Well, we had a few days to kill, so we packed the BA and off we went on a little trip to northern outback Queensland driving from Ingham through to Hughenden and back over a few days. Driving through the familiar Townsville route, soon enough that dry expansive outback showed itself once more and I was reminded of the times we used to drive from Miles back to Toowoomba, a 2.5 hour drive mind you, just to get into civilization (and do a bit of shopping).
Charters Towers was great. Beautiful old heritage buildings, hilly terrain and the welcoming "quiet" feel was brilliant. The town was very quiet on the Queen's Birthday long weekend, I suppose as a result of the drinking that would have occured at the car show the previous night. I would have liked to attend, but a big day was calling and hence opted for sleep instead.
Hughenden, on the contrary, was a dump. I had high hopes, having been looking at the town since 2004, hoping that indeed it was just a little bit run down and deserving of my property investing dollars, but what greeted us was absolutely tragic. There was literally, two places that showed life in the whole town, and I have to say, for a place that, as far as I can see, relies quite heavily on grey nomad tourism, Hughenden does itself no favours. A huge rustic/heritage-like pub stands in the middle of the town, empty, boarded up and left to rot, while the modern pub around the corner was shut. The dinosaur stuff littered throughout the town was great, really gave the place a special touristy feel, but seriously, NOTHING was open. In the hour and a half we were there, we must have seen at least 50 caravans drive in, do a lap of the neat but deserted main street and then drive off towards Mt Isa, what a disappointment it must have been. An interesting looking FJ Holden Cafe was advertised on FM88.0 and I was looking forward to a feed in the 60's style establishment, but no, it was....shut.
The two places open were the dinosaur museum, which was OK, and a servo/truckie stop a few k's out of town (Lights on the Hill I think it was called). The houses in the town were on the whole, run down pieces of trash (worse than I imagined), roads were sealed, but no kerbing to speak of and as mentioned before, shops shut. I would like to visit on a "normal" business day, just to give me some hope that this town will survive and possibly thrive in the future.