Monday 10th October
This week last year we left Charleville and spent some time in Morven and Mitchel, shopped in Roma and camped at Surat. I made the comment I really must give up pies as they are expensive. I have since given up pies as they are a very high source of carbs and if I want to lose even more weight I have to stay away from, amongst other things, pies! I have had one pie in the last three months.
There is lots of one off expenses in our life. Well, at least one off until they wear out.
Today I purchased a new battery for WWWGO.
Today I visited Centrelink to re-apply for a Health Care Card then had coffee with sisters Enid and Sandra.
Tuesday 11th October
The day started out fine and sunny but we could see and feel a big storm brewing and if the forecast is correct there will be a thunderstorm in the afternoon. We left Eimeo just on 9 am and started on the road to Townsville. This is a 400klm journey and should take around 5 hours. By the time we hit the Bruce Highway a strong and gusty north easterly wind had picked up and if was not hitting us nose on, it was buffeting from the side. We stopped for fuel at Proserpine 125 klms north of Mackay and had coffee a little further along the highway. It was hard work driving in such windy conditions and with road works every few klms it was a slow trip.
Driving through Bowen
, the tomato capital of Oz we saw hundreds of workers out in the fields picking tomatoes. Pity we did not have the camera in the driving compartment. We arrived at Home Hill just after 2pm with another 120 klms to travel. The fuel gauge was reading a half tank. Yikes! Driving into such a strong head wind was taking a toll on fuel consumption. We decided to have lunch here and to resume the trip at 5pm when the winds may start to ease. Home Hill has a “comfort stop”
in the centre of town where motorhomes and caravans can stop for up to 48 hours.
Clean rest rooms and free showers are located just off the main shopping centre. While waiting we elected to have a shower and short snooze before beginning our travels.
The countryside is so dry and dusty and screaming out for a good fall of rain. As we drove through Ayr the picture changed for a short while. The town sits on the Burdekin River which has the largest dam in Queensland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burdekin_Dam The farmers are happily irrigating their crops and the fields look damp and lush and contrast sharply with Bowen and Mackay where they are desperate for rain. It is strange really as Mackay suffered terribly from floods earlier this year and is now a dustbowl and just like many other parts of the state the lush grasses which grew during the wet are now tinder dry and that is why there were something like 46 grass fires across the state burning out of control over the last week. As we drove between Ayr and Townsville the evidence of those recent fires were along the highway, some of which were still smouldering.
We arrived at 6.30pm after a long and tiring nine and a half hour day on the road.
Wednesday 12th October.
We washed WWWGO this morning then took Shelley and son Reece to Hogs Breath Café for lunch.
It was stinking hot with high humidity levels all day.
Dwyane barbecued some cod and coral trout for dinner.
We still cannot warm to Townsville. It is a large city in a nice setting beside the sea but apart from that it is a sprawling mishmash of old and new developments. To us it always seems to be a windy dustbowl and nothing we saw today changed our minds. Granted there are parks and lovely green and lush places but they are the exception to the rule. A nice place to visit but too many people. It worries me about the numbers of people we are going to encounter when we get to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Thursday 13th October
The house was empty by 9am, the time we left Townsville to drive back to Mackay. It was another hot and humid day with smoke haze almost obscuring the mountain s. In fact we saw fires still smouldering at several locations along the way. We stopped at a rest area Home Hill for lunch. This rest area is different to the comfort stop in the middle of town. It is on the edge of town at the entrance to the showgrounds. What a contrast. The toilets are dirty and in the mens, do not flush. It seems this is where the bulk of the el cheapo campervans tend to stay although there were a few ferals at the comfort stop as well.
Roadworks slowed us at several places on the trip and we arrived in Mackay at 7pm. By 8pm a storm rolled in complete with lightning, thunder, wind and a small drop of rain.
Friday 14th October.
Today we drove to Finch Hatton Showgrounds and set up camp ready for volunteering for the weekends horse endurance event.
There are about twenty rigs camped here. Motorhomes, Campervans, Caravans, Fifth Wheelers and tents. I spoke with a German couple with their three children squeezed into a campervan. It was household cleaning day today and they had all their possessions spread out on the ground. I was so amazed they have been travelling Oz for 7 weeks and are having a ball. They claimed they were comfortable. Later in the day another German family camped beside us. They have an old banger Landcruiser towing an equally old pop top caravan. They also have three children and although they have more sleeping space they have to eat outside.
Tonight I cooked up a batch of mild Mexican chilli complete with kidney beans, split some capsicums into cups, filled them with the chilli mix, topped with a tomato and shredded parmesan cheese and baked them outside in the turbo oven.
Hmmm. We were thinking of leaving the turbo oven in storage but it has been handy and provided we have shore power we are better off cooking outside wherever possible.
Saturday 15th October
Due to the extreme heat and humidity, fewer riders than anticipated turned up for the Endurance ride. There were three rides scheduled. An 80 Klm loop for experienced riders, a 40 Klm loop for novices and a 20 Klm loop for trainers. Riders took a vote and agreed to run the rides at night starting at midnight for the open riders, 3am for the novice and 5.30am for trainers. That meant the volunteer manning the checkpoints had to in place by 3am. Do you think I can sleep knowing an alarm is due to go off in a few hours?
It was a good thing the ride was held at night. There was little for me to do at the checkpoint in the dark but the riders are always pleased to see us at checkpoints as it gives them an idea where they are and they are on track and not lost. It was strange to see their helmet lights, 2meters above the ground bobbing along the cleared canefields and gravel roads. As they day wore on all the riders arrived back at base, tired (exhausted) and in some cases, dehydrated. Riders and horse just stopped in the shade and while the rider power napped on the grass the horse stood over them. An interesting sight to see.
As the day wore on the temperature and humidity rose forcing people to head home early or in my case, escape to the air conditioned comfort of WWWGO and watch Australia defeat New Zealand in the one off Rugby League Test.