|Travelling Australia - Journal 2009|
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|2 August 2009 - Charleville to Quilpie|
The property we stayed at near Charleville was about ten kilometres from the road to Quilpie and we were soon well on our way into the Channel Country. The road to Quilpie is bitumen throughout, a single lane for some of the way, and fairly bumpy for some of the way; but also good bitumen and nearly two lanes wide for other parts. On the wider parts we could pass an oncoming sedan while both vehicles stayed on the bitumen but for another caravan or truck, we had to go off the bitumen and for the single road train we met we pulled off the road completely and stopped. Edges were fairly rough; the red loam sets hard after being wet and ridges left by tyres were bumpy. This Development Road was of far higher standard than those we had driven on to and from Boulia; many roads in the Shire of Quilpie have a surface at least as good as the Landsborough Highway between Charleville and Longreach.
Half way to Quilpie the railway line from Charleville appeared off to the right and stayed beside the road until we reached Quilpie. We were to hear more about this railway line in Quilpie which takes pride in being at the end of the railway line. I found it more remarkable that a rural branch line was still regularly used for freight, mainly cattle and wool.
The good state of much of the Charleville-Quilpie road may be because heavy freight uses the railway line and the road is spared the stress of many road trains and heavy trucks which may contribute to the poor surface of more heavily travelled highways. Most cattle leaves Quilpi by rail; much freight for the town comes on a regular Friday freight train from Charleville.
Cattle were frequently seen grazing near the road, sometimes on unfenced sections. After all the talk about cattle grazing on trees we had heard at Thurlby it was still a bit of a surprise to see them munching on mulga trees. A small group of four feral goats crossing the road near us and soon disappeared into the scrub.
The land was fairly flat but not an endless plain. The road negotiated a few low ridges across the line of the road near Charleville without difficulty and was otherwise reasonably straight with gentle hills. Mulga around Charleville extended to Quilpie although the height of the trees decreased as we moved inland.
Traffic was light, mostly going in the opposite direction to us. There were some caravans but most common were 4WDs towing a camping trailer; these often came in twos and threes. Beyond Quilpie lies really remote parts of Australia and Quilpie is a convenient access point for Birdsville, the Birdsville Track and Innamincka. This terrain is more suited to camper-trailers than large caravans such as ours.
According to the map the Charleville-Quilpie road passes through Cooladdi and Cheepie; the first was a hotel/general store beside the road. Cheepie is one kilometre off the road; listed population is two and we didn't turn off to visit there. Otherwise there were no buildings to be seen.
Weather was good, blue sky and bright sun with a gentle breeze from behind us. Temperature was comfortable to cool.
We stopped for lunch at a rest area with toilet which had no preliminary signage or even a sign at the rest area. It was new and may have been so new that signage had not been erected yet. The surprise was that there was a rest area with toilet on this fairly remote road; probably Quilpie Shire encouraging tourism.
Arriving in Quilpie we used road signs and the map in the shire tourist booklet to drive to the caravan park and check in. These booklets are part of the keen competition between towns and shires for traveller business. The Quilpie booklet is particularly good.
Some parts of Australia regard tourism as a form of drought-proofing and we have seen increased interest in travellers, especially in Outback Queensland, since we began caravanning in 2003. This additional information makes travelling more pleasant and planning easier although we need to be aware of a tendency to overstate some attractions.