This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels August 9


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

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

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

Cane railway – really narrow gauge

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

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

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

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

Young sugar cane growing

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend crowd on the beach…

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

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

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2013 Travels August 1


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

Had the usual sort of morning, pottering about camp.

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

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

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

Just about the perfect beach…

Chicken sausages and potato for tea.

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2009 Travels August 13 to 20


THURSDAY: Sunny and hot again today.

I went for my longest walk yet, along the beach, to well beyond the Cassady Beach settlement.

Cassady Beach settlement

Spent some time on the computer too. The Share Market Game was interesting and I was pleased with my “earnings” to date, but suspected it would go into abeyance once we were moving on each day.

John went early to bowls, taking our new acquaintance with him. Irish N had been living in a tent, a few sites away from us, for over a week now. Her daughter and son in law were on a site opposite her, in a van, and with three dogs. They were building a house in the village – had moved up here from Brisbane, for work. The house finishing was running late, hence the move into the park. N would have a flat as part of the house, when it was finished. We’d spent quite a bit of time chatting with her, over recent days – good company.

N’s tent a couple of sites away from us

N had expressed an interest in learning bowls, to John, and that was all the encouragement he needed.

On return, she said she had a good time at Macknade and would be keen to go again.

Chow mein for tea.

FRIDAY: had a long walk on the beach. Reading, sewing, some computer time.

I cooked the mackerel in beer batter, for tea, while John went and got chips from the take away.

The weather was definitely getting hotter – almost 30 degrees each day. The skies were now clear, so it was a bit cooler and easier to sleep, at night. We even occasionally needed the doona for a couple of hours.

With no wind at all, this week, the mozzies had gotten bad in the late afternoons.

SATURDAY: as usual, walked to the shop for the paper.

We left for Macknade bowls at 11.45. It was a Memorial Day match. I played lead, which I always tried to avoid, as my delivery of the little white jack was erratic, to be kind about it. Forget accurate length and line, it was lucky to stay on the designated rink!

John played second, about which he was not happy, preferring more of the action as third or skip. We both played average games. My team won one game, drew one game – and that was against John’s team!

Macknade Bowls Club with cane train in background

John suggested we go back via Ingham and buy pizza for tea, which we did – at Dominos. It was not particularly nice.

SUNDAY: usual sort of day for me.

John went to bowls for the afternoon, and took N too.

I made ratatouille for tea. John was not impressed – vegetables!

MONDAY: much the same as yesterday, except John joined me on the beach walk, and didn’t go bowling!

Sausages for tea – much more approval…..

TUESDAY: we drove to Ingham to do a final stock up of things we’d need for the run south. John bought some car cleaning materials.

Victoria Mill

We went for a good long walk along the beach, as far as the creek mouth to the south. As the creek nears the beach, it turns and runs behind it for a way, before eventually emptying  across the beach. So there was a stretch of low dunes between beach and creek, for maybe a couple of hundred metres. I reckoned it was a certainty that there would be a croc in the creek inlet.

I had an email from our Griffith friends, who we’d been planning on stopping to visit. They would be away when we were passing through. That would give us an extra day or two to play with.

The ladies’ amenities were closed all day, due to a carpenter fixing a big hole in the ceiling lining, that had been there ever since we’d been here. We had to wander up to the hotel toilets, when necessary – quite a distance. But at least the facility was open for use again, once the workman had departed for the night.

Closed ladies amenities

Rissoles for tea.

WEDNESDAY: the amenities  were closed again, all morning. That carpenter must be a slow worker – it was only one panel, not the whole bloody ceiling! There was also an electrician working in there. I supposed it was an encouraging sign that some repair work was being done.

Now – if they wanted a list of suggestions for further works, I reckoned I could fill a good sized page!

We cleaned the van, the Truck, the underside of the awning roof, and under the overhanging edges of the poptop roof. That cleaning orgy took hours, but the rig looked good. Once we got home again, a thorough clean would be needed to get rid of salt residue from the time by the sea.

Tea was a prawn Caesar salad. The prawns were very tough.

THURSDAY: I did two loads of washing.

John went to a final bowls session, in the afternoon, at Macknade.

I went for a final walk along the beach. I would really miss this daily outing along the sand.

We had actually managed four whole weeks here, without having to dash back to Townsville for repairs to something! I wondered how we would get on, going home?

When John got back, we took down the awning and packed it away.

Tea was tinned mushroom soup and leftover salads.

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2009 Travels August 7 to 11


FRIDAY: another day spent doing not very much at camp.

It was rather cloudy.

We walked. John tried to catch some fish again, without success.

I did some playing around with the Sharemarket Game.

We walked around the park, assessing the various sites, for a return visit. Decided that Site 26 was the best, followed by Sites 27 to 29.

Our Forrest Beach site

Bought fish and chips for tea, from the local take away. They were too greasy.

SATURDAY: I walked to the shop for the paper.

As John was about to depart for bowls, after an early lunch, we took a call from someone from Macknade Bowls Club to say we had places in the special event day tomorrow. First I’d even heard of it! John had taken the liberty….. That meant I had to get makings from the Spar so that I could take the  five rounds of sandwiches that – it had been explained – were mandatory. That meant another walk to the shops. The Spar was able to provide what would be needed for some rounds of curried egg and lettuce, and one each of ham and chutney, and cheese and celery. I’d been thinking smoked salmon and cream cheese, but nup….nothing fancy stocked there.

I defrosted the fridge. Walked along the beach. An active day!

Roasted a chook for tea, with roast vegies too. In the electric frypan, on the little outside table, of course.

SUNDAY: off to bowls at Macknade, after an early sandwich making session.

In shades of the match we’d played in Townsville, it was the annual Queenslanders Vs Southerners match up. John had put us down as emergencies, without telling me, and a couple had pulled out yesterday.

Waiting in the background while the green was readied at Macknade

We played in separate teams, me as second, John as third in his. We both ended up happy with the way we played – not embarrassed, for once. My team won the best second game; I collected $20 for that. John’s team was over all runners-up and he received $35. So the kitty got a boost today.

The sandwiches had been for lunch. A BBQ tea was put on at the end of the day – bread, onions, sausages, patties.

John put our names down for the Memorial Day bowls next weekend. So I found out that way, that we would be extending our stay, again.

We drove back in the dark. The Victoria Mill was all lit up – very pretty and dramatic.

MONDAY: I did the washing. The laundry here was very run down, but the one washing machine did work. There were old-fashioned clothes lines in a couple of random seeming locations – possibly a legacy from the time of the permanent dwellers.

Walked on the beach. Read. Had some computer time.

Just a very pleasant day in an almost idyllic place.

Today was our 18th wedding anniversary. Big special celebrations are not really “us”. We just toasted ourselves with a glass of wine over our cold chook and salad dinner.

 TUESDAY: a similar day to yesterday – walking, reading, computer time.

I extended our booking to next Monday.

There was enough of the roast chook left for John’s tea, with salads; I had a little tin of tuna with mine.

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2009 Travels August 1 to 5


SATURDAY was a quiet and relaxing day.

I walked to the shops for the paper. Read that. We walked on the beach. I made salads for tea.

With the very windy weather easing off, the sea was not quite as rough as when we arrived here.

I was now noticing regular “tinny” boat traffic, from Palm Island in the distance, to the beach here. The boats came into the shallows, the indigenous occupants – one or more – would stick a bit of an anchor into the sand, or tie a rope around a chunk of breeze block lying on the sand. Clearly, those had been put there for the purpose. They would then disappear up to the hotel. After some time, they would re-appear, carrying boxes of beer and sometimes cartons of who knew what. They would then motor off back into the distance, across to the island.

I had been under the impression that Palm Island was “dry”, but maybe I was mistaken. The island communities had a lot of issues, the place had a dubious reputation and was sometimes compared to Doomadgee and similar.

The sea was still quite rough, at times, but that mostly did not deter the regular traffic. We counted four separate boats arrive today. Good extra business for the hotel!

Palm Islands from Forrest Beach

SUNDAY: was another windy day.

After an early lunch, we drove across to Macknade Mill, to bowls.

This was such a unique setting for a bowls club!

Bowls Club at Macknade Mill

I kept being distracted by the cane trains clunking by, not very far away at all, and by watching the shunting activity of these at the mill. The mill itself was not too noisy – just kind of faded into the background. We have bowled in some out of the way and unusual places, but this one really took the award!

I played alright. John was not really happy with his game. Nothing new there!

Tea was sausages, fries, egg.

MONDAY: another windy day.

We relaxed at camp; it is that sort of laid back place where sitting about doing not much is perfectly respectable, even expected.

Went for a walk along the beach. Our beach walks were usually about 5kms, sometimes more, sometimes a bit less. But a decent exercise. Our preference was becoming to walk to the south, because that way we did not go past the more frequented (slightly) of the village foreshore. But either way, there were lovely long sandy expanses.

Yesterday, the pseudo-schooling lady across the way told us that she had been hired by management to clean the ablutions block, once a day. Since we had been here, the cleaning of same had been erratic. It didn’t happen at all on weekends, and not every week day either. So, to have someone supposed to do it every day, should be an improvement. Nothing short of a major refurbishment would change the tired, worn out and broken things – chipped cement, broken tiles and the like – but it would be an improvement to know the place was cleaner, at least.

She started today, and did a good job. It was not possible to get off the ingrained staining and wear, from time and the tropics, but we could be more confident now, that the surfaces were reasonably hygienic.

Garlic prawns for tea.

TUESDAY: was still windy. Guess it was that time of year on the north east coast.

Another day of relaxing: reading, sewing, computer use, beach walk. Wished it could go on longer, and become our way of life again….

Outlook from the front of our site – the beach was not far away….

Had an email from the former boss in my main career. He had been working on Groote Island, in the NT, doing community safety audits. Well, that was something new for him. He had really fetched up in some unusual places since his “retirement”, most of them to do with indigenous education and welfare, in some way, or environmental issues.

Tea was pasta with chili, smoked cheese, garlic crumbs. It was different using smoked cheese, which the original recipe called for, instead of the tasty cheese I usually resorted to. Yummy.

WEDNESDAY: a fine day with a bit less wind.

John went to bowls in the afternoon.

I walked on the beach, did my usual leisure activities. Started playing the Share Market Game, run by the ASX, twice a year. So that provided some mental exercise for the day.

Tea was salads and tinned red salmon.

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2009 Travels July 25


John set the alarm for early, just in case the bowls club phoned, needing him, but he didn’t get up when it went off. However it woke me beyond the point of getting back to sleep, so I got up. There was no call. John did not sleep in too late.

Blue sky and sunshine, though there was still quite a wind, and the sea was choppy.

We  walked to the village shops – maybe a km away? The newsagency/post office was comprehensively stocked. I bought the newspaper and couldn’t resist a three paperbacks for $5 each, deal.

At the Spar supermarket, John bought bait.

Forrest Beach localities

After lunch, we walked along the beach for a while, southwards. The tide was low-ish, which meant there was a very wide expanse of exposed sand. Apparently there was a considerable height difference between high and low tide, here.

Forrest Beach – view south

There was great firm walking on the wet sand. The outlooks along the beach, north and south, coming and going, were very pretty, and there were the offshore Palm Islands group to look at, too. We could walk in the shallows left in dips in the sand, if we felt like a paddle.

I decided this place was well worth staying at, just for the beach walking – I was hooked!

John got his fishing gear unpacked and ready to use. He phoned Macknade Bowls Club and booked himself in for a game tomorrow.

We decided we’d stay on here for at least another week, if it was possible.

Tea was sticky pork ribs and rice – rather a favourite of ours.

The night was not as windy, it was pleasantly mild and we went to sleep to the background sea noise.

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2009 Travels June 30


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!