Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roma and Mitchell

18 – 19 July

From Injune we headed south to Roma, then west to Mitchell. Our first inkling that Roma was a somewhat different town was the parking lot at the airport which contained about 100 mining company trucks all sporting their distinctive red “sand flag.” We presume it represented a changeover of the FIFO workforce.

The main tourist attraction in Roma is The Big Rig which explains the discovery and development of the natural gas industry in Roma since the 1960s. The industry appears to dominate the town, which seems very much a man’s world. Prime positions in the main street are taken by large menswear stores and Repco.
The Big Rig
Menswear store with an extensive range of High Visibility clothing
Work vehicles parked in town

The town also values its World War I heritage with the Heroes Avenue of mature Queensland Bottle Trees. Each tree has a plaque with the name of a serviceman killed in action.
Above and below, Avenue of Heroes

Roma’s historical society is also active, and several old buildings have been restored or renovated and put to new uses.
Restored Court House
The old state school, now Queensland Health
This historic home of 3 rooms accommodated a family with 9 children
Old home well maintained and updated

From Roma it is about an hour’s drive to Mitchell where we decided to spend the night at Neil Turner Weir on the banks of the Maranoa River. Apart from the very sticky mud it is a very pleasant camping spot, and we may get two consecutive nights with rain.

Neil Turner Weir
Flood debris and sand below the weir 
The eastern sky at sunset - yes eastern

Mitchell came to prominence when it flooded here in February 2012, causing significant damage. The evidence of the flood is still visible in the river with massive uprooted trees. Some people have still not had the repairs to their homes completed. Some businesses have still not been able to resume normal operations – the vet is operating out of the CWA hall. Repairs to the Maranoa bridge have just commenced.

Flood debris in the Maranoa River
Previously there was a pedestrian bridge from which to view the murals but the flood washed it away 
The artesian spa this morning was a welcome change of activity – warm silky water with very little odour and complimentary coffee and biscuits. It has just re-opened after the January floods but has not resumed all operations.
Mitchell's artesian spa
Artesian water information display

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