3/08/18 This trip is winding down. We’re two weeks out from a booking on the Sunshine Coast to have one of the van’s diesel appliances serviced, and the route to get us there on time has pretty much been mapped out. Once home, it won’t be long before we’re off again, though, as we’ve booked to take the van across to Tasmania in November for five months and are really looking forward to that. Why does everyone highlight the horrendous boat trip across Bass Strait? My mal de mer is dreadful enough without all the horror stories being offered up. They’ve just had unusually bad crossings, right? Won’t happen to us, OK? We’re going at night. The sea’s calmer at night. Everyone knows that. Dark sky at night, she’ll be right…
Heading south from Home Hill, we went back for a couple of days to Glen Erin farmstay near Bowen. That’s where we’d first met our Frenchie friend, Clemence, when we were heading up north in May. The next few camp spots after that were all about bird watching. Between Proserpine and Mackay, we had a couple of days at a nice little farmstay called Hold It Flats, beside the headwaters of the O’Connell River. Then, two days at a farmstay near Ilbilbie, south of Sarina, again beside a little creek. Both these places contributed some new birds to Di’s twitcher list. And it was at Ilbilbie that we learned of the forced liquidation of Kimberley Kampers, the builders of our much-loved Kruiser caravan. That was sad news, but no great problem for us as we’re well out of warranty anyway and the van is performing well. Hopefully, a phoenix might yet arise from the ashes of the company.
A short way south, we pulled in at Carmila Beach for a look-around and perhaps stay, decided against it and pushed on a little further to the small community of Flaggy Rock where we camped in the grassy grounds of the old primary school. The school closed in 1996 and is now maintained by the local Council as a nice little set-up-where-you-like campground. We stayed for three days. There aren’t too many $10 a night camp sites that can boast a beautiful swimming pool.
Moving on, we turned off the highway to the tiny village of St Lawrence for a leg stretch, and were approached by a rough-around-the-edges local with many black tats and a single black tooth who said he’d seen us taking a photo of the pub and thought we’d like to have the photo he had in his hand. It was an 8×10 he’d taken of a motor cycle gang parked outside the pub, bikes all in a row and bikies standing around in groups. He said he’d been waiting to give it to someone who’d appreciate it, probably a tourist. And we were the fortunate ones. Then off he went, leaving us with the photo. It was even signed. Hmmm…not the sort of thing that happens every day.
When Di and I relocated to Townsville in 1978, we drove the 1,300 kilometres north from Brisbane in our XA Ford Falcon. The trip was uneventful until we reached the small roadhouse in the middle of the dreaded Marlborough Stretch of highway between Rockhampton and Sarina. In those days, it was a long and notorious stretch of road where travellers occasionally disappeared. Like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the Falcon broke down near the roadhouse. Being a resourceful and handsome fellow, I was able to get it going again and we survived. Fast forward 40 years, and we were back there again, camped overnight in almost the same spot in a small clearing down a side road. Still long and lonely, the Marlborough Stretch is not so notorious today. It’s still a monotonous drive, though, seeming to go on forever through some pretty dry and uninspiring country. And still next to no signs of habitation to be seen from the highway. We survived it again.
Note to Self: Next time you feel the urge to stomp on a branch to break it up for firewood with just thongs on your feet…don’t. It’ll bugger your foot for the next three days.