Dam Good Place to Stay, Week 10.

An amazing 4 day stop and free camping at Corella Dam, 70kms east of Mount Isa.

  • Feature Photo: Jenny and Rodgie dog enjoying some down time, Corella Dam, Qld.
  • Week 10,  Australia Pandemic Tour Travel Diaries.
  • 12/08/21 to 18/08/21
  • Day 64 to 70.
  • Kajabiddi Gravel Pit to Boulia, Queensland.
  • 661kms (total since home, 10694kms).
Hi and welcome back, the “Australian Pandemic Tour” continues.

Summary : 12/09/2021. G’day Crew, Jenny and I trust you are all ok. We’re both well aware of the stresses you mob in NSW and Vic must be going through. We have met heaps of travellers from Victoria and New South Wales during our tour and they’ve given us the rundown on just how crazy the situation is over there. Most of them are postponing their trips home in the faint hope that lockdowns will be finished or at least eased. Lots of them have said their future travels will be placed on the back burner for the foreseeable future. 

Very hard times ahead for tourism ventures in Australia’s outback for the next 1 to 2 years if even the domestic travellers give up ! No doubt some of the tourist Mecca’s along Australia’s vast coastline will still do ok but as for the rest of them I guess many will go broke. We have already observed lots of small businesses closed during our trip, hundreds of international commercial jet planes parked up in a field at Alice Springs Airport, barely any traffic except freight trucks heading west. It’s not looking to positive for Australia’s tourism industry.

Jenny and I arrived home 3 days ago, I won’t go into any details because that will detract from the last two blogs I plan to post about out trip and the journey to WA. I can tell you that we all got home in one piece and damage is minimal. Did we have to experience 14 days of quarantine, I guess you will find out soon enough.

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  • Day 64, Thursday, Date, 12/08/21.
  • From to where: Kajabiddi Gravel Pit to Corella/Clem Walton Park (Dam/Lake), east of Mount Isa.
  • Distance & time: 132km, 1000-1330hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 10165km.
  • Fuel $: 95 @ 149.7cpl.
  • Litres:  63.46L (economy = 16L per 100km).
  • Accom type & cost: Corella Dam, free.
  • Grocery Food $: 66 at Cloncurry IGA.
  • Take away food $: 10, Cloncurry Bakery Pies (good).
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $:
  • Day Total $: 171.
  • Rolling Total $: 9242.
  • Gopro footage:GP8.
  • Weather: 31C fine, strong 30km/h SE wind in the afternoon.

Notes: We found a great dam to camp at !

Not a very eventful day, on the road at 10am, after 15kms we past a cyclist who we first noticed back at the Burke and Wills “we don’t like dogs here” Roadhouse. There wasn’t anywhere safe or convenient to pull over so we continued on. Then at the 20km mark we once again passed German Cyclist “Gernot” (he does have an Instagram account “Gernotbybike” if you’re curious). About a kilometre along there was a safe spot to pull up on the right side of the highway and wait for him. 

Gernot saw us and pulled in, Jenny made him a coffee and we chatted for about 30 minutes, occasionally Gernot rides with the Asian cyclist we had recently driven past. We advised him he was about 5kms behind and with the headwind we expected to see him after 30 minutes but he was a no show. He must have stopped for a break, bummer for him as we would have topped up his water and made him a coffee or tea also.

Pop up coffee shop for Gernot, who is cycling the east of Australia. He is on Instagram “Gernotbybike”.

We said our goodbyes and headed for Cloncurry. Fuel, food, lunch was all we had planned for Cloncurry, it’s similar in size and layout to Merredin in WA. Next stop was Corella Dam, Clem Walton Park, about 50kms west of Cloncurry, just off the Barkley Highway. Once through the shut gate we were surprised at how many other campers were parked up here. 

It’s very nice and Rodgie wants to stay for 2 nights. After some gnarly track around to the western side where most caravans don’t dare go we found a suitable spot to park up. From there we check out other possibilities camping spots on foot so we don’t get our rig in a snookered position. Two other good location were already occupied by intrepid travellers so we walked back to our car and camper to set up and be satisfied with our location. I did notice the right side tyre on the camper was down a bit and inflated it from 30psi back up to 45psi, we may have a slow air leak.

30C day so a swim is good, we also take the opportunity to wash out the dust on our green mesh ground mat. Corella Dam, Qld.

Rodgie enjoyed swimming, Jenny and I went in, we also washed our ground mat and Stone Stomper in the dam. Later the wind picked up and during the night it was howling through camp. We experienced no issues with our set up. Of cause we did not deploy the Dometic Awning, it wouldn’t have lasted 10 seconds.

Another day at Corella Dam comes to an end.
  • Day, 65, Friday, Date,13/08/21
  • From to where: Corella Dam (70kms east of Mount Isa).
  • Distance & time: 0kms, woke up at 7.30am.
  • Accumulated Distance: 10165km
  • Accom type & cost: Free.
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 9242
  • Gopro footage: no
  • Weather: 28C, fine, moderate SE wind, clouds building up in the north.

Notes: Zero $$$ & Kms, “Donut Day” ! Gee I hate that pandemic BS  buzzword, who comes up with this shite ? I’m calling it a “We’re opting out of society day” !

Ok here is a scoop for you all, today was the first time ever in the 33 year history of Team wiljen that we have both pooped in a Camper, RV, Caravan, Chemical toilet…..in Australia. Full  disclosure we did utilise the facilities in the 27′ Motorhome of Madness during  our USA two week canyon run through Nevada, Utah and SoCal back in 2018, so it’s not a totally new experience. Maybe we are getting soft ?

Where we are camped right now, pooping in the bush with a shovel in hand is going to be exceptionally difficult and not really environmentally appropriate. There are at least 150 other campers around, we’re near a fresh water dam, the ground is rock hard. It’s just not easy people. So the overpriced wee & poo bucket in our camper has now been fully commissioned. JC was first too go, so by the rules of the road “Road Traveller Rule Book 101” she is on dumping the cassette duty. BUT Jenny is chief cook and bed warmer so I’m sure it’s my manly duty from here to eternity to dump the poop …. ha, ha, ha. yep, yuck…:-|

Camping spot at Corella Dam for 4 nights, all the solar panels are busy working while team wiljen relax.

Now let’s back up the 4WD truck a little, there really is a tonne load of campers here but over on the rugged Corella Dam West Bank is Luke Bongers (yes his real name, on the road for 3 years) from Margaret River and Team wiljen (don’t have a clue about what we are doing), getting in here is moderately difficult and the mega vans and offroad camper trucks have baulked at doing it. So we have this whole grassy side of the lake to ourselves for now.

Other camping outfits around the dam, some of them park up here for months, fish for Redclaw, read books and enjoy the surroundings.
Lots more campers are tucked in around the other side, it’s crowded & dusty but they are sheltered from the strong afternoon easterly winds.

Very relaxing cruisey day for the weary travellers. Bird watching during the day is spectacular (28 species so far). Viewing the bats on sunset is a whole new joy to both of us also. Thinking we need a slight change to our stay in Mount Isa during Rodeo Carnival Week plan, stay tuned, tomorrow is a new day and adaptability is key.

So many variety of birds, here we have some pelicans fishing.
There are also some interesting native plants to observe.

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  • Day, 66, Sleep in Saturday, Date,14/08/21
  • From to where: Corella Dam to Mount Isa and return.
  • Distance & time: 143kms, 1030-1630hrs
  • Accumulated Distance: 10308kms
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no bikes need half a day of cleaning and lubrication.
  • Accom type & cost: Free Camp.
  • Grocery Food $: 249 at Coles Mount Isa.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 18, beers at Mount Isa Hotel, $117 supplies.
  • Other $: 32, BCF, $12 washing, $20 carwash, icecream and fire wood $20, total = $84
  • Day Total $: 368
  • Rolling Total $: 9610
  • Gopro footage: new 64gig new sd card and footage of dam, birds and Isa.
  • Weather: 31C and fine, very windy SE  during the night.

Notes: Run into Town.

It’s Mount Isa Rodeo Week. Whoops missed that memo. But it means packed town, expensive camp sites and yeah, nah, maybe not…

We unhitched the camper, locked up everything and headed into the big mining town of Mount Isa (pop: 22000) for 6 hours to car clean, shop, clothes wash and just generally prepare for our next instalment of the epic Aus. pandemic tour.

Pretty ok sort of day, most objectives achieved but it came at a dollar cost. Happy to return to the dam and relax. Oh yeah tyre on camper is still slowly going flat. We have another problem to resolve.

Pretty tough keeping our once new car clean while on the road but I do my best.
Another lone cyclist heading for Mount Isa, I think it’s the asian bloke we first saw at Burke and Wills Roadhouse, he’s wearing a mining hard hat. During our 13 weeks on the road we end up counting 10 touring cyclists and meet 5 of them. This is a very low number of people travelling by bicycle at the moment.
We come into Mount Isa, there’s the lead smelter and smoke stack up ahead, it is 270 metre tall.
Washing time in Mount Isa.
We wonder if these QR tracking codes are going to become a permanent fixture and obligation when you are out shopping, etc.
It is nice to get home after a day in the “Big Smoke”.

~~~~~~~~

  • Day 67, Sunday, Date, 15/08/21.
  • From to where: Corella Dam.
  • Distance & time: 0, up at 7.30am
  • Accumulated Distance: 10308km
  • Accom type & cost: free
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 9610
  • Gopro footage: no
  • Weather: very windy, 28C , not much protection from SE wind on our knoll.

Notes: Relax and Enjoy, life is short, live in the present.

Keeping this one super short, Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Walking and exploring with the dog. Cleaning car interior and other equipment. Jenny cooked spaghetti bolognese for dinner. It was a very windy day. Just a day of doing as little as possible, followed up with sunset drinks while watching the birds and the sunset light up the red rocks and dam wall.

Rodgie really enjoyed her time at the Dam and so did we.
Rodgie and I go for an explore, we discover an old water tower.
Our happy 4 days at Corella Dam has nearly come to an end, definitely a trip highlight !

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  • Day 68, Monday, Date 16/08/21.
  • From to where: Corella Dam to Dajarra, via Mount Isa.
  • Distance & time: 236km, depart 0900-1430hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 10544kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Fuel $: 70, @ 149.9cpl
  • Litres:  47L, economy = 16L per 100km
  • Accom type & cost: Free, 3kms south of Dajarra in bush behind airstrip.
  • Take away food $:4 drinks, 
  • Other $: 153, Toyota Air Filter, Engine Oil, $35 tyre repair.
  • Day Total $: $262
  • Rolling Total $: 9872
  • Gopro footage: yes GP8
  • Weather: 29C fine, strong southerly wind (headwind foot 2/3rd of our drive.

Notes: Driving the Min Min Lights highway. 

No mucking around at camp this morning, up, packed and on the road by 9am. After 70kms with heaps of road traffic heading east from the Rodeo Week coming to an end we arrive into “The Isa”. First job was to pick up an air filter and engine oil from Mount Isa Toyota, every business you enter requires you to sign in using the QR code. It starts to wear a bit thin after awhile.

Second task was to get the leaky camper right tyre repaired at Beaurepairs Mount Isa. They did the repair there and then for $35 and found a screw that had penetrated in all the way into the tyre. The crazy but funny thing was the receptionist placed the A4 printed receipt onto a tray and sprayed it with Glen 20 a disinfectant spray before I was allowedto touch it ? Now that’s service !

Camper tyre repair at Mount Isa, we didn’t book in and they did it straight away for only $35.
Parked up with everyone else at the Mount Isa dump location and water refilling station.

Next stop fuel from the Shell truck stop at 149.9cpl. Vehicle economy worked out to be 16 litres per 100kms. Then back to the RV dump point to empty our toilet which I did while Jenny did some online work. We also topped up our water tanks. Both services are free and provided by the Mount Isa City Council. The Dump point is in the shadow of the Lead Mine, smoke stack and Processing Plant.

Then we drove south out of town along a single black strip of bitumen after 160kms we arrived at Dajarra. Jenny noted some good free bush camping opportunities about 3kms out of town near the Air Strip so at 2.30pm we called it a day, we collected fire wood for later and tried to enjoy the afternoon while waving away bush flies. 236kms travelled.

3kms out of Dajarra.
Love being out here under the stars with a camp fire, cup of wine, dog and Jenny giving me the “crazy eyes”. 🤣

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  • Day 69, Tuesday, Date,17/08/21.
  • From to where: Dajarra bush camp to Boulia, Qld.
  • Distance & time: 150km, 1000-1200hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 10694km.
  • Fuel $: 102 @ 169.9cpl.
  • Litres: 60, economy, 16.7L per 100km
  • Accom type & cost: $40 Boulia Caravan Park, 2 nights.
  • Grocery Food $: 23
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 70, block of beer.
  • Day Total $: 235
  • Rolling Total $: 10107
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • DJI Drone Footage: no, but very windy
  • Weather: 28C, fine, strong SE winds.

Notes: Boulia, central west Queensland.

We hear that Darwin and Katherine have entered a 3 day lockdown due to one case. A military person who has flown in from the USA and followed all government protocols and procedures. Being military I would be surprised if they haven’t also been vaccinated. I just shake my head in wonder ?

So unsure how this will effect our journey home. Apparently the Great Central Road is closed again to travellers on the WA side. SA have now had 10 days with no community transmission so will WA soften the SA border crossing at Eucla in 4 days ? No matter what happens we will have to spend at least 14 days loitering around the NT which means the Alice Springs area as that gives us 3 possible transit routes west to home.

These are just some of the concerns that haunt our tour. Today was easy enough, Jenny did all the driving today a whole 150kms . It was once again single lane bitumen, very barren landscape out here, we also had a strong headwind. Once in Boulia we fuelled up, then booked into the Caravan Park on the eastern side of the Bourke River.

The donkeys and camels spooked Rodgie a bit, other travellers were friendly enough, we walked into town for a look around. Only a population of 300 so not much there. I did manage to upload week 6 of our wiljen’s adventures blog, which seems to be getting harder to complete as time progresses.

Single lane bitumen road from Mount Isa to Boulia, 300kms, Qld.
Very barren out here, unsure if it’s over grazed or this is normal ?
Stopped for a break, Dajarra to Boulia.
Quite isolated out here, population 300, 2 horses, 1 donkey a couple of camels, cat and lots of dogs.
The Boulia Pub.

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  • Day 70, Thursday, Week 11 begins, Date,18/08/21.
  • From to where: Boulia.
  • Distance & time: 0km
  • Accumulated Distance: 10694km
  • Accom type & cost: payed
  • Other $: $3 clothes washing
  • Day Total $: 3
  • Rolling Total $: 10110
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • Weather: Fine 28C windy from the south.

Notes:  Rest day in Boulia.

We met fellow travellers Jamie and Karen from Grafton NSW (friends of Joel and Sharon, Reconn4 Borroloola NT) & Wayne & Venessa, from Phillip Island Victoria. All had been on similar length journeys of 3 months plus.

Looked around Boulia and generally had a easy day off. I did do some pre-employment work for the next grain harvest. Still have seen any Min Min lights.

We did go for walk around town, it is an interesting place.
Boulia has a lot of colonial exploration history.
This rig certainly had the wow factor, never met the celebrities who were travelling in it.
A couple of brolgas fishing in the Burke River, Boulia, Queensland.

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Thank you everyone for stopping by and checking up on us, we love to have you following along while we continue on life’s journey. W&J.

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