TUESDAY 30 JUNE ROLLINGSTONE TO TAYLORS BEACH 125KMS
Today was quite a cloudy day and rather humid.
We were up very early again, for the same reasons as yesterday. The diminished number of children had not resulted in diminished noise. As well, the group had offloaded their own private washing machine from one of the vehicles and set it up, out in the open. That had begun being used well before 7am.
The psychology of larger groups in an environment like a campground is interesting – a form of collective bullying of “lesser” campers, the ones who are only in pairs or singles.
Hitching up the van did not go smoothly. We were far enough forward on the front slope of the site that, when the handbrake was let off – which it had to be so that I could guide and wiggle the Treg coupling into its slot on Truck – one van wheel rolled off its levelling block. That wasn’t a problem in itself as the van only moved a short distance, but the jockey wheel also moved – off the base board, and turned itself sideways.
We then had a “discussion” about how much harder it was going to be, then, to get the van on – made worse because I had wanted us to push the van back a bit, off the slope, in the first place. So the one of us who was dogmatic that it was not going to be so hard, got told to do the hitching – and I would do the backing!
Unfortunately, I was not as good as John at holding Truck on the clutch and inching backwards, so in the end he took over the backing again. One of the guys from the family group came over to help push the van around, and all got hitched. I was very grateful to him. But nothing more was said about it being easy! We hadn’t had one of these hitch issues for a long time.
We called in at the pineapple farm on the way past, and stocked up with a couple. John liked to have them for breakfast.
The drive north was very attractive, through the sugar cane areas, with the mountain range to the west becoming higher and sharper.
Ingham was a somewhat bigger town than I had expected. We must have driven through it, in 1998, but I did not remember it.
We took the turn off to Forrest Beach, to have a look at that, in case Taylors Beach – where I’d phoned yesterday to book – wasn’t suitable. We found the beach at Forrest Beach long and lovely. It looked a great beach for walking, and the outlook to the south was excellent.
There was a little village township there – Allingham – with a few shops. The caravan park was part of a hotel-motel complex, but down an access track so somewhat separate. It was small, but looked alright. The amenities were basic, and only fairly clean. The park was just behind the beach dunes. Some of the sites had views to sea, and there was a walk track to the beach. It would certainly have been ok to stay at.
We continued on to Taylors Beach. Did not have to go all the way back into Ingham, but were able to turn off onto a back road to Halifax, at the large Victoria Sugar Mill. Judging from the smoking chimneys, it was working. The road took us through the surrounding Victoria Estate, that contained substantial houses – maybe for mill workers?
The turn off onto the Taylors Beach Road was just before Halifax. The cane farms gave way to bush, swamps and mangroves each side of the road, which made me dubious, but then the scrub opened out and a sizeable village appeared.
We followed signs through the village to the boat ramp, on an inlet, to see what the waterfront was like. It was disappointing. There was no long, open ocean frontage, like at Forrest Beach, but a big tidal inlet. The tide was out, and there were lots of sand bars and a few small, sandy beach areas. The open sea was visible a way to the left of the boat ramp. John reckoned this would be a good place to stay. Whereas I’d had visions of long beach walks, he seemed to suddenly have visions of fishing in the inlet.
The caravan park office was the general store for the village as well. Our powered site cost $27 a night. On the phone, I’d booked for five nights and when checking in was told the site was not available for any longer. So, five days only it would be.
The site was a hard one to back on to, not helped by a narrow internal road partly filled by parked boats and vehicles, due to the sites themselves being quite small.
We adopted our usual van siting procedure – John outside the vehicle, directing me driving. John’s first attempt at directing me onto the site was fine – but we were on the wrong side of the slab! When doing this, I just do as I’m directed, even when I know the directions were wrong – it usually worked well, and saved a lot of recriminations. On the second attempt, it was hard to get lined up at the right angle or distance from the slab, in a narrow space between it and a line of palm trees. It took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Truck could not be angled to a straight line because of the boat and vehicle obstacle occupying half the roadway across from our site. Then, John said to go back, I did – and backed the corner of the van into a palm tree! It turned out he’d only been looking up one side. It put a little dent in the back edge beading. Then, we were too far from the slab edge, so after unhitching we manhandled the van ourselves to get it lined up better.
It was definitely not one of our better van days!
One boundary of the park, behind the sites opposite us, was mangrove scrub, so I was fairly certain we’d have to be alert for sandflies, later in the day.
A reason I’d chosen here – from the information in the promo leaflets – was that this place had a pool. I was hoping for something pleasant-seeming to swim in, like Rollingstone’s had been. But the pool here was a small, concrete edged rectangle, smaller than our pool at home. Whilst clean, it did not really look enticing. So I decided from the outset that this had not been one of my better choices. It was definitely a park for travellers with boats, as well as vans.
But we did have five bar phone coverage, and hence internet.
Set up, had lunch, then John wanted to drive back to Ingham to investigate bowls possibilities.
We drove to Halifax first, since we had to pass close by it anyway. It was a very small place, more of a village really. Drove through its main street, then went back the way we’d come and on towards Ingham.
Saw lots of cane trains working in the area. For most of our outing, we were driving on roads through tall and “flowering” cane.
Occasionally, there were glimpses of the wide and muddy Herbert River, through the scrub beside the road to our right. There was another sugar mill across the river – Macknade – belching smoke.
Drove to the Ingham Information Centre, with its adjacent Tyto Wetlands. It was a very modern and well done Information Centre, with heaps of information about birds, especially the wetland ones. I bought a book about walks in the area north of Townsville, for $20, and picked up lots of information material. A man volunteering at the Centre was also a bowler, and told John there were two clubs in the area. That was one more than John had expected! The one in Ingham played social bowls on Thursday nights, so he decided to investigate that.
The Tyto Wetlands walk looked interesting, but would have to wait for another time when we were wearing more suitable footwear, and when investigating bowls was not so pressing.
Found the bowls club, where John went and put his name down for Thursday night.
Drove back to Halifax, the way we had come in, then across the Herbert River – there was a good view of it from the bridge – to go and investigate the bowls club at MacKnade, which was the other one John had been told of. We meandered all around small roads through cane farms and around the sugar mill area, and eventually found the club, in the most unlikely location of right at the mill. There was no one there, but John went and read the information posted on their notice board.
We had seen a lot of bowls clubs in our travels, but never one sited quite like this one!
Then back to camp.
Tea was Mongolian lamb and rice noodles.
We hadn’t won last night’s $100 million lotto draw – drat!