We have officially been on the road now for a whole week and despite having some wet weather in the latter half, the first half was absolutely glorious.
Redbank Park, Jericho
Our first stop was Redbank Park in Jericho which is a very relaxing location just off the Capricorn Highway. You can camp right on the banks of the creek that runs through the park and kick back in the shade with a cool drink while the sun goes down. It is a great spot to spend a few days doing pretty much nothing. While there is no cost to stay at the park, gold coin donations are appreciated and absolutely essential to keeping gems like this open to weary travellers. The Jericho State School also runs a pancakes and sausage breakfast every Sunday morning at the park which is another way to support the local community while you are passing through.
After leaving Jericho, we drove all of 90 kms down the road to Barcaldine to check out the famed Tree of Knowledge. As I’m sure you already know, the Tree of Knowledge was a tree in Barcaldine which is regarded as the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party and the Union movement. Unfortunately the tree was poisoned in an act of vandalism in 2006. The remains of the original tree are preserved in a spectacular, award winning memorial on the site, with the architectural beauty being best viewed at night where the tree is lit up with coloured lights. Look closely at the base and you can even see the remnants of the roots below the transparent tiles!
My favourite part of this week though was our night at Lara Wetlands. Lara Wetlands is 28kms south of Barcaldine just off the Landsborough Highway. After leaving the highway at the turnoff, there is a final 13kms of graded dirt road. This part of the road can be corrugated in places but overall is quite good and it is definitely 2WD accessible. The wetlands are home to an abundant array of birds and wildlife and camping sites are available for rigs of all sizes. Toilets and hot showers are available with access to drinkable artesian water, however the sites do not have power.
Included in the nightly rates are full use of kayaks for exploring the lagoon, children's playground, camp kitchen and a thermal controlled artesian mineral hot pool (perfect for warming up during those cool evenings)! The wetlands are a paradise for wildlife and landscape photographers, so needless to say I took advantage of every moment to grab shots around the lagoon. Sunrise and sunset provide beautiful reflections over the water and I had a great time testing out my new Nisi 10 stop ND filter. After sunrise, I spent an hour or so capturing the abundant birdlife with my Sigma 600mm lens. My only regret from our time at Lara Wetlands was that we didn’t stay longer. We left after one night to avoid the incoming rain deluge however it as it turns out, we would have been safe after all.
It would unfortunately be the second part of our week in the small town of Winton where we would encounter the rain. This prevented us from visiting the two main attractions of Lark Quarry and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum (currently only accessible by dirt road and the roads became impassible). Fortunately for us, the team at the Age of Dinosaurs Museum had a contingency plan and very generously brought a mobile fossil display in to the Winton Visitor Information Centre. Nice work guys!
Another bonus is that Winton isn’t a long drive from Rockhampton, so I am certain we will return during more favourable weather.
Well that’s all for our first week. I had originally planned to just focus on Lara Wetlands for this post but once I started typing, I found myself including everything. Future blog entries though may only cover one destination per post. I’m just going to wing it at this stage and see what works best :)
Next week we will be slowly making our way back towards Emerald in the lead up to a shoot I have scheduled at Carnarvon Gorge (weather permitting).
I can’t wait!