THURSDAY 25 JULY CHARTERS TOWERS TO FORREST BEACH 287kms
Our near neighbour was also leaving today and announced the fact by starting his engine and running it for about 20 minutes before he even started to hitch up his van. The stink of diesel fumes…….
We left at 9.30, starting out on a warm day of clear blue skies. Later, close to the coast, some clouds appeared.
Today’s was a varied and interesting drive.
About 20kms of Charters Towers was the Burdekin River bridge, with the flood height marker just before it. We wondered if the flood events of the past couple of summers had put a new top marker in, above the one we saw when we stopped there in 2009, but didn’t pull in to see.
Passed through the Range at Mingela. Easy going, scenic.
The road surface was excellent, for the most part.
There is no doubt that this route from Charters Towers to Townsville is one of the easiest ways to traverse the Great Divide, from the inland to sea level.
We were back where there are big, blue, sharp hills, after the inland plains.
The driver of an Elgas truck was merrily passing other vehicles over the solid double lines – very bad and arrogant driving. It reminded us that we had long thought that – at least in relation to ignoring road rules, and unsafe overtaking – north Qld drivers are the most reckless in the nation.
Saw our first mango plantation of this trip. We relate to mango plantations, having worked the harvest near here, in 2002……
On the outskirts of Townsville, followed both the signs and our GPS directions, to get onto the Ring Road – a new section since we were last here. Spotted a new Woolworths fuel outlet, by a new Bunnings, and it was easy to divert around to it. It wasn’t quite so easy to get out of though, as we took the scenic route through a couple of carparks and round the same roundabout twice.
The diesel was $1.519 cpl. 32 cents a litre cheaper than at Belyando Crossing, two days ago!
Townsville seemed to have grown so much since 2009.
The Ring Road was excellent. The smooth traffic flow made it so easy getting to the Bruce Highway, about 10kms north of the city centre. For once, the GPS really helped, as I’d left my detailed street maps of Townsville at home. However, GPS lady got herself quite confused, later, in Ingham. There is still work for the old-fashioned navigator.
I made a note to check out the Blue Water Caravan Park, north of the city. It looked OK from the road, as we passed. Must see if it takes dogs, as our preferred park from past trips (Woodlands) did not. According to Google, later, Blue Water was pet friendly.
By the Rollingstone Beach turn off, saw our first sugar cane of the trip. Then our first cane train of the year. It was, of course, harvest time.
Definitely starting to feel we are in the tropics now.
There was a lot of traffic on the highway north. The Bruce is notorious, at the best of times! Today, some sort of large bike ride event was causing long traffic tail backs.
The cyclists were split into groups. with escort vehicles in front and behind. A few kms separated each group – just enough to get back up to speed after eventually getting past a group, before having to slow right down behind the next. Signs indicated there were ten such groups. We counted ourselves lucky to only encounter five – all things are relative! There were some really, really lengthy tail backs behind some of the groups.
GPS lady wanted us to turn off the highway well south of Ingham, but we kept to the route we knew, despite her protests, and went straight through the town to the Victoria Mill/Forrest Beach turn off.
It wasn’t long before we could see the Mill (the largest in Australia), in front, all chimneys steaming away. It felt like an old friend…..Loved seeing it again – the activity there at this time of year is fascinating.
At Forrest Beach we parked out front of the hotel and asked to see our allocated site. We’d been put on Site 42, towards the front of the park, on the grounds there was nothing else available. They obviously had a lot more long stay winter people there now, than four years ago.
We walked down and inspected the site. Grassed, no slab. It was not a very big site, but adequate, with a nice outlook over the grassed hollow towards the sea. There was a bit of a garden at the front, and between us and the next site too. It was a bit of a hike to the amenity block though, as it turned out, with the septic system not always coping well with the challenge of numbers, the distance was a good thing!
John found there were five bars on the phone – hence good internet cover (I’d forgotten to ask when booking in and he couldn’t remember what it was like last time). He quizzed the reception lady about TV reception too. She said she’d heard no complaints about it…..
We couldn’t see a better empty site, so said we’d be fine there. It was probably better for dog for us not to be on a back site, close to the mangroves and forest, where we’d hoped to be – more chance of ticks there? There was a big bus occupying “our old site” – 26.
We paid $350 for a two week stay – very budget friendly.
Parked Bus on the site front first, so the living area under our awning would face the garden that separated us from that next site, empty when we arrived. There was a caravan quite close on the other side. Hooked up to power and water – and then realized that not all sites were so supplied. We were lucky! Things were still a bit haphazard in this park.
There was a nice area for Couey to be tethered in front of Bus, and a great ball throw area in the grassy hollow below. There was just room to park Terios behind Bus.
It was very windy here today – probably pretty normal at this time of year.
After setting up, I put the tick collar on Couey. In paralysis tick areas, one should closely inspect dog for ticks, every day. I didn’t like our chances of finding black tick on black dog – especially one with a double coat of fur.
There had been some cleaning up of the amenity block since 2009. I suspected that cyclone damage may have led to some roof repairs and a repaint. Being painted inside made it look cleaner. But the tiled floors and composite stone basin surrounds really showed signs of age, likewise the cracked and broken tiles in the showers. The laundry had been neatened up, too, and more machines installed. There had only been one last time. The whole park appeared tidier and more cared for. These front sites, where we were, had not been turned into proper sites, back four years ago.
I had a chat with a Trakmaster owner, whose site was near the amenities. He was rather unhappy about the occasional waft from the septic tank, plus that from the large rubbish hoppers nearby. I was getting happier about our site, by the minute!
Once set up was done, John went off in Terios to the McKnade Bowls Club, near Halifax, and arranged bowls for Saturday.
Tea was a chicken stir fry, made with a packet sauce mix, and rice.
John was quite satisfied with both the TV – lots of channels and a good picture – and the internet – augured well for the stay here.
So, we were settled by the sea, at last!
July 9, 2022 at 11:43 pm
I agree with your comment about drivers. We are currently mooching around the Burnett region and have been shocked at the number of times we’ve been passed on double lines even in pouring rain! Must be some sort of death wish.
July 10, 2022 at 4:15 am
Maybe a misplaced sense of invincibility? In all our many thousands of kms of travel, never found it as bad as Qld, anywhere else in Aust.
July 11, 2022 at 11:06 pm
When my folks first moved to Tassie they warned us that the locals always drove the shortest line around blind corners. Nerve wracking.
July 12, 2022 at 5:24 am
Particularly when they are driving logging trucks!
July 13, 2022 at 11:38 pm