Travelling Australia - Journal 2009
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13 August 2009 - Quilpie to Thargomindah
Today we planned to drive from Quilpie south to Thargomindah. There is a nearly direct road but it includes 45 to 55 kilometres of gravel; a van arrived in Quilpie a couple of days ago from that road with brakes not working after gravel severed the brake wiring. That re-inforced our belief that we should not take our van on gravel. But we had further to go to stay on bitumen. First, the road south from Quilpie until the turn-off to Eulo, then along that road to the Cunnamulla-Thargomindah road (Bulloo Development Road) and west to Thargomindah. The first two roads were narrow bitumen but traffic was almost non-existent. Numerous cattle grids sometimes posed a problem; as a general rule, grids are flush with the bitumen and we need not slow down to cross them (on dirt or gravel roads this does not apply), but on this section many grids were a little lower than the bitumen and slowing down to cross grids became fairly normal.

The Bulloo Development Road between Cunnamulla and Thargomindah was much better, good bitumen, level grids and mostly wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other without leaving the bitumen. There was a little more traffic on this road which goes beyond Thargomindah to Innamincka

Terrain was mostly fairly flat but with a small area of low, eroding mesa after we turned towards Eulo. This was still Channel Country so the terrain comprised slightly higher hills of some rock and red earth with extensive channels and floodplains of cracking clay between. Vegetation was predominantly mulga with increasing eucalyptus species on the floodplains and along channels.

Passing through pastoral holdings we saw sheep and cattle and passed several small groups of feral goats running into the scrub as soon as they saw or heard us. The most unexpected animals were a group of one camel, about a dozen goats, three donkeys and two or three alpacas. A truly unusual group; the camel was feeding on higher mulga trees and as it pulled branches down the goats stood on their hind legs to reach the leaves. They were unconcerned when I walked around them taking photographs so we think they came from the Toompine Hotel which was around the bend.
Camel and goats Camel and goats feeding on mulga beside the road. These appeared to be tame animals from nearby Toompine hotel.

Emu Emus were widespread throughout South-West Queensland; they were often seen crossing the road in groups, this was one of four which burst out of the scrub ahead of us to cross the road.

Emus remained fairly common. As we were leaving Quilpie two crossed the road in front of us; while I was watching them on the left side of the road to make sure they didn't turn back another two came out of the scrub on the right hand side beside us and began crossing the road. We were doing about 50 kph but it was far too late to stop; I had visions of one bird going between the Pathfinder and EuroStar and the other running into the side of the caravan. An emu running into the coupling could damage wiring between car and van, not to mention the blood and gore. An emu hitting the side of the van at relatively slow speed may have bounced off, dead or alive; worst option was emu blood and entrails smeared over the damaged side of the van. But they both turned away before impact.

Weather all day was mostly good with gentle breeze and comfortable temperature. Some mid-level cloud was present and thickened in the west after midday. A few drops of rain fell about half an hour before Thargomindah and the windscreen wipers were used briefly. The dusty bonnet had individual raindrop marks in the dust showing how little rain actually fell on us.

Arriving in Thargomindah we made our way to the only caravan park at the end of the main street and checked in for two nights (later extended to three). We selected our own very large drive-through site and set up.
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