Grrrr! I forgot to post this blog last week. I now recall why. I was doing a backup of the laptop overnight and planned the post the next day. The backup failed overnight. I started the backup again…this time from scratch. For whatever reason, it took 24 hours!!! A backup which should have been completed overnight Sunday was finally completed on Wednesday morning. The blog post was fogotten.
Monday 17th October
Today dawned with the usual sunshine and temperature in the 30’s by mid morning.
Had dinner with Shelly, Dwaynne and the tribe. Thank you.
Wednesday 19th October
While Donnis and Karen had a girls day out I had a final dinner with Shelley as Donnis and I are leaving tomorrow.
Thanks for dinner Shelley and thanks to the family for the time we spent together.
Thanks Karen for your hospitality. We enjoyed our time with you.
Thursday 20th October
We were on the road by 9am with our intended destination, Mackay, about 6 hours away. Originally we had planned to take the inland alternate route which would have meant less traffic, less towns, a longer journey, higher fuel prices and exorbitant accommodation costs. Most of the towns are involved with coal mining so most accommodation is aimed towards the mining and associated industries. Pricing is also aimed at the mining market.
Passing through Home Hill I recalled we have never been to Wunjunga and a little camp spot called “Funny Dunny”. The sign said it was only 15 Klms off the highway. We had a little time up our sleeves and decided to have a look.
The access road is mostly fine powder dust across a dry flood plain and salt marsh.
Funny Dunny when we finally found it was a disappointment. We have seen similar “dunnies” and frankly they look the same.
The dismal excuse for a beach is really not much more than the aforementioned powdery dust covered in sea grass washed up and drying in the sun.
What appears to be an island in the distance is really the peninsular called Cape Upstart which can be accessed by a powdery dirt road located at Guthalungra much further south, also through flood plains.
The powdery dust somehow clings to everything including shoes. It does not simply fall off or brush off. It must be washed off. Luckily the car has dust seals but the dust is still hiding looking for a way to get inside. Rubber floor mats are like static electricity to this stuff. Stay away is my advice.
There must be a reason why people camp here in isolation year after year.
We arrived in Mackay well before sister Sandra came home from work. While waiting we drove to Shoal Point for a splash along the beach. I have spent many happy hours at Shoal Point.
Depending on the tide I would launch my Windrush 13’ Catamaran here for a sail out to Little Green Island for an hour of exploration. Of course the return sail back to Shoal Point had to be timed before the tide started to turn to low. Otherwise it was a long way to drag the catamaran across a Klm of sand flats.
Friday 21st October.
Somehow my original plan to stop along the highway and stay in a motel overnight got changed to “lets drive all the way home”. We took turns every two hours and changing drivers. This works fine in theory. The Co-Pilot – Donnis – falls asleep in the passenger seat within minutes. I on the other hand simply cannot fall asleep. I get comfortable and close my eyes but every time Donnis brakes, even lightly, my eyes flash open again. Perhaps I do manage to get a few minutes of sleep but mostly sleep eludes me. First stop for a change of drivers was at a place called the Flaggy Rock Café, 119 Klms from our start point. We have travelled this road and driven by this café hundreds of times in the past. We have never stopped before. It has a man- made lagoon
The day continued this way every two hours when we stopped for fuel or food or a toilet break. By 7pm we arrived in Gympie 2 hours north of Brisbane. After a fuel stop and dinner at a new Indian Restaurant (the best popadoms and Naan Bread) we travelled along the M1 and arrived home at 11.30pm. A long 15 hours on the road. By the time we showered and crawled into bed both of us still heard the sound of the road in our heads.
Saturday 22nd October
A lazy day at home recovering from our long day on the road. We still only half unpacked.
Sunday 23rd October
Some rain rolled in last night and the temperature fell overnight. At 7am it was positively chilly at 14° compared to Townsville and Mackay where it was 30° by 7am.
Edit to change details of planes and or who supplied them was carried out 22/10/16.
The day was supposed to begin with a Sky Diving exhibition with the landing zone in front of where we were sitting. The wind was too strong so the exhibition was cancelled…both sessions. That cancellation threw the timing into a small quandry. All the flights were timed to perfection so the air show went ahead exactly as scheduled with a couple of quiet patches around the sky diving times. It still took 4.5 hours to get through the remaining 25 planes. I did not get photos of all the planes and in some cases the photos were just not good enough for this blog.
Any errors in identifying aircraft are mine. Aviation aficionados are welcome to correct me.
First up was the United States Air Force F16 Fighting Falcon.
There is not much I can tell you about this plane except that it is fast, noisy (you can feel the vibrations of the jet through your chest) and deadly. It can also turn so sharply it has to withstand (so does the pilot) up to 9 Gs (nine times the force of gravity) To see it turn quickly or fly straight up to disappear from view is an awesome sight.
TAM. Next came the Lockheed Hudson. Provided by TAM. (Temora Aiorcraft Musuem)
These bombers were built between 1938 and 1943. They carried up to 1,600 pounds of bombs and nine machine guns.
HARS. Catalina Flying Boat. Historical plane restored by HARS. ( Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) based at Albion Park Rail near Wollongong NSW.
These planes, designed to take off and land on the water were originally intended as a reconnaissance plane but was adapted for long range bombing. They are slow and vulnerable to fast flying easily manouvered enemy planes.
Commercial. Qantas B737.
Not all the planes in the air show are military and this is one of them. You are likely to encounter this iconic plane on Qantas domestic flights. Carries 174 passengers and has a cruising speed of 850 Kph.
RAAF. 7A Wedgetail.
Based on a Boing 737-700. With a 15 person crew it is used for data gathering from many sources, analysing and dispersing information via 10 consoles to military units on land, sea and in the air.
RAAF. C-17a Globemaster III
Used to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, vehicles etc anywhere in the world. Has been used extensively on humanitarian missions. This is a monster machine, quite capable of carrying trucks, tanks and helicopters.
RAAF. KA350, King Air.
Twin engine turbo prop. Nine passengers and two crew can travel up to 2,000 Klms. Used for low level fast jet operations, maritime patrol and response operations.
ARMY. CH47 Chinook Helicopter.
Very versatile, fast and quick load carrying access. Used generally for troop movements, artillery emplacement and battlefield re-supply.
Is capable of air dropping supplies and parachuting 120 personnel into combat or humanitarian locations.
RAAF. FA18F Super Hornet.
Another plane which falls into the super fast, super noisy and super deadly class. The twin seat Super Hornet can undertake air combat, close air support of ground troops and interception of enemy supply lines. This plane arrives and disappears before the sound catches up.
HARS. DHC4- Caribou
Twin engine light tactical transporter. Can land and take off on dirt airstrips or roads. Was used to quickly re-supply troops and evacuate wounded. Used during the Vietnam war. Can take off in as little as 220m.
Flies at between 366-670 metres altitude and surveys up to 40 square Klms per day.
HARS. Lockheed Neptune.
Was used for maritime patrol of submarine detection and shipping reconnaissance from 1951 to 1978.
RAAF. AP-3C. Orion.
The Orion was the primary Australian aircraft used in the search for missing Malaysian Aircraft flight MH370
RAAF. Roulettes. P/C 9A
We waited all day to see the Australian Roulettes. G forces experienced can be up to 5G. These guys are the Air Force Elite Aerobatic Team. These are a two seat tandem aircraft powered by a turbo prop engine delivering 950 shaft horsepower and can operate at altitudes of 25,000 feet.
In the morning we met up with friends from the motorhome club, Mackay Sugarloafers Chapter. Nevin and Merie have had a number of recreational vehicles over the years. When we first met they had a caravan. When they bought a converted Nissan bus, only Merie was doing the driving as Nevin had lost a leg to Leukaemia many years ago. After awhile the bus was fitted with hand controls to allow Nevin to drive. His occupation was a cab driver so it was important he be able to drive.
Later in the day daughter Averyl was not feeling well so we took Shelby to her game of Touch Football and drove her home again.
We had a final dinner with Sandi & Dave as we are leaving in the morning.
Thanks again for your hospitality Sandi & Dave.
Tuesday 11th October
We drove the 150 or so Klms to Airlie Beach to keep our appointment with the Real Estate agent to inspect our house to see for ourselves if the tenants were looking after it as they should.
They have taken a few liberties, such as, dismantling a cupboard in the laundry to fit in an oversize washing machine.
Plants which desperately need regular watering have not been watered while plants which grow despite no water have not been trimmed or grass cut. A passionfruit vine has been allowed to take over two shrubs and has created a bower like cover between the two.
Dead leaves from trees have accumulated on the roof and guttering and are 15 Cm deep on the ground.
A barbecue has been set up on the covered back deck. Greasy smoke from cooking has allowed mould to grow on the deck ceiling.
Afterwards we briefly caught up with an old friend Loch, who has recently sold his fresh hydroponic lettuce farm. He seems to be enjoying a life investigating alternate plant idea’s. We saw his first crop of experimental orchids and the vanilla pod drying process. Next comes extraction of the vanilla.
Next we drove to Preston to catch up with old motorhome friends John & Lorraine. Other motorhome friends Gerry & Pam were camped there so we had a fun dinner for six talking about old times. Thanks for your hospitality J & L.
Wednesday 12th October
Shortly after waking this morning we received a text message from Dave to say we had left our camera at Sandi’s house. Uh Oh. That means instead of starting our travel to Townsville after breakfast we have to drive the 150 Klms back to Mackay, collect the camera and start the trip to Townsville after effectively a 300 Klm detour.
After all the years spent travelling the roads from Mackay to Townsville I had forgotten the eagles. When sugar cane harvest season is in full swing, so are the Wedge Tail Eagles. They fly around in the huge air currents looking for a meal. There are literally thousands of them. Along this stretch of highway is perhaps the most boring part of the coastal route to Cooktown. From the town of Ayr, about 70 Klms south of Townsville, to Ingham about 70 Klms to the north, the scenery is not interesting and all creek beds seem dry and sandy. Beyond seventy Klms south or north the countryside is lush and green.
The only other boring part of the main Highway 1 is between Rockhampton and Sarina just south of Mackay. The scenery in both cases is dry and dusty with spindly uninteresting plants and featureless plains
We stopped at an Italian Delicatessen at Ayr for lunch and pulled into Karens house by 4.30pm. I felt rather pleased we still managed to arrive at a reasonable time. Karen has a nice new house in a new satellite suburb. However Townsville is the same as I have ever known it. Dry and dusty. Even during the “wet season” the wet seems to miss the town entirely. Karen cannot recall rain in the last 12 months. The town is on very heavy water restrictions.
Fuel prices in our trip so far have been a bit of a lottery. The day we left the Gold Coast we filled up at $1.04.7 per litre. I kept an eye on fuel prices along the highway and most of them were between $1.18 and $1.29. We paid $1.26.9 at Rockhampton last week. At Airlie Beach yesterday the fuel was $1.00.7. Once back on the highway prices jumped again to around the average of $1.29.9 but at the town of Ayr we saw fuel at $1.10.7 but in Townsville it was back to $1.29.9 again!
I was ready for bed after a dinner of roast lamb, potato and simple salad.
Thursday 13th October
Another quiet day except…
Karen went to work in the morning.
Donnis and I visited a Telstra Shop (actually there was a long wait at Telstra but JB Hi Fi next door are now Telstra agents) as her four year old mobile phone is playing up, it takes forever to charge and discharges in a matter of hours and is always hot. It has put itself in Safe Mode and will no longer charge via the car charger. It often drops out of activity and reverts to a blank screen. A new battery was considered but if the phone is past its use by date the new battery would be a waste of money. We bit the bullet and bought a new phone. Now comes the steep learning curve for Donnis to climb. I have already used it as a Hotspot for the laptop and it is very fast. Karen does not have internet connection at her home. Telstra also upgraded our data plan to an additional 5Gb of data at no extra cost.
Sadly all her Apps and Music need to be re-installed.
Friday 14th October
At breakfast I heard a noise on the roof. Kids throwing rocks was my first thought. Nope, it was something not heard in these parts for a long time. Rain! Heavy, fat drops of rain. Little children were running around squealing in delight. Rain is a novelty around here.
We met daughter Shelley & her husband Dwayne and drove to the top of Mt Stuart.
This imposing granite monolith towers over and dominates the skyline from most suburbs in Townsville. Lavarack Army Barracks are located 846 metres below at the foot of the mountain.
Mt Stuart is the site of all TV transmitters and all communications and microwave transmissions in the area.
A few minutes later there was an ear piercing roar as an FA 18 Super Hornet flashed above us.
Saturday 15th October
We arrived at the Townsville Strand early. Shelley, Dwayne and the grandchildren arrived even earlier and secured a place under a big sheltering Moreton Bay Fig Tree.
The site gave a full view of the ocean and the expected Air Show spectacle.
(The full correct name is T150 -Townsville 150th Anniversary- Defence Force Air Show and Townsville Bulletin Sky Show) We were also in front of the bandstand so had entertainers and a full commentary of what planes and when were on their way.
The air show demonstrations were centred along Townsville Strand where everybody could see the planes but also where there was plenty of shade.
On the day, I took 324 photos, mostly of airplanes which are hard to photograph as they speed past after sneaking up on you at greater than the speed of sound. Just after you see them flash past, the noise catches up. Still I managed some good photos and will show them as a separate post.
When we arrived there were a good number of people milling about. Gradually as the day wore on more and more people arrived. By mid -afternoon we were hearing that 100,000 people crammed The Strand to witness this amazing show. We were treated to a great band called the USAF Band of the Asia-Pacific. Buskers and entertainers performed throughout the day. Portable toilets were installed, free Sunscreen Stations were set up as were free hydration stations and hand wash stations.
Food tents were everywhere and lots of freebies by local businesses. Even the passing people parade was interesting. Thankfully the day was mostly overcast but a strong wind was blowing which meant the two Sky Diving displays were cancelled. Local Police had a child Id programme where children were given a wristband and parent details collected in case children were lost. Matthew went missing a couple of times but was easily found at the playground. Extra Police, including detectives were brought in from other towns and cities including Mounted Police from Brisbane.
Also roaming were security staff and members of Defence Forces who were mostly used as roving friendly ambassadors.
It was a long day out in the sun and despite preparation the dry wind gave us windburn in places not protected by lotion.
We left after the final air display by the US F16 Fighting Falcon. By the time we arrived at Karens house we heard the fireworks. Shelly told us later that one of the jet planes had fireworks streaming from the jet exhaust.
It was a long day but most enjoyable. The crowd, at least that portion which we could see were well behaved and we saw no incidents.
The entire Strand area was an alcohol and smoke free area which was policed by all the volunteers. We simply ran out of time to see all the displays and exhibits.
Consider booking a holiday for the next air show…whenever that might be.
Sunday 16th October
Donnis and Karen went to church while I stayed home and edited all the photos. It was a mammoth task which included photos from the day before. In all, 362 photos had to be viewed and decide on which to use. After that came the task of whittling the photos down to the final sixty.
We had dinner at Shelley’s house, an interesting noisy ten person eat and talk fest. It was fun.
Back to the good old days when we have lots of photos to share.
Monday 3rd October
Today, for something different I walked around the park at the Biggera Creek end of our village.
We have a strong population of many kinds of birds who live on or around the property. A large family of ducks is produced each year.
Several fly off but mamma and poppa produce at least ten new ducklings each year. They quite often walk in a group along our street.
A pair of stupid Masked Lapwings (more commonly called a Plover) have made a nest in the short grass of the park. They had started a nest earlier but the gardeners had covered the nest on the ground with soil and grass cuttings to encourage grass growth. Undeterred the birds started a new nest. They have two eggs. Both take turns sitting on the nest or defending against intruders. The birds have a viscous spur on each wing and they will swoop and screech to move you away. If you do not move they will dive bomb and use the spur if necessary.
Magpies are also very protective of their nest although for most of the year they are pleasant company.
live here as do a family of Lorikeets. A pair of Oyster Catchers has moved in also. One has a foot severed and walks with a limp.
Noisy Minahs, Butcherbirds, Willy Wagtails, Magpie larks, Currawongs, Honeyeaters of all descriptions, Friarbirds, Kookaburra’s, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Herons, Egrets and Ibis are seen here regularly.
Wednesday 5th October.
Whenever we travel we have a planned optimum departure time …8am, an expected departure time…9am and a most likely worst case scenario departure time…10am. Usually it works out to be worst case. Today we were on the road between optimum and expected. We must have set a new record. Cruising along the M1 at 110 Kph I thought what a lovely day. Then suddenly we were part of a crawl of traffic. As soon as we managed to get moving again we encountered roadworks. Dozens of them in fact. What started as a pleasant 4 hour drive turned to a 6.5 hour drive. We stopped at Urangan for the night. Urangan is a suburb of the Hervey Bay area. Hervey Bay continues to grow and spread across the land. It seems many retirees live here and for good reason. The climate is comfortable, the fishing is good and there is plenty of shopping, dentists, doctors, hospitals, clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. What more do you need?
We took a walk around Urangan Pier.
It was built between 1913 and 1917 for the purpose of exporting sugar, timber and coal. The original length was 1107 metres and was sturdily built for the train hauling goods to waiting ships. In 1985 the pier was closed and 239 metres of a dog leg section of the pier was removed. The pier was handed to the local council. The train tracks were removed, another 220 metres was added to its length and opened to the public. Today it is an invigorating walk to the end and fishing rod holders are installed along its length with fish cleaning stations dotted in a few places. Local fishermen just love it.
An interesting feature along the foreshore walk is a waterproof concrete seawall. The wall was built to keep King tides and tidal surges from crossing into nearby houses and businesses. Even the stairway to the beach is built in such a way as you have to walk up steps to the height of the seawall before stepping down to the beach.
We took time to walk around the Great Sandy Straits Marina. One interesting feature on a marina deck is an old whale harpoon gun.
There was once a whaling station on this stretch of coast. This gun is about all that is left. These days whale watching tours is one of the big drawcards operating out of the marina.
The reason for being here was to meet my friend Les A. We have not seen each other since second year of high school…57 years ago. We re-connected when I joined Facebook a few months ago. Over a couple of beers and dinner Les and I tried to fill in the missing gaps in our lives while Donnis talked with Les partner Lyn. The night was filled with many “do you remember when” questions. I really enjoyed catching up with Les and meshing our memories. Donnis and Lyn noted that we must have been a pair of mischievous kids getting into trouble. It was all just boyish enthusiasm and exploration in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. In those days we could just about go anywhere provided we were home for dinner.
One strong memory was when we were 12 and had just received our first push bikes. We rode from Balmain to Lane Cove National Park, a distance of 16 Klms…just because we could. Then we rode around the park and home again.
Thanks for the meet up Les. I hope we can do it again soon.
Thursday 6th October
Before leaving Hervey Bay we called in to visit Les & Lyn. We were away by close to the “worst case scenario” time mentioned yesterday. We had the usual toilet, fuel and food stops along the way. We stopped at Childers for a late coffee break. Childers is the site where in 2000 a fire at the backpackers hostel killed 15 people. The fire was deliberately lit and the offender was sentenced to life imprisonment. Over the years we have driven through or stopped at Childers and the fire is always discussed. It was a tragic event. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childers_Palace_Backpackers_Hostel_fire
The 10 hour journey saw us stop at Miriam Vale for lunch, fuel at Rockhampton and a final rest stop at Clairview on the ocean as the sun was setting behind the beach.
It was well and truly dark when we arrived at the Eimeo home of Sandy and Dave who were kind enough to delay dinner until we arrived at 7.30pm.
Bed was a real welcome.
Friday 7th October
A lazy day in the cool of Sandi’s house. Today as soon as we walked outside, the heat hit us like a slap in the face. It was a not too subtle reminder of why we left the heat of the tropics to live on the Gold Coast. While outside it was stinky hot, inside it was cool with a sea breeze wafting through the house. In the evening we visited with my daughter Averyl and grandchildren Shelby-Rose and Anakin.
Saturday 8th October
We joined Sandi for a coffee at Woodmans Axe a popular funky coffee shop which seem to be all the rage around towns and cities these days. Make the ordering process complicated and slow, make the surroundings noisy, the seating uncomfortable and serve the coffee luke warm and you have a winner. The man who started this shop now has several open or in the process of opening in Brisbane and Townsville. http://www.woodmansaxe.com/ Sandi likes her coffee but her daughter Jo-Elle works here.
We then joined sister Enid at the Mackay Lagoons a free family friendly water park near the city centre. Also present was niece Kelly and her two children Cooper and Oliver. In the afternoon we collected Anakin and went to the Mackay Showgrounds to have a look at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fair. Anakin, Donnis and I joined the African Drumming Group for a few sessions of thumping good fun. No mental health issues here. https://www.facebook.com/Mackay-African-Drumming-793908574008366/
When night fell we drove to Mackay Harbour for a walk around the breakwater.
Sunday 9th October
Niece Kelly offered her home for us to have a family get together today.
Each family took a dish or two which ensured a wonderful barbecue lunch with lots of side dishes, desserts and cheeses.
The two young boys, Cooper and Oliver called Donnis and I their friends and wanted us to play with them. That was rather flattering as there is a huge difference in their ages and mine.
In the later afternoon we walked across the street to Bucasia Beach where the two boys threw themselves into the water and chased Donnis around trying to splash her. Sandra also threw herself into the warm tropical waters.
It was a great afternoon spent with lots of family members including my daughter Averyl and her two children, sister Enid with her two children and four grandchildren and sister Sandra and her daughter.
Lawn bowls, table tennis, art workshop, Tai Chi and of course line dancing.
Oh and a little time was spent planning our upcoming road trip.
Frank did the tax on- line which means we do not have to keep our appointment in Airlie Beach with the tax agent and spend hundreds of dollars for them to do the tax for us. Instead we will use the day as an opportunity to visit friends.
But, I am getting ahead of ourselves. We will not leave home until Wednesday.
Saturday 1st October
After a lazy morning then bowls in the afternoon we went to see Opera in the Park http://www.moregoldcoast.com.au/opera-in-the-park/ with friends Glenda and Dee. We packed dinner and a couple of drinks and our camp chairs and enjoyed our sushi with a glass of wine while surrounded by about five thousand other people doing much the same as us. I did feel a twinge of jealousy when the Russian family beside us brought paper cones filled with hot chips and crumbed Calamari Rings. Although the park has signs saying it is an alcohol free zone there were many people enjoying a wine although I saw no signs of beer. Still it was a risk and the organiser told us there were inspectors authorised to fine people bringing booze to the event. It was a nice night with an appreciative well behaved audience, it was, after all, a family event. Despite the day being hot, the evening cooled quickly with light breeze making a jacket a luxury. This was our second visit to the event. The evening finished with a Pacaotti recording synchred to fireworks. The fireworks finished on the final note. Very impressive.
During the week I went looking for all my photos of the last 20 years, planning to put a copy of each on a separate hard drive. I found photos from our trip to Tasmania and viewed them for nostalgia sake. I am going to share some which never appeared in our blog in 2009.
While on the west coast we visited the town of Strahan which is the jumping off point for boat cruises to the Gordon River and MacQuarie Harbour and Seaplane flights over significant sites.
Between Strahan and the town of Zeehan to the north are the Henty Sand Dunes.
They are up to 30 metres high and are slowing moving each year.
The scary thing about the dunes is there are no marked trails and it is easy to get lost. Henty River forms a boundary on one side. By coincidence Donnis would be working at the Henty Hospital in NSW two years later.
We took a car ferry from Kettering, south of Hobart to Bruny Island where we bush camped near a beach.
Bruny is actually two islands (North and South ) which are connected by a long narrow sandy isthmus . The northern island is mainly given over to sheep farming while the southern part has all the wild coastline.
While on the island we took a boat trip with Explore the Edge Cruises.
Passengers are fitted with wonderful spray coats which are great for keeping the salt spray off bodies. They have no warm lining and are useless for keeping you warm.
Regardless it was a great trip exploring the southern extremities of the island.
Next week expect to hear of our road trip to north Queensland.