Another Day in Biloela then on to Chinchilla, Stanthorpe and Casino.
Our first full day in Biloela was spent in the caravan park as Pam was crook
with a wog. Or, if you're English, she was a tad off colour with a touch
of 'flu. We'd brought it with us from Emu Park as a gift to the good citizens
of Biloela. The next morning, however, she'd shaken it off, probably due
to the 'flu injections which we'd both received at the onset of winter,
so we sallied forth to a lookout point to see the famous Callide Open-Cut
The lookout was a great disappointment. It provided a view
over an area that had already been worked out and backfilled in preparation
for rehabilitation. We saw a flat area of sand. In the distance we could
see heavy equipment moving around but . . . that was it.
The mine supplied coal to the nearby Callide A and Callide B Power Stations
via a conveyor belt. We could see those power stations in the middle distance.
There is also a Callide C Power Station somewhere, also supplied by the
mine, as is Gladstone Power Station.
The mine has the capacity to produce over ten million tonnes of coal per
year. What's that in greenhouse gases?
On the way back into town we stopped to look at a large 'directors chair'
on the side of the road. It was dedicated to Bille Brown who was a film
star and director of such note that neither of us had heard of him.
Apparently Bille Brown appeared in The Dish
and The Man Who Sued God
you know of him? It seems he is Biloela's most famous son. I sat in his
chair for a photo.
And that was pretty well it for Biloela. We'd only booked in for three
nights so next morning we hitched up and set off for Chinchilla. We drove
for five hours under a cloudless sky as the temperature rose from the
mid twenties to the mid thirties. The journey was without incident though
there were so many butterflies that our windscreen - and everybody else's
- soon became a spattered mess.
While at Emu Park I learned how to 'burn' audio CDs successfully. The
secret is NOT to use 'erasable' discs which may work in some CD players
but don't in others. Pam and I sorted through our pile of CDs, extracted
our favourite tracks and copied them to six 'compilation' discs which
we've loaded into our six-stack player in the car. That has given us about
eight hours of continuous mixed music to which we listen as we travel.
It's as well that our tastes are similar. Well, mostly
Pam likes some tracks by Treacle Line from their album, Pictures From
Life's Other Side
. Here's some advice for you; if you ever decide
to commit suicide, THIS is the music to play as you run the hose from
the exhaust pipe in through the car window. Even if you don't feel like
dying, this music will put you in the mood.
An interesting name for a town. The Macquarie Dictionary defines Chinchilla
as a small South American rodent or a variety of cat or rabbit with long,
soft, grey fur. In Spanish it's a little bug. Chinchilla in Queensland
has no connection to rodents, fur or bugs. The name is derived from the
Aboriginal word, Jinchilla
, which describes the cypress pine
tree. Indeed, the caravan park at which we stayed was called the Cypress
Pine Caravan Park and we could see a large tree across the road which
Pam assured me was a cypress pine. And who am I to argue?
Every little town in Australia seems to have its own claim to fame. Chinchilla
calls itself the country's melon capital producing 25% of all melons grown
in Australia. Well, I'm gob smacked! So there you are, the town produces
millions of melons but calls itself a South American rat.
We ventured forth to discover what was to be seen in Chinchilla, so our
first stop was at the Tourist Information Centre. The couple there were
very friendly and helpful. There was a weir if we felt like driving south.
We didn't. There was a museum with a large steam powered saw mill. Getting
warmer. We could 'fossick' for petrified wood . . . if we bought a licence.
We could drive out and look at a power station, or some gum trees, or
visit a park with barbecues and
toilets. We could go fishing
or there was the pioneer cemetery across the road. By this time the cemetery
was starting to sound very inviting so we wandered around the graves for
half an hour then went into town for lunch where we ate al fresco
The food, coffee and service were all excellent and twenty thousand flies
agreed with us.
In the afternoon we visited the museum which I found quite interesting,
however Pam was soon back in the car reading the local newspaper. There
were dozens of lovely oily, smelly old engines to keep me interested -
many still in working order.
Not Pam's cup of tea at all.
The most interesting
story from Chinchilla concerns a variety of cactus known as Prickly Pear.
It first appeared in Australia in 1862, possibly brought as a garden plant
though nobody is sure. It found conditions here ideal and it began to
spread uncontrollably. By 1920, fifty eight million
prime agricultural land were densely covered in Prickly Pear and it was
invading a million more acres each year. Many farmers gave up trying to
combat it and walked off the land. Injecting arsenic poison into the plant
was partially successful but it poisoned the farmers as well.
was eventually found in the form of a little South American moth called
. Moth eggs were brought to Australia and
when they hatched the larvae immediately began eating the Prickly Pear.
Large numbers of the moth were bred at two laboratories, one being the
Chinchilla Research Station. By 1936 that research station was able to
close its doors. The indomitable Prickly Pear cactus that had defeated
farmers and scientists alike had been eradicated by a little white moth.
After three days in Chinchilla we set off for Stanthorpe. The journey
was uneventful except for an oncoming road-train which flicked a stone
at our windscreen, chipping it. We were already on our third windscreen
and until then it had been in perfect condition. Still, them's the breaks
(pun not intended). There's nothing you can do to prevent these things.
Stanthorpe is situated in an area known as the Granite Belt; there are
huge granite outcrops breaking through the surface all around the town.
Granite boulders were apparent wherever we went.
town was originally known as 'Quart Pot', a quaint name. We decided to
research its origin for you, dear reader. The story goes something like
A quart pot was normally carried by squatters
(sheep farmers) dangling from their saddle bags to carry water from a
creek to their camp. They would then heat the pot over a fire to brew
tea. Back in the early 1800s someone left a quart pot at the side of an
unnamed stream. By chance it was later found so the finder called the
stream 'Quart Pot Creek'. Then, in 1853, tin was discovered near the creek
and a mining village sprang up. It became known as Quart Pot Village.
The village grew and retained its name until a bishop under whose auspices
the village fell, decided that Quart Pot was too undignified a name. He
changed it to Stanthorpe - stannum
being Latin for tin and thorpe
an English word meaning 'village'. Tin mining finished around 1935 but
these days the town survives very nicely on fruit production due to the
extremely fertile soil. Stanthorpe has plenty of green grass and foliage
despite the severe drought, and to this day Quart Pot Creek runs through
*Kids, a 'quart' was a measure of liquid equal to
er of a gallon in pre-historic times. It was equivalent
to 1.1365225 litres. Approximately.
Not only is Stanthorpe almost as far south
as you can go in Queensland, but it sits atop the Great Dividing Range
at an elevation of 2,700 feet. Consequently it is the coldest town in
Queensland with night-time temperatures frequently falling below freezing
during the winter. Even in mid spring while we were there, the air was
most bracing in the morning.
Looking out over Stanthorpe from a local lookout.
We liked Stanthorpe from
the moment we arrived and further inspection only reinforced that first
impression. The town is quite small but it has character and you usually
find that when a town has character, so too do its residents.
On the right of the picture is Stanthorpe's Tourist Information
Office and coffee shop. On the left is Quart Pot Creek.
We initially booked three
nights at the 'Top of the Town' caravan park but, having found it an exceptionally
good park, we soon extended that to a week and then to eight days. We
became very friendly with our next door neighbours and spent each 'happy
hour' with them. Also, we'd discovered that singers Penny Davies and Roger
Ilott (whose music we've enjoyed for a long time) lived in Stanthorpe
and were appearing at a folk evening to be held in the beautiful old house
of a local winery.
The lovely old house at the Whisky Gully Winery.
Penny Davies and Roger Ilott singing at the folk evening. Two nicer people would be hard to find.
During the first few
days we visited several wineries, two of which had live music playing
and a third, the Whisky Gully Winery, hosted the folk evening. We also
visited a lavender farm where we were the only human visitors, however
. . .
. . . the lavender wasn't short of smaller guests.
We visited Stanthorpe's excellent museum which was conveniently next door
to the caravan park. A notice at the door prohibited all photography without
permission. Muttering about excessive bureaucracy, I asked the attendant
which objects I could
photograph. She said anything I wanted
to as long as I did not publish the photos on the Internet. Uh?
A short while ago many artifacts in a museum in Newcastle were photographed
then advertised for sale on E-Bay. When enough of the objects had been
sold, thieves broke into the museum with a shopping list and relieved
it of specific items which were immediately dispatched to their new homes.
While in no way condoning this behaviour, museums are full of examples
of man's ingenuity throughout the ages and you have to grudgingly admire
these thieves. Using the latest technology they established their market
before committing the crime. They then disposed of the stolen goods, possibly
all over the world, leaving themselves 'clean' should Mr. Plod pay a visit
after he'd exhausted his list of pawn brokers. Oh, yes, we know the procedure,
we watch The Bill. Do you? For the tape, the suspect is nodding his head.
The 2007 Australian Small Winemakers Show
The afternoon before leaving Stanthorpe we attended the 2007 Australian
Small Winemakers Show
which was conveniently held in the show ground
next to the caravan park. Being unfamiliar with these shows we did everything
Firstly, the advertising brochure for the show mentioned finger food so
we had lunch prior to going, only to find a mountain of food stacked on
a central table with everybody else heaping their plates.
Secondly, as entertainment was provided, we took a table at the front,
near the stage. The wine, however, was at the back
of the building
which was large enough to house a Jumbo Jet. The journey from the table
to the wine and back, including the wait to be served, could take ten
minutes. And all for a centimetre of wine in the bottom of the glass.
Thirdly, we had been given a catalogue listing the thousands of wines
and the awards each had won. The idea was to sample the 'gold' winners
first, before they ran out. That is what everyone else was doing. By the
time this sank in it was already too late - the best had gone.
Wine, wine and more wine at the 2007 Australian Small Winemakers Show
As this was primarily a trade show, there was an over-supply of 'experts'
sniffing the wines then going through all the tasting and spitting routine.
They all seemed to know each other and had a grossly enlarged opinion
of their own importance. It's just a good thing they didn't know our simple
philosophy when it comes to wine tasting:
If we like it we drink it.
If we don't like it, we still drink it.
Spitting out a perfectly good wine is sacrilege.
We didn't care, however, because Penny Davies and Roger Ilott (third picture
up and below) were singing there and they were the primary reason for
our being there. How refreshing they were after all the stuffed shirts
tasting the wines. By the end of the afternoon we felt we'd known them
for years and parted with hugs and vows to stay in touch. We also met
Penny's mum, a tall, slim, graceful lady who surprised us by getting up
and jiving to the music as fit as any teenager. Naturally I couldn't possibly
give away her age in this forum, but let me say she was just
a teenager when I was born. A very remarkable lady!
Penny and Roger at the Small Winemakers Show. Penny never seemed to stop smiling.
On leaving Stanthorpe our next stay was at Casino, just across the state
border in New South Wales. The clocks in N.S.W. had been put forward one
hour the previous night for the start of 'daylight saving'. Some people
in the new park put their clocks back
and swore everyone else
was wrong. This could have been a catastrophe as those people would have
arrived at Happy Hour two hours late. Two hours of drinking time lost
'Casino' is a strange name for a town - though perhaps not as strange
as Quart Pot - and it came about by accident. Originally the town was
named after Cassino, an Italian town, but in bygone days a surveyor missed
an 's' on an important document so the town became Casino. You may remember
we covered a similar story from Victor Harbor in South Australia. It had
been called Victor Harbou
r but a spelling
error resulted in it becoming Victor Harbor. Everywhere, that is, except
on the platform signs on their railway station which do
Casino is the beef capital of Australia, the Tourist Information Office
staff told us.
"What about Rockhampton?" asked Pam. "They claim to be the beef capital too."
"Well, yes, they have beef too," the staff grudgingly conceded.
Having visited both towns we
found it amusing as Rockhampton is a much larger town and clearly geared
up for beef production. In Rockhampton we saw trainloads of cattle, passed
a large abattoir, were held up as cattle crossed the road to a holding
yard, and all over the town there are full sized sculptures of bulls.
In Casino we didn't even hear a cow. Now if they'd called it the thunderstorm
capital of Australia we might have believed them. On our first two days
we were treated to some really vicious storms but the third day dawned
sunny and warm.
Before leaving Casino we just have to share this with you. Any self-respecting
caravan park has a "dump point" where the waste from caravan
toilets is emptied. Some are little more than a hole in the top of a storage
tank while others are more sophisticated. The dump point at Casino was
brand new, made of shiny stainless steel and it even had a flush. There
were the usual notices on the wall about leaving the area clean and tidy
and warning that it was only for dumping toilet waste. Then I saw another
notice low down on the side of the receptacle . . .
And so we left Casino for Grafton. Why don't we start a fresh page with the new town?
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