We’re all packed and ready to leave Kuranda. We are going to head out towards Mareeba and inland and down from there. We hope to make Charters Towers for the night. It doesn’t take long to get out of the rainforests and into the open.
We passed through the Atherton Tablelands and across the tops of the hills. There are orchards of mangos, bananas and sugar cane here. We drove through Misty Mountain, with rainforest either side, and spot several road signs telling us to slow down as Tree Kangaroo and Cassowary cross the road in this area. I would have liked to stop and wait for one, but I suspect we could have been there a while.As we came over the top of one hill we saw several wind turbines in front of us. So we pulled in to the lay-by provided to view them, and took photos and read the info. Boy, was it cold when we got out the car! A sudden contrast after being in Port Douglas the day before, we had to hunt out winter sweat shirts to put on.Much of the road from Mt Garnet is dirt with a narrow strip of seal down the middle. You wonder why they bothered. When anything comes towards you, you both have to put your left wheels in the dirt as you pass. Unless you’re a road train of course, everyone else has to leave the road for those guys! After a while we started seeing road signs to LJ. Not too sure what or where LJ is, we can’t seem to find it on our map, but the last sign said LJ20. 20kms to LJ. We know we’re coming to a junction in the road within that distance, so I guess that explains the J. Another sign tells us of the Oasis Roadhouse 2kms up a road we aren’t taking, but we’ll go there anyway, to refuel the car and ourselves. Out here you do that at all the stops in case there isn’t anywhere else. We find that LJ stands for the Lynd Junction, where the Kennedy Highway meets the Gregory Deviation Rd, and the Kennedy Deviation Rd. Good news the servo is a BP, bad news they don’t take fuel cards, lucky they take credit cards. The woman leaned over the counter andpeered out the window to read the bowser from where she stood, as there was no electronic connection between pump and till. This place did, however, boast the smallest pub in Australia. I think the tables and chairs were only outside, you would be served from inside.There’s about 250kms to Charters Towers from here and the road hasn’t got any better. It’s still a narrow strip of seal with red dirt either side, and as well as dodging road trains, we now have Brahman cattle wandering about on the road. The Brahman are a hardy breed that survive in places that ordinary cattle don’t. I reckon they’d probably survive on the moon, given half a chance. Other than the cattle and the trucks, and the gum trees around us, there’s no more life for miles and miles. Great outback travel – I love it! We arrived in Charters Towers just after 4.30pm, and drove round and round looking for a campground. They are there, we saw the signs on the way in. We followed the directions for a few streets, we couldn’t find anything. Even the signs vanished, leaving us wondering if there was anything there in the first place.
Around_Kuranda_051.jpg We eventually stumbled across one, called the Mexican Tourist Park. By this time we’d decided to get a unit instead of putting the tent up. Units are usually cheap enough, often cheaper than a motel room. Ha, we pretty soon found out why it’s called the Mexican – it’s by a bunch of bandits! (Going by price for quality). And what place takes cash only these days? Got ourselves settled into a unit anyway and wandered into town for a drink and a feed at one of the many pubs that dot the main streets. Charters Towers has some very ornate old buildings, many of them pubs, and a lot of these buildings have towers mounted on top of them, some with bells in. It was a shame to see that some of these lovely old pubs closed and boarded up, we found one that was operating and went in. It’s always a bit off-putting entering one of these small town pubs, as the drinkers are always sat around the bar, and when a stranger enters, all eyes seem to turn towards this stranger. It’s not long, however, before you find yourself included conversations with the locals, dispelling any feelings of discomfort.We had a drink at the bar and then made our way to the dining room. There was a good choice of vegetable dishes from which to choose and help yourself to, to put with some cooked meat. We ordered a bottle of wine, and the girl serving us went out the back for it. She couldn’t find the one we wanted, so she went to the bottle store for it. We got it at the bottle store, price instead of the over the counter price, which is usually a few dollars dearer. You gotta love these back country pubs.After a good feed, we moved to the more comfortable lounge chairs and sat for a while watching several people pour their earnings through the pokies.