The sunlight was just hitting the top of the trees – the garden was surrounded by bush.
But it was still very frosty on ground level after below zero temperatures overnight.
The property also had a private 9-hole golf course on-site. Hubby had a go at a few holes at the end of the day, and even convinced me to swing a club. Bridie meanwhile had more fun running around the course – she must caught the scent of some roos.
We stayed at the dog-friendly Granite Gardens, about 15km out of Stanthorpe. It was beautifully landscaped, and at night was floodlit. I enjoyed exploring it in the early morning.
The pond was still and the reflections were wonderful. Of course, local granite was a big feature of the garden.
We ventured across the border into Queensland, into the region known as the Granite Belt. There were certainly lots of rocks about!
Geologically, this region is of the same make-up as the country we’d travelled through since Armidale, but for Queensland this place was an anomaly since it wasn’t subtropical or semi-arid. That is, it’s high up (at least 800 metres above sea level), and isn’t humid. And because the soil is so poor it’s perfect grape-growing country. Yes, Queenslanders can make wines too.
There are about 60 wineries in the area, mostly around the towns of Ballandean, Stanthorpe and The Summit. Unlike in the Hunter Valley or Margaret River, these are mostly small winemarkers, growing only a few acres of vines at most, but that makes wine tasting all the more enjoyable.
Outside of vintage time, which it was in mid-winter, winemakers had time to chat about their wines. They were on the whole a passionate lot, who seemed to really care about quality more than quantity.
The result showed in their wines. They were yummy! And it didn’t seem to matter what the variety, there were lovely reds and whites to be had. Hubby and I were so enamoured by them that we brought back 5 cases from half-a-dozen wineries. Don’t worry, we won’t be drinking them all at once – quite a few require a bit of cellaring. We’ll certainly be looking forward to sampling them in the future.
It really hit me that we were going home when we came to the edge of the Gregory River – the boundary of the Riversleigh fossil fields.
This was my last glimpse of the lush, green oasis by the Gulf rivers.
It was also exciting the slip through the water like that. And the water was relatively deep too.
Half way back to Mt Isa, we passed by the gates of this station. It reminded me of Mr Thornton in North and South.
We glimpsed a couple of cowboys mustering cattle in the dusty yards, but I was most curious about whether the station was founded by a Mr Thornton or not. It would be rather exciting if a Mancurian industrialist did turn pastoralist in the Australian outback. It would be quite a story, anyway.
And that is the end of my journey to the Gulf. I’ll be back soon with a post about somewhere much closer to home.
On the way, we saw plenty of Brahman cattle, the main breed in the Gulf Country.
They’re not incredibly elegant, but they are hardy, and seem to have more common sense than other cattle breeds. For example, when faced with approaching motor vehicles, they know to get out of the way quick enough. Even the little ones.
The end of the week came all too soon – it was time to go home. At Riversleigh, the palaeontologists bagged all their specimens.
And then put them in the 4WD’s to bring back to Adels Grove.
There, they put the bags on to palettes, which will eventually be taken back to Mt Isa, and then transported by train back to Sydney.
For them, it’s really just the beginning of their discoveries – the extraction, and then the identification and write up are all still ahead. They certainly have enough work to tide them over until next year’s trip to Riversleigh.
Boodjamulla (formerly Lawn Hill) National Park, is actually a very large place. It encompasses both the gorge area, Riversleigh fossil fields and beyond, all the way to the Northern Territory border.
A mere kilometre or so from the gorge, the landscape once again turns dry.
The geologists can’t help having a squizz at the rocks.
I was more interested in the flora. There were, once again, long wattles.
But I was more fascinated by this tree.
And the mottled bark pattern on its trunk.
Was it caused by insects or naturally occurring?
All too soon, it was time to head back downstream. There was no shortage of people going the other way.
We saw a few interesting things along the way, like an entrapped creature in a spider web.
And cave paintings (Hubby thinks it’s of a turtle).
All in all, it was a lovely afternoon in a wondrous place.
Indarri Falls is a pretty popular place in the school holidays. But since we came in the late afternoon, and because the water was cool, there weren’t too many people.
We moored the canoe, put on our snorkel and mask, and swam in the cool water. I had heard that turtles, catfish and fresh water crocodiles lived there, but unfortunately all I saw were the ubiquitous archer fish. It didn’t however detract from the exhilaration I felt in swimming at such a delightful place.
We weren’t the only ones that liked this place. It’s a wonderful place to bring the kids.
A kilometre upstream, we came to Indarri Falls.
It was rimmed by pandanus palms.
It was where Lawn Hill Creek tumbled down a series of tuffa dams. Tuffa is formed with the minerals in the water mix with mud and sand to form dam-like structures along water ways.