WWWGO has been parked beside the house since Christmas. I was getting desperate to hit the road and enjoy time away but the weather has been against us. This long weekend I resolved that despite the weather we were going away.
For once I did not have a time in which to get on the road. Que Sera Sera. Even so, Donnis woke earli-ish and we were out the driveway by 9.15am. We fuelled up at Cannonvalley, over $100 and were soon on our way. I was a bit surprised at the amount of traffic on the road. Nevertheless we made good time although I kept our speed down to 93 kph. Donnis asked me to stop at the Bowen Homestead store to pick up a couple of her favourite comfort foods – Vanilla slices. I find them too sugary and sweet. A few klms north of Bowen I pulled off the road – to the relief of the dozen or so car truck and bus drivers behind us – to a little area screened by trees and where many locals park before they walk through the scrub to a local swimming hole. With all the rain we have experienced this year the swimming hole would be running with cool clean water. After coffee we were on the road again until we reached South Townsville where we had lunch. Then it was off to our destination for today – Paradise Waterhole at Big Crystal Creek about 60 klms north of Towsnsville. We travelled somewhat over 300 klms today which is about the max I want to travel in one day these days. We found a nice spot in the Queensland Parks & Wildlife (QP&WS) controlled area and set up camp.
I had been to Paradise Waterhole before and I wanted to show Donnis. With all the rain North Queensland has had this wet season the water level has increased. In fact quite a swift current was running and rapids above and below the waterhole were bubbling along. The few people who were in the water said it was cold. That made up my mind. If people say it is cold I am not going in the water. Donnis did and took 15 minutes to gradually immerse herself.
After that she was happy swimming around. The overcast and occassional rain kept temperatures cool, well not really cool. After all I was still only wearing shorts and a Tshirt. However it was cool enough to discourage me from jumping into the water then or again the next morning.
After a quiet but rainy night and a morning at the waterhole we drove to Toomulla Beach campsite closer to Townsville.
We stopped here and had a casual lunch of cottage cheese n crackers. I rather enjoyed it. However a cold beer ruined any dietary benefit I may have achieved. We then drove to Bushland Beach, even closer to Townsville to visit daughter Shelley. We prepared a monster Caesar Salad and packed it in two foil containers to take to the Dairy Farmers Stadium for our dinner. Shelley had two spare tickets to the North Queensland Cowboys V Gold Coast Titans Rugby League game. What a night! By half time the Cowboys were leading, the first time since the season began. At the stroke of half time the rain came down in truckloads. Donnis and I had packed raincoats but Shelly, Dwyane, Jack and baby Matt did not, so with 95% of the crowd we stood under the stadium concession area while the rain thundered down during half time. Then about half a minute after the game re-started the rain stopped and we were all back in our wet seats to enjoy the second half and a 32 – 18 win to the Cowboys. Yeeha!
We spent the night plugged into power at Bushland Beach and after a late morning coffee and some sit around chewing the fat time with Shelley & Dwyane we were off back to Toomulla Beach and set up camp again.
We had a bit of a walk to and along the beach and a look at all the other campers. Mostly these Freedom campsites are quite good but on holiday weekends there is usually a redneck mob who play loud music all night and drink and yahoo to the detriment of those campers who really want a good nights sleep. Luckily we did not have the rednecks. We had the other side of the coin. The real nice, polite, friendly retiree campers in a little group. For some reason there is always somebody in this group who want to run their generator from mid morning until after dark. For what? I can only speculate he has a problem with batteries to need that much of a charge every day. His good neighbour starts his car and runs it for a couple of hours in the mistaken belief he is charging batteries but without a load, I.E going for a drive, he is not achieving anything. Combined, these two make as much noise as the rednecks but it goes on for hours and hours.
Of course in the same campsite is a retired lady in a little Toyota Mini Van who travels around full time by herself. She has a pair of fold up solar panels which she places on the ground in a frame she moves from time to time to catch as much sunlight as possible. These solar panels supply all the re-charge to the batteries she needs. If days are constantly overcast she goes for a drive to fully charge her batteries.
I set up our Webber Smokey Joe barbecue and cooked a whole Tandoori chicken. Shelley, Dwyane and the kids arrived for dinner.
We had lots of food including rice and salad and barbecued sausages. It was around 8.30 when the boys complained of being tired so they went home while Donnis and I packed things away for the night in preparation for our homeward journey in the morning.
We managed, without undue haste and without any pressure or prompting on my part to leave the campsite and head for home by 9.15 am. After taking on another tank of diesel (we got over 500 klms to the last tank before I thought it prudent to fill up) we stopped at South Townsville for fresh brewed coffee and an apple custard dessert thing Donnis picked up at the fuel station. An hour into our travels we stopped at Home Hill to empty our black and grey water at a public dump point.
I want say a few words about these dump points which are in helpful locations all over Oz. Primarily the club to which we belong, the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) is probably the largest single RV club in Oz. We have a voice in many local, state and Federal governments. In conjunction with assistance and agreement with the local pro-active local government, sponsorship from Kea Campers and grants by some state governments such as Queensland and our own club funds, these dump points, which cost about $13,000 each to install are placed at towns which have demonstrated a co-operative attitude to having a dump point in their town. Some dump points are owned, installed and operated in council grounds and only open during their work hours. Some caravan parks own their own dump points which are available free to their guests. If not a guest you pay them a fee to dump. Our dump points are clearly signposted on the way into town and include a water hose to hose down. The dump point is public and can be used by all RVers, not just CMCA members. They are also free. We have used these dump points in various towns and we can always find them easily by consulting a book issued by our club or the Camps Australia Book also lists all dump points. We have a cassette toilet with a 18 litre capacity. Instructions call for a litre or two of water plus the required chemical dose. that reduces the capacxity to 16 litres. That is not much capacity for two people so we use alternate sources where possible and tend to use our onboard toilet at night or early mornings. Even so our cassette was near full after three and a bit days. I applaud the CMCA Dump Points and will plan trips with dump point locations in mind.
On another issue, Donnis has been harranguing me about getting a scanner so she can scan her last 20 years collection of photos. Our flatbed scanner can do the job but it is so frustratingly slow and will take a month of Sunday’s to scan all the photos. I checked with all the electrical outlets as well as going on line looking for a high speed scanner which has a pair of rollers to move photos through. We could not find anything. Then one day I half saw the end of a commercial advertising such a device. Alas I did not get the details. The first weekend after the cyclone Donnis saw the ad on TV and wrote down the website. www.digiframe.com.au Now, at a price of $149 plus postage I was a bit sceptical about the quality and the effectivness of the advertised scanner. Nonetheless Donnis wanted it and signed up immediately. The Digiframe Scanner arrived 2 days before Easter. I read the instructions. Quite simple really. We were scanning a few minuutes later. It even comes with a couple of clear plastic sleeves as older photos can build up fingerprints, mould and other barely detectable sticky substances on the surface. Place the photo in a sleeve and 20 seconds later it is scanned. Do not use the sleeve and sure as God made little green apples, a photo will stick in the rollers. They are that sensitive. No need for a computer. All you need is AC power. The scanner has a 2Gb memory card and can hold around 8,000 photos. It comes equipped with a USB cable to connect to a PC or laptop to view photos. Despite my pessimism, the scanned images are as good or as bad as the original images. This is a great gadget and Donnis is having a fun time scanning her old photos. Who knows I may even get all my old photos from Averyl and scan them. It will scan photos up to 6 x 4. It will also scan things like shopping dockets. Why? I don’t know. Probably because you can.
Reading back over this post I came to the realisation that I have said basically “We came, we saw, we left”. I have not given any impression of how we liked or disliked a place or given a score on a 1 to 10 basis. I am not sure if that is what I should be doing in my posts. Simply because how I like a place is based on my judgement at that particular moment according to the weather, the rednecks and other noise factors, overall beauty, how tired or not tired I may have been and so on. It would be nice to have some constructive suggestions from readers. Do you want to hear my thoughts on a destination?
For the record, Paradise Waterhole is a great spot. It is even better when the sun is shining and the water is not cold and I can go for a swim without Donnis trying to get me in the water.
There is no vista from the campsite but there is ambience. There is lots of potential for exploring. Preferably from April through to about August before the heat starts again.
Toomulla Beach. This was our first visit. Donnis probably liked it more than me. The beach is a bit of a walk from the campsite through mangroves. It has some lovely tall and stately gum trees in residence. I like my gum trees.
Tall and stately Gum Tree at Toomulla Creek.
The beach is sort of divided by Toomulla Creek which is a muddy mozzie and sandfly infested creek. If I were a crocodile I woud probably love it. Regretably or perhaps thankfully, we did not see any crocs. They probably saw us.
There is no vista from the campsite but a short walk takes you to the beach which, can be as hot as hades, especially once you are out of the seabreeze. There are a number of older beach shack type houses here. Some are really old shacks.
This is a real fishermans shack. It was probably the shackiest shack among all the shacks. It also was one on the few which appeared to be a permament residence.
Some have had a lick of paint in the last 10 years and some are quite substantial. We got the impression the older shacky type houses are lived in all year round while the more pretty and substantial houses are holiday or weekend beachhouses. I could spend a lot more time here just exploring but I would prefer to do that in the Winter months when it is not so hot.
After leaving Home Hill we travelled on to Bowen. This town has a reputation for always blowin’ at Bowen and it lived up to its name. It was quite windy.We bought fish n chips and parked at the new harbour precinct area and ate our lunch then had a walk out on the long jetty which featured in the movie AUSTRALIA with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.
Part of the big jetty at Bowen.
The harbour precinct is a paved and grassed area with a tourist info centre and a musical sound shell.
Bowen Harbourfront Precinct.
All rather well presented in an area which was once a bit of forgotten waste ground. Nice shade trees, picnic tables and a pleasant view but a bit lacking in toilet facilities. The tourist info service has toilets but they are locked when the staff clock off.
Eventually we meandered home, arriving just on dark. What a great weekend!
Esto era la espera que vale la pena para este fin de semana largo.
I am having a (insert swear words) difficult time with photos staying where I put them. I insert them in appropriate places, save the file and they end up at the bottom of the post. Sorry dear reader, I have deleted and re-inserted three times and I am so frustrated that I will just leave them here at the bottom. The captions explain what they are so I guess it is not too bad.
Toomulla Creek as it flows to the Coral Sea.
Donnis still in the process of slowly getting into the water at Paradise Waterhole.
Camped at Toomulla Beach.
L to R. Reece, Frank, Jack, Dwyane, Baby Matt, Shelley.