Updated: Mar 12
Before you Start
Trail: Mount Britton and Homevale
Level: From easy to difficult
Time: Allow 3-4 hours with young children.
How to get there:
Facilities: At Homevale, toilets and picnic tables.
In the Isaac region of Australia's outback, the Turrawulla road takes you far to a place of discoveries. A plain covered in rocks with fossils, a mountain with peaks standing like diamonds above the ground, and the reminisces of an old mining town. In this post of Outdoorhobbits, we take you to part of Queensland's outback natural history and the people who lived there.
Homevale National Park is 50km north of Nebo and 54km from the Eungella dam. Mountain peaks, steep diamond-shaped like cliffs, and spires are predominant scenery of the landscape. These Cliffs and spikes emerge after a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred thirty million years ago. Forming along the Bowen Basin, these volcanoes also produced gold deposits along with fertile basalt soils. The soil supports diverse plant life. As you walk along with the scenery you notice the eucalypt forest blend with grassy woodlands, and notophyll vine forests, and dry softwood scrub.
Discover a plain of fossil
As we drove along the Turrawulla road, up in the hills of the Isaac region, a huge bird on the side of the road, among cows, made its presence. Is that an Emu? we thought. We stopped the car to have a closer look, only to realise that the bird wasn't an Emu, it was an Australian Bustard, Ardeotis australis. The Australian Bustard is one of Australia's largest birds, its colors blend with the soil of the plain. We were so excited to encounter such an amazing and rare bird.
As it stood in the ground we carefully tried to approach it. But it obviously got scared. It took off and flew into the sky, spreading its long wing across as it flew. As Sam walked around photographing the landscape, he noticed something peculiar in the rocks. The chocolate brown rocks in the ground contained fossils of shells and other marks we could identify.
These fossils, according to the references we found, date from the Permian period (280-225 million years ago).
Old mining town outdoor museum
Our discoveries started at the very end of the road to Homevale. The reminisces of Homevale old town rest next to Mount Britton. Like a ghost town, Homevale had vanished through time. Metal equipment, and signs with paintings with information about the place scattered around the plain. The only standing structure is a shed, which used to serve as an entertainment hall, it was called the school of art. Nowadays the shed is by people passing by.
We visited the old mine and were greeted by an old man, who said to be a miner. His name was Bruce, and he gave us an overview of the mining town and his history. He had a briefcase packed with old memories, photographs, newspaper cuttings, old coins among other items. He pulled out of its "magic" suitcase a rock containing tiny little pieces of shiny gold. It was a great experience for the girls as they had never seen gold in its natural environment before. However, Bruce is an old man and quite odd, so if you want to avoid an awkward situation, we recommend not to visit him. But if you do, give him a gold coin donation as he kindly does this brief about the town for free.
Mount Britton hike-with children
Mount Britton is the end destination of a walk which starts as far as Eungella National Park, Mackay Highlands Great Walk This trail is for more adventurous and advanced hikers with a certain level of fitness. We had walked part of this trail on previous years, but only one a time (Check our previous post about Eungella National Park).
We decided to take the road from Homevale town (from the shed) to try hiking Mount Britton. We left at 8 am, but the sun was already burning (yes, that's how it is in the outback). We recommend starting early so you can escape from the heat at least for a while. We walked for about 2km one way until the hills started to get quite steep.
Because of my pregnancy, I wasn't able to continue for much longer. Unfortunately, we couldn't reach the top on this occasion. Besides, the girls were also tired and the sun started to heat up quite rapidly. So we decided to stop and turn around.
We'll return another time!
According to Google maps, and our calculations, if you follow the road for 3km, you'll reach the end of the road, and therefore the trail.
Moonlight dam trail- from Homevele road
Another walking trail option to do with your kids, when visiting Homevale, it's the trail to the Moonlight dam. The Moonlight dam is also a camping site (read below) and a common destination for hikers walking through the Mackay Highlands Great Walk. To get there, follow the Homevale road back. You see a locked gate to your right with the standard green-cream National Park sign.
Park your car outside the trail, and enter jumped the locked gate. From then walk about 3km. The view is beautiful with Mt. Britoon to the side, standing tall like an observant of the trail. But once more, it's a trail you may want to do early morning or late afternoon as it's not shady. When walking this trail, and about at 500m, don't miss the old abandon Queensland house to the side of the trail. We called it the haunted house. Looking into the house was a fascinating experience as if we were suddenly transporting into a time machine to the beginnings of Queensland's last century. Be aware that this house is old, so don't touch anything if you decide to enter. You might want to cover your nose with a piece of clothes.
Camping at Homevale
Mount Britton historic site
There are to camping sites in the area. You can camp at Mount Briton's historic town. There is an open space with plenty of space but not much shade. The 100 yrs old fig tree is the most popular spot. There is a basic composed toilet and you can find water taps around the area.
Moonlight dam camping site
It's also possible to camp at the moonlight dam. To do so, book a spot at the Queensland Park website.
However, this site looked quite dry for the time of the year, and the road to get there isn't great.
Check this link for more information
Written by Sofia Fortunato (aka Mamma hobbit or Miss Sofi)
Edited by Sam Penglase (aka Papa hobbit)
Photos by Sofia and Sam