Cloncurry to Tennant Creek
19.07.2014 - 20.07.2014 25 °C
[ This post can cover two over night stops.
We slept reasonably well at the unpretentious Wagon Wheel Motel in Cloncurry and before leaving town we visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum where you learn all about Flynn, pedal radios and School of the Air. We left Cloncurry by about 10.30. We had been told that the scenery between Cloncurry and Mount Isa was quite beautiful, and indeed it was as picturesque as any we have seen on this trip, largely due to the ore-rich, multi-coloured hills and rocky outcrops. We couldn't resist a side trip to the abandoned and deserted site of the Mary Kathleen township. These days it's just an isolated campsite with incongruously elaborate kerbing. We also checked out the Clem Walton Park on the Corella River. Tourist Info at Cloncurry had told us it was a great place to camp if you were pretty self-sufficient and keen on birds. It was much more "outback" than the name It was all true.
We stopped for lunch in Mount Isa, at the Buffs Club on a local tip. Lunch took longer than we'd have liked, having become unaccustomed to queueing. Apart from having the biggest mullock heap I've yet seen, Mt Isa seemed to have little of interest. Anyway, we had booked the night in Camooweal near the NT border. Camooweal is technically a suburb of Mt Isa, and the 188k stretch of the Barkly Highway between them is said to be the longest main street in the world. Camooweal sure feels like an isolated tiny one-pub outback town with nothing in every direction though, and our accommodation was in the pub itself, the Post Office Hotel/Motel.
Since we had time before dinner, we drove across the almost dry Georgina River and down the dirt track to the water holes. This would be the place to stay if you were camping, and we chatted with a few grey nomads who were sitting outside their vans enjoying the peaceful evening. I was pleased to spot Yellow-billed Spoonbills and Pink-eared Duck among the birdlife there.
The dinner at the pub was delicious - the best stuffed capsicum ever. The accommodation, while only $85 per night, was pretty forgettable though. While we were OK sharing the bathroom with the 2 or 3 other travellers, the rooms had the thinnest walls ever, and high internal windows with no blinds. It was Saturday night. Say no more.
As early as we could get away, we got out of Camooweal and crossed the NT border headed for Tennant Creek. The country remained flattish, scrubby, and the day warm. At Three-Ways Roadhouse we stopped heading west, and turned south on to the Stuart Highway.
Just before the modern town of Tennant Creek we came to the historic telegraph station, an oasis on a long hot trip for many a dusty traveller from the 1860s to about the 1930s and still an atmospheric place.
Our large, comfortable, octagonal shaped room at the Bluestone Motor Inn seemed like an oasis to us after the previous night, and dinner there was pretty good too. Zzzzz