Day 32 – Riversleigh Fossil Centre – Lawn Hill to Mt. Isa (350km)
I think today is officially the start of our second month on the road. Hard to believe that first month went by so quickly. Though, I guess a week of that was in Cairns waiting for mechanical work to be completed.
About 60km south of Lawn Hill at Riversleigh is a significant fossil discovery area. Since it was actually the quickest (shortest) route between Lawn Hill and Mt. Isa, it was a no brainer to visit. We found out why it was listed as a 4WD road, too – the fast-flowing Gregory River had to be crossed in two places.
They’ve clearly had funding for this site, as the information ‘bunker’ is pretty damn fancy – it’s set inside a faux cave, with recreations of some of the animals that are found in the fossils in this area.
There is a short loop walk that takes shows some of the discovered fossils, though I have to say we were pretty disappointed! In fact, if it wasn’t already on our way to Mt. Isa, I’d have felt a little cheated making a detour. There were two rocks with fossils visible, though those fossils were rather basic – some vertebrae from a giant crocodile and leg bones and gizzard stones from a giant flightless bird. I don’t know why, but I was expecting there to be super-detailed fossils all over the place…
From here it was another hour or so on dirt roads, followed by a couple of hours of highway driving.
Driving in to Mt. Isa from the west is quite a sight. The beautiful clear skies were significantly darker in the direction that the road was heading. We eventually realised that it was haze was coming from Isa… About 30km before we reached the town, the mines started. Then, when we finally made it in to town, we were dominated by the sight of the mine and processing facilities – giant industrial plants with huge chimneys billowing smoke. It really is a town that grew to support this behemoth of a mine.
Ordinarily to a town like this we’d only pull in for a quick stop/shop then be back on our way. But, we have friends living here. Friends that are expecting their first baby any day now! So, we’re going to stick around for a few days, do some running repairs on Deli-chan, be tourists, and enjoy spending time with The Diehms.