From Alice to Boulia - along the Plenty Highway
19.10.2016 - 21.10.2016 33 °C
Time to move on from Alice. Next chapter? The Plenty highway into Western QLD. A few more hundred k's of dirt..... The Plenty Hwy starts just north of Alice Springs and heads directly east to the Queensland border. It's mostly dirt though the first 100k or so is bitumen and the plan is to seal the lot. Once you cross the border the same road becomes the Donohue Hwy. this is also in the process of being sealed but it appears to occur in 10k stretches here and there. Probably at points that have been hardest to maintain.
Our travel onto the Plenty was from Neil Hargrave lookout in the West McDonnel ranges, via a shopping stop in the Alice. As a result we didn't get very far along before we camped along the side of the road where the Binn track heads north. We put in a long day driving to the border, visiting Tobermorey Station for an ice cream and a drink. We decided to keep going as it was still early. It was a bit unknown as we'd seen signs all along the Plenty warning that the Donahue was 4WD only. What a surprise to start on it and find bitumen! There we multiple 5 and 10 K lengths of sealed road with the dirt in between in good condition. It was an easy drive into Boulia where we camped on the banks of the Burke River in amongst the very long, very green grass. Water in the river and plenty of birdlife had us happy to stay for at least 2 nights here as we explored Boulia.
Boulia is the home of the Min Min light - a mysterious light that appears to follow stockmen and vehicles for kilometres and then suddenly disappear. The tourist centre has an animated display that leads you through some of the tales about the lights appearance. It was really well done. Around the corner is an historic stone house and dinosaur fossil display as well as other local memorabilia. It's a great way to learn about the local area. The lady running the centre told us she wasn't a local as she had only been in the area 40 years!! She originally came from Augathella, situated about halfway between here and Brisbane to the south east. I mentioned an old ringer I worked with around Winton who came from Augathella and sure enough she knew him and was a distant relative. It was nice to swap a few stories about Billy recall some of his excentricities. I could have stayed around Boulia for some time but we were keen to get across to Winton to catch up with friends there, so it was back on the road again along the very narrow road heading east to Winton.