Townsville (Queensland)

5/06/18  Townsville was a chance for Di to have a tune-up with a chiropractor and therapeutic masseur, and for us to do a little restocking. We’d lived in Townsville for 10 years back in the Eighties, initially intending to stay just a year but quickly coming to love the NQ lifestyle (NQ also stands for Not Quick). The tropics are too hot for people to be anything other than laid back, and in no time we fitted right in, even picking up the NQ “eh” on the end of every sentence, like “Hot, eh.” “Yer, eh.” It took a fair while to lose that habit when we left. Both our kids were born in Townsville, so coming back felt like coming home again; but it also felt a little unfamiliar because, understandably, the place had changed in the 30 years since then – considerably larger, a little greener, way more traffic, way more stores, way more people.

Some things hadn’t changed, though. In the Eighties, you could get most things in Townsville, with a weeks’ wait while it was shipped up from down south – stores used to have lots of display stock but next to no sale stock. While we were in town, I wanted to pick up a replacement navigation tablet, knew which model I was after, and was lucky to get the last one in stock at Harvey Norman. Things were looking good so far. As the new tablet was bigger than my old one, I also needed a new Ram car cradle for it but searching around town, I kept getting the old NQ response of “Yep, no worries. Don’t have it in stock but can get it in for you. Take about a week or so.” Past experience tells me the “…or so” could mean anywhere from a week to when the Sun expands into a red giant during its death throes. So I conceded defeat and bought one online from Brisbane, to be shipped to an address we’ll be at in a little while. It arrived there the next day! Seems express delivery had improved since the Eighties. Though, I was surprised to get some odd-type replacement batteries for the fridge/freezer sensors that I had no luck finding in the last few towns coming north, and bought out their last four in stock – so tough luck the next guy looking for them. He’ll have to wait the “…or so”, eh.

We caught up with Robyn and Paul, friends from back in the day, for lunch at the Palmetum Gardens and spent most of the afternoon chatting and catching up with each other’s news.

Di and I took a stroll along the very pleasant beachfront on The Strand, had fish and chips at the pier and ice cream at Juliette’s Gelateria (recommended as a must-do by Clem, the lovely French backpacker we’d met at Glen Erin Farmstay) while taking in the views across to Magnetic Island and up to Pallarenda in the north. Afterwards, we went for a stickybeak at our old house. It seemed nicer in our memories; the neighbourhood had a rundown look of neglect setting in. I think the growth and development was happening in other parts of the city. Ah well, it was good for us while we were there and we have great memories of the years we lived in that little house. Driving around Townsville triggered many long-forgotten recollections – places, people, things we did, holidays on Magnetic Island, the climbing frame in the park that Simon fell off to get his forehead scar. Townsville was home to us for ten years.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different…” – C.S. Lewis

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Home Hill – Charters Towers – Ravenswood (Queensland)

2/06/18  The twin towns of Ayr and Home Hill sit either side of the Burdekin River, Ayr on the north side and Home Hill on the south. In Home Hill, we caught up with my cousin, Lorraine, who we hadn’t seen in many years.

Our camp was at Burdekin Cane Farm Stay on the outskirts of Home Hill, surrounded by cane fields, chooks and a couple of very large ducks. For our WA friends who’d never seen cane before, I cut a stick for them to have a sugary chew on. The farm was a very pleasant spot, but a night battling mossies and midges was enough and we made a move the next morning, with Charles and Joy heading north to Townsville and further on up the coast, and us going west to Ravenswood and Charters Towers.

Half an hour north, we stopped in at the small township of Giru for a cuppa and to have a look at the Invictus Mill. I’d worked there on the cane trains in my late teens and over coffee reminisced to Di about where I lived and what the work was like for a 17 year old long-haired lad from the Big Smoke.

Back in the Landy, we took a backroad from Giru to Woodstock, intending to head to the old gold mining town of Ravenswood. But, a change of itinerary can be dictated by many things – on this occasion it was a dump point, or the lack thereof at Ravenswood – so A-B-C became A-C-B and Ravenswood got bumped (or is it dumped?) down the list for Charters Towers instead. A quick stop along the way beside the Reid River for a sanga, and we hauled up the Mingela Range, past the Ravenswood turnoff and across the wide Burdekin River to Charters Towers.

There are still many lovely old buildings to be seen in Charters Towers and we spent the afternoon strolling along the two main streets that now make up the commercial centre of town.

The Towers was at one time the second largest city in Queensland, with 92 hotels to satisfy its thirsty miners. The biggest gold producer in Australia, it had 29 ore crushing mills operating, and in its heyday set the gold price world-wide. The now-restored Stock Exchange building and its arcade of shops was the focus of trading in mining shares.

We took in the view from the top of Towers Hill, and looked through some of the two dozen or so WWII munitions bunkers built into the hillside. We were also fortunate to spy some elusive and cute Allied Rock Wallabies close by amongst the boulders.

After two days at Charters Towers, we headed off to Ravenswood. On the way there, we’d been travelling pretty much on our own, but at the turnoff to Ravenswood a van coming in the opposite direction took the turn before us, then after we’d turned another came in behind us, and near Ravenswood yet another formed up in the rear. We arrived in a convoy of four with me thinking that if this was the trend, sleepy little Ravenswood was looking like being packed out. Turned out it was just coincidence, though; there wasn’t a blues festival or anything being held. We set up at the showgrounds, before checking out the old buildings around town and the derelict gold workings in the nearby bush.

Most of the remnant buildings and surface mining ruins in Ravenswood are heritage listed. I was gobsmacked to learn that despite that heritage listing, new foreign-owned gold mining ventures will soon destroy a number of 100+ year old brick chimneys scattered around near town, some old explosives stores and associated ruins, and a derelict 1920s-era swimming pool so they can expand their mining operations. Don’t worry that they’ve stood there for the past 150 years or so and they’ve been recognised for their cultural and historical importance. It seems that nothing stands in the way of the almighty mining dollar in Queensland, even heritage. Bloody disgraceful! Look up the Ravenswood listings on the Queensland Heritage Register while they’re still there.

After looking around that the old mining ruins (while they’re still bloody there!), we had a couple of cold beverages at the Railway Hotel and got a personal guided tour of the upstairs and cellar by the new publican who has some great plans to rejuvenate the old pub, including an enterprising idea to convert the town stormwater channel that runs next to the pub into an automatic gold sluice. Gilt-edged idea, mate!

The past couple of nights and early mornings have been very cold, and I’d just like to say how great it is that women have evolved with the need to be first out of bed to answer the call of nature – because they get to put the morning kettle on! Also, you can never say enough about the merits of a diesel air heater on a cold morning. There should be a monument erected somewhere to honour all diesel air heaters everywhere; preferably somewhere cold and the monument would blow out warm air if you stand close. How good would that be!

“In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.” – John C. Sawhill

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Bird Watching – Scarborough To Home Hill (Queensland)


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Finch Hatton – Bowen (Queensland)

28/05/18  From Lake Elphinstone, we went back to Nebo for some go-juice, then headed on towards Mackay, crossing the Great Divide at Connors Range. The steep eastern descent was done very gingerly with the Landy locked in first gear, transmission braking. A change in the landscape and flora was immediately evident as we descended into lush rainforest, rolling green hills, and cane fields. Just before the nearest major centre, Mackay, we made a left turn to go up the scenic Cattle Creek Valley to the small one-pub township of Finch Hatton, nestled in the foothills of the imposing Eungella Range.

Finch Hatton – Showgrounds (Qld)

We set up in the showgrounds, unhitched and took a drive up a very steep and serpentine road to the small town of Eungella that is perched at the very top of the range (Di is still coming up with creative pronunciations for the town’s name. “That’s close, Di. It’s actually pronounced Younge-gella.”). We were keen to see platypus in the nearby national park, and were fortunate to see two feeding in the boulder pools along Broken Creek. It was very cool up the top of the range. Locals mentioned that, despite being in the tropical north, snow has fallen at Eungella on a couple of occasions.

Back at Finch Hatton, one of the walking tracks at Finch Hatton Gorge took us to the beautiful Araluen Waterfall and its flowing rock pool. The deep-blue pool was very enticing and we’d have loved to have gone in, but the water temperature was way too cold this time of year for a swim.
Northern Queensland has a unique look and smell all its own. You could be locked in a barrel in Melbourne, let out anywhere on the coast north of Mackay, and just know immediately that you were in north Queensland. The looming woolly green mountain ranges to the west, lush rainforests and cane fields are a dead set giveaway. And the smell can only be described as Green. I worked on the cane trains in my late teens and that northern smell of verdant leafy sweetness just doesn’t go away.

The intention was to bypass Mackay on our way north to Bowen but we ended up having to go in as there was no way the van could have gotten into the couple of smaller, older-style servos on the backroad. No dramas, though, just an additional hour on the days travel. The Bruce Highway north of Mackay is a shocker – narrow, rough from patchy repairs, and bugger all spots to pull over for a cuppa and a leg stretch. It was hard to believe that we were driving on the main road link between the north and south of Queensland. Perhaps there’s a military strategy to it – northern invaders will break down or give it up before they get too far south. Just about every other sealed road we’d been on recently was way better than the Bruce Highway, and I’m including secondary country roads in that as well. They were all in good condition, funded by state and local governments, whereas the Bruce Highway is mainly federally funded. Methinks therein lies the answer.

Glen Erin Farmstay (Qld)

We camped at Glen Erin Farmstay, just south of Bowen, initially for two days. Charles and Joy arrived to join us on the second day. We extended for another day, then yet another. The decision wasn’t hard to make – it was a very pleasant spot with green lawns, shady trees and birdlife for Di, including Great Bowerbirds and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. She scored yet another new bird – a Yellow Honeyeater. And we took at drive in to Bowen to have a look around and a nice lunch at Horseshoe Bay.

“One of the places that is really, really extraordinary is the north of Queensland, in Australia. People think the Amazon is a great place for jungles. But the north of Queensland is fantastic, and very few people go there. They’ve got the Great Barrier Reef when it gets too hot, they have the coral reefs which are great, and there are wonderful birds and extraordinary birds that you have never thought of: amazing things like wonderful bower birds that are extraordinary.” – Sir David Attenborough

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Bundoora Dam – Lake Elphinstone (Queensland)

22/05/18  We’ve had our first awful camp. Bundoora Dam is located 28 kilometres south-west of Middlemount on Connection Road which links Middlemount and Dysart with Tieri and Capella. It is a very popular campsite for travellers. The rookie mistake we made was going there on a weekend, when it’s also popular with the locals. With no spots available along the water’s edge, we settled for what looked to be a quiet camping area a little up the hill. But at around 9:00pm, four carloads of local bogans pulled in and the thumping music got underway until 4:00am. Lots of slow groans passed between them as they stirred at sunrise; hopefully some new social diseases too. Needless to say, we were out of there early, lesson learned – on weekends avoid dams and weirs that are popular with the locals.

240kms further up the road beyond the townships of Middlemount and Nebo, Lake Elphinstone on Sutton Developmental Road more than made up for the previous sleep-interrupted night and we got our happy faces back on. What a great place! With no-one else in sight around us, we camped on the edge of the large naturally-occurring lake, in among river gums and lovely old twisty paperbark trees, with a view of the expanse of water and thousands of waterbirds. The cameras came out and Di commenced clicking away. She spotted a new bird, a Cotton Pygmy-Goose. The black swans, pelicans, and many varieties of ducks kept up a regular chatter all day, even in the dead of night with their “You’re too close!”; “Give me room!”; “Daffy! Where are you?” Close your eyes and it sounded like you’re near a poultry farm; open them and you were greeted with this view.

We stayed for three relaxing days at Lake Elphinstone doing lots of bird watching, reading, sitting in the sun, and stargazing at night.

Di and I pretty much came to the same conclusion that we’d had our fill of dry, flat and dusty country. While I especially like getting away from the populated east coast, the country we’d just been through had been pretty uninteresting and we’d just been driving from A to B to C without stopping and checking out places like we always enjoy doing. There hasn’t been much lately to warrant any of that so we’re going to alter course for greener pastures. After Lake Elphinstone, we’ll be veering towards the coast, to head north with the ocean on our right. Hopefully, the greener pastures won’t be too crowded.

“Sometimes the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason.” – Jerry Seinfeld

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Futter Creek – Bedford Weir (Queensland)

19/05/18  I put my name into the Wu-Tang Names Generator website. It came back with “From this day forward, you will also be known as E-ratic Conqueror.” I thought “Yep, not bad, I can go with that” especially given the weirdly erratic trouble I had hitching up the van that morning, before I totally aced it.

After three nice days at Moore Park Beach, we headed off past cane fields bordering the road to meet the Bruce Highway at Gin Gin, and in fairly light traffic, headed north for an overnighter at Futter Creek, south of Calliope. Charles and Joy went to Agnes Waters to have a look at the coastal spots going north, while we’re doing a loop west, returning to the coast at Townsville. In one of those surprising “it’s a small world” things, pulling in to Futter Creek we came across a couple who were camped there at the same time as us last year. They’d done quite a lot of travel since then, but there they were with us again – same time, same place. Huh. Futter Creek had no phone or internet reception so we hit the books and hit the sack early. Even the folks with the persistently rotating sat dish on their roof gave up trying to locate a signal. Total telecommunications dead spot.

It wouldn’t have been too hard at all to stay on longer at Futter Creek. We were keen to get further north, though, beyond where we’d finished up last year so it would start feeling like a brand new trip and not just covering old ground. Consequently, the next morning saw us heading off early, to Mount Larcom for a leg stretch and meat pie (couldn’t resist), then just shy of Rockhampton we turned west to Gracemere, had a stop at Duaringa for a cuppa, and went on through Dingo to camp at Bedford Weir, 30kms north of Blackwater. Just a couple of kilometres before reaching Bedford Weir, we crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn. Despite being designated with a broken line on the map, no such line was evident across the roadway.

You know it’s going to be a good campsite when a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets land on the van roof to check you out and, with a piece of apple and very little enticement, end up sitting on your hand, happily feeding, and being stroked. That sort of thing doesn’t happen every day. Though I’m thinking “Hmm, maybe we’re not the first suckers to fall for their con.” Over two days they cleaned up my stock of apples. The only bad thing about Bedford Weir were the bindies!

And in another of those “it’s a small world” things, what got me fanging on a pie at Mount Larcom was a couple sitting outside the bakery fanging into one themselves and commenting how tasty it was. They were Harley riders going home from a meet in Townsville, back to, of all places, Scarborough. Turns out they live not too far from us. Huh.

Speaking of small world, it’ll soon be getting smaller – by that I mean more crowded. It seems we’re presently a little ahead of the Mexicans. The wave of southern travellers coming north to escape the winter cold has yet to form into the unremitting annual migration, not unlike Wildebeest across the Serengeti. Our Maryborough camp site was practically empty. Nor was Moore Park Beach by any means at capacity. And at our Futter Creek overnighter, there were just two other vans apart from us. License plates have primarily been Queenslander. The exodus has yet to happen, and we’re enjoying the relative solitude while it lasts. It’s quiet…maybe, as they say, too quiet. Yet, there is a palpable thrum in the air. ”They’re coming…They’re coming…” is being passed around in whispers. The migratory urge is beginning to manifest itself down south. With any luck, by the time the southern tribes ascend on our fair State, we’ll be further north and west of the bulk of them.

Di and I are finally feeling that we’re shaking off our seven month stint at home, and getting our van rhythm back. It takes a little thought, patience and understanding. And letting go of timelines and schedules and planning. And just going with the flowing. It’s about the Vibe. It’s about stopping to smell the gum leaves. Yep, it’s all about the Vibe.

“Pilates? I thought you said pie and lattes!”

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , ,

Scarborough – Moore Park Beach (Queensland)

15/05/18  After seven months at home, we’re back on the road to complete last year’s cut-short trip, going north from Brisbane to Cape York, across to Normanton in the Gulf, and a zig-zag route back down through Central Queensland. The country should be pretty green after all the rain up that way. No more cyclones and floodwaters, right? Touch wood.

The Things-To-Do-At-Home List was all ticked off – medical checks, dental checks, vehicle checks, home renovations, lots of other things – and Di and I were itching to go. We could just about smell it in the air – that whiff of dust and diesel and eyeglass cleaner (in-joke) that smells like travel. Both the Landy and Kruiser were serviced and champing at the bit, up against the rails, rearing to go. Perspectives change when you’re home too long – one fly in the house and it’s a rush for the insect spray; one fly in camp and it’s a good day.

It should be less expensive now we’re gone. My chronic OPD (Overlanding Preparedness Disorder) had been in remission. But with the long spell at home since last September, it’s quite understandable that I had a few relapses. So, in accordance with the principle that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, I picked up some more Drifta canvas bags to hold the ground mat and other stuff, and a nice protective bag for the small butane stove and another one for the 2-burner gas stove. I have a thing for canvas bags – and a dislike of loose gear rattling around and rubbing. And a nice little Uniflame bread toaster too that I’m keen to try out.

The roof rack awning on the Landy had come out second best in an altercation with a campsite tree on our WA trip, and while it was still pretty secure, it was askew and from the rear looked about ready to fall off. So the cactus L-brackets got binned for a couple of solid Front Runner awning brackets – surprisingly inexpensive bits of quality gear. The awning now sits a little higher than before, and tucked in closer to the Front Runner roof rack. Besides looking better, it should also be harder for trees to argue with…ripper!

How good is internet shopping! I was like a web warrior with a black belt in “google fu”. A few keyboard clicks and a courier van arrived at the door with a pair of canvas sleeves from Stone Stomper to cover the canvas flaps on the back of the Landy. So when she’s not towing, the Stone Stomper flaps can be rolled up nicely in the sleeves and she no longer looks like she’s wearing a tutu.

I’d been combing the web for ways to use the space in the Landy when we travel, and came across some gear based on the molle (pronounced like Molly as in Meldrum) military system. Magically, the stuff soon appeared via courier at the door. Landy has now gone tactical, sporting a seat-back molle panel to which are attached five pouches and a rip away Velcro IFAC (individual first aid kit) set up for snake-bite. The pouches hold small stuff previously stowed away under seats and in other hard to get at places, now all at hand and more organised. When we’re not travelling, the panel can be quickly unclipped and removed, complete with pouches. And besides working well, it looks Seriously Cool and battle-ready. And that’s important. Di’s new role will be manning the 0.50 calibre.

Our Hema navigation maps – digital ones, not paper (we have paper ones too just in case the tablet dies, like one did once…got to have redundancy, right?) – are on a tablet that sits above the centre console in the Landy, held in place by gravity. This setup has worked well most of the time, but I’ve learned that gravity becomes impaired on corrugated roads, when the tablet bounces around and Di has to hold it in her lap to stop it from taking flight. So another OPD episode had me buying some RAM mounts to secure the tablet. It’s great stuff, solid and well made, and pretty versatile in how it can be used. Better yet, it wasn’t too expensive. Now when we travel, the tablet is attached by a short clamp arm to a 1” ball mounted on the dash and when we’re at home, I can swap the tablet for a Garmin satnav…easy-peasy.

A little while ago, I called in to see Wayne at Wayne Lloyds Tyre and Mechanicals, my local go-to guy for anything to do with rubber hitting the road. I wanted to arrange for the fitting of replacement pressure sensors to the tyres on the van. The current sensors were installed back in 2014, but their non-replaceable batteries had begun to fail last year, resulting in some very random readings. So replacements were called for. While we chatted, Wayne asked how the tyres had been performing that he’d fitted to the Landy in 2013. Three of the six Goodyear Wrangler AT tyres had failed at various times in our travels due to separation of the bead from the side wall. When I replaced each one, I’d stayed with the same brand (but by then a later design) because I was happy with their road noise and off-road performance and didn’t really want to have a mix of different tyres on the vehicle.

Wayne got on the phone to the Goodyear rep and it turned out that the earlier Wrangler ATs had a fault that was subsequently rectified in the later design. Goodyear offered to replace at no charge the three remaining old-design tyres still on the car. The upshot is that the Landy now has all six wheels shod with good quality all-terrain rubber. These tyres aren’t cheap so I was dead set stoked with the good deal that came out of just a casual conversation. Two big thumbs up for the excellent service from both my local tyre guy and Goodyear. Good things come from good relationships with good people. Karma…what goes around comes around.

We’ve outlaid heaps throughout our travels to keep the Landy and Kruiser in good, safe condition but, in one of those lightbulb moments that happen, it occurred to me I’d overlooked a crucial bit of equipment – the hitch pin that has the critical job of keeping the van attached to the car. It’s a small piece of metal with a big, big job. The pin I use is a locking anti-rattle hitch pin that I got from BTA Towing Equipment in late 2014. Giving it the once-over, something looked not quite right. The pin has a locking piece at one end, which was still attached but somewhere along the way in our travels the lock barrel had fallen out of it. While the pin still worked, it was no longer theft- or tamper-proof. So I contacted BTA on the off-chance I could purchase just the missing bit, and was very surprised by their offer to replace the whole thing free of charge. The replacement pin arrived within days. It’s great when a company stands behind its product and customers like that, especially after three years.

I also had a local canvas supplier make up a wall panel for the Kruiser’s driver’s-side awning to keep the sun off the wall where the fridge and freezer are located, and a canvas weather cover for the drawbar.

Anyway, that’s enough about the trip preparation stuff. We’re now actually on the trip.

Maryborough – Doon Villa Campground (Qld)

First stop was Maryborough to check in on my uncle who had the medical problems last year that resulted in us terminating our trip. All was well and the following day we travelled further north to Moore Park Beach, 20 minutes from Bundaberg, where we’ve camped for three days with Charles and Joy, friends from Perth who we met on our WA trip in 2016. They are halfway through the Big Lap and we’ve timed things so they join up with us for the Queensland leg.

A yummy Mother’s Day lunch was spent with my brother Steve and his wife Bron and their family at the Spotted Dog Tavern in Bundy. Their pizzas are highly recommended. Back at Moore Park Beach, after a sustained onslaught of pestering and coercion, I rather reluctantly agreed to join Di for a dip in the ocean. From the beach, it looked very scenic and pleasant. However, my reluctance was justified – it was bloody cold in the water and even colder out. The man bits protested and got busy retracting themselves into my stomach cavity. A lovely hot shower at the top of the beach managed to thaw out the iclicles, though. We liked Moore Park Beach and reckon it’d be a good spot to camp for a week or two. Have to keep that in mind for next year.

“Stress is caused by not camping enough.”

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Bird Watching – Kabra To Maryborough (Queensland)


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Rosedale Hotel – Maryborough (Queensland)

10/09/17  Rosedale Hotel – Binnowee Bush Camp – Iron Ridge Park – Doon Villa Campground, Maryborough

Resuming our trek back to Maryborough after three days at Futter Creek, we travelled 140kms south to cross a very rattly old timber railway bridge into the small township of Rosedale, and camped out back of the pub. At best, it was a pretty basic campsite in amongst a large yard of discarded junk and scrap but in Rosedale for $10 you can’t expect the Hilton. It was OK for just an overnight stop and the price did include power, hot showers and laundry facilities, so it was kind of a bargain. We didn’t use the latter but both of us delighted in the long and gloriously hot shower after three days of navy washes at Futter Creek in our shower. You can overlook just about anything if the shower is hot and stays hot long enough.

The one night at Rosedale Pub was enough. The following morning, we trekked a mere 44kms to Binnowee Bush Camp, just north of Bundaberg, to a lovely spot at the edge of a large dam bordered by paperbark trees. The bird life kept Di occupied and she spotted a new bird – a Little Grass Bird. Each evening meal was cooked over the campfire. It was a very enjoyable three days at a very pretty spot. We met up for campfire scones, and then later for drinks, with fellow travellers, brothers Ken and Murray, and their wives Ann and Ann (not hard to get the girls names right). Ken’s Ann presented me with a pair of knitted slippers that have had a lot of use during the cold nights while I’m sitting up reading. My tootsies are very warm and happy.

Iron Ridge Park – Campsite (Qld)


Our last stop before Maryborough was back at Iron Ridge Park near Childers for two days. In town, we met up again with Ken and Ann for coffee and I took the opportunity to restock the dwindling wine cellar in the Kruiser with more reds from Brierley Wines. Purely medicinal, mind you; it’s good for the blood.

We arrived back in Maryborough to collect my uncle from the base hospital where he’d been treated for a break in his lower right fibula. The following week saw us assisting him at his home – Di couldn’t help herself and got stuck into a major clean of his house while I arranged for some disability furniture aids to make him more comfortable.

Further medical complications resulted in him being flown to Brisbane and we are heading there as well to see how he’s getting on. It was fortunate that we were there with him when the complications arose. These unforeseen developments have brought our planned travels to an early end but, on the positive side, going home will allow us to get stuck into some major flooring renovations that need doing and Di has some dental renovations to be completed as well.

Sometimes the road of life takes an unexpected turn and you have no choice but to follow it to end up in the place you are supposed to be.

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Kabra – Futter Creek (Queensland)

27/08/17  After weeks of glorious weather – clear blue skies and mid-20s temperatures – we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at Rockhampton. The next two days were very hot and uncomfortable with temperatures up into the 30s, though, happily, this unpleasant weather was short-lived, followed by a couple of days of cold blustery winds and extremely cold nights and mornings. Whenever we’ve crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, regardless of where in Australia, it’s been associated with a marked and immediate change in the temperature.

A short fifteen minute drive west of Rockhampton, we camped next to the Kabra pub on the busy Capricorn Highway. Lots of semis were barrelling both ways, carrying goods to and from the Bowen Basin in the west, and immediately across the roadway, the dual rail line was busy all day and night with long coal trains from the Bowen Basin coal mines heading east to Rocky – multiple locomotives with up to 100 coal wagons – and empty ones returning west for refilling. We camped there for three nights, awaiting the arrival of tyre pressure sensors to replace those on the van that had started to fail shortly after leaving home. In the past three years, the system’s low pressure alarm has saved a few tyres from complete destruction and I was reluctant to tackle any gravel roads without a properly working tyre monitoring system.

The Kabra pub is unusual in its construction. We were told that the original old timber pub and adjacent hall were originally located nearer to the town. The pub, owned by a wily old lady, burnt down and while insurance was being arranged, a temporary bar was set up and the hall used for bar storage. Insurance came through, but then the hall subsequently burnt down and was subject to a further insurance claim. The story goes that insurance paid out again but on the proviso that the new pub was to be constructed of concrete block with cement floor. The new pub is built like a bunker. You can just about clean it out with a fire hose. No more fire insurance payouts, I assume.

Yeppoon – Singing Ship Monument (Qld)

Just to the north of Rocky at Yeppoon, we caught up for the day with locals Vic and Bronwyn, 5th wheelers we’d met recently at the Futter Creek camp, and had lunch with them at the yacht club over a nice piece of local beef.

Our travel plans have now changed due to an accident involving my uncle, the one we’d recently visited with in Maryborough. A fall and subsequent broken ankle laid him up in hospital and we’re heading back there to help him get back on his feet after he’s discharged. As we get older, we don’t seem to bounce as well as we used to when we were spry and nimble.

We’re now working our way back south and are again camped at Futter Creek for a couple of days.

You know that point you reach halfway between being awake and asleep – that numb state of drowsiness when thought is slipping away. I was in that lethargic state, reclining back in the chair, soaking up the sun, nodding off…when an angle grinder started up and blew it all to hell. Hardly what you’d expect to encounter at a pleasant little creekside camp spot in the middle of nowhere.

It was all the fault of the guy in the van just across the way. He started the whole thing. It was laundry day and out came the portable washing machine and generator onto the grass beside his van. Now, if it was me, I’d have put it all around the back to block the noise, but that’s just me.

Anyway, next thing, Old Mate from the van next door spies Washing Guy’s generator and, seizing on an opportunity, trots over and plugs an angle grinder into it and starts grinding away at some God-Only-Knows-What thing he’s got going on.

In no time at all, Grinding Man triggers some deep primal urge in Old Mate in the van on the other side of Washing Guy, who proceeds to get out his own grinder and gets stuck into his own noisy God-Only-Knows-What project.

Our once-serene campsite is now reverberating to the cacophony of washing machine, generator and angle grinders.

Offering a discordant accompaniment to the tune of the “The Laundry and Construction Orchestral Trio” are Ma and Pa Kettle in the mobile home on the other side – Ma with her irritatingly loud nasally voice that I’m sure could easily etch glass if she tried just a little bit harder, continually berating downtrodden-looking Pa Kettle for daring to breathe; and Pa hollering to whoever’s on the speakerphone that they are camped in such a nice quiet spot and that their toilet pump isn’t working. Makes sense now. I thought they were full of it. And their little spotted Rat Dog’s perpetual struggles to cough up that permanently stuck fur ball just rounds off the complete symphonic package.

Serenity is such a fragile and fleeting thing. Angle grinders pale compared to Ma Kettle’s dulcet voice.

“We’re out of here first thing tomorrow.” – Pete

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , ,

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