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!
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After lunch, walked Couey on the beach, as far as the Cassady Beach houses.
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!
The day was windy, and cool. Not really tropical at all.
There was an interesting light on the sea, through cloud, and I took some photos. It occurred to me that watching the changing moods of the view across to the Orpheus and Palm Island groups could be quite intriguing…….the different moods of Forrest Beach.
I walked to the newsagent, taking Couey with me. It was probably a bit under a km each way. Ordered the Saturday papers to be kept for me. Couey was not happy about being tethered to a pole while I went in the shop – will have to do some work on that.
After John got going and breakfasted, we drove into Ingham and went to the Information Centre, where I picked up some material about the area. The Centre was at the Tyto Wetlands, which were quite extensive. Last time here, we did the walks around the lagoon and bird-spotted. I’d have liked, today, to walk the paths closer to the Centre, but that was not possible with dog, and she’d have howled blue murder if we’d tried to walk off without her.
At the fresh seafood outlet, across the road from the Centre, bought prawns, threadfin salmon – my favourite – and some frozen whiting, for John.
He dropped me off at the supermarket to go do some food shopping, whilst he went off to buy some hair clippers. These would live permanently in Bus – just one less thing he would have to try to remember to pack for future trips.
We had to get petrol for Terios, then had to wait for ages to get back out onto the highway. A long cane train had trundled over the highway crossing and caused a really long back up of traffic. Seasonal hazard of these parts.
At the Victoria Mill, some liquid was being sprayed onto an adjacent paddock area. I supposed it was waste water from cane processing, in some form.
Spent the afternoon round camp.
I peeled all the prawns I’d bought, before putting them away – reduced the bulk, for storage.
I cut John’s hair with his new clippers. There is no art to that. It is more akin to hedge clipping than hair dressing!
It was too windy to sit outside for long.
I put up the solar screens on the front and side windows at the front of Bus – in the hope that it might get warm enough for us to need sun protection!
John took Couey for a walk on the beach – her first. He reported back that she seemed to like the sand, but stayed well away from the water. I was pleased to hear that – really didn’t want to have to deal with wet and sandy dog!
John drove to the take away to get tea: chips, potato cakes, fish for him. I cooked some threadfin salmon for me and had some chips. He found the fish batter pleasantly crisp, but also very fatty. His fish – mackerel – was not great. He decided to have home cooked fish, too, next week, and maybe only buy chips. With age, we have both lost our tolerance for greasy foods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.