From this :
to this :
Leaving the Northern Territory I headed west from Threeways near Tennant Creek along highway 66 … not quite the same as America’s fabled Route 66 to California, but heading to the beach all the same. Much as I like the outback, I was getting tired of red dust everywhere through the car and my stuff !
When you cross over the border into Queensland you don’t really need the welcome sign to tell you are in a different state, the road condition tells it all …I don’t think the highway around Camooweal is on the Qld government’s priority list. From a good wide highway it changes to a narrow road barely one lane wide, forcing you onto the gravel regularly when a truck comes the other way. Closer to Mt Isa the road improves, thanks to the mining traffic no doubt ?
When I was a kid growing up in a small English town, one of the books that really made an impression on me was Nevil Shute’s “A town like Alice“. His descriptions of the cattle country of the Gulf Country around the fictional town of Willstown were so alien to southern England that they have always made me want to visit the area, so at Cloncurry I turned north and headed to Normanton.
Alice Springs has changed since he wrote “A town like Alice” but I imagine not much has changed in towns like Normanton or Croydon except for the grey nomads who now visit the area. The streets are still wide enough to turn a bullock team around, the pubs still have the verandahs to sit on, and life goes on at the same slow pace.
One of Normanton’s claims to fame is that the largest crocodile ever shot was just down the river from town.
On the main street is “Krys”, a life size replica of a crocodile shot nearby, said to be the largest ever. It was measured at 28ft 4 in, or 8.63metres, weighing an estimated 2000kgs. It is named after Krystina Pawlowski, the woman who shot it …I bet she was no “Nervous Nellie”.
Next day it was eastwards again to Croydon, which at one time had 37 pubs but now only one survives, and then the countryside started to change. After driving late into the night I awoke to find hills and lush greenery ! A slight detour took me to Millstream Falls, supposedly the widest single drop falls in Australia, but i’m not so sure about that ?
I was planning on staying in Cooktown, but the caravan parks were almost full, and the camping areas none too inviting so I headed on to the Lions Den hotel, one of the best known bush pubs in Australia. It’s basically a tin shed, decorated with stickers, signatures on the walls, old signs, footy shirts and bras, but they do a thriving trade. Not for the first time on this trip, I noticed that nearly all the staff were backpackers. I guess a lot of Aussies would rather remain on the dole in the cities than work out bush ?
Then next day it was down the Bloomfield Track to Cape Tribulation for a few days R&R by the beach:
ahh, time to get out the hammock …
Some more photos, click to see the larger version :