This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2009 Travels June 26

FRIDAY 26 JUNE     ROLLINGSTONE

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 22

MONDAY 22 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE TO ROLLINGSTONE     65kms

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.


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2009 Travels June 21

SUNDAY 21 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

Today was the shortest day – and our last in Townsville.

There was lots of cloud about in the morning, and it was very humid.

We went to the Showgrounds Markets, for fresh produce. Found them grottier than the Cotters Markets had been, and they didn’t have many more fresh produce stalls, which surprised me. But there were enough for us to get most of what we’d hoped for.

We drove to a sports store where John had seen a 10% discount sale advertised. Bought him long and short Skins, for bowls. The theory was that these eased the pressure on his hip and he would not be so sore and tired after a game.

Drove out to Cape Pallarenda, where we had not been before. There were quite extensive beaches out there, and it seemed much closer to Magnetic Island. Some people were fishing, but no action was happening for them.

Magnetic Island from Pallarenda beach

We wandered around and explored a little. There was a good outlook back towards the city with Castle Hill behind it.

This really shows how Castle Hill looms over Townsville

The suburb of Pallarenda, on the way to the Cape, was rather an oasis and appeared quite upmarket and exclusive.

John wanted to have a look at the airport, so we drove in there. Yes, there was a car park, a terminal building, some runways beyond, but no planes. Now he’d been there!

We’d intended to then go to the top of Castle Hill – by vehicle, not walking or running, as a number of locals did! However, I couldn’t find the way, because the  road that was the access, according to my map, we found was closed for new bridge works. There were no signs about alternative routes, so we gave up. Had driven up there years ago, anyway.

That was it for the day. John really had to make an effort, these days, to do much  “tourist stuff”, although he usually enjoyed same when he did.

Cape Pallarenda


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2009 Travels June 20

SATURDAY 20 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

There was some cloud about. I walked to the Castletown shops for the weekend papers.

After lunch, drove to the Strand. Being the weekend, there were lots of people out and about and it was harder to get parking. We had to go some way up a side street for it.

Walked on the Strand. There were a couple of weddings happening – great setting for them.

Sat for a while and watched children enjoying the brilliant water playground that was a feature. I wished I could magically transport the three grandchildren here – they would adore it.

Back at camp, I made an Asian style prawn salad for tea.

I did regret having made our booking here for such a long period. It had seemed the right thing at the time, with the uncertainty over how long Truck repairs would take, and with the busy season pressure on bookings – school holidays and the like. But the time here was dragging for me, and I was conscious of all those lovely other places we could be exploring.


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2009 Travels June 19

FRIDAY 19 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

In the morning, we drove across to the fishermen’s marina fish shop and bought barra and prawns.

Looking across towards the industrial areas and the river mouth – and one incongruous highrise.

We played bowls in the afternoon, at the Jubilee Club. A and S were there too. I did not enjoy the time, playing with John as my skip. It is perfectly obvious to me if my bowl is too wide, narrow, short or long. I did not need it pointed out. I also knew, in theory, how to fix the next one, without exasperated instructions. OK, the execution might not work out as planned/hoped, but at least I did try. Enough about that!

I cooked the barra for tea. John went and bought chips to go with it, from the nearby Red Rooster shop.


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2009 Travels June 18

THURSDAY 18 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

The day was cloudy at times. It almost seemed like it might rain, but didn’t.

After breakfast, we walked to the Castletown shops, for assorted “stuff”.

John arranged to bowl at Thuringowa, and phoned A’s husband, S, to persuade him to go too. They arrived after our early lunch. A left S with John, for transport, and she drove us to the Jubilee Club, only a few blocks away. There, we sat round for over an hour, before the game started. Not being into daytime drinking, smoking or playing pokies, this sort of wasted time always annoyed me.

The rest of the afternoon was alright, with games of reasonable standard. Because it was social bowls, they decided the prize would go to whichever team had won by the smallest margin. That was my team, because we had won by 1. The prize was $7 – and it had cost me $8 to play! They were not generous with prizes, here!

John and S got back to the van soon after us, and we sat having a pleasant chat session for a while. They, and some others from our home club, always stayed at a caravan park on the eastern edge of town – it was a bit cheaper, they said.

As afternoon tea had been served to us both, at bowls, we only felt like a light tea. I made up my fall back Asian style soup – packet chicken noodle, enhanced with ham, spring onions, tinned creamed corn, sesame oil and strands of egg.

After tea, I read and John played his new computer game, which he deemed alright.

Then a curlew started its eerie calling, nearby. From the back window, I could see that it was on the grass right behind the van. John tried to sneak out to watch it more closely, but it ran off. It can be so hard to actually see curlews. They camouflage really well and are usually shy, so we felt quite privileged. But I hoped it did not start up again in the middle of the night. Whilst I loved their calls, now that I knew what was making the screaming, it was still not a pleasant way to be jolted out of sleep.

Places where curlews hang out – and the lake behind the park


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2009 Travels June 17

WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

Some cumulus built up over the ranges behind Townsville, through the day, but then cleared away. It became more humid.

In the morning, John messed about on the computer, doing stuff related to his coming role in our bowls club, as a teams selector. I read and sewed.

After lunch, we drove to Garbutt and collected a bag of mail from home, from the PO there.

Continued on to the Strand, found a place to park, and then walked along it, as far as where a very natural looking, but man-made waterfall, cascades down the face of a rock cutting.

The waterfall by the Strand

John needed to rest a couple of times along the way, and he turned back when we were level with the falls. I kept going, on past the Customs House and former Queens Hotel – very well preserved and lovely old buildings. I’d really wanted to have a wander through the older, historic part of the city and – whilst this wasn’t a wander, at least it was a taste. I enjoyed being able to walk at a really brisk pace.

Retracing the way, I soon caught back up with John, who had stopped to watch machines at work replacing the eroded beach sands. We walked out onto the Fishing Jetty and sat out there for a while, watching a guy netting bait and cruelly leaving little fish to die on the floor of the jetty.

The Fishing Jetty and Castle Hill

Back at camp, investigated the mail bag contents. It contained the notice of my fortnightly pension payment. It was not going to make me rich. In fact, it wouldn’t even cover the caravan park fees for a fortnight – but it was a bonus I had not been expecting at all, so I was not complaining.


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2009 Travels June 16

TUESDAY 16 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

Today, I became an old-age pensioner! Well, an old-age part-pensioner. Did I feel old? No – but I remembered a time when people I knew who were pensioners, seemed old!

Off John and Truck went. I did some more washing. They were back by 11.30 – all fixed. The Landrover man had quickly identified that the brake booster unit – a big, round, thing just under the bonnet – had a couple of almost microscopic cracks in it – metal fatigue. He had one in stock, so it had been quick to replace. All up, cost $360. John was very pleased. He said the brakes felt excellent.

Now that the Truck issues were resolved, I phoned the caravan park at Rollingstone, to book us in there for a week, after our time here was up. We had not been there before, and it seemed like it would be a good base to explore the surrounding country. Also, not too much further on, in case there did turn out to be more issues with Truck. I’d kind of lost some faith, this trip.

After lunch, went for a drive, with the aim of visiting Townsville’s northern beaches. We diverted off to look at Bushland Beach, a site of new sub-divisions, where we were attracted to tour a display home that was open. Chatted with the salesman about building methods up here, land subdivision, and Townsville’s development and spread in general. The salesman estimated that, to build that sort of house, put in a shed for John and a pool – essential in this sort of climate in summer – we’d need about a 750 square metre block, and we’d be up for northwards of $500,000. Yikes! Keeping our Melbourne base. where we had all the above except the warmer weather, still looked the better option. We had a bigger garden at home, as well, to grow our summer vegies.

Whilst in the area, went to have a look at the beach. Thought it looked pretty ordinary, with mangrove stands at each end. To me, mangroves equal sandflies, which equal undesirable place to be. It made a pretty photo, though.

Bushland Beach at low tide – mangroves in the distance

Drove back to town, where we parked at Kissing Point – great name! Later research indicated it was named for a similarly called place in Sydney. Nothing romantic: the NSW version was the furthest point up the Parramatta River that boats could reach before their keels kissed the bottom. I preferred the romantic connotations my imagination had come up with.

From there, we walked along the Strand – Townsville’s wonderfully attractive parklands and path along the waterfront – as far as the Fishing Jetty. This was not much distance. John was very slow today, and needed rests along the way.

Magnetic island from the Strand

Whilst walking we gazed at the assorted beach front apartments, and played the game of saying which one we’d buy, if we won a lottery. A winter holiday apartment…… with seriously magic views over the Strand and out to Magnetic Island and the other islands. But then decided that, if we had that sort of money, we would just rent, short-term, and thus not be tied to any one place. Dream on!

The Strand – and apartments with a great view

The Council had done an excellent job of developing and landscaping the Strand area and making it a wonderful resource for people of all ages. At intervals, there were metal sculptures of sea creatures – convenient resting places for the slow one. The wild weather earlier in the year had done some damage along the beachfront that was still being repaired.

One is a dugong….

Even though Townsville did not have the image of a tourist town, there was really quite a lot here to see and do. I found it a very pleasant place.

Back to the van then, and the making of fried rice for tea.

There was an unexpected phone call. from A, a lady from our home bowls club. She and her husband spent some of each winter here, as did quite a few bowlers from our club. She’d picked up from someone from Sunday’s bowls, that we were here. She asked me to play bowls on Thursday, at the Jubilee Club. I assumed it was mixed, and agreed. Then, it became clear it was a women’s only afternoon. Blindsided! John was very amused. He said he’d find a game for himself somewhere else.


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2009 Travels June 13

SATURDAY 13 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

My brother was turning 60 today. Didn’t know if he would be all that cheerful about the milestone.

It was a beautiful morning. Townsville was getting daytime temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. That’s more like a proper winter holiday! Last night, we hardly needed the doona – and the bedsocks had been put away again.

Almost warm enough for this – pool at the caravan park

I was up early, John later.

After breakfast, I walked to the Castletown shopping complex, further along Woolcock Street, but in the same block as the park – a very large block it was. I bought the weekend papers, milk, a new mascara. But my best and most essential purchase was a detailed street directory of Townsville! I browsed in a big bookshop. Wandering around the shops on my own, with no pressure to hurry, was delightful.

When I eventually returned to the van, it was to find that John had phoned a bowls club and put both our names down for a game this afternoon. Then he decided that I wouldn’t be back in time and phoned them again, to take my name off the list. Good – very good.

He went off to the North Ward Bowls Club, over near the Strand and the beach. I silently wished him luck trying to find his way there.

I read the papers and did some computing. I had been trying to record this trip as a blog, on a free site, but had found the program difficult, and hadn’t been able to incorporate photos into it. I wasn’t sure whether to persevere, or perhaps try to get a site designed for me. It was really frustrating, because I had intended to post about this trip, as we went.

John got back about 6pm. His afternoon, and game, had been “alright”.

Fish and salad dinner. Watched TV – football.


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2009 Travels June 14

SUNDAY 14 JUNE     TOWNSVILLE

We were both up at a good hour – 8am – with the intention of going to market.

Cotters Markets were set up each Sunday in the town centre, along Flinders Street. I couldn’t remember going to these on prior visits, but the memory did come back when we got there.

On the way, we passed the Showgrounds, and I did remember going to markets there and that they were good for fresh produce, and also for the trash and treasure type stall that John loves to browse.

Cotters Markets were fairly generic of their type, with much that did not interest us – soaps, candles, saris and the like. There were some fresh produce stalls where we bought bananas and a pineapple. There was some reasonably attractive beaded jewellery.

A “toy” – as in small – dog show was happening at the Markets, and we watched that for a while. I saw enough to make me wonder about that old adage about owners resembling their dogs……..lots of pink, sparkly and fluffy on display. Good thing it wasn’t a bulldog show!

Some of the central Townsville locations (Google)

On the way back, John who had said he knew the way and didn’t need my navigating, “just happened”  to be passing the Cutheringa Bowls Club, at West End, so had to call in. Someone there told John that the Thuringowa Club would have a game on today, so then I was asked to navigate out there. It was out in the newer south western edge of the city. John hotfooted it into the club and found it was a mixed (gender) game. Damn it. I agreed to play. At least that should get any bowls obligation out of the way for a week, maybe more – I hoped.

So it was quickly back to the van to don the uniform required. I put our earlier shopping away, whilst John downed a quick biscuit and cheese lunch. I didn’t have time for that, which did nothing to improve my mood. Sometimes it seemed like we just went from one bowls club to the next…….

The event was some sort of memorial afternoon. At least the standard of player was good and the participants sober and serious! It was a well set up club, with real grass greens – as opposed to synthetic grass ones. A lot of bowls purists prefer the original grass, to the synthetic variety.

The people at the club were really pleasant. We got several invites to games at other clubs for through the week; I managed to respond graciously but without  committing!

Cakes were served at afternoon tea time and quite a substantial “supper” after the last game – even though it was still broad daylight. There was a spot draw, and I won a cooked chicken. At least that took care of John’s tea, because it was well after 6pm when we got back to the van.

It had cost $16 for the two of us to play, plus the outlay for raffle and post game drinks, so the chook was some return.

I made some quick salads to go with the chook for John for tea; I just had salads, as I do not eat chicken I haven’t cooked myself.

We watched some TV, then slept well, after a full day.