This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2009 Travels August 12

WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST     FORREST BEACH

It was a sunny and hot day.

We drove into Ingham – getting to know that road really well. It was always interesting checking out what was going on at the Victoria Mill, as we passed – or sat waiting for a cane train to trundle over the crossings.

Empty cane train heading out to a harvest location. Cane trains are long – and slow!

Our cards had finally arrived at the bank.

At Retra Vision, I bought a sandwich press toaster. I hadn’t forgotten! Didn’t know where I was going to store it in the van. Maybe in the little-used oven? We were going to have some experimental – hopefully great – toasted wraps for lunches, now.

John got his watch battery replaced at a jeweller. Ingham is quite well endowed with shops. There was even a Country Target, where I found some cheap, lightweight, loose T shirts – ideal for this weather.

I bought some frozen mackerel at the quite good fish shop, to be Friday’s tea. Did a brief supermarket foray as I had to buy the makings for toasted wraps!

Back in Allingham, collected our forwarded mail from the PO. Friend M’s epistle on her Canning trip was in the bag of mail, so I spent ages reading that – wonderful.

I got out the Road Atlas and worked out that we could stay here until Friday week and still have time for a fairly comfortable trip home – bearing in mind that, once we set off that way, John would go into “hurry home” mode, probably leading to ultra-long travel days. But, I could plan for sanity, and hope it might prevail.

So, off up to the bottle shop again, to extend our stay yet once more. We came here, originally, for three days, which now would turn into a month.

Tea was pork stir fry and udon noodles.

Today was the 70th birthday of one of my closest friends, in Melbourne. We would be missing his very lavish celebration at one of the city’s top establishments, this coming weekend. Sometimes, can’t do it all.

I had an email from daughter, requesting grandma duty for some of the September school holidays.


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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 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 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 1

WEDNESDAY 1 JULY     TAYLORS BEACH

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.

The front of the sugar train……

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. 

….and the rear

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 and boat mooring at Dungeness

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.

Hinchinbrook Island, from Dungeness

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.

Lucinda sugar storage and shipping facility, from fishing jetty

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.

The 5.6km long bulk sugar loading jetty

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.

Opening to the Hinchinbrook Channel

The afternoon light on the water made it very photogenic.

Swimming enclosure, sugar jetty with fishing jetty behind that

There was also a walking path along the Lucinda foreshore, but we didn’t do that.

The Lucinda area and sugar jetty (Google )

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.


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2009 Travels June 30

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.

Looking south – Forrest Beach

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.

Palm Islands from Forrest Beach

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.

Swamps beside the Taylors Beach Road

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.

Inlet at Taylors Beach

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!

On site at Taylors Beach

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.

MacKnade Mill

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!