Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
23 May 2013

Winton to Fullarton River (near Cloncurry)
location map
Yesterday's rain had cleared by this sunny morning as we completed packing up and drove north out of Winton onto the Landsborough Highway in the direction of Cloncurry but not intending to reach Cloncurry today. The weather was bright and sunny, with scattered cloud and light winds. Traffic was very light comprising a mix of heavy transports (including road trains with three trailers), sedans and a few caravans or motor homes. The road was a great improvement on roads south of Winton and remained reasonable to good all day with full width bitumen lanes and a good surface. Road condition was not a factor in deciding speed today.

The road runs across the Mitchell Grass Plains with grassland stretching to the horizon in every direction. Much of the grass is peppered with scattered shrubs; these are usually woody weeds which can serve as fodder for stock but too often spread out of control and degrade pastoral land. The land was not completely flat but pretty close to it with very gentle slopes in all directions. Road elevation varied between 285 metres and 220 metres, apparently at random. Cattle and sheep grazed in paddocks along the road and there were a few groups of goats.

Wildlife was scarce, we passed a couple of brolgas at the edge of Winton and another three around the Kynuna roadhouse. Emus and living kangaroos were not seen. Kites and ravens were on some roadkill but there didn't appear to be the number of roadkill carcasses seen on previous days and not the large number of birds feeding on the road. Roadkill included a fox, three pigs, one sheep and kangaroos or wallabies and the usual scattering of mangled carcasses impossible to identify as we drove past them.

Sixty kilometres north of Winton the Landsborough Highway passed close to some of the mesa-top jump-up formations characteristic of this region then returned to the open grassland.

grassland Mitchell Grass Plains stretching to the horizon.

mesa formations Mesa formations are fairly common west of Winton.
Winton to Fullarton River - page 2
We refuelled at Kynuna and had lunch there. The weather had come over cloudy and a gusty head wind had risen increasing fuel consumption a little but not sufficient to be concern. Traffic on the road remained light, with road trains carrying cattle frequently passing us in one direction or another.

brolga One of three Brolgas around Kynuna roadhouse

road train Typical of the road trains on the Landsborough Highway, this one is carrying cement.
Shortly after leaving Kynuna we caught up with a four metre wide load comprising a piece of mining machinery on a low-loader; a four metre wide load extends well into the lane for traffic going in the opposite direction and it was interesting watching the low-loader make room for oncoming heavy transports, and caravans. The Pathfinder UHF aerial had broken off on corrugations while we were at Winton and I was slightly surprised to still hear conversations with a poor aerial; I was even more surprised when a nearby truckie heard me on the radio, proving the broken aerial still transmitted. The wide load pulled into the McKinley roadhouse to collect hamburgers ordered over the radio and we didn't hear them again.

Before reaching McKinley we had been hearing on the UHF radio about a truck towing a caravan which had lost a wheel when the studs broke off. According to radio conversations the truck and caravan were sitting in the middle of the road about 20 kilometres before McKinley and that's where we passed them completely blocking the northbound lane just before the top of a slight hill. The wide load moved very carefully past the truck and caravan; we followed the wide load. Repairing the truck in this remote place will not be easy; according to one radio conversation a repair was being arranged.

46 kilometres north of McKinley we stopped for the night at a large rests area named Fullarton River North Rest Area. This has a large bitumen area also used by heavy transports when they stop to check or adjust their loads or for mandatory breaks so noise may be a problem tonight but most truck noise is caused by their air-conditioners running while they have a rest and tonight doesn't promise to be warm.

The land had changed by now; we had left the open grassland and were passing through eucalyptus woodland with numerous red termite nests as an obvious visual change. The land remained flat. By sunset there was a total of eight caravans and motorhomes stopped in the rest area.

Winton to Fullarton River - page 3
grassland Eucalyptus woodland with red termite nests around the Fullarton River North rest area.

daily map