought we would head to the nearest laundromat and wash 5 days of clothes. Wrong? Every third rig planned the same thing and there was a line up at every facility.

We planned to go to Kuranda so headed there instead and found a laundromat and did a huge load of washing and drying. After that we found a parking spot nearer the village


Kuranda Village.

and had another look around. This included eating in the village, visiting an old church,


St.Saviors Anglican Church, Kuranda.

the railway station and just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. This was our second visit and will visit again no doubt.

We planned to head off to Lake Tinaroo for the night and while having a picnic lunch the mobile rang. It was Geoff and Margaret who had left our place a week or so before we left home to head up to Cooktown and explore. They were now at Balgal Beach and holding a spot for us beside their “ROCKY TOO”.


Campsite Balgal Beach

 We were a few hundred Klms to the North but decided to head home a day early and catch up with G&M. Arriving in time for happy hour. Geoff made a salad while we bought fish n chips at the shop on the banks of the Rollingstone Creek. Next day G&M announced they had had enough of the sandflies and were heading home. We stayed on another night.

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