Lake Nuga Nuga National Park and Bundoora Dam Queensland. Week 3

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014 at 14:19

Member-Heather MG NSW

After leaving Wuruma dam on Tuesday (13th May), we took the minor sealed road to Monto from Abercorn, located the Showground and used toilet dump, then bought fuel. It was time to have a night in a van park to replenish the batteries, do some of the bigger laundry items and take on more water, so I chose Moura and phoned to reserve us a site. Previously we have shopped in the town (there’s a well stocked IGA Supermarket there) and stayed at the Free Camp on the Dawson River about 8 kms. to the west but it is usually packed by nightfall, and there are no rules to limit dogs or generator use, and quite frankly in this situation, a van park is preferable for us. And this time we wanted the facilities of a caravan park.
We shopped in the Woolworths supermarket in Biloela. I packed the fridge and freezer items away but left all the others until we got parked in Moura and were connected to power. The rest of the day was occupied fully with the laundry, packing of groceries, other mundane chores, making phone calls and finally being able to connect the laptop to the net and get everything up to date after almost a week without. It was good to do some research on the places we want to stay during the next couple of weeks as we are unlikely to have an internet connection in many of them.
The park in Moura was $30 powered, and we were offered a choice of a big drive through grassed site (which wasn’t level enough to stay hitched up, so wasn’t really drive through at all), which had a partial screen of plants, or one of the few other tourist sites which were on the small side and would have been quite cramped to try to reverse our 20ft van in. We chose the former! The whole park had some tight corners and many of its occupants seem to be mine workers but it was fine, and reasonably quiet with little traffic noise until the workers started leaving for shifts before 6am. The laundry had plenty of machines, all vacant when I needed to use them, and it wasn’t too far from our site so I took advantage of that and did three loads at $3 a load, doing even the doona cover and extra pillowcases. Most of it dried, but the items which didn’t were hung out when we reached Lake Nuga Nuga and helped shade us from the hot sun.
Lake Nuga Nuga National Park.
Nuga Nuga is a place which has been on my list of ‘must see’ places in National Parks for a long time. We have driven past the turn off on the Carnarvon Highway but the road has either been closed due to wet weather, or I couldn’t persuade John to go in there. This time, it was a detour off the Dawson Highway for some 55 kms mostly unsealed, and then about 5 kms along a dirt track to the lake through the National Park. Much of the last part is hard compacted clay and would get very sticky in rain so we may be stuck here for an extra few days if the heavy grey clouds actually do dump any! Also the access track has some humps to prevent erosion and allow for water to run off so it required some careful manoeuvring to get the van over them with the WBH attached. The tracks followed the water’s edge about 100 metres from the current level and we drove slowly around searching for a place to park the van, in open country for maximum solar catchment and where it was level enough without too much work. In one place we had to turn the van around as the track disappeared, and we took care to avoid the rocks and tree stumps littering the ground as we did so.
There is evidence of many makeshift fireplaces and campers, one still smoking, which John covered.
There is a self- registration stand in the park however there were no forms or envelopes, although when I checked online, it appeared to me that this option was available.
There are no facilities here so there is the choice to use the van toilet or go bush, which is ok so long as waste is buried deep enough and it is well away and above from the water level. Could be a worry if there are too many others around as everyone would be using the same small patch of cover in the centre! I was very glad we had out toilet in the van.
The lake is fascinating as well as very scenic due to the long dead trees which protrude from the surface of the water and provide roosts for birds, and for great reflections. It is, according to Qld. National Parks website information, the largest natural body of water in the Central Sandstone belt and is sometimes dry, although when there is water it provides a valuable habitat for waterbirds. We saw large flocks of pelicans and magpie geese, as well as plentiful darters, greater egrets, spoonbills, a blue crane, brolga, ducks, plovers, butcherbirds, leatherheads, parrots, and many more birds here. We can’t understand why the dead trees are there, but it appears as though either the area previously dry, was flooded and water drowned them, or maybe the water dried up for a lengthy period and the trees died from lack of it. I will have to do further research online to see whether I can find the answers.

Both afternoons, we watched a very big flock of pelicans as they chased, rounded up and then fed totally silently. It was a pretty awesome sight with the big black and white birds in perfect unison, like a troupe of dancers move along the water and reminded me of a close pack of cyclists on the Tour de France race!
One morning at dawn we listened to a pair of brolga with their amazingly noisy trumpeting calls, kind of like a blue winged kookaburra crossed with an elephant!! I also observed a pair grazing not far from the van, and many more flying gracefully overhead. The other interesting birds to us were the magpie geese which are quite noisy and tended to stay across the other side of the bay in largish groups for periods of time or bicker and then suddenly fly off, honking.

Big groups of cattle grazed around and wandered down to the edge of the lake to drink at various times, and I arrived back after a walk to find them all around the car and van, obviously checking us out. An inquisitive cow was trying to eat my bath towel so I shooed them off and as a result an awning rope was broken and a couple of things knocked over- nothing serious! We have had cows in many of the campgrounds, especially the dams operated by Sunwater and I guess they assist in lawn mowing and fertilising! They are all in great condition and I am guessing that this part of Queensland has had rain and it’s a very good ‘season’.
John and I went for a walk along one of the tracks around the lake and I spotted an echidna quietly feeding a few metres away. These spiky, silent little creatures are my most favourite of all native animals so I crept closer to take photos and had what must be a ‘once in a lifetime’ echidna experience. He was unaware of my presence and moved toward me, feeding all the time and digging in the earth, ending up almost between my feet before he realised something was amiss. I was able to photograph (on my phone) and observe him for possibly 5 minutes and it was truly special. He suddenly moved to a tree base and sat with his head withdrawn so we left him in peace and continued on our way, and on our return trip he had vanished. It is an experience which I will treasure!
Our evening meals were cooked on and eaten around the fire, while the sun slipped below the horizon. On the second day there was a spectacular sunset and I took many photographs. The few other campers there were all like us and respected one anothers needs for privacy. We all camped out of sight and hearing of one another and it felt as though we were alone. Lake Nuga Nuga is and probably will long remain a favourite place with many special memories for me.
John attempted to fish, dropping the bait trap and the redclaw traps in the water, but caught only a turtle and some good sized shrimps. Powered watercraft aren’t permitted and I doubt the water would be deep enough to use one if they were. We aren’t sure what the birds feed on, but they aren’t anything we want to eat. Because of this, he was keen to move on after two nights, but I would have loved to stay a little longer.
After leaving the park, we retraced our route north to the Dawson Highway, and then to Rolleston, Springsure and Emerald. In Springsure, we detoured off the road to the Showground to take advantage of the dump point, only to find it overflowing and unusable. We decided to find the one in Capella instead.
In Emerald we bought fuel and grocery shopped at the new (since we were there a few years ago) Centro shopping centre across the road on the outskirts of town then travelled north to Capella, making good time. We located the Showgrounds and dump point, and filled our water tanks at a nearby tap. There was a horsey event on there with floats, the delicious smell of horses, and people wandering around in big hats and riding gear and I spoke briefly to a man, finding out it was a school for stockmen/women, and also asking permission for us to take the water.
Back in the town, we pulled into the rest area and had lunch before turning towards Middlemount. By mid-afternoon, we had found Bundoora Dam and a position along the waters’ edge between the other vans. Signage indicated there is a camping permit to be filled in but there were no forms in the box, and the others had decided to stay regardless. We had the usual problem of getting level but it didn’t take all that long, and then the boat was in the water soon afterwards.

The dam is close to the road, a railway line and a big Coal Mine so there was a constant noise and after the tranquillity of Nuga Nuga, it was not all that exciting to me. John however was hopeful of fishing and catching redclaw and we decided to stay for three nights. The other campers were a friendly bunch and we had communal campfires in the evenings, using wood collected on the opposite side of the water. They also had small watercraft, parked on the waters edge and the men discussed the fishing opportunities. We had all only arrived that day so were yet to find out.
Toilets were clean enough, flushing with paper and hand towel, and a bit of a walk up the hill, but not too far off and an opportunity for exercise. With the area fenced off, there was little opportunity for other walking, although we were able to walk across the dam wall and back, better than nothing I guess.
During the few days there, I used the dam water to hand wash our clothes and they dried well in the strong winds. We also used it for other non drinking purposes and then had good hot showers using our tank water.
The fishing turned out to be a disappointment and the redclaw catches for most of us were small and scarce. Over the weekend the locals visited with their noisy fast ski boats and jet skis and it was pretty noisy but because we were parked some distance away, it didn’t worry me unduly and was just something to be tolerated, similar to summer holidays on the lake near our home!
The last evening we were there, we had a visit from the youngish land owner/manager of the adjoining property, with his two small children, after they had been waterskiing. He was really friendly and down to earth and we found out that in a few weeks, the place will be packed with grey nomads, some of whom in the past stayed months. With new signage indicating 4 days maximum and a week (7 days) between stays, they could find things different this year although I’m not sure who will check! Campers at times leave toilet paper and faeces on the ground in piles, too lazy to walk to the toilets and we were glad to be there now, with only half a dozen of us dotted along with good spacing between us. Of course too late for us, he also told us where there were sizeable saratoga to be hooked! Apparently they put up a great fight when being reeled in! He gave us an insight into what life was like on the property and his kids every now and then made a short succinct comments, obviously totally aware of the realities of dealing with trespassing pig shooters and others who venture through the closed gates! I had memories of growing up on the land and the freedom it provided for myself and a sister to roam on horseback all day if we wished.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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