Archive for April, 2011

186. Sunday 24th April 2011. From Carmilla Beach to Finch Hatton, rain and shine and we find work…

25/04/2011

18th April 2011

Last night a storm came in off the ocean. The front was heralded by strong winds followed by some heavy rain but we had already double tied down the awning and taken in all the mats. No problems during the night.

We left Carmilla Beach just after 10am with a threatening sky and some rain did fall whilst on our way along the Bruce Hwy to Mackay.

The black water cassette will last about four days with some public toilet use.

Fresh water tanks last at least four days possibly even as much as six days with careful usage. We had showers and washed our hair twice in the four days we were there. Although the pump would not pump water to the shower it continued to pump water to the toilet, vanity basin and the kitchen sink for another two days despite the gauge showing we were on empty. A full tank takes 150 litres.

Donnis had an interview at Good Shepherd Lodge at 1pm so we stopped at nearby Town Beach in Mackay for lunch. Donnis phone rang with a call to say come in for an appointment at Homefield Nursing Home.

While Donnis was at her appointment I parked WWWGO down the street and brought the blog up to date.

Hmmm. At 3pm there was still no sign of Donnis so I went for a walk. Eventually she arrived at 3.45pm and announced she started work at 6.45am tomorrow and has a shift on Wednesday as well.

Congratulations! Well done!

During this time I also received a phone call to set up an interview for a seven week survey in and around the Mackay district. The interview was at 5.30pm. We decided not to drive back to Finch Hatton tonight. Instead we camped at Averyl’s house at North Mackay so I could drive Donnis to work in WWWGO and go back to Averyls for the day, have some sleep and spend some time with grandchildren Shelby-Rose and Anakin.

Tuesday 19th April.

So it came to pass that I did drive Donnis to work, go back to Averyl’s and spend time with the grandchildren. However it was still not yet daylight and I was exhausted from lack of sleep Monday night. Probably a combination of anticipation about the alarm so Donnis could get to work on time, back pain and thoughts about my job application. So… I pulled up in the street and went straight back to bed and slept for another two hours.

The survey job interviewer told me they were desperate to find staff. They need 40 survey people but have only found 15 and need another 25. If there are no more applicants the job may not happen.

After waking I paid some bills on line and went shopping with Averyl and the grandchildren. Then it was time to collect Donnis from the Good Shepherd Lodge and we were on our way to Finch Hatton by 4pm. After arriving and some unpacking it was time to feed the horses, feed the chooks and put them away for the night and the same with the dogs. It was a strange feeling having the chooks fall into line and walk beside me on the way to the chook pen. The rooster and the duck followed discretely two paces behind.

The afternoon was overcast and it was evident there had been recent heavy rain by the puddles and small ponds beside the road which were not there last week. On arrival at the stud it was evident there as well. The ground was still wet. In fact there had been 57mm of rain fall in the last 24 hours alone. Combined with the two metres of rain already this year and you can tell that is a significant drop of rain.

Last week when Steve was mowing some of the acres there appeared an invasion of Earwigs.

These creatures are now found in every room in blankets and clothes, bathrooms and bedding. They also ended up in WWWGO. We are learning to live with them as this excerpt from Wikipeadia will explain.

“Earwigs are fairly abundant and found in many areas of the world. There is no evidence that they transmit diseases to humans or other animals. Their pincers are commonly believed to be dangerous, but in reality even the curved pincers of males cause little harm to humans. It is a common urban legend that earwigs crawl into the human ear and lay eggs in the brain.Finding earwigs in the human ear is rare, as most species do not fly and prefer dark and damp areas (such as basements) rather than typical bedrooms.

Further reading can be found here   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwig

Incidentally, the earwigs invading OUR space ARE the flying type.

Wednesday 20th April

Slept right through the night and woke at 4am, too early for dawn light to show in the east and too early for the Rooster to start crowing although he did when Donnis alarm went off at 4.45am. She was on her way to work by 5.30 am.

I spent the day with a bit of a tidy up, clean and dry some items from WWWGO and pulled apart the rear view camera and monitor. Although the monitor turns on when the ignition is on, it no longer produces a picture. The camera itself has moisture inside the case on the lens cover. I left the case, including a wired in silica gel bag, in the sunlight to dry out.

Next, I tackled the monitor, successfully turning one item into six pieces. The main case with the wiring attached has a limited amount of cable so it just has enough to be fitted to the dash mount. I tried tracing the cable under the dash as I believe there is a control box there. Removing some of the dash reveals a lot more dash to be removed to gain access to the expected spaghetti of wires and control box.

I did however manage to sit and twist and lay in uncomfortable positions on the cab floor long enough to get unhappy signals from my back so ended the work for the day with the monitor hanging by wires until I next get back to it.

Donnis arrived home, tired from her second day of work and announced she has three shifts next week. Although it would be easier to stay at a caravan park so she only has a short drive to work, the cost would not justify doing that. Although the drive to Mackay is close to an hour each way the fuel costs is only $10 a day so we will continue to stay where we are and put up with a long daily drive.

Donnis also had time for an appointment with CQ Nursing, an agency that supplies nursing staff for various needs throughout Queensland. Mostly they supply staff for in home applications but also to nursing homes and hospitals in rural communities.

By the time she arrived home I had fed the chooks and put them away for the night, ditto for the dogs and fed two horses, one still feeding a colt and the other, Tractor, who has  free reign  of the farm property. The colt who is a lot on the frisky side was impatient with me opening the gate to bring his mother some food, gave me a nip on the arm. It was probably more of a shock to me than painful and there are no marks left to show where he bit me. I was ready to punch him but his flying hooves convinced me to let him be. He is going to be a handful to train and will take many sessions to show him who is boss but he will be an excellent and powerful mount.

Exchange. That is his short name. Officially he is Pioneer Park Exchange. Full details at their website.

Thursday 21st April

Donnis and I worked on putting the monitor back together, managing to do so well enough to get white lines across the screen with an occasional picture. That is an improvement but I will try to pull it apart again and use a bit more finesse when re-installing, perhaps it will work. A new monitor will cost at least $160 plus fitting. The fitting is the expensive part.

We drove into Mackay so Donnis can drop off her CQ Nurse application and do a bit of  grocery shopping as today is the last shopping day before Easter. On our return I offered to feed the animals while she got dinner started. No way was that offer acceptable. She considers the feeding and putting animals to their pens for the night, the highlight of the day. Just to have the chooks run along beside her, clucking, on their way to the pen,

Rooster and a couple of his chooks.

the horses neighing with anticipation of their hay and pellets

Feeding time for Azarya.

and the dogs wagging their tails as they move to their kennels for dinner IS a delight.

Tonight we had Cookie over for dinner. She lives in the original shed on the property. It was her birthday so a nice dinner with some profiteroles for dessert was a small celebration. The girls just about finished off two bottles of red so they had a good night.

Cookie was a chef in her younger days even working overseas in New Zealand at one stage as chef for the NZ government. She had her own restaurant in Grafton but due to a series of bad luck and perhaps bad judgement that life is in the past. She has casual work at the local mango packing when in season. I am sure she has lots of interesting stories to tell us.

As night fell, the local mountains appeared as if drawn by a heavy pencil line with the darkness below and the still just light sky above from the setting sun, sharply delineated by the mountain ridges. A large bright full moon rose later and shed a pale light over the valley. If only the camera could record these moments. Maybe I should experiment with a bit of time exposure photography?

For more information about the property where we are staying have a look at    http://www.pioneerarabians.com/

Good Friday 22nd April.

This morning I am seeing much the same scene as last night but in reverse. It started out with darkness at 5.30 am but with the sky gradually glowing from the east, casting light and shadow over the hills and mountains with palest of pale blue sky gradually deepening to the lovely sky blue without a cloud in sight. The wisps of fog are lifting from the valley floor and rising to the mountain tops where they disappear. The fields of near ready to harvest sugar cane are etched in separate patchwork paddocks by the play of light and shadow as I look down from our hillside location.

Sigh!

I love early mornings like this and believe me, I see a lot of early mornings.

Hmmm.

Later in the morning after I spent an hour mucking out the horse stables, I had a coffee and reviewed our blog as follows;

A year ago I was at Pinevale where it was hot enough to swim in the Pioneer River. Nothing has changed. It is still hot enough for a swim. I checked out camp sites at Wintermoon and got bogged.

This week in 2009 we were still in Tasmania mainly in the north east of the state and our time there was winding down. We caught the Spirit of Tasmania back to the mainland on 29th April.

This week in 2008 I was in Balgal Beach north of Townsville where I took part in the Anzac Day Dawn Ceremony and march later in the morning, proudly wearing my medal.

In 2007 Donnis was in Canada! I spent the week around Rollingstone, Balgal Beach and Jourama Falls area. It was the first time the Coaster had been on the road that year.

In 2006 it was Easter and we went to Eungella Dam and then joined the Sugarloafers at Carmilla Beach. Our stay this year was much more comfortable in our Winnebago without me constantly checking the state of charge in our batteries and ensuring the compressor fridge was working and having to close the “plug door” as we could not fit insect screens in the doorway. Then and again this year, there was no TV signal. The following week in 2006 we went to the Wintermoon Festival.

2005 saw us at Rollingstone and Balgal Beach joining with the Tropical Coast Wanderers and observing Anzac Day Dawn Ceremony and the march later that morning. This was our first real trip away and we felt we were quite daring driving so far from home for a long weekend. It was also our first opportunity to discover our Coaster, ourselves and our abilities.

2004 we were beginning our search and testing of what we wanted.

Review ends.

Later in the day we pulled the rear view camera apart and put it back together.

WooHoo.

YeeHar.

Halleujah and Whacko the Didlio. It works! Not only does it work but we also have sound via the camera microphone. We have never had sound before!

The weather has been simply magic with clear sunny and hot days. Sure hope it continues that way.

Easter Saturday

Donnis wanted to study today so I left her to it while I just meandered around the farm, cleaning up manure and later learned how to pull the radio out of the dash. It is an old radio with cassette player and we are thinking of replacing it with a cheaper radio with a MP3 player. We do not carry CD’s but we do have external hard drives and iPods with music.

Sunday 24th

After feeding the animals we headed off to Finch Hatton Gorge (which is within the Eungella National Park) to visit Araluen Falls and Wheel of Fire Falls. With over two metres of rain this year alone the road to the gorge has several creek crossings.

There were several creek crossings, similar to this one on the road into the gorge.

Once inside the park we walked the remaining 1.2 klms to Araluen Falls.

Araluen Falls at Finch Hatton Gorge within Eungella National Park.

The track became quite narrow in places as the tropical rain forest is very green and healthy.

This interesting bug sat on my hand for ages. He did not eat much.

Two metres off the track the jungle becomes impenetrable with countless species of tree, vine, creeper, fern, palm, moss

Tree stump covered in thick growth of moss.

and lichen (did I miss any plant species?). Unfortunately the track to Wheel of Fire falls was closed due to unsafe conditions with parts of the track washed away and all the ground still wet and soft.

This man was braving possible hypothermia. English is not his native language. After I said "the water is cold" several times he understood and pointing to himself said "much body fat!"

After our visit we headed back to Finch Hatton,

I watched as a family of four carried this heavy 16foot fibreglass canoe from the road down the steep track beside sugarcane paddocks to the creek below the Finch Hatton Bridge.

Bridge over Cattle Creek on the road to Finch Hatton Gorge.

Criterion Hotel, Finch Hatton.

Pinnacle

Bridge over Cattle Creek between Gargett and Pinnacle.

and Gargett to look at the local pubs. Pinnacle Pub

Pinnacle Pub. Famous for pies, relaxed setting and cricket pitch behind the pub.

particularly is quite the popular watering hole for travellers going to and from Eungella. They also have meals including their award winning pies. One day when I have lost enough weight I will have one of their pies again.

Pioneer Valley Hotel at Gargett.

Late in the day we fed the animals then fed ourselves and settled down for a quiet night.

185. Sunday 17th April 2011. From Finch Hatton to Carmilla Beach, fine weather and job applications…

18/04/2011

Monday 11th April 2011.

After a reasonably slow morning we hit the road somewhat after 11am. First stop was Mt.Pleasant Shopping Centre for a bit of a grocery shop. As we were turning onto the Bruce Highway, cousin Bob called. He and Dianne are thinking of driving up from Coonabarabran to Moranbah over Easter to visit their son Grant and his wife Bec. They will plan their trip and try to catch up with us while they are so close by. It would be fun if they brought their caravan and we can camp out for a few days.  Then we travelled through Mackay to pick up the Mackay-Nebo Road and then on to the Mackay – Eungella Road as far as Finch Hatton. We stopped at Pleystowe, above the river, for lunch and arrived at the Pioneer Arabian Stud just on 3 pm. (We left the Finch Hatton stud on 26th September 2010 and we are back where we started) After parking WWWGO, and unhitching the Terios we went inside for a cuppa with Melissa n Steve. They have a lot of work to get done around the property before they can get on the road on Wednesday. With them being so busy, Donnis volunteered me to cook dinner so I tried a bit of a concoction I made up as I went along. It contains pork mince, cabbage, onions, carrots, a chilli and broccoli. Of course all the spices were whatever Melissa and I had handy in our pantries. I called it pork n cabbage which made Melissa roll her eyes behind my back. It turned out pretty darned good with second helpings being taken.

Melissa n Steve have a big day tomorrow so we will try to stay out of their way.

Tuesday 12th April

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DONNIS.

I spent a bad early morning having woken at 3.45 with severe pain.

Early morning on our first day at Finch Hatton.

This was probably due to a combination of a difficult unhitching yesterday and throwing a Frisbee for an hour with Ochre the dog. I went for a pushbike ride down to flooded Cattle Creek. Once back at WWWGO Donnis came outside to tell me she has a job interview and orientation on Monday 18th April at the Good Shepherd Lodge in Mackay. WooHoo! It will be a drag driving 60 klms each way every day but it is a start.

In the afternoon I could be heard muttering all sorts of dark comments about computers and internet and wireless signals or lack thereof, this far out of town. The signal comes and goes, not only on our wireless modem but also on the iPad and the mobile phones as well. After scanning some of Donnis certificates and tidying up her resume and cutting it down to one page by only showing the last five years we were ready to send them by email. Easier said than done! With the weak intermittent signal it took almost an hour to finally send the email. After I had finished I found the laptop would not turn off. This was when the muttering and cursing grew louder. I eventually turned off the laptop by holding down the power button but had to do it twice as the first time only put it into sleep mode. Then when I tried to turn the laptop back on, a message came on the screen to say the laptop had not been turned off correctly and now had to be started in safe mode. Eventually it all came good…I think.

Wednesday 13th April.

I slept all night but woke a little after 5am as I could hear Melissa n Steve moving around getting ready to go. The loading of three horses onto their 5thwheeler

On the side of the 5th Wheeler. Houses three horses behind living, sleeping and cooking area.

went smoothly and they were on their way just as the sun was making an appearance over the distant hills to the east.

Leaving the farm to ride in a cross country endurance event.

Now we have the job of looking after the remaining 10 horses, 7 chooks, including a rooster, a duck who thinks he is a chook except when he thinks he is a dog, it all depends on the company he keeps There are of course, the three dogs. There is Red Rock, affectionately known as Red who can be a bit anti-social until he gets used to you. He now follows me around.

Red Rock

There is Ochre

Ochre

who is a dog with a lot of nervous energy who will chase a bucket lid all day with occasional dips in any available water to cool down. Red takes his cue from Ochre. He mimics everything Ochre does and always has an eye on Ochre to see what is going to happen next. Finally there is Pearl,

Pearl

a quiet affectionate lady, mother of Red. She likes a pat and stays well away from the rowdy behaviour of the other two.

We will share duties with Cookie, a lady who lives in the original shed on the property.

Late in the morning we drove into Mackay so Donnis could drop off her resume and job applications to Homefield Aged Care, CQ Nursing Agency and the nursing home at Mirani. We also took the opportunity to get another grocery purchase out of the way to ensure we have enough for our upcoming weekend…starting tomorrow.

Thursday 14th April

For some reason we had an unreasonable number of jobs to get done before we could get away.

I fed and let the chooks out sometime after 11am and collected three fresh eggs. I put them in the plastic container I had carried the kitchen scraps in. I left said plastic container on a chair outside the front door while I went to WWWGO to close windows and hatches and lower the TV aerial. On returning to the front door I noticed an egg on the deck. What the…! There was a neat hole in its side and the contents gone. So were the other two eggs. I found the empty shells on the front lawn. I called the dogs all sorts of names and turning around found all three looking at me, innocent looks upon their faces.

It must have been somebody else who ate the eggs sir! It wasn’t us dogs. No sir. Us dogs would not eat unattended eggs.

As things eventuated, we did not get away from the stud until just after 3pm and arrived at Carmilla Beach near 6pm and not another Sugarloafer or motorhome in sight.

After a dinner of our home-made chicken soup (we cooked some chicken carcasses yesterday to make the broth) we took a walk along the beach. Some fisherfolk were on the beach about 300m away and they had a large fire on the beach near their motorhome. I stepped up to a man sitting in a chair to ask if it was his motorhome. I recognised him as Peter a member of Sugarloafers who arrived earlier in the day and has been waiting for others to show up. Near his feet in the sand was a dead baby hammerhead shark, the nastiest disposition shark in the ocean. With a head like they have it is no wonder they are cranky.

Gulp!!! Donnis and I were swimming in the milk white murky waters on this beach a week ago. Where there are baby sharks there are mumma and poppa sharks somewhere. To think we were concerned about possible stingers when these guys are around!!!

Peter commented he had caught two this afternoon.

Friday 15th April.

A glorious sunrise.

There were several people sitting on the beach just watching the sun drag itself out of the ocean to find a spot in the sky to dazzle us with its brilliance.

Campers along secluded sections of Carmilla Beach.

I had a nice brisk walk and saw lots of bait fish – mullet – swimming across the top of the water. A few larger brothers and sisters were also swimming along. In fact they were almost pan size.

After lunch I stopped to talk with David, a camper in a Gazal Caravan who was camped here last week. David is a quiet and modest man, who is happy enough to answer questions. I enjoyed talking with the 92 year old who is planning to sell his rig and buy a motorhome. In the course of our conversation I discovered he was a commando in Z Force during WWII and that he lost his wife, tragically, in 1965 when she was inoculated for polio with a dirty needle. Remember this was in the days before disposable syringes and many doctors used the method of holding a needle over a naked flame to sterilise it. It seems the needle was somehow not sterilised in any way. David has been on the road for 30 years since his only son finished Uni and left home. He told us about first coming to Carmilla Beach all those years ago when all along the beach where people are now camped it was all bush with no road nor campsites. The dunes were covered in a low shrub. He spent two years planting casuarina (She Oaks) along the beach all the way to the creek mouth.

During the day another four Sugarloafers motorhomes arrived and set up camp. In the meantime Donnis n I chased the receding tide trying to find water deep enough to float on. No sooner had we found water deep enough than the tide left us sitting on damp sand. In the course of our tide chase we encountered a stingray and noted many, many stingray depressions. We saw several small puffer fish and lots of little crabs, no larger than a closed fist. It was fun wading through the shallows in the brilliant sunshine. The tide was at least 500 metres from the shoreline and still receding when we turned back to shore.

In the afternoon we had a happy hour with the Sugarloafers before doing a Tandoori Chicken in the oven. Some silly person, who will not be named, forgot to buy heat beads for the Weber barbecue when we used the last of them many months ago. The Tandoori Chicken tastes so much better cooked and smoked in the Weber instead of in a plastic baking bag in the oven. The oven also heats up the interior of WWWGO. That’s OK in Winter but not needed on hot days.

Before dinner a small hire motorhome pulled up behind us. A German family of mum, dad n adult daughter got out and almost immediately discovered sandflies and had no personal repellent. After they were given some spray on repellent we next heard squeals. They discovered common house ants on the outside and inside of the MH and had jumped outside not knowing what was happening. Although several of us tried to explain they were in no danger, after all they were just common household ants, Noel came to their rescue with some ant spray. The dad immediately went inside, closed the windows and door and sprayed madly (despite being told not to) until the inside was fumigated and he emerged coughing and spluttering from the fumes he had inhaled. It was some time before the pale colour left his face and the gasping for air stopped.

About 8.30pm we went for a final walk along the beach noting the many caravans and tents which had arrived during the day and set up camp  all along the bush dunes. Many had campfires burning but nobody was playing loud music.

Peace! Bliss! Comfort.

Sleep. ZZZZZZZzzzz…!

Saturday 16th April

Another beee yute if ull sunny day!

A light breeze rippled across the water when the full tide was in about 9am. After that the tide started its six hour run out leaving an exposed sandy seabed for at least 500 metres. I walked to the edge and within minutes the edge receded further so I walked with it. Eventually I grew tired of walking with the tide and turned around for the long trek back to shore. Amazing! From here I can see all the beach and the motorhomes, caravans, camper trailers, tents and 4WD utes camped along the beach with wisps of smoke coming from the occasional campfire.

Its Driftwood Art time again. Can you see the large Bustard with a Tassie Devil around its throat? No? Whats wrong wid ya?

The day was spent talking with fellow Sugarloafers and cups of tea or coffee with cakes and other treats. These chapter meetings sure play havoc with my diet!

Yet more Driftwood Art. Can you see the back of the dogs head? Good onya? Now have another look at the previous driftwood art.

About 3.30pm there was a shuddering in the ground, which was felt by, strangely or prophetically, the two Kiwi couples in camp with us. Nobody else felt the 5.1 magnitude earthquake which had an epicentre somewhere about 120 klms south of Townsville and east of Charters Towers. One Kiwi couple got a call from their daughter in Christchurch in NZ to say she just heard about it on the news. It was then she also felt an 5.1 earthquake in Christchurch. Seems they have had 1500 quakes or aftershocks since the big one in March.

When the earthquake was happening there was a Rummykin game in progress. they never felt a thing. Can you spot the birthday girl?

We had a communal dinner under the stars then we showed a movie, Slum Dog Millionaire, on our laptop with surround sound speakers attached. A nice pleasant evening except for my back and hip pain which has been considerable these last two days.

Will it ever go away?

Johnnie Z who is a Sugarloafer, had an operation on his back a dozen or so years ago. It worked for awhile but now he walks almost doubled over, uses a walking cane and can only walk short distances and lives on pain killers. His left knee is numb while he has no feeling in the big toe on his left foot.

Hmmm! I do not want to be in that situation.

Sunday 17th April.

Woke before 6am and went for a long walk to the creek. Lots of other people up but they all seemed to be rugged up sitting near their fires, staring out to sea just watching the sun rise.

Another sunny day with just a hint of breeze.

At 10 am the Sugarloafers had their monthly meeting and I bought a raffle ticket. As it was Donnis birthday this month she got a birthday cake, cooked by Chapter president Noel T in his camp oven.

Donnis cutting her default birthday cake. There were several other chapter members celebrating a birthday this month but only Donnis was in camp.

Donnis was asked to draw the raffle. I won! A shopping bag of groceries which will be put to good use.

Fisherman Phil. One of many fisherman dispalying the same degree of skill and luck over the last 3 days. Tally? Three days, two small crabs and one baby whiting. At least he did not catch a cold.

After lunch Donnis n I followed the receding tide and sat in the shallow water at its edge until the edge receded then we followed it some more. Most relaxing except for the sand which gets into our swimming costumes. While sitting in the water facing the Great Dividing Range to the west we noticed some big storm clouds building up. Although the wind was coming from the south west, the storm clouds seemed to be moving from the north. During the course of the afternoon the clouds circled us. To be safe we double tethered the awning and packed away all our outside gear. The storm struck before dinner with a strong wind front followed by some heavy wind driven rain. Slowly the wind eased and the rain just…umm err, rained. No problems, We were dry and safely inside preparing dinner of leftovers.

We had a hot shower and washed our hair. This has been a good test for our water storage. By showering and washing our hair each second night the water has lasted for 4 full days although there was still enough water for washing up and flushing the toilet. We do a carry another 20 litres in jerry cans which can be used for drinking, washing, flushing or cleaning

Before bed I checked on Donnis reef walker shoes. They had been covered in sand so I placed them in a basin at the low end of the awning, before the storm arrived. The reef walkers were now floating in the basin which was filled with water.

Tomorrow we head into Mackay for Donnis interview at Good Shepherd Lodge.

184. Sunday 10th April 2011. We move from Yandaran along the Bruce Highway to North Mackay…

11/04/2011

Monday 4th April 2011 Yandaran

Hmmm. A slow day but interesting.

P n G have bought a block of ground and had a steel shed built on a concrete slab. Council will not allow the shed to be lived in but will allow a toilet and septic tank, power, telephone and water tanks to be installed.

Their Winnebago is parked outside the shed and they use it for bathing, toilet and sleeping but cooking and watching TV is done inside the unlined shed. Power is supplied via house batteries which are topped up by their on-board 5 kva generator. Water is from the on-board tanks. Toilet cassette is emptied each few days at the public toilets around the corner. Grey water is discharged onto the ground and the flexible hose is moved each day.

They have had so much rain the ground is sodden or soft, even to walk on. There is a crust of good soil beneath which lies a sort of soft water laden clayish material which extends for another 15 metres below the soil. This clayish material soaks up and retains an enormous amount of water. When dry, the material sets like concrete but turns to a sponge when wet.

Gerry has made a rough and uneven driveway out of concrete wash and excess from concrete trucks. The ground on either side of this “driveway” is soft and potentially a bog hazard for heavy vehicles such as motorhomes.

They are waiting for;

Council inspections to approve the structure as a work shed.

Power to be installed.

Septic tank and sullage pit to be installed.

All involve heavy vehicles to come onto the property. Any or all three were due to arrive today. As we were parked on the “driveway” Gerry asked that we reverse into a dry and seemingly solid area off to the side of the “driveway” so work trucks could access the property. As I was reversing onto the site chose by Gerry, WWWGO came to a stop. UhOh!!! I was bogged and the front wheels were turned so even if forward movement could be achieved, the front wheels would only plough deeper. After attaching a tow strap to the Terios we tried a pull which only involved digging the rear wheels particularly, deeper. We next jacked up the front wheels sufficiently to place heavy timber in the trench and raising the wheels. Using two jacks and solid timber we managed to raise the rear dual wheels enough to also place heavy timber under them. We then re-attached the tow strap and with the Terios taking up the strain we drove out of the bog being careful not to overshoot the driveway and become bogged on the other side. That was a good heavy duty morning of work which left Gerry and I worn out.

In the afternoon Donnis n I took the Terios to a caravan park on the mouth of the Kolan River at a place called Miara Beach.

Muddy Miara.

The park is some distance from the ocean beach which is not accessible except by boat. The sand here is um err, the mud here sort of looks like sand.

Kolan River mouth at Miara seen through the Casuarina's.

This is the best photo of an Oyster Catcher I can get. They are a very nervous bird who take off when you are about 15 metres from them whereas a a gull will usually allow you to get within three metres.

We spent a bit of time talking with the relief manager who advised there are a number of these boutique type caravan parks and they are often looking for “couples”staff. She suggested Cania Gorge are looking for couples. We also left our card for the returning owners. I sent an email to Cania Gorge because Donnis has not had any luck finding a position at Mirani Nursing Home nor in fact any other nursing home in the Bundaberg region as they are all looking for Registered Nurses and not Enrolled Endorsed Nurses. So we will sort of flood the market with applications.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a day of some successes.

Tonight we had what Donnis called pumpkin soup. Pumpkin (from the gift we were given last Friday at Amamoor) was the basic ingredient but it also had potato, apple, onion, split peas, corn, lentils, bacon, cummin and whatever else was handy at the time. It was all blended to a smoother consistency and was quite tasty but was not pumpkin soup as I know it. Needed more pumpkin.

Tuesday 5th April.

A bit of a lazy morning after some initial packing and tidying then we drove into Bundaberg for some groceries and were back at WWWGO by midday. We had a lunch of Greek Yiros Wraps filled with smoked salmon, spinach dip and red Spanish onions and a side salsa including avocado. By 2pm we were on the road, arriving at Boyne River Rest Area outside the town of Benaraby by 3.30pm.

Boyne River Rest Area near Beneraby.

We stayed the night and watched a recorded movie. Regrettably I sat in a bad position and was woken around 2 am with extreme pain in my lower back. I took my pain killers and anti inflamatory tablets then walked around and around the rest area for another hour to warm my back muscles and allow the tablets to kick in. I managed to get back to sleep until 7am.

Wednesday.

Woke with a little pain but it returned if I tried to sit.

A large truck had pulled in sometime after I got back to sleep. The driver was trying to start it but a dirty fuel filter was causing him some grief. The truck was modified to carry a stunt motorcycle riding ramp and he was on his way home to make some modifications and start riding at shows around north Queensland. Another camper in the rest area came to his aid and within 30 minutes had cleaned the filter and fuel lines and the truck eventually started and left heading to Rockhampton.

We hit the road just after 10am with our first planned stop at the town of Calliope (as distinct from the rest area known as Calliope River) to empty our grey and black water. The town is quite pretty and tidy looking with modern homes and shops.

We continued along the Bruce Highway until we reached the little town of Mount Larcom where we took on fresh water at the daytime rest area. Further along the road we stopped a Choice Service Station and topped up with diesel. This has to be one of the worst presented service stations we have encountered and we have seen some sorry looking servos out west. We pulled up on the northern outskirts of Rockhampton for lunch and a little snooze for me and my aching back. We decided to push on another 66 klms to the town of Marlborough and an off the highway Freedom camp site near the town pool. There is also a campsite behind the local pub. On arrival the pool campsite is now closed and penalties apply for camping. We decided not to support the town by not staying at the pub either. Despite my back I drove another 68 klms to Waverly Creek Rest Area. This is/was a nice spot to stop for the night but the toilets are ready for demolition and the Qld Department of Transport does little or no maintenance to the area. It is a disgrace as is almost all the DOT Rest areas we have encountered. Its only redeeming qualities are its location between Rockhampton and Mackay and it is set back off the highway. There were a dozen vehicles here during the night. One motorhome, three caravans, one tent, two campervans and the remainder of the people slept in their cars.

Waverley Creek Rest Area. Another campsite is located at St.Lawrence 14 klms further and is about 8 klms from the highway. Because of all the heavy rain the soft clay camp area is a bit suspect and could be difficult find a dry solid place to park.

I was interested to see this car transporter loaded with marked and unmarked Police vehicles. Another camper came over to take photos so the driver started his motor and drove off.

Thursday 7th April.

A ute pulled up this morning with a sign proudly proclaiming they are the cleaners for the rest area. The lone occupant stayed just long enough to empty a couple of garbage bins and replace the plastic liners and was soon on his way. The smelly toilets remain smelly and dirty. The picnic tables remain covered in bird shit. The long weeds and rubbish strewn fenced off area still looks like a junk heap.

Sigh!

We were gone by 9am and turned off the highway at Carmilla, a further 60 klms north and proceeded to Carmilla Beach and found a delightful campspot tucked into some sheltering bushes but still with a view of the ocean out our dining room window.

Cosy sheltered campsite at Carmilla Beach

The wind is blowing quite strong so our doorway is facing away from the beach. I went for a walk along the beach

Driftwood strewn Carmilla Beach. Our campsite is equi distant from a creek mouth at each end.

before the rain arrived. Then the sun arrived. Um err then the rain arrived. Um err then the sun arrived and so the day went on. The wind has been the only constant today. Despite that we both agree this is a lovely campsite and will probably stay two nights.

Interesting lump of driftwood. Grandaughter Shelby Rose can see a Goanna, a snake and a Kookaburra shape in this view. Can you?

The sand here is unlike the fine white sand of Noosa. This is a more coarse, yellow to brown sand. At the moment the sea is a milk colour, most likely caused by the heavy rains of the last couple of months rinsing the white clay of the nearby Carmilla Creek into the ocean and the strong onshore winds blowing it back to the beach. The big 5 to 6 metre tides also picks up and moves a lot of sand. This is just the place to sit back and recharge our body batteries.

Taking time for ourselves and recharging our batteries.

Tonight, after dark, a car pulled up near us. The car doors did not open and there were no further sounds. Hmmm! Strange. About twenty minutes later I decided to walk to the nearby pit toilets. As I stepped outside the occupants of the car also stepped out. They are English backpackers and apologised for arriving so late in the dark. We walked together to the toilets and had a bit of a chat. They seem like a nice couple and have a fabulous sense of humour.

How do I know?

They laughed at my jokes.

Friday 8th April

Woke to a fine, sunny, yet cool windy day. Not so cool that we cannot still walk around in shorts n t-shirts. I had a good walk along the beach to one of the creek mouths. There is a creek mouth at both ends of the beach, about one klm apart.

Another interesting bit of driftwood. Shelby Rose and I can see a Brahman Bull. Can you?

The little blue soldier crabs were active in their multi of thousands all along the beach, scurrying away as one as I approached.

Soldier Crabs

These little crabs live beneath the sand at high tide then come out at low tide and filter feed from micro food particles in the sand. They pull a quantity of damp sand together in their pincers and roll it into a ball as their feeders find tasty morsels. They move on, leaving a sand ball behind as they seek more food. As the tide comes in they burrow beneath the sand leaving thousands and thousands of sand balls which are in turn absorbed back into the beach when the tide returns. The Soldier Crab is quite distinctive with its small, round, blue body on long jointed legs with purple stripes. As it marches around feeding, it moulds the sand into numerous pellets, sorting through it for organic matter. They are a bit smaller than golf ball size. Although they have nippers they rarely use them so it is easy to pick them up with getting nipped. They are the only crab I am aware of which walks forwards and not sideways.

It seems today must be a travel day as half a dozen campers left this morning, leaving us as the only visible vehicle on this stretch of beach. Ross n Linda the couple in the caravan near us are heading to Mackay today and eventually plan on reaching Darwin, sometime this year. They have been on the road fulltime for the last 5 years. The English couple in the Spaceship rental campervan came over to say goodbye as they are heading to Airlie Beach for a reef trip then they have to return the Spaceship to Cairns by 20th April. At the speed they are travelling they will just make it on time. They just did not realise how huge the coastline is and how many places they could explore which is not in their travel guide.

Before lunch we both went for a walk along the beach in the warm sunshine although the wind was pretty constant and a touch cool. Once back in front of our camp we waded into the cool waters eventually submersing ourselves into the water, which strangely was cooler than we have experienced at Noosa. Once in the water we were slapped around by the wind driven waves but for me it was a relief as the water supported my back.

Our on-board heater delivered hot showers and we both washed our hair and there was still hot water for washing up hours later.

Saturday 9th April.

Sunrise view from our dining window.

Another early morning walk and what I might call nature study.

This peeling Casuarina is typical of the species all along the exposed parts of the beach.

I found footprints in the sand some of which belong to kangaroos but one set of prints is a bit of concern. I do not want to meet the animal which made the giant prints in the photo. My own footprint is shown alongside for comparison.

Strange footprints.

I also saw the footprints of Ghost Crabs which live above the high water mark. 

Not sure what type of crab this is. Different colours to the Ghost Crab, it is smaller and active during daylight.

The Ghost Crab is relatively small and, being almost translucent with flecks of pink and yellow, it is well camouflaged against the sand. If you manage to see one up close, you will notice its eyes are on the end of long stalks. The Ghost Crab stays in the cool protection of its burrow by day and scuttles down to the water at twilight to hunt. The burrow, which is built quite high up on the shore (sometimes over 100 m from the sea), can be over 1 m deep.  They grow to larger than squash ball size, have large nippers and do defend themselves quite vigorously and can deliver an uncomfortable bite and hang on tenaciously. Sorry no photos of these guys as I was not on the beach at night. Apparently they make good bait…if you can catch them.

Further along the beach a gang of Red Rumped Black Cockatoos landed in a Beach Casuarina but took off as I tried to get closer for a photograph.

I noted a young mangrove shoot has made a foothold in the crevice of rocks on the beach.

Hardy Mangrove shoot.

It would be interesting to come back in 10 years to see if it has survived tides, king tides, tidal surges, shifting sands, winds, cyclones and man its worst enemy.

Another tiny crab, the colour of the sand was apparently feeding off a large unknown type of sea shell.

What the shell is this?

I always thought this was known as a mud oyster but I am unable to find any reference material on it. The tiny crab took ages to re-emerge from its burrow before I could fire off a quick photo.

For those of you who have been to or heard about Carmilla Beach, let me tell you there were NO Sandflies or Biting Midges as they also known. There are now two composting toilet blocks and two dump points. One provided by local council the other by CMCA. Regrettably there is no water so you can dump but not clean cassettes etc.

We left Carmilla Beach just a little before 10am and headed for daughter Averyl’s house at North Mackay. As we rejoined the Bruce Highway we saw a pair of Brolga’s on the side of the road. I wonder if it was the same pair we saw further along the Carmilla Beach Road when we arrived on Thursday? Donnis son, Errol, called us we were leaving. He wants to put his Mackay house on the market. After his tenant leaves he asked us to stay at the house and prepare it for sale. That is tidy up outside, remove rubbish the tenant has accumulated and strewn around the place. Then some cleaning and painting both inside and outside. If Donnis gets work in and around Mackay it would be easier to drive from the Mackay house than from the Finch Hatton property. Que Sera Sera.

After arriving, parking and connecting to power it was time for lunch.

Donnis drove over to Andergrove to look for her son Peter and what has happened to our bird Ziggy who we gave to Peter to mind. She was back before long as Peter is not home and not answering his phone.

The streets all around Mackay still look wet and most lawns are still thick and unmown due to the ground still being soft and boggy.

During the afternoon I took time out to go on-line to the Census We Site and apply for a position of collector. I now have to wait until mid-May to see if I have been shortlisted and go to the next round – interviews.

It rained after dinner but Averyl called it a brief shower. I suppose she is more correct as it was soon over but as we had the big hatch and bathroom hatch both fully open, the wet floor felt like it had been raining as I rushed to get them closed. It showered several times during the night.

I spoke with daughter Melissa just after dinner. She and husband Steve are leaving on Wednesday for two weeks cross country endurance riding at Torbanlea near Bundaberg then onto the Sunshine Coast at Imbil, places we have visited in the last few weeks. We have promised to arrive on Monday evening so we can have Tuesday to familiarise ourselves with what is required as far as feeding animals is concerned. We will live in the house until they return then move WWWGO down to Steves big shed until… Que Sera Sera.

Grandson, Anakin, has a collection of the Star Wars movies and they are his favourites. He has all the movies except The Clone Wars which is cartoon episode. He has not seen it but by chance I happen to have a copy on hard drive. Oh Boy! Was he impressed. He sat up late watching it on the PC.

Sunday 10th April

This morning after a healthy low carb breakfast of brussel sprouts and mushrooms, I went for a bike ride with Anakin. We rode from the house along to the end of the street and up onto a flood mitigation dyke for the Gooseponds Lagoon and the tidal creek into which it flows. From here it was a bit of a slog across the long grass and the soggy ground beneath. I kept an eye out for snakes as the area is known for Brown Snakes, Black Snakes and Taipans, three of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world. Anakin himself even made the comment there were deadly snakes to watch out for. Coming from an eight year old it seems he has been well taught.

The ride around Gooseponds was interesting as each time we stopped near the water dozens of geese, ducks and turtles desecended upon us looking for a handout. The walking/bike track around Gooseponds is well patronised by cyclists and walkers but because of the constant heavy rain, the normally manicured grass each side of the pathway was thick and long, hiding a deep muddy surface. Council is unable to get their equipment into area to cut the grass as the ground is still too soft.

In the afternoon Donnis n I went to see our house at Bucasia then dropped in to see sister Sandra for an hour.

That was the week that was.

183. Sunday 3rd April 2011. Starting at Traveston we have moved on. King of the road and back on the road again…

05/04/2011

Monday 28th March 2011

Donnis was still recovering from her bronchitis and although I woke feeling almost pain free, as the morning wore on, the pain returned.

Today was a work day and despite our health issues some tasks were completed.

We did wash all the sheets and clothes we had stored. With all the rain of the past three months the clothes had absorbed moisture from the humid air and smelled musty and felt slightly damp. We also took the opportunity to jettison some clothes and bundle them for the Vinnies bin.

We put the foam rubber back into the washed seat cushions and set them aside ready to put into place once the under seat storage is re-packed.

We removed the tarpaulins which provided additional rain shelter over each end of the awning. The tarps were put in the garbage bin as they were beginning to disintegrate. Noticeably the silver tarp was in far better condition than the blue. (the blue was shredding while the silver showed signs that it would shred sometime soon) It was also an older tarp. Next time I buy a tarp I will be looking for the silver type.

The shade shelter at one end of the awning (the weather end) was removed and packed away as was the shade cloth on the drivers side which kept the fridge shaded all day. The next couple of days has overcast and showery conditions are predicted.

The under bed storage was re-organised so the step ladder can be stored there instead of being tied to the back of WWWGO.

I tried a new way of cooking a steak for the stir fry. Instead of cutting the fillet steak into strips then quickly stir frying I cooked the small steaks for about three minutes and allowed them to rest for a couple of minutes then sliced them thinly and oh what a difference that makes. I set the steak aside while I stir fried the ginger, onions, garlic, fresh chilli, snow peas, broccoli and radish, yes radish.

Yumm!

Tuesday 29th March.

Another work day of washing clothes and removed gear already packed away to determine if we keep it and how to repack.

Wednesday 30th March

Started the day off with a visit to the chiropractor, grocery shopping then back to Traveston to continue cleaning and repacking. Today we also cleaned the awning, top and underneath, using Orangepower, as Donnis just cannot use chlorine based products. We managed to get most of the accumulated gunk off the awning but it still does not look sparkling brand new clean. Perhaps in the future when Donnis is working and I am over my back problems I can use another type of spray cleaner and finish the job.

Thursday 31st March

Started the day with repacking and stopped for an early lunch. The house owners Guy n Dom arrived home halfway through our meal. We got stuck into the packing but spent too much time socialising with G n D and were not ready to leave until near enough to 5 pm. Although we could stay another night, I was anxious to be on the road, particularly as we were going to meet up with friends Glenise n Eric the next day at Inskip Point. We drove away from Traveston to the Bruce Highway towards Gympie then turned west to the Mary Valley and stayed overnight in a delightful freedom campsite at Kandanga. The locals have done a great job in the park, providing eight levelled and gravelled campsites for self contained vehicles.

Our delightful level campsite at Kandanga.

In fact we could stay here, quite happily for a few days but Inskip Point was calling. We phoned Glenise while we were cooking a delicious beef n vegetable soup Imagine our surprise to find that G&E are visiting a friend at Amamoor just 6 klms away! A further surpise was that the friend, Helen was a workmate of both Donnis and Glenise from from around 20 years ago when they all worked at Fantasea Cruises, the ferry service which took visitors to Hamilton Island and other island and the reef in and around the Whitsunday area.

Friday 1st April.

The morning dawned clear and sunny so I took a walk around the village of Kandanga.

The nearby rail bridge over the road bridge over the river.

Attractive and neat Kandanga Pub.

We visited the friend and GnE at Amamoor and after a cup of coffee we were on our way after being given a pumpkin as a parting gift. It turns out it was a bit of an April Fools Day on us after all. On arrival at our chosen campsite

Our campsite on the coastal dunes at Inskip Point.

the wind was blowing fiercely and the surf was churning away, too dangerous to even contemplate. Donnis n I managed a good walk along the beach before G&E arrived just on dark. We sat in the lea of their MH and had happy hour until the wind whipped the sand around our legs. Just as we got back to WWWGO the rain started slamming against the sides of the MH. Any thoughts of sitting together for dinner disappeared. Our onboard water heater provided a wonderful hot shower before we turned in for the night.

Our campsite is known as "The Oaks" presumably for the coastal Casuarina trees also known as She Oaks. Most of the trees near us were young and struggling.

Saturday 2nd April

The day was overcast with patches of bright welcome sunshine.

I believe this was once a dune Pandanus tree which has drifted here from elsewhere as there were no such trees within shouting distance of its final resting place.

Dune Grass in re-vegetation area next to our campsite.

Initially there was no wind but as the day progressed it got stronger until by bedtime it was whistling through our windows. We spent the day by doing a little exploring at the point and looking at some of the alternate campsites which are available. This National Park is one of only a few which allow domestic pets – dogs. They must be on a leash at all times. Despite the many rules of the park people still let their dogs run free, exceed the speed limit on the beaches, drink while driving, accessing the dunes in other than designated access points, do donuts on the beach and within the campsites and of course leave their rubbish strewn throughout the camp. Apart from that we had a lovely quiet day including a couple of walks along the beach and almost being bowled over by the rogue waves. At lunchtime Glenise decided to use up a pack of 40 fish fingers in her freezer with a bit of Greek salad whilst we supplied some pocket bread, bean salad, homemade salsa and cheese. What a filling feast.

Sunday 3rd April

The weather changed overnight to a heavy overcast sky and freshening winds. I was certain it would rain during the day so after we farewelled G&E our own packing up commenced but not before my walk on the beach. I walked through the campsite near us where about 8 carloads of people were camped. One was the aforementioned donut driver who also did donuts within his own campsite where young children were playing. A brief look suggested a clean campsite but as I walked through it was obvious there was lots of rubbish left behind. Considering that there four dumpster bins within 20 metres of their campsite they did not have far to go to get rid of their rubbish. No wonder we see campsites being closed. Later as we hitched the Terios to WWWGO I noticed the ranger having a good look around the campsite. At Rainbow Beach we emptied the black and the grey water tanks and filled with fresh water, finishing as the rain began.

We need to find some work. Donnis is happy enough to go back to nursing in a retirement home but would feel more comfortable closer to where we started as there is some family support in that her son, Peter, lives in Mackay as do my daughters Melissa and Averyl. Having spoken with Melissa she advised the Mirani Nursing home, 20 minutes from her home, are looking for nursing staff. Melissa had also agreed we could stay on her property at Finch Hatton while Donnis works.

So it was in heavy rain we turned northwards in increasingly heavy rain. The road to Maryborough was signposted as having 20 klms of damaged roads and to take care. Yep! It sure needed care in those conditions. I have this knawing doubt about travelling north at this time. In Mackay alone they have had more than half a metre of rain this week and added to the couple of metres of rain this year, with no let-up we could be in for a miserable, wet year. Somewhere along the road in the heavy rain I must have missed a turnoff so we ended up in Maryborough and not Tiaro where I had intended to spend the night. Pam n Gerry live at Yandaran, about 35 klms north of Bundaberg so despite my back getting worse we headed to P n G place where we will spend perhaps two nights before moving on. Donnis will contact the Mirani Nursing home in the morning.

We caught up with P n G over a dinner of leftover soup and stir fry.

Will let you know in the next post how things work out, workwise.