Pompey’s 2024 Plenty Highway Trip

The outcome. Even the dog got in on the act. Tender, succulent meat was as perfect as you could wish for. Same with the spuds. Might have the leftover meat on a sanger tomorrow. Can’t beat a camp oven when it comes to cooking meat. Or damper.
The drive to Eromanga was pretty good, although as always there’s always a surprise lurking there to get you. The council has a rather peculiar outlook when it comes to road safety. They narrow the road to a single lane on just about every blind crest. It’s an act of faith that nothing is coming the other way. And marker posts are strategically placed to limit how far you can come off the road too. Not that that’s always advisable when towing and the edges are soft.

We’re staying in a caravan park in this very small place. There’s free camping but it’s no better than here. So by staying here we can fill our water tanks and be no worse off.

I was speaking to a local opal miner who reckons that the opal here is better than at Lightning Ridge, which would make it the best opal in the world. I’ve said before that I think that opal is the most amazing gem I’ve ever seen. Far more impressive to me than the diamonds we saw years ago at the now closed Argyle Diamond Mine.

Tomorrow we visit the natural history museum to see the dinosaurs and opal display.


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Well for a most fascinating, informative and enjoyable day out at the Eromanga Natural History Museum. Here saw fossils of Australia’s largest known dinosaur, known as Cooper. He is 3rd biggest dinosaur ever discovered in the world. His thigh bone is about 1.9m long and weighed some 200kgs. However, they are currently working on another dinosaur which looks to be even bigger and we saw a huge fossilised bone of it and that could well prove to be the biggest dinosaur ever discovered. We’ll know in the next few years.

A woman on tour asked if any dinosaurs discovered had female names. The lady giving the tour said Cooper was named after Coopers Creek, where it was discovered (by a 14 year old boy). The dinosaur that could turn out to be the worlds largest was named after the dog of the property owner where the bones were discovered. So it’s a bit hit and miss.

After the tour I was speaking to the tour guide. I was asking her the same questions about dinosaur evolution and lineage in Australia compared to say North America. There were fascinating differences. Australian dinosaurs are related to those in South America. Makes sense since both were part of Gondwana. The other difference was in age. North American large dinosaurs are dated back to the Jurassic, where Australian ones date back to the Cretaceous, the period of time after the Jurassic.

We also got to see bones from Australian mega fauna, some of it only tens of thousands years old and in excellent condition, and not yet fossilised.

As we walked back to the cafe, we were very privileged to catch up with Stephen Young, who does research here. Stephen is a friend of a friend (Michael). Michael had kindly asked Stephen to show us some of the work he was doing. Some of this work is world leading and other work, all of it written up in scientific papers, is used in other research.

One such area he is working on is a particular fruit which is as old as old as the dinosaur bones but it’s genetically the same as what exists today. In other words, there have been no genetic changes over tens of millions of years. I asked if that studying how this happens could assist in preventing cancer, and he said this was being looked into.

Only Dave and myself were given access to this, so as I said I felt very privileged.

One of the displays was very useful in giving both a geological and paleontological timeline with two graphs- one for today’s temperature and the other over geological time. We are very lucky to be living in such a time when it’s not too hot or too cold. It also showed a sample of the oldest known mineral in the world, from the Pilbara in WA.
Well, the end of this epic trip is drawing closer. Tonight, we arrived at Charlotte Plains Sheep & Cattle Station. Charlotte Plains is a favourite spot of mine. It’s a 70,000 acre station that is becoming increasingly popular with travellers.

The journey here began with an early start. We departed Eromanga at around 0750 and headed for Quilpie. At Quilpie, we bought some fresh meat at the butcher for the first time since Alice Springs! We also went to the supermarket which was decidedly better than the one at Boulia.

The roads were a mix of good and reasonable, with some poor patches as well. At least the council here widened the road on crests. But in other places the road narrowed near drains. That’s ok until a vehicle comes the other way. Most are courteous, slow down and move partially or completely off the road to pass. Yet we had 2 near misses one after the other. First an imbecile in a 70 Series Landcruiser tried to force us off the road and we had to brake heavily to miss him. Then seconds later another imbecile in a HiLux did the same. They just don’t back off, and he had to swerve at the last minute at relatively high speed. Maybe he was hoping we’d back off, but stopping nine and a half tonnes just doesn’t work that way.

We stopped off at Eulo for some photos, and then at Cunnamulla for fuel. From there we headed off to Charlotte Plains. More photos to come, but here are some for now.
A quiet day at Charlotte Plains. The highlight came late in the day sitting around listening to live music sitting around the fire. When the live music finished, we just sat around chatting to others. It may not sound like much but it was really enjoyable.
A quiet day at Charlotte Plains. The highlight came late in the day sitting around listening to live music sitting around the fire. When the live music finished, we just sat around chatting to others. It may not sound like much but it was really enjoyable.
Sometimes it is just the simple things in life!
It was literally a freezing cold morning this morning with the temperature at 0 and thick frost on the windows of the truck. We had a good run to St George, where we re-fuelled. On arrival at Dirranbandi we quickly set up camp and headed into town.

After lunch, we returned to camp and relaxed. It’s our final stop before returning home.

One of the challenges of trips like this managing resources, such as power and water. You can never be sure where the next drinking water will be available. And when relying on solar, shade and clouds are your enemy when it comes to power. With water, washing clothes uses a lot of water. With electricity, the fridge and cooking are big consumers of power. We can cook with gas, but cooking with electricity has advantages too when camping.
So this is the last full day of our road trip. There have been too many highs to list them all here. Finally crossing the Plenty Hwy is very pleasing. I’m only saddened my mate Dave Roy wasn’t able to share it with me. Or that Lorna was around to read my posts. I’m sure she’d have enjoyed doing that.

The other big thing about this trip was the dinosaur places we visited. I loved learning more about this, and the geology of the whole Great Australian Basin. You could say that this has been the most educational of my Australian trips.

Along the way, I spoke to an amazing variety of people. Some travellers like us, others local.

I’m also delighted with the way both the Ford F350 and Bushtracker caravan performed. And very thankful for the modifications and preparation of e@ch before we left. I doubt there’s a better combination of outback van and tow vehicle out there.

Tomorrow we head home, via Goondiwindi and Texas.

I won’t be home for long. In about 3 weeks, I’m taking my mum on a very different type of trip up to the Great Barrier Reef and the Atherton Tablelands. So that means a thorough clean of truck and van. We won’t need to carry water in the van or a second spare tyre or jerrycans for the truck so both will be much lighter. Nor will I need a chainsaw, camp oven, mattock, spade and other stuff that all adds weight. So I can take a bit more air out of the tyres to give a more comfortable ride.
Arrived home this afternoon. Pretty tired so we are going out to the RSL Club for dinner. Thanks for your interest in and for following me on this fantastic trip.

I leave on my next trip on the 10th July. I’ll head north east and hit the coast around Rockhampton, which is on the Tropic of Capricorn. So once again I’ll be in the tropics, following the Great Barrier Reef north till around Cairns, where I’ll head inland on to the Great Dividing Range.