Day 54 – Saturday, 15 June 2024 – Mt Isa

We woke up about 9:00am or just before and I opened my birthday cards and sent thank you texts to those who had wished me a happy birthday.

After my shower I headed up to the laundry – $5 a wash load. I had it out on the line under the awning before we took our leisurely drive around Mt Isa and environs, and it was dry by the time we had returned – two and a half hours later.

We discovered the Duchess Road Camel Yards. From an article in the ABC News – Apparently, a paddock of camels on the edge of Mount Isa has mirrored the popularity of sunflowers in the outback as tourists and locals head out to take photographs and feed them carrots.

The camels are part of Paul Keegan’s network of hundreds of the animals agisted on several properties, some of them more than 400 kilometres away from Mt Isa city.

Mr Keegan spends most of his days laying tiles, and admits the camels are more of a hobby.

“I’ve been brought up with livestock. Since I was a kid, we had horses and ponies,” he said. “I saw the camels about 30 years ago, thought they were characters, and it’s just grown from there.”

“Some of the camels here you couldn’t come near them because they were wild. Now you can put your hands all over their heads because of the attention they get,” he said.

While Mr Keegan had been enjoying the appreciation for his camels, he hoped the more landholders would look at them for woody weed control.

“I’ve been lending quiet camels to graziers to take the flower and seed off the [prickly acacia],” he said.

“There are hundreds of camels out there that aren’t getting used, but if the camels were there you would have a lot less prickle bush.”

After the camels we headed up to the Mt Isa Lookout which is very tourist friendly except when you are trying to get photos of all sides of the water tank as they have not left a wide enough skirt around it and then they have put an awful chain link fence around it which also gets in the way of good photos. But the birds on the tank were beautiful.

Commissioned in 1960 the Mica Creek Power Station (MCPS) solely provided Mt Isa and the Northwest’s power needs for 54 years before the nearby Diamantina Power Station (DPS) was opened in December 2014. The MCPS was originally coal-fired with conversion to natural gas completed in 2000.

It was powered with twelve turbines of various sizes that generated a combined capacity of 318 mega-watts (MW) of electricity. After 51 years, MCPS was shut down and put into cold storage.

Diamantina Power station is a combined-cycle gas turbine electric plant and was developed by APA Group and AGL Energy at a cost of $570 million.

Siemans Energy supplied two blocks each of one steam turbine, and two gas turbines and two heat recovery steam generators.

Construction began in 2012 and operations commenced in 2014 with a generating capacity of 328 MW when combined with the adjacent Leichardt Power Station and Thompson Power Station.

The Diamantina PS managed power for residents and mining needs of Northwest Qld in conjunction with the Mica Creek PS. Once Mica Creek was cold storage the Diamantina PS became the only major generator on the Northwest Power System.

We then went out to Lake Moondarra, about fifteen kilometres outside Mt Isa. It is considered a very popular spot for families with fishing, birdwatching and water sport activities.

We stopped in one place (there were not a lot of places you could stop, and the road was a narrow two-way traffic winding along the edges of the lake).

We were well entertained by a couple of Rainbow Bee-eaters, some ducks, Kites, mudlarks, willy wagtails, White-necked heron, Egrets, and Australian Grebe and an Australian Pippet – a new one for us.

The Leichardt Dam construction began in 1956 and was completed in 1958 at a cost of 1.7 million pounds. A local competition to name the dam was held in the 1960s and was won by Danny Driscoll. It officially became Lake Moondarra, whose Aboriginal meaning is “plenty of rain and thunder”.

Our neighbours must have understood that we didn’t like their music or the radio (I closed all the windows on that side of the caravan to diminish the noise somewhat) as they have turned their volume down. Russ is taking me out to the Red Lantern Chinese Restaurant for take away (as I do not have the patience to sit there and wait for service). We will also order some take away for the freezer as our next scheduled stops are in the middle of whoop whoop.