199. Sunday 3rd July 2011. New campsite, new jobs and a bit of bad news…

Monday 27th June 2011.

Packed up and left the Bucasia Beach CP by 10am. Donnis drove to Mackay to do a big grocery shop in case we do not get an opportunity for grocery shopping until next week. She also took a bit of time to look for a pair of work shoes and new blouses.

I drove directly to Finch Hatton but did take a stop at Marian where I made coffee. I parked in the grounds of the Dame Nellie Melba House, a museum dedicated to the Dame who lived in the area for two years commencing in 1881.

http://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/dame-tropics-nellie-melba

I arrived at the stud just on midday but spent another hour setting up WWWGO with power, water, drainage and of course levelling. The wind was blowing non-stop around thirty knots and was very cool. Rain clouds were building up.

On our last visit we had the task of feeding the chooks and the duck, the dogs and three horses. Last week either a dingo or a feral dog attacked and killed one chook and the duck. Melissa had that duck for ten years and she was devastated with its loss.

This time we feed the chooks and dogs and 9 horses. The horses get frisky at feeding time and we had to dodge a few flying hooves in the early evening gloom.

Hmmm! Note to self. Feed the horses earlier so we can see what they are doing.

We had some drizzly, on n off rain around dinnertime.

Tuesday 28th June.

It may have rained during the night but I would not have known. I slept all night, only waking when Donnis alarm went off at 5.30. She went off to her first day of work at Nanyima Nursing Home just after 6am. It started to rain as she was opening the farm gate. I was sitting in my cosy bed watching the taillights in the dark when she stopped to open the gates. It was at that moment the heavens opened.

The day was wet and windy with strong occasional gusts. Temperature did not get above 20° all day.

I managed to make a loaf of rye bread. This was my first attempt at making bread and it was done by hand. I am quite proud of the outcome.

Note the texture, note the clour, note the crispy crust, note that a few slices are already missing. I feel the urge to make another loaf any day now.

Donnis does not normally eat much bread. Today when she arrived home from work she smelled and then saw the rye loaf. She devoured three slices laced with butter. Yummo!

In the morning I ordered a custom made innerspring mattress with a memory latex top. It will take about two weeks to make and allow another week for delivery. Donnis is looking forward to the delivery day.

Horses and chooks were fed before dark but the poor dogs had to wait until after we had eaten before they had their turn.

Tonight, as per the weather forecast, the wind picked up even more and was threatening to rip the awning off the roof. In driving rain we struggled to haul in the awning, partly because in my haste I did not follow the correct procedure and there were a few dramatic moments as in the dark I found the holding latch, brought the awning back out and tried again. We did this three times before finally securing the awning. Shortly after we dragged our sodden bodies inside, dried off and changed clothes, the wind eased off. We are not fooled by this lull as we know it will come back stronger during the night or in the morning.

Wednesday 29th June

Hmmm! Only a third of a loaf of yummy rye bread left after 24 hours. Where did it all go?

Toasted, with a slice of camembert cheese, scrumptious.

The morning was wind and rain free but gradually during the afternoon both came back with a vengeance. Feeding the chooks, the horses and the dogs in the horizontally driven rain meant I was soaked, despite wearing a water repellent jacket. Unfortunately I was not wearing waterproof pants.

Thursday 30th June. The end of the financial year.

Another windy and wet day although both came in fits n starts. When feeding the animals this afternoon I wore my yellow waterproofs, including pants. Darn! The rain stopped as soon as I put on the wet weather gear.

It was a busy morning for us as I collected the mail and found my new contract with the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the Census collection. I called on the area supervisor and collected my training pack. I have to read the training manual, view a video and complete a test prior to next Wednesday.

Donnis is on afternoon shift for the next two days.

She prefers to work in a smaller, happier, working environment. Don’t we all?

Friday 1st July

The sun made a few appearances today. It was glorious not having to tramp around in the wet during the day.

Sitting at the table eating breakfast I noticed two dark dog shapes running toward the stables. I checked our three dogs to be sure they were still locked up. I found the two dogs, which seem to have bull terrier in their breeding, down in the horse paddock and spying me they left the horses alone and came running up to me. Although I shouted at them they kept running at me. Despite their barking and snarling, their tails were wagging. After speaking with Melissa, she believes, from my description, the dogs belong to a neighbour. It may be they are the dogs responsible for the killing of the duck and hen last week. Melissa will speak with the farmer when she returns.

Temperature got to about 24° in the early afternoon. I put the wet and dripping awning back out this afternoon. Just my luck, no sooner was the awning out when the wind picked up from nowhere. The sun stayed until late afternoon and the wind dropped but temperature dropped as well.

Saturday 2nd July

Wow! The sun was out today. It was lovely and warm except when we went to the Skywindow.

We drove twenty five klms to …Eungella. Just to have a look around at some of the area I will have to work when doing the Census. At the bottom of the mountain range there is a warning sign. It advises a very steep climb for the next 5 klms and trucks, caravans and trailers should proceed with caution especially in wet weather. The road is steep, narrow, winding and in several places the corner speed advisory is 20Kph with difficult ingress and egress. Maximum speed limit is 80 Kph. Those 20Kph corners meant going back to 2ndgear, even in the Terios. The view, for the passenger as the driver is too busy, is spectacular.

The Pioneer Vally looking towards Mackay. A ribbon of bitumen is the Mackay-Eungella Road and the winding snake of water is Cattle Creek which winds through the villages of Netherdale, Finch Hatton, Pinnacle, Gargett and beyond.

First up we had lunch at The Eungella Chalet

Eungella Chalet. Current owners have spent some money on renovations but it still needs more money spent on it.

which sits at the top of the escarpment on the very edge

The chalet from the edge of the escarpment.

of the perpendicular drop to the Pioneer Valley below.

Frankeeg sitting on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the Pioneer Valley.

Hang glider pilots, launch from a platform here and are often seen soaring over and down to the valley below.

Once on this framp with their hang gliding equipment, the gliders take a leap of faith as well as a leap of exhilaration as they soar above the valley floor.

This point is 80 klms from the city of Mackay. The coast and Mackay is somewhere in the distant haze.

A little further along the scarpment is the On The Edge Caravan Park and cabins. As the name implies, it is "on the edge" of the sheer vertical dropoff. Just step outside the cabin door and there is no protective barrier or fence.

Next stop was a quick drive around the nearby streets and houses built in the rainforest. Shee-eet, maybe this will be a more difficult job than I anticipated. Many of the houses appear to be part of the rainforest. Then we drove along the Diggings Road to the National Parks campground at the old gold mining shafts. The road was umm err not so much a road as a track. The track deteriorated to the point where I had to select 4WD on the Terios gearbox.I counted two roads heading off to a couple of farms and was curious if there were more farms further along the diggings road. (A later conversation with a woman at the Broken River kiosk confirmed there are no farms beyond the two I already saw. Whew! Finding all the farms for the census in the area is going to be a bit of a 4WD experience.)

From here the track became much worse with deep wheel ruts and slides and washouts. All downhill of course. The ground was wet and greasy clay.

The track was becoming more and more of a challenge

We just took our time and drove slow and steady.

and discretion dictated I should not put our Terios at risk so turned back before arriving at the diggings.

At least we know the Terios can handle the type of terrain we were in. Even more so if you travel with others. We have recovery gear but it was all packed away in WWWGO.

A pity really as I wanted to show Donnis the abandoned vertical shafts which still dot the steep hillsides. The rough, gutted, muddy and boggy terrain did not deter the Terios (nor the driver) and not once was ground clearance a problem.  The track sees little traffic and there was no mobile signal in this remote hilly area. Next time, joining other drivers and vehicles would be a safer option.

Later at the Skywindow

Entrance to the Skywindow lookout platforms loop trail.

looking down into the valley I can confirm that in the shadow of the rainforeset and standing on the observation deck hanging over the drop-off the temperature was easily 10 degrees lower than the valley below. It was like being in a refrigerator and our breath was hanging wisps of vapor.

Before leaving Eungella we dropped into the Hideaway Café for a coffee. (This was once called the Rainforest Café and was mentioned in the Rusty Stuff post (198). The owner has glued glass beads to animal and flower figures and spread them through her gardens. The beads sparkle in the sunlight and give the garden a magical touch. A group of children were enchanted by the garden and all the surprises they found.

Glass bead birds at the Hideaway Cafe.

Sunday 3rd July

We were woken by the mobile phone at 5.30. It was the nursing home. They wanted Donnis to come in for a shift. As she was having breakfast a shower of rain pattered on the roof. Oh darn we thought. After a great sunny day yesterday a rainy day today was not expected. By 8am the sun was clearing the horizon to the east but the black clouds to the west still looked menacing. The clouds were so low the mountains were hidden from view while the hills around the farm were laced with wisps of fluffy grey cloud.

I managed to clean the top and underside of the awning. I have been wanting to do this since before we left home last year. I used a product called 30 Seconds. It works!

I spent a few hours this afternoon doing some study for the Census. I also completed a test which took almost two hours. I am going to earn every cent when this Census is complete.

This evening I called Melissa for a progress report on her marathon ride this week and when she will come home. Husband Steve answered. Melissa is in Atherton hospital after suffering a fall during the ride. Although nothing is broken – except her pride – she is in a great deal of pain and cannot travel for a few days. It seems she was on the home stretch and had completed 385 Klms and was leading the field by a huge margin.

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