Last night at Dulacca

For the first time this trip we had a cooked breakfast! We’ve been having fruit or porridge in Steve’s case.

Today we went to a big bakery that offered a Country breakfast. Great value with 2 poached eggs, tomato and a heap of bacon. it stopped me but Steve was in breakfast heaven.

Friends had told me to explore Ace Drapery in the main street of Roma. An Aladdin cave we were told.

My word it is. Rows of everything. Like a department store but just shelves littered with things.

Outside Ace Drapery store
Inside one of the
aisles

Needing a little tranquility after the chaos of Ace’s we followed the honour avenue of bottle trees. A bottle tree was planted for each man lost in the war. It finished at the biggest bottle tree.

It’s quite a sight. It takes six people holding hands to ring it’s girth.

The tree is situated near the park called Shady’s Lagoon. It’s a pretty area. Very peaceful. It’s also the area where a friend would bring her beautiful mother Valerie to enjoy a coffee and chat. Valerie enjoyed this area till she passed away just before her 100th birthday.

This photo is for Valerie.

Farewelling Roma we headed east towards Dulacca then south to Craigslea, a cattle property belonging to friends.

Steve and Duncan on the quad bike rounding up some cattle

That night the sky was magnificent.

Our country adventure was over. We had a great time and encourage everyone to take time to visit these wonderful country areas.

Roma: Queensland not Italy

The road to Roma was great. The landscape is different to the landscape of the past few days.

A coffee break at Mitchell for the best bakery yet kept is going

Today is sales day in Roma. We heard this was a must. And today was to be a huge day of sales.

What an experience.

The cattle are all penned in groups. The auctioneer moves down one side shouting out prices at a cracking pace. The stock agents are on the other side bidding.

Auctioneers.
Agents for the owners bid.
Pen after pen.

The cattle are weighed and priced.

Check out the prices. It is amazing how quickly it all happens.

The interactive centre on site explains everything that happens. Wonderful displays.

I needed to get my cowgirl look happening.

I needed a check shirt,❌ warm padded vest, ❌ jeans ✔️pearl earrings ✔️ sturdy slightly muddy boots ❌ ( mine were too clean ) cattle hat ❌. Mine was a sheep style narrow brim. 😬 cattle hats are wide brim.

Definitely would be identified as a non local. A blow in!

Cattle hat. Wide brim.

Feeling slightly dusty we stopped at the wonderful sculpture exhibition by the side of the road. Local sculptors made some great work. It was up for sale. Between $2000 and &12000.

Loved this wooden one titled Family Tree

Visiting the Roma bush gardens helped us identify local trees.

Though slightly amused when we had to move off the walking track for a police car

Back in the car. Y 5pm for a visit to the Big Rig. Oil & gas show.

The story of gas & oil rigs in Roma
The big rig.

Interesting show interesting story but slightly underwhelming.

Tomorrow we explore the Main Street area of Roma before heading to stay on our friends cattle property at Drillham.

Charleville: Lots to See

Our morning started out very chilly! It was 0% here last night.

First stop was the bakery recommended by Sue, the mental health nurse we met in Thargomindah. She was right. It was great. the Sun was out and we sat and enjoyed both it and the coffee.

Across the road – nothing is far here , we went to the Historic House Museum.

Dating back to 1887 the building was purpose built as Charleville’s first national bank, before it went onto become a private boarding house until the 1970’s when it was purchased by the Charleville and District Historical Society. It then became the museum it is today. Filled to the brim with treasures of yesteryear, some dating back as far as the 1800’s.

I particularly like some of the old magazines. I once wrote a blog post on how to pack for a holiday. This magazine gave timeless suggestions on packing including some hints about gloves. Something I had overlooked!!

Visiting country towns I like to support the arts and crafts done by locals.

When I had young children I did various arts & craft and used to sell at markets. I did screen printed t shirts, mosaics, painted pots, folk art painted timber boxes , watercolour paintings – just to name a few. so I like to buy local.

In the store I bought a wooden truck for my little boys, a painted lady beetle for the garden and a metal chook to guard the cubby house.

Lovely back garden of the buy local shop.

Next stop was out of town. We had booked on the secret WW2 tour. How many people knew there is such a site here in Charleville.

We discovered why over 3500 United States Army Airforce personnel were stationed in Charleville during WWII. Julie our guide led, in convoy, a tour to discover; aviation history, romance stories, living quarters and the extreme measures taken to keep one of the most sought after secrets of WWII, safe.

That secret, still not written about in the brochure was the Norden Bombsite. It is a piece of top secret machinery used during the war to pinpoint bomb sites during the day.

It’s housed in this bomb proof shelter.

And when I show and tell you this you have to keep it secret! Shhhh

The actual Norden bomb site.

From there we stopped at other areas.

A more fun one especially for the local girls.
Particularly necessary facilities

During the tour we got in and out of our 4wheel drives – again we were so pleased we had left our white BMW at home!

The other tourists were mostly caravaners. A man crazy about things military, from Ballarat. A singlet wearing man and his wife with their two dogs , a younger man in the area filming the Channel 7 show Opal Hunters. such a diverse group.

Next stop was the Royal Flying Doctors. Such an interesting museum. They do so much to support the people who live in these remote areas. Please donate if you get the chance.

Heading back to town we stopped at a park which had the most unusual sculptures. They were actually an invention. What do you think they are?

Did you guess? Read the text on the next picture.

What an idea. One that didn’t work.

Back to the motel to read the papers before heading to the Historic Hotel Corones

Built in 1924 it is quite a landmark.
Wonderful timber staircase

Dinner called so we inquired. Bob the owner suggested Malaysian. Not what we expected. They had the usual pub fare. Burgers. Pizzas etc. but he said they were trialing Malaysian curries. We decided to live dangerously.

Not bad at all.

However the lovely people we met on the way in didn’t feel so adventurous and opted for pizza.

We met these two couples from properties in Moree. What lovely fun people.

We’ve exchanged contact details and I’m sure we’ll catch up. They have kids in Brisbane so often come up. Hope so. They were great fun.

We couldn’t spend too long chatting as we were booked at the Cosmos Centre. Back out of town near the Secret WW2site.

After these indoor photos we went out doors and for an hour and used powerful telescopes and learned about and viewed several stars, a nebula, and finally the best view of the moon I’ve ever seen. Quite amazing.

Our guides for this were 17 year astronomy nuts. They were so professional. In the dark it was impossible to see what they looked like but they sounded so knowledgeable. we’ll done to them

By now pretty close to freezing we wanted to get back to the hotel. Tomorrow Roma.

On the road. Thargomindah to Charleville

Why take the short route when you can take the long way and explore this big country of ours.

First stop Noccundra for the second oldest pub in Qld. The Noccundra Hotel is smaller than the Nindagully Pub and much more remote.

A coffee for me. Yes, even out this far you can get a good coffee. AND believe it or not a beer for Steve. At 10.30 in the morning simply because it is the second oldest pub!

There were some campers and fishers enjoying the waterhole. Again it’s very muddy. No blue water here despite the beautiful blue sky.

The landscape here is flat and red

I chatted to the lady at the bar. One of a population of 3! She’s been in Noccundra for 9 years. How on earth I wonder. You’d have to have a hobby that didn’t involve drinking. I think I’d write. Perhaps paint. What would you do?

Actually, it would be like living in lockdown. All the time! With a few visitors a day allowed in.

Next stop Eromanga. Slightly bigger population. Also home to a beautiful metal dinosaur named Knot-o-saurus. It was gifted to this town by former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman after it was centrepiece for the G20.

Eromanga is also famous for being the town in Australia furthest from the sea. Who would have thought ! So I got my map out and was looking at distances.

Down the road – about another 2.5hrs is Quilpie. Slightly bigger with people having a bit of a bowls carnival. So we saw some people. Sunday in small towns you don’t see a lot of people around. Everything is closed.

Arrived in Charleville at around 5pm and it was getting very cool. We chose the Rocks Motel as they have a restaurant and we thought that would be a good option.

When we checked in the young girl, Phoneix at reception told us her family had only taken ownership of the motel a week ago. They found the restaurant staff has been stealing. Cash, meat and alcohol. So they had to let them go. Restaurant closed! Now they need a chef and staff. So hard in small towns

So it was off to the RSL for dinner. All tables seemed to have travellers and workers in high vis vests.

We waved to the motel owners as we left. Even they needed a feed!

It was a quiet and cool walk home.

Australia’s Oldest Pub & Western Sunsets

We had the heaviest rain last night in Goondiwindi. I’m thinking of buying gum boots for the boot scooting at Thargomindah on Saturday.

We had a lovely coffee to start the day at The Larder in the main shopping street. It’s a popular place and with lots of tourists and road workers in town we had to wait to get a little table.

You may have heard of Goondiwindi Cotton. It’s a family business with a great story.

https://goondiwindicotton.com.au/pages/our-story-1

Their clothes are great quality and timeless in design. We both managed to spend up. The sale had started so we couldn’t resist.

I was popping in and out of the change room selecting when I noticed a woman admiring my jumper. I persuaded her to try a few things. She bought ! She suggested the owners employ me!

We took their brochure about the art sculpture trail and went to find it.

Nungwai
On the outskirts of town, we explore the unique and eclectic collection from local artists, Angus & Sandie Wilson. Wonderful

I could continue posting images. There were so many wonderful funny, quirky, sculptures. If you’re in this area don’t miss it.

Then it was off to Bowen Lane. It’s not just the big cities that make use of it lanes. Goondiwindi is up to the minute in style.

This great shop is in Bowen Lane

It would have been easy to stay longer in Gundi but the Nindagully Pub was waiting for us.

We were here a few years ago and loved it. Today after the rain the car park and camp ground was a muddy sight.

We dodged the mud puddles and made for the bar. The oldest pub in Queensland still attracts a crowd. It is quite eccentric but so much fun and easy to spend time wandering the pubs rooms or sitting in the garden under a shelter sporting a chandelier! Shabby chic for sure.

Note the chandelier
A fire pit for the chilly evenings.

Feeling full and relaxed we headed west to St George. A small town making an effort to welcome tourists. Sadly due to rain their special picnic races this Saturday have cancelled. No not covid. Rain. The track is too muddy.

There is a local winery where we did our best to boost the economy. The charming young man who gave us a tasting of their range of wines turned out to be the owners son.

Jock Blacket

Riversands Winery is 2 out of town – out along the Balonne River. it’s a small set up but has some pretty tasty wines. We bought a mixed dozen – and decided to sit in the garden and enjoy the sunshine with some cheese and wine. It may have rained a lot last night but today is now warm and sunny.

Jock advised us not to miss the sunset over the river so we moved back to town. We checked into the motel along with the local road workers in their big Utes and dirty boots.

Heading for the river we took the well planned riverwalk and enjoyed the sunset through the trees.

I could keep posting pictures. It was so stunning.

We walked back to our motel and decided to finish the wine and cheese and not eat out. We had definitely had enough for lunch at Nindagully.

We are now relaxing & watching the news hoping we are far away from covid spreaders. Though looking at the number of NSW number plates were beginning to wonder if people are escaping to Queensland.

Every town has a Memorial This one was very special.

Farewell Lady Elliot

Last day.

Our fifth & last day has arrived and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some fine weather.

It started out cloudy and a little drizzly so after breakfast we braved the conditions and did a reef walk with Jacinta.

She’s a marine biologist and has lived here for 3 years. She was able to fill us in on all we could spot on the calf high water of the lagoon.

We handled a sea cucumber – lovely and slimy and not as prickly as they look.

We headed over the runway to the light house and made our way along the beach to enter at the coral garden. The wind has changed and it’s a little windy at the lighthouse ended today.

I’m writing this sitting in a white moulded deck chair. I had the loveliest snorkel in the coral garden. Aptly named it’s a real garden of blue tipped coral with so many beautiful fish.

We haven’t spotted a manta ray except through the glass bottom boat. But not while snorkelling. The fish life more than made up for it.

The sky is blue and the sun is out. Perfect for our last day.

We stay at coral gardens until at least 2.30. We skip lunch each day having had a great breakfast but today I’m feeling hungry. We eat some cheese then still dresses in my wetsuit Steve & I head to the lagoon out the front of our cabin.

It’s been very windy there all week but Jacinta, our guide this morning, convinced us it would be worth snorkeling at high tide.

In we went. It was windy but underwater was another world. It’s just deep enough to kick along so you are very close to the reef.

We spotted and swam with three big turtles and a black tipped shark. Lots of colourful fish. An octopus…….

Such a great way to finish.

Dinner tonight: salmon, potato bake, salad and fresh vegetables!

Another night of 500.

I’m hooked!

Farewell Lady Elliot. I think we’ll be back

Quiet rainy day

I can’t complain.

About the rain!

We looked out this morning and though windy on the SE side the skies were only slightly cloudy.

Following breakfast we set off in an anticlockwise way to walk around the island. That’s not as easy as it sounds. The beach is a combination of sand, shells, rocks and rock pools. It’s rocky on the ankles but so full of things to look at.

By the time we’d almost done the circuit it had started to rain. Hard and heavy.

So it was back to the cabin to change, have coffee and settle into some reading.

Our friend Frances had brought a puzzle. 500 pieces – all about Gin!

We moved at around 1.30 to go on a walking tour but again it started raining! So into the bar for a G&T

Then at 3.30 we took the Historical walking tour with Mary our enthusiastic guide. She was very engaging as she told us about the history behind Lady Elliot.

It was named – as many islands and places in Australia are , after the English who may have sailed past or landed…… disregarding any indigenous occupation.

So Lady Elliot is the wife of the captain of the boat also named LE.

It’s was mined for guano in its early days before a tourism lease was granted in the 1960’s with a guarantee it was replanted and an airstrip established. The airstrip was completed in 24 hr. The tree planting and growing took a little longer

Originally just for camping it would have been a hot spot without shady trees! to read a little about the history …..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Elliot_Island

We visited the graveyard with two graves. Both women. One the daughter of the lighthouse keeper. She died in 1896 of a cold that developed into pneumonia. Built in 1866 the lighthouse would have been a lonely place with a ship arriving only every 4 months. The 30 year old died before anyone could help.

The other was Suzanna, in 1907. She was the lighthouse keepers wife. They say after her 4 sons left the island for boarding schools she was so lonely she walked into the sea and drowned. Not great stories.

Our walking tour finished at the lighthouse and the tiny museum.

Perfect timing. We arrived for sunset drinks.

Snorkeling Wonderland on LEI

We’ve adjusted to ‘island’ time. Nothing happens quickly and in our case early!

Although, Steve and our travelling mate Frances went on the bird watching tour at 7.15. I’m still coughing so opted for more bedtime.

Breakfast was at 8.30, when the bird watchers returned. They were full of information about the birds on the island and were sprouting all kinds of facts about the various birds we had already seen.

Breakfast was buffet style with enough options to make us happy and ‘real’ coffee was able to be ordered from the bar. That made the coffee drinkers very happy.

Following breakfast I decided to walk at least half the island along the shore and check out the best swimming area. We were booked for the afternoon snorkel trip so thought a morning swim might be good.

I headed off leaving the others to read and in Frances’ case – do a puzzle she had brought.

I wandered along the shoreline. It was fascinating to see all the shells, corals, fossilised rocks, driftwood all along the waterline.

I watched a plane take off and arrived at the lighthouse beach to see the snorkel boat dropping off the first passengers of the day.

Conditions were beautiful. So beautiful, I walked back to our cabin and changed for a swim. The others came with me and we swam in the shallows and managed to get a deck chair for lounging under the trees reading. a tough morning.

We had decided to opt out of lunch – though there is a cafe offering the usual lunch options. We had a piece of fruit and some cheese and crackers that I had brought with me.

The day slipped away and suddenly we were getting our snorkel gear on for the glass bottom boat trip. Taken by Jacinta we were told there was a friendly 3 metre shark around the area and not to worry !

Through the glass we saw some manta rays, turtles and hundred of different types of fish. no shark.

Then it was into the water and away we went. The area is called the ‘coral garden’ – for good reason. It’s a paradise.

It’s fun watching the different holiday makers reaction to being underwater. Some are not too experienced and were nervous, others ecstatic. By 4.15 we were getting back on the boat feeling the chill.

Warm showers, warm clothes and another wine watching the sunset was a perfect way to end the day.

Tonight’s dinner menu: duck, potato bake, fresh vegetables, grilled fish , tofu!

And another early night.

Welcome to Lady Elliot Island – LEI

Flying north over the Pacific Ocean the blue of the water was exhilarating.

We flew along side of Fraser island – that waste sand island. Coming to Lady Elliot we could take it all in in one glimpse. A spec in the ocean surrounded by lagoons of coral filled with colourful fish and manta rays – even able to be seen by air.

We landed on the grassy airstrip which divides the island. The resort is one side and the large lagoon the other.

We were greeted not with an island style flower lei but with a big grin and a ‘welcome all’ by Mary a staff member.

She gave us a quick orientation talk / tour then allowed us to check in , to go to the dive shop and be kitted out with fins, snorkel-even a wet suit if needed.

I was pleased I’d brought my $10 Aldi wetsuit bought two years ago and never worn. It’s quite windy on the island and with temperatures dropping to 23 it could be cool getting in and out of the water.

There is only one resort here and people come for the snorkeling, diving , birdwatching, and reef walking. It’s not a glamour resort. No resort wear needed.

People are wearing shorts or jeans, and the ‘hoodie’ a fleece lined jumper. It’s not freezing just a little cool. Tomorrow should be warmer.

We settled into our rooms which though small are well suited for a relaxed 5 nights. There is a good sized verandah, somewhere to hang wet gear , comfortable chairs for reading and a beautiful view towards the lagoon just beyond our cabin.

At 2 o’clock we headed across to the lighthouse lagoon crossing the grassy airfield.

We wore our reef shoes into the water carrying our fins and snorkels. About 50 metres out there is a tall pole with a basket to store your reef shoes as you don the fins and swim out.

We were able to immediately enter the coral garden and start watching the colourful fish darting every which way along the ocean floor. Magical.

We swam along the roped off area where every 100 metre there’s a little platform you could stop and hold on and chat with your companions.

We’re traveling with Ralph and Frances, friends who love swimming and had come to our past trip to Vanuatu ( check out that blog post if you haven’t read it already)

We swam around for an hour or so and though the water temperature was nice I was happy to be wearing my wetsuit as the wind was cool as we left the water.

It’s hard going walking out. Lots of rocks and uneven surfaces makes you feel very clumsy!!!

Back to our cabin for a warm shower and afternoon cuppa before heading over the island for our sunset drinks.

What a sunset. Absolutely gorgeous.

You’ll find is here each evening!!

Dinner in the dining room is a simple but satisfying meal. Carrot soup followed by lamb shanks, beef ribs , fresh vegetables, polenta and a lentil dish. All very tasty. With a nice glass of red we were ready for bed by 8.30.

We’re on island time already!

Lady Elliot Island, here we come.

We’re off overseas today.

Yes you read that correctly. Australians going Overseas.

To an island 40 minutes off the Australian coast.

Yesterday we drove to beautiful little Hervey Bay about 3.5 hrs from Brisbane. It’s a jumping off point for a light plane to Lady Elliot an eco style island in the southern most area of the Great Barrier Reef.

http://www.ladyelliot.com.au

We stayed at the Tower Court Motel.

This morning we walked along the Esplanade and found a great little cafe for breakfast. ‘Eat’owned by Dan & Steff of MKR fame.

Fabulous breakfast

We’re now at the Hervey Bay airport. Check-in is simple – 15 kg of bag, which is as much as I take on an overseas holiday. But I do have my wetsuit ready for the beautiful snorkeling I’ll be doing.

Lady Elliot Island-LEI, is renowned for its pristine waters. It’s manta rays, fish, turtles – an under water paradise.

The resort is an eco style -with emphasis on the environment. It’s comfortable but not a resort where you dress for evening cocktails. It’s for observing the environment, enjoying the sunsets and the ocean.

Let the holiday begin.

Our little light plane for the 40 min trip