Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
24 May 2013

Fullarton River to Cloncurry
location map
The night was quiet and became cold towards morning. It was an opportunity to try out the gas heater recently installed in the van which worked well to make the inside of the van comfortable in about half an hour. The gas heater control is conveniently beside the bed so it can be turned on without getting out of bed although foresight is needed to uncover the exhaust vent outside the van the night before; the vent exhausts burnt noxious gases outside the van and the heater will not operate if the vent cover is in place.

Apart from the low temperature, which improved as the sun came up, the day was fairly windy and sunny.

After preparing the van for travel we turned onto the Landsborough Highway heading north towards Cloncurry. The road remained good and traffic very light. The wind was fairly strong and mostly from behind us so fuel consumption was good. Outside temperature was 15°C increasing to 23°C by the time we reached Cloncurry; warm but certainly not hot. After about 50 kilometres the Landsborough Highway joined the Flinders Highway from Townsville.

Near the intersection of the two highway we passed a road train turnoff into the Yurbi rail load facility. This was associated with the Cannington silver-lead-zinc underground mine 80 kilometres from McKinley and operated as a fly-in, fly-out facility. This deposit was discovered by BHP Minerals in 1990, the mine began working in 1997 and achieved full production in 1999. BHP Billiton is the owner. Cannington is the largest single producer of silver and lead in the world, representing about 6% of silver production and 7% of lead production. The mine is expected to have a life of 25 years.

Ore from the Cannington mine is concentrated at the mine and the concentrate trucked to the rail loading facility at Yurbi for freighting by train to the Port of Townsville. The road trains carrying concentrate have three or four long trailers and can be more than 50 metres long; overtaking one of these needs to be carefully planned and needs a long stretch of suitable road.

grassland Concentrate carrying road train returning to Cannington mine from the Yurbi rail loading facility.

In Cloncurry we checked in to a caravan park for three night and setup. Then we went into the shopping centre with a replacement UHF aerial as first priority (I had confirmed by telephone that an aerial was available in Cloncurry). The technician in the shop confirmed the base of the aerial on the Pathfinder operated as a low gain aerial without the aerial proper; this explained why we had been able to hear some conversations yesterday and been able to talk to nearby trucks with most of the aerial missing. Operation of the radio was degraded but not completely stopped because the aerial was broken off. Despite this useful information I bought two UHF aerials so I would have a spare for when this replacement broke.

Many shops in Cloncurry are in the street running parallel with the highway. This is the street usually lined with caravans stopped for food shopping in Woolworths or Foodworks or to have a coffee and pie in the bakery (or buy a replacement UHF aerial). Today there were only eight caravans along the street.

Fullarton River to Cloncurry - page 2
After shopping we returned to the caravan. The day was bright and sunny but the wind strong, gusty and cool.

daily map