Chapter 9.

Heading South

Tuesday 31st July 2001, (Atherton).

Yesterday saw us start to pack up for our move back down south, we moved today to Atherton up on the Tablelands. The packing procedure was one that gave me, at least, the feeling that we are starting out on a new venture as we have been in the Cairns area for such a lengthy period and after forgetting where everything stored it is like starting out for the first time again.

The trip to Atherton was a leisurely one as the beginning section was an up hill steep climb, as any road to the Tableland is, which was probably a good move as it was a good opportunity to give me a reminder of the feel of towing again. As we were traversing the mountainous climb I received a rare CB call telling me that there was a “flash for cash” near Kuranda and my reply was one of asking for an explanation, which was, “a speed camera” or as another CB user said “Kojac’s with Kodak’s”, and I thought how silly of me not to realise. A pause for a rest when we reached Mareeba gave me the opportunity to check the bikes on the rear of the caravan, as it is the first time we have travelled with them on board and all was ok.

I think we are going to notice the temperature difference between that at Atherton and what we have been used to at Cairns, as it is a few degrees cooler in the evenings here, but that is what electric blankets are for.

We are, for now, on our way to Townsville, and need to be there by the 17th of August as Narrelle and Matthew are flying up to spend a couple of days with us before they are off on their venture to Britain, so we have two weeks and a couple of days to get there. At this stage we intend travelling via the Tableland and down inland until Charters Towers and then across to Townsville.


Tuesday 24th July.

Linda has returned, and is one happy chappie enjoying the warm weather again. She has had a good chance to catch up on a lot of sleep she missed out on whilst in Tassie. Things didn’t help over there, like several of them getting sick, Linda included, all at the same time, which only proved to be an extra strain.

We are feeling a little stranded at the moment as the car is at the panel beaters getting the front end damages repaired, we tried the local bus transport today, which is as easy to use as any other city, but it just seems inconvenient compared to having ones own transport. We will just have to put up with it until it is finished, which I am hopeful will be earlier than Friday as they quoted as there may not be as much damage underneath as estimated, hopefully.

I surprised a few people by riding my bike back from the city after delivering the car for repairs, considering it only took me an hour and ten minutes, with a ten-minute stopover at the shopping centre on the way. This was not too bad, I suppose, considering the trip was about 19 kilometres. Linda is not taking to her bike too well at the moment as the seat is obviously too hard and causes some severe discomfort to her rear section. Hopefully she will get used to it, as I did, and be able to pedal some distance in the future so we can pedal in company with each other.

It is time once again to consider moving on as we have places to go before returning to Tassie at Christmas, such as meet Narrelle and Matt at Townsville before they head off to England. We are not sure when this will be exactly, yet, so our travels over the next few weeks will be dependant on these arrangements. We intent to start off by heading up to the Atherton Tablelands and have a look around there before heading back toward the coast, where we meet the coastline is dependant on when we have to meet them in Townsville.

For explanation only if I am repeating myself on some articles, I am also writing regular letters to friends and family that are written at different times and I find it difficult to remember which article, and when, I have written stories, so from week to week some things may be repeated. For example, we have been camped at this site at Clifton beach for six weeks now and have enjoyed the area, or at least I have, to the extent that we will almost certainly be returning here next year.

Our time here has been very enjoyable, but now it is time to start another venture; start back down the coast and home for Christmas.


Tuesday 17th July.

Arrangements have been made for repairs to the car, but it is unfortunate that repairs can’t be made before Linda’s return, that is if she gets over the ear infection she has contracted before Friday when she is due to fly back. I am hopeful that the repairers don’t want the car for long because it will be hard to do without it for more than a couple of days, I didn’t think to ask them when I booked it in.

I went to the Mareeba rodeo on Saturday and realised that I have never actually been to one before, not that there have been many to attend in Tassie, and found myself marvelling at the ability the contestants showed in their skill in handling cattle, calves and their horses. The ability the horsemen showed in rounding up the calves after the contestants had performed their tasks were remarkable, or at least the training and ability of the horses used was something to be seen. The show was a real hit for the locals, but then I would assume that there would be a lot of use for that sort of talent at the farms around here.

I have been keeping up the bike riding and have almost decided to ride back home from the city on Monday after delivering the car to the panel beaters for repairs. The distance is about 19Klm, but this is about the same distance that a ride to Smithfield shopping centre and back which is a ride that I have accomplished on several occasions.

After having completed all the tasks I had intended to perform during Linda’s absence I now find that I have little to do to fill in time, but things like going to Port Douglas and riding along the beach seam to be the order of events to occupy myself in the mean time.

I have now managed to obtain email addresses for several old workmates as they have been getting my messages from ones that I have emailed and returned me messages giving me their addresses. I have started sending them what hopefully will be a regular report by sending report number 1, and hopefully the others I don’t have will see them and reply to me as well. A message from Macca the other day indicated that NDC have done a complete turn around and called off the sale of the company and once again become a section of Telstra. Another message from Gerry the Pom, another workmate, indicated yet another (Ken Hosken) was in this area, so after getting his mobile number from the Pom I gave him a call only to find out that I had missed him by two weeks. Ken and wife, it seems, pack up and travel in their camper for three months each year and travel inland by a different road each year to Cairns, do a couple of touristy things in his words, and return via the coast, and it was very unfortunate to miss him as it would have been nice to have met up with them while they were here, but maybe next year.


Thursday 12th July-part 2.

Cooktown itself is a rather nice little place, where one could settle in the caravan for several days, if only the roads were suitable to take the caravan. The views from the top of the hill in the township right on the coast were something to behold, 360 degrees covering the ocean to a large distance inland. I arrived in Cooktown at about 2:00 pm and after having a look around, at about 3:30 pm, I decided to keep going and make the return trip on the same day, saving accommodation monies, but what was to happen next proved this to be a not so wise and costly decision. On the return on the inland road I started remembering the words of advice from those I had spoken to about watching out for the Kangaroos, when it occurred to me that their advice was ill given as the thing I considered I should be looking out for was the cattle on the road. The farms in the area had no fences on the roadside and the cattle were free to wander as they pleased, so an alert eye was kept open at all times. One became familiar with spotting the cattle and all was going well until the sun started to set and then a bloody big kangaroo jumped out in front of me and unfortunately there was nowhere to go but over, or more to the point, into him. After breaking rather hard, avoidance was impossible, I almost came to a standstill when contact was made with this thing that when ready to hop was almost head high with the top of the windscreen, hence I believe most of the damage to the car was the animal being forced underneath the front of the it. It is nothing that a new complete front wing and many supports won’t fix, along with anything else that was damaged on his way under. This is what insurance is for I suppose, but with an excess of $300 it is still a costly decision not to stay over night. Arrangements were made today and tomorrow should see a decision as to when the repairs can be undertaken.


Thursday 12th July.

Time is still idling by and I haven’t yet had much trouble finding something to keep me occupied in Linda’s absence with the normal chores and other things I keep thinking to do. When I do find myself sitting idle, for too long, I just jump on the bike and go for a ride, and this generally kills an hour or so easily.

I have made comments in the past about experiences we have had with mail service, or lack of it, well I am going through a doozie of an experience at the moment with mail deliveries. On or about the 27th June, over 2 weeks ago, my visa card started failing in scanners, so I emailed ISCU in Hobart to request a replacement and as of now I still have not received one (or it). As of Monday past my enquiries as to where the replacement was revealed that there was no trace of where it went, so it was decided by the credit union staff to personally post one to me. Being unsure of when they sent it, assuming it to be Tuesday, I checked today at the PO and it still hadn’t arrived, not even the first one. Another check tomorrow and if it is not there I guess I will have to ring up once again. I am wondering if I am the only one that this sort of thing happens to or whether the entire mail system throughout the entire country is up the shit.

An adventurous outing was experienced yesterday when I had decided to go to Cooktown for a sightsee. I decided to go up the coast road, the Bloomfield track as I believe it is called, and return via the inland road. My reasoning was that the Bloomfield track being a so-called 4WD track only may have caused me some bother and may not have been passable in the panel van. If this were the case I could have simply returned the way I went and another day went the other way. The other reasoning was that if it were not passable and I attempted from the other direction, Cooktown, I may not have had time to return all the way back the other road. I packed an overnight bag in case the first leg took enough time so as my return trip should have to be made the following day after staying at Cooktown overnight. I set out from Cairns at about 9:30am, about as early as I could get myself off, and made my way to Daintree, across the river by the ferry and on to the track. The track would be considered 4WD only, I suppose, for the less than adventurous driver as it is rather rough, but the panel van really had no trouble traversing the terrain, with the exception that the rear end of the car is set up a little too stiffly for such terrain. In fact the track, I noticed, was still a little too hard for even some four wheel drivers, as one hill I approached presented a small problem due to one of those beasts being driven in what must have been low-low gear in low-low range by a novice, as it was travelling up this hill, which was sealed, or concreted, and at an angle of about 45 degrees, at about what could not have been more than 1km/hour. Believe me it was rather frustrating for me to get half way up this hill to be held up by this idiot not having any guts to have a go, probably just as well the old girl is an auto. There were three river crossings with the deepest being about 1 1/2 to 2 feet deep, but the van had no trouble swimming her way though as the bottoms were rock. I was overall disappointed with this trip as several people I spoke to about making this trip indicated that when one had scaled each of these very steep hills one could stop and admire the magnificent scenery, I found only one such occasion that looked down on a small lake in the area. The waterfall at Bloomfield was a sight, but not really worth travelling this road just for a look at it.