Traveller Alan Betteridge outside the Walkabout Creek Hotel which was made internationally famous when it was used in the Crocodile Dundee movies.
Traveller Alan Betteridge outside the Walkabout Creek Hotel which was made internationally famous when it was used in the Crocodile Dundee movies. Contributed

Roaming from Walkabout Creek to Waltzing Matilda waterhole

OPINION: The rain had completely cleared by the time we departed Mt Isa but it had been replaced by some much cooler temperatures.

The city's top temperature on the day we left was predicted to be a chilly (by Mt Isa standards) 22 degrees.

Heading east on the Barkly Hwy to Cloncurry the countryside is made up of rocky outcrops and towering bluffs.

We wondered how those early explorers ever managed to traverse such terrain with just horses.

It must have been an exercise of extreme hardship but in the end history proves that their tenacity paid off.

Along the way, we saw what remained of a caravan that had been rolled.

What happened we will never know, maybe a tyre problem or just a momentary lapse in concentration but the end result was a disaster and we only hoped the occupants of the vehicle were unharmed.

Arriving in Cloncurry, we had a wander around and once again Christine set off to rescue the town's economy.

What I did find was the price of fuel (170.9 cents per litre) was far more expensive than Mt Isa (153.9c) or even Boulia (169.3c) and could only put it down the fact that the town had few independent service stations and was serviced by both Coles Express and Woolworths fuel outlets.

Sunset at Combo Waterhole.
Sunset at Combo Waterhole. Alan Betteridge

If I were cynical I would have thought the price was being manipulated.

It is easy to give 10c off per litre when you have added nearly 20c on.

About 15km out of Cloncurry, we turned south down the Landsborough Hwy towards Winton.

Shortly after taking this turn off the landscape once again changed to open range country.

The further south we travelled, the more barren the countryside looked with some areas appearing to be completely arid.

We saw a number of grazier's hand-feeding their stock to keep them alive.

The farmers in this area of north western Queensland are really doing it tough with low cattle prices and the lack of rain.

One farmer I met told me that at a recent sale cattle only fetched $20 per head and it had become unviable to feed or transport them to market and as a result they had resorted to shooting them, something no farmer ever wants to do.

Just after lunch, we arrived at McKinlay the home of the Walkabout Creek Hotel.

The hotel was made internationally famous when it was used in the Crocodile Dundee movies.

It was originally named the McKinlay Hotel but with the success of the movies its name was changed permanently to Walkabout Creek to capture some of the publicity.

It is much the same as any other outback pub but it is place you just have to visit; even it's only to say you've been there.

From McKinlay we continued further south and started looking for a place to stay for the night.

Christine mentioned that the Combo Waterhole wasn't too far away but we would have to travel 8km off the highway down a dirt road.

With the area not having any of the rain we had experienced earlier, the dirt road would not be a problem so the decision was made to head for it.

The road turned out to be relatively smooth, albeit very dusty, and dry.

Arriving at the Combo Waterhole we found a well-maintained area complete with composting toilets.

With no signage to prohibit camping, we set up for the night.

Combo Waterhole is in a conservation area and is located on the old Dagworth Station.

It is this waterhole that the swaggie of the iconic Waltzing Matilda ballad was supposed to have jumped into and drowned to avoid being arrested by the troopers for sheep duffing.

That evening we were treated to a spectacular sunset and settled in for the night.

We were completely unaware of what the next morning was about to bring.



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