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Bowen to Charters Towers

About 250 km north of Mackay, Bowen is just off the Bruce Highway. We briefly dropped in to visit Flagstaff Hill Lookout and Interpretive Centre, which overlooks the coast and provides sweeping views out to Gloucester Island. The road up to the lookout was steep and caravans were not allowed so Rod and I had to hoof it to the top...invigourating exercise that we needed after a day on the road.

Flagstaff Hill Lookout and Interpretive Centre

We decided to head out of Bowen, inland again...about 70 km towards the Collinsville coal mine, where we turned off the main road and ventured about 20 km down the Strathalbyn Road (rough dirt) where we camped for the night near a dry river bed...not another sole to be seen anywhere....especially with a caravan in tow. Along the way we saw a dingo, a feral pig and lots of 'bos indicus'cattle with floppy drooping ears.

Colinsville roadNext morning we backtracked and continued about 30 km along the Colinsville road before branching off to take the scenic route to the Burdekin Falls Dam (Lake Dalrymple)....rough dirt road of about 120km, with corrugations by the score...and floodways and dips at every corner. The trip took the best part of a full day to negotiate but was fun.

The country was fairly hilly and savannah-like, but its remoteness was a welcome respite from the highway clogged with fellow nomads.

Quite a few of the stations we drove through had signs on their gates prohibiting shooting, camping etc but this one, just west of Bowen River Hotel, amused us the most.

Bowen River

 

The road across Lake Dalrymple took us right in front of the dam wall and spillway, which we Burdekin Falls Dam (Lake Dalrymplefound quite fascinating and we rapidly concluded that 4x4 or not, it was a couple of kilometres negotiated only when blue skies were present..

We took a quick look at Lake Dalrymple and continued on...if you've seen one lake...you've seen them all.

We stayed at a free campsite near Macrossan Bridge, on the Burdekin River, about 21 km east of Charters Towers.

Burdekin Falls Dam (Lake DalrympleThere is no shortage of space, although plenty of other nomads have discovered it as well, and it has clean toilets and (cold) showers. We will probably stay here for another night to catch our breath before heading off to Georgetown goldfields.

Photo of road train on Macrossan Bridge over Burdekin River near campsite.

 

Burdekin Falls Dam (Lake Dalrymple

Charters Towers

Gold was discovered in the Charter Towers area in the mid 1880's. Buildings constructed during that period reflect the wealth and prosperity that was generated from mining.

The striking buildings pictured below have each been beautifully restored.

Charters Towers

From left to right: The Australian Bank of Commerce building, City Hall in the centre and the Stock Exchange Arcade on the right.

The Venus Gold Battery

The Venus Gold BatteryWhilst in Charters Towers we visited the Venus Mill which is currenly under restoration by the National Trust of Queensland, having laid idle since 1973 when it finally ceased operations.

It was originally constructed in 1872, by Messrs Plant and Jackson who erected a five head gold stamp battery near the junction of George Creek and Cape River to crush the gold bearing ore mined from the Charters Tower area. Around the turn of the century a major rebuilding and expansion programme was undertaken and the completed mill contained 2 stone breakers, 2 elevators, 7 stamp batteries, 7 Wilfrey tables and 40 grinding pans...all driven by a 100 horsepower steam engine.

 

The Venus Gold BatteryPart of the exhibition at the Gold Battery included a small (holographic) 'ghost' on his own little stage narrating the gold mining & milling history of the Venus Mill and Charters Towers. There was also a separate holographic display projected through spraying water, where the same 'ghost' talked about some of the colourful people that lived in Charters Towers during its heyday. The tour was very informative, interesting and very well done...particularly good value too...at only $6.00 each

 

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