Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
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25 July 2011 - Georgetown to Mt Surprise
Another bright and sunny day (as usual now), after a cold night. Connecting the van took a while because the slope of the ground had required unusual measures when connecting; lifting the towing connection to the required height needed a bit of juggling with stands and blocks of wood. From the caravan park we went to the post office to draw some money from the bank agency.

Leaving Georgetown we crossed the Etheridge River on the long concrete bridge over the sandy bed of the river without any water in it. The road east from Georgetown was the mixture of older single-lane developmental road and short sections of two-lane bitumen; in addition there were sections of what looked like an attempt to improve the single-lane road with narrow two-lanes of bitumen. We were now well and truly on the slope of the Great Dividing Range and the road made its way up a succession of hills and around bends. The terrain was rocky with the road often passing through cuttings; we hadn't gone through a cutting for many weeks. In those cutting we saw solid rock coming nearly to the surface. Frequent boulders on the surface re-inforced the impression that this was a rocky region. The road surface was often broken and repaired and the driving was not particularly comfortable with the narrow, broken surface, the bends and the hills.

The road had to go over the Newcastle Range dominating this area and had been extensively upgraded to good two-lane bitumen up Newcastle Range and down the other side. We stopped at a rest area at the top of the ridge (546 metres elevation) for some photographs. After Newcastle Range the road continued as the now usual sequence of single and two-lanes of bitumen, in mostly acceptable condition. The ground along the road was red/orange and termite nests were present but no longer in the large numbers previously seen.
Newcastle Range The Gulf Development Road at the top of Newcastle Range with the westbound rest area visible; the eastbound rest area, behind the camera has a toilet. This section of road is the highest standard found between Georgetown and Mt Surprise; the rest of the road is not nearly as good.

Eucalyptus Woodland Woodland beside the Gulf Developmental road at the top of Newcastle Range. This open woodland was widely seen from the road between Georgetown and Mt Surprise.

Travelling Australia - Georgetown to Mt Surprise - page 2
Vegetation after we left Georgetown had been sparse woodland, initially this looked like eucalyptus but closer investigation showed a variety of species. At times the vegetation thickened, especially near the road. Trees with darker leaves were fairly common and tended to give the impression of thicker vegetation. By the time we approached Mt Surprise the trees had thinned out again with a mix of eucalyptus and other species.

Traffic was very light; half a dozen recreational vehicles and not much else. Roadkill was noticeably absent. We saw no carcasses, nor did we see the attendant crows, kites and the occasional eagle.

This had not been a long day, we had driven a bit under a hundred kilometres and were soon approaching Mt Surprise, our destination for the day. There was free under-vehicle wash bay on the edge of Mt Surprise which signs encouraged drivers to use to remove weed seed from underneath vehicles. We later heard that taking a caravan through the wash is not a good idea unless the van is known to be watertight underneath.

At Mt Surprise (elevation 478 metres) we turned into Bedrock Caravan Park and checked in for a week. This park has large drive-through sites and an in-house coffee shop and bakery; we had only half set-up the van before we interrupted proceedings to sample the coffee, pasties and vanilla slices at lunchtime. Eventually we completed setting-up. A spring fed stream (Elizabeth Creek) runs past the caravan park providing a pleasant area for wandering around. The creek is lined with large paperbarks and other species are scattered around; there was a series of rapids flowing into a large flowing pool.
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