Outback Queensland - Mt Isa/Cloncurry

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Sunday, October 30, 2011

So here we were in Mount Isa…  Rod and I had only been here once before.  It was almost twenty five years ago, we were on a flight from Alice Springs to Cairns via Mount Isa where we all had to deplane for an hour or so.  We didn’t have enough time to leave the airport and explore the town so the extent of our experience was a walk around the airport.  Ever since then we had been itching to get back…

Mount Isa is basically built beside the mines, separated only by the Leichhardt River and surrounded by rugged mountain ranges.  The skyline is dominated by tall stacks rising from the mines which make for a great silhouette come sunset.  A visit up to the City Lookout afforded us sweeping views of the town and mines.

We took a drive out to Lake Moondarra where Rod had a few casts to no avail.  It was a bright sunny day with barely a cloud in the sky making the water a stunning deep blue and the green lawns looked to just roll into the lake.  There was an abundance of birdlife which looked to be content flocking around this large body of water.

On our exploration around the lake we came upon a park which was filled with peacocks, not being able to resist we took a walk amongst them.  There were several different groups and it was interesting to observe their behavior.  In one group the handsome male sat casually under the shade of a big tree surrounded by his harem of plain females.  Another male sat along a branch high in a tree checking out the action below.  Our highlight however was when one of the males went into a mating ritual and we got to see his tail feathers displayed in all their glory, a magnificent sight… We were thrilled!

Whilst in Mount Isa we were delighted to be able to catch up with an old friend of Rod’s from his early days in the Navy; Mick and his lovely wife Cynthia.  It was entertaining to muse over old deployments and catch up on the happenings over the missing years.

It wasn’t long before we were restocked, recharged and off to Cloncurry (affectionately referred to as the ‘Curry’).  We had discovered they had a race meeting which coincided with Derby Day and we just couldn’t resist the opportunity to savour the experience. 

The drive between Mount Isa and the Curry was nothing short of spectacular.  As cattle meandered along the sides of the road we wound our way through the Selwyn Range, we were regularly struck by its natural beauty.  Rugged red rocks littered with trees, an occasional wildflower adding another level of colour to the scene.  Unfortunately there were several areas ablaze and we were just lucky that the highway remained open despite the flames being along the roadside in some points. Several areas had obviously been ravaged by fire days prior for the dense bushland was now cleared of undergrowth offering just a sea of charcoal remains.

At the Curry our park was set in bushland on the edge of town.  The road trains were a constant, roaring round the bend and into Cloncurry.  We had a neat little camp, a very inviting pool and an entertaining group of neighbours.  As had become a habit in this hot climate we were in the pool not long after checking in late on Friday afternoon.  Whilst we were discussing the logistics of getting to and from the races the following day we got talking to a lovely lady; Jeanette, who said they were going to the races as well and we could go out with them.

Jeanette and her husband James are a delightful couple and it was so generous of them to let us join them.  We were so keen we were the first of the public to arrive at the track and Rod even helped one of the committee members set up!

We enjoyed watching the Melbourne races whilst the local track gradually filled up.  A bus load of Mount Isa racing enthusiasts dominated the betting ring, a sea of black and white. We felt so under dressed… The standard of the ladies dress was well on a par with Flemington, the Derby Day black and white theme backed to the hilt.  The hats, fascinators, silks and chiffons… an infant at the table beside us even wore a black and white striped nappy!  The sound of the rings being snapped back on beer cans and Champagne corks popping brought music to our ears, oh how we love Derby Day!

The first race was started about twenty minutes late and with no audio, lucky we had prime seats between the mounting yard and finishing post.  As the horses thundered along the track a massive cloud of red dust trailed them settling nicely upon anyone close to the rails!  By the second race a Westpac representative had arrived with the audio equipment so the race caller was happy and the meeting settled into a steady flow.  We left with empty pockets and hearty smiles having thoroughly enjoyed our day at the Curry races, made all the better by the pleasant company of Jeanette, James and a couple of their employees.

The following day we took a drive out to Chinamen Creek Dam, conveniently located only a couple of kilometers from town.  It looked to be a great recreational area with locals out swimming with their dogs, boating and picnicking.  With Mount Leviathan dominating the horizon it made for a picturesque backdrop.

We were leaving the Curry having utterly enjoyed our time there, the locals were really friendly and we met some wonderful people.  Rod loved going down the street on Saturday morning and seeing the fundraising stall out the front of the supermarket, all the delicious home baked cakes… Just another aspect of country towns that we love!

As we drove out of Cloncurry we were thrilled to see the large Brahman, which resided in the paddock beside the park, was off on his daily walk… Jeanette had told us about it however we were yet to see it with our own eyes.  Sure enough, here was the owner leading the Brahman along the streets of Cloncurry accompanied by his little white fluffy dog, what a classic!

Highlights of Mount Isa/Cloncurry:

-          Catching up with Mick and Cynthia

-          Drive between Mount Isa and Cloncurry

-          The Curry race meeting

-          Meeting the lovely Jeanette, James and Quinn

-          Seeing a massive Brahman being walked through town!
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Bill and Ali on

Hey you guys...dragging the chain a bit....we`re at Rockie;will be home in 3 weeks..if you pass through Coffs ,contact us .if you hav`nt go our details,send me an email.Take care
Ali and Bill

Mick on

God's country!
I was almost born in the Curry but Mum made the flight to Brisbane in time to avoid a home berth in the stables. The world hasnt been the same since.

Val S. on

The photos in this posting certainly are in contrast to some of the later ones with pools, waterfalls and beautiful coastal delights. How good is that shot of the Brahman going 'walkies'... good one!

Bonnie on

Hey, just happened across this and couldn't believe my eyes!! I worked in the curry for 3 months whilst backpacking and I know the guy with the bull! His name is Dave, the dog is Harry and the bull is called Trula (think that's how it's spelt!). Every day he goes up and down, after a while it doesn't look so odd!!

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