A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: josh52

Cape York Telegraph Line

sunny 27 °C

The telegraph track runs alongside where the old telegraph line used to be. The telegraph line was built to communicate from Thursday Island to Brisbane using Morse code.

In the year 1885 the first section of the telegraph line was established, it ran between Fairview and Mein just north of Coen. It cost just over $30,000 to build 320 kms of line, and included a path that was 40 metres wide and was cleared of all trees.

It took Forty seven men to build the line and each camp was guarded by Native Mounted Police because of the war like aborigines that inhabited the area.

The northern section of the line was approximately 260km, much of it through boggy swamp country around the Jardine River, this section would also cost $30,000.

As the line was being built Aboriginal tribesmen cut the wire, stole insulators and burnt grass for kilometres around. The Telegraph stations along the line were built like forts.

The telegraph stations at Musgrave and Coen were opened in December 1886, Mein in July 1887 and Mc Donnell and Paterson at peak point on the western end of Punsand Bay, were opened in August 1887 the same year as Mein.
In that same month a submarine cable was laid between Thursday Island and Peak Point. There was now communication between people on the Island and faraway Brisbane by Morse code.

The line was used as a useful tool in World War 2. The last Morse code message from Brisbane and Thursday Island was sent on the 24th of June 1964. It was then used up until it was dismantled in 1987, as a local telephone line was installed through the Cape to Bamaga and with a branch line to Weipa. Today microwave towers are used as communication and in 2006 an optic cable was run along much of the original Old Telegraph Track.

Now days the track is used by four wheel drivers and every year it is getting harder to drive because the track is no longer getting maintained now that there is no telegraph line that needs regular maintenance.
Written by Josh

Posted by josh52 14:36 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)


Tipity Tip Top

sunny 30 °C

Weipa: We stayed in Weipa for three nights which was the first stop at the Cape York Peninsula. We set up camp and went fishing on the jetty where we were getting massive bites but snapping off the line.
The next day we woke up and went to the bait and tackle shop and purchased bigger line, hooks and sinkers and went for a full day of fishing, we caught two GT’s but dad left them in the fridge for too long which stunk out the fridge and wasted the fish.

On our last day at Weipa we took a tour of Rio Tinto’s mine and the town ship of Weipa. Weipa has an estimated population of three thousand of which nine hundred of them are kids enrolled at the local school. The town was built by Comalco and the Queensland government as a mining town in the early 1960’s. Later Comalco was bought out by Rio Tinto and today seven hundred and fifty residents work for the mine. Weipa also has the longest single lane bridge in the southern hemisphere, which was built by the mine for their train to transport minerals from the mine to the shipping Warf. The bridge was built to only last 30 years but has lasted 40 years but needs a lot of maintenance that includes the use of divers. Bull sharks, stingers and crocodiles make it some of the most dangerous diving in Australia.

The mine has haul roads that was built for the haulage trucks and authorised vehicles only. A few years back there was an elderly couple they took a wrong turn onto the haul road and the mine did what they call a one stop all stop which shut down the mine for more than an hour.

We learned that the mining equipment made it a very expensive business with tyres costing between ten and forty thousand dollars. The machines are serviced on site by mechanics and the mine runs two locomotives with 36 carriages that hold 1000 ton per carriage. The trains run 24 hours a day, transporting bauxite to the Weipa shipping Warf before being shipped to Gladstone, Each front end loader holds 10 cubic metres and each haul truck can hold 160 ton. 25% of the truck drivers are women, they prefer to employ women because they are easier on the controls which reduces break downs and therefore reduces down time.

In the early 60’s Comalco/Rio Tinto started mining bauxite and pull out 20 million ton each year. They believe that they still have 40 years mining left at this site. The Rio mine is an open cut shallow mine, it’s shallow because the layers are soil, bauxite, iron stone, clay and then sand. They cannot dig too deep because when the iron stone will contaminate the bauxite and make refining the mineral more expensive.
The process to make aluminium is bauxite rocks are crushed to make a fine white powder called alumina, then the powder is melted down to make aluminium. It takes 4 tonne of bauxite to make 2 tonne of alumina and 2 tonne of alumina to make 1 tonne of aluminium. Rio Tinto mine 6 thousand tonne per hour and 20 million per year from the site.

The mine is operated around the clock running 24/7 and has day and night shifts each person working 2 days 2 nights 4 days off. Rio Tinto is also replanting and rejuvenating the areas they have mined trying to get it back to its original state. As you drive through the mine you’ll see chunks that have been dug around which are aboriginal place of significance that the mine will not dig up.

I thought that Rio Tinto was very good for the community of Weipa. They look after the people of Weipa by providing infrastructure including, hospitals, schooling and sporting facilities and are conscious of returning the environment to its original state.

By Josh

Posted by josh52 14:38 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Paronella Park

by Josh

semi-overcast 24 °C

José Paronella always had a dream, his dream was to grow up and build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and built Paronella Park.
Paronella Park is situated on 13 acres beside Mena Creek falls, in North Queensland. Here he built his dream castle, together with picnic areas at the lakeside, tennis courts, tunnels and bridges, and planted seven thousand tropical plants and trees around the park.
Josѐ Paronella moved to Australia in 1913, he sailed from Catalonia in northern Spain to start a better life for his fiancée Margarita and himself. Jose worked hard for 11 years, earning his money by buying, developing and selling cane farms.
In his travels he found a water fall along the Mena Creek that was perfect for his plans. He purchased the land in 1929, and started building the grand staircase which has 47 steps. He used the staircase to carry sand from the bank of the river up to the castle and cottage. He built his cottage first, this took him three months and was ready for him and his wife to move in on Christmas Eve.
His next idea was to construct and install Australia’s first privately owned hydro-electric plant, to power the park. The hydro-electric plant was built in 1933. José opened the park to the public in 1935.
After he built the first castle he then moved on to building a second castle, and a tunnel in which he had plans to have an aquarium in. Sadly these plans were soon scrapped because his concrete leaked. Rather than waste the hard work he put into building the tunnel, he used it to grow mushrooms, which he sold to earn money, to put back into Paronella.
José had tennis courts made from crushed termite mounds, and canoes to hire to paddle around the river.
The park ran smoothly until a series of unfortunate events took place. In 1946 during a flood, a mass of logs from a clearing upstream swept away a railway bridge and destroyed the refreshment rooms. José replanted the gardens and fixed the rooms. The park was reopened for business within six months of the floods.
José died in 1948, leaving the park too Margarita, his daughter Teresa and his son Joe. Teresa married and moved to the city and sadly Margerita died in 1967. Joe and his wife were now responsible for running Paronella. Joe passed away in 1972, and his wife sold Paronella five years later.
In 1979 a bush fire struck burning the castles’ ballroom and leaving just the walls and the turret still standing.
In 1986 cyclone Winifred went through the park destroying much of the gardens. It wasn’t until 1993 the new owners Mark and Judy Evans, repaired and cleaned up the park.
Over the years a big gum tree had grown in front of the castle. When Mark and Judy invited Jose’s daughter Teresa back to visit the park, she spoke of a view, a view of the water fall framed by the castle. This view was not evident to Mark and Judy, until in 2006 cyclone Larry hit and the tree was knocked over, showing this view once again. The hydro turbine was restored in 2009 and is now once again powering Paronella Park.
José’s story is all about hard work and how such hard work can bring great joy and pleasure for generations to enjoy and keep as their treasured memories. I felt that although a lot of secrets had been discovered at Paronella Park, the park still has a lot of secrets in store. You could spend a lifetime just looking around finding new things.
Around the gardens

Around the gardens


Posted by josh52 22:59 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

Winton to Townsville

sunny 28 °C

Sunday the 11th
Today we woke up and quickly packed the trailer and headed off to the stockman’s hall of fame, where we found out heaps of information on stockmen, bullocks, sheep shearing and country life.
There was a man who was a horse breaker that showed us the horses he had trained and just how smart they are, they are incredible creatures. He showed us how the bullock team was worked and used on the land, But just how tuff and slow it is. It takes 4 weeks to roughly do 160 miles and the station owners demanded that they travelled 8 miles a day. He told us some phrases that have been adopted into our vocabulary like “pulling the pin” which in bullocky terms means to pull the pin out of the top of the bullocks harness to release the bullocks at the end of the day and “offsider” which is someone that stands on the right hand side of the bullock team to assist the bullock driver.
We then drove to Winton and we went to the music fence, which is a fence that has different tensioned wires that run through a length of wood that went into a tin roof and resinated through the tin to make a harmonic sound. The different tension of wires made different tones of sound. The music fence was devised by a Queensland percussionist Graeme Leak and the Queensland music festival.
Monday the 12th
Today we went to Lark Quarry where the world’s only recorded dinosaur stampede is located. The stampede took place 95 million years ago. It was pretty incredible to see just how well they have been preserved and how poorly looked after the foot prints have been.
When they discovered them they didn’t dig all the site up because they got too tired and after they had left them out for the harsh elements they started to deteriorate, so they built a shelter but the kangaroos found the shelter and stayed for shade and were walking all over the footprints, so they put wire and mesh up to stop them but the weather was still getting too the artefacts.
They finally decided to build a proper shelter and they drilled through some of the prints. When they were putting up the roof, they laid down black plastic sheeting and hay, but when the welder was up on the roof the sparks and slag from the weld dropped down and caught fire to the plastic and it melted into the prints. Once the building was completed, one of the 9ft compressed soil walls fell down and damaged the artefacts.
We then went back into town and went to the pub were Waltzing Matilda was first performed.
We then went to another dinosaur site where they had found bones of three new dinosaur species. These species have only been found in Australia. We learnt how different the world was 95 million years ago and it’s hard to comprehend how different it was. They also explained how they knew what it was like and it makes you wonder.

Posted by josh52 20:17 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

first 3 days

sunny 25 °C

Thursday the 8th we packed our clothes and were ready to go by lunch time and drove 650 kilometres and camped in a resting place on the side of the road half way between Griffith and Cobar the temperature dropped to 0.7 degrees it was the coldest I’ve ever been when we woke up the canvas was frozen stiff we quickly packed up the trailer and headed off.
Friday the 9th was a full day off driving we got from Cobar to Blackall where we stayed in another free rest stop of to the side of town, driving that day all we saw was road kill and heaps of it every hundred metres there was another kangaroo splattered all over the bitumen and we started passing road trains that would push you to one side when you passed and the wall of wind was incredibly loud.
Saturday the 10th we woke up and quickly packed the trailer and drove to the blackall woolscour which is one of the only woolscours left that has an artesian bore as a water supply and is steam driven. It was closed down in 1978 and the locals of blackall have restored it back to its working state it is now open for tourists to take a tour through the scour our tour guide was called beaver and he used to work on the scour. We then drove to Longreach, set up at the caravan park and went to the Q.A.N.T.A.S founders museum and took a tour of a 747 we then went to a sheep shearing competition.

Posted by josh52 00:33 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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