214. Sunday 18th September. Still at Finch Hatton and we visit Airlie Beach and Mackay and have a busy week…

Monday 12thSeptember 2011 Long post this week with many photographs. The sun shone brightly and the sea of rolling sugar cane stood out as patches of green. Patches of brown showed fields already harvested. Another field at the bottom of the hill was being harvested all day. The local White Herons

Australian White Heron's feeding from ground didturbed by the harvester. Click on image to enlarge it and clearly see the Heron's.

with a few Torresian Crows follow the harvester along each row and pick up grubs and beetles disturbed by the harvester. The eagles and hawks hover overhead looking for a different meal. They look for mice, snakes, bandicoots and lizards running into the harvested field. Donnis and I spent most of the day clearing out stuff we have not used in some time or not used at all. We created two piles. One to be thrown out or given to the St.Vinnies. The other is to be taken to storage in Airlie Beach. Last week I donated a large box of books, already read, to the nursing home. It seems silly to take up such a large volume of space, not to mention weight of books that I was keeping to swap along the way. I still have 17 unread books and that is more than enough to swap one for one. One of the items Donnis agreed to put into storage is a portable massage table which weighs in excess of 15 Kg and takes up a huge amount of space. Now all I have to do is to convince her to store the masses of medical textbooks. They are heavy and in my opinion not needed in our travels. I spent a couple of hours vacuuming TERIOS  to remove the dust and grit off the floor and seats, legacy of the week’s spent driving on gravel roads around Eungella. I dusted down all the internal surfaces and Armouralled the plastic interior surfaces. The seats and interior door trim were cleaned with upholstery cleaner. All windows, inside and outside were cleaned. The floor mats were thrown out and replaced with new ones. The car seat covers were also thrown away soon to be replaced with good looking, form fitting covers. The glove box, ash tray and coin trays were also emptied of all the little bits n pieces which accumulate. The interior now looks and smells like new, well, almost. I washed the outside last week at a brushless car wash but it looks just as dirty again from driving on and off the stud farm every day. The dogs pee on the tyres which has more dust clinging to the pee shape. Tuesday 13th September Woke at 7am to the sound of harvesters working in the field nearby. Donnis woke at 5.15am to go to work but apart from my initial waking as she climbed out of bed I soon fell asleep and did not hear her leave. The mail brought the registration renewal. Woops. Forgot to include the cost of that in my calculations. Darn! Any plans we had for leaving here by the first week of November are well and truly dashed. Even getting away by the end of November is looking a little shaky. As always our plans – which we do not have, just vague thoughts of what we would like to do – need to be flexible. As a planner who is/was controlled by the clock and the calendar, I have been learning to cast off that life and be ready to accept change as it occurs. Donnis has no trouble with changes and seems to be able to accept a change in plans quite readily. Sigh! I thought by now I would be more relaxed with regards to plans, timetables, schedules but it is obvious I am not. I rarely wear a watch these days but being flexible and accept change is more than not wearing a watch. Trust me, I am working on it. Wednesday 14thSeptember It was a long day. We drove to Airlie Beach.

Part of Airlie Beach foreshore.

I wore a watch. First stop was a doctor appointment for Donnis (in the meantime I visited BCF to look at a kayak and also visited Bunnings for a corkboard.) then it was on to the appointment with our tax agent. On arrival she told us she had already half completed our tax return by accessing the Australian Tax Office and all we needed to do was supply a little additional information. The good news was we do not owe any money to the ATO. I was relieved as I fully expected we would need to pay them a few thousand dollars. After that bit of good news we drove to our storage shed at our house at Jubilee Pocket to drop off some items which are no longer needed. Then we had lunch at Hogs Breath Café. For those who know about the Hogs Breath chain of restaurants across Australia may not be aware the original HB was started in Airlie Beach by a man called Don Algie (I once did all his insurance and that of all the franchises). Then Donnis had a dental appointment while I called into the office of Oceanic Insurance Brokers and said hello to the staff. Then we called to see our friend Cheryl A, as we stayed with her tonight. Cheryl is retired and lives alone except for the two black female poodles, another female dog of indeterminate breed and a female cat. (Do you see a pattern emerging here?) One of the poodles is blind and has diabetes. Cheryl has to inject it with insulin three times a day. Then finally we went to dinner at a Thai restaurant where we joined my sister Sandra and her beau, David.

Dinner at Airlie Thai on the balcony overlooking Airlie Beach. Donnis, Cheryl, FrankieG, Sandra (also known as Sandi or Shan) and Dave the builder.

Whew! Little wonder I was ready for bed by 9.30. Thursday 15thSeptember. Another busy day. After breakfast with Cheryl we drove into Airlie Beach for coffee with Percy and Bronwyn M,

Percy, Bronwyn and Donnis AKA Co-Pilot.

friends of Donnis from her days when she lived on Hamilton Island. Percy built all the pools on HI including one for the late George Harrison of Beatles fame.

i recall the facilities at beachside were falling down and smelly. Those facilities have been replaced, at least on the inside, and now look like a toilet block orta look. The graphics over the men's urinal were worthy of a photograph.

After coffee we drove to Brandy Creek to visit more friends of Donnis from “the old days”, Lok and Ros S,

Lok, Ros and Donnis on the Lettuce farm.

who started the original Wok Inn Restaurant in Airlie Beach. These days they keep busy with a hydroponic lettuce farm

Lettuce in hydroponic beds ready for harvest.

which supplies shops, supermarkets, restaurants, green grocers and fresh food outlets in the Airlie Beach area. Ros put on a wonderful, sinus cleansing curry chicken for lunch. We finally left Airlie about 2.30pm and arrived back at Finch Hatton by 4.30pm. Another day which left me tired and ready for bed by 9.30pm. Friday 16th September Another early morning drive into Mackay to take Averyl & Paul to the airport. I will be looking after grandchildren, Shelby-Rose and Anakin until Sunday night. Today, the co-pilot (I realised that once upon a time I called Donnis the co-pilot but lately have reverted to calling her by name. From here on in I will call her the co-pilot until I forget and start calling her Donnis again) drove around Mackay looking for an In Vehicle Video Camera System. As we do a lot of Klms and plan on doing lots more Klms we believe a video camera mounted on the windscreen will be of benefit, not only in a crash situation but will be able to show interesting visuals as we drive. The type of camera we want is one which gives about 13 hours of continuous recording on a 32Gb SD card, includes a Google Maps linked to GPS display, records G-forces in the event of an accident, automatically saves video prior to, during and immediately after. It automatically loop records over non saved material. http://www.gotrack.com.au/myview/index.php Only JayCar knew what I was talking about and had sold their last two cameras that morning. The co-pilot and I bought lambs wool seat covers for TERIOS then went our separate ways. She to do some grocery shopping then return to Finch Hatton for the night as she starts work at 6.30 am in the morning. I went to collect the grandchildren from school.. Saturday 17thSeptember. It is strange but as I start to type the date each day I have this urge to type the month as March!!! Today we took a drive to Palmyra on the outskirts of Mackay, near Walkerston and in the heart of cane farms. The reason for us being here was to visit the Mackay Kart Club and to watch Dave the Builder,

Dave in his GoKart 96 coming round the bend at Palmyra Go Kart Track.

Sandra’s beau in action as a go kart racer. I was quite impressed by the facilities at the kart track and in all the safety regulations governing the sport. Each kart is basically the same sized engine, has the same size wheels and tyres, same exhaust system and brakes. All vehicles are fitted with electronic monitoring devices which are recorded via sensors in the concrete track.

Sometimes cars spin out off the track and cannot be re-started. Here we see a driver and pit crew removing the kart from the track. All karts have a trolley to move vehicles around.

This is a sport which I would love to be involved in but the costs are quite high. Some drivers manage with just themselves and a friend and use facilities provided beside the pits to set up and work on their machines. Others, such as Dave have a purpose built trailer which carries three karts, spares, tools, fuel and of course supplies. Others are even more organised with trucks fitted with sleeping accommodation and food preparation areas. I will not be getting involved as apart from the cost, we are getting on the road again in a few weeks and need to stay focused.

Anakin and Shelby-Rose at the Go Kart track.

Later Shelby, Anakin and I drove out to the Mackay Harbour. The harbour wall was damaged during cyclone Ului in 2010 and cyclone Yasi this year. The roadway on the wall has been closed to all traffic, vehicle as well as foot. Until now. The gates were open today for people to use the wall as a way to see a different perspective of the harbour, as well as hundreds of vantage points for fishing on the quiet harbour side or the open ocean side of the wall. Scuba divers, spearfisherpersons, photographers and walkers were all enjoying the opened road and pathway. Mackay Harbour is in fact three separate harbours and it is quite large.

Mackay Harbour Entrance Beacon

The first part of the harbour, through a relatively narrow opening in the rock wall is used by all vessels, including larger ships who take on bulk sugar and other bulk or container cargo.

The original harbour which has been built onto twice, forming another two purpose made harbours.

Visiting cruise liners have used the wharves as well as large naval ships. The middle section is for smaller ships and some tourist vessels. It once supported pylon type berthing for pleasurecraft. My 7m yacht, ASTARET was berthed here for a year before I moved it to Shute Harbour. The third section is mainly to accommodate pleasure craft, sail and power, in a marina type environment. Marina style multi story apartments are built on this end of the harbour and is an impressive area. The entire third section was once upon a time a surf beach which has now been moved several hundred metres to the southern side of the new harbour breakwater wall. Now, here is one of life’s curiosities. I was sitting on the breakwater wall photographing the grandchildren when I noticed a yacht heading for the harbour entrance. It was on a tight course to come in close against the rock wall and take full advantage of the fading southerly breeze. I thought some photographs of the yacht with Slade Rock (Slade Rock sort of makes a secondary entrance boundary and due to the length of rock extending out and only visible at extreme low tides, it is advisable to give it a wide berth)  in the background.

DEHLER MAGIC with Slade Rock as background.

As it got closer and from my higher vantage point I could clearly see the name DEHLER MAGIC, Cumberland Charters, along its side near the stern.

DEHLER MAGIC

In my previous life, before retirement, I was a Marine Insurance Broker and one of my clients was Cumberland Charters, partly owned by Charlie P, who also happens to own DEHLER MAGIC. It was strange to see it this far south as the normal charter limits is not below the Whitsunday Islands. Often charterers may pay for additional crew to take them outside normal limits or drop them at a preferred marina to catch certain flights out of say, Mackay. I scanned the people on board and even with my zoom lens could not see Charlie on board but did notice two people who appear to be Cumberland Crew.

DEHLER MAGIC inside Mackay Harbour.

After much coercion from young persons we had pizza for dinner and I was amazed that one adult and two young children ate two pizza. Sunday 18th September The three of us went to the movies today. We saw Spy Kids 4 in 4D. Now 4D is nothing more than a gimmick and does not provide any additional benefit to the experience. It is filmed in 2D and supposedly has Smellorama. This is a numbered button which comes on the screen telling you to scratch the corresponding button on a card??? We were not given a card and I suspect neither was anybody else as I never once smelled anything out of the ordinary. Except, maybe for the smell of popcorn or as in our case, the smell of a freshly opened pack of Starburst Jellies. The movie is strictly a kids movie and although action packed I found myself nodding off after half an hour. Watching and listening to Anakins reaction after the movie, as he hyper skipped and jumped and kapow kapowed his way out of the theatre I wondered that perhaps I was the same when I was his age and was allowed to take myself (and younger brother Allan) to the movies on a Saturday arvo. We would come out of the movies along with our friends and would ride an imaginary horse and shoot imaginary guns and hide in niches away from imaginary gunfire. Nothing has changed I suppose except the movie technology, the surround sound and most important of all, the cost. When I was young my brother and I received two shillings (twenty cents) pocket money on Saturday. That money paid for admission of one shilling and three pence (about 12 cents) for upper stalls seats and with the remaining ninepence I bought myself two packets of crisps. (Allan bought Choo Choo bars and spent the entire afternoon slobbering his way through the two bars) Today the cost of the tickets for the grandchildren was $24 plus $11 for two frozen cokes. We supplied our own crisps and jellies).My seniors ticket cost $8. Had we booked on line, including two lots of giant popcorn and two super dooper size coke the cost of tickets would have been $59. What families can afford to take their children to the movies once or twice during school holidays or even once a week? Gee I know wages and the standard of living has increased since my childhood but I cannot help but believe we got more for our money in those days. After collecting Averyl and Paul from the airport, the CO-PILOT and I went to Souths Leagues Club for a so-so dinner and by the time we arrived back at our FH camp it was time for bed. ZZZZZZzzzzzz….

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