Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
4-9 May 2011 - Thargomindah
We spent seven nights in Thargomindah caravan park. Weather was mostly bright and sunny during the day with cool nights (generally about 10°C). There were a few drops of rain on one occasion and a gusty wind came up around lunchtime on three or four days. The caravan park is on the edge of this small town and sunsets across the flat plain were generally impressive.
Around Thargomindah
Around Thargomindah the land is flat and covered with low shrubs and some taller ones. The Chenopod Family (of saltbush and copperburr) is well represented here.
Thargomindah's average annual rainfall is 303 millimetres but there is substantial annual variation; in 2002 total annual rainfall was 63 millimetres while in 2010 the total annual rainfall was 796 millimetres. The township is on the Bulloo River and access by road is cut off when the river rises over the causeway connecting the town with the Bulloo Development Road to Eulo and Cunnamulla. The level of the Bulloo River is determined not only by local rain but also by rainfall in the catchment; Thargomindah was recently cut off for three months (December 2010 to March 2011) by the flooded Bulloo River.

Roads to the west of Thargomindah roads are still impassable where Cooper Creek remains flooded. We are planning to go in that direction (but not as far as the flooded parts) and frequently check road conditions as well as keeping an eye on rainfall in the catchments of the Wilson and Bulloo Rivers.

Main road access to Thargomindah is from Cunnamulla via Eulo along the Bulloo Developmental Road. Developmental Roads are usually single lane bitumen roads originally funded so cattle trucks could reach pastoral properties. The single lane sometimes makes driving on them interesting and passing an oncoming vehicle a bit of a challenge depending on the quality of the bitumen edging and the berm. But the Bulloo Developmental Road has been developed well beyond a typical developmental road; for much of the way from Eulo to Thargomindah it is generously wide (two lanes allowing oncoming vehicles to pass while staying on the bitumen) with a very good surface; cattle grids along the road are nice and wide and level with the bitumen so vehicles don't bump across them. The Bulloo Shire is widening one of the few single lane sections less than 10km from Thargomindah in May 2011. This road is also called the Adventure Way and is advertised as a tourist route from Brisbane to Innamincka, and by some as a route from Brisbane to Adelaide.

Thargomindah had a population of 203 in the 2006 census. It is the administrative centre for the Shire of Bulloo which is predominantly a cattle region with some sheep (for wool) still being run.
Shire Hall Shire Hall in Thargomindah which is now in Bulloo Shire after shire amalgamations.
Travelling Australia - Thargomindah - page 2
Gas production is a major industry and the gas production company Santos pays a special rate to the Shire; this will cease when the gas runs out. Bulloo Shire is attempting to develop tourism relying on the Adventure Way providing comfortable access to the attractions of the shire. Road building in the shire has been notable and appears to have been successful in increasing the number of caravanners staying in the Bulloo Region which extends to the South Australian border and includes or next destination of Noccundra Waterhole.

Thargomindah itself has two general stores (one is also a roadhouse), a hotel, a motel, primary school, public swimming pool, one council operated caravan park of excellent quality, police station, a Toyota dealer (which sells fuel), and a Community Centre. There is a national park ranger but he works from his house and there is not a National Parks Office. There is an Anglical and a Catholic church side by side next to the pub but there are no regular services in either church. The Medical Centre is staffed by one nurse relying on the Flying Doctor (RFDS) for medical support with regular clinics run by visiting RFDS health care professionals on Thursday. The airport is used for twice weekly passenger flights to and from Brisbane and other airports in southern Queensland. The town relies on bore water which is cooled and settled before being distributed; water from the former bore was notoriously "strong" whereas water from the new bore is only slightly tasted. There appears to be no shortage of water judging by the amount being used to keep grass green around houses and in the caravan park.

The township itself is memorable for very wide streets and neat guttering. The general impression is of a neat and tidy town of buildings designed for a hot climate. Black kites (birds similar to hawks) spend much of the time soaring and circling overhead. The reason for this circling is not clear. Kites do this over many outback Queensland towns but I have never seen one dive down to grab prey seen on the ground.
Bulloo River causeway Long causeway across the Bulloo River at Thargomindah. Local residents have assured us that there is a flood truck available to carry cars across the causeway when the Bulloo floods but they didn't think the truck could carry a six-metre long caravan.
During our visit Thargomindah was in the middle of a mouse plague; not to the extent that mice covered the roads but the sight of a mouse scurrying across the floor in a shop was not unusual and mouse droppings were widely distributed. Several mice (we are not sure how many, but three have been seen at once) moved into our caravan causing us much thought on how they get in and, more importantly, how to get rid of them since neither general store had any mouse traps left. We put down poison which was all eaten apparently without any result except for mouse droppings around the van changing colour to being the blue-green of the poison pellets. We tried mothballs which supposedly smell far too strong for mice and drive them away. Everybody in Thargomindah has an opinion on mice and the consensus was that poison was killing the mice which were being replaced by new ones - so much for the smell of mothballs keeping mice away. But the smell of mothballs is preferable to the smell of mice.

There were certainly many mice around; one night I thought I could hear gentle rain on the van roof but there was no cloud. In the morning droppings proved there had been a number of mice on the roof. It looked as if they ran up the awning corner guy ropes and across the awning to the roof of the van; there is only one point where the van roof is low enough compared to the awning for a mouse to climb up but they found it. Fortunately mice haven't got into our food cupboards or into the refrigerator.

On two days I drove 44 kilometres from Thargomindah to Lake Bindegolly National Park which was established to preserve a series of lakes and a wattle tree species which is found beside these lakes and at one other site in Queensland. The lakes are along the Thargomindah Fault; they fill from rainwater but do not have any outlet so the water remains in place until it evaporates; sometimes that takes many years and Lake Bindegolly is reputed to be dry only one year in ten. I was here about two years ago for one of those one in ten events, the lake was dry and the national park dry and desolate; now the lake is overflowing and the access walking track is partly flooded. The number and variety of birds in Lake Bindegolly, the main lake in the system, was remarkable.