Monday, October 3, 2011

Clem Walton Reserve

Clem Walton Park

Mt Isa was completely different to the images both Peter and I had about the place.  We were expecting a dusty, industrial town with slag heaps and mining towers.  Instead, it is a clean and thriving metropolis! It is situated amongst picturesque, rolling deep red and orange hills

A stop in Mt Isa to get information from the Tourist Information Centre, turned out to be a waste of time! The girl behind the counter couldn't tell us anything other than info about Mt Isa, so we continue our travels, only knowing we can't go to Lawn Hill or the Birdsville Track, due to bush fires. This we read on a notice pinned up inside the centre.

Our search for a suitable camp between Mt Isa and Cloncurry, resulted in us find a wonderful spot along a river in Clem Walton Park.  The entry point is very strange as there is a shut gate, complete with padlock; only the padlock locks nothing; and there is a large notice about the presence of blue/green algae.

The blue/green algae reading on the notice board indicated a "moderate" level. We drove for some way before arriving at a fork in the road, one leading to a large water catchment dam and the other leading somewhere else.  We chose the "somewhere else", because we could see a number of caravans and motor homes beside the dam.

The "somewhere else", turned out to be a vibrant river with green grassy campsites right at the water's edge.  On arrival, there was just one other couple, who were from Mt Isa and spending their Sunday enjoying a picnic in this very quiet and beautiful spot.

We got out of the car and continued walking further downstream along a rough road close to the water. We found no one else there and the best camping spots ever!

Our choice of campsite was towards the very end of the track.  Green grass down to the water's edge, a camp fireplace, a flat area suitable for the camper.  With gin and tonic and beer in hand we enjoyed the stillness and solitude. 

This has been one of the best campsites.  The river showed little sign of the alleged blue/green algae, it was alive and very well!  Thousands of different species of fish were enjoying the water plants and abundant insect life.  Birds were happily swimming, diving and washing in the water.

Other than one cow dung, there was no other evidence of the feral animals seen in other sites.  This may be why the river is so alive.  The banks have not been eroded by hooves and the vegetation is still all intact.

All types of birds abounded including many types of little wrens and finches - usually a good indication of the health of an ecosystem.

As the sun was setting, we saw our first "alive" big Red Kangaroo.  Until now we had seen only one "dead" one on the Barkly Highway, past Mt Isa. In the morning we saw a Whistling Kite catch and eat a large fish from the river.

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