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3 June 2011 - Stonehenge to Winton
Today we were driving from Stonehenge to Winton, leaving the Channel Country after visiting several interesting places. But something was missing in the Stonehenge attitude to tourism.

Stonehenge will have to change the way information is presented before it will prosper as a tourism destination. Situated in the transition region between the Channel Country and the Mitchell Grass Plains the area has some invaluable sites for nature tourism (including Lochern National Park 40 kilometres away) but, with few exceptions, information about these places and how to get to them is not readily available. There is also a lack of details about facilities in the town; for example, Telstra mobile access is an invaluable feature for travellers in such an isolated place but new arrivals are left to find out about the limited area mobile coverage themselves; television was a trial and error process. People in the town willingly answer questions but are mostly reluctant to volunteer information. Stonehenge needs to change from a "Take it or leave it" attitude and advertise facilities and attractions.

We connected Pathfinder and caravan and drove away from Stonehenge into a sunny day with blue sky and no wind. The road north from Stonehenge to Longreach (the Thomson Developmental Road) has not been widened like other roads in Barcoo Shire and remains a single lane bitumen road; fortunately fairly good quality bitumen. Along the road there are wider, two-lane, sections signed as "Overtaking Opportunities" lasting for a kilometre or so.

The road leaving Stonehenge passes through well-vegetated terrain with gidgee widespread. About 15 kilometres from Stonehenge the trees and shrubs thinned out for a few kilometres so that large patches of grass became common. Suddenly the trees and shrubs stopped and we were on Mitchell Grass Plains with grass to the horizon in every direction with no more than a couple of dozen trees visible on the horizon. Further on, trees and shrubs grew on the plains, especially along watercourses, but that did not diminish the effect of the sudden transition from trees and shrubs to grass stretching to the horizon.

There were more vehicles on this road than we had seen since leaving Quilpie several days ago; this may explain the greater number of roadkill, mainly kangaroos but some pigs. Unusually, roadkill carcasses had not attracted crows and eagles until the middle of the day when we saw the usual crows as well a few black kites tearing at carcasses.

The Mitchell Grass Plains have traditionally been sheep grazing country but many pastoralists are changing to cattle. One property we passed is definitely still a sheep grazing enterprise with hundreds of sheep grazing along the road. On this unfenced road there were signs of sheep roadkill where the sheep had wandered onto the road at a bad moment.

At Longreach we avoided the busy part of town by going around the main part of Longreach onto the Landsborough Highway and were soon across the Thomson River on our way to Winton. Although this was now a full width, two-lane highway the bitumen surface was corrugated by numerous heavy transport and the surface was not as good as that on the Developmental Road we had just left. Traffic was light to moderate with a few other caravans seen; we have seen no more than one or two motorhomes so far on this trip and are puzzled by their absence.

By the time we were approaching Winton we had driven more than 300 kilometres towing the caravan and fuel was getting low. I stopped briefly to put 10 litres of diesel into the tank to reduce the chance of stirring up any dirt at the bottom of the fuel tank. Later analysis of fuel figures indicated we used 73 litres to drive 333 kilometres from Stonehenge to Winton (confirming the fuel computer had been correct). But the level in the 80 litre tank would have been very low on arrival if fuel had not been added. Overall, we confirmed the rule of thumb that we can comfortably drive 300 kilometres on a single tank of fuel on fairly level bitumen roads in good weather with light traffic.

We had booked for a two-week stay at the Winton caravan park and were shown to a good site near the entertainment area. After preliminary setting-up we drove into the shops for some grocery shopping. In the evening we had one of the park roast dinners and attended the bush poet entertainment.

Travelling Australia Blog - Stonehenge to Winton - page 2
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