Cairns

Tuesday 29th May.

We have had time now to accustom ourselves with the area, getting to find the shopping centres, OP shops for Linda and doctors etc, as it looks as though we will be in the area for some time. We are already making plans to suit an extended stay, which means no need to rush to do the things we intend to do while we are here.

Wednesday 30th May.

We got our chance today to go up to Kuranda again, up in the mountains, we went up there by car last time we were here 5 years ago, but this time we went up by the scenic train and down by sky rail. We realised after we left here after our last trip that we should have taken the train and Sky rail trip and have not been able to wait until our return so we could have the experience. We have now had the experience and it is definitely one to recommend to anybody that visits the area, it cost in the order of $120.00 but was well worth it.

The train ride was about an hour and a half and the track climbs 1 metre in 15 to the top. It winds its way around the hills and up the edge of Barron Gorge, which gives excellent views, through several tunnels, over several bridges and past waterfalls. I discovered that if one was to be on the ready with his camera one could have gotten some spectacular snaps, not that I didn’t get some good shots anyway but there was an opportunity for some other great ones that one missed because of the moving train.

The Sky rail ride came back down the other side of the gorge giving some equally excellent views. There were two stopovers on the way down where the cars slowed down for passengers to enlighten and have a look around some walks and lookouts provided. The entire trip was over the top of a rain forest and gave scenes of a rain forest one would never otherwise experience.

Again the trip is a must for anyone in the area. The township of Kuranda is typically one with tourism attitudes offering all sorts of markets with so-called specials to collect the tourist dollar. The situation would appeal to many tourists as this would probably be their first introduction to Australian culture and lap up the opportunity to purchase some local trade, but to us it was just a situation of ‘here are the tourists they’ll have money’, but it is a very nice place to have a stroll around and admire the scenery.

The end of the Sky rail trip meant a connecting bus ride back to the rail station where we left the car and then home again. One of the better things associated with this trip, and most in this area, is that one can make a booking at the place of residence and have all tickets needed for the entire day and then just travel at one’s leisure for the entire day.

Cairns

Saturday 26th May, (Cairns).

I am surprised to see that it has been a full week since I have written anything, but I guess we have been busy travelling to get to Cairns and when we have not been travelling we (I) have been resting after the extra driving.

We are now at Cairns, and it has been 3 days since we arrived, which surprises me again that I have not put pen to screen. I guess we have waited for so long to reach Cairns and enjoy the weather that now we are here putting words down has been a low priority. Since staying at Mackay we travelled on to Ayr and stayed two days for another rest, which was just as well because when we left there with the intention of stopping at Mission Beach, we in fact travelled on to Cairns because we couldn’t wait to get there. This trip was the longest we have encountered while towing the caravan, which made it a rather long day. Since we have been here we have basically had a major clean up of the caravan and car, as this needs doing on a regular basis. When we arrived here we stopped at the first park we came to as it was late in the day and approaching peak traffic hour, and I don’t like driving in a strange area with the caravan on the back, so we also had a look at several other parks around Cairns with the idea of moving on to one that would be more centrally situated to things we intend to do. We have decided on a park close to the city centre, but towards, and among, the mountains just inland. This looked like a very nice park, surrounded by hills and must have things to do like mountain walks, which we would both be interested in so we are moving on to there tomorrow. From here we are also close to the chair lift and scenic railway and other attractions that we intend to visit. Most attractions in the Cairns area provide courtesy coaches to pick up and drop off clients at home, but I think the park we are staying at the moment is too far out of town to qualify, which is a pity because this park is quite nice with all sites having en-suites and a cheap price that makes it quite a worthwhile stay, but as I mentioned it is too far from anything.

The weather: what can one say to describe something that is almost perfect without sounding somehow biased or whatever. The past week at Cairns has been one of which the locals call a cold snap, and apparently the lowest average temperature has been the lowest on record, but I find temperatures of 9° to 10° at night time very tolerable and easy to handle. I am of the mind at the moment of staying in this area for as long as possible before we have to return to Brisbane and having a quick drive back as we did coming up: but we will have to see what eventuates.

I also picked up the memory card for the camera and have had a chance to have a play with it. I was astonished to find that the camera, with the 64Mb card, will still not permit me to make settings of maximum resolution and no compression, indicating still that there is not enough memory. This somehow does not surprise me so much as the file size of the third highest setting is about 6Mb and that is an awful large photo file so I guess 3.3Megapixel and no compression must require in the order of the full 64Mb. Never mind though as the new card does give me the ability to take very good quality shots, heaps more resolution than I have been using, and still be capable of 96 shots on the card where 75 on the minimum setting is all I could get with the small card.

Mackay

Sunday 20th May, (Mackay).

We arrived yesterday at Mackay, which is about half way between Brisbane and Cairns, and intend to stay here for two nights. We travelled from Gladstone to Marlborough on Friday, stayed overnight there, and travelled on yesterday. It is just as well we decided to stay here for a couple of days because, even though I didn’t think so earlier in the day, last night showed that all this travelling is catching up with me as all I wanted to do all night was to close my eyes and sleep.

Marlborough is a small place out in the middle of nowhere and apart from a small township several Km off the highway all there is to see is the caravan park and a service station. The road between Gladstone and Mackay goes inland and consequently there is nothing much in the way of townships established, except for this caravan park but only because it is halfway and there are obviously other people around like me and prefer not to travel such long distances and need somewhere to stay.

Mackay has a beach as one has never seen before, as at high tide all looks normal, but at low tide the water is about 1-2 Km out to sea and the beach would be the largest one has ever seen in such a small area.

 

The tide is in.

And then it is out.

Childers, Gladstone

Wednesday 16th May, (Childers/ Gladstone).

Yesterday we travelled approximately 300Km and stayed at Childers, yes this is the Childers renowned for the backpackers hostel fire a year or two ago, and stayed in a nice park in the township. We then decided that we were both feeling rather good with our travelling effort so far so we would do another travel leg the following day, today, and made it to Gladstone. The park we chose to stay at showed winning attitudes as soon as we entered, with the friendliness of management. They showed willingness to assist with any request we made of them. I had intended to have a service done on the car, and the air conditioner serviced, and when I asked if they could recommend a mechanic they not only suggested, but rang a motor mechanic and arranged for him to do the work this afternoon and it was done, and an air man will visit the park at 8am tomorrow to check the conditioner. I would not expect this sort of service from any park. Apart from that, this park appears to be one of the better that we have stayed at, drive through sites, concrete next to van and plenty of trees for shade at most times of the day.

Now that our work has been done we have tomorrow to have a quick look around the area and generally relax before we head off on our travels again on Friday.

Brisbane

Monday 14th May, (Brisbane).

I have found that Brisbane seems to be a very driver friendly city compared to Melbourne and Sydney. Yesterday didn’t seem to give me that impression, then I did drive straight into the city area with the van on behind before familiarising myself with the area like I have in the other cities, but today driving without the van on the back things were much easier. The traffic seemed to flow a lot more freely with a lot less congestion and hassles, which resulted in us finding our way around a lot easier making our travels a lot more enjoyable. What is also making a difference is Linda starting to learn a little about navigating, which ultimately takes a lot of pressure from me trying to locate streets by name and such.

We had a trip to the airport because Linda had heard about a lolly shop in the area that she just had to visit, and this did result in us buying a lolly supply to last us a fair while without having to buy any more and saved a fair bit by doing so as well. We also went up Mount Coot-tha, forgive me if I miss- spelled it, which is west of the city and gives great views of most of the Brisbane area.

Otherwise a relaxing day was had, a chance to have a good chat with Deris and Danny to catch up with things as it has been such a long time, and took the opportunity to fill both tanks, petrol and gas, with fuel while it is about 20 cents each per litre cheaper than what we have been paying recently.

I found an Internet site today that was offering memory cards suitable for my camera at what seem to be very reasonable prices, so I ordered one. The card I presently have is a 16Mb capacity, which may seem a fair size, but it is not enough for me to take many photos of a high resolution and low compression of which the camera is capable. In fact the camera will not permit me to make settings for maximum resolution, 3.3Mb, and with no compression, TIF files, because it indicates that there will not be enough memory so I have for a long while been wanting a larger card to experiment with pics taken at a larger resolution. I actually found that this web site offered 64Mb cards for the same price as I was quoted direct from Kodak at their staff canteen so I ordered one of these rather than a 32Mb that I had been considering. This will give me the opportunity to take larger res snaps all the time, which will result in a much better quality, or heaps more at the same res as I have been using, either way it will be a winner.

We will be off closer to Cairns tomorrow so I must get some rest now for the journey.

Brisbane

Chapter 8

Queensland

Sunday 13th May (Mothers day), (Brisbane).

We had a leisurely drive from Tweed Heads to Brisbane today, about 100km, and are now parked in Deris and Danny’s front yard.

It turns out that it was a pleasure to leave the caravan park we had just been staying at as it was situated right next to the local sewer treatment plant and last night in particular the breeze occasionally blew in the right direction for the aroma to travel in our direction, this accompanied by the aeroplanes taking off from the airport the other side of the sewer plant and over the park at 5.30 am convinced us that we would never stay there again.

It is a pleasure on my part to finally get to Brisbane because it has come to light that I can’t recall the last time I have met Deris’s husband Danny, I have since been informed that I have met him once in Melbourne since their wedding while I was there on an 8 ball trip about 20 years ago, but I can’t remember as I would have a hard time remembering anything from that trip, so I have now had a chance to meet him again.

Deris and Danny are off to work early in the morning so we will be on our own to find our way to wherever we decide to go sightseeing, but that shouldn’t be a problem, Danny did give me some advice about a law that applies in Brisbane where it is an offence to drive into the city and stop the vehicle to drop somebody off, which I consider is handy to know as the penalty is quite a hefty fine. The reason for this law is apparently to prevent anyone from driving into the city instead of using public transport, Welcome to Queensland!!

Gold Coast

Saturday 12th May, (Surfers Paradise).

Surfers Paradise; what can one say to sum up the beauty of the place. We have now been there, seen that and had a picnic at a park on the edge of the beach. We even felt that smug, that we sent an SMS message to Narrelle and Matthew telling them we were picnicking on the beach, which resulted in Narrelle replying with their present location and suggested we would be better off there, but I took it as sarcasm as I’m sure it was intended. We are definitely returning here and spending some time, preferably closer to the beaches so it would be within walking distance.

Well we did get in one day of looking around, so we did at least see the area, and we now know what to expect when we return.

Even though we crossed the border into Queensland today on our travels it will be on to Queensland for an extended time tomorrow so this could be an opportune time to end this chapter and start another.

Tweed Heads

Friday 11th May, (Tweed Heads).

WE have moved on and are now at Tweed Heads, close to the Queensland border, which leads me to the idea that chapter eight is about to commence when we enter Queensland, which will be on Sunday I reckon.

Our travels took us through Woolgoolga, as it is on the way, and we spotted a sign that summarises our thoughts about its name, it read ‘Welcome to Woolgoolga, a hard place to say, a great place to stay’.

We travelled further today than we had originally intended but then it would be an advantage to do this, as we are now closer to Brisbane so we will now be able to judge our entry time to Brisbane so as to miss the peak traffic.

We picked a caravan park, a big 4, to stay at in Tweed Heads but the map I was following did not show enough detail and we could not access it from the highway as we entered the township. I am still unaware as how to access it but we decided to just book into our second choice, which was much more easily accessible. It seems that it doesn’t matter how much thought we put into selecting which park we intend staying at, there is always something we overlook; this park, and the big 4 we selected, are obviously near an airport as already several planes have flown over at a very low altitude in what must be take off mode, very loud, and it is obvious that the reason that caravan parks are in the area they are is due to these setbacks. One would get used to them, I should imagine, after living here for a while. Overhead power lines and areas stuck behind hills are common problems, giving poor TV reception.

We were taking note of fuel prices as we travelled from Coffs to Tweed (Heads) and the price of gas seemed to increase slightly and petrol seemed to decrease to an extent that the crossover point of economics of using gas was crossed so I may now have to use petrol. I did notice that petrol at a station near the caravan park we booked into was over 10 cents cheaper than just down the road, so I reckon they are already charging Queensland prices even though we are not quite there. A drive around the area and into Queensland tomorrow will reveal the prices in the area and the difference between petrol and gas so as I can decide what to refuel with and where.

One thing I have noticed is it seems to be warmer here than Coffs, and I have had people tell me since we left Coffs that “there is nothing hot about the NSW coast”, and it doesn’t seem to get as cool as the sun goes down. A comment by a fellow traveller from Tassie, whom has now settled in Tweed, that this area is so much warmer than Coffs and is better all year round, I can only believe the locals.

Coff’s Harbour

Thursday 10th May, (Coff’s Harbour).

The weather has finally cleared up somewhat, considerably warmer than it has been, so we went for a drive 30 or so kilometres to visit a place the name of which has tickled our fancy, that being Woolgoolga. It wasn’t a place with anything special, but we felt that we had to visit, if nothing else we spotted a caravan park in the township that tempted us to return and stay there at a later stage.

We are now packed up and ready to move on tomorrow.

Coff’s Harbour

Monday 7th May, (Coff’s Harbour).

I am of the mind to change our plans of staying in Coff’s for as long as originally thought as it is raining at the moment, and with the accompanying wind, it is rather cold so we are thinking that at this time of year we may prefer to be further north and we may make a dash for at least Brisbane and then see what things are like, but we are not going anywhere in the rain. Unfortunately it is forecast for several days, so when it has stopped, who knows, it may warm up enough for us to change our minds again.

Linda met her friend Thuraya at church yesterday and afterward she had made arrangements to borrow a car and show us around the area, but during lunch it became clear to me that they would be better off on their own to chat about old times and I would be better off on my own doing a couple of things I wanted to do. After lunch they dropped me off at my car and they went off on their own way. The next I saw of them was at 5:30 pm when they came home for a change of clothes after they had been walking along the beach near the jetty and a large wave appeared from nowhere and swamped them. I reckon they were chinwagging and hadn’t noticed the wave appear.

Wednesday 9th April, (Coff’s Harbour).

We have decided to head for Cairns where the weather may be a little warmer; it has been windy and cold here almost for the duration of our stay and we decided that we left Tassie to get away from the cold, so it’s off to Cairns. The weather has been very disappointing as we were looking forward to spending some time at Coffs, I can see that we will definitely return here when the weather is warmer, maybe in summer. We are going to travel about 200klm per day, every second day, spending two nights wherever we do stop so we can at least get a rest instead of just travel. About two legs should see us reach Brisbane, where we will have to stay a couple of days to visit Deris, my sister, and get the panel van serviced (I should give the panel van a name as it is a large part of our life now).

We finally had a chance today to visit Sealy Lookout, just north of Coffs, a mountain with views not to be missed, I was told, so with the first decent sunshine that we have had since being here we took the opportunity to go see and take some pics. The views were good to the north and south, but not 360 degrees as I was led to believe.

An upset with plans today as I once again visited the Post Office to collect the mail that Matthew was supposed to send on Friday last. It wasn’t at the PO I had requested so I went into the PO in the city centre in case it was sent there by mistake. Still nothing, so in quite an angry tone I insisted that due to the mail being express post that he find out where it is, he calmly said “if you can give me the postal details I will find it”. I then rang Matt to get the details, and to my disgust, found out that he had not even sent the mail as yet. I will have to try to explain to Matt, so it sticks, that we can’t arrange out travels around delivery of mail, and he will have to acknowledge when he has sent the mail when I have requested it to be.