This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels August 31


Pulled out of the Black River Stadium camp just before 9am.

Both the GPS and I managed to miss the turn off onto the Townsville Ring Road, so we had to find a place on the highway to do a U-ey, in Saturday morning traffic. Driver was not happy. I reckoned the signage, coming from the north, had not been clear – that was my excuse, anyway. For the GPS there was no excuse!

We refuelled at the very convenient Woolworths servo at the big roundabout. $1.529 cpl. Found the way out again, first try, this time.

It was a hot day, making travel uncomfortable.

There were roadworks at regular intervals south of Townsville, and we spent a lot of time waiting in traffic queues. Seemed we hardly got up to speed after each stop, before we were pulled up again.

Will Bruce Highway roadworks ever be finished?

Unfortunately, these hold-ups started virtually on the Townsville outskirts, coinciding with the Driver’s urgent needs for “comfort” stops, every ten minutes or so, for the first hour or thereabouts of travel. The usual pull ups beside the road so he could exit Bus were not possible in the lines of traffic. So, while we were stopped, and the matter was becoming urgent, I went back to the kitchen area  and found an empty plastic jar – with lid! Served the purpose…. Being higher than the surrounding traffic had more than one benefit…

The section between Townsville and Ayr was definitely the worst for roadworks that we had encountered on the Bruce.

Passed the NAP mango packing shed at Giru, where we’d worked for six weeks, back in 2002, me packing mangoes and John on the sorting tables. We used to drive out every day from the caravan park in Ayr, so that section of road was familiar.

Crossed the Burdekin River on the dramatic steel girdered bridge. Looking at the small stream below, it was hard to credit that this bridge has at times been inundated by the river.

Unusual bridge structure across the Burdekin River
On the Burdekin bridge

The Inkerman Sugar Mill was just south of the river. I looked at sugar mills differently since our sojourns at Forrest Beach. Inkerman was dull, compared to the Victoria Mill complex.

Stopped at the Guthalungra Rest Area for a leg stretch and a little walk around for Couey. This was a pleasant, well set up U shaped road beside the highway, with toilets. There were several rigs there that looked as if they were already set up for the coming night – and it wasn’t even lunch time. I reckon it might have become pretty crowded later.

Now that he was feeling a bit better, John had, this morning, agreed that we could continue along the coast, and slow down a bit, rather than take the faster inland way home from Townsville. I suggested that we stay at Airlie Beach, which we hadn’t visited since 1998, and which we’d really liked then. I was able to phone and book into the park we’d stayed at then.

We turned off the highway before Proserpine, and took a pleasant short cut, on back roads, through to the Airlie Beach road.

The back way to Airlie Beach

We couldn’t believe how much the town and surrounding area had changed in the intervening years. In 1998, Airlie Beach was a busy little backpackers’ mecca, but still more village than anything else. Now sprawling suburbia had spread back out through Cannonvale and towards Proserpine. In Cannonvale, we passed a shopping complex and a Bunnings – always an ominous sign of development, as was the multi-lane road.

There used to be a spot on the road into Airlie Beach where one crested a rise and the superb vista of the sea and islands suddenly appeared – it was a real “wow” spot. That had gone now, with changed roads and harbour redevelopment – a pity.

Airlie Beach itself was now dominated by multi-storied buildings that spread up the once-wooded hillsides. The backpackers were still evident, and tourists, just lots and lots more of them.

Roadworks were happening, to change the centre of the town and, combined with re-routing due to a fun run, the jumble of signs and barriers was really confusing. There was traffic going every which way. We missed the detour we should have taken, and finished up driving along a very narrow road through the shops area and, I suspected from the strange looks we received, going the wrong way along a one-way stretch.

Our chosen park – the Airlie Cove Tourist Park – was through the town centre, on the road to Shute Harbour. The park was now more developed and up-market, but still with lots of lovely lush, green gardens and trees. We were allocated a very private, pleasant en-suite site, towards the back of the park, for $46.80  a night, after Big 4 discount. Tourism had definitely moved Airlie Beach prices into the big league!

We were given a sticker to put on the rig, to show we “belonged”. The receptionist said they had problems with backpackers sneaking in and staying without paying. I wondered why they hadn’t just installed some sort of boom gate like some other parks have.

I’d committed the cardinal sin – yet again – when phoning ahead to book, of neglecting to ask whether there was good TV reception and internet. In the dog house again… kind of literally! John was offered a cable to connect us to a TV signal. When we were set up, the cable had to come inside through one of the front windows – along with assorted insects, mostly of the biting variety.

After setting up, took the car and did a brief food shop, because the driver had decided he wanted home made hamburgers for tea. He also checked out the bowls club and arranged to play tomorrow.

Just after dark, I took Couey for a walk along the internal road inside the park perimeter – on her lead, of course. I noticed a Britz hire van parked a little way along the road opposite us, where there were some grassed unpowered sites. As we came back, there was a couple using the nearby camp kitchen – sounded like it was German they were speaking. I assumed they were from the unpowered site and thought no more about it.

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2013 Travels August 30


We were up early, as it was moving on day. However, a major change of plans ensued.

John had worried, through the night, about the way his lungs felt, and by morning was feeling really insecure about going further north. He wanted to point towards home, and cover some distance, just in case there really was something amiss. It was probably one of the occasional anxiety attacks he’d always been prone to, but with the health issues of the past three years he needed to be humoured.

I phoned the caravan park in Cairns to cancel our booking. They were very understanding.

This meant we would also miss staying at Paronella Park, where I’d intended we would stay, on our eventual way south again. Another place we had never visited. Drat.

The drive southwards was uneventful – unless one counts the seemingly permanent roadworks on the Bruce Highway. The day was hot. I wondered if it was possible to have air-con retro fitted to a slightly elderly Coaster, for when we were driving in the heat? Must investigate that.

Going south again

John decided he’d feel happier if we reached Townsville today, which we did in good time.

There were not many options for travellers with dogs around Townsville, so I thought we’d try the Black River Stadium, to the north of the city. I had read favourable reports of it as a stopping place. We obtained a powered site in their pet section, for which we paid $25.

 The place’s origins as a horse/rodeo grounds establishment were evidenced by the buildings and yards about the site, but it seemed to no longer be used for horse sports. The amenities were in Atco structures, but were clean and tidy. There was a very large and comfortable camp kitchen and sitting area.

Black Water Stadium

I liked the large, fenced, dog run – great idea.

The caretakers and other guests were really friendly. Some were there for dog trials in Townsville over the weekend. We went across to a happy hour get-together – a pleasant gathering. Assorted dogs came too, and there was much “doggy” talk. It was not far from our bus, near the caretakers’ rig, so we left Couey tethered to the bus. She could still see us so was content to lie under the shade of the awning and watch.

I cooked John fish and fries for tea. I had a few fries, and an egg. I was not feeling very hungry – not sure whether that was due to travel in the heat, or yesterday’s dodgy quiche!

Now that we’d started moving southwards, and perhaps because we were now near a major regional city, John thought he was not feeling any worse, and might even be feeling somewhat better.


2013 Travels July 25


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.

Railway bridge east of Charters Towers

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.

Newly surfaced section of highway. You wouldn’t want to pull off here at speed!

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.

Great Dividing Range

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.

Sugar cane

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.

Leaving the Bruce Highway – thankfully……

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.

Victoria Mill ahead

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.

Forrest Beach site

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.

So, we were settledĀ  by the sea, at last!

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2009 Travels August 21


We were up at 6am, courtesy of a very loud kookaburra, right by the van. It was a more pleasant way to wake up than via the alarm clock.

Did a steady pack up. John checked the tyres, all round. He took his photo album of all the furniture he’d made, to show N. We were invited by N and her family to go round and visit them if we were back this way, next year.

At this stage, our thinking was that next year’s trip would bring us back to North Queensland. We still wanted to go back to Cooktown and Cairns, and there were some lovely coastal places to stay between Townsville and the Daintree.

Had a brief stop in Ingham, for me to return library books, and left there just after 9am.

Proceeded mostly uneventfully southwards – the familiar route! For the last 30kms or so before the highway became multi-lane, north of Townsville, we were caught in a tail back behind a SA registered Supreme van. He was another of those whose speed varied greatly, according to whether there was any chance that someone might be able to pass him. He ended up with about thirty vehicles behind him, including some trucks. Moron!

We would miss the sugar country, with all its interesting harvest activity, and the green-ness of it.

Goodbye to green cane fields and the backdrop of the mountains

The new Ring Road around Townsville made that section easy.

The climb up the Dividing Range from Townsville is the easy way to reach the inland. For much of the way the gradient is so gentle that the railway runs close to the highway.( Railways can only manage gentle gradients.)

We stopped at Macrossan, by the bridges over the Burdekin River, for lunch – which I’d packed this morning – and a bit of a walk around.

Burdekin River bridges at Macrossan

The old and new railway bridges were close to each other and high above the river. The impressive old structure was built in 1899 and designed to be above the highest flood level recorded to that time. The fact that it is so high above the river bed level, showed what huge floods this river has.

The advent of new, heavier diesel engines created the need for a new bridge, which was built right next to the old one in the 1960’s.

Old bridge in front, piers of new bridge evident behind it

On the western side of the road bridge across the Burdekin was the flood marker – unique in the levels it showed.

The railway bridge in the background

Standing by the marker made us feel awed enough, by the water levels that reached well above where we were. But the marker itself stands some 13.4 metres above the bed of the Burdekin River – now that makes those floods truly awesome. I couldn’t begin to imagine how much water goes down that river in flood times.

The floods earlier this year reached  20.75 metres on this marker, a metre below the record flood level of 1946.

……and they left room at the top for a new record!

Refuelled on the way in to Charters Towers, then went on to the Dalrymple Tourist Park, where our powered site, after Seniors discount, cost $25.65. The site was partly shaded, and we were able to stay hitched up.

We were setting up by 1.30pm, after which John had a nap.

I defrosted the fridge again. The heat and humidity we’d had at Forrest Beach seemed to make it ice up faster than usual. At least, I hoped that was the reason.

The amenities block here was spotless, sparkling clean and modern – much appreciated after what we’d had for the last month!

It was hot – around 30 degrees in Charters Towers today. It was forecast to be warmer over the next two or three days. There was news of bushfires in the Brisbane area.

We had apostle birds around our camp – now we knew we were inland again……

Tea was threadfin salmon from the freezebox, in beer batter, with fries.

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2009 Travels July 20 to 23


John had to be at the Land Rover man at 9am.

It was a cloudy day, with a strong breeze. I wondered if it would rain. Took a chance, anyway, and washed the bedding, then sent some emails.

John was back before too long. The man didn’t have the part Truck was found to need, but would have it in tomorrow.

Townsville was so well served, compared to many other places we’d been. The old saying that we got used to, during our time in the NT, came to mind  – the NT: not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday, next train, next truck…..very true it was too.

After lunch, drove to the Aitkenvale shops, where I’d discovered there was a bowls shop. There was also a sewing supplies shop nearby, which provided me with good browsing, whilst John was making decisions in the bowls shop. Not that I had any ulterior motive for directing him to this one…..

I bought some threads for my Hardanger sewing. John ordered himself a set of bowls. Not a cheap exercise! He wanted them colour yellow, so they had to be freighted up and should arrive on Thursday or Friday. I decided that, when he was picking them up, I would go back to the sewing shop and indulge some more, having shown great restraint today.

John’s thinking was that yellow bowls would make it easy for him to see where his efforts were, from the other end of the green. I had two thoughts – neither of which I shared with him: that they would be an easy target, and, the way he’d been bowling lately, they could stand out as an embarrassment. Sometimes, I really did need to censor myself!

We had a quick look at merchandise in the Rivers clearance centre, but were not tempted.

John went to the bank and withdrew $500 cash to pay for Truck repairs. There was a big dent in the bank account, after today.

I extended our stay here, for Thursday night. Cost $31.50.

Cooked the continental sausages bought on Saturday, for tea, with mashed potato, bacon and eggs. Later, they gave me fearsome indigestion.

TUESDAY : John was off to the Land Rover man for 9am.

It was another cloudy but windy day. I did our clothes washing, and sewed some quilt blocks.

Our other Townsville site….don’t ask me why it was so hard to back in here!

John returned with Truck fixed – I hoped! A new vacuum pump had been fitted, with double gaskets this time. It had an oil change and some other oddments fixed too. All up – $520 for repairs.

John phoned the bad mechanic back in Melbourne. After some discussion, he was told that the warranty on the pump that had been installed just three months ago, would be honoured. I would believe that when we actually saw the money, I’m afraid.

After lunch, drove to the Strand again and did a fair walk. Then it was to the Castletown shops, so I could buy a small but good chef’s knife, to replace my good one that the handle had broken off, yesterday. That cost $50.

Grandson phoned to tell us that he’d read the fifty books for the Read-a-thon. Not bad for a six year old. So we would now have to send his $10 donation, plus the surprise Sodor train wash set.

We need to go back to the bush – haemorrhaging money in Townsville!

WEDNESDAY: We had a quiet start to a day that was not as cloudy, but was more humid, strangely enough.

Walked to the local shops and spent up big on postage. Sent postcards to various family and friends, a Hinchinbrook Island brochure to each of the sets of grandchildren, telling the story of our day there, and despatched the train wash and $10 to grandson. Australia Post was $25 richer.

It used real water……not sure if his mum knew that!

John phoned his cousin M, who was still in Cairns. It might be another couple of weeks before they began to head south again. I was now quite certain that we were not going to get that far north, this trip. It was going to be an accomplishment just to get away from Townsville!

Son phoned me about a new job he’d taken. Sounded very exciting: in a new field for him, traffic management, but doing the familiar role of business  development. Bit of a growth industry, that.

Friend M phoned – from Halls Creek. The trip up the Canning Stock Route had gone well, and she’d had a great time. Only had one flat tyre on the Troopy, and that was just as she was driving into Billiluna Community, not on the CSR proper. Yet again, the Dunlop Roadgripper tyres that we swear by, but others look down on, proved they can really handle the rough stuff well.

She reported that they’d had no rain over the three weeks. The fuel drums they’d ordered from the Capricorn Roadhouse were at the drop point, as arranged, and hadn’t been raided by other travellers. The couple she was tagging with had no vehicle issues, either. So she reckoned that she was now an experienced sand dune driver!

The diary I’d requested she keep for me was more a book than notes, apparently. She would mail it to home. The plans were now to go to the Bungles again – the other couple had not been there before, then on to Kununurra.

I was so happy that the adventure had gone well for her. But given the events of this year, I was so thankful we hadn’t tried it too.

THURSDAY: A quiet morning, followed by early lunch. Then we hit the shops – what’s new?

At Aitkenvale, John collected his new bowls. They were the ordered bright yellow – and the symbol on each featured a smirking crocodile. Very satisfied looking it was, too. (Every set of bowls has to have a unique symbol). This one couldn’t have been better than if he’d specifically chosen it! Yellow crocs…..

At the sewing shop, I bought a metre of my special embroidery fabric and some patchwork quilt pieces, for future projects.

To the Fish Co-op to stock up on barra and threadfin salmon.

There was a nasty accident at the corner where the V8 track had been. A truck and a 4WD ute had collided. Flashing emergency lights and vehicles galore.

Grocery shop at Castletown and at the butcher.

Getting all the meats and fish into the little freezebox was a real exercise in fitting things in gaps. The real challenge would come when just one frozen portion had to be extracted again, from the mass. The fridge ran for ages after all the additions, making me think all sorts of worrying thoughts.

I phoned Forrest Beach and booked us into the caravan park there, for three nights. John wanted to play in a big bowls tournament that was on in Ingham over the time, and had listed himself as an emergency, in case someone dropped out. If he was not called up, he could go fishing.

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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 July 12


After breakfast, drove to Thuringowa, a newer outer part of town, on the southern  fringe. Used the new ring  road, which we hadn’t been on before, since its entry was close by the park.

We parked near the Arts Centre at Riverway, a big park area, fronting the Ross River. Walked a big circuit, along the river side, crossing the Ross River on a footbridge, then back along the other side and on a footpath that went under the bypass road bridge. It was a most enjoyable walk: 3.7kms, according to the signs.

Riverway walk circuit (from brochure)

There was a series of such circuits, along the Ross River, towards the city centre. Townsville had certainly put a lot of money and effort into creating their outdoor recreational areas. There was a large area of “lagoons” – swimming pools – by the Arts Centre. The footpaths were excellent. We also passed a first class sport set-up, for AFL football and cricket. There was some apartment style housing at Riverway, and some very stylish housing that we walked past on the other side of the river.

The walk took us past Black Weir, one of a series that dated from when the Ross River was the city’s water supply. Now it is more renown as the name of a virus – Ross River Fever – mosquito borne and now quite widespread in Australia.

There were surprisingly few people using the area. Maybe they were all at the car races?

This was one occasion when I missed having our mountain bikes with us, as we did in the early years of our travels. Cycling these river side paths would have been very enjoyable.

Called in at the nearby Willows shopping complex for some supplies, then went back to the van.

John watched the car races, then the football. I chose to stay inside because of the horrible men in the cabin behind us. The drinking had started before 8 am again, today, so he and his friends were well obnoxious by the afternoon, yet again.

I thought I knew why our otherwise pleasant site had been the last one allocated over the weekend period, by park management!

Tea was steak, mushrooms, potatoes in foil, and green beans.


2009 Travels July 11


Before breakfast, we walked to the little local shopping complex. It was quite a do-able walk, maybe a km? There was a footpath for only part of the way, so some of it was a bit scrambly, including clambering down and up the sides of a little gutter-like creek. Perhaps when all the local road works for the construction of a fly-over/intersection, outside the park, were finished, there might be a full footpath put in.

We walked past a guy with a utility, blatantly stealing some of the orange plastic mesh stuff, from around the works.

Bought papers, a new Sudoku book, some groceries and meat.

Through the rest of the day, John watched football and the V8 Supercars, racing here, on TV. I read the papers, had a session on the computer, made a Thai style chicken salad for tea.

Behind our site – the cabin where unpleasant occupant resided

There had been a man occupying the cabin behind our van, on what appeared to be a longer term arrangement. Today, he commenced drinking alcohol before I’d had breakfast, continued to drink steadily throughout the day, and was joined by friends. They were loudly into obscene jokes, comments and abysmal language. The worst type of yobbos.

It was unpleasant to sit outside the van because they were so loud and intrusive. I thought about complaining to management, but worried about possible retribution, so didn’t. I just hoped that, come the morning, they would feel like death, and that karma would catch up with them at a later date, in a really painful way.

They kept up the carousing and noise well into the night.

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2009 Travels July 10


John went for a walk around the camp ground, before his breakfast. I did not. I had a sore foot, and had to bowl later.

We drove into town, to The Lakes area, to Toyworld, to hunt for a Thomas the Tank Engine toy for grandson, as an extra reward for him tackling the Read-a-thon. I knew he wanted Bertie the Bus, or Bill and Ben engines, but John found a train washing station, on special – half price. After a quick phone consult with daughter, we got that. The register put it through at full price, which we didn’t notice until the credit docket had been processed. It then seemed easier just to get a second one to put aside for one of the other grandsons, for Xmas, rather than go through the hassle of reversing the credit card charge. Apparently the washing stations had been on special until last Sunday – but no one had taken down the sign. Lucky us.

Went to bowls at the Jubilee Club, in the afternoon. We played adequately and the afternoon was pleasant.

We were told that this was very mild for a Townsville winter – it should be hotter!

Barra and fries for tea.

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2009 Travels July 9


Late last night, I thought I’d smelled rain in the air, but we hadn’t had any. Found out this morning that it had rained at nearby Toomulla Beach.

I walked some circuits of the Park before John got up, then he went walking whilst I got the breakfast ready.

The fridge was fine: freezer stuff was frozen, fridge stuff wasn’t. There had not seemed to be any excessive running throughout the night. From memory, this was the second new thermostat the fridge had needed, in something like a cumulative total of eight years of running, since we bought it in 1991, and some of that in excessively hot conditions. It was regassed in 2007. We certainly couldn’t complain about it!

An outing was needed – my turn to choose, since John had bowls a couple of days ago.

We went to Reef HQ, an aquarium type of display. It cost us $18.95 each for entry, after concession. It was worth the money – with bells on!

The main exhibit showed different faces of a live coral reef, from the quiet inner face, to the side that faces the waves, and all in between these extremes. Sophisticated technology simulated wave and tide actions, so there was constant movement all round the reef. Viewers walked around the central reef exhibit, which contained the world’s largest exhibited (captive?) living coral reef, with over a hundred different species of coral growing on it, and over a hundred species of fish swimming around it, just doing their thing. As well, it contained critters like starfish and sea urchins.

A different display held sharks, sawfish, turtles and moray eels.

It was engrossing to watch what happened on any particular piece of reef, as the water moved about. The antics of the fish were captivating. It was a wonderful way to “see” the Great Barrier Reef, without going diving. In fact, one probably got a better picture of it this way – unless you were really hooked on being wet and having to watch out for anything that might view you as lunch.

We spent over three hours there – much of it just sitting watching the action.

I bought some postcards of the place, and a pale blue polo shirt with the Reef HQ logo, that was marked down to $20.

It was a place I’d quite happily go back to another time, and spend another long session there.

Reef HQ (tourism brochure)

There were some NAIDOC Week events happening in the same building complex. We looked at a display of aboriginal art. (NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It has become an annual celebration of culture and remembrance of past struggles).

We’d parked Truck part-way along the Strand, so got some exercise walking between there to Reef HQ.

Stopped to watch kids having fun in the water playground area. It was still school holidays somewhere, it seemed.

Drove to the Fishermen’s Co-op, over on the South Side. We had to take a really round about route, due to street closures for the V8 Supercars Race, on at the weekend. Some of the roads we would usually take to the South Side would be part of the race track. It was a real hive of activity, with stands being erected, barriers altering routeways, all sorts of vehicles being moved into place for official and catering purposes.

I bought barra for two feeds, plus extra to add to what I already had for this week, and two kgs of prawns. It only occurred to me afterwards that there was a bit of a disconnect between spending ages admiring the live sea creatures, then going to buy some to eat….

Stopped at the Woolworths in the little shopping complex near the caravan park, for a couple of things. It was a rather poorly stocked supermarket. I decided it was here more to preserve the site and business for when Townsville expanded more out this way, rather than to really cater for the current passing traffic.

Back at the van, spent two hours peeling the prawns for freezing. The tool that John bought at Halifax did not help much, after all. In theory, it sliced the shell open down the back, for easy peeling and removed the poo tube. In practice, it was easier to do it the old way.

I made some extra salads for tea, to add to the leftovers from last night.