Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heading west

From the tablelands I drove down to Charters Towers - choosing the Overlanders Way over the Savannah Way, so as to take in the dinosaur fossil sites of Hughenden and Richmond and check out some of the national parks in the area.

I'd suddenly hit Winter - up on the Cape and in Cairns, the weather had been quite temperate - but now I was having to wear my jacket at in the evening, don my thermals and flanno then burrow under the sleeping bag at night then pull my beanie on when morning came. Still, the cold has its good points - I get to eat hot porridge for breakfast and I don't break into a sweat from drinking a hot mug of tea. The dry air of the inland is another thing that has taken a little getting used to - but at least my clothes dry out. Living outdoors is undoubtedly easier in the semi-arid zone. Few annoying insects, gear can be left around without getting wet, mould doesn't grow on everything.

I say few annoying insects. One night, there were locusts annoying me in large numbers. Thinking laterally, I heated up some oil in a pan and collected about a dozen of the critters. After cutting the spikey legs off, I fried them up to crispness and seasoned them with some salt and pepper. They were actually quite good. Very crunchy, like prawns with the shells on. They go pink when cooked too! Not an unpleasant taste. I'll take some photos next time.

The Muttaburrasaurus, assorted fossil and mineral exhibits at Hughenden were spectacular, and I found out about a spot just out of town where I picked up a bunch of Belemnites from the surface (Belemnites are a type of cephalopod like ammonites and nautilus).

At Richmond, the marine dinosaur exhibit (Kronosaurus Corner) is really very good. Amazing to see the size of some of these beasts - the 11 m long Kronosaurus, with 30 cm long teeth must have been a terrifying beast in its day.

I headed out to Richmond common to do some fossil-hunting. I must have moved about a ton of rock, though I had only a little luck - there was plenty of stuff though most of it was mish-mashed shells and fish bones. I did find some sort of jaw that I'm yet to identify, it could be interesting.

Since Richmond I've driven through Julia Creek to Cloncurry, where I turned northwards, reaching Normanton today.

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