Weekends are for adventure. Today, we find ourselves involved in a perfect weekend getaway in the remote land close to Townsville.
This journey starts with a short drive out to Hevery Range and makes for a great weekend getaway with family or friends.
This section in the range is called Thornton Gap and it has much history.
Not only was this area an important route for the indigenous, with rock art scratted across the range, but it was also the original European route up the range, now called Page Road. It took the early pioneers an entire day and was the only road to Paluma in the earlier days. Equipment, such as the batteries to crush the ores, would come through this gap making its long journey to its final resting place in Hidden Valley and Paluma. Travellers would stay at the base of the range at the Range Hotel and then again at the top of the range at "The Eureka Hotel", what is now known as the Heritage Tea Rooms.
At the base of the range, a camping reserve was originally gazetted around the Range Hotel site to provide additional accommodation options when taking the long and arduous journey up the range.
While at Heavy Range, stop in at Heritage Tea Rooms for a high tea or a unique cup of Kopi Luwak coffee in the rustic former hotel.
Herveys Range is home to the oldest building in North Queensland, constructed in 1865 by pioneer settler Charles Saville Rowe. Throughout the years the building has been transformed to pay respect to its previous heritage and is now commonly known as the Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms.
Many years later, a railway was built, taking ore from Greenvale to Yubulul to be refined and shipped. The now-closed rail line is home to remnants of the past, such as the abandoned stations and the infamous Hervey Range tunnels.
Nearby is Piper's Lookout. Stop for a moment and enjoy the fresh air and views across the escarpment. Remains of the modern past are scattered throughout the landscape. Take in the old Greenvale Line, Hervey Range, and the History of the area.
Continue along the Hervey Range Road inland.
At the next stop, you’ll find Keelbottom Creek which was once a popular bush camping area. Pull off the side of the road and take in the birdlife near in the lagoon. We’ll cross Keelbottom Creek again downstream in a while.
After taking in the birdlife, continue along the road to where we turn left and follow Dotswood Road towards Mingela. This is part of the Bicentennial National Trail which spans the entire east coast of Australia.
Remains of the Cattle Country
The Charters Towers region stands on a remarkable junction in the Australian landscape. Here at the head of the Great Dividing Range is found the headwaters of some of the country's greatest river systems. Waterways originating here drain southwest to Lake Eyre, north to the Gulf or eastwards along the mighty Burdekin river system to the Great Barrier Reef.
Continue along the road, crossing the iron bridge of Keelbottom Creek. Take note as the vegetation changes throughout your journey. Admire the Silver Leafed Ironbarks atop the ridge and the bottle trees yet to come. Be mindful that this road corridor is a gazetted easement with Defence land on either side.
Soon, you’ll pass a plaque and the remains of Dotswood Station where cattle were grazed for 137 years. The land changed hands for many years until the land was purchased by the Department of Defence in 1988 to form part of the Townsville Field Training Area.
Another cattle station, Fanning River Station, can be seen further along where cattle were grazed for 150 years. The lease changed hands a number of times until, 2011, when it was purchased by the Department of Defence.
Soon you’ll pass another plaque and the remains of Fanning River Station.
Fanning River is our next stop. Here’s a great place to stop for a while, relax, and take in nature. The semi-permanent stream is a great place for a dip when there’s enough water. Some people also have been seen fishing here. Camping sounds like a great idea! Especially when there’s a bit of water in the course. What a magical part of the world we live in.
Continue onwards and notice how the dirt changes colour from a pasty white to a rich red. This is due to the iron in the soil creating rust and thus a rich red colour. This is common for outback Australia. Bottle trees, silver leafs gums. Keep your eyes open, you will see an array of wildlife from emus to lizards. The bird life is abundant with wedgetail eagles, pink galas, parrots, and cockatoos.
Notice this next section of the journey with bottle trees on either side of the road.
Soon you’ll see Mt Success off in the distance, the rocky strewn mountain surrounded by a few granite mounds.
Mingela was once known as Cunningham's Waterholes & Ravenswood Junction, the town was reverted back to Mingela for the original Aboriginal place name of "Ming-illa" meaning a big waterhole. These billabongs made a practical place for settlers and travellers to camp overnight. Mingela was created on the 8th July 2016 by combining the former locality of Crimea with parts of Ravenswood, Reid River and Dotswood.
It’s now a place of memories. Once a busy little town, this rural town turned to dust once the Great Northern Railway (Mt Isa line) was closed. With a population of around 20, which includes the surrounding farmlands, it will be rare to come across people in this township.
Stop off at the Mingela Pub for a beverage and/or a meal.
The old General Store with disused fuel pumps out the front could have told some stories.
Once you cross the railway line you drive into the remnants of what was.
Bird life is still prevalent during the wet season at the remaining waterholes near the Highway.