Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
11 July 2013

WWII Memorial to Terry Smith rest area
The night was fairly quiet with the silence interrupted occasionally by road trains climbing the hill past the rest area. The morning was cool but sunny and soon warmed up to be comfortable; the wind was still gusting and threatened to interfere with driving again today. The rest area slowly emptied as caravans went on their way and in slow time we joined the exodus turning east towards Mt Isa.

The plan for today was to go to Mt Isa to refuel at the Woolworths/Caltex servo there where we knew diesel was cheaper than we had been paying. Then continue on the Barkly Highway to Cloncurry for more fuel, lunch and food shopping as well as a refill for a gas cylinder. From Cloncurry we planned to drive along the Matilda Highway towards Normanton with the stopping place for the night to be decided later in the day.

Pathfinder and Van Pathfinder and caravan ready to set off for the day from WWII Memorial rest area.
The day turned out as planned. The highway between Mt Isa and Cloncurry was busy with road trains, caravans and 4WDs working for exploration companies, as well as few sedans. There are several overtaking lanes on this stretch of road but it is fairly hilly and traffic sometimes queues up behind slower vehicles.

Cloncurry was surprisingly quiet; we planned to park against the kerb in the street parallel to the highway but expected to have some difficulty finding a space because of the large number of caravans we have seen parked along there in previous visits; in the event there were two other vans along the street and many empty parking spaces. We completed our shopping then left on the road towards Normanton.

Road train Mining industry road train between Mt Isa and Cloncurry.
This road is marked on maps as the Bourke Developmental Road and as a continuation of the Matilda Highway coming up from southern Queensland. Developmental Roads were built as single lane roads for cattle trucks and historically have been fairly average for other travellers. But in recent years many developmental roads have been duplicated and improved considerably as part of normal development and to encourage tourist traffic; this road, or at least the first section of it, was in that category.

WWII Memorial to Terry Smith rest area - page 2
The road was a good two-lane bitumen road with several sections showing signs of very recent resurfacing. Long, straight, nearly level, stretches made driving easy. Traffic was very light, mainly caravans and cattle road trains in roughly equal numbers, all going the other way. The ground was fairly flat with a slight descent detectable on the GPS (205 metres elevation at Cloncurry and 174 metres about 80 kilometres north of Cloncurry), vegetation was a thin covering of eucalyptus trees about four metres high (many looking like Snappy Gum) with spinifex ground cover and a scattering of acacias as undergrowth. Much of the region looked pretty dry and the creeks we crossed were all completely dry. This was a cattle grazing region but we saw few cattle grazing; most cattle we saw were in road trains being moved elsewhere.

The weather was bright and sunny, outside air temperature was 29°C just after leaving Cloncurry. The wind continued but it was now a tail wind so it didn't move the caravan around and helped fuel consumption recover from the cross-winds earlier in the day.

We stopped at the Terry Smith Lookout rest area about 80 kilometres north of Cloncurry. This was a medium size rest area adjacent to the road. There were half a dozen caravans set-up when we arrived at 3 o'clock but the area was not yet full and we found a good place without difficulty.

road at Terry Smith rest area Recently resurfaced Burke Developmental Road passing the Terry Smith rest area about 80 kilometres north of Cloncurry.
daily map