Our plan to avoid the rain was fairly unsuccessful as it rained all the way to Blackwater. We decided to stay Bedford Weir, a free campsite about 25 Kilometres from town. Unlike other places we have stayed there is a time limit of a week here, so you don’t get the multitudes of caravanners who head north for the winter and entrench themselves in a free camp for 3 months or so.
Due to the unseasonal rain the weir is overflowing, and the road across the river closed. The Mackenzie River, together with 2 or 3 other major tributaries flows eventually into the Fitzroy at Rockhampton. There is flood debris high in the trees near the weir from the 2010-11 major flood.
|Bedford Weir in full flow, the road crossing closed|
Blackwater is a mining town and calls itself the Coal capital of Australia, which is a pretty brave description. One of the local attractions is the International Coal Centre, which has a mining display even Craig would approve of.
Incongruously, next to the Mining Centre is a Japanese Garden constructed with the assistance of their sister city in Japan. Adjacent to the Japanese garden is one with an unusual collection of plants: a poisonous plant called a cardboard cycad; A Queensland Bottle Tree apparently unrelated to the Boab tree, but looking quite similar; and finally a spiky, weird looking tree that looks like a cross between a pineapple and a frangipanni called a Pachypodium – obviously too unusual to have a common name.
|Poisonous cardboard cycad|
|Queensland Bottle Trees|
|Blackwater Japanese Gardens|
On the way back to camp we skittled a kangaroo – fortunately the car fared better than the roo. We checked out the weir to see if the water level had changed. Yesterday several people were catching good sized yellow-belly. Today was the same. We had the easiest fishing expedition when an old man from town gave us two. He said he had a freezer full and only catches them because he enjoys fishing and gives them to the old pensioners who can’t get out to the weir any more He sat there chain smoking, reeling in the fish and told us he was 75 years old and keeps busy by mowing lawns around town.
|Generous local fisherman wih some of his catch|
|David cleaning his "catch"|
The highlight of Sunday was morning tea catered for by the Caretaker’s wife Lynne who is a fantastic cook. It was well worth the $5 per head. They also provide soup and dessert on Wednesday nights. The couple who look after Bedford Weir campsite really go out of their way to make it a desirable place to stay.
At last the rain has stopped for a while, now we can begin to enjoy the area, although we have met and had campfires with some very nice people while we have been staying here.
|Our load of wood waiting for a chance to be burnt|
|A beautiful sunset, with the promise of a fine day to follow|