Enjoying some of the State's remote towns

Kamikaze flies just one of the hazards of outback touring

Story and Photos:  DENNIS AMOR

FLIES, flies and more flies ... that was the most irritating thing about our adventure into the arid central Queensland outback. Even some of the locals were wearing fly veils!

The swarms of kamikaze flies were the result of recent weather changes, or so we were told.

But it was not only the pesky air raiders that posed problems. We also chipped our windscreen, hit a kangaroo, took on water-contaminated fuel which left us stranded at the side of the road and almost mowed down a dingo busily feeding on road kill.The open road ahead

Despite all this, it was an interesting and enjoyable trip to some of the more remote towns of the State.

The three-week, 2680-kilometre odyssey took in Dalby, Roma, Tambo, Blackall, Barcaldine, Willows Gemfields, Emerald, Biloela and Cania Gorge.

Our Ford Falcon AU, hauling an 18ft Jayco Westport full shower 'van, guzzled 538 litres of petrol, averaging 4.97 kilometres a litre.

Leaving Gympie, we headed along the Wide Bay Highway and lunched at Goomeri before making for Cooyar where we overnighted at a very pleasant rest area. Total mileage for the day was 222km.

The Long Paddock ... just one of the hazards of outback drivingNext morning we joined the quiet Warrego Highway and headed west to the Yuleba rest area for the second night. It was then onto Mitchell for three nights, taking advantage of the wonderful Artesian Spa there.

Continuing along the Warrego Highway, we explored the delightful town of Morven before heading north onto the Matilda Highway and into Tambo. We overnighted on the delightful, though sometimes noisy, rest area alongside the lakes at the southern end of town.

While in Tambo, we visited Tambo Teddies and came away with a very cute and cuddly teddy called Wellwater Whiskey, named after one of the local properties.

It was then on to Blackall for the night. We pitched in a large grass field alongside the Barcoo River near the town centre. Pleasant enough, though no facilities.  We joined the Capricorn Highway at Barcaldine, where we turned east and spent two nights at the very acceptable local showground.Outback sunset

Next day we pottered along for just under 100km before dropping the 'van steadies for one night on the delightful Jericho Showgrounds. Wonderful manicured grass, concrete slabs, toilets and hot showers ... all courtesy of the local authority.

We continued heading east to the Willows Gemfields where we stayed for three nights. Not the best of sites thanks to the prolonged drought and lack of water. And the fact that we spent virtually the whole three backbreaking days digging, wielding a pick, sifting and washing rocks without even a glimmer of a sapphire or other gemstone didn't help.

On to Emerald and serious shopping for provisions. The night was spent at the city's Botanical Gardens rest area before continuing along the Capricorn Highway through Blackwater and Dingo, turning right and into Dululu.

We overnighted here at the very nice rest area provided by the local Progress Association. The association is to be congratulated on a well-kept andOops ... no fuel! welcome facility.

Then it was on to the sometimes narrow and rough-surfaced Highway 17 to Biloela and three nights visiting relatives.

A little further south saw us arrive at the enchanting BIG4 site at Cania Gorge for a couple of nights. We cannot recommend this well run and friendly site enough. It's well worth a visit.

On the final day we continued heading south along Highway 17 to Goomeri where we turned left onto the Wide Bay Highway and home.



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Day 1: Gympie to Cooyar - 222km

Day 2: Cooyar to Yulebar - 281km

Day 3: Yuleba to Mitchell - 162km

Day 4 and 5: Mitchell

Day 6: Mitchell to Tambo - 312km

Day 7: Tambo to Blackall - 110km

Day 8: Blackall to Barcaldine - 112km

Day 9: Barcaldine

Day 10: Barcaldine to Jericho - 92km

Day 11: Jericho to Willows Gemfields - 168km

Day 12 and 13: Willows

Day 14: Willows to Emerald - 92km

Day 15: Emerald to Dululu - 249km

Day 16: Dululu to Biloela - 77km

Day 17 and 18: Biloela

Day 19: Biloela to Cania Gorge - 111km

Day 20: Cania Gorge

Day 21: Cania Gorge to Gympie - 386km

Incidental mileage without 'van in tow - 306km