Tonight, we are staying in a cabin in the Allen Terry Caravan Park in Hughenden. It’s a typical outback caravan park with sites for caravans and tents as well as a few cabins. Of course, it also has the obvious shower and toilet block along with a camp kitchen. It’s named after a previous mayor of the town who initiated the development of this first caravan park in the town.
I’ve discovered a couple of unique things about Queensland. Many of the roads, bridges and pieces of public infrastructure are named after someone who was significant in the community. Like the Allen Terry Caravan Park, there are places like the Murgatroyd Maindample Bridge, or Percy Postlethwaite Hall, or Bert Brimstone Road. It’s a nice way of honouring people who have made a contribution to the community. Having people’s names on places is far more prevalent here than I have seen anywhere else in Australia. The second thing about Queensland is that most people say G’day as you pass them in the street.
Now that we are in Central Queensland, we are right in the Outback. Today, we travelled west through 250 kilometres of Savannah country with open forests and grassland. At one point, we crossed the Great Dividing Range and a sign informed us that the rivers now drain west into Lake Eyre. The roads were long and straight with very few intersting things to see.
In one place, we disturbed a Murder of Crows who were dining on the remains of a kangaroo roadkill. A lot of animals on the outback roads get killed by trucks and road trains at night. We also saw a dead steer and a few dead feral pigs. These pigs are a real environmental problem in the outback, so the more that die on the roads, the better.
We had a coffee stop by the very dry Campaspe River. There was nothing very attracrive there – just a table under a shelter and a toilet. A similar stopping place further along became our lunch stop.
On the map, the Campaspe River looks to be quite a major waterway. At this time of year, it is completely dry. During the wet season, I bet that it floods to quite a high level.
We came across a few little towns (hamlets) on the way. One, called ‘Homestead, had a population of just 12 people. It beats me why anyone would choose to live there in the middle of nowhere. Another, Pentland, was reported as having a population of over 400, but you would be waiting a long time for driveway service at the petrol station!
Just before reaching Hughenden, we passed through the town of Prairie. It is an apt name as the surrounding country is flat with open grassland. The most significant building in town is, of course, the pub.
Opposite the pub is a road that heads south with a large nunber of places shown on two sign posts. These are not towns, but remote cattle stations. You can see just how far some of them are away from here. Imagine being a young nanny travelling to a remote cattle station to look after, and educate, the children of the family. Your travel instructions would be “Get off the train at Prairie and go south”.
About the only place of interest along the way was the White Mountan National Park Lookout. This National Park is characterised by white sandstone formations and complex gorge systems that cover 112,000 hectares of rugged terrain, with an additional 12,000 hectares of Reserve. For much of the year this vast area is an arid landscape but during the wet season it becomes a water catchment for streams and rivers which eventually feed into Lake Eyre in South Australia and the Gulf of Carpentaria.