This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels September 2


Today was to be “my” day, after John’s of bowls yesterday.

We had decided our next stop would be somewhere around Yeppoon, an area that was new to us. John was still mumbling and grumbling about TV and internet. With football finals happening, he was going to be very TV focussed. I finally got fed up with the criticism and told him to organise the next place we would stay at, and see if he could do better. He rang a park that looked good in the literature, and very gruffly interrogated them about their internet and TV. He didn’t query whether they took dogs, or had a site the Bus would fit onto – those were my priorities, not his! I wasn’t surprised when the park person basically told him to get lost!

He then phoned a park at Kinka Beach, and adopted a more pleasant tone with them. He was told he’d have to use a cable to connect TV there, too, but that the reception would be good. So he booked for six nights – all they could fit him in for, and on an en-suite site.  He was happy because that would get him through the weekend, with its football – and maybe some bowls! After prompting, he did check that they took dogs. After hanging up he told me the site would cost $58 a night! We had never, ever, paid that much for a site! I was just glad it was him that made the arrangements. If I’d booked somewhere at that price, I’d never have heard the end of it.

I wanted to do some exploring today.

We parked the Terios behind the Airlie shops, then went walking in the very attractive parkland between the shops and the beach. It was not easy, though, to work out where we were allowed to walk, with the dog along. The signage was confusing, yet again. What is it with this place? A path where it was permitted to walk with dog, would suddenly turn into a no-dog zone, with no alternate paths and no choice but to do an about turn and go back they way we’d come.

Foreshore at Airlie Beach

I’m sure we transgressed the rules a couple of times, without meaning to, but we managed to walk a couple of kms.

Missing the beach?

It seemed the beach area had changed since we were last here, and now was more rock and pebble areas than decent sandy beaches.

The harbour had certainly changed with the creation of marinas. In the cruise season, now, lots of cruise ships anchor off Airlie and visitors are brought in by small boat. Thus the shops have become even more geared to feeding visitors and extracting much in the way of souvenir dollars. Now, all the “proper” shops are out at Cannonvale, it seemed. We were not interested in the predictable tourist tat, though John did buy himself an ice cream.

Back to Bus for lunch, then drove the other way, out to Shute Harbour, site of another marina and base for all the tour boats that ply the Whitsunday waters in these parts. Again, this area had changed, with more houses having sprouted on the hillsides.

Houses on the hills at Shute Harbour

The scenery out at Shute Harbour was to die for. Azure sea, lush greenery, islands and bays all over.

Views to envy…

We cruised around the very hilly little streets of Shute Harbour, envying some of the perched hillside houses their views.

From a lookout, watched the activity in the harbour, for a little while.

Shute Harbour
The magic of the Whitsundays…

Back through Airlie Beach to the supermarket at Cannonvale, for a bit of a food stock up, and so to the Bus. Tea was salads and sliced cold deli meats.

It had been interesting, and pleasant enough, to return to Airlie Beach, but we agreed we wouldn’t come back here again. Absolutely beautiful coast, but just too developed in an unattractive way, for us.

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2013 Travels September 1


Today was the first day of spring. Somehow, that fact did not seem so noteworthy up in these parts, where the sun was shining and the weather hot.

It was also Fathers Day. John received an email and text from one of his offspring and one of mine. Nothing from the other two.

When I got up, about 7.30am, the Britz vehicle had gone from near us. From the two little piles of used toilet paper that had been left on the grass by where it had been, I deduced that they had not been legal campers. I did not inspect more closely! The amenities block had coded entry access, so they obviously had not been able to get in there.

In the three days we were at this park, I did not once see any park staff check to see if we had a sticker. Not much point in issuing them, it seemed to me. It also seemed that the word was being passed around some of the backpacker fraternity, that they could sneak into this place at night.

John went off quite early to play bowls and came home with $15 for winning the day, so he was happy. As a Fathers Day event, lunch had been provided, so I planned on only having soup and biscuits for tea.

I sat round, read, took Couey on several short walks, did some stuff on the computer.

Our site was compact, but private

There were definitely sandflies around. Rid was needed. I still had a scabbed sore on the front of one ankle, from a bite of some kind at Forrest Beach. It kept being itchy and was not healing much. I didn’t need any more of those.

John’s happy mood only lasted until he had to fiddle about with the TV again. There are too many hills around Airlie Beach for normal aerials to work, it seems, hence the need to hook into the park’s system. It was not an easy exercise in Bus. The TV set lives at the back, where the only opening windows had fixed mesh screens. as did the opening roof hatches. Hence the need for the cable to feed in through one of the front side windows, and be run down the length of Bus, trying to keep it to where dog and I won’t get tangled up in it. Or where it wouldn’t fall down from where John had precariously hooked it up, into the dinner cooking on the stove! It needed to be a very long cable, too. Even with it, the picture wasn’t great, and choice of channels very limited.

A pleasant sitting area. TV box on wall, with cable hooking over to Bus

We might need to investigate whether we can get a plug in point for such systems, fitted on the outside of Bus, before the next trip?

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2013 Travels August 31


Pulled out of the Black River Stadium camp just before 9am.

Both the GPS and I managed to miss the turn off onto the Townsville Ring Road, so we had to find a place on the highway to do a U-ey, in Saturday morning traffic. Driver was not happy. I reckoned the signage, coming from the north, had not been clear – that was my excuse, anyway. For the GPS there was no excuse!

We refuelled at the very convenient Woolworths servo at the big roundabout. $1.529 cpl. Found the way out again, first try, this time.

It was a hot day, making travel uncomfortable.

There were roadworks at regular intervals south of Townsville, and we spent a lot of time waiting in traffic queues. Seemed we hardly got up to speed after each stop, before we were pulled up again.

Will Bruce Highway roadworks ever be finished?

Unfortunately, these hold-ups started virtually on the Townsville outskirts, coinciding with the Driver’s urgent needs for “comfort” stops, every ten minutes or so, for the first hour or thereabouts of travel. The usual pull ups beside the road so he could exit Bus were not possible in the lines of traffic. So, while we were stopped, and the matter was becoming urgent, I went back to the kitchen area  and found an empty plastic jar – with lid! Served the purpose…. Being higher than the surrounding traffic had more than one benefit…

The section between Townsville and Ayr was definitely the worst for roadworks that we had encountered on the Bruce.

Passed the NAP mango packing shed at Giru, where we’d worked for six weeks, back in 2002, me packing mangoes and John on the sorting tables. We used to drive out every day from the caravan park in Ayr, so that section of road was familiar.

Crossed the Burdekin River on the dramatic steel girdered bridge. Looking at the small stream below, it was hard to credit that this bridge has at times been inundated by the river.

Unusual bridge structure across the Burdekin River
On the Burdekin bridge

The Inkerman Sugar Mill was just south of the river. I looked at sugar mills differently since our sojourns at Forrest Beach. Inkerman was dull, compared to the Victoria Mill complex.

Stopped at the Guthalungra Rest Area for a leg stretch and a little walk around for Couey. This was a pleasant, well set up U shaped road beside the highway, with toilets. There were several rigs there that looked as if they were already set up for the coming night – and it wasn’t even lunch time. I reckon it might have become pretty crowded later.

Now that he was feeling a bit better, John had, this morning, agreed that we could continue along the coast, and slow down a bit, rather than take the faster inland way home from Townsville. I suggested that we stay at Airlie Beach, which we hadn’t visited since 1998, and which we’d really liked then. I was able to phone and book into the park we’d stayed at then.

We turned off the highway before Proserpine, and took a pleasant short cut, on back roads, through to the Airlie Beach road.

The back way to Airlie Beach

We couldn’t believe how much the town and surrounding area had changed in the intervening years. In 1998, Airlie Beach was a busy little backpackers’ mecca, but still more village than anything else. Now sprawling suburbia had spread back out through Cannonvale and towards Proserpine. In Cannonvale, we passed a shopping complex and a Bunnings – always an ominous sign of development, as was the multi-lane road.

There used to be a spot on the road into Airlie Beach where one crested a rise and the superb vista of the sea and islands suddenly appeared – it was a real “wow” spot. That had gone now, with changed roads and harbour redevelopment – a pity.

Airlie Beach itself was now dominated by multi-storied buildings that spread up the once-wooded hillsides. The backpackers were still evident, and tourists, just lots and lots more of them.

Roadworks were happening, to change the centre of the town and, combined with re-routing due to a fun run, the jumble of signs and barriers was really confusing. There was traffic going every which way. We missed the detour we should have taken, and finished up driving along a very narrow road through the shops area and, I suspected from the strange looks we received, going the wrong way along a one-way stretch.

Our chosen park – the Airlie Cove Tourist Park – was through the town centre, on the road to Shute Harbour. The park was now more developed and up-market, but still with lots of lovely lush, green gardens and trees. We were allocated a very private, pleasant en-suite site, towards the back of the park, for $46.80  a night, after Big 4 discount. Tourism had definitely moved Airlie Beach prices into the big league!

We were given a sticker to put on the rig, to show we “belonged”. The receptionist said they had problems with backpackers sneaking in and staying without paying. I wondered why they hadn’t just installed some sort of boom gate like some other parks have.

I’d committed the cardinal sin – yet again – when phoning ahead to book, of neglecting to ask whether there was good TV reception and internet. In the dog house again… kind of literally! John was offered a cable to connect us to a TV signal. When we were set up, the cable had to come inside through one of the front windows – along with assorted insects, mostly of the biting variety.

After setting up, took the car and did a brief food shop, because the driver had decided he wanted home made hamburgers for tea. He also checked out the bowls club and arranged to play tomorrow.

Just after dark, I took Couey for a walk along the internal road inside the park perimeter – on her lead, of course. I noticed a Britz hire van parked a little way along the road opposite us, where there were some grassed unpowered sites. As we came back, there was a couple using the nearby camp kitchen – sounded like it was German they were speaking. I assumed they were from the unpowered site and thought no more about it.

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1998 Travels May 18


When I was making breakfast, discovered that John had forgotten to turn the fridge back on, last night. We’d had a defrost! That means we must have the remaining fish for tea, as they are unfrozen. This fridge/TV thing could lead to considerable domestic disharmony!

We drove to the shops. There was mail from S at the PO, containing a lot more WW1 records and information, for John. His tablets from the Cooroy chemist were also there. But there was not the expected mail from home.

I went to a chemist, who gave me anti-histamine tablets to lessen the sandfly reaction, and some Vitamin B1 which, in theory, will make me less attractive to mosquitoes. That chemist must do a roaring trade in sandfly antidotes!

We did a grocery shop, the cost of which looked like we bought a lot more than we did!

After lunch,  cycled out to Mandalay Point, which forms the eastern side of Airlie Bay. It was mostly through bushland, but also past some expensive-looking homes with great views over the bay. It was an 11km ride, with a couple of vicious little hills.

Drove back to Shute Harbour to see if we could catch another brilliant sunset – I wanted to try to photo same – but it poured rain instead!

I cooked the dart fish in foil parcels and served them with some beans.

Phoned K, to check mail situation. He has forgotten to send it! I told him that we really need the new Mastercards  we are expecting will be in there, so he has to investigate Express Mail. I will phone him tomorrow.

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1998 Travels May 17


In the morning, discovered that, despite applying Rid yesterday afternoon, we had both been affected by sandfly bites – big time! Our legs and arms are coming up in the usual red, itchy lumps and little blisters. Obviously, the sandflies are really bad here and made worse by the recent rains. Funny how the tourist propaganda never mentions sandflies!

We drove to the bowls club, so John could check out events. He booked us both in for a game this afternoon. He has discovered that there is a Masters’ Bowls event happening here, later in the week, and wants to be in that. Our Airlie stay will be longer than first thought.

Then went on to the shops. Most of them were closed, which slightly surprised us, in this tourist centre. Went for a walk on the Esplanade, behind the beach. It was very quiet – the back packers must all be sleeping off last night.

The view across the bay was beautiful – the sky and the sea were both silver-grey, with no visible horizon division between them. The islands and yachts seemed to be floating on nothing.

05-16-1998 airlie beach view.jpg

The boats appear to be floating on air!

After lunch, went to bowls. We played in a fours event. It was alright, I guess. The locals at the club were really friendly. Most that we spoke with had been here about ten years, and considered that the place has developed a lot since then! We think it is still rather an undeveloped place,  compared to Noosa, or Hervey Bay. We did not meet anyone who had been born and bred locally.

The sandflies homed in again about 4pm. We were on the lookout for them, this time, and slathered on heaps of Rid, and put on clothes that covered the legs and arms, as soon as we got back to the van.

Tea was bread and cheese with a Greek salad.

John found that turning off the fridge improved the TV reception – a little. This is not something I really approve of, but the damned TV must take priority!

The sandfly bites made for a restless, uncomfortable night.

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1998 Travels May 16


Today’s drive was predominantly through sugar cane country. There were forested ranges to the west that provided a backdrop to the farming country. In places, low wooded hills appeared on the other side of the highway, too.

We stopped at Proserpine for fuel – 69cpl. Just north of that town, turned off the highway and took the road to Airlie Beach. I had read some material about Airlie that suggested it would be a pleasant place to stay, to get some idea of what the Whitsunday region is like.

There is a whole string of islands off the coast, between Mackay and Bowen, loosely called the Whitsunday Islands. The name comes from one of the largest islands that Captain Cook so named, because he thought he found it on Whit Sunday. The region is known for its aqua seas, white sand beaches, sheltered sailing, and is a popular place on the backpacking circuit.

Driving into Airlie is spectacular. We came through a farming valley, up an ordinary looking hill, then, at the crest, the incredible view suddenly appeared. Right in front was this brilliant bay, with lots of yachts floating at anchor, heaps of islands dotted about, and jungle green headlands. It is unexpected and beautiful. We were told later that locals always slow down at that point, if driving behind tourists, because they know the exact point ahead at which the brake lights will come on, as the tourists automatically slow down and go “wow” – as we did.

The many islands are steep sided and jungle-y  green.

We drove through the town – actually more like a village – to the Big 4 Airlie Cove Caravan Park. Our site here cost $16.20 a night, after club discount but they have no weekly rate or concessions. It was a very attractive park, with heavy tropical growth all round. It is the first place we have stayed that really felt tropical. We were able to walk around and choose our site. We rejected two that had large, fat, goannas asleep on their cement slabs – no point in making life hard for ourselves! Chose a site that had a lot of shrubbery and trees around, and an annexe slab. Discovered later that the trees were home to possums that thought our roof was a great new night time jumping game venue.

The park has a wonderfully attractive swimming pool – large and irregularly shaped, with a spa area to one side open to the pool itself. It looks very inviting.

The whole atmosphere here is very verdant, lush, tropical, full blown. I love it.

After set up, which included putting up the awning roof – outdoor living will be most pleasant here – we drove on to the end of the road, at Shute Harbour, which has a large marina with an obscenely large amount of dollars anchored in it! This is a major departure point for the Whitsunday Islands – day trips, reef cruises, fishing charters.

We drove up onto the headland above the marina and saw homes there that have views that must rank with the best in the world! The sunset on the sea below was bright purple.

It was dark when we drove back to Airlie Beach to get fish and chips for tea.

There is a vibrant atmosphere along the beach front strip that is the centre of town. It features many backpacker accommodation places and some lower key resort and unit structures, but does seem mostly geared to the younger generation – a contrast to Noosa. There are many cheap eateries and shops selling sarongs and T shirts. The place was busy, being a Saturday night. There was that peculiarly tropical smell of warm air, scented flowers, char-grilling food – it reminded me of Darwin.

John found that all the steep hills around us are barriers to good TV reception.