595. Sunday 25th February 2018. At home and looking back before looking forward…

Monday 19th February

It is hot today but not heatwave hot. Still hot enough for one member of the household to need the air conditioner turned on.

While labouring in the garden for 5 minutes (any longer and I would have been a puddle of oil and chemical salts) I spied a baby Water Dragon.

190218 dragon
Can you see him?

OMG these little guys are so cute. He was aware of me and went into his statue defence.

190218 dragon1
From nose tip to tail tip he measures only about 60mm.

He stayed there long enough for me to run off to get the camera. Unfortunately there were little things around him which my camera could not discern on which to focus. (A small tomato plant with two small leaves) Switching to manual mode and Macro focus did not help all that much as trying to hold the camera steady is near impossible without a tripod.

( p 310118 ) 150817 dragon1
He will, if the hungry carnivore birds, cats and dogs do not get him first, grow into a beautiful specimen like this. Once he gets to this size, those other carnivores will leave him alone. Around the village this week I have seen dragons in various stages of growth.

Wednesday 21st February. I visited the RACQ and received my International Drivers Permit. Although I can legally drive using my Queensland License in both the USA and Canada, usually hiring a car can be difficult unless you have somebody with a local license to sign the agreement. Or, you have an International Driving Permit which is issued showing your good driving history and there are no driving warrants issued.

Sunday 25th February

The rest of the week was sliding off from a heatwave to regular hot days which led into overcast and rain which soon became heavy rain which eased off to just heavy days of humidity of around 92%. People are panting and saying how hot it is when in fact it is not hot but humid.

I used some of my time to look back in the past to see what we were doing this week in…

  1. We joined the Mackay Sugarloafers for a weekend camp beside Marion Creek about 50 Klms south of Mackay. The campsite is mosquito and sandfly ridden so the camp has a fire all weekend with mozzie coils burning and lots of insect repellent. We had the Toyota Coaster bus converted to a motorhome which we parked up on the almost extreme edge of the steep creek bank. The site was away from the rest of the Sugarloafers but exposed to a nice breeze which came up or down the creek. We were not bothered by mozzies or sandflys. Except, that is, when we joined everybody at the main camp.
  2. Usually in February in the Tropics it is too wet and windy to travel. It is better to stay home and be available in case there is a cyclone. Usually if a cyclone crosses the coast to the north we cop the tail end which includes wind and lots of rain, probably more rain than where it crosses the coast. If the cyclone crosses the coast to our south then it has probably buffeted us for a few days including the wind and rain before it moved south. Either way we need to be home for Cyclone Watch or Cyclone Alert.
  3. A freak storm blew through Airlie Beach and flattened a few houses and washed over 60 boats onto the beach with more than 50% of them being a total loss. We received 600mm of rain in 24 hours. We stayed home all of the month of February.
  4. Donnis and I were married on Cannonvale Beach. Council wanted $150 in fees for a permit plus we had to pay a damage deposit and all manner of regulations Council could think up including a fee for liability insurance. In the end we did not tell them the day we were getting married. Surprise, surprise, surprise. We had 50 guests, family and friends and somehow managed to not cause any damage or set off a chain of events which required liability insurance. So now we can thumb our noses at Whitsunday Shire Council and tell them “We Did It Our Way.” We also planned a 3 month trip to Tasmania in the Coaster.
  5. It rained all week. As you come to expect in the tropics in February it is going to rain. By now we had traded the old Coaster for a Winnebago Leisure Seeker and it was a bit annoying looking at it parked beside the house, in the rain and we could not go anywhere.
  6. Donnis is in Canada and I am house-sitting in Traveston on the Sunshine Coast and it is raining. This was not the rain which caused the major flooding in Brisbane. That was last week. This week the rain caused flooding in the Mary Valley along the Mary River including Maryborough. It seems Traveston Crossing is prone to flooding and once again the area around the bridge was washed away. Unusual in that the bridge and its approaches were still in place. I spent most of the week in the house watching TV.
  7. We have been living in WWWGO at Culcairn NSW for the last month. Donnis is working at the Henty Hospital about 40 Klms away. We took a drive through parts of the Murray River Valley (being the longest river in Australia we can only see a few parts in one day) crossing bridges into Victoria and back again. We stopped at the town of Walbundrie and Howlong. There are lots of jokes about Howlong. “ How long are you going to stay?” “How Long is a piece of string?” “Howlong is the name of a Chinese train?” “How long are you going tell silly jokes?”
  8. We had been housesitting at Guyra NSW since October last year. It was time to move on. We travelled to Forster to spend time with brother Allan and wife Rae the drove to Toukley and stayed on the coast at a caravan park at Soldiers Point. Our first night was a bit of a rude awakening with thunder, lightning, lots of rain and near cyclonic winds causing damage to most tents and trees but which thankfully left us, snug as a bug in a rug, in WWWGO.
  9. We have arrived back in Airlie Beach. I am slowly unpacking the garage, cleaning and moving things into the house. Donnis is working at Collarenebri in NSW and I am working 3 days a week at my old job as a Marine Insurance Broker. We are still wondering what our plans are. Do we stay here and put up with heat, humidity, cyclones and grass which grows before your eyes or do we buy and live somewhere else?
  10. Well the question from 2014 has been answered. We are now living at the Gold Coast and I am settled. Donnis is still trying to. This week we are watching as yet another cyclone threatens the stability of our home in Airlie Beach. Even here 1,000 Klms to the south we are effected by the tail end of cyclone MARCIA.
  11. We are well and truly settled in now. I am getting therapy for my wrist which I broke and had surgery last August. Donnis sister Linda and partner arrived from Canada. Her son Peter and his son Chris arrived and we all went to the beach and flew large kites, surfed and generally behaved like Aussies at the beach.
  12. We are cruising on the P & O Ship, “PACIFIC ARIA” to New Guinea and some of the myriad thousands of islands dotted around and belonging to PNG. It took me a couple of days to adjust to a different culture. A culture which is not far removed from cannibalism and headhunters but one which uses mobile phones and watches Australian sport on TV. That said, the towns, villages and islands we visited are extremely poor. Although after the trip I said I had been there, done that and had no desire to go there again, 12 months on and I feel differently.

After doing this review of a slice of time over the last 12 years I am left wondering.            In 2006 I wondered how I could plan a long road trip in the Coaster.                                    In 2010 I wondered how I would cope being on the road full time.                                        In 2014 I wondered if we were back in Airlie Beach to stay.                                                     In 2018 I wonder what sort of adventures are coming our way especially since we have a permanent home base and leisure time in which to travel.                                                        I wonder, with careful budgeting can we travel and have adventures just like so many of our neighbours. The answer, so far, is yes. For the next two months I will be driving for the Commonwealth Games then, in May, we head to the USA and Canada for 7 weeks including an Amtrak Train journey across USA from Seattle to Niagara Falls. After that we might take a break and perhaps plan something for later this year.

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