Craig did quite a bit of research into what vehicle and van would work best for our needs on this trip. Gotta say, he did a great job. He loved the car from the get go, and towing the van has been pretty easy. Typically we average between 14-15ltrs of diesel fuel per 100km. Towing the van with a roaring headwind all the way from Winton to Hughenden wasn’t fun and our average fuel consumption blew out to 20ltrs per 100km.
On arriving we discovered our first problem. The Anderson plug to the van has been wired to top up the battery in the van as we drive. It however, was missing in action. All that was left of it were some sheared off cables with the copper hanging out! I can only imagine the journey it would have had. Holding on and slowly but surely losing it’s grip on the connector to bounce and drag along the harsh bitumen of the Kennedy Development Rd. Made me think of watching Westerns with my dad, where some villian or poor hero has his hands tied and is dragged along behind a horse, loosing bits of flesh along the way. Luckily, we were camped right next to a helpful retired auto mechanic. He gave Craig some good advice and now we have a shopping list to repair it.
The second thing we lost on this leg of the journey was a tightening screw off the caravan awning. We lost one previously and they are expensive (for what they are) and tricky to replace. You also have to buy them in pairs! So we had a single spare handy for the one we lost this time. I usually put the awning away… soooo it’s probably my fault. No more spares! Must remember to tighten these screws properly!
Hughenden is 300m above sea level. That’s like living above Mt Coolum. The days were a little cooler reaching a maximum of 32 degrees during the day and we had one morning were it was a crisp 16degrees. It was a bit of a novelty to reach for a jumper or extra blanket. In a rare show of solidarity, the children snuggled together to keep warm.
The whole reason we came here was to continue the dinosaur trail so I’d better get back to gas-bagging about fossils. The Flinder’s Discovery Centre has a life size replica of Hughie the Muttaburrasaurus. The original bones were found in Muttaburra and another skull, a few teeth and some additional bones were found in Hughenden. The Centre has a vast array of fossils and gemstones, a good video explaining the formation of Porcupine Gorge, a sheep industry display and a collection of items from years gone by. While this Centre has a lot of stuff, it lacked explanation of what was there and hence, my attention span was pretty limited. I wasn’t the only one! A few groups of people came and went in the time we were inside and I imagine the average length of visit would fall short of the one hour mark.
The town has many dinosaur related installations throughout. It also has locusts! Winton has flies, Hughenden locusts, I can’t wait to see how big the pests get at our next stop! Oh, also be careful of the Hughenden cows. They eat cars apparently.
Flinders River runs through town and at 1004kms, is Queensland’s longest river. It was almost bone dry. A small puddle under the bridge and a muddy section near the bank was all that was left of it in Hughenden. It was kind of surreal to see bike tracks along the riverbed and is yet another reminder of how desperately these towns need a decent drop of rain.
A walking trail winds its way along the bank of the river, includes an eco walk and, according to Craig, one of the best public fitness trails he has seen. That being said, he did think it was lacking lower body exercises… for his liking. Never skip leg day! There were also quite a few windmills, and windmill memorials around town. Thanks to Krissy, we now strain our eyeballs to see if they are Southern Cross windmills.
Heading to the local Chinese restaurant was a novelty and we figured the kids could practice their language skills. They only really said ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’, which is not nearly enough to warrant calling it a Chinese class. Amelie was fascinated with all of the Chinese decorations and told us the story of why the Chinese like the colour red. Well, she tried to. She gets a bit muddled with the details (as do I frequently enough), so Xavier corrected the story (as Craig is often left to do) and Craig and I learned a little something from the kids.Another interesting place to visit was the FJ Holden cafe. It is owned by Frankie J Holden and his wife and was a real step back in time. Juke boxes, Elvis memorabilia, Coca Cola collections and of course an extensive collection of all things Holden. The burgers were good too!
The absolute best thing about Hughenden, (in my humble opinion) was heading out to Porcupine Gorge. This is where a pyramid section of rock is exposed and reveals the layers of earth as it formed. It was a pretty hot day when we ventured there and I was looking forward to cooling off once we hit the water at the bottom.
It’s spectacularly beautiful in the gorge with caves of all sizes carved out of the softer sandstone and while their was water in various pools, it wasn’t flowing. The stagnant water had a lot of ‘stuff’ growing in it. You know, the plants and algaes that make swimming unappealing. That stuff. Most of the remaining pools were in the deepest parts of the river bed and the sides of the rocks were mostly vertical. This made it difficult to even sit on the edge and dangle our feet in the water.
A steep walk into the gorge meant a steep climb out! It took a lot of sweat with a few complaints after seeing false summits but we made it back and treated ourselves to cold fruit and yoghurt. Hooray for a car fridge! I also had to explain what these dragonflies were doing.
So, that pretty much sums up Hughenden. Wait! Just in case anyone was waiting with baited breath to hear if the pool tour continues… yes, for the record, Craig and Amelie swam in the Hughenden pool. Now, we head towards our final destination on the Dinosaur trail, Richmond.