Collecting the BT - 10,000 round trip

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 03, 2005 at 06:16
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Collecting the BT – a 10,000k Round Trip

Some of you have asked about the route we took and bush camps we made on the return trip to Kununurra WA after collecting the BT. Well here goes:….

Leaving Brisbane on the 10th June after ‘doing’ the Caravan and Camping Show we head north through Gympie and get off the main road asap. Our first nights camp was between Kilkaven and Biggenden was just off a narrow country road and was unsealed in places. It ran through forestry country where there were unlimited spots for bush camping with no litter, no flies and no people and heaps of firewood for a cool drizzly night.

Our next stop for a long weekend was outside Ambrose, north of Gladstone. Here we met with friends and attended the annual Old Station Fly In and Air Show. If you ever get the opportunity – it’s a great weekend. Aircraft ranged from a Mig 15 to a 73 year old De Haviland Rapide, a twin engined bi-plane that was the ultimate in restoration perfection and graceful air cruising. Plus we got to camp right down the edge of the runway only a few metres from the action. Even non-aviation fans would have enjoyed the ambience of the setting and activities.

Leaving on Tuesday 14th June we dash back into Gladstone to collect a 2.6m Zodiac inflatable boat we had ordered whilst at the show. We had visited too many water places not to travel with a boat of some sort! We then head northwards to the Capricorn Highway and set westward to an overnight camp outside Blackwater. This is a coal-mining centre and we stopped to free camp at the Bedford Weir 27 kms off the main road from town. A very pleasant spot with shady trees and good level campsite beside the lake – a great overnight spot.

The following day we continue westwards through Emerald, after a couple of hours delay here to get an exhaust fixed we find our next camp north of Capella. We took a very small country road just north of Capella that does a bit of a loop westwards before rejoining the GRD (Gregory Development Road) Found a fantastic ‘camp with a view’ in and old quarry site. There were signs of digging for semi- precious stones in the adjacent paddock – this whole area is known for its safire, zircon and other gemstones.

Thursday 16th June. Today we potter our way north on the GRD and about 250k north of Clermont we turn left on what appears to be a station track that, with luck, will allow us to cut the corner and not have to go right into Charters Towers This will spit us out onto the Flinders Highway about 70k west of Charters Towers - providing we don't get lost. Great campsites all along this narrow dirt track and you can stop wherever you fancy.

Friday 17th.
Today there is no option but to get back onto the blacktop as we continue westwards. On reaching Richmond in the late afternoon – we drove straight through the town (past our turnoff) and out past the airfield on a dirt road. Spying the trees of the Flinders River to our right we head off across the paddock to find a great site in the shady trees that follow the riverbed. River was dry – but we could have a hot shower instead of a swim in the river – more better as it is still pretty cool in the evenings.

Saturday 18th
Overnight bush camped (again) about 19 k east of Mount Isa down a track leading to Lake Julius - we were only down the road a kilometre or so - through an open gate on the left and down to a wooded area. Possibly private property but who knows - the gates were open and there were no signs and we didn’t see or hear a soul.

Saturday 18th.
Rolling ever westwards through the Isa and Camoweal and into the NT. Tonight we camped down a grader track off the main highway and RV’d with a friend who was towing one of our ex tractors to his block on the Queensland coast. Supper of roast beef and four veg in the camp oven and we managed to severely damage several bottles of wine.

Sunday 19th
Must of had a 'senior moment' this morning as we missed having the ritual Sunday breakfast of egg and bacon with all the trimmings - still we did get away by nine – albeit with a bit of a hangover!

Heading north on the NT’s Stuart Highway we turn off onto the dirt again just after Dunmarra. The latter is the cheapest place for fuel in the region and has the best homemade pies with flaky pastry tops – Yummy!

This road is the Buchanon Highway famous for the beef runs of the past. We crack onto another good bush camp about 20 k down this route that is a short cut to Kimberley region of WA. It cuts out Katherine and Victoria River Roadhouse and saves about 200 kms. If you keep your eyes open you will find many small tracks – these usually terminate in a road base quarry or a local place of interest – either way they are mostly excellent camp sites. (Steve has mentioned these in the past posts) Shortly after we had stopped, Ron and Viv Moon (well known authors who write caravanning and camping guide books) rolled in towing a well-known brand of road vans – this tiny unit ‘popped’ everywhere – the top and both at both ends. Ron came over and apologized for disturbing our peace and quiet, when I asked how the little van was handling the roads he replied with a grin – “You need to be ‘expert level’ with the screw gun” Popped everywhere!

After a peaceful overnight camp we carried on through Top Springs (pub caravan park and fuel station all in one building with unleaded at $1:45L and diesel a bit more) and caught up with friends at the VRD (Victoria River Downs Station) and then on for our last night bush camp at Jasper Gorge. There are a number of ‘one man and his dog’ sites scattered along the creek in the gorge. We had stayed here on our way east and there were no flies – now they were the major tenants. There are fish to be had in the creek – mostly Sooties (black bream) but strategic bait placement skills are necessary to get a feed.

Over the 4500 odd kilometres on the way home the BT behaved faultlessly. Towed really well – handled the sharp dips and creek crossings on the dirt tracks and allowed no dust in – despite us leaving a dust plume several kilometres long in places. It also ignored the large road trains that people say ‘suck you’ towards them as they pass. The only thing that got loose was a couple of flies at Jasper Gorge.

We would not normally travel at this pace, driving most days – but the pre retirement farm business had to be wrapped up by the end of the financial year and we still have to clear all the accumulated chit of our twenty four years in Australia before we roll out down the long dusty road – that is after having ‘spun a coin’ to see if we turn left or right.

We tow with a 2000 model 100 Series Cruiser dual fuel and towed most of the way home on gas. I cannot actually detect any performance difference when towing on gas or unleaded. Consumption on gas was about 3 – 3.5 kilometres per litre when cruising at 85 with the cruise control set. I don’t really know what it was on unleaded – haven’t analyzed the log yet but I suspect it will be a little better maybe 4 to 4.5 k/l. The rig is a little ‘pedestrian’ on the long uphill sections as its torque is less than that of the diesels – but who cares, I am not in a hurry and when I get to fill the gas tank in places along the east coast and the bill is only $40 – well the wallet smiles!

Any questions or whatever feel free to email me on

Cheers John and Jean

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Reply By: Freewheelers - Monday, Jul 04, 2005 at 22:01

Monday, Jul 04, 2005 at 22:01
sounds like an excellent trip will have to get the map out & read it again cheers
Stephen & Deborah

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Follow Up By: Pixellator - Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 00:08

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 00:08
John and Jean
Thanks very much- great info for our forthcoming trip... now if you'll just stay around the Kimberley for the next ouple of weeks, you could be our tour guides!!
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