This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2009 Travels August 7 to 11

FRIDAY 7 AUGUST TO TUESDAY 11 AUGUST     FORREST BEACH

FRIDAY: another day spent doing not very much at camp.

It was rather cloudy.

We walked. John tried to catch some fish again, without success.

I did some playing around with the Sharemarket Game.

We walked around the park, assessing the various sites, for a return visit. Decided that Site 26 was the best, followed by Sites 27 to 29.

Our Forrest Beach site

Bought fish and chips for tea, from the local take away. They were too greasy.

SATURDAY: I walked to the shop for the paper.

As John was about to depart for bowls, after an early lunch, we took a call from someone from Macknade Bowls Club to say we had places in the special event day tomorrow. First I’d even heard of it! John had taken the liberty….. That meant I had to get makings from the Spar so that I could take the  five rounds of sandwiches that – it had been explained – were mandatory. That meant another walk to the shops. The Spar was able to provide what would be needed for some rounds of curried egg and lettuce, and one each of ham and chutney, and cheese and celery. I’d been thinking smoked salmon and cream cheese, but nup….nothing fancy stocked there.

I defrosted the fridge. Walked along the beach. An active day!

Roasted a chook for tea, with roast vegies too. In the electric frypan, on the little outside table, of course.

SUNDAY: off to bowls at Macknade, after an early sandwich making session.

In shades of the match we’d played in Townsville, it was the annual Queenslanders Vs Southerners match up. John had put us down as emergencies, without telling me, and a couple had pulled out yesterday.

Waiting in the background while the green was readied at Macknade

We played in separate teams, me as second, John as third in his. We both ended up happy with the way we played – not embarrassed, for once. My team won the best second game; I collected $20 for that. John’s team was over all runners-up and he received $35. So the kitty got a boost today.

The sandwiches had been for lunch. A BBQ tea was put on at the end of the day – bread, onions, sausages, patties.

John put our names down for the Memorial Day bowls next weekend. So I found out that way, that we would be extending our stay, again.

We drove back in the dark. The Victoria Mill was all lit up – very pretty and dramatic.

MONDAY: I did the washing. The laundry here was very run down, but the one washing machine did work. There were old-fashioned clothes lines in a couple of random seeming locations – possibly a legacy from the time of the permanent dwellers.

Walked on the beach. Read. Had some computer time.

Just a very pleasant day in an almost idyllic place.

Today was our 18th wedding anniversary. Big special celebrations are not really “us”. We just toasted ourselves with a glass of wine over our cold chook and salad dinner.

 TUESDAY: a similar day to yesterday – walking, reading, computer time.

I extended our booking to next Monday.

There was enough of the roast chook left for John’s tea, with salads; I had a little tin of tuna with mine.


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2009 Travels August 6

THURSDAY 6 AUGUST     FORREST BEACH

Time again to stir ourselves into some tourist activity in the area. It was just too easy to veg out at camp all day.

We drove back through Ingham and out to the west again. It was a most attractive and interesting drive, firstly through the sugar cane farmland of the Herbert Valley, to just beyond Trebonne, where we turned off, heading for Girringun National Park and the Wallaman Falls, some 50 kms from Ingham.

The road became gravel but was fine to drive on. It was quite a climb up the range, on a twisting and turning road, but the heavy vegetation meant I didn’t notice the roadside drops all that much. The gradient flattened out once we were up the range. It was nowhere near as nasty as the Paluma road had been, and I’d happily travel it again.

A sign at the entry to the Falls area, told us the drop of the Falls was 268 metres, the depth of the plunge pool at the base of the Falls was 20 metres and it was all 540 metres above sea level. Since our camp was at sea level, that was how far we’d climbed, in a relatively short distance.

Stony Creek, that the Falls are on, has a permanent flow. We wondered if there were springs further upstream; it extends some distance to the south, along the top of the range, from the Falls.

Wallaman Falls are notable because they are the highest, permanent, single drop falls in Australia.

We went  along the road to the Lookouts parking area.

Despite the season, there was still a lot of water coming over the Falls. They were making quite a loud roaring, too. They fall down into one hell of a gorge, and eventually, the creek runs into the Herbert River.

We walked first to the Falls Lookout. This was a great place from which to appreciate the size and power of the Falls. In a really Wet Season, they would be something else again.

Wallaman Falls

The nearby Gorge Lookout let us view the Falls from a bit further away, and also the gorge of the Stony Creek, on its way to join the Herbert River.

The gorge of Stony Creek, below Wallaman Falls

We did not tackle the much harder walk down to the base of the Falls – it would have meant coming back up again…..

Drove back to the day use area, near a very pleasant little campground. From here, walked through rainforest, to the Rock Pool.

Pool on Stony Creek, above Wallaman Falls

On the way, we spotted a Pale-yellow Robin, for the first time – a NEW bird! They were so hard for us to find, these days, This species was only found in a couple of rainforest areas on the east coast, so we were lucky.

The walk took us to big pool areas in Stony Creek. There were turtles in the pools – apparently this species of turtle could eat cane toads without coming to grief.

Stony Creek

There were a few drops of rain. It had been cloudy all day.

Returned to Ingham, the way we’d come. Had a very late lunch there. This morning, I’d had no makings for a picnic lunch, and then didn’t think to stop and get something on the way through Ingham. At a Deli, we had toasted wraps – they were very yummy. I now wanted to buy a flat toaster press!

Did a couple of chores in Ingham, before returning to camp. Our new cards still had not arrived at the bank. Deja vu – we’d played chasey with bank cards before on our travels.

I got some more library books. Having these had been such a luxury. I didn’t have to ration my reading quite so much when I didn’t have to buy the books. Being an extra fast reader did have its drawbacks.

After the late lunch, tea was soup, some salad and cold meats.


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2009 Travels August 1 to 5

SATURDAY 1 AUGUST TO WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST    FORREST BEACH

SATURDAY was a quiet and relaxing day.

I walked to the shops for the paper. Read that. We walked on the beach. I made salads for tea.

With the very windy weather easing off, the sea was not quite as rough as when we arrived here.

I was now noticing regular “tinny” boat traffic, from Palm Island in the distance, to the beach here. The boats came into the shallows, the indigenous occupants – one or more – would stick a bit of an anchor into the sand, or tie a rope around a chunk of breeze block lying on the sand. Clearly, those had been put there for the purpose. They would then disappear up to the hotel. After some time, they would re-appear, carrying boxes of beer and sometimes cartons of who knew what. They would then motor off back into the distance, across to the island.

I had been under the impression that Palm Island was “dry”, but maybe I was mistaken. The island communities had a lot of issues, the place had a dubious reputation and was sometimes compared to Doomadgee and similar.

The sea was still quite rough, at times, but that mostly did not deter the regular traffic. We counted four separate boats arrive today. Good extra business for the hotel!

Palm Islands from Forrest Beach

SUNDAY: was another windy day.

After an early lunch, we drove across to Macknade Mill, to bowls.

This was such a unique setting for a bowls club!

Bowls Club at Macknade Mill

I kept being distracted by the cane trains clunking by, not very far away at all, and by watching the shunting activity of these at the mill. The mill itself was not too noisy – just kind of faded into the background. We have bowled in some out of the way and unusual places, but this one really took the award!

I played alright. John was not really happy with his game. Nothing new there!

Tea was sausages, fries, egg.

MONDAY: another windy day.

We relaxed at camp; it is that sort of laid back place where sitting about doing not much is perfectly respectable, even expected.

Went for a walk along the beach. Our beach walks were usually about 5kms, sometimes more, sometimes a bit less. But a decent exercise. Our preference was becoming to walk to the south, because that way we did not go past the more frequented (slightly) of the village foreshore. But either way, there were lovely long sandy expanses.

Yesterday, the pseudo-schooling lady across the way told us that she had been hired by management to clean the ablutions block, once a day. Since we had been here, the cleaning of same had been erratic. It didn’t happen at all on weekends, and not every week day either. So, to have someone supposed to do it every day, should be an improvement. Nothing short of a major refurbishment would change the tired, worn out and broken things – chipped cement, broken tiles and the like – but it would be an improvement to know the place was cleaner, at least.

She started today, and did a good job. It was not possible to get off the ingrained staining and wear, from time and the tropics, but we could be more confident now, that the surfaces were reasonably hygienic.

Garlic prawns for tea.

TUESDAY: was still windy. Guess it was that time of year on the north east coast.

Another day of relaxing: reading, sewing, computer use, beach walk. Wished it could go on longer, and become our way of life again….

Outlook from the front of our site – the beach was not far away….

Had an email from the former boss in my main career. He had been working on Groote Island, in the NT, doing community safety audits. Well, that was something new for him. He had really fetched up in some unusual places since his “retirement”, most of them to do with indigenous education and welfare, in some way, or environmental issues.

Tea was pasta with chili, smoked cheese, garlic crumbs. It was different using smoked cheese, which the original recipe called for, instead of the tasty cheese I usually resorted to. Yummy.

WEDNESDAY: a fine day with a bit less wind.

John went to bowls in the afternoon.

I walked on the beach, did my usual leisure activities. Started playing the Share Market Game, run by the ASX, twice a year. So that provided some mental exercise for the day.

Tea was salads and tinned red salmon.


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2009 Travels July 31

FRIDAY 31 JULY     FORREST BEACH

John thought we should do something further afield today.

Wallaman Falls was mentioned as a possibility, but then we decided to go north instead, to take a look at Kurrimine. This had been mentioned to us as a great place to stay, by John’s nephew M. If we liked it, we could possibly go there for a while, as an alternative to spending all our remaining time at Forrest Beach.

Kurrimine was only a bit over a hundred kms away – alright for a day trip. We covered the same roads again – that seemed to have become the theme of this trip – as far as Cardwell. There, we stopped at the good fruit shop and made several purchases.

The whole day’s driving was really attractive and interesting, always against the backdrop of the Great Dividing Range. The sugar cane country of Ingham was left behind as we reached the Cardwell Range, where it seems a segment of the Great Dividing Range comes down to sea level. From then, through to Cardwell it was mostly timbered or scrubby country. That section of the highway went fairly close to the coast of the Hinchinbrook Channel, and this was reflected in some marshy areas, and a number of bridges over creeks and swampy channels.

Once past Cardwell, sugar cane started to reappear, as the hilly country receded westwards and the coastal plains widened again.

The sugar mill at Tully was clearly in use, with smoking chimneys, as we approached the town. . Tully is most notorious for claiming to be the wettest town in Australia, with an average annual rainfall in excess of 4 metres! We passed the large “statue” of a gum boot that symbolizes this. Another “large thing”, with the regional symbol of a green tree frog climbing it side. This time of year was the driest in this area, with monthly rainfalls of only 400-500mm. Probably not a great place to stop with a caravan….

Another little range section interrupted the sugar cane spread, which resumed again as we approached the township of El Arish. A few kms further north we turned east off the highway, onto the evocatively named Murdering Point Road, which would take us to Kurrimine. Seems a ship was wrecked on a nearby reef in the 1870’s and some survivors were killed by the natives, hence the name.

Kurrimine had lots of houses, two private caravan parks and a council run one. They all looked pretty packed, as we cruised slowly past, exploring the place. There was a lovely long beach, and very scenic views to the south, down towards Dunk Island.

Kurrimine Beach

We could see waves breaking on the King Reef, offshore – the site of a number of historic ship wrecks.

Could just see the distant white line of waves breaking on Kings Reef

Parked up and went for a walk along the beach. The Kings Reef Caravan Park had some frontage to the beach, so we went and had a look at that as we passed. It also had a hotel right next door.

Plenty of scope for walking on that beach

Drove to have a look at the Big 4 Kurrimine Beach park. After looking at them both, John had a slight preference for the Kings Reef one, but I tended to prefer the Big 4 one. There was no adjacent hotel, which I saw a potentially noisy at the other place. It also advertised a large swimming pool and was not too far from the beach.

We decided Kurrimine would be a good place to come for a week or more – but next year. It was not compelling enough to make us move now, only to have to back track again after a week or so. We were done fed up with back tracking on this trip!

On the way south again, at El Arish we turned east for the coast again, this time to Mission Beach, where we’d stayed in 1998. We noted all the warning signs and speed restrictions relating to cassowaries, which had been doing it hard in these parts after cyclones in recent years badly damaged their habitat.

Mission Beach had become much, much more developed since we were there a decade ago. It was becoming so large. Back then, it was a lovely sleepy village. But the caravan park we stayed at then, still looked pretty good.

Mission Beach is really like a series of villages, strung out along the shore line. We drove through Wongaling to South Mission Beach. Decided the caravan park there would be our first choice for a stay next year. All the parks we saw looked pretty full, but that was only to be expected for this time of year.

And so back to Tully and southwards. Stopped at the lookout in the Cardwell Range, briefly, with its vista across to the Palm Island Group, relatively close to the coast there.

Hinchinbrook Island and the Channel

North of the Herbert River, took Fulton Road which followed the river towards Halifax. It was a really pretty way to go. We got held up at a crossing by a really slow moving cane train. Eventually, after sitting there for a while and watching the locals, we followed their example, took to the fields and went around the back of it, via the road edges.

Arrived back at Forrest Beach at 5.45pm, after a great day’s outing. Stopped at the fish and chip shop and ordered same, to be picked up at 6.30pm. They proved to be ok, maybe a bit fatty.

I’d really enjoyed the drive today. But it brought back a longing to be able to be open-ended again, as we’d been on our three year trip, 98-2000. Then we could just meander north, and wherever, as the fancy took us, and not have to meet a going-home deadline.

The decision had been made that we would stay on here until it was time to head home.

The past few days and nights had been really windy and that became quite wearing at times – kind of frayed the nerves.


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2009 Travels July 26 to July 30

SUNDAY 26 JULY TO THURSDAY 30 JULY     FORREST BEACH

SUNDAY  was a cloudy day.

After an early lunch, John went off to bowls.

I had a lovely, relaxed sort of day. Read, sewed, spent time on the computer, walked to the shops to get milk and some broccoli.

John returned, pleased with the way he’d played at bowls. The crocs had been christened!

The old and the new

Tea was steak and vegies.

MONDAY  we noted that it was five weeks until we had to be home. Our housesitters were flying out that day, to do an overseas house sit. The new pennant bowls season would be close, too, for John.

It was another cloudy day.

I was able to extend our stay here, effectively for as long as we wanted, just deciding week by week.

John had a fish from the beach this morning, but did not catch anything. He then drove across to Halifax to get some fishing gear from the shop there, but it was shut. He came back with three library books for me, having joined the Ingham Library at their Halifax branch. All free, too. I was really pleased – would be great to have access to books, since we would be here a while.

I sewed. We walked on the beach in the late afternoon.

Tea was eggs and bacon, fries and cob corn.

TUESDAY  was partly cloudy.

In the morning, before John got up. I walked on the beach. In the afternoon, we both walked as far as the little Cassady Beach settlement, to the south. It was an ocean-front row of maybe six or eight houses. A couple seemed to be currently occupied. They had superb views, but must feel awfully vulnerable in a big storm. This area does get cyclones too, with the  attendant storm surges, and they are not very high at all, above high tide level here. But perhaps, there is some protection from the very worst of the elements, from the close offshore Palm Islands?

The long beach south

Just across from us was a WA registered rig. The family – a young-ish couple and two children, maybe eight and six or thereabouts – have been on the road for two years. He was a cook, who picked up casual work wherever they stopped for any time. She was, supposedly, teaching the children. She said she did not believe in schools, or any sort of formal educational plan. Children would learn what they needed, from their general experiences, was her view. A cop-out, as far as I was concerned. But she did say that she tried to make sure they got in a bit of work, most days, on literacy and numeracy. As far as I had seen, to date, the kids mostly free ranged around the park and played on the beach, while she sat with her feet up, in the shade of the awning and read. I wondered how they were able to escape some sort of check on the children’s education?

I was not opposed to home schooling, as such, but believed there was a huge difference between educating children properly, at home, and her kind of laissez faire, do nothing attitude. Proper home schooling required clear planning, resources, and a lot of consistent effort by all concerned.

WEDNESDAY was less cloudy.

We drove into Ingham and did the full 3km circuit walk at the Tyto Wetlands. At last!

There was a surprising amount of bird activity, considering it was the middle of the day. A special bird here was the Eastern Grass Owl – for which the place was named. Barn owls – the ones with masked faces – are Tyto genus. Logic dictated that we wouldn’t see one in the middle of the day – and we didn’t, but the hope was there, as we walked. It took us two hours to do the walk, because of the amount of time spent looking at wildlife and the very pretty wetlands scenery. The area was really well set out.

In the Visitor Centre there, looked at an art exhibition, featuring Tyto birds. I was not particularly impressed with the quality of the works.

We had a Subway lunch. Went to the main library in Ingham, for more books. I had actually previously read two of the ones John had borrowed for me the other day. A quick supermarket visit, for groceries, and that was the day.

Forrest Beach Caravan Park

THURSDAY saw what I was starting to regard as the usual weather here at this time of year: some cloud, some sun.

I did a morning beach walk.

We left about 3pm to go into Ingham. Firstly, to the bank to sort out a credit card limit glitch.

Then we drove out towards the ranges and onto the Abergowrie road, for a way, through cane country along the really fertile Herbert River valley. It was an attractive short drive.

It was notable that the houses on the cane farms were two storeyed, with the ground level floor usually being mostly open breeze block. We worked out that there could be quite big floods in these parts, and that put the main part of the house above the water level – hopefully.

The Herbert River valley

We returned to the Ingham bowls club, where John went in for a practice, while I sat in Truck and read.

We’d planned to buy and enjoy a pizza tea, but it was too late by the time John finished practicing, so we grabbed a quick Subway instead.

The sunset sky was really pretty as we lined up to start bowls.

Through the duration of the game, there was lots of passing cane train activity. The empty, clanking wagons were being taken out to be ready for tomorrow’s harvest work.

The night-time bowls were of a reasonable standard. I found it really hard to judge the pace, under the lights, and John did not play well, either. So the triples team we were in lost soundly.

We had the obligatory social drink and were back at the van by 9pm. Hopefully, that would end my bowls participation for a while!


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2009 Travels July 25

SATURDAY 25 JULY     FORREST BEACH

John set the alarm for early, just in case the bowls club phoned, needing him, but he didn’t get up when it went off. However it woke me beyond the point of getting back to sleep, so I got up. There was no call. John did not sleep in too late.

Blue sky and sunshine, though there was still quite a wind, and the sea was choppy.

We  walked to the village shops – maybe a km away? The newsagency/post office was comprehensively stocked. I bought the newspaper and couldn’t resist a three paperbacks for $5 each, deal.

At the Spar supermarket, John bought bait.

Forrest Beach localities

After lunch, we walked along the beach for a while, southwards. The tide was low-ish, which meant there was a very wide expanse of exposed sand. Apparently there was a considerable height difference between high and low tide, here.

Forrest Beach – view south

There was great firm walking on the wet sand. The outlooks along the beach, north and south, coming and going, were very pretty, and there were the offshore Palm Islands group to look at, too. We could walk in the shallows left in dips in the sand, if we felt like a paddle.

I decided this place was well worth staying at, just for the beach walking – I was hooked!

John got his fishing gear unpacked and ready to use. He phoned Macknade Bowls Club and booked himself in for a game tomorrow.

We decided we’d stay on here for at least another week, if it was possible.

Tea was sticky pork ribs and rice – rather a favourite of ours.

The night was not as windy, it was pleasantly mild and we went to sleep to the background sea noise.


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2009 Travels July 24

FRIDAY 24 JULY     TOWNSVILLE TO FORREST BEACH     130kms

We got up really early, not intentionally, just happened. So we were out of the park by 9am. We’d had to pack up a very damp awning, due to condensation under it, through the night.

Could just about do the run north with eyes shut…..Seemed to be fewer stupid drivers on the road, today.

Tootled through the centre of Ingham, then on the northern outskirts, took the road to Forrest Beach.

A few kms along this was the Victoria Mill Estate – the large sugar mill and associated housing and offices. By then, we’d gone over the fourth cane railway crossing since turning off the highway. The Mill was churning out lots of thick black smoke. There were long lines of full cane trains, waiting at the Mill.

Sugar cane – the staple of the Ingham area

We were at Forrest Beach just before 11am. The actual small village was called Allingham, which disconcerted us the first time we went there, because we’d thought we were going to Forrest Beach. Effectively, they were one and the same.

Allingham Post Office……but…..

Parked in front of the hotel motel that fronts the caravan park and where we had to go to check in. Had to hunt around the premises a bit to find a person, who found out for us that we were allocated Site 27. But we could not formally check in and pay before 11am – no business until then because that was done in the bottle shop!

So we drove down into the caravan park section and found our site. It was right at the end of a row – great! It backed onto forest growth and a fairly bushy camping area on one side. It had a cement slab too. From our annexe area, we looked straight down an internal road, then a track, to the sea, which was not far away.

We liked the site and when I walked up to the bottle shop to pay, extended our stay to a week. It cost $150 for the week, which seemed pretty good.

After setting up and having lunch, drove back into Ingham, so John could try out his new bowls. He had to wait until the green was watered, and dried, so we filled in the time by cruising the main streets of Ingham and finding our bank, so we could do some needed business there.

John’s first practice session with the new bowls was very positive. He reminded everyone that he saw there, that he was available for the weekend event, if needed. Then, in front of a number of the local people, he leaned on me to play on Thursday next. I didn’t really want to, but couldn’t refuse without seeming rude to the locals. That man owed me a million bushwalks!

While we were practicing bowls, a cane train clunked its way by – they really do clunk and clatter and creak along. The cane line went right by the bowls club. The train was incredibly long – as we were to find on the several occasions we managed to encounter one at the crossings on the Forrest Beach Road.

Passing the Mill, on the way back, we could see the Lucinda train sugar bins being loaded from an overhead hopper. The Mill and its activities were always interesting.

Some whales swam past the beach, a way out at sea, late in the afternoon.

The mosquitoes at dusk were really bad. There had to be some down sides to things….

I cooked barra in batter, while John drove to the shops and bought chips from the take away – far more than we could eat. Most generous with their serves.

The night was windy and there was quite loud wave noise. It was so good to be right by the sea again. It was very humid, though.

We’d found out the current situation with the establishment here. A development consortium bought the hotel and associated caravan park. They began by re-developing the hotel – it looks very modern. They built a big deck area where there had been a swimming pool – dammit! The permanent residents of the caravan park were moved out. There were still remnants of those former set ups, like an old sink behind our site. Then, it seemed, plans for a 150 room resort on the caravan park site were put on hold, due to the economic downturn. The caravan park got slightly tarted up, like painting the amenities block. Inside, though, it still looked quite tired.

It would be a real shame if the caravan park was lost to development – ones on such a great location as this are hard to find.


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2009 Travels July 20 to 23

MONDAY 20 TO THURSDAY 23 JULY     TOWNSVILLE

John had to be at the Land Rover man at 9am.

It was a cloudy day, with a strong breeze. I wondered if it would rain. Took a chance, anyway, and washed the bedding, then sent some emails.

John was back before too long. The man didn’t have the part Truck was found to need, but would have it in tomorrow.

Townsville was so well served, compared to many other places we’d been. The old saying that we got used to, during our time in the NT, came to mind  – the NT: not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday, next train, next truck…..very true it was too.

After lunch, drove to the Aitkenvale shops, where I’d discovered there was a bowls shop. There was also a sewing supplies shop nearby, which provided me with good browsing, whilst John was making decisions in the bowls shop. Not that I had any ulterior motive for directing him to this one…..

I bought some threads for my Hardanger sewing. John ordered himself a set of bowls. Not a cheap exercise! He wanted them colour yellow, so they had to be freighted up and should arrive on Thursday or Friday. I decided that, when he was picking them up, I would go back to the sewing shop and indulge some more, having shown great restraint today.

John’s thinking was that yellow bowls would make it easy for him to see where his efforts were, from the other end of the green. I had two thoughts – neither of which I shared with him: that they would be an easy target, and, the way he’d been bowling lately, they could stand out as an embarrassment. Sometimes, I really did need to censor myself!

We had a quick look at merchandise in the Rivers clearance centre, but were not tempted.

John went to the bank and withdrew $500 cash to pay for Truck repairs. There was a big dent in the bank account, after today.

I extended our stay here, for Thursday night. Cost $31.50.

Cooked the continental sausages bought on Saturday, for tea, with mashed potato, bacon and eggs. Later, they gave me fearsome indigestion.

TUESDAY : John was off to the Land Rover man for 9am.

It was another cloudy but windy day. I did our clothes washing, and sewed some quilt blocks.

Our other Townsville site….don’t ask me why it was so hard to back in here!

John returned with Truck fixed – I hoped! A new vacuum pump had been fitted, with double gaskets this time. It had an oil change and some other oddments fixed too. All up – $520 for repairs.

John phoned the bad mechanic back in Melbourne. After some discussion, he was told that the warranty on the pump that had been installed just three months ago, would be honoured. I would believe that when we actually saw the money, I’m afraid.

After lunch, drove to the Strand again and did a fair walk. Then it was to the Castletown shops, so I could buy a small but good chef’s knife, to replace my good one that the handle had broken off, yesterday. That cost $50.

Grandson phoned to tell us that he’d read the fifty books for the Read-a-thon. Not bad for a six year old. So we would now have to send his $10 donation, plus the surprise Sodor train wash set.

We need to go back to the bush – haemorrhaging money in Townsville!

WEDNESDAY: We had a quiet start to a day that was not as cloudy, but was more humid, strangely enough.

Walked to the local shops and spent up big on postage. Sent postcards to various family and friends, a Hinchinbrook Island brochure to each of the sets of grandchildren, telling the story of our day there, and despatched the train wash and $10 to grandson. Australia Post was $25 richer.

It used real water……not sure if his mum knew that!

John phoned his cousin M, who was still in Cairns. It might be another couple of weeks before they began to head south again. I was now quite certain that we were not going to get that far north, this trip. It was going to be an accomplishment just to get away from Townsville!

Son phoned me about a new job he’d taken. Sounded very exciting: in a new field for him, traffic management, but doing the familiar role of business  development. Bit of a growth industry, that.

Friend M phoned – from Halls Creek. The trip up the Canning Stock Route had gone well, and she’d had a great time. Only had one flat tyre on the Troopy, and that was just as she was driving into Billiluna Community, not on the CSR proper. Yet again, the Dunlop Roadgripper tyres that we swear by, but others look down on, proved they can really handle the rough stuff well.

She reported that they’d had no rain over the three weeks. The fuel drums they’d ordered from the Capricorn Roadhouse were at the drop point, as arranged, and hadn’t been raided by other travellers. The couple she was tagging with had no vehicle issues, either. So she reckoned that she was now an experienced sand dune driver!

The diary I’d requested she keep for me was more a book than notes, apparently. She would mail it to home. The plans were now to go to the Bungles again – the other couple had not been there before, then on to Kununurra.

I was so happy that the adventure had gone well for her. But given the events of this year, I was so thankful we hadn’t tried it too.

THURSDAY: A quiet morning, followed by early lunch. Then we hit the shops – what’s new?

At Aitkenvale, John collected his new bowls. They were the ordered bright yellow – and the symbol on each featured a smirking crocodile. Very satisfied looking it was, too. (Every set of bowls has to have a unique symbol). This one couldn’t have been better than if he’d specifically chosen it! Yellow crocs…..

At the sewing shop, I bought a metre of my special embroidery fabric and some patchwork quilt pieces, for future projects.

To the Fish Co-op to stock up on barra and threadfin salmon.

There was a nasty accident at the corner where the V8 track had been. A truck and a 4WD ute had collided. Flashing emergency lights and vehicles galore.

Grocery shop at Castletown and at the butcher.

Getting all the meats and fish into the little freezebox was a real exercise in fitting things in gaps. The real challenge would come when just one frozen portion had to be extracted again, from the mass. The fridge ran for ages after all the additions, making me think all sorts of worrying thoughts.

I phoned Forrest Beach and booked us into the caravan park there, for three nights. John wanted to play in a big bowls tournament that was on in Ingham over the time, and had listed himself as an emergency, in case someone dropped out. If he was not called up, he could go fishing.


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2009 Travels July 17 – 19

FRIDAY 17 TO SUNDAY 19 JULY     TOWNSVILLE

Friday I had a quiet morning, after my several laps of the park. Read, sewed.

John had booked for us to play bowls in the afternoon – without consulting me. I’d have preferred a long walk along the Strand.

We got there for a 1pm start. but found it was actually 1.30. So there was some rather boring waiting around.

We both played somewhat mediocre games. Every time I see John bowl, now, my idea that these “straight” bowls do not suit him, is reinforced. Quite often ,when the bowl leaves his hand, I can’t tell which way it will go, which way it was meant to go – and I was certain it was mostly not where he intended. All over the shop!

John wanted home “done” fish and fries for tea.

Saturday I walked up to the local shops before breakfast and got the weekend papers.

Spent the morning reading those.

After lunch, we drove to the Strand and went walking. John took his camera and spent some time taking photos – and then, subsequently, deleted most of them before I had a chance to look at them.

On the way back, called in at Castletown – to the small area of shops, not the big complex – and went to the butcher there, for the first time. They had an excellent range. I bought chicken schnitzels, a couple of lots of speciality sausages, some very nice looking bacon. John picked up a jar of chilli pickled onions and added it to my lot. When it was all tallied up, I thought the total price was quite high, then it was established that the jar of onions cost $11…..John was not best pleased. I told him to really savour eating them….

Tea was chicken parma.

Sunday: Just the usual pottering about in the morning.

John had booked us in for afternoon bowls, which he said started at 1.30. He’d got the times wrong on Friday, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he got this wrong too. It was a 1pm start, so we cut it very fine! Friend A phoned while we were driving there, to find out where we were. I didn’t know why they couldn’t be consistent with their start times, though.

Today’s game was a regular event on the Jubilee bowls calendar. Mexicans Vs Cane Toads. To an Australian, that is probably pretty self explanatory, but for those who are mystified, Mexicans is how Queenslanders often refer to Victorians, who come from the south, and Cane Toads are only found in the tropics, so refer to Queenslanders. There were a lot of Victorians who winter in Townsville and play bowls.

It was a teams of four game and I played as a second. They stopped at 4pm and put on a BBQ tea straight away – salad, sausages, thin pieces of steak. I did not enjoy the time spent sitting with the team we’d played against as my opponent was a real oaf. Contrary to the etiquette of these things, he did not offer to buy me a drink, so I was the only drink-less one at the table, whilst he happily quaffed the beer I’d bought him. He talked constantly, even while eating, so sprayed part-chewed food all over the table. His talk wasn’t even interesting. The time passed slowly.

In the team he was drawn in, John had played skip, didn’t play well and was beaten by a woman skip – that really hurt! So, he was receptive when friend S told him he had to change his bowls. Hooray – finally! He mulled it over then announced, later, that he wanted new bowls as soon as possible, so he could get used to them before getting home.

So, it looked like bowls shopping would be added to the Townsville agenda.

After the bowls BBQ, tea was not needed.

Along with 3.6 million others, at night we watched the final of MasterChef on TV.


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2009 Travels July 16

THURSDAY 16 JULY     CARDWELL TO TOWNSVILLE – AGAIN

There was no rush packing up, but we were still away by 10am.

The drive south was uneventful. The crazy drivers with their caravans were all still going north….

I felt like we were getting to know this section of the Bruce Highway quite well….too well.

I’d phoned the Rollingstone Caravan Park again, about 9am. Just my luck to get the less mentally well endowed of the reception staff. She was not helpful. I said I wanted to book a powered site for a week. According to her, all the sites I was interested in (i.e. on the flat) were booked. There was no way, to my mind that all these sites – at least 60 of them – were all booked out, for all the week. What it did mean was that she either couldn’t be bothered – or didn’t know how – to juggle bookings of one or two nights, around, to free up sites. It was not that hard – I knew from experience.

She did offer me a site, which I knew was one of those that sloped quite strongly down to the billabong edge. We’d watched vanners having great difficulty setting up on those sites, where it was almost impossible to get a van level, and very hard to hitch and unhitch. But she didn’t tell me it was a sloping site!

At that point, I gave up. I wondered how much business that particular person had cost the park?

John was not so deterred. He intended to call in there, as we were going past, to see if he could do better in person.

But, at 11am, as we were driving, the Rollingstone park phoned us. They had just got round to checking the answering machine and dealing with messages. Not a great way to do business. It was the dopey one again. I explained that I’d already phoned this morning, having given up waiting for them to respond to messages. I’d given my name, both on the answering machine and this morning, and explained we’d been there a few weeks ago. And so on. Obviously,  she was not good at assimilating information. As we started to go into the whole rigmarole about level sites and availability, again, that was the point at which John gave up on them, too, and  said to forget it.

We pulled into the Woodland Holiday Park, because we were going past, on the off chance they might have a vacancy. I did get a bit embarrassed, rocking up to such places without a prior booking, at this time of the year. But we scored a powered site for a week, just like that.

I asked if we could be sited away from the cabin we’d been near before, and explained why to the receptionist. She seemed very interested to hear about that problem and as if it was new to her. But I couldn’t believe there had been no previous comments from people staying longer than we had been.

Again, our site cost $27 a night on the weekly rate. It was on the other side of the internal road from where we’d been before – nice and large. Maybe not enough shade, but it was alright.

John seemed to have mislaid his knack of directing the backing in easily. A site this big should have been easy, but he had me to-ing and fro-ing a lot before he was satisfied.

After setting up, just relaxed for the rest of the day.

I made salads for tea.