Airlie Beach

Thursday 30th August, (Airlie Beach).

We have arrived in Airlie Beach, or Cannonvale at least just before Airlie Beach, and parked in a park called Seabreeze. This park was a mistake in selection due to my assuming it was a Big4, which is in fact way out of town, but this one will suit the purpose and is as good a park as one would want, being the closest one, in general, to everything we need to frequent.

A quick look around and I think we are glad that we didn’t stay in Airlie Beach proper as it seams to be another one of those touristy towns that are bent on extracting a dollar from everybody. The area we are in will suit us for a week to do what we intend while we are here.

Bowen

Wednesday 29th August, (Bowen).

A very unpleasant night was had by myself last night, and Linda as a result, after suffering multiple bites on my legs and arms from sand flies. The problem with these bites is that one does not feel the actual bite and feels nothing until one goes to bed the bites itch with a burning feeling, bad enough to keep one awake all evening. I did notice that if I sat up uncovered, the cool night air gave great relief, but one froze all evening and is now suffering those consequences. The park management gave me a recipe for cure and repellent, which I tried and so far it seems to work, but over night tonight will tell. The formula is as follows: Equal parts of Dettol and baby oil with 25% of that volume of Teatree oil, shake well before use, apply liberally and rub into the affected areas or all exposed areas.

The gasman came today and after explaining what I wanted a quote was given to do the job and I declined, as it would be far cheaper to buy extra gas bottles. He was a help though as he informed me that one can purchase an adapter to convert from the large gas bottle outlet to the small one, so my problems will be solved by purchasing one of these and obtaining an additional 4 1/2 kilo gas bottle with the large outlet. This way I could use the new bottle for the fridge and as a spare for the caravan and keep my small bottle for a fridge spare.

Bowen

Tuesday 28th August, (Bowen).

The centenary celebrations on the weekend were quite enjoyable and well presented for a small township as that of Bowen. We caught some of the activities in the streets on Saturday afternoon, like races, a novel race regularly held here is the tomato carrying race where contestants race carrying a large bucket of tomatoes in each hand over a predetermined distance without spilling any. If any are spilled either he or a team member has to pick up the spilled fruit and replace it in the bucket before race completion. There was also several entertainment displays. We visited the park in the evening where the festivities continued and sat through a show given by John Williamson, the Australian country singer, which we both found quite entertaining.

Sunday was a day for me sitting under the awning with the TV on the table watching the car racing, the Queensland 500 V8 racing was on and was a thrilling race compared to the other two or so at this venue in previous years. Linda had a day of relaxation, reading her books, when she wasn’t doing normal chores such as washing.

Monday was the day to get the power steering on the car fixed and a service while it was at the shop, so after delivering the car and before picking it up we went for a lengthy ride, for Linda anyway, on our cycles and decided that we had to have a good look around the area in the car when we get it back. The vehicle was repaired and I took possession of it again on Monday so today we had our look around the area. Several scenic lookouts give a very good appreciation and views of the countryside surrounding the township and also of some of the northern most islands of the Whitsunday group, quite spectacular. There are also a couple of rather nice small beaches on the western side of the town that are well patronised.

If the Whitsunday area is anything like this we are going to enjoy our stay at Airlie Beach next week. I figure Airlie Beach is behind the land area behind Linda’s head in the picture above.

I have arranged for a plumber to visit in the morning to discuss the possibility of fitting another gas feed from the bottle on the front of the caravan to the outside of the van, near the door, for connection to the outside fridge to eliminate the need for extra gas bottles and give us an outlet for running other things such as barbeque etc. I am not sure if such an addition would even be legal, but this is the reason for discussion before a decision is made to complete the installation.

Bowen

Thursday 23rd August, (Bowen).

We have now moved on to Bowen, about 200km from Townsville, near Ayr.

I am sure now why people have suggested to travel Australia in an anti-clockwise direction to travel with the wind; since we left Cairns to travel back south the vehicle has not been performing as well as expected and I can only suppose that on the way up we mostly had a tail wind, when there was a breeze, and on the way south we have had a head wind on all days of travel. If one takes notice of the weather pattern in TV reports, one would notice that generally the upper most part of Australia has a constant high pressure area in the centre so, as the wind travels around a high in an anti-clockwise direction, then prevailing winds would be exactly what we have been experiencing.

We have only just settled in Bowen and have not yet had a chance to see anything, so more to follow later.

Friday 24th August, (Bowen).

A small drama that showed at a rather opportune time today, as one of the other campers at the park informed me that while I was parking the caravan he noticed oil leaking from under the panel-van. Upon inspection it was discovered that the power steering reservoir was void of fluid, so if he hadn’t noticed it would have only been a matter of time before I would have lost power in steering. Not having a great deal of experience with power steering I am not sure how much steering one would have if the power control is lost, so I am rather thankful that this gentleman noticed the leak rather than the steering failing while having the caravan on the back.

We will have to leave our sight seeing till later next week as I can’t get the problem fixed until at least Monday, and we may have to be prepared to extend our stay here for another couple of days depending on repairs.

We found out today that the centenary celebrations are being held in Bowen this week and culminating tomorrow with a street parade and functions, including fireworks, in the evening in the local park around the corner from the caravan park. As it turns out it was fortunate that we chose this caravan park as all the others are way over the other side of town and without a vehicle we may have missed the event.

Townsville

Tuesday 21st August, (Townsville).

Narrelle and Matthew got away yesterday with no problems, which is more than what I can say for returning the rental car. When I booked the car I asked for a small cheapy and they quoted me a Corolla at $135.00 odd. When we picked up the car we had been upgraded to a Commodore, which we thought was great until we returned the car yesterday. A bill was given to me of $268.99 that I immediately queried and all the girl at the desk would do is give me a phone number to ring. To cut a long story short, it turned out that our quote was for a weekend special, which I was aware of, but we returned the vehicle at 1300 and we were billed a default full rate because we returned the vehicle later than midday, the time limit for the special. After explaining that I was not informed of the return deadline, and seeing we were only 1 hour late they decided to only charge us the original quote, so all worked out in the end.

Relaxation for the remainder of yesterday and today as stiffness has set in the legs after the long walk around Magnetic Island on Sunday and hopefully all will be better tomorrow to ease with packing up for a move on Thursday. We will be travelling on to Bowen from here, about 200km south on the coast.

We will be studying our future travels when we get to Bowen as Matthew emailed last night to say that they would not be going to Brisbane in October as planned, so we can now change our travel plans to bypass Brisbane and head inland earlier if we so desire.

Townsville

Sunday 19th August, (Townsville).

We have had an enjoyable few days with Narrelle & Matt visiting us before their venture off to England. A leisurely day was had yesterday having a look around Townsville and the immediate surround, such as parks and the lookout in the middle of the city. One of the major tourist attractions of Townsville would be Castle Hill, which is situated next to the city area, or at least the city and suburbs were built around the hill, and it provides the most spectacular views of the entire city and suburbs, day and night.

Small world, while walking through the city a familiar face appeared, Allan Lawson and wife, he works for Telstra back in Launceston and they live just a few blocks from where we did and our kids went to school with theirs. We had quite a chat, discussing the latest news with what is happening back home and it turns out he is still waiting for a package, as he has for ages, and can’t get one. They are here for a usual biannual trip to Townsville to visit children.

We all ventured across to Magnetic Island today but we could not afford the trip as we would have preferred, as the cost of transporting the car on the barge was just too great, about $140 odd would you believe, so we travelled across on one ferry and returned on the barge because as they docked at different places on the island we thought that we could walk over a mountain bush walk and when we arrived at the end we would be in the area where the barge left from. As it turned out Matt and Nell would have preferred to do the trip the other way round as they were hopeful to do some diving while there and it wasn’t until we were about to leave the island that cheap diving trips could have been had a lot earlier in the day. We didn’t know this earlier because the information centres obviously couldn’t, or didn’t want to, inform us about it.

After walking about 12 kilometres, up and down hill, all day it will be interesting tomorrow to find out how well my bike riding has contributed, exercise ways, to assist to enable me to walk such distances trouble free or not.

So a relaxing evening will occur this evening having a look at the photos I have taken the last couple of days, and both Matt and myself need to do a little net surfing.

A couple of last things we have to do tomorrow with Nell and Matt before we see them off at about midday, which may be our last meeting for a few years, and then we can settle down, give our legs a couple of days to recover, then off on our travel routine once more.

Townsville

Tuesday 14th August, (Townsville).

The park we had chosen, Rowes Bay, had reserved us a site this morning and just as well, the park we stayed at last night was a nice enough park but is too close to the airport and army choppers were taking off and landing until about 11pm. I was awoken at about 5am this morning by the large trucks travelling the highway outside the park. The road runs along the front boundary of the park and bend around the end boundary to straighten and travel directly away from the park. An opening in the hedge in line with the highway give the effect of a sound tunnel with the truck sounds seeming to be amplified in the park, which resulted in my being woken up.

The Rowes Bay Park that we are in now is also a very well laid out park and in a very good area with beaches across the road and the city close by. The airport is still reasonably close and a local tells me they could hear the choppers last night as well, but there does not seem to be much action with them tonight so it may have been a non regular event.

We have decided that we need an extra fridge so we spent some time today looking at some and we found we were quite surprised at the price of camping fridges, as this is the type we need so it can be run on gas, 240 volts and 12 volts. There was one fridge type that we considered very suitable as it only ran on 12 volts, unless from a power supply from 240, and stays cold for a very long period of time and not use much power, the downside of this fridge was the $1,900 price tag and we could not justify that price to keep a few vegetables cold, so the conventional 3 way type at $600 odd seems to be the go. It turns out there is a camping show on this weekend so we decided to leave the purchase until then because the story is that they may have some show specials and a slim chance that we may get one cheaper.

Townsville

Monday 13th August, (Townsville).

I did not think that I may have been somewhat glad to leave a park due to other campers, but this was almost the case at Charters Towers as the ‘gentleman?’ that was parked next to us was starting to get on my nerves. It turned out our moving because of this was not necessary as the offender moved out as well. He is a man that is hard to have a constructive conversation with because he knew all the answers and was always right with everything others said being incorrect with his ideas being better, especially with suggestions making caravan life easier. An example of which was when he asked me what the red coil springs were under the back of the panel van; oh I forgot to mention that he is a man that misses nothing. My explanation was simply what they are, how they fit and work, which is as a supplement to the rear suspension to contribute to handling loads in the panel van. His reply was “may as well put another leaf in the springs as it would be better and cheaper”, now this was a reply from a person who had never seen these devices before and not having experienced exactly what the benefits were, and after trying to explain the benefits he just up and left as if upset because I had beaten him at his own game. My first encounter with him was when he introduced himself while I was working on the bike rack supports, so I thought while I had been interrupted, which at the time I did not consider it an interruption, I may as well have a smoke. When I mentioned this to him his reply was a sharp retort of “give that up it will kill you”, and when I replied with “and so will a bus if it hits you so will you stop using public transport” dumbfounded him and it took some time before he could think of something else to try to convince me was wrong. He topped off my feelings of ambivalence toward him when he started to pack up at 6:00am or so, which a lot of campers do, but was very noisy about it, as if he gave no consideration toward others trying to sleep.

Anyway enough of slanging as it is not normally in my nature. We have now moved on to Townsville. We had picked out a park we were to stay at as we also made a booking for Nelle and Matt in a cabin this weekend, but we have arrived a few days early and there were no vacancies so we have had to temporarily move to another park until they do. After doing some running around town today to find some parts for the caravan I have come to the decision that this is an area that we could easily come to enjoy, but the next week or so will tell, especially when we move into the other park, which I reckon will suit us a lot better because it is in a much better area.

Charters Towers

Thursday 9th August, (Greenvale/ Charters Towers).

We have moved on to Charters Towers, which is situated west of Townsville by about 120 kilometres. We had a stay at Greenvale, about half way from Mt. Surprise, just overnight then one would not give much consideration to staying any longer. The park itself is a reasonably good one, but there is simply nothing to do there. The township is an old mining town that a private enterprise purchased after the mine closed down and have kept most of the town operational as a tourist attraction but there did not seem to be much happening in the way of tourists, but it is enlightening to see such a town stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Something I have learned over the last couple of days is that when travelling in outback Queensland check fully on the condition and type of roads one intends to travel. The roads we have been travelling for the last three days have been sealed but only one lane wide, so if passing or overtaking one must go off the edge of the bitumen and travel with one wheel in the gravel. I was aware that there were roads around of this construction type but did not realise these particular roads were, if I had realised I would not have travelled them as they may as well have been totally gravel and I do not intend taking the caravan on gravel. The episode was a learning experience though; as I have now learned some things that I must do to modify the caravan to improve things that may have given us trouble eventually even on good roads.

Mt Surprise

Tuesday 7th August, (Mt Surprise).

I received some bad news today when I used the parks facilities to use the internet and I received an email from John Chellis, previously mentioned old workmate, that Andrew Ray had passed away on Friday last, and his funeral was today. It grieves me that I had recently made friends with Andrew over the last couple of years, although I have known of him for a long time, and I am so far away at a time like this and can’t pass on my respects to his wife personally. I feel even more remorse from not being back in Tassie at this time knowing that I am one of the very few people that Andrew confided in concerning his cancer, and if our friendship meant that much then I feel as I could have consoled his wife somewhat. I rang this afternoon to offer her my sentiments and she acknowledged that she appreciated my feelings and assured me that she and all others were coping adequately.

Otherwise a very restful day was had, doing very little and enjoying the warm sunny weather that this area has to offer. I found out that this park, the Bedrock Village, has internet access available to clients. I enquired as to whether access was via a phone line and as to whether it may be possible to connect my laptop to the phone line so as I could possibly access my phone account and pay it. The surprise response was “We have a separate phone line for that particular purpose”, to which I expressed my surprise that they do and no other van park does. Management even expressed their amazement in also hearing from several other people that no one else provides this as a service. After having this win I must remember to make note in my caravan park report that this park would have to be one of the most management friendly of any we have stayed at.