Julia Creek

We went the back way to Julia Creek. It started out as a nice bitumen road. It was my turn to drive and I thought I wouldn’t be meeting too many people going the other way so it would be an easy day behind the wheel.

I looked up the road ahead and something didn’t seem right. It looked like a great big cloud of dust was forming on the other side of a hill. Seconds later we saw a road train coming towards us. It was about the same time we hit the dirt road. Moments later the road train had passed us. I slowed down to a crawl and the dust was so thick I couldn’t see the end of the car, let alone the road. The dust didn’t last long and we were on our way again. Number one rule in a situation like this is ‘You do not stop.’ If you can’t see out of the dust, people that may be traveling behind you can’t see in either. You may be hit from behind. If you are still moving there is less of an impact.

When we arrived at Julia Creek we made our way to a bush camp on the edge of town. We had been told it would be busy and it was. The camp is set beside a small creek. We were walking around the creek trying to pick the best spot when a couple who were packing up their van told us they would be leaving in about half an hour if we wanted to move into their spot. It was right beside the water. By the time we had gone back to the car and moved it into position the other vanners were ready to leave. Bonus.

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After we set up camp we drove back into the town to go to the Information centre. We had been told about the Dunnart and how the centre had a Dunnart display. Now if you are like me when I had heard they had a ‘Dunnart’ display I though what is a dunnart?

Now for decades everyone thought the dunnart was extinct. The early European settlers had reported them in the area but by about 1930 the reports stopped. Then in the early 70s, and about 80km southeast of Julia Creek some dead ones were found again. Not just lying around. No, they were found in the remains of the dropping of the barn owls. (Really, who goes looking at things like that?) This started the experts searching. Live dunnarts or as the expert like to say Sminthopisi douglasi were found and a breeding program was started at Julia Creek Nature Refuge. The numbers have steadily increased. Now Julia Creek is the only place in the world where this particular species of the Sminthopisi can be found. Sminthopisi meaning ‘mouse like’ refers more to their size than to their habits.

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The animals are about the size of a large mouse and they could be mistaken for a mouse. They are marsupials with sharp dog like teeth and a bit of a snout. They are rather shy. One of their biggest enemies is the cat. There are estimated to be up to 18 million feral cats in Australia. Next in line to harm the poor little thing is the red fox. Both animals have been introduced and both have few natural predators in Australia and both animals are a big problem to the native animals.

The information centre has a live dunnart in the display. I tried to take a photo of the cute little critter but the lights were low and the cage was dark resulting in a very bad shot. I took a photo of the picture of a dunnart instead.

An interesting fact about the dunnart is they have something in common with a camel. No they don’t have a hump. But they do store fat during good times to sustain themselves in the bad. How do they do this? Their tails become very fat and they can live off their tail for months. Not bad but they are not finished yet with their survival techniques. They can put themselves into an almost hibernation state call ‘torpor’ as well. Amazing.

We were very impressed with the information centre. It looked like the main area was new but it also had outside buildings, which looked like old railway buildings. They were filled with information about the town. Most of the rooms had a little movie and old photos. We spent a long time reading everything.

We had been told about the Julia Creek museum so made a trip to have a look. There was a bit of a display out side and we walked around and had a look at that first before heading into the museum.

It looked like the museum was once a school. There was a corridor with four rooms leading off to the right. Each room had a large window next to the door giving you a view of the contents of the room. Each had a different theme to it and along the corridor extra information had been added giving more on the history of the town. Like how the Gannon Hotel played a part in the movie “A Town Like Alice” filmed in 1956.

What a great way to have a museum. Everything is on display and you don’t need a staff member to be there all the time.

Julia Creak is a lovely country town where you can have confidence in your fellow town people. How do I know this? I saw a lady leave her purse and phone on the outside table while she went inside to order her coffee. Now you don’t see that everyday.

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Our last stop for the day was the WWI tribute to the diggers. The tribute was kick started by a clean up of an old community building. Amongst the clutter a large board and frame was found. It was black with age and could have easily been thrown out with the rest of the junk but luckily one of the clean up crew took an interest in in and after carefully cleaning the piece a little treasure emerged from the dark. It turned out to be a World War 1 honour roll acknowledging the soldiers of the area.

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The local community started research to find out more about the brave men. From there an area outside of the RSL hall was set aside to honour the men.   The sculptures were added with information boards giving material on each of the men on the roll. It was one of those sad but interesting read. Lest we forget.

It was nice to sit back at the end of the day looking out over the water and watch the bird life. Great spot to be. The sunset on the water was amazing that night. I took so many photos of it. Not one of them did it justice.

The town boasts of a water tower, which opened in 1971 and stands 30 meters tall. The tower can hold 454,000 litres of water. It is in a wine glass shape and at night, light blue lights light it up. Since I was outside taking photos of the night sky we jumped into the car to go get one of that as well.

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