1. Charters Towers

An outback hotel NT

An outback hotel NT

We arrived in the town at 9.30am but with no real idea where we were or where to go. We knew we had travelled into Queensland, the soil had changed colour, no longer red, and the vegetation had increased considerably. As we had travelled both north and west the previous day we seemed to end up further and further in to the outback and were a little surprised by this ‘hotel’! Once we crossed the border the roadhouses suddenly seemed much more affluent, less dusty, more commercial and less idiosyncratic.

Fortunately, or otherwise, depending on your viewpoint, the bus dropped us off opposite the ubiquitous McDonalds where we knew that we would be able to access wifi for a town map and directions to the information centre. We were due to be picked up that lunchtime by Genine, our new host so just needed to kill a few hours, we wouldn’t be able to do much as we had all the luggage. One cup of coffee later we had a town map and located the info centre at the other end of the main street. On the way to it we couldn’t help noticing a Town Crier on the other side of the road, a little unexpected. He was back in the info centre by the time we reached there and was very helpful.

IMAG3579IMAG3578CT is quite an affluent historic town, very proud of its history. We couldn’t leave our luggage anywhere so opted to sit it out in a nearby park, taking it in turns to have a look around. It was a lovely morning with a little cloud cover so not too hot and we were happy to just relax and read our books. Unfortunately we soon got a message from Genine to say that she wouldn’t be able to pick us up that day but her husband would come in for us during the afternoon. We had no problem with this as we were enjoying our surroundings, even the toilet had a historical artefact as the waste bin, but we just wanted to have a rough idea of time so we could have a little bit of a plan. We were unable to reach him by landline or mobile and eventually Genine messaged us to say that he wasn’t going to make it the 1.5 hours in that day but she’d collect us the following day.

IMAG3576We checked in to the fabulous old hotel she recommended and received a great room in a meandering great building of a ‘private’ hotel. This label was apparently because they couldn’t sell alcohol but didn’t stop our hostess from giving us a very welcome complementary glass each whilst we sat at the table on the veranda outside our room. We were due to be picked up the following lunchtime and by the time we’d checked out (but left our bags) at 10am and enjoyed our breakfast decided that we didn’t have time to walk up the lookout hill and ended up in another park after we’d had a little historical tour of the town. IMAG3581We were going to sit in the sun and read our books (again) but were distracted by a dreadful racket from some ‘birds’ in the trees at the end. We could see rather large brown winged beasts from afar so came nearer to investigate to discover that they were bats, huge bats, about the size of a smallish rabbit with a 2-3 foot wing span! There were hundreds of them, they had totally destroyed dome of the trees and apparently decimated some nearby fruit crops. We’d accosted a local crossing the park to enquire about them. Not really surprisingly, we had not read anything about them anywhere!

IMAG3574We were heading back to the hotel to meet Genine when we received another message to tell us that her car had broken down and she was waiting for the RAC (Queensland). I headed back to the hotel to check that it was ok to leave the bags for longer where Trisha, the proprietor, insisted on us returning to the veranda and helping ourselves to tea and biscuits. definitely another recommendation, The Royal Private Hotel, if anyone happens to be out this way!

IMAG3584Genine picked us up about 4 pm and we travelled out to her station with her son Mac and 2 dogs, Tommy who sat on my knee all the way back and her Mother’s dog who she is looking after for now. When we arrived we were met by 4 more dogs, 2 cats, a little herd of poddy calves (bottle fed) and Charlie, the cockatiel, who joined us for dinner. He took a bit of a liking to Roger but we’ll need to keep our bedroom door closed as he has a penchant for biting all the buttons off shirts!


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