My wife Suzanne’s aunt and uncle, Leon and Yvonne, from the Netherlands were visiting her parents, Jean (John) and Mieke, in the Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns. As they wanted to see some Australian outback this trip, Jean and Mieke decided to visit some places of interest further west.
We managed to juggle Suzanne’s university course, my work and Sarah (10) and Rachel’s (9) school work to drive the 1800 kms from our home on the Sunshine Coast to join them for a family reunion.
I had read about the confluence project in a Subaru car magazine and put forward the idea of visiting the confluence at 18°S 144°E, which was near where we were planning to stay.
We took three days for the drive north, staying at Emerald and Charters Towers and visiting 22°S 147°E and an incomplete visit to 20°S 146°E. We met up with the family at Undara Volcanic National Park Undara Lava Tubes. We visited two of the lava tubes – underground caverns formed by lava flows about 190,000 years ago and the Kalkani volcanic crater.
After two nights at Undara we drove west, on a good sealed road, to Georgetown and then south on a good gravel road to Cobbold Gorge Cobbold Gorge. Cobbold Gorge is situated on Robin Hood cattle station which covers 1,284sq kms and runs about 10,000 head of Brahman cattle.
The next morning we returned to Georgetown and had a puncture repaired before heading back to Mt Surprise and the confluence site. A large scale map showed a shortcut when the road crossed the Einasleigh river but we soon found a gate with a 'no trespassing' sign and so continued the long way round via Mt Surprise.
From the map and a 'Google Earth' screenshot the confluence site appeared to be just north of the access road to the O'Brien Creek gem fields, a fossicking area. The gravel road was excellent as it was still dry season and we saw plenty of Brahman cattle as well as a plains turkey. We crossed ‘The Wall’, a large rocky outcrop left from the same lava flows that covered Undara and then crossed Elizabeth Creek.
The road continued on the north side of the creek through a flat area covered with termite mounds. When the GPS showed the site about 200m off to our right we thought we would have to walk the last bit but some old vehicle tracks took us almost to the spot – easy as.
The ground was quite rocky with a low hill to the north east and sparsely covered with scrubby eucalyptus and wattles. After taking the photos, we retraced our tracks to Mt Surprise and then the two hour drive to Jean and Mieke’s home in Tarzali on the Atherton Tablelands.