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

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.

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