2013.2 Western Qld Second Trip - Day 18

Monday, Oct 07, 2013 at 07:50

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

Day 18
Monday 7 October 2013
Campsite: Ourimperee Waterhole, Currawinya National Park, Hungerford
Campsite Co-ordinates: 144.512039°E, 28.8832660°S
Cost of Camping Site: National Parks fee is $5.45/person/night
Amenities: Clean, serviced flushing toilets with toilet paper suppled and hand basin with running water. Simple but functional M/F bush showers. Be prepared to drive from campsite to amenities. Toilets are communal, but lockable doors provide a modicum of privacy, and are located about 75m SW of Woodshed; bush showers are a couple of hundred meters S of Woolshed down track towards camping areas. Longish walk, or quick drive, to both facilities.
Distance travelled: 261km
Weather forecast: Sunny. Winds southeast to southwesterly 15 to 20 km/h tending northeast to southeasterly 20 to 30 km/h before dawn then tending south to southwesterly in the morning. Overnight temperatures falling to between 14° and 17° with daytime temperatures reaching around 40°.
Well today I will visit Hungerford, and then through to Currawinya National Park. I mentioned in one of my early dispatches that my great-grandparents Hop and Annie Thomas at one stage passed through and possibly managed Currawinya Station (now a National Park). With two young children aboard, Hop, Annie and children Charles and Marjorie moved from Currawinya to Headingly Station, Urandangie. Hop was the first Manager in 1916 when Headingly was bought by the AACo from Sir Sidney Kidman. The only female child, Marjorie, was later to become my grandmother.

A quick drive through Thargo didn't really show anything I hadn't seen before. The Information Centre was closed, I refuelled with some expensive coffee-flavoured cow juice, and checking directions to the Dowling Track at Fergie's Roadhouse, was on my way. There is an interesting sculpture on the way out - "Drawing Water" - an artist's depiction of the important role of artesian water to development and survival of the Australian Outback. Unusual, I thought, considering the "The Great Artesian Basin covers almost a quarter of the Australian continent, and contains enough water to cover the world over".

Yes, we need the rains to supplement the groundwater and surface water to flush and fill creeks, rivers, springs and dams. Acknowledging that artesian water is not an unlimited resource, exactly what are the 4,700 bores doing to "provide the only continuous source of water throughout much of inland Australia"?

The Thargominda Hungerford Road (the Dowling Track) started out with 21 km of bitumen, and then the dirt, and the dust, and some corrugated patches, and the inevitable but sneaky bull dust patches as well as the essential road works. Driving to conditions, I managed 50 to 80 kph. On the way, and passing Kilcowera Station, I just had to have a look at the camping facilities. A short 13km drive on the good dirt road that would be sus. in wet weather, three closed gates to negotiate, a few unpredictable emus and I arrived. Unannounced, there was no one there. Kilcowera looked like a pleasant place to spend a day or two.

Continuing down the Dowling Track, I am always cautious of grid crossings, etc., travellers should note there are a few nasties to be taken at slow speed.

Arriving in Hungerford, I peered at the border crossing, wondering if the fence and gate were to keep Queenslanders in, or those pesky New South Welshmen out! Wild Dog Barrier Fence indeed. T'was early afternoon, and I reckoned I needed another stubbie cooler, with an ICB inside, and a steak sanger. The Royal Mail Hotel, built in 1870, obliged, but at a massive price.

Refreshed, it was off to Currawinya NP. Staff were busy preparing for the aerial baiting of 1080 for foxes and wild dogs. I had a quick look inside the Visitor Centre and explaining my purpose to a very helpful Ranger, was shown some old photographs of buildings on the property. Some buildings remain there to this day. I arranged to return tomorrow to spend some more time looking at the historical records on Currawinya. Promising that I wouldn't be bombarded with 1080 baits at Ourimperee Waterhole, I left the Rangers to their work and had a look around at where the old mud brick (prise) homestead once stood. The building was long ago demolished in one of the Paroo floods.

The Waterhole is a billabong off the main Paroo River, which would fill when the River floods. If it rains, get out quick! There was little birdlife to be seen or unheard, unless you count the mozzies which attacked just on dusk. On turbid, clay-coloured water, I was amazed that the couple of hours before sunset, the only bird I saw, and birdsong I heard, was a solitary willie wagtail. Maybe tomorrow morning, oh, I forgot it's a public holiday. Maybe? Might have to factor in a future trip to some of the other waterholes and lakes in the Park for a look.
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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