This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2009 Travels July 16


There was no rush packing up, but we were still away by 10am.

The drive south was uneventful. The crazy drivers with their caravans were all still going north….

I felt like we were getting to know this section of the Bruce Highway quite well….too well.

I’d phoned the Rollingstone Caravan Park again, about 9am. Just my luck to get the less mentally well endowed of the reception staff. She was not helpful. I said I wanted to book a powered site for a week. According to her, all the sites I was interested in (i.e. on the flat) were booked. There was no way, to my mind that all these sites – at least 60 of them – were all booked out, for all the week. What it did mean was that she either couldn’t be bothered – or didn’t know how – to juggle bookings of one or two nights, around, to free up sites. It was not that hard – I knew from experience.

She did offer me a site, which I knew was one of those that sloped quite strongly down to the billabong edge. We’d watched vanners having great difficulty setting up on those sites, where it was almost impossible to get a van level, and very hard to hitch and unhitch. But she didn’t tell me it was a sloping site!

At that point, I gave up. I wondered how much business that particular person had cost the park?

John was not so deterred. He intended to call in there, as we were going past, to see if he could do better in person.

But, at 11am, as we were driving, the Rollingstone park phoned us. They had just got round to checking the answering machine and dealing with messages. Not a great way to do business. It was the dopey one again. I explained that I’d already phoned this morning, having given up waiting for them to respond to messages. I’d given my name, both on the answering machine and this morning, and explained we’d been there a few weeks ago. And so on. Obviously,  she was not good at assimilating information. As we started to go into the whole rigmarole about level sites and availability, again, that was the point at which John gave up on them, too, and  said to forget it.

We pulled into the Woodland Holiday Park, because we were going past, on the off chance they might have a vacancy. I did get a bit embarrassed, rocking up to such places without a prior booking, at this time of the year. But we scored a powered site for a week, just like that.

I asked if we could be sited away from the cabin we’d been near before, and explained why to the receptionist. She seemed very interested to hear about that problem and as if it was new to her. But I couldn’t believe there had been no previous comments from people staying longer than we had been.

Again, our site cost $27 a night on the weekly rate. It was on the other side of the internal road from where we’d been before – nice and large. Maybe not enough shade, but it was alright.

John seemed to have mislaid his knack of directing the backing in easily. A site this big should have been easy, but he had me to-ing and fro-ing a lot before he was satisfied.

After setting up, just relaxed for the rest of the day.

I made salads for tea.

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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!

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2009 Travels June 29


We were woken before 7am by the group members calling between the sites, and by their offspring being noisy. Some of the kids had bike like toys with big plastic wheels that crunched loudly on the gravel on the road in front of us. They were riding up and down from daybreak on, before their parents were up and about.

It was another hot and humid day. Well, humid to us. I doubted whether a North Queenslander would really classify it as such.

The beach in the morning

We had a lazy day. Read, sewed, spent some time on the computer. I had a swim after lunch.

A lot of people left today, as we had expected. That included most of the family/friends group, but there were about five sites of them staying on – the ones closest to us! Our neighbours from home also left today.

This place had been very nice, before the long weekend, but I was over it now.

We had our private happy hour over on the grass again, watching the sea and the dusk coming down. Lovely.

Beach at dusk

Tea was cold corned beef, mash and salad.

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2009 Travels June 28


It was another noisy morning and early wake up. Grit teeth and endure!

After breakfast, we set out to go driving.

Our first stop was Big Crystal Creek and Paradise Waterhole, to the north of Rollingstone. I had been looking forward to seeing this place, given how lovely Little Crystal Creek had been. But it was nothing special.

Big Cystal Creek and Paradise Waterhole

There was a pleasant enough campground there. Two sizeable water pipe lines came down along the creek valley – presumably something to do with Townsville’s water supply?

From there, continued north along the Bruce Highway, to the Frosty Mango, a roadside stop designed to pull in the passing tourist traffic. It sold food as well as bottled sauces, and the mango ice cream that we had gone there for. But this treat that we had really been anticipating was very bland and disappointing and really did not taste at all of mango. I wouldn’t bother going back there again.

At that point, I couldn’t think of anything else to do in the near area, so we drove back to camp and ate our packed picnic sandwiches there!

I did not have a swim this afternoon. The noisy kid swarms had discovered the pool after all!

It was quite hot and humid, so we retreated to the van, with the air con on.

I spent some time writing up a long blog entry on the big Warrumbungles walk we’d done, then somehow hit the wrong button – and lost the lot. I was mightily annoyed, put politely! John was convinced he could retrieve the work and had a fiddle around, but couldn’t. All very disheartening.

John got talking to our neighbour and discovered they hailed from the next suburb to us. They told me they had visited Adels Grove in 2003, and remembered me checking them in! They were on their way to Cairns for a couple of months. We had happy hour with them.

Before the long weekend……

I boiled corned silverside, for tea – in the electric frypan, outside the van. That worked well and the meat was very nice, with carrots, beans and mash.

The “compound” group, which had expanded yesterday to include later comers on other sites near us as well, were quite noisy this night, until about midnight. I predicted quite a few sore heads in the morning, and kids sent away early to free range.

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2009 Travels June 27


No sleep in this morning – much noise, early, from the surrounding kids and families.

I walked up and fetched the paper, then read it for a while.

Cloud light at Rollingstone

I peeled over a kilo of cooked tiger prawns and packaged them up for the freezebox. Not an enjoyable chore – one has to really love prawns, to do it!

John went off to bowls at Mystic Park again, after an early lunch.

I spent some time on the computer, and then went for a swim. Although there were kids everywhere, there were very few in the pool. I guess it was too cold for the locals!

John’s bowls were ok, he said.

Rollingstone site

I peeled the remaining prawns and made garlic prawns, with rice, for tea.

We watched Saturday night TV. AFL football featured.

The place did quieten down after 10pm. I was very pleasantly surprised by this – had expected the parent drinking sessions to continue on later.

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2009 Travels June 26


For once, managed a sleep in – till 9am.

After breakfast, we set out for Townsville. There, did a grocery shop at Castletown. I also bought some new thongs because one of mine had broken, and some postcards. We fuelled up Truck. Had a Subway lunch – a treat John had been really looking forward to. Went across to our favourite fish sales place and bought three lots of barra and 2kg of prawns. I was happy that the 10% discount reduced the cost of that lot, somewhat.

Those chores completed, on the way back out of town, called in at the place that had repaired Truck, because John had been checking the bank accounts and realized that his internet payment for the repairs had not gone through. We had to wait some time for the guy to get back “from town”, then he and John sorted out the payment. The guy agreed to do a major service on Truck, if we were up this way again next year, which, at this stage, we were kind of planning to be.

That place was amazing – literally acres of (mostly) dead Landrovers, of all vintages.

Thus, back to Rollingstone. The day was cloudy and that cloud was low enough to be down over the ranges to the west. But it was still hot.

Cloud formations in this part of the country were often unusual….

After putting everything away, I went for a swim.

We then took our chairs across to the lawn area at the back of the beach and had happy hour, looking out over the sea. Very serene and pretty.

The park was filling up fast. It was the Townsville Show public holiday on Monday, so a long weekend for locals. We had a neighbor, for the first time. He had been staying a couple of sites further away, but decided to extend his stay and they told him he had to move.

In my daily trips to Reception for my papers, I had noticed that some of the staff seemed very tentative with the new computerized booking system. I didn’t think they were managing it very well – or were able to think laterally where juggling bookings was concerned. I was not sure how well these computerized systems were able to move campers around to maximize the use of sites. I’d had lots and lots of practice at that in my working seasons at Adels Grove! But we did it the old fashioned way, with lead pencil and eraser! And plenty of scraps of paper to play around with moves on. More advanced technology may not always be better…..

There were now lots of little kids around, on bikes and scooters and being noisy. We appeared to have a “compound” of family and friends on the sites across from us, now. I was glad they weren’t next door to us – at least our nearest neighbors were olds, like us.

Tea was fries and barra in beer batter – yum.

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2009 Travels June 25


It was another basically clear day.

John settled in, after breakfast, to install Access on his laptop. He also decided to install it on mine – just in case I might want it one day – and ran into strife, probably due to the accumulation on it of old programs and bits left from the time of dial-up internet. After all, it dated back quite a way, having been his, before being superceded by his latest one.

Eventually, he had to phone Telstra for help and after a bit of frustrating redirection, managed to find an operative who helped him to get it to work, I must say that John usually got, with some persistence, really good help from that company. I reckon their file on him might be interesting, though!

I did a load of washing while all that was happening.

After an early lunch, John went off to bowls at Mystic Park. I defrosted the fridge, made some soup, spent time on the computer, had a swim in the pool.

Google image of Rollingstone Caravan Park, showing the lagoons, with camping area between them and the ocean

I had some discussion with a neighbour about places to visit, further north, and checked out various options from my books and information leaflets. I thought Taylors Beach might be our next stop – the “beach” part sounded promising, and it had a pool. Nearby Forrest Beach, which had also been recommended, did not. According to the neighbour, Lucinda, also in that area, had a big and popular caravan park, but was very much geared to the boating and fishing fraternity.

John reported that the bowls was “just ok” but with no further explanation.

Soup for tea.


2009 Travels June 24


Weather-wise, a good clear day.

We left the park about 10am, for a sightseeing day. But first, to the PO – and the parcel was finally there!

Took the Mt Spec Road, that climbs up the range to the village of Paluma.

Stopped first at Little Crystal Creek ,where a lovely old arched bridge carried the road over the creek.

The bridge was built in the 1930’s. It seemed too grand for the location, but was picturesque in its rainforest setting.

Little Crystal Creek bridge

The creek there was a series of small waterfalls and rock pools.

Cascades at Little Crystal Creek bridge

We spent about an hour, rock hopping up and down the creek.

It was a lovely spot and would have been quite worthwhile as an outing destination all by itself. But we were headed further afield.

The 11kms of road from Little Crystal Creek up to Paluma was the stuff of my nightmares. It was narrow – barely wide enough for two vehicles, in most parts. It was steep, and had long, vertical drops, right off the road verge, mostly with no guard rails at all. There was no shortage of right-angles and hairpin bends. Also, a sign warned of possible rock falls. It had the lot!

Right behind the sign was a vertical drop…..

At one point, we encountered a Campbells Coaches bus, coming the other way and we both slowed and squeezed past. He was on the side with the steep drop, at least we had a rock wall beside us. I wouldn’t want to be a bus driver on that road. Hell – I didn’t even want to be in our car on that road! There was also someone towing a fair-sized caravan down the mountain, and a couple of camper trailer rigs. I was really surprised that towing anything on that road was allowed.

Not much wiggle room….

As we climbed, there were some spectacular views across the coastal plains to the ocean.

I was very relieved when we reached the top of the range and there began to be solid ground on both sides of the road again. But, at the back of my mind was the thought that what goes up…….and down was the side with the abyss beside it. I had already quietly consulted the Road Atlas to see if there was an alternative route. Without taking unsealed minor back roads and a detour of a couple of hundred kms, there wasn’t!

We turned off the Mt Spec Road just before Paluma village to go to McClellands Lookout, at the top of the range. It was a pleasant place, with great views out over the coastal plains to the ocean. It was a bit hazy, though.

Distant ocean and islands seen from McClellands Lookout

Unfortunately, the beauty of the place was marred by three Ugly Yank backpacker types, who were sitting in the middle of the grassed picnic area. This was not large enough for us to get far enough away from them and the loud and raucous music they were playing on a portable player, which drowned out the plentiful bird noises. Still, it provided an interesting behavioural study for us, as we ate our sandwiches. There was one man and two females – all in their 20’s. The two females were notably overweight and – to me – very unattractive – but both very much in competition for his interest. One of the girls was particularly loud and raucous and her “conversation” incredibly vacuous – and we could hear it all, too clearly. For all the notice they took of the beautiful surroundings, and the views, they might as well have been lunching in the centre of Townsville!

We were also amused by the antics of a couple of “bush chookies” – our term for scrub turkeys. Much more attractive than our human company.

Coastal plain and interesting cloud line

On in Truck, to Paluma village. John spotted a sign “Pottery”, so detoured up to it, despite my warning that it was dangerous to take me near a pottery. All I can say is that I didn’t spend as much as I would have liked to.

Len Cook, the potter, had an impressive exhibiting and collections resume. His wall plaques were of particular note. He used an anagama  oven to achieve some very unusual glazed effects. He and John talked pottery kilns and wood fired pizza ovens for a while. That gave me time to browse the items for sale. I decided it was an absolute must to buy one of the unique wall plaques, that had designs on them inspired by the Great Barrier Reef environment. The one I chose had a coral-like pattern on it. A highly glazed small blue vase, with a pattern of small birds in flight, just jumped out at me, too.

Barrier Reef inspired wall plaque I bought at Paluma pottery

The rainforest environment around the pottery was superb, with much bird life. Len put some banana pieces  in tree forks and we watched birds come in for a feed on them – Satin Bowerbird, catbird, honeyeaters. There was a bower in his garden; this one had a collection of blue items.

After rather reluctantly leaving the pottery, with our treasures, we drove on through the village, which was really just a small collection of older cottage style houses, and a couple of community facilities. We debated whether to drive on another 12kms or so, to have a look at Lake Paluma and its camping area, but decided that – as there was no way we would venture up here with the van – there was not much point. We would be better served by going walking.

The Rainforest Walk appealed – it started in the village and was only about 650kms loop.

It was very dim in there and definitely rainforest.

Very dim on the Rainforest Walk

Apparently Paluma, at 1000 metres,  is the highest altitude rainforest village in Australia. Len had told us that it was really damp up there in the wet season. I could certainly imagine it being in the clouds for extended periods.

Rainforest aerial tree roots
The Rainforest Walk track

Then it was time to face the descent to sea level. I did not enjoy the drive down the mountain, at all. The vertiginous drops were on my side – very close on my side! There was, mostly, not even a flimsy rail at the edge. It was very high on the short list of the scariest rides I’d ever had. Being on the outside of the road, I kept fearing we’d meet someone taking a corner too wide, coming the other way. But of course,  obviously, we made it down.

I loved Paluma and would really like to explore around up there some more, but was very doubtful I could do that road again. Not even for more of Len’s pottery. The road aside, it was an excellent day’s outing.

I made a squid based stir fry, with rice, for tea. More of the produce from the Townsville fish co-op shop, that I’d frozen.

John had to phone our house sitters, after tea, about something or other. They had lived for many years in Townsville and told him that fatal accidents involving the drops along that Mt Spec Road were fairly common!

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2009 Travels June 23


It was a fine day. The islands out in Halifax Bay appeared hazy, but maybe that was normal, here.

After breakfast, drove to Rollingstone PO again. Still no parcel.

From there, explored three pockets of housing development along and off the Balgal Beach Road, which went to the coast, south of the Rollingstone hamlet. Each pocket of housing was separated by little creeks, swampy areas and mangroves.

First of all, there was Mystic Sands, where John already knew there was a bowls club. No getting away from them, was there? Of course, he had to call in there, and booked himself in for a game on Thursday, and maybe another at the weekend.

Balgal Beach itself was in two clusters, one part way along from Mystic Sands, and the other lot where the road ended at a sizeable creek. This was where the Fishermans Landing was, and the well-known free camping area, where there was, supposedly, a 48 hour stay limit.

Inlet at Balgal Beach

We spent some time having a good look around the free camp area. The camp area was incredibly crowded. In several instances, gensets were going less than a metre from the next rig. New arrivals cruised round, looking in vain for a space. I suspected one had to be here very early, and be lucky. There were not many free camping areas to be found along the coast, that were right by beaches and a fishing creek, hence the popularity of this one. But it would be far too squeezy and unregulated for me. And, given the mangroves around the inlet creek, probably too many sandflies too.

Sandfly territory – and maybe snappy critters too….

There were a number of rigs parked along the Esplanade that led to the free camp area. It was hard to tell if they were there for a short visit, like us, or hoping to stay there overnight, despite the signs banning camping along there. I suspected some of the home owners of the houses along the Esplanade might be rather disgruntled by the rigs getting in the way of their lovely ocean views! 

The signs at the camp area – and at Bushy Parker camp area – state the 48 hour stay limit, and also that there was only one such stay per week – but I wondered to what extent this was enforced? Certainly, some of the set-ups in this free camp area looked to have been there longer than just two days.

The store at the Fishermans Landing was very busy doing its take away trade. The fish and chips looked very tempting – but the battered fish was listed at $8.50 a piece!

Having now seen Balgal Beach, I was pleased we were in our more expensive caravan park. Much less crowded. No generators chugging away right under our windows. Much less dust. Safe swimming. Worth the money!

The road from the highway to the park passed by a pineapple farm. I’d never really thought about how pineapples grew on their plants – if pressed, I’d have said in clumps, up the tree, like bananas. So I was really surprised the first time I saw the fruits standing up on the end of stalks, on low plants. The farm had roadside sales, so we stopped in and bought a pineapple.

Pineapples growing

After lunch I went for a swim in the pool. Around 2pm was seeming like it got me in ahead of most other people, so it was a very tranquil swim and laze about under the waterfall. I couldn’t interest the other half, though – computer games were much more his thing.

After the swim, I sat outside the van and sewed. It was really quite a tranquil place, for a caravan park.

The campground water supply was off, intermittently, from mid afternoon, until after dark. There had been a warning notice posted, saying “Water off from 3am to 12pm” – hmmmm…..not much help.

I cooked BBQ lamb chops for tea, in the electric frypan. They were extremely tough. I had expected better from the Emerald butcher.

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2009 Travels June 22


It was a cloudy day.

We had to do the full pack up this morning. Left about 9.30am.

I had thought The Lakes was fine for our purposes, nice and central, but John said he wouldn’t want to stay there again. He couldn’t really give a reason why, just “a feeling”. That was the third park we’d stayed at in this town. The first, behind a roadhouse on the southern edge, back in 1998, didn’t really draw us back. The second, Rowe’s Bay, I liked for its closeness to beach walking and the Strand, but it was rather too much backpacker inhabited. As we were heading north, saw a Big 4 park on the outskirts that looked alright, as we passed. Filed that one away for future reference, should we need it.

The drive to Rollingstone was very pleasant. There was a mix of the scrubby woodland native to this area, and farmland. The ranges off to the west added interest. The railway paralleled the highway, at times; there was always variety in looking out for trains.

View to the west from the highway

As soon as we turned off the highway onto the road to the caravan park, we had to cross the railway line. We were held up there, by workers installing flashing lights on the crossing. A good idea, given the volume of traffic to the park, as well as the farms and houses along the road, and the fact that – with the crossing straight after a turn one way and a big bend the other, it wasn’t easy to see trains coming.

The Rollingstone Beach Caravan park was at the end of the road, with an impressive entrance. That augured well for its standard.

I paid $31.50, after discount, for a powered site. While we were at Reception I was able to order the newspapers for the whole week. Pleasing, as there were no nearby shops.

It was an unusually laid out park. Between the office and the sites there was a large lagoon complex, and then the sites and cabins were between the lagoons and the sea. I wondered if it had been a fish farm, in another life? It was very well groomed, with lovely green lawns. The lagoon ponds were aerated and had milk fish and barra in them – lots of quite big fish. I actually wondered if they’d ever had a crocodile wander up from the sea to chance its luck in the lagoons?

Our site was fairly small, but we considered ourselves lucky to get one at all, with the long weekend for the Townsville Show coming up. There was a walkway alongside our site, which made the neighbour on that side a bit further away. From our outside area, down the access road in front, we could see the sea and distant islands.

The beach was nothing special, but at least there was one. But there were mangroves not too far away, and definitely there were midges!

Halifax Bay, from the beach at Rollingstone

After setting up, we drove back to the highway, and south again for a couple of kms, to the Rollingstone township – really just a hamlet. John had directed that his computer update parcel be sent here, but it had not yet arrived.

Nearby was the Bushy Parker free camp area. It looked a large and pleasant parkland type area; there were not very many campers there.

After lunch, I couldn’t resist sampling the superb, resort lagoon style pool. It was huge, with a waterfall at one end. The water was cold, but pleasant. I envisaged regular returns to the pool.

There was quite a spectacular build up of clouds over the nearby range.

We went for a walk along the beach towards the north. The tide was out, so it was a bit smelly. Once away from the groomed frontage of the caravan park, the beach was backed by scrub, some swamps; there were little creeks and places where the mangroves came right to the water. We could see some houses set in the scrub – acreage beach front blocks had driveways off the road we came along to the park. The houses mostly seemed pretty shack like. The beach area along there seemed rather “croccy” to me. Later, we were told that a croc had been known to nest in the mangrove and scrub area along there.

For tea, I cooked potatoes in foil in the electric frypan, with the lid on, for a while, then opened it up and cooked steaks and tomatoes in there too. A good meal.