Exploring Australia
Part 2

We are travelling Australia in 1986 and will now visit Queensland.

As we travel up the Queenland coast on the flagship Queenslander.

Nice isn't it? And doubly impressive as we are now back on the narrow gauge once more.

There can be plenty of rain on the Queensland coast too, as illustrated by this atmospheric scene.

Arriving in Cairns, a ride up the coastal escarpment on the train to Kuranda is a must.

The Kuranda train is a quality train of wooden bodied coaches and stylish verandahs.

.............Just perfect for admiring the view!

We now begin an real Outback adventure and we will start here, at Winton,
from where, twice a week, the Thomas Cook International Timetable shows a train to Hughenden.

And this is our train, a mixed, a rare phenomena in the modern world. this mixed includes six wagonloads of sheep.

And this is our carriage, much nicer inside than it maybe looks.

As it is full of pleasing woodwork.

...............And a drop down sink.

We drop off a mailbag at several stations en route, stations with no other buildings in sight.

With so few passengers it was not long before I was invited to join the loco crew.
This Winton Hughenden line is lightly laid, ballasted with sand and has a speed limit of 40mph.

It was great riding in the loco as here we take care not to hit some lethargic cattle.

We then sneak up on an emu or two, a fun moment!

I rode in the loco cab for 4 hours, returning to the passenger coach approaching Hughenden,
as we waited at the junction with the Mount Isa line for a Townsville bound freight to pass.

And if that incredible journey wasn't enough there was another amazing mixed the following day on the journey from Hughenden to Cloncurry.
I was unable to board in Hughenden as all the carriage doors were locked and so I climbed in through an open window instead!

However once the guard found me all was well and I was kept informed on progress throughout the day.
I was therefore allowed to stretch my legs when shunting was required, as it was here, at Nonda.

One wagon held pigs for Mount Isa, a jolly hot journey for them.

And it was jolly hot for me too as here we cross a dry river bed near Julia Creek.
Sadly I no longer have my bread and cheese either. My cheese has melted and has had to be thrown of the window!

Darkness falls on this incredible journey. I was aboard this swaying, ancient wooden carriage for nearly 14 hours.

And was pleased to arrive! This is Cloncurry the next day, a great little Outback town.

I had come to Cloncurry to meet Padre Bob, an Outback Padre of the Uniting Church.
Padre Bob travels round his parish by plane and here he gives a wave as he refuels.

I had seen a picture of Padre Bob in National Geographic and had then written asking if we might meet.
My timing was perfect as an Outback coach tour was poised to take place organised by some of the coastal people who had helped fund his new plane.

And so, with a day or two to spare before departure, I visited nearby Mount Isa and stayed in the unusually sited youth hostel.

Mount Isa is dominated by its mine, one of the most productive mines the world has ever known.
Lead, silver, zinc and copper are all mined here.

It is time to rejoin Padre Bob and I do this by way of a lift from Mount Isa Flying Doctor.

As our take off from Mount Isa gives us chance to see just how remote this mining town is.

I sit opposite the Flying Nurse for the 50 minute flight to tiny Boulia.

On arrival the Flying Doctor and his team are whisked away to a local clinic and I am left to wait
alone for the Flying Padre to arrive, which he does some 20 minutes later.

We then took off again to head even deeper into the Outback.

And this is our desination, Lorna Downs, where everything is ridiculously dry.
It is now mid-May and so far this year they have had 1.0mm of rain on January 16th and 1.8mm on May 4th!

And the view landing on the Lorna Downs dirt runway.

This is the "new" Lorna Downs homestead, two buildings transported from the old Mount Kathleen Uranium Mine.

And this is the original homestead, built by the current owner's father.

And it was in here that a freshly killed bullock was chopped up for tonight's barbacue for the visiting coach party.

The bus tour arrives. The occupants pitch camp and then, like me, enjoy the hospitality of this Outback welome.

Next day I take the bus as others fly with Padre Bob. The Outback roads on which we travelled were quite incredible.

We initially headed here, to the incredibly isolated town of Bedourie.

If you can call a population of 60 a town!
But it is an important service centre and the settlement's roads are surfaced.

And still we go on, as we then head for Birsdville, perhaps as far into the Australian Outback as one can reasonably get.

And it is here, outside the iconic Birdsville Hotel, we close this Australian slideshow.

The End

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