MT ISA > CAMOOWEAL > BARKLY TABLELAND - 41km East of Barkly Homestead Roadhouse

Day 8

Saturday 27th July 2002


  • Left Mount Isa

  • Terrible road between Mount Isa and Camooweal

  • Camooweal

  • Avon Downs

  • Camped overnight on the Barkly Tablelands

We didn't look around Mount Isa as we knew we'd look on our trip home.

After picking up some items to help make our trip more enjoyable, we headed towards our next stop, Camooweal.

After being on a very good, wide bitumen road, we came onto the section I remembered from my last trip, where the road narrowed markedly for a period of time and then widened again, then narrowed again and so on. Then it totally narrowed, not long before we came up behind a Low Loader with a very large dozer on board.
Judy sat behind it, hoping for it to move over to allow her to pass. This never happened.
Every time there was a chance to pass, the driver moved to the middle of the road. If vehicles came from the opposite direction they were forced to move off the road.
At one point, a sedan coming towards us was forced off the road and into the drain, causing a huge dust pall. A Toyota 4WD Ute following, nearly ran up the rear of the sedan that had stopped in the dust.
The driver of the 4 WD drive abused the sedan driver but it was all caused by the arrogance of the Low Loader driver not moving off slightly to allow others to pass. This cowboy kept us following his dust right into Camooweal.
He headed off with a sign on the back that said he was carrying his load to Macarthur River. I wondered how many more vehicles he'd force off the road before he arrived there!

Ray and Coral had gone ahead of us and we met them again in Camooweal.
As we left the town we saw the
new bridge work being done on the road heading to the west. Traffic was being diverted around the construction work. The bridge looked like it would be well above the flood line.
We were hungry but continued on.

After we crossed the QLD/NT border the scenery changed totally, and so did the road! The road changed from a shockingly narrow, potentially dangerous "highway" in Queensland to what seemed like an airport tarmac in the Northern Territory.

It was great to drive on. It was straight, well and truly wide enough and smooth.

The scenery had changed from hilly and timbered, to totally flat and nearly treeless as far as the eye could see. The grass met the sky at the horizon giving the impression that the land ahead went on forever.
At one point we stopped and stood looking at the scene. At that point you could turn 360 and see virtually the same thing, creamy grasslands, running out to meet the blue sky.
We drove on and out of nowhere a group of buildings turned up. It was a Police Station. I hadn't noticed it on my last trip as it was early morning as we passed through.
As we were hungry and it was well and truly lunchtime, we pulled in at a rest stop opposite the Police Station, the
Avon Downs Police Station.
After a relaxing break we travelled on until we heard Ray calling us on the UHF CB. He had found the first of the overnight stops and was trying to catch us, in case we drove past.
We pulled in at the rest area
41km East of Barkly Homestead Roadhouse and setup our camp for the night.

Click on the pictures for larger versions

I joined the pictures with the "panorama" facility to try to give you some sort of perspective.
The distances out there are huge and the camera doesn't seem to capture the vastness.

The left of the picture shows the road out of the rest area, heading west, to Barkly Homestead Roadhouse.
The right of the picture shows the road out of the rest area, heading east, to Camooweal and the QLD/NT border.

I did the same as explained above here, to try to capture the whole of the Avon Downs Police Station.
I assume this is the Police Residence.

A communications tower that connects the officers to "civilization" can be seen in the background.

This is the Avon Downs Police Station itself, like a cool oasis.


Judy checked the trailer while we were stopped at the shelter provided across the road from the Avon Downs Police Station.

We had lunch under the shelter and were able to use the water provided in a large cement tank to clean up. The water must have been fed from the station as no windmill was in sight. It was a welcome break from the heat.

We had travelled since Mt Isa and needed to find a camp spot for the night.

The NT government has provided rest areas along the Barkly Highway. We pulled in at one, 41km East of Barkly Homestead Roadhouse.
As the sun was about to set and we were setting up camp, something very common on our trip passed by, a road train.

One of the other travellers who camped near us, with the water supply windmill in the background.

The water pumped from underground and stored in the concrete tank enabled us to wash the grime and dust off.

The view towards the highway from our tent.
Judy brushed off one of the unwanted visitors, a fly, as she kept an eye on Chippy, her Corgi.

Chippy loved visiting the neighbouring campers. Most enjoyed his company but as others weren't as impressed, we tried to keep him around us.

The view away from the highway, looking to the North East where campers without "facilities" made their way out of sight of other campers to carry out their nature needs.

And that is one long walk as it is so flat and bare, no hills to go behind!

But Judy says that between the dogs and the flies, you weren't lonely!

The sun set over the Barkly Tableland on Day 8 of our trip.
I took a photo of this White Ant nest as a comparison to future nests we thought we would see.
This one was a very brown colour. Others we had already seen were more of a greyish colour, whereas around Litchfield National Park we were to see huge white, sandy nests which made this one look pathetic.


On the run across the Barkly Tableland I was struck by the beauty of these trees. The silvery/white trunk and dark green foliage made them stand out from the surrounding landscape. From my research, I gather they are called Ghost Gums ( Eucalyptus papuana ).
In the background is a Microwave Tower carrying communications to the outback and beyond.
Thoughts went through my head about how this type of tree had been around for thousands of years, before modern man erected his tools for survival in the outback along side them.

Last Updated : 28/01/2012 09:10 PM +1000