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Friday, 13 December 2013

Driving to Miss Betty ... via a western route ... Part 1.

After three weeks away, MLP has three days leave. Yea!  If we tack them onto a weekend, we can turn them into a road trip to see Miss Betty before we head south. But where to go for these five days?


I've always hankered to see the Undara lava tubes ... and ... MLP just looovvveees to drive.  So, we have hatched a plan ... drive west ... then north ... then east ... then south. A spectacular plan. Over 1000kms, give or take a couple of hundred kilometres, not far in FNQ. 

So, let's get started.

First we have to drop Ralphter off at the Townsville Pet Resort along the way.  He can't be home alone.

Pet Resort! Who ever decided pets should board in "resorts"?!?  But it IS a resort and he loves being pampered there.

We then drive west with Defence Force Land on either side.

A red flag flies ... live firing in progress. Gulp!

Hope they don't overshoot.

Hope they're not on their Ls for firing.

Hope, hope, hope.



Evidence of man comes in the form of ubiquitous graffiti, even in the middle of seemingly nowhere! Man's incessant desire to leave his mark.


And tall communications towers which soar skywards from the above the top of eucalyptus forests. 


We see few other travellers ... but when we do they're mostly BIG! Just as the warning signs indicate.



The road is good but, at rare times, becomes quite narrow.  This is when we hope not to encounter one of these behemoths and, luckily, we don't.


To complicate things, cattle, some of which are also BIG, seem to enjoy a freedom to wander beyond the fence.


You've got to love the road signs.  Simple and clear!


We reach the mighty Burdekin, which, in contrast to most rivers and creeks we cross, actually has some water.  But, like most other water courses in this part of country, much of its width is dry, silted and waiting for the summer rains to come.

Rain is threatening, but not the monsoonal downpours that will bring these rivers and their surrounds to life. 


We glimpse a pair of emus but they are gone before I can snap them. We see wallabies, galahs, white cockatoos, hawks and, after around five hours, we arrive at Undara and its railways carriages nestling quietly in the bush. A guard of honour of pretty faced wallabies lines the road, seemingly disinterested in our interruption of their afternoon nibbling.

Feel the serenity!


We chose not to stay in the beautiful carriages as they aren't air conditioned and it's summer in FNQ. Sleep and air conditioning are inseparable friends.

We stay in a Pioneer Hut.  No where near as rustic as it sounds, but modern, en suited, comfortable and ... oh, oh ... as MLP notices quickly ... no TV.

YES!!!

I swear I didn't know! I didn't even think to ask.

Feel the serenity ... times two!

Searching for a TV??????

Our first excursion is to see the small bats which inhabit one of the lava tubes.  At sunset each night, they emerge into the night sky in search of food.

Thousands of them.

But first some very civilised champagne and a scrumptious cheese and fruit platter as we watch the sun set.


Then we venture into the mouth of the tube as thousands of tiny bats wing their way past us, skimming our ears, heads, arms, shoulders, dropping mementos of their presence on our ears, heads, arms, shoulders.

It's a matter of hold the camera and click away and, with some luck, bats might be caught in the camera's sight.

And they are.  Tiny, tiny bats clicking their way towards a night's feed.


No TV here either ...

But ... at the mouth of the lava tube, twirled in the tree branches, are night tiger snakes ... not focused on us, but totally focused on capturing a bat, a night's feed.

And one is lucky.


He twirls and wriggles as he manoeuvres his body to force the small bat into his dislocating jaws.  He is happy, but the feed will take him a long time and much effort to devour. His friend does not seem overly interested, perhaps he ate last night?

That night, as we sleep, rain peppers our roof and we sleep in the still and silence of the bush.

Oh, the serenity.

Have you travelled to the lava tubes?
Have you seen the bats and the pretty faced wallabies?
And felt the serenity?

Part 2 of our journey continues next week ...


Thanks for reading my blog post. I'd love it if you left a comment below for me to read.