022. 18th November 2006. About life after recuperation…

After three months of being unable to get on the road and the motorhome sitting idle all that time I was well enough to travel the short distance – 80 klms – to O’Connell River. This was not the O’Connell River caravan Park on the highway but along the Cathu State Forest road, over the river crossing which is a cross between a bridge and a weir. Then instead of turning right to Cathu turn left onto private property and the track follows the river to the camp site. Whoops. I have given away the secret location which we do not want to get into any camping magazines.
Now the day started off in the usual way. I was awake and ready to go by 6am but there are things to do. By mid morning the fridge had enough food for three days and everything else was packed but we did not pull out of the driveway until 1pm. Now let me tell you having eaten nothing since breakfast I was feeling peckish. As always there were just a few items to be bought at the supermarket and we will be on our way.
Yeah. Right. About 20 items later and a few additional meals which were not required I was headed for the checkout when we bumped into somebody we knew. Talk about talk! Another 15 minutes in the aisle chatting and catching up on 2 years since we last saw each other. By now it was 2pm, my stomach was growling and I felt like tearing into the loaf of bread I had bought for lunches and which in reality was I all I really wanted to buy. Sigh.

The fridge by now was packed tight with food for a week. So instead of carrying what we needed for 3 days, we ended up carrying most of it home with us. The fridge does not cope well when overstocked with food. Same as any fridge at home. But, I digress.

A quick dash across to the bakery and they had only three pies left. Then across to the park and I wolfed mine down in moments. Donnis is a bit more lady-like and pronounces she is not a pie person and eats slowly, I watch every mouthful hopeful she will decide not to eat it all. She does and the pie sits uncomfortably in her stomach. By now of course neither of us is satisfied with the pie for different reasons. I guess I ate because I thought I was hungry and needed to eat no matter what. Donnis said she would have preferred a piece of fruit. Hopefully our appetites will return by dinner time.

An hour down the road and it is just after 4pm when we pull into the camp site.

 

 

 

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Campsite at O'Connell River

 The are several magnificent rainforest trees including a couple of Mackay Cedar which gives very good shade. So good in fact there was no need to erect the marquee, just a small string of lights for the night. This becomes our central meeting, eating, cooking and relaxing place. Right on the banks of the river and there is still water flowing ever so slowly and lo and behold a couple of shags on a rock. They would not hang around there unless they were getting a good feed.

002river-scene

O'Connell River

 

A couple of motorhomes have set up their own fireplaces in modified old gas cylinders and boiling water is available all weekend around the site. Hats off to those who make these fireplaces and have the room to carry them. The Chapter has its own trailer to carry all the bits and pieces including tables, food, firewood, lights, generator, cooking utensils and gas cookers and bottles, extra water, marquee and tent poles and ropes.

Day one, Friday, and the early consensus is this site is hitting a happy chord with everybody and it is pronounced a must visit again – soon. The central spot under the canopy of trees is very popular. I managed to fall asleep in my chair while in conversation with a group of Loafers.

snoozin

Having a Granny Nap. So Tired.

Not easy to do for somebody who survives on limited sleep anyway.

They are a nice polite group and moved their chairs away so their voices would not disturb my snoring. I did have an excuse for falling asleep. I was still recuperating from a broken ankle and prostatitis surgery.

The broken ankle was received when we arrived home from Mareeba back in July. I was on a ladder cleaning the motorhome when the ladder slipped one way, I went the other and snap, during the fall the ankle was broken, I hit my head on a retaining wall and knocked unconscious. Surgery resulted in a pin in the ankle and something like eight weeks off work.

Shortly after returning to work I went into hospital again for prostate surgery which resulted in another 12 weeks off work. This was my first public appearance since those events.

I cooked a “mince chop suey” with egg noddles on the little outside gas stove. Boy was that hot & spicy. Good thing we carry all that extra filtered water! There was enough left over to put into a storage container and freeze for another time.

Next day new arrivals from Laidley make an appearance. They are new members of CMCA and received their Wanderer Magazine early this month. The wife – Judy – noticed our meeting was to be held at O’Connell River. She remarked to her husband – Bob – “Nobody goes to O’Connell River, in fact very few people know anything about it”.

Now it turns out that Judy lived in Brisbane when a child. School holidays she was packed up with her brother and put on the train to visit the Grandparents and Uncle who had a farm at the very end of the dirt road just in the shadow of the Eungella Range. She had very fond memories of those school holidays on the farm. Although the motorhome Bob was building was not complete, it was good enough to offer to bring her to our meeting. So they made a special trip from Laidley and we made them very welcome. A glorious introduction to the CMCA. We got the benefit of her tales of life in this area 50 years ago.

One of the Sugarloafers braved the water pronouncing it briskly cold but nevertheless stayed in for a good thirty minutes.

The dirt road continues on for some seven or eight kilometres and back the other way is a similar distance to Cathu. A good walk in either direction. Bob and I were walking early Sunday morning and were brought up short by a herd of wild pigs. There were at least thirty in the group, all different sizes and the lead boar was a good size who gave us a bit of a stare before leading his herd across the track and into the bush. We just held our ground until they had well and truly passed. No sense messing with a tusker and his mates.

Also on this road is a well established palm farm with a variety of palms mostly in advanced growth stage but very suitable for resorts and so forth who are seeking mature palms. The farm house is fully operational on solar power and runs every appliance including washers, fridges, freezers, computers, lights, TV and so on. He has power to spare but has not put himself on the Energex grid to sell excess power to them.

The Sugarloafers started a tradition about two years ago. They put on a meal on Saturday night which is a good way of making a social event and getting everybody together for dinner. Usually dinner is organised and cooked by the President & Secretary and a few veggie cutter uppers. To-nights meal was arranged by George and Joan, a couple who have been around Australia three times in their VW pop top and can rustle up a gourmet meal on the most basic of equipment.

The meal they arranged was their version of Irish Stew – Austrian Stew – with a little bit of Brandy thrown in somewhere. They had two large pots alternating between a gas ring and the coals of a fire all afternoon. To compliment the stew they also managed to make three dampers . Dinner was rounded out with a dessert of crepes and a very rich orange, butter and cognac sauce.

George and Joan bottled up some cumquats in brandy and went around camp with a teaspoon and gave everybody a taste. Magical what you can do with a little time and a few ingredients coupled with a love of fine food.

Camping is not what we do as motorhomes are a bit of a luxury but depending on budgets some motorhomes are limited to basics. The smell of woodsmoke drifting through camp really makes the

005-campfire-ambience

Campfire Ambience

 atmosphere camp like and at our age we deserve a bit of comfort.

Late Saturday afternoon a 4WD ute cruised along the road with a group of young people standing in the tray. They looked ready for a swim and pulled up next to the river. After a few minutes talking amongst themselves and the older driver and a woman got out and looked at the water in the river. They left a few minutes later. Guess they thought there were too many older people watching them.

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Secret Mens Business - Nevin & Phil

Days were warm but pleasant and a good breeze and occasional stronger gust kept the temperatures down all weekend. Overnight it was quite cool especially the first night when we needed a blanket.

Sunday came all too quickly. Suddenly it was time for our monthly meeting, held under the canopy of those wonderful trees. Day visitors showed up. Minutes read. Morning tea. Cakes for birthdays and anniversary’s then lunch-time and oh bugga. Time to pack up and head home. Love my weekends but they are all too short.

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