Days 22, 23 - Quilpie to Adavale, Wakes Lagoon, Adavale, then Charleville.

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 16:24

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

Day 22 - Quilpie to Adavale, Wakes Lagoon, Adavale.

Had a quick stop in Adavale, which has to be the smallest town I've been to. Checked with the only Pub in town, the Adavale Pub and confirmed the Town's Community Centre was available for use and had free camping, free hot and cold water, and free 15A 240v available. That's how to attract Outback travellers who keep these towns alive.

I then set off, with Camper in tow, to find Wakes Lagoon Station. Ordinary and dusty roads, with patches of bull dust continued. When close to the area, I needed Mud Maps in my search on maps for a marked and used entry to the Station. Nothing. Drove way past in case the access road had changed. Still nothing. Time for investigating the unmarked, little used tracks which my maps said where the entry should be. Most were impassible and risky with the Camper in tow.

I spied one track which showed signs of being used by a small vehicle in recent times - a week, a month, who knows in the dry, parched conditions. So gritting my teeth, and always looking for an area to back out of, I very slowly trekked for over 5 km of navigable but washed out track used by the smaller vehicle. Eventually, I spied a large shed - man has been here I thought. The large shed was empty and no one was around. I pushed on a little bit further until I saw a form of habitation, sort of.

A few hundred meters on, I saw another structure through the scrub. Has my luck changed? Getting out of the vehicle, looking around, all I could see was a building where was previously shearers' quarters. This had not been used for some years, but there were old and disused sheep paddocks nearby. It was obvious there was no one around, and the man-built structures hadn't been used for some considerable time.

There were scattered and rusted remnants around the area. I recall even seeing the rusting remains of a hot water donkey, something I hadn't seen since my Army Reserve days.

This was the Station where I spend my first years with my Mum and Dad looking after sheep. There were signs that the property once had sheep, as the fencing would be unsuitable for cattle. It's probably fortunate I have no recollection of my early years there; just some old photographs with my Dad, and notes recorded by my Mum.

Time to navigate my way back, following my own tracks. I made my way back to Adavale and set up camp in the fenced ground of the Community Centre. Just as I arrived, I heard a too familiar sound coming from the Camper. I was driving on a nearly flat tyre, this time on the driver's side. Not another one!!! No good cussing, I changed it for the tyre I had fitted in Bedourie, and set up camp for the night. The facilities were as promised, and very clean.

First warm shower for a couple of days, and feeling good, it was time for a cold ale or two at the Adavale Pub. Dined on frozen fish and frozen chips, and no salad or vegetables - all out, or unsuitable for human consumption. It was still beautiful as it was a meal I didn't have to cook it myself in the Camper.

I was the only customer for a while, when a local called in for a per-dinner beer. We chatted, as you do in the bush, and it turns out he used to work at Wakes Lagoon long after my folks had left, and, he is related to another Aunt of mine raised on Tanbar Station, and now living in Gympie. He knew both my Uncles, and members of the Kidd family. It is really a small world in the West. I had heard though out my travels of a song which had been written about Sandy Kidd - the Outback icon now retired in the Far North. Now, I knew the name of the singer - Jeff or Geoff Brown. I'd have to get a copy of this song when I return to civilisation.

The local told me that Wakes Lagoon Homestead totally burnt down many years ago, which is why there is nothing left - except for the large shed, the shearers's quarters, and a hot water donkey which is believed to have started the fire. Everyone blamed the kerosene stove, but the bush tells a different story. No one was killed or injured in this fire thankfully.

I suspect that what I saw at Wakes Lagoon may have been the burnt remains of that rusted old donkey, but I had no inclination of travelling back there to take a photograph. I crossed Wakes Lagoon off my bucket list.

Day 23 - Adavale to Charleville.

One busted tyre, and most likely another that must be repaired/replaced, made me reassess my itinerary somewhat. I decided to skip Thargominda and Currawinya NP this trip (I've been told the Bilby vermin-proof area is hidden from view anyhow) as there are more gravel and dirt roads. And, importantly I was almost out of clean clothing, so I slowly took the direct route from Adavale to Charleville, bypassing Quilpie.

I arrived in Charleville, my Birthplace. My birth Doctor was Outback legend Dr Louis Ariotti (now deceased) at Charleville Hospital, and his autobiography is fascinating reading of life in the Outback in that era.

I checked into a powered site at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park ($30) - a favourite both Marie and I like. And, it was Camp Over Dinner night, so that confirmed my choice of camps for the night. Ah, freshly washed clothes again. A real camp oven dinner. Life doesn't get better than this folks.

I would decide later tonight after a feed where to head next. Having seen and heard enough birds during my trip, I would have to decide if I would visit Bowra, outside Cunnamulla.
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root -- Chinese Proverb
John & Marie
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