Farewell Northern Territory, hello Queensland

4th June 2013

Today we had a fairly long drive ahead of us with 675kms to Mt. Isa, so it was up early (for someone on holidays), a quick brekky and a slick pack-up job. We were underway before 8:00am and drove the half dozen kilometres north of Tennant Creek to the Shell roadhouse at Three Ways to top up the tanks. I was standing at the Prado's fuel filler door, bowser nozzle in hand waiting for the pump to come to life, and continued to wait, and waited some more thinking to myself...."This place didn't look that busy????" until I noticed a sign on top of the bowser that instructs you to leave Photo ID with the attendant before fuel will flow. Apparently "drive-offs" are a big problem up this way.

We eventually took care of the refuelling business and took off towards the Queensland border.

For several days now we'd been seeing masses of small termite hills on the roadside, usually no more that 40 to 50cm high. Now we began to see very different mounds, dotted throughout the bush, that were much, much larger and grandiose, and rounded. These were obviously built by the Grollo genis of termites.

Puny N.T. Termite mounds

More stately Qld. mounds

Another attempt at a cup of coffee was made at the Roadhouse at Barkly Homestead. This was another combination Roadhouse/Bar/Entertainment Venue that appeared to be the only thing around for miles. Unfortunately, their coffee vending machine had broken the day before so we paid our money and were given two paper coffee cups. They were improvising by plugging in a "Tiffany" electric jug where the dead machine had been removed from, and a container sitting nearby offered sachets of instant coffee or tea bags. To add insult to injury, the carton of milk provided was UHT!

The most remarkable thing here was seeing our first really big roadtrain, 4 trailers long. Until now there'd only been B triples, but this behemoth made them look like toys. It took the driver quite a distance to wind the whole rig up to speed after leaving the Roadhouse.

After all the magnificent scenery we'd witnessed, and the ever-changing hills, mesas and ranges, we drove over a rise to be faced with a wide expanse of ....nothing. There was literally no feature, tree or animal to be seen for as far as could be seen.

Little wonder there's nothing and no-one out there, and there's no fuel for the 260kms between Barkly Homestead and Camoweal so you'd better hope for favourable winds. The wind that day was not favourable to us and we drove most of the day with a fairly stiff breeze coming from the passenger side and slightly head-on. Our fuel consumption figure rocketted to 17.2 litres per 100kms, but with 150 litres of diesel on board, we had plenty of range to spare.

A short time before we rolled into Camoweal, we crossed the border into sunny Queensland. The temperature had climbed steadily over the day, and later peaked at 28 degrees. Sharon wanted to organise the payment of a bill, so when we pulled up at the public toilets in Camoweal, directly across the road from the Post Office, it was too good an opportunity. The Post Office was also the General Store so after Sharon took care of business, I selected a couple of Dixie Cup icecreans out of the freezer which went down well.

It was getting late in the afternon when we finally arrived at Mt. Isa and the first couple of Parks had no powered sites left. The Grey Nomads seem to have an annoying  habit of travelling only short distances and setting up stumps shortly after lunchtime. This means that anyone puling in late had better hope they've booked ahead. Luckily we weren't too late and settled ourselves in for two nights at a smallish Park on the outskirts of town. Later that night I was over at the ammenities block taking care of some business when I heard and felt a massive, deep rumble that sounded like thunder. I know it hadn't come from me so I was wondering "Earthquake???" until I remebered Sharon reading out some interesting facts about Mt. Isa.  This is a mining town, and the huge mine is down one end of town. At around 8:00am, and again at 8:00pm each day, the explosive charges that have been set by the preceeding shift are detonated. The noise and vibration of the blast can be felt across the whole town. Chalk up another unique experience.

Mt. Isa mine


  1. Hey guys no decent coffee!!! will have to rectify that might have to take our machine with us when we eventually head that way. Glad it wasn't you making the noise in the loos gaz!!!

  2. Hi Gaz I was wondering if the rumble assisted you in taking care of "business" god knows I could do with a bit of assistance on that front down here!!