Yesterday I received a call from son in law Paul. My daughter Averyl was in hospital again. This is her third visit this month. Averyl had a kidney transplant and it has lasted her 17 years although it must be about close to needing another. She cannot go on a transplant list until she is on dialysis and so far she has not needed that. All the tests the hospital has carried out have come back negative and it is claimed whatever is causing her pain is not related to her kidney condition. They cannot determine what is causing her so much pain. Pain so great they admit her to hospital, put her on a drip and administer morphine. They carry out tests, pump her full of anti-biotic and she feels well enough to discharge and send her home. On her last admission they said she had a blood clot on the lungs which then was called pneumonia. That was strange as she had not previously been sick with a cold or flu or similar symptoms. It was suggested it may be walking pneumonia (http://www.webmd.com/lung/walking-pneumonia ) which generally does not require hospitalisation and does not create the pain which she is experiencing. It seems the pain is now in her chest and this time they are looking at her heart.
Today, Saturday, I drove to Mackay to see her. On arrival she was asleep in her private isolation room (they are treating her as infectious for some reason and all staff who come into the room must suit up in disposable plastic gown and rubber gloves. I and other visitors on the other hand can walk in and walk around the hospital and talk with other patients and staff and no need to don protective clothing!!! ) I sat beside her bed for awhile but thought it might scare her when she woke to see somebody sitting there. I visited the lounge and read the paper and on my return she was sitting in bed and looking relaxed, healthy and bored. She had no other visitors while I was there so we had a good visit. Her lunch arrived and to save the serving person the trouble of suiting up I collected the lunch tray and brought it into the room.
Almost 90 minutes later I could see she was tiring and as Paul and the children will be coming for a visit in the afternoon I left so she could have another snooze.
After leaving the hospital I wanted to clear my head so drove with the windows down about 30 Klms south of Mackay to Hay Point. This once sleepy seaside village is now part of a huge coal loading facility. In fact there are two coal loading facilities.
One is at Hay point where the jetty stretches 1.8 Klms to sea and the main site at Dalrymple Bay the jetty is at 3.85 Klms to sea. Today I counted 30 ships moored offshore waiting their turn to be loaded. In the past I have counted 60 ships offshore. Coal is brought to these coal terminals by rail from 24 mines in the Hinterland behind Mackay. It is a huge area known collectively as the Bowen Basin and contains the largest known coal reserves in Australia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowen_Basin ) I drove to the top of a hill where a viewing area has been set up. The concrete area has a low steel railing set around its perimeter then an area of mown grass followed by low thick scrub all the way down the hill until it reaches the stockpiles of coal. I was amused by a hastily printed sign on a door at the rear of the viewing area.
“High Snake Activity Area in the scrub in front of you.” Stay behind railing.
Hmmm! I wondered. Do the snakes respect the railing and stay on their side? Or is it as I suspect the snakes cannot read English and go where they want?
From the hill I drove down to what is known as Half Tide Beach. It was once a sleepy little village with a bit of a roguish reputation. These days it is still a village surrounded by a giant car park for the coal loading facilities and still has a roguish reputation. The Coal loading and Hay Point Harbour are gradually gobbling the land for their admin buildings and the noise and lights are moving closer to the village. The port operates 24/7, never sleeps, noise never stops and lights and traffic and staff movements continue at all hours. The growth of the harbour continues with the buildings and cranes now visually encroaching on the nearby houses.
On Half Tide Beach itself, at the highest high tide level is a layer, over a metre high of Pumice Stone. Pumice is formed from volcanic eruptions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumice ) it is a porous stone and is common to many of the beaches in northern Queensland. I have not seen it or not seen it in such huge volumes on New South Wales south coast beaches. It floats! This is the stuff they make those little skin cleaning stones. It can wear off the tough dead skin on the heel of your foot for example. Although called Pumice Rock, scientifically it is considered to be glass. It is used in many every day products such as some toothpastes, paint products, abrasives, soaps and even as an additive to plant growing medium.
After that uplifting experience I drove back to Mackay and visited the Mackay Botanical Gardens most of which are locked on the weekends. (http://www.mackayregionalbotanicgardens.com.au/what_can_i_see/welcome ) However the walkway beside the Wetlands Reserve,
filled with a variety of birds, reptiles and marsupials was open. The restaurant was closed which was not surprising given it has had a variety of owners over the last 20 years all of whom have gone broke. Hmmm! Is there a pattern emerging there? I would have liked a cup of coffee sitting on the deck overlooking the wetlands. (http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Restaurant_Review-g255338-d3226871-Reviews-The_Restaurant_Cafe_on_The_Lagoon-Mackay_Queensland.html )
From the gardens I drove to visit sister Sandra before the long two hour drive back to Airlie.