514. Sunday 16th October 2016. From Mackay to Airlie Beach to Townsville and the greatest Air Show…

Monday 10th October

It was a bit of a lazy day.

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.

Grrr!

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla_(genus)

The other plant he is experimenting with is the Inca Peanut. The peanut has a rather dry strong flavour and would be nice with a cold beer especially if lightly salted.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plukenetia_volubilis

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.

Grrr!

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.

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From the top of Mt.Stuart looking south to Cape Bowling Green.

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.

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Looking below to Lavarack Army Base. Look carefully and you can see two helicopters with Ross River in the top of the picture.
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Part of the city of Townsville with Ross River emptying into the Coral Sea with Magnetic Island in the distance. The Strand stretches from the harbour to the extreme left hand edge.

Mt Stuart is the site of all TV transmitters and all communications and microwave transmissions in the area.

We could hear Blackhawk helicopters flight training for tomorrows Air Show  http://www.airforce.gov.au/Townsville-Air-Show-and-Open-Day/?RAAF-kPY5o7g/eYs5+432F/ONWGMhZIBBzYe0   .The helicopters were so far below us it was hard to pick them out from the surrounding bushland and their camouflage colours.    From our height the choppers looked no larger than the Dragon Fly’s which were also buzzing around the lookout.

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Helicopter turning over Ross River.

Later on our way back to the city we were treated to another practise run by the Australian Air Force Roulettes as they flew over the city and separated to land at the Air Base.     http://www.airforce.gov.au/Interact/Air_Force_Roulettes/?RAAF-rfHiMv85HKPcF1XWFcteALXKGiyJTpHL

A few minutes later there was an ear piercing roar as an FA 18 Super Hornet  flashed above us.

Saturday 15th October

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Some of the RAAF marchers.

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.

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This was our shaded spot for the air show. This was early before the crowds began to arrive.

The site gave a full view of the ocean and the expected Air Show spectacle.

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A couple of the US Pilots.

(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.151016-band

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What is this man doing driving a battery operated electric mini van.
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Three of the group of belly dancers.

The air show demonstrations were centred along Townsville Strand where everybody could see the planes but also where there was plenty of shade.

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Jack does not like to be photographed.
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Georgia likes to pose for photos.
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Matthew is not sure if he likes to be photographed.

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.

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The entire Strand, parks and beachesare packed with people.

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.

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Mounted Police from Brisbane. Kids were originally allowed to touch the horses but too many started to hit hard and the Police had to back off.

Also roaming were security staff and members of Defence Forces who were mostly used as roving friendly ambassadors.

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Police patrolled off the beach by their rubber ducky and a small fleet of jet skis. The Surf Life Savers also patrolled by jet ski.

It was a long day out in the sun and despite preparation the dry wind gave us windburn in places not protected by lotion.

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Forgot to put sunscreen on my face.

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.

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Seagulls were one of the first birds which were used as a design plan for aircraft.

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.

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The funny thing here was the strong wind which blew the shower water over the people sitting nearby.

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.

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Castle Hill dominates the skyline over Townsville. Daughter Shelley trains by climbing this mammoth rock. On the left you can see a painting of The Saint which was painted illegally about 25 years ago by a man from Airlie Beach. Council seems to have agreed to freshen the paint from time to time.

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.

 

 

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