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

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.


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.


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.


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

  1. The Retro Roamers Says:

    Hey Frank

    Another interesting blog. It seems you have gone to where we have been. Glad it is you…we will give the north a wide berth for some time.

    I did notice you are looking for work in the couples area in the CP arena. Why not check out and join Work About Australia, seems to lots of things happening there. Grey nomads employment another great site.

    I see also you were told of Cania Gorge. They seem to be looking for couples all the time. Beeing in this game for as long as we have, that tells me a couple of things. Give me a call for my response if you want.

    Enjoy Mackay, and look forward to your next post.

    Cheers & beers

    The Retro Roamers


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