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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In the morning, John got involved in trying to use his Access program to make bowls records.
I wrote up the diary, read, sewed, walked around the caravan park – that did not take long. Disappointingly, from this park, the only walking options seem to involve walking around the streets of the settlement – and not on footpaths either, just on the road edge or on nature strips.
Had an early lunch and then set off for some serious tourist adventures – hopefully.
As we got to Halifax, John decided we must stop at a fishing tackle shop he saw, so he could have a browse in same. I waited in Truck. He came back with a prawn peeling device that looked like it might just work.
Just out of Halifax, saw a cane train pulling “different” carriages, like small vats, instead of the usual wire sided containers of cane. Realized they were carrying processed sugar from a mill to the bulk ship-loading facility at Lucinda. We could see raw sugar around the top opening on some of the vats, where it had spilt over in loading.
We got ahead of the train at one point, so I got the chance to get out of Truck to take some photos. The driver waved and hooted at me – I guess it was some variety in his slow, tootly journey.
It had already become evident to us, firstly, that there were heaps of cane railway crossings on these district roads, and secondly, that often these did not have a great line of sight. Cane trains travelled fairly slowly, but I wondered how many crossing collisions with cars there were, in an average cane season?
From Halifax, took the Lucinda road, and as we came into that village, turned left to go out to Dungeness to have a look. Here, on a tidal inlet connected to the Herbert River, there was a large resort-type development, a small number of houses, and a boat launch ramp.
The channel between Dungeness and Hinchinbrook Island was fairly narrow and the island loomed large across it.
With some cloud down over the mountainous top of Hinchinbrook Island, it looked brooding and mysterious.
Dungeness was an attractive spot – pity it had no caravan or camping facilities.
We walked around the boat ramp area and took photos and just generally admired the place.
Then drove the few kms back to Lucinda. The good-sized caravan park there looked totally full. Lots of boats there too, but the internal roads were a lot wider than at Taylors Beach, so it was not so much of an obstacle course. It was, clearly, also a winter destination for lots of “fishy” people. The blurb in my tourist brochure described it as an oceanfront caravan park, but this ignored the existence of a large park between it and the sea!
Any views of Hinchinbrook Island from Lucinda – which would have been spectacular – were obscured by the 5.6km long sugar loading conveyor pier and the associated train unloading and sugar storage facilities. It was all quite industrial.
There was no public access along the jetty structure that carried the sugar way out to where the ocean was deep enough for ships to dock. The structure was so long we couldn’t see its end.
There was a staircase and walkway across the sugar terminal installations, that gave foot access to a landing and fishing jetty beyond. It might have been the village’s main jetty before the sugar facility was built but there was no vehicle access to it now. We did the trek across to the jetty. There were great views from that, of the Island and the opening of the Hinchinbrook Channel.
The afternoon light on the water made it very photogenic.
There was also a walking path along the Lucinda foreshore, but we didn’t do that.
Had to drive back to Ingham. I needed to shop for some of the ingredients needed for the pineapple salad that John fancied for tea – chillies, cashews, fish sauce and coriander. He also bought a couple of casks of wine.
Decided to go for a walk at the Tyto Wetlands. It was almost 5pm by then, though, so too late to do the full circuit and dawdle to spot birds. We walked to the first viewing point, past some indigenous boys – about 10-12 years old – who were swimming in one of the ponds. They were also using stakes – that had been nearby young tree supports – to dig up mussels and try to “spear” some little wallabies grazing nearby. I could not imagine that the wetlands staff were happy about such activities, but maybe they could not do anything to prevent same.
John was not walking well. Maybe another day we would be able to do more, here.
Refuelled Truck and went back to camp.
It took me until almost 7pm to get the salads made for tea – pineapple and potato ones. Late meal for us. There was a definite smell of cooking fish around the caravan park!
After tea, John spent time on the computer, I read.
TUESDAY 30 JUNE ROLLINGSTONE TO TAYLORS BEACH 125KMS
Today was quite a cloudy day and rather humid.
We were up very early again, for the same reasons as yesterday. The diminished number of children had not resulted in diminished noise. As well, the group had offloaded their own private washing machine from one of the vehicles and set it up, out in the open. That had begun being used well before 7am.
The psychology of larger groups in an environment like a campground is interesting – a form of collective bullying of “lesser” campers, the ones who are only in pairs or singles.
Hitching up the van did not go smoothly. We were far enough forward on the front slope of the site that, when the handbrake was let off – which it had to be so that I could guide and wiggle the Treg coupling into its slot on Truck – one van wheel rolled off its levelling block. That wasn’t a problem in itself as the van only moved a short distance, but the jockey wheel also moved – off the base board, and turned itself sideways.
We then had a “discussion” about how much harder it was going to be, then, to get the van on – made worse because I had wanted us to push the van back a bit, off the slope, in the first place. So the one of us who was dogmatic that it was not going to be so hard, got told to do the hitching – and I would do the backing!
Unfortunately, I was not as good as John at holding Truck on the clutch and inching backwards, so in the end he took over the backing again. One of the guys from the family group came over to help push the van around, and all got hitched. I was very grateful to him. But nothing more was said about it being easy! We hadn’t had one of these hitch issues for a long time.
We called in at the pineapple farm on the way past, and stocked up with a couple. John liked to have them for breakfast.
The drive north was very attractive, through the sugar cane areas, with the mountain range to the west becoming higher and sharper.
Ingham was a somewhat bigger town than I had expected. We must have driven through it, in 1998, but I did not remember it.
We took the turn off to Forrest Beach, to have a look at that, in case Taylors Beach – where I’d phoned yesterday to book – wasn’t suitable. We found the beach at Forrest Beach long and lovely. It looked a great beach for walking, and the outlook to the south was excellent.
There was a little village township there – Allingham – with a few shops. The caravan park was part of a hotel-motel complex, but down an access track so somewhat separate. It was small, but looked alright. The amenities were basic, and only fairly clean. The park was just behind the beach dunes. Some of the sites had views to sea, and there was a walk track to the beach. It would certainly have been ok to stay at.
We continued on to Taylors Beach. Did not have to go all the way back into Ingham, but were able to turn off onto a back road to Halifax, at the large Victoria Sugar Mill. Judging from the smoking chimneys, it was working. The road took us through the surrounding Victoria Estate, that contained substantial houses – maybe for mill workers?
The turn off onto the Taylors Beach Road was just before Halifax. The cane farms gave way to bush, swamps and mangroves each side of the road, which made me dubious, but then the scrub opened out and a sizeable village appeared.
We followed signs through the village to the boat ramp, on an inlet, to see what the waterfront was like. It was disappointing. There was no long, open ocean frontage, like at Forrest Beach, but a big tidal inlet. The tide was out, and there were lots of sand bars and a few small, sandy beach areas. The open sea was visible a way to the left of the boat ramp. John reckoned this would be a good place to stay. Whereas I’d had visions of long beach walks, he seemed to suddenly have visions of fishing in the inlet.
The caravan park office was the general store for the village as well. Our powered site cost $27 a night. On the phone, I’d booked for five nights and when checking in was told the site was not available for any longer. So, five days only it would be.
The site was a hard one to back on to, not helped by a narrow internal road partly filled by parked boats and vehicles, due to the sites themselves being quite small.
We adopted our usual van siting procedure – John outside the vehicle, directing me driving. John’s first attempt at directing me onto the site was fine – but we were on the wrong side of the slab! When doing this, I just do as I’m directed, even when I know the directions were wrong – it usually worked well, and saved a lot of recriminations. On the second attempt, it was hard to get lined up at the right angle or distance from the slab, in a narrow space between it and a line of palm trees. It took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Truck could not be angled to a straight line because of the boat and vehicle obstacle occupying half the roadway across from our site. Then, John said to go back, I did – and backed the corner of the van into a palm tree! It turned out he’d only been looking up one side. It put a little dent in the back edge beading. Then, we were too far from the slab edge, so after unhitching we manhandled the van ourselves to get it lined up better.
It was definitely not one of our better van days!
One boundary of the park, behind the sites opposite us, was mangrove scrub, so I was fairly certain we’d have to be alert for sandflies, later in the day.
A reason I’d chosen here – from the information in the promo leaflets – was that this place had a pool. I was hoping for something pleasant-seeming to swim in, like Rollingstone’s had been. But the pool here was a small, concrete edged rectangle, smaller than our pool at home. Whilst clean, it did not really look enticing. So I decided from the outset that this had not been one of my better choices. It was definitely a park for travellers with boats, as well as vans.
But we did have five bar phone coverage, and hence internet.
Set up, had lunch, then John wanted to drive back to Ingham to investigate bowls possibilities.
We drove to Halifax first, since we had to pass close by it anyway. It was a very small place, more of a village really. Drove through its main street, then went back the way we’d come and on towards Ingham.
Saw lots of cane trains working in the area. For most of our outing, we were driving on roads through tall and “flowering” cane.
Occasionally, there were glimpses of the wide and muddy Herbert River, through the scrub beside the road to our right. There was another sugar mill across the river – Macknade – belching smoke.
Drove to the Ingham Information Centre, with its adjacent Tyto Wetlands. It was a very modern and well done Information Centre, with heaps of information about birds, especially the wetland ones. I bought a book about walks in the area north of Townsville, for $20, and picked up lots of information material. A man volunteering at the Centre was also a bowler, and told John there were two clubs in the area. That was one more than John had expected! The one in Ingham played social bowls on Thursday nights, so he decided to investigate that.
The Tyto Wetlands walk looked interesting, but would have to wait for another time when we were wearing more suitable footwear, and when investigating bowls was not so pressing.
Found the bowls club, where John went and put his name down for Thursday night.
Drove back to Halifax, the way we had come in, then across the Herbert River – there was a good view of it from the bridge – to go and investigate the bowls club at MacKnade, which was the other one John had been told of. We meandered all around small roads through cane farms and around the sugar mill area, and eventually found the club, in the most unlikely location of right at the mill. There was no one there, but John went and read the information posted on their notice board.
We had seen a lot of bowls clubs in our travels, but never one sited quite like this one!
Then back to camp.
Tea was Mongolian lamb and rice noodles.
We hadn’t won last night’s $100 million lotto draw – drat!