Diamantina National Park

Boom or Bust, Water or Dust, as isolated as it is dusty, at times you can be cut off at the Diamantina by overflowing clay pans or flood waters spilling from the multiple river channels. Seems a great advertising for the park as found in one of the brochures. Sounds very inviting.

Our experience was it was dry, dusty, lots of flies, isolated, rough dusty roads, did I mention the flies. We drove into both camping areas, Gum Hole and Hunters Gorge to have a look. Gum Hole was more like a bush camp with each camp spot separate by trees along the river. Looked nice but dusty all sites were full, they need to be booked online.

Hunters Gorge was a large flattish area in a Gorge with a permanent waterhole. Lots of birds and it would be great to kayak up the river, it was rather muddy looking. This is where the caravans and motorhomes went.

We called into the Diamantina Homestead complex, which has lots of park information, the Old Homestead and Quarters, Ranger Station etc. they have put together a great display area.

A stop at Janet’s Leap lookout is worth a detour into with a view of Janet’s Leap and a view over the river channels and the Diamantina Gates.

Just outside the park heading towards Winton is the Mayne Hotel Ruins. There is not much left of the old hotel and underground cellar. Flies there too. They are not too bad when you first get out of the car but then they find you and try and fly up your nose, in your mouth, behind your sunnies trying to get to your eyes, buzz your ears and whisper we will find you, tickle your arms and legs and just be a great big pest and we are sure if you stand still long enough they will either drop you to the ground with the weight of them on your back or carry you away.

The road on this side of the park is more interesting, more vegetation, trees, ruins, jumpups but the road is rougher. You could be forgiven to thinking you were in a western.

We took the turnoff to Lark Quarry hoping we could do the late arvo tour. We have wanted to go to Lark for a while but it’s never been on our route until today. There is a warning sign at the start of the road warning of rough corrugations.

Bedourie, an Oasis in the Desert

Bedourie means “dust storm” population 120. Is perched on a sand dune and surrounded by Eyre Creek. In the 1880’s Bedourie was a major watering and rest stop for drivers moving cattle from NT and NW Qld to Birdsville. Bedourie is home to the Bedourie Camp Oven. In 1920’s a tin smith constructed the camp oven for drovers who were having trouble with the outback cookware. In 2001 the Australian Government recognised the Bedourie Camp Oven as “Uniquely Australian”. In recognition of the iconic oven the ACT named a St called Bedourie Street.

Bedourie proved to be a nice little town, one we would happily visit again. The Mud Hut dates back to the 1880’s and is said to be one of the first buildings constructed in Bedourie.

The Bedourie Hotel previously known as the Royal Hotel over the road constructed of sun-dried bricks is said to be in the same time frame.

A new artistic representation of a dust storm and whirly winds.

We popped in to the visitor centre and spoke to a very friendly lady who has only just moved there from the Sunshine Coast, what she currently lacks in local knowledge she makes up for in enthusiasm. She convinced us to go to the Artesian Spa and Aquatic Centre. A $50 fully refundable key deposit is required for the key to unlock the gate as the spa is not staffed. The spa is 40 degrees or hotter. It was hop in 10-15 mins then out for a break. We had the whole place to ourselves.

We dropped the key back and had lunch at the park opposite which had shelter, tables and chairs even a BBQ. Really nice spot to have lunch with public toilets next door with the most water used at flushing we have ever seen.

We then headed out of town towards Diamantina National Park. The road to the park is flat, the whole country side is flat and devoid of much vegetation, don’t think we have seen an area so flat for such a long distance. There is just nothing there yet that is what makes it special and has its own natural beauty.

The road is wide, gravel, dusty with some areas of bull dust with views a long way to the horizon with mirages of water. Wouldn’t like to be here in the heat of summer. Apart from a line of trees along dry creek beds every now and then and a couple of station properties, 4 gates as many cattle grids a few jumpups the landscape stayed much the same until the National Park.