We had decided to head home to the Lower Hunter Valley via an inland route that passed through Charters Towers, Emerald, Roma, Toowoomba, then along the New England Highway through Stanthorpe and Tamworth. After we left Mena Creek, we had to backtrack along the Bruce Highway from just south of Innisfail to Townsville, but we then turned southwest to Charters Towers. Between Mena Creek and Townsville we passed lots of flowering sugarcane fields and banana plantations. The landscape became drier as we drove inland.
We arrived at the Big 4 Aussie Outback Oasis Holiday Park in Charters Towers at 2:50 pm, which was nice an early. We generally aimed to arrive at our destination by 4:00 pm so we had plenty of time to settle in before dark.
We set up on our large, flat site, then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. We joined up for the $15 per person roast dinner that the staff put on in the Bushman’s Kitchen. It was also time for Game 2 of the State of Origin, and there was a large screen set up on which to project the game. We had our first fire of the trip, our last bottle of Hope Estate Cracker was cracked, and we were set for a good night.
The roast was excellent, and Ian went back for seconds on both the main and dessert. Awesome value! The first half of the State of Origin was very exciting. Recall that in Game 1, NSW started well, but as is so often the case, Queensland came back in the second half to win convincingly. We were hoping that NSW would be able to keep up the momentum throughout the whole of Game 2, and we were not disappointed. In the first half, NSW would not let Queensland out of their own half. Although we were sitting right beside the open fire, it was a very cold night, so at half time we retired to Matilda to watch the second half in bed with Dexter between us. NSW ended up thrashing Queensland—a rare spectacle!
On Monday morning we had smashed avocado and cheese on toast for breakfast, then got away from the Aussie Outback Oasis around 9:20 am. We would strongly recommend this caravan park, and would stay there again anytime. We were in for a long drive to Emerald, with the aim of checking out a caravan park at Lake Maraboon that a couple recommended to us on the previous evening.