This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels August 10

SATURDAY 10 AUGUST     FORREST BEACH

Today was our 22nd wedding anniversary.

It did not begin well. When Couey and I left Bus for our usual morning walk, we had only gotten a short way down the slope in front of Bus, when the neighbours’ dogs came rushing at us, jumped on Couey and rolled her over. She couldn’t get away because she was on her lead. It happened so fast and gave us both a tremendous fright before the owners called them off. In attempting to fend the dogs off, I sprained a wrist, which hurt for the next couple of days.

I asked the people to tie their dogs up, which they did – then. But through the day they kept letting the creatures off to run around loose, so we kept Couey in Bus for much of the time.

I went to the shop for the papers.

Just a bit of cloud over the offshore islands

John left quite early to drive to Mystic Park for the bowls tournament that the Macknade group had included him in. It was the best part of 90kms from here to Mystic Park.

Couey and I spent much of the day inside Bus, because of the neighbouring roaming dogs. Even when tied up, they were on long ropes that enabled them to reach quite a distance. They rushed at and barked at several passers-by. Definitely not good camp dogs. Eventually, they charged out at and frightened a lady from a nearby large motorhome, who had a small, extremely gregarious white fluffy dog. The lady was the mother of the hotel complex manager, so action was taken, warnings were issued, and the dogs were more restrained after that.

The computer was not connecting to the internet, so I couldn’t do much there. Read the papers thoroughly.

Took Couey for a beach walk. It wasn’t great,  because there were more people on the beach than on weekdays – although it was not exactly crowded. Couey was reluctant to go as far as I wanted and eventually I gave up dragging her along on the lead, and turned back. Then, of course, it became her dragging me!

Passive resistance!

John phoned when he was leaving Mystic Park. It was after dark – almost 7pm – when he got back. But he’d had an enjoyable day and said it had been worth the effort.

Our “celebration” dinner consisted of leftover fish cakes from two nights ago, and salads. We did consume a good bottle of wine, though, to note the occasion.

John phoned M and asked her to go up to our place, get a packet of his anti-clot pills and send it up. He wanted to be sure of having a sufficient supply, in case we decided to extend the trip. He hadn’t brought all of the six-month supply he’d been issued with before we left home.


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2013 Travels August 9

FRIDAY AUGUST 9     FORREST BEACH

Last night felt really chilly. I got up part way through the night and put on a windcheater. The day was clear and warm.

It was late morning by the time John was ready to go into Ingham to shop. He decided that we should drive via Halifax and Macknade “for a change” – but it was really because he wanted to go to the bowls club and get some contact numbers.

The scenery in these parts was always enjoyable, so I didn’t mind the round about route – it was interesting. At this time of year, there was always activity in the cane fields, and a cane train, or three, to watch.

Cane railway – really narrow gauge

We stopped by Lagoon Creek where it crossed the Four Mile Road to Halifax. Watched some sizeable fish swimming there – mullet, apparently. It was a “croccy” looking creek.

While John was in the bowls club, I wandered about, taking photos of a couple of huge old rain trees, and the nearby sugar mill, which is really close to the bowls club.

This tree looks like it belongs in a children’s story book…
My little car dwarfed by tree and Macknade Mill

Took the Halifax-Ingham road, then. This approximately parallels the Herbert River and joins the Bruce Highway a few kms north of Ingham. We’d crossed the Herbert in Halifax and then again as we approached Ingham. There was road and bridge repair work happening where the Bruce Highway crosses the river. I think it flooded badly here last summer.

Young sugar cane growing

Stopped at a produce stall on the town outskirts and bought fruit and vegies, including the fresh local pineapple that John had been longing for, and lady finger bananas.

In town, John went to Autobarn to enquire about a car cover, but did not buy one. We did the food shop, quickly, because of dog in car.

On the way back to camp, stopped at the local Post Office, but no parcel there for me yet. Daughter had texted to say she’d sent my throw by ordinary parcel post, so it could take ages to get here.

In our absence, two families with camper trailers had set up on the sites between us and the motel. Each couple had two children and there were two cattle dog types as well. I hoped they were Townsville folks just up for the weekend only, and not staying longer. The kids were already tearing around on bikes, cutting through our site, and the dogs were roaming free.

The adults set up their camp so that a shared common area was close to our outside sitting area, and opening towards us. Sound carried well. Their voices were increasingly loud as they sat around and imbibed  much alcohol, whilst their animals and markedly unattractive  offspring  remained unsupervised and unchecked. It was going to be a very long weekend, I suspected.

Weekend crowd on the beach…

Our tea was ham steaks that I cut from one piece of ham I’d bought, with pineapple and a potato salad.

Fortunately our new neighbours retired at a reasonable hour. Given all their exercise, the kids were probably quite tired; the adults probably just passed out!


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2013 Travels August 8

THURSDAY AUGUST 8     FORREST BEACH

Today was a beautiful, blue-sky day, and hot again.

We had the usual sort of morning, then John left just before midday, for bowls at Macknade Mill.

The site next to us had stayed empty. It wouldn’t last, but was nice to have the empty space there while it did. Our site – 42 – was the third from the end wall of motel units.

Our site – with neighbours.

I sewed, read, had a couple of ball throwing sessions with Couey on the grassed area. We did not try a beach walk today, because I’d put Advantix on her this morning and did not want her to get wet for a day or two.

John did not get back from Macknade until 6pm – almost dark. He’d enjoyed bowls. They wanted him to play on Saturday, at Mystic Park, near Rollingstone. That would be quite a drive, and a long day for him.

Tea was fish cakes and beans, with more strawberries to follow.


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2013 Travels August 7

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 7

I slept in – until 8.20 am. Obviously so too did dog.

The daily temperatures were creeping up into the high 20’s, but the nights were still cool. Last night was 11 degrees. Too warm inside Bus for the doona, but the one thin throw I had was definitely inadequate. I hoped the fleece that daughter was sending arrived soon.

John cooked crumpets bought yesterday, for breakfast. He buttered mine before I realized. They were still raw and inedible, but couldn’t go back in the toaster with butter on. I threw mine out. John turned up the setting when cooking his and the results were better.

Our hairdresser neighbour left today, heading south. They were very amiable neighbours, but I would not miss the noise of their on-board washing machine, going flat-out every morning while I was sitting outside having breakfast. It seemed that such machines were so small that washing must be done every day. Not for me!

I cleaned and coated the interior vinyls of Terios, and put the sunshade up across the front. There was no shade here for my poor little car, through the day. I also took the hitch pin out of the tow receiver on Bus, and put in the lockable one, with a key on each of our key rings.

Walked Couey on the beach, to some distance beyond the last house. That’s the longest walk we’ve done together, this time, probably about 5kms all up. Last time here, we regularly walked south as far as the creek mouth, but I didn’t think John would manage that, this time. I’d noticed that, when I was walking Couey alone, and John was back at Bus, she was increasingly reluctant to go too far from the campground.

Today’s walking was hot. I must start taking some fresh water on walks, for dog, so she wouldn’t be tempted to drink sea water. She did do some playing in the shallows on this walk, but suffered no ill effects after.

We encountered a couple walking along the beach, who eyed off the dog – on her lead, as she always was around people. The guy commented that he thought tail docking was illegal these days. I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time I’d had to explain to people that she was a breed that naturally had a stumpy tail, etc…etc…

Couey’s (natural) stumpy tail is evident in this picture.

During the crazy period, last weekend, a couple with a Coaster bus and a couple of little dogs, had arrived and set up on a fairly uneven area down near the lit-up tents. Today they moved onto Site 22, which had a large cement slab to park on. It looked, at first glance, like one of the better sites in the park, but was a bit too close to the central rubbish skips, if the wind was in the wrong direction! They were also in line with the night time whiff of the over-loaded septic tanks. As we passed the site, on the way back to camp, had a chat with them. They lived in the Dandenongs, not far from us.

We had happy hour sitting out under our awning, with crisps and an extra beer each.

Tea was sweet and sour scallops, done in a tempura batter, with rice. Very nice too, with strawberries to follow for dessert.


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2013 Travels August 6

TUESDAY AUGUST 6   FORREST BEACH

Today reached about 27 degrees. Very pleasant.

We drove into Ingham, mostly for fresh food supplies, but also for other things. John needed to replenish his supply of socks and jocks at Target. I bought a couple of cheap navy blue T shirts that were ideal for wearing around camp. I favoured dark colours that didn’t readily show the dirt!

Renewed some scripts at the chemist. Autobarn supplied car polish, a lockable hitch pin for Bus, and a couple of plastic boxes that would fit John’s clothes shelf in the bedside cupboard and save him having to get down on all fours and scrabble around to get things from the back. Got food at Woolworths and scallops from the fish supplier – John’s choice. Had to refuel Terios. In other words, all the minutiae of normal living that must happen, regardless of location. 

Lots of activity at the Victoria Mill as we passed it

Back at camp, the last of the circus was gone – except for some heaps of goat poo, of great interest to dog.

I booked us in here for another week, and also in for tea at the hotel, tonight.

I took Couey for a long walk on the beach, about 4kms. Managed to stub a second littlest toe on a  rock buried in the coarse sand at the water’s edge. It hurt, big time, and then ached all night.

Cassady Beach area

While I was gone, John rigged up a shade at one end of the awning, from shadecloth he’d packed “in case”. Decided we must buy a proper end shade attachment.

The campground was definitely back to what passed for normal, here.

We got “dressed up” to go to tea – meaning clean polo shirts and denims. And lashings of Rid, since we would be eating on the outdoor terrace area.

Outdoor dining terrace at Forrest Beach Hotel. Motel units at left.

This was an experiment at leaving dog. We told her to stay in the Bus. She did her usual “You are leaving me and I’m not happy” little snap at my hand as I patted her goodbye. We’d figured that – if she decided to bark and be a pest at this first time of being left alone in Bus – we would be close enough to hear and take some action before she became a nuisance. But there wasn’t a sound.

Tuesday nights were 2-for-1 meal deal nights at the hotel, and they were doing a roaring trade. The hotel menu was surprisingly comprehensive – good bistro style. John chose mackerel in beer batter and I had the best salt and pepper squid I’d ever eaten. They both came with some excellent chips and a very nice salad. The serves were generous. Meal cost $20 for us both. We had a beer each before dinner, and bought a bottle of Brown Brother crouchen reisling – even that was fairly priced at $22, we thought. John had an extra, larger beer, too. Decided we’d definitely return next Tuesday. As John was of the “your cooking is cheaper and nicer” persuasion, we didn’t often “eat out” when travelling – or at home for that matter, but this was too good to miss out on.

Coeuy was clearly resigned to being alone and was soundly asleep on my seat when we returned to Bus. It was all “Ho-hum….you back already?”


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2013 Travels August 5

MONDAY AUGUST 5   FORREST BEACH

Today was pleasant – right degree of warmth. I’d begun to notice heavy dews in the early mornings, now.

A few of the people who were obviously regulars here in winter, had light covers for their vehicles to protect against the combination of dew moisture  and dust kicked up by traffic on the dirt roads of the park, as well as from the salt air. If we came back here again, for any length of time, thought I’d want one for Terios, too.

A lot of people had left the park over the past couple of mornings, but the spaces – as in proper sites – were filled by newcomers. Seemed to me that the word was getting out, about this place.

Couey was fine today. I took her for a beach walk. Only about half the usual distance, just to make sure she didn’t overdo it.

Great walking beach…

Some men came and took away most of the remaining circus stuff, except for the truck and the monkey trailer.

I made chilli con carne for dinner. Overdid the chilli, though.


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2013 Travels August 4

SUNDAY AUGUST 4    FORREST BEACH

Today was less humid.

I definitely did not like the park this crowded. Apart from the circus lot down the dip from us, that area had also filled up with rigs that did not need power and, closer to us, several who had hooked up long leads into anywhere they could find a vacant power outlet up the hill or, in some instances, apply double adapters!

We had the usual sort of day. I read, sewed. John spent some time at the computer. Because so many of the campers were away at the Festival, I was able to unexpectedly get an empty washing machine, when I checked, on the off chance. So did the washing.

We walked along the beach, as far as the last house at Cassady’s. Because John was along, Couey did quite a lot of water play and chasing at his instigation.

Just resting…

The circus put on a couple of afternoon matinees. It all looked rather tawdry in the bright light of day; probably had a greater mystique at night. They then very efficiently packed it all up – which made interesting watching for us, sitting outside our van. Then, they all left, leaving behind gear, the boss and the animals. Apparently he had some vehicle problems.

Quite a few people left the park in the afternoon. I was just hoping it would soon return to rather sleepy normality.

M phoned to say she was able to get four tickets for the Cohen concert – the maximum allowed in one purchase. She went back online a few minutes later to get the fifth she wanted, for her friend C, but the pre-sales had sold out. Wow! That was fast. I was very pleased we acted quickly on those. We discussed accommodation options for that Saturday night, having already decided we would not be driving back to the eastern suburbs after the concert. We had memories of the Hanging Rock one, when it took a couple of hours to clear the parking paddock after the show was over. Settled on a two bedroom apartment type unit, that I’d found on the Wotif site. She would book it.

I hadn’t heard back from T, so he’d missed out as far as I was concerned.

Tea was fried rice, using leftover roast chicken, and a few prawns from the freezer.

About 9pm, Couey very neatly vomited her tea onto the Bus floor, right by John’s feet! Too much salt water – again. Now that John was forced to confront the unpleasant results of his sea frolics with dog – and clean up same – I reckoned¬† he’d be less encouraging of same when we walked on the beach in the future!


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2013 Travels August 3

SATURDAY 3 AUGUST     FORREST BEACH

It rained really heavily through last night. Those clouds yesterday were really serious. As a result, this morning was really humid and not pleasant. I drove to the shop for the papers, rather than walking.

Stormy weather…

John went off to bowls at Macknade.

I did some housework – so much easier without anyone else in Bus! Defrosted the fridge, which led to having to wash the floor.

Couey and I went for a long walk along the beach at low tide, going almost to the mouth of the southern creek. The beach by the park was more populated than usual, but once we’d walked about five hundred metres, had it to ourselves.

Almost deserted beach

John was right! Two circus trucks and two animal trailers arrived to join the strange trailer. A few people proceeded to set up a marquee – about thirty metres from us. Unbelievable! It seemed to be a small affair, maybe a family group? They tethered a llama, alpaca, and a couple of goats about the place. Couey was not impressed by the smells of these strange critters, wafting up, and looked distinctly puzzled. Their terrier dog roamed loose about the place, which meant that I was not impressed, either.

One of the other campers, who I’d spoken with a few times, summed it up when he commented in passing: “This place gets weirder by the minute!”

John came home from bowls with winnings of three bottles of beer. He was amused by the circus – literal and figurative.

We ate our roast chicken dinner to the background noise of the circus “music” and a very noisy group of revellers at the hotel.

The circus put on an evening performance, which was very noisy, but mercifully over by 9.30pm. They did not seem to have many people attending. There were competing events on at the Festival in Ingham.

In the early evening, the Ladies was jam packed with females getting ready for a night out – and with circus people getting made up for the performance. Bedlam.

We heard, later, that the terrier dog was supposed to be an important part of the performance, however it had absconded in favour of visiting other dogs around the park! It definitely seemed to be rather an amateur operation.

I’d done some computer research and found that the Cohen concert in Geelong was being put on through the Day on the Green organization. So I’d joined that, in order to access pre-sales tickets through them. Phoned friend M about doing this. She was already a member and, as pre-sales closed at 4pm tomorrow, said she would get the tickets. Some friends of hers might be interested too.


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2013 Travels August 2

FRIDAY AUGUST 2     FORREST BEACH

I woke about 7am. Walked Couey along the foreshore path. Again, she rebelled part way along. Damn smart dog had realised that breakfast came at the end of her morning walk, and food was much more important than exercise.

After human breakfasts, we drove into Ingham to do a food shop.

Victoria Mill, on the way into Ingham

It was a hotter day, with cloud building up through the day.

This weekend was the annual Italian Festival in Ingham, celebrating the heritage of so many of its residents. Sugar growing commenced in the area in the 1870’s. Initially, as in other parts of north Qld., Pacific Islanders (kanakas) were brought in to work in the cane fields: under deceptive promises or plain just kidnapped. By the 1890’s this practice was declared illegal. A trickle of immigrants from Italy began to fill the labour void, and in the early 20th century many came from Italy and Spain and settled in the region. Ingham came to be known as “little Italy”. (So too, did an area near Coraki, in northern NSW, also a sugar cane region, where a friend’s family hails from).

I’d looked at the Festival program earlier in the week, but did not see much that was of great interest to us – particularly since dog limited what we could do.

Whilst we did the shopping, she stayed in the car, with windows part-down. She seemed to be ok with that, and we made sure not to be away long. Had a quick look in shops for a polar fleece throw. The one I had on the bed was just not quite enough in the chilliest part of the early morning. Couldn’t find such an item, so texted daughter to buy me one and mail it up.

Cane train loaded with cut sugar cane, waiting at the Mill

When we got back to the park, there was a strange trailer type of thing parked across the grass area, down in front of Bus. I thought it might be something associated with the Festival, but John said it looked like it belonged to a circus. Neither of us really thought it could be, though.

Grassed hollow in front of our site, used for unpowered camping… amongst other things…

After lunch, walked Couey on the beach, as far as the Cassady Beach houses.

Beach and distant mountains

The park became really, really full. Through the day, campers and caravans had multiplied on the grass area below us, even though there was no power down there. A slabbed site further along from us that had not been used to date because there was no power, was occupied, and the park manager came and changed the power leads from some rigs, around to other poles, doubling up, to remedy the situation. Probably wouldn’t have passed any regulatory inspections, but hey, this is north Qld!

Just after dark, a couple with young children set up a camper trailer across the access road from us. It must have been the last empty “proper” site, as opposed to setting up in an ad hoc way on the central grass.

I wondered how many people the park was actually permitted to have – if they even worry about such things up here? There must have been in at least two hundred bodies in residence. There were only five toilets and four showers in the Ladies’; going to be queues in there for sure.

I cooked threadfin salmon in tempura batter for tea, while John went off to buy chips and potato cakes. We didn’t factor in the new crowds, he was gone a long time, and the fish was over-cooked as a result. We found – again – that the shop food was too greasy. From now on, I would be cooking our own fries while here.

A TV advert came up for Leonard Cohen concerts in North Qld, in November. Obviously, that meant the great man was doing another concert series in Australia. I immediately texted daughter to check if there were any scheduled for Victoria, remembering the great time we’d had at his brilliant Hanging Rock concert in 2010. She found out there would be one held at a Geelong winery, in December, but she was not interested in one that far away from her home. I texted friend M about it – she was definitely interested. Emailed former work friend T to see if he would like to attend, too. That was really something to start looking forward to; my mind was already mulling over the logistics. John was not enthusiastic. He didn’t come to the Hanging Rock concert back then. Doesn’t know what he’s missing!


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2013 Travels August 1

THURSDAY AUGUST 1     FORREST BEACH

I woke at 7.15. Couey and I walked along the foreshore path until 8am. She didn’t want to walk as far as we went yesterday; makes it very clear when she wants to turn around, by simply stopping and waiting until I get the message. Overall, she seemed just about back to normal today.

Had the usual sort of morning, pottering about camp.

John went off to bowls about midday. Thursday bowls at Macknade was already his set routine, here. He had an enjoyable game and won a small chook. A substantial afternoon tea is served to the bowlers, so our Thursday night dinners would need to be light ones.

While John was gone, I washed Bus floor and generally tidied the place up.

Couey and I went for a good long walk on the beach. She did not take in as much salt water when John was not along, because I walk further away from the water line, and do not encourage her into the deeper water pools.

Just about the perfect beach…

Chicken sausages and potato for tea.