Townsville

Saturday 29th June, (Townsville).

Well plans do change: we have moved on from Balgal beach because the Midges got to Linda last night and they have affected her rather badly. Not knowing much about these Midges, they must only come out to bother people in the right weather conditions. Last time we camped there we had the idea they were out and about, they didn’t affect me but Linda received a few bites we thought were from them, but they must have been mosquitoes or something because the bites were not anywhere near as bad as these one are. I again was not affected last night, but then I was covered in insect repellent.

We have decided to travel on to Townsville. The park we are booked into on Monday is booked out until then so we tried a Top Tourist park on the northern side of town. Actually this is a very nice park, all the concrete slabbed sites are taken but we have been placed out the back on a nicely grassed area that is actually quite nice, and the price is very reasonable. The big disadvantage with this park though is that it is so far out of town, otherwise we would have given consideration to staying here instead for the next month. We will go into the other park because the money we would save by staying here would only be spent on fuel getting into town to do all my shopping.

Although we do have the comforts of power here we will still treat it as being a camping ground and try to relax as we would if we were still out there, shouldn’t be hard to do.

Balgal Beach

Friday 28th June, (Balgal beach).

We are still touring around the freebie camp areas between Ingham and Townsville. We are enjoying this lifestyle so much we are looking forward to getting as much of it in the future as we possibly can.

We are now back at Balgal beach, we stayed here on our way to Ingham, and the Midges are as bad as ever, a good cover of insect repellent keeps them at bay though. We plan on leaving here on Sunday with an overnight stay at another campground at Bluewater. This one is only a 12-hour area, but it is all we need as we plan on being back in Townsville on Monday.

We had the caravan weighed as we departed from Ingham and the result made me wish we had not. The overall weight is 150k over the maximum allowed for a single axle van so consequently all other weights are above our limits as well. I am not how sure I can trust the accuracy of the weighbridge though as it was rather old and manually operated. Being primarily for much heavier vehicles I wonder how accurate the reading were for these low weights. The result was that I had a tow ball weight of, would you believe, 340 kilograms, I don’t believe it possible the ball weight could be any heavier than 240 odd.

Anyway the end result is that we must get some weight off the caravan. If they will fit, the spare tyres, van and car, will be put on roof racks on the car, and the bikes must go from the rear of the van. We are at present considering sending Linda’s bike back to Tassie for Adrian and possibly keeping mine if it will also fit on the roof racks, if not it must go as well. Removing the car spare from inside will free up a great deal of space so we can remove several items from the van and store them in the panel van. I am still allowed an extra 3-400k carried in it before exceeding it’s legal limit so hopefully this and a few other rearrangements will at least overcome our problems to the extent we will be a lot happier with towing it.

We are booked into the park in Townsville for a month so I am considering treating myself while we are there with a landline phone line for quick Internet and such for a change. I am also going to finally overcome my problems with mobile access using my new laptop by buying a new mobile. I have found one that has USB connectivity so it will be purchased. I have also decided that rather than throw it away I will reconnect my existing one to another number at a cheep rate and keep it as a spare. I have been having a little trouble with Internet access with my existing one, which finally convinced me to buy the new one, but it seems that the problem only occurred at Ingham, so the phone itself looks like still being ok.

Oh well the next couple of days look like being the last restful days for a while so I may as well make the most of them.

Ingham

Saturday 22nd June, (Ingham).

An interesting week has now passed at Ingham; all of my chores have been done. The new tyres fitted, the annexe shades have been made and modified to suit all applications and we have had somewhat of a look around the area.

Ingham is somewhat of a surprise to us, as although we do remember passing through here before we have now decided that it is a place we will stay on several occasions on our way through to Cairns, or return. There are several drives to go on, which are covered very well in a booklet Linda obtained from the caravan park office. We have not done much sightseeing as we have decided to leave some to do on future visits. We did go and have a look at a waterfall in the area called Wallaman falls and it is rather spectacular. They are a height of 268 metres with a pool at the bottom that is 20 metres deep. The falls are on a mountain range that is 540 metres above see level.

We had a quick look at the local cemetery today as we had heard that it was quite spectacular and worth a visit. This statement had us wondering what to expect until we arrived there and every statement made was in fact true. I am not sure that we have ever experienced a cemetery such as this one. Being predominantly Italian most of the grave are quite large buildings, apparently this is common practice in Italy, and there are plenty of them. The graves that are not of a building nature are construction of a quite intricate form anyway.

We intend doing another drive tomorrow and then Monday will see us on our return to Townsville via the campsites we visited on our way up.

Ingham

Tuesday 18th June part 2, (Ingham).

Now the tyre saga: as previously mentioned, it may at the time have not meant much, but remember the tyre I changed before leaving Townsville, well as just mentioned the dread of a blow out happened anyway. Not just a blow out, but the entire tread separated from the rest of the tyre, and now I have two tyres that have suddenly decided to self destruct, I ask the question why. After arriving at the present location and placing my destructed tyre on the ground, the inquisitive nature of fellow campers caused them to stop and chat about what had happened. During these conversations one camper proceeded to relate a similar situation that had happened to her; to keep the story short, the result of her drama was a story that tyres made for use in southern states, such as Tassie and Victoria, are made from a softer compound rubber and, according to her tyre expert, will not handle the extreme in temperatures in the northern states. On the other hand tyres made for use in the northern states are made of harder compound rubber to handle the temperatures. Other travellers, one being an old truckie, also offered advice and all concurred that the brand and type of tyre in question was of an inferior quality and all have had bad experiences with them. The tyres in question are Dunlop light truck tyres. This all seemed to make logical sense to me so I decided to arm myself with these questions and put them to the tyre people I intended seeing while seeking replacements. Hopefully, if nothing else, they may be able to give me a reason why these tyres decided to self-destruct, because as far as I am concerned I did nothing outside the margins of restrictions of these tyres, in fact I consider that I was well within the limits.

That was yesterday, which was just all too much and I ended up almost totally exhausted and did nothing but settle down and relax for the rest of the day and evening. Today I took the tyres and sought information as what to do in the best interests of finding suitable replacements. When I put my questions and situation the Beaurepaires people there immediate response was “are they Dunlop tyres? They have a reputation of this behaviour”. This in itself, I believe, was the answer to my situation, considering similar stories from fellow travellers.

After further discussions the salesman informed me that he would almost guarantee the statement of different compound tyres would be false as he said that all tyres in Australia are made in Melbourne and are all of the same construction. So I am really none the wiser as to whether that statement is true or not, at least I am not going to indicate it to be the case to anybody else. I then further listened to the advise from the salesman and when he said he would be able to get me a warranty claim for the damaged tyres I agreed with his suggestions and even selected a tyre choice of a little heavier load rating that suggested. In fact the ones selected were the size the spec plates on the caravan stipulates should be used and in fact the ones supplied were of a slightly smaller size. The salesman convinced me that this difference should not have been the reason for the self-destruction so I decided to leave it at that rather than pursue the manufacturers for possible reimbursement.

As it turned out this was a just decision as when I returned to pick up my tyres the salesman informed me of the warranty deal he had obtained for me and I could not have gotten any better anywhere. The blow out tyre, had done only about 2,000k’s, was replaced with my choice at no charge and the one that I caught early, had done possibly 20,000k’s, was replaced again with my choice for a cost of $20.00, and a third, which was to replace the one I damaged before even leaving Tassie, if you can remember back that far, was supplied at a 10% discount. The tyre price quoted was $119.00; even this price was about 2/3’s what I had expected to pay. Ultimately then, I have had three faulty tyres replaced with another brand of my choice for basically the cost of only one, being $129.00; at least I think I have today had a big win.

Tomorrow I intend doing what I we stopped at Ingham to do, further modify the new shade cloths for the annexe. This will complete our intended three day stay so the following day we will study what is on offer to see in the area and decide what we will see now and what we will leave to see later on a return visit. Ingham is on the main highway on the trip to Cairns so we will no doubt be returning here on several occasions in the future.

We have also read in a caravan book a couple of ads about satellite TV reception designed for the traveller. Knowing the cost will be high I do intend to find out more information about it because who knows I may even be able to obtain Internet access via satellite as well and if that were the case I would give it serious consideration. It would be extremely nice to have continuous good TV reception no matter where we are, and fast access to the Internet and it would overcome the problems I am having at present with my mobile access.

Ingham

Tuesday 18th June, (Ingham).

I had a story to put on paper yesterday, but after the events of the day I found I was too tired to even think about it.

We are now at Ingham, and what was to be a two-day, or so, stay will turn out to be something like a week, what with the events of yesterday and also finding that Ingham actually has a fair bit to offer for the traveller.

During our several short trips over the past few days I have been wondering about the strange feelings of movement of the caravan, I had simply put it down to the different effects the new tow hitch was having. Then one of our dreads occurred: a blowout of a tyre on the caravan half way during our trip to Ingham.

To make things worse the temperature was very high and after the rain the day before the humidity would have had to be the worst I have yet experienced, yet there I was on the side of a busy highway, in this tremendous heat and humidity, dodging traffic trying to change the wheel, and Linda over the other side of the van thinking that because the other side wheel was down over the edge of the road, the lean on the van whilst jacked up was going to cause it to topple. I don’t know why she thought it would help, but she stood there leaning against the van trying to prop it up trying to stop it toppling.

All this was after packing up to move in the unbearable discomfort of the heat, and then later one still had to set up camp at our new destination in heat just as unbearable as it had been all day. I guess this is what one should expect to happen with the life style we are experiencing at present, but one hopes that it doesn’t, especially with the heat as well.

Rollingstone

Saturday 15th June, (Rollingstone).

The stay at Balgal was very enjoyable, but we may not return because of the sand flies. A great many people left the area because of the flies, they didn’t seem to bother us much, I do spray repellent when we are in unknown areas so maybe this had a large effect.

We have now moved north about 10k to Rollingstone, another camp area here would have to be the pick of the bunch of the camp areas in the district. It is still run by the same council on the same basis, but this one is not by a beach and is a very large grassed area among many large trees. It is obviously very popular judging by the amount of vans camped on the grounds.

It is raining at present; a change though, and surprisingly has not put much of a damper on our camping out. One must expect whatever weather is thrown at us and accept it.

We will be looking forward to returning to this camp area on our return to Townsville. As Linda commented our stay here is made more enjoyable by the friendliness of the other campers, but consider they are all here for the same reason as us.

Balgal Beach

Thursday 13th June, (Balgal Beach).

An incident has occurred that I am not sure how to take: Linda has convinced me to discard my shoes and socks, not my shoes and socks! She has finally won and had me walking not only on the beach barefoot, but in the water as well. I guess this should do my feet some good though, as I do have a problem at the moment with something I more than likely picked up in an amenities block somewhere, but we are working on clearing it up.

We are at the moment regretting that other areas and states do not have more camping areas like they do here. The camping is so peaceful and easy going that we could, and are talking about, doing as much of this style camping as possible. The cost saving would be of great benefit as well.

We have now moved on to Balgal Beach, about 30k odd north, as we can only stay at each camp area for two nights. This spot is as good as one would hope for, right on the beach, a shop next door, plenty of sun to charge the batteries and warm weather, what else would one want. We will get a bit of this camping in over the next few weeks.

What looks like a good fishing spot close by could end up seeing me extracting the fishing rod from the car at last, but we will have to see. I did notice several fishermen with lines in, but there didn’t seem to be much action, so I will have another look tomorrow and you never know what will happen.

Saunders Beach

Chapter Fourteen.

Filling it time round Townsville.

Tuesday 11th June 2002, (Saunders Beach).

After spending a couple of weeks in Townsville we have decided that it is time to move on and check out these camp areas between there and Ingham.

We are at present at Saunders Beach, the first of the camp areas set up by the local council basically for travellers to stay at, for a maximum of 48 hours and only one stay per week. So we figure that if we slowly make our way to Ingham staying at these areas, then at Ingham and its surrounds for a week or two and then make our way back down the coast to Townsville we should kill just about enough time before Linda has to fly out on her trip home.

One could very easily get used to this style of camping, being free, right next to an enormous beach and we get to do exactly what we want whenever we want. We also have all the time we need to just relax as much as we want. We are now really looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

A possible fortunate break this morning; while Linda was at the shops I was waiting fully packed and ready to move on when I noticed one van tyre looked a little deflated. I decided to check them and both were down a little so I thought while I had time I would pump them up. While inflating one of them I noticed an out of shape area on the tread and upon investigation it was noted to be bulging in the centre of the tread almost all the way round the tyre. A replacement at this stage possibly prevented a blowout while travelling, I dread even thinking about that. A check with a Dunlop centre when I find one may give me a warranty claim on it as it was less than half worn, otherwise I will just have to purchase another as it was one of the originals and I am not going down to Melbourne just to replace it under warranty.

Townsville

Monday 10th June, (Townsville).

We did have a couple of very cold nights, well we think nowadays that anything below 10 or 11 degrees is cold, one night Linda even turned on her blanket. It didn’t last all night though as she overheated half way through the night and had to turn it off.

Otherwise we have enjoyed our stay at Townsville. And we found plenty to do to occupy our time. We decided to cut and shut our green-shade awning to make it easier to erect and take down. Our original plan was to cut the old shade cloth and fit edging to support press-studs, but it was old, weakened and stretched out of shape, which resulted in it hanging very drably. We found a piece of heavier duty, and grey, shade cloth at Hardware House in a remnant bin that we decided to use as a ground sheet where it will be unsuitable to use the carpet. This cloth was a lot easier to work with so we purchased some more, had to pay full price as none left in remnant bin, and use it for the end pieces. The piece of the old cloth used for the long outer face was still in reasonable condition so it was decided to use this. This meant we were now using tho different colours, but we are not out to impress people, so if we find it doesn’t work we at least now have a little experience and we can, with a little more confidence, make a new piece using the same colour, grey, as the ends.

I have also been looking at mobile phones with the hope of finding one that has USB connectivity, and ask questions about other terms I have been coming across, and I did find one brand that is what I have been looking for. It would be a pity if I were to buy the new mobile as my old trusty LG, ha ha, would become defunct. I have almost decided to give Linda my new laptop and mobile when she goes home in July for Matthew to attempt to get it to work with a serial to USB converter, but after finding more info about the other model I am very nearly convinced to buy it anyway. Web surfing apparently revealed that I might have been ripped off buying the LG, as it seems that it may be only capable of data speeds of 9,600, the same as the old digital, not at 14,400 as was led to believe. The other brand does, according to what we found on the net, work at 14,400 and comes with software which gives one a lot of PC usability with the mobile such as phone book, sending SMS etc. I think I would be a lot happier with the new one, but one would only know after purchasing unfortunately.

We will be moving off tomorrow, after staying for two weeks rather than one, and will be visiting several camp spots on the coast between here and Ingham. A stay at Ingham and maybe somewhere further north and then we will return to Townsville, on the way staying at the camp spots again, this should kill some time before Linda goes home.

We will be killing this time in the next chapter.

Townsville

Tuesday 4th June, (Townsville).

One job we are now half way through and I think we are both regretting even starting it. We have began rearranging and reshaping the green shade awning cover for the annexe. The problems were that we used the old green shade that we have had hanging since day one, which was a little twisted out of shape, and we used the wrong material to line the edges. The lining was a little stretchy, along with the freshly cut end of the green shade, and when we sewed them together the lengths were all out of proportion. Well if nothing else our ingenuity will be tested trying to come up with a fix.

Linda has had her glasses and eyes checked again, which has resulted in a new pair of lenses in her glasses. This time she has had variable lenses fitted with the idea of wearing them continuously. She is, at this stage, happy with them with the exception that it is going to take some time to get used to them. Positioning her book in the right place and looking at it at the correct angle is the main problem at this stage.

We are at this stage wondering how we are going to fully enact our previous statement about never being cold ever again. It seems that wherever we go there are always some evenings that are cold, we are even talking at the moment about turning on the electric blanket. I guess we had the misconception that the temperatures at Townsville are always warm, but they are far from it at the moment of an evening. The days are still warm enough to wear shorts, but southerly winds certainly cool the night air enough to get dressed up a little more. Oh well, that’s life: If that’s all we have to complain about things can’t be too bad.