Month: September 2018

640. Sunday 23rd September 2018. A look back in time, neck pain and photo editing…

Monday 17th September

Today I had a look back over my diary notes since 2011.

On this date in 2011 we spent some of the day at Palmyra near Mackay watching Dave E racing in Go Kart events. Later we took grandchildren Shelby and Anakin for a drive to Mackay Harbour outer wall which had only recently been opened to the public

On this day in 2012 I was in Mt Beauty Victoria house sitting. Donnis was in Canada and I spent some of the day at the local airport flying my drone and watching gliders.

On this day in 2013 we had just finished a 5 month house sit and were camped at a caravan park at Palm Beach and were planning on going to the SWELL Festival the next day.

On this date in 2014 we had just moved into our new home in the village and I drove to Armidale in NSW to attend court as a witness for a friend.

On this date in 2015 we were at home having a lay day. I had recently had surgery to fix a broken wrist and was in a good deal of pain…still. We were discussing driving to Nimbin on northern NSW to look at some pain relief via marijuana oil, cream and drops.

On this date in 2016 we attended the SWELL Festival at Currumbin.

Finally on this date last year we were painting the house interior.

Wednesday 19th September

For the past few weeks I have had discomfort and or pain in my neck and shoulders. It bothers me while at the computer, walking, driving, riding the bike or even in bed. I am constantly doing neck exercises, using a heat pad, a TENS Machine and Donnis does massage. I do get relief for awhile. Paracetamol helps but I hate taking pain killers. Today I saw my doctor and then went for X-Rays. I will have to wait a few days for the results.

Sunday 23rd September

I visited the doctor this morning for the results of the X-Rays. In an offhand manner he explained the results. All I heard were the words “Degenerative’ and “consistent with aging”.

WHAT!!!!!!

Are you telling me the discomfort, the headaches the ache in my shoulders and neck, the grinding sensation I have when turning my head are because I am getting….OLD?

YEP. Was the answer.

He gave me a prescription for some Meloxicam an anti- inflammatory pain relief tablet. I noticed the prescription was for 30 tablets WITH NO repeats. Hmmm! Is the drug going to make me young again after 30 days??? What happens after 30 days? Do I make another trip and get another 30 day prescription? Does this go on and on forever?

He also gave me a referral to see a Physiotherapist and made an appointment for this coming Wednesday. I am unsure what the Physio will do to help me and I am not keen on taking a drug, which like all drugs, including those commonly bought at health food shops and sold under the guise of herbal remedies, have side effects. This particular drug has a list of side effects which reads like the opening chapter in War and Peace. Some of the side effects are the very things I am trying to get relief from!

In the afternoon we went to Southport Beach for a walk. Aaaah! Just a simple walk along the beach with sunshine, a light breeze and breathing salt air while walking in the shallow water (dodging waves) is invigorating. As well the body absorbs magnesium through the feet. It’s interesting that people buy magnesium oil, at around $20 for 100 grams to rub into their feet when a walk along the beach will produce the same results…for free. We always feel invigorated after a trip to the beach.

OK OK OK. It would appear I have done nothing all week.

Not true.

I am a member of several photographic Facebooks sites and I have been preparing my contributions. As well I have created several slide show presentations for the art group meetings on Fridays. Selecting, cutting, cropping, editing and resizing a photo takes time. The art group is always interested in the photos taken in many places of Australia, Canada, USA, New Guinea, Japan and New Zealand.

Tomorrow brings a new week and hopefully some new adventures…and some new photos.

639. Sunday 16th September 2018. Mackay, inland, home, Wine and Cheese, SWELL Festival and looking for whales…

Another week with lots of photos.

Monday 10th September 2018.

Today we drove from Mackay to Boronen a journey of 504 Klms. Along the way we travelled through Clairview roughly halfway between Mackay and Rockhampton. It is here the highway passes by the coast. This is the only place along the entire voyage where you can see the ocean. In fact it is only about 200 Mtrs from the highway and you get a view for almost 1 Klm. I reflected on this and thought how many other places where you can see the ocean on what is supposedly the The Coastal Way route. From Sydney to Cairns a trip of around 2,500 Klms, there are only three locations where you can get a glimpse of the ocean. One is near Sapphire Beach north of Coffs Harbour in NSW where I can confirm the view is just a glimpse. Apart from Clairview the only other view of the ocean as you drive along the highway is further north in Queensland at Cardwell.

We arrived at Boronen and booked into the Boronen Hotel Motel which has operated continuously since 1895. Boronen is only a small town with garage, hotel/motel, motel, campground, diner and post office. It is a convenient rest stop with toilets, shaded picnic facilities and even a free BBQ.     https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bororen-Pub/123261097738816

It is difficult to find any information about the town, why it is here or what is nearby. Apparently it is well known for its meat pies and they can be bought at the Red Rocket Diner.   https://www.facebook.com/redrocketdiner/   The hotel menu promises kitchen made meals (not the pre manufactured, frozen and packaged variety) including a Chicken Kiev. The meals are huge. The prices are reasonable. Meal sizes and prices are typical of once upon a time country pubs. Dinner did not disappoint.

 

Tuesday 11th  September.

Today is the anniversary of the 911 tragedy but no mention in the media. I suppose because 911 is not until tomorrow in the USA.

The motel fee of $80 included a simple Continental breakfast. There is no bakery in town but the sourdough bread was terrific.

We were on the road by 8am and somewhere about 130 Klms to the south and a little beyond the town of Gin Gin we turned inland. We left the Bruce Highway and turned onto the Isis Highway which passes through the pleasant town of Biggenden

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On the fence of a caravan park at Biggenden. The sign is …Never Give Up. Motor Neurone Disease – Research
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Lots of bears seeking research to cure MND.

and also where we saw wonderful views of Mount Walsh.

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Farmhouse near Biggenden with Mt Walsh as a backdrop.

This was going to be all new territory for us.

We followed the signs to Ban Ban Springs where we expected a town. I turned right to find the town and perhaps a coffee stop. After a Klm there was no town. Oh well, I turned around and headed in the direction we wanted go. After another Klm there was no town. Ban Ban Springs is a Junction of two highways where the Isis Highway and the Burnett Highway intersect. A service station and a rest area is all that make up Ban Ban Springs. Luckily the service station had a push button coffee machine where we were able to get a passable cup of coffee.

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This petrol station, including newsagency,coffee shop, general store, showers out the back, cafe, (very basic food – I can still smell their cooking oil) information centre and post office IS Ban Ban Springs. Have a look beside the funny face. There is a post with numbers on it. 13384. This is a numbering system used in rural communities so emergency services can find a location.

A primary school operated here from 1916 to 1965. The original corrugated iron school building and an outdoor toilet are now ruins slowly being overtaken by the bush. The timbers have been eaten out by termites and the corrugated iron roof and walls have collapsed.

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Remains of Ban Ban Primary School

Gradually the iron will rust while the concrete pad will last a long time but will be overtaken by weeds and shrubs.

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Remains of school toilet block.

In 2006, in an effort to beautify the springs, local council engaged a contractor to clean out and plant new trees. The bulldozing and planting actually resulted in the springs being drained. For the most part the springs are rarely umm err springs. The local indigenous community, the Wakka Wakka People took action against the Council for destroying a culturally significant area. The new council issued an apology and negotiations to restore the springs are, as far as I can discover, ongoing. Local farms with bores have also contributed to reducing the water table.

In the accompanying photo of the petrol station, if you look closely you will see a marker with the numbers 13384. Usually farms and businesses along country roads have a marker to show the distance from the nearest intersection or town. (Council will assign an address using a distance-based system. The numbers will be based on how far (in metres) your property’s entrance is from the road’s starting point (or datum), divided by 10. The starting point is usually an intersection or junction, but can also be the centre of a town.  This is used by emergency services, Police, Ambulance, Rural Fire Brigade, to find a location quickly. In this case it is 13.384 Klms from the intersection of the Gayndah Mount Perry road and the Burnett Highway.

 

Somewhere between towns we saw a Galah  (   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galah   ) on the road ahead of us. As we neared we saw a dead Galah on the side of the road and the lone live bird was guarding its dead mate. Galahs are known to mate for life but if one dies the survivor will bond with another bird.

On our trip we passed through towns we have heard about, some vaguely heard about and some totally unheard of before. We saw new countryside and passed locations we would have liked to have spent more time exploring. Our diversion took about an hour longer than the direct route. We arrived home just after 4pm.

 

Friday 14th September

I have been busy since arriving home on Tuesday. A couple of months ago the social committee planned a Wine and Cheese Night for tonight. Bit by bit we have put together some activities to keep people occupied, interested and entertained. As well as the wine and cheese we planned on having some hot food. I have organised music, 60’s and 70’s rock music as a background. I needed to select the music and place it in a playlist in my ancient original iPad. Our dress theme is Black and Gold. I also have the Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke video hosted by James Corden, the UK Late Late Show host Most people in our village have not seen this emotional trip down Beatlemania memory lane. The idea was to get our guests warmed up while eating and ready for our next item on the agenda. We planned a Karaoke Night. The idea is to play a Karaoke CD-G through our DVD player and project onto a wall. I had to find the CD’s, check they work on the projection and prepare choices sheets. Getting reluctant people to stand up and sing in front of an audience is a bit daunting. Most have never had a karaoke experience. Most are a bit shy. A few wines seems to relax people but at first nobody wanted to sing. Gradually we got people up and joining in. We know we had a successful evening when the people who normally wander off home at 8.30 were still there at 10pm, singing clapping and smiling. Somehow we managed to toss in a few line dancing numbers and a dozen people joined us on the dance floor.

 

Saturday 15th September

Today was day 2 of the Swell Sculpture Festival held at this time of year on Currumbin Beach.   http://www.swellsculpture.com.au/

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Most of the Sculptures had names given by the artists. Those names from my point of view were meaningless but were probably something personal to the artist. I have not shown the names because I gave up trying to make sense of them. However for the record this one had a deep thought provoking name – Perpetual Consumption.
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OK This one makes sense. Simply called The Seamstress. Surrounded by the tools of her trade.
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This has a name but I never saw it. I do like the work that went into it. It is from my perception a fancy kite. It works as a kite and is distinctive but the materials will quickly break down and will not be an enduring work of art for years to come.

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Although going during the week when there is parking and no crowds would be an obvious choice, we went today. 150918 conesWe met our friend Glenda with whom we have been to this festival several times before.

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This one is called Embryo although I think it is back to front. It should be reversed showing the conception as coming out of the ocean not going into it.
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I was told this was a bunch of naked ladies. Perhaps but the artist spent a lot of time making them. I have no idea what it was about but I liked it.
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This is called Jump although Fall might be a better name.It won a $1,500 Emerging Artist Award.

Somehow the crowds of annoying people adds to the atmosphere of the project.

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Make up your own name for this.
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The name is something about when you travel you will always know when you arrive and presumably sit down and enjoy the view.

As always when I go to the festival I find the names of each piece of art makes no sense with what I am seeing.

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Dunno!!!
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The name is Sandberg. Yeah it makes sense. Sand has been filtered and cleaned and sandwiched between two layers of perspex. It must have been mixed with a glue otherwise all the sand would try to bunch up where gravity would take it.

Artists seem to live in their own cocooned world and see the world through another dimension.

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I have no idea what the name of this piece is but to me it is a Steel Wool Galah. I like this one. In almost every case I can appreciate the effort and talent that went into creating these artworks. I cannot always appreciate what they represent.
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This is a busy scene showing people walking about, taking photos, the skyline of Surfers Paradise, The Rocks at Currumbin Alley, the kite sculpture the clothesline sculpture, the war of the worlds sculpture which I did not bother photographing and kitesurfing kites.

Luckily the sun was shining but unluckily a strong cool wind was blowing so stepping into the shade was a bit chilly especially later in the afternoon as the sun started to set behind the Great Dividing Range.

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This is called Kaliedoscope and it is a giant Kaleidoscope. It works.
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I like this but have no idea what it means. I like the seagulls

We even had time for a cold drink and a toasted Turkish Bread with dips at Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club.

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A Lifeguard perhaps. Standing on top of Elephant Rock above the surf club and overlooking the surf and the beach.
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A clothesline???
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This is Prickles The Unhuggable Bear and won the $15,000 SWELL Sculpture Award.

From the club balcony we saw several whales on their way south.

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People commented it seemed all the whales breaching appeared to be juveniles. Yeah I know there is not much to see but it is hard to scan the ocean with a camera looking for a telltale sign so you can take a photograph it.

Although they blew vapour and breached, they were quite a distance offshore and difficult to photograph.

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This is another juvenile breach and that is the underbelly you can see.

We were not the only people Oohing and Aahing.

 

Sunday 16th September

A strong wind warning had been issued for today but that did not deter us. We packed a picnic lunch, collected Glenda and drove across the border into NSW to Fingal Head in the hope of seeing more whales.

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Looking from Fingal Head over Fingal Beach towards Tweed Heads

The wind was, as promised, STRONG.

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Looking from Fingal Head to Cook Island. It uis named in honour of Captain Cook although he referred to it in his ships log he did not name it.

Finding an almost sheltered place on the exposed headland was a bit of a challenge. Finding whales amongst the confused whitecap smothered ocean was even more of a challenge. Yes there were whales but far out to sea and their breaching was lost amongst the whitecaps. Lots of people made the trek to the headland looking for whale sightings, not expecting to be blown all over the clifftops.

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Fingal Head Lighthouse. The remains of the original surrounds and Lighthouse keepers cottage are overgrown.

 

We did enjoy our lunch but soon black clouds were shoving the sunlight ahead of it and bringing overcast plus cold to our exposed picnic location. We had to watch our steps very carefully when walking along the clifftop. The wind was capable of blowing us into a an unsteady step. Normally this is a delightful picnic, whale and dolphin watching spot. Maybe next week when the wind stops we can try this again.

Time to go.

Once we joined the M1 and headed home we noticed a flashing sign to tell us to expect delays and suddenly around a bend cares were lined up in three lanes bumper to bumper. It was reasonable to expect the next 40 Klms would be like this. It is Sunday afternoon, strong winds, storm clouds rolling in and people were leaving the beaches and heading home. We left the M1 and drove into the Currumbin Valley to join the Tallebudgera Valley, Mudgeeraba Valley and so on all the way to Nerang. It was a long way out of our way but at least we were moving and viewing some wonderful parts of the Gold Coast lower hinterland we have never seen before. Wow! Some of the homes out here in the hinterland had security gates and long tree studded driveways and a backdrop of mountains. Some were beside the upper reaches of Tallebudgera Creek, Currumbin Creek and surrounding valley’s.

Reflecting on our travels these last two weeks when we travelled inland along roads to new towns we have never visited before and finishing in Townsville. Then we drove to Mackay and once we left Mackay we travelled inland once more along roads and towns not previously visited. We ended this week by driving a little way inland from the coast and visited outlying suburbs and towns we have not seen before.

If we have learned one thing in our travels it is we must take a few back roads in our travels. Oh there is a second thing. We need to stop and experience those towns as well.

638. Sunday 9th September 2018. Mackay and family visits…

Many photos this week.

Monday 3rd September

We had a lay day today. That was a good thing because I needed to rest from lack of sleep Saturday night and after a long day yesterday. As well I still have the dreaded head cold which has taken hold. Runny nose, plus a cotton wool head feeling and headache. Hmmm! Was it only May this year when I last had a head cold? Other than that I cannot recall the last time I had a cold.

In the afternoon we drove Sandi to the airport for her flight to Cairns.

Tuesday 4th September

It is another hot Spring day here in Mackay.

In order to stave off cabin fever we went for a drive to 1. buy some fuel and 2. have a look around the beaches of Mackay. Have they changed much? No not at all. Unfortunately the approaches to the beaches, usually via a park are dry. In this drought it is the best you can expect as the grass is dry, brown and crackly. The approach to what should be the premier beach of Mackay, Harbour Beach, passes through a dismal and untidy industrial area and some dry scrub over sand dunes. The nice tar sealed road ends at the Surf Club and the road along the beach, laughably called East Point Drive is a lumpy bumpy pot holed, sand boggy excuse. The roadside is littered with rubbish and even used as an oil dump in places. The road ends at the entrance to the Pioneer River and should be a pristine location. It is not. It is used by hoons in their four wheel drives and in the wet manage to make deep mud filled trenches. No improvements have been made to this road at least since 1986. (It seems the land is owned by the Mackay Harbour Board, not Mackay City Council, not the State Government and not Main Roads Dept. The Harbour Board has not spent any money on maintaining the road .)

We stopped at the picturesque Mackay Marina but roadworks are being carried out so vehicle access is denied. Pedestrian and cyclists are permitted. A plaque at the entrance to the rockwall declares the wall was damaged by cyclone Ului in 2010 and Cyclone Dylan in 2014. Repairs to the wall were completed in 2015 and the road was re-opened. Cyclone Debbie in 2017 again caused damage to the rock wall and parts of the marina itself. The road along the marina surrounding rockwall has been closed ever since. Repairs are still being carried out with a constant flow of trucks loaded with basalt blocks from a nearby quarry.

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I had to reverse the photo to understand this. The catamaran is called “BLONDE MOMENT”. I wonder if buying a new catamaran was the blonde moment.

We also took a drive along Mt Basset Road to the weather observation complex at Radar Hill Lookout.

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Mackay Bureau of Meteorology and weather station atop Mt Bassett Lookout.

Much of the city and inner suburbs of Mackay is built in on or around mangroves.

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View from Mt Bassett to Mackay City. Mangroves and Pioneer River are in the foreground. Note the building storm clouds.

Many creeks feed into the arms of the convoluted Pioneer River. The river does flood, especially in cyclonic conditions but so far the two modern high level bridges have stood up to the task. It is easy to see much of the mangroves surrounding the city from the Mt Bassett Lookout.

The streets of the city and inner suburbs often flood during periods of heavy rain and high tide. The city is criss crossed with flood easement canals with non return valves. It is often these valves which help create localised flooding as a high or King tide tends to keep the valves closed. Rainwater backs up and soon a flood begins.

While out and about we watched building storm clouds, black and ominous, creeping along the coast.

040918 ships
Looking to the east from Mt Bassett Lookout. Those ships in the path of the building storm are waiting to load coal from Hay Point Coal Terminal to the south. About 2 dozen ships were waiting.

The sky was soon overcast, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped.

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View from Mt Bassett overlooking Mackay Harbour to the north.

I cooked up a big batch of Chicken Massaman Curry. Daughter Averyl joined Donnis, Dave and myself. Great curry although a little mild and sweeter than the Yellow Chicken Curry I did last week. It had a distinct bite and made my nose run and lips numb.

A little drizzle of rain before we went to bed. Is that all we are going to get out of that big black clouds earlier today?

Wednesday 5th September.

Happy Birthday to me!.

During the night the rain thundered down prompting us to jump out of bed and close all the windows. Wow! That was some rain which continued for ages. I hope they got some of this rain out west where it is desperately needed.

According to the news reports and Facebook pages, we received over 100mm overnight.

In the afternoon we went to visit friends Len and Lyn at Slade Point. We have been friends for many years since we originally joined the Mackay Sugarloafers chapter of the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia. We no longer have a motorhome and cancelled our membership several years ago. Len & Lyn still have their campervan and are still members of the CMCA but no longer attend meetings.

Tonight we went to watch Shelby play Netball. Her team was undefeated – until tonight. They lost by one point. The other team came out with a winning attitude and took Shelby’s team by surprise. By the end of the first quarter they were down by 7 points. They made up the deficit and matched the other team point for point but ran out of time.

Thursday 6th September

Today we visited niece Kelly and young son Ollie and grandfather Mike.

070918 mfk
Mike and Kelly work with bees. Oh and that’s me.

It was a nice visit and we learnt more about bee keeping. Kelly and partner Jason have a number eof beehives including Native Bees. They collect and sell honey and are called Beecasia Honey. I learned something new today. I always thought Native Bees to be stingless. Of the 1600 known native bee species, only 11 are stingless. I also learned that the native bee sting is nothing like the painful sting inflicted by European Bees. Apart from producing and selling honey they also create bees wax cloth which can be used and re-used instead of say, plastic film. https://www.facebook.com/Bee-casia-Honey-145037879555168/

Kelly also showed me photos of a recent fishing trip to Reliance Creek where they came across a group of baby Crocodiles. They were able to scoop one out of the water and examine the youngster. It is rare to come across young crocs in the wild without a mumma watching from nearby.

060918 Ollie with croc
Ollie holding a baby crocodile found in Reliance Creek. Note the mangroves behind him.

Usually they know how to stay hidden. After they had a chance to examine the young croc it was released back into the water. Kelly, that was a magnificent find. I know you have spent many years fishing in Reliance Creek. I have too. We knew there were crocs there but have never encountered them before.

Afterwards we drove to Shoal Point for a marathon walk along the beach. It was low tide and the sand goes on an on and on.

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View of Little Green Island from the hill at Shoal Point. On days of very low tide you can walk to the island through calf deep water…and back again if you do not dawdle. The island is privately owned and has a fresh water supply from an underground spring.
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View from the hill at Shoal Point looking north to Cape Hillsborough.

At low tide the millions of Blue Soldier Crabs emerge from under the sand to feed on the miniscule amounts of detritus in the sand, leaving rounded pellets of discarded sand behind them. It is amazing to watch these little crab marching across the sand. As my shadow appears over them they stop and instantly burrow into the sand.

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Just a small number of Soldier Crabs going about the business of finding a meal. Look along beaches anywhere along along most of Australia’s coastline and you will see millions of these .
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This is what an adult Soldier Crab looks like. Imagine hundreds and thousands of these walking across the beach rolling up tiny pellets of sand to extract nutrients.

Once upon a time I could drive the 4WD along the beach to Reliance Creek.

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Mangrove trees will take root in almost any environment and maintain the struggle to survive and capture more ground and create a bulwark against the ocean. The roots spread out like fingers and detritus and leaves build up around those roots and in turn attract more sand and leaves and slowly build a soil platform around itself.
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Remains of what was once a strong and healthy Melaleuca (Paperbark) forest. Slowly the shape of the coast changed due to shifting currents and many many cyclones. In the background you can see a combination of Melaleuca and Mangroves retaliating in trying to win back what was once land.
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Did this chair wash up from a storm or was it placed here? To me it is facing in the wrong direction.

Now, successive cyclones over several years has eroded the sand and exposed the mangroves all of which are dead and their slim trunks stick out of the ground like tall thick stubbles of wheat.

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This was once a mangrove forest which has been overwhelmed by the sea and will slow decay and form a muddy peat like base which will also be fertile ground for future mangroves.

The mangroves have been fighting a battle with the sea over untold millenia. The mangroves try to reclaim land from the sea while the sea tries to wrestle back what belongs to it. It is a constant battle and looking at the sand it is easy to see ancient beds of rotted trees similar to peat slowly turning to mud mixed with sand.

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This is the remains of an ancient mangrove forest now a muddy peat base.

It is no longer possible to drive now that the sand is gone. Even walking among the fingers of mangrove stumps and muddy peat requires care where your feet are placed. In one peat/mud zone was the remains of a late model 4WD where an incautious and most likely inexperienced driver came to grief.

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Jut some poor unfortunate teenage driver who borrowed his Dad’s car to impress his mates with his driving ability had to abandon it in the mud. How he managed to drive it this far through tree, rock, mangrove and mud obstacles is a mystery. Perhaps he was a skilled driver after all. The ocean was more skilled.

Later I learned the Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD was borrowed by a teenage boy. Worse, he borrowed from his Dad. The car got stuck in the mud and could not be retrieved and has been flushed out by two high tides a day for the last 12 months.

Friday 7th September

Today we took a quick walk around Bucasia Boat Ramp on Eimeo Creek

070918 eimeo
A couple of boats tied up n the mangroves on a muddy bottom at the Bucasia Boat Ramp end of Eimeo Creek. The one on the left was unfortunate in that it took on water and sank and became stuck in the mud. The owner managed to pump out the hull and refloat…temporarily. The hulls had became damaged and continued to take on water. There is a sign on the boat that it is a danger to navigation and must be moved. The boat on the right is still being used as a live aboard.
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Bucasia Boat Ramp end of Eimeo Creek. This is also a live aboard although you would need to time arrival and departure. That mud is thick and deep and smelly.
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More live aboards at Bucasia Boat Ramp at Eimeo Creek.

then visited Mike and Kelly. We learned a bit more about Native Bees. Most of them are single and do not swarm or have a queen. They do not make honey. They are however very good at pollinating. Beekeepers tend to make Bee Housing or Bee Hotels just to have these busy little bees in their area. Each “hole” in the hotel will be a home to a single native bee.

070918 beehome
A single Native Bee Hotel. Single native bees do not swarm, do not have a Queen, do not build a nest and do not make honey. They do pollinate so are still a gardeners friend. Installing one of these will attract single Native Bees.

Tonight we caught up with my daughter Melissa and her husband Steve. We went to a local Mackay Japanese style restaurant called Bing Nomiya. It has a reputation for good food. When we arrived it was fully booked out. Not a table to spare. OK thats good. We ordered. An hour later we had not been served but people at nearby tables who arrived after us were eating. Hmmm! That’s not good. We complained. They told us we had only ordered 30 minutes before!!! WTF. That was not true. But had we ordered 30 minutes before you would expect to at least have had the entree served within 10 minutes! As it turned out we were not impressed with the food. It is not as good as the Kabachi Ya Japanese Restaurant we have on the Gold CoastThe only good thing about the poor service was we got to spend more time with Melissa and Steve to catch up since our last visit. Melissa is very busy and in big demand tending to the needs of horses. She has a business trimming the hooves of horses and providing a massage and or Chiropractic attention to horses. To keep up with the demand she usually has to work weekends.

Saturday 8th September

Today we visited the Go Wake Cable Park http://gowakemackay.com.au/ to watch Anakin in his wakeboard competition. Anakin is in the Intermediate Class and only only joined the sport this year. We were quite amazed to watch the Novice Class and the children, as young as 7 perform jumps and twists. They look so light and seem to perform their stunts in slow motion.

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Look at the size of this boy. He barely has enough weight to make a splash.

Anakin threw himself into the competition despite having an injured back and despite having received acupuncture treatment earlier today.

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Anakin waits for his heat to begin.
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and he gets away to a flying start in heat 2.

In his final round he had a fall and landed badly and found he was in considerable pain.

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Anakin performing a loop in his first heat.
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Anakin performing an even better backward somersault in heat 2.

Hmmm! I see more physio, Chiro and Acupuncture in his life in the coming weeks.

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Anakin doing a power turn to line up and gather speed for the ramp.
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Anakin slides onto a rail.
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Staying on the rail for its full length is a challenge.

Afterwards we retired to daughter Averyls house where we had dinner and surprise surprise she baked a Carrot Cake for my birthday. Awwww. Gee Wizz. Thank you. We had a pleasant afternoon and dinner with Donnis, Averyl, granddaughter Shelby and grandson Anakin

Later back at Sandra’s house Dave and I sat up late working on a project on his computer. We over indulged in chocolate bullets and I over indulged more than Dave.

Sunday 9th September

Woke to an upset stomach. So upset I did not feel like breakfast. I am convinced this is the bodies revenge for over indulging on chocolate bullets.

For that reason today was a bit quiet. Dave was at Big Boys Toys promoting Shannons Insurance while Sandi was taking part in a walk for World Suicide Prevention.

Donnis and I stayed home. I had a sleep and after Donnis had lunch we went to Eimeo Beach for a walk in the fresh air and strong breeze.

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Probably the most sought after beachside location in Mackay. This house address is Mango Ave and is the only house right on the point with multi million dollar views. Somehow it has escaped serious cyclone damage.

It did nothing to settle my stomch but I did come home and have another sleep.

Tonight we had a family dinner. Besides Sandi, Dave Donnis and myself we were joined by Daves daughter Emily and her husband Bill and their two children.

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Bria an almost 3 year old ball of uncontrolled energy. She likes chocolate…who doesn’t.

We plan to hit the road tomorrow morning and cover at least 500 Klms before we stop for the night.

Thanks Sandi and Dave for looking after us.

637. Sunday 2nd September 2018. Clermont to Charters Towers, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Mackay. Visiting family…

This was a big week of photos.

Monday 27th August

At the beginning of this century, Donnis and I drove (in my beloved sadly missed, Subaru, Liberty, Rallye) from The Lynd Roadhouse along the developmental Gregory Highway south to Charters Towers. The distance was 260 Klms and took three hours, much of it at nighttime and through parts which were still unsealed and it was raining. Today we travelled north from Clermont to Charters Towers on the Gregory Highway, a distance of 397 Klms. The trip took 4 hours.

The flat landscape allowed us to see, in the distance, some of the rocky features of the Peak Range National Park. The now extinct volcano was active around 32 million years ago. These high “jump ups’ are all that remain of the ancient caldera.

We passed through a constantly changing landscape although everywhere we looked it was dry. Typically in this area and with the flat horizon to horizon landscape there was a cloudless blue sky. One day rain will come but in the meantime the parched landscape will prevail. Even the trees have leaves the colour of grey green, containing more eucalyptus oil than chlorophyl.

Somewhere between the middle of nowhere and the middle of nowhere on a long straight stretch of road we saw an animal crossing. As we got closer it moved quickly with a gait familiar to us. It was a feral cat who once having gained the safety of the verge stopped and looked at us over its shoulder before slinking into the crisp brown grass. In all our years of travelling all types of roads around Australia this is the first time we have seen a feral cat in the wild. Feral cats are a huge problem in the outback. They kill native wildlife at a faster rate than native predators. They also breed more rapidly and are vicious when approached.

There was fresh and aged road kill. The fresh road kill almost always had a cloud of carnivorous birds pulling at the carcass. As we approached some would fly away, some would hop off to the side of the road but always there was one brave bird who stood his ground, defying anybody to distract him from the business of feasting on fresh meat. It seems the most prevalent diner at road kill is the Torresian Crow. Quite often eating side by side with the others is one or more Wedge Tailed Eagles. At one kill we saw 6 eagles working together. As a car approached they would take off but within moments of passing they were landing back on the carcass.

Our first and only stop was both unexpected and disappointing. At the 169 Klm mark was a bridge over the dry sandy bed of the Belyando River. I understand that once upon a time when the road was little more than a gravel track, there was a low level river crossing here. It was known then and still is known as Belyando Crossing. There is a garage and some basic accommodation and a few campsites on the hill above the dry river. (yes the river is dry much of the year but come the wet season that all changes) All around the site are signs telling you what you can and cannot do, The toilets have a sign to say they are not public toilets and you must buy at least something over $2 to get the password to gain entry to the toilets. I agree the site has to have some rules in order to survive as a business but I just think the proliferation of signs is over the top.

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Belyando Crossing Roadhouse.

Although isolated, Belyando Crossing is quite a popular stop. Spring is approaching which explains the 30° temperature which was offset by a wonderful breeze wafting along and up from the dry river bed. A dry bed it may be but typically of arid landscapes it is well endowed with shady trees along its length.

The next 200 Klms was much like the first part of the trip with a change in the flora from time to time. Most of the countryside was flat to the horizon but as we neared Charters Towers rocky hills became the norm.

We stopped for lunch at McDonalds at Charters Towers. Nuff said about that.

The road to Townsville, 159 Klms away, was through similar territory although now we crossed the Great Dividing Range at Mingella Range and came down to sea level arriving at Karen’s house around 4pm.

A bushfire was burning somewhere on a knoll nearer the coast. The offshore breeze was blowing the smoke across the suburbs and leaving a smudge of grey over the ranges.

Sleeping was difficult with the smell of smoke seeming to fill the lungs.

Tuesday 28h August

Woke to a clear blue sky with only a few puffy white clouds and that smokey haze left over from yesterday.

We managed a short visit with daughter Shelley and although this was a school day both Matthew and Jack were at home. Georgia was also home from her job as a Jillaroo on an outback property some distance out of Alice Springs.

Both Shelley and our friend Karen ere at 1300 SMILES Stadium last Friday night to watch the last home game to be played by Rugby League legend, Jonathon Thurston with his team, the Cowboys. Both were part of the sellout crowd who stayed after the game to farewell JT.

Wednesday 29th August

While I had another visit with Shelley Donnis and Karen went curtain shopping at Spotlight. Matthew was at school today and his class had a Fathers Day sale and I was invited to attend as Grandad while he went shopping.

Our friends Tony and Dawn have arrived at Balgal Beach and will be able to meet with us tomorrow.

Thursday 30th August

Karen lives in a bushland setting suburb. There are many walking tracks and paths in and around the suburb. Those tracks are all set in native vegetation including footbridges over natural creeks.

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One of many footbridges scattered through the suburb.

The bridges have warning signs advising not to play in or near the water due to the danger of crocodiles!

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A long way from the water but soon the water will arrive and so will the crocs.

Cocodiles! But this dry creek bed is several Klms from the ocean! The creeks may be dry now but the wet season is approaching. 300818 creek1The wet season could be as long as October until May.

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An overgrown creek.

When torrential rain falls in the tropics is does so with a vengeance. The rain increases the humidity levels to around 90% day and night for months at a time. Crocodiles lay their eggs in the humid season. These dry creek beds will soon become, raging torrents of deep water then calm wide and equally deep creeks. It is easy for crocodiles to swim upstream looking for food and or a place to nest. Later the creeks will become smaller disjointed billabongs then small isolated pools with lots of dry sandy creek beds once again and the cycle begins all over.

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Who would paint a dead tree?

Karen wanted to have lunch at Brothers Rugby League Club. Our long terms friends, Tony and Dawn have just arrived in Townsville so we all agreed to meet for lunch. Brothers had a T-Bone Thursday special. Afterwards we went back to their caravan for our usual catch up. They have had a series of problems in the last two months and have decided to postpone their round Australia trip for this year.

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Landing Jetty on Ross River.
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Ross River with Mt Stuart in the distance.
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Cormorants drying in the sun.
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Look at the webbed feet of the Cormorant.

Friday 31st August

Another beautiful day in Paradise. Actually Paradise is all along the Queensland coast.

I met up with daughter Shelley, hubby Dwaynne and grandchildren Georgia and Jack. Lunch at Hogs Breath Cafe. Maybe it was the location but the noise of patrons was louder than the noise of the music being played. In the meantime Donnis and Karen visited with another friend before Donnis joined us. After lunch we bumped into, accidentally on purpose, Tony and Dawn. WE arrived back at Karens house in time for dinner but I fell asleep instead.

Saturday 1st September

I was walking along a track in the opposite direction to many walkers and runners taking part in a world wide health and fitness group, Park Run who stage 5 Klm Run/Walks every Saturday morning. ( www.parkrun.com.au ) One of the organisers waiting back at the finish line told me what a glorious morning it was for the first day of Spring. I could not disagree with her but commented that it has been glorious Spring like weather for some weeks.

Today we met daughter Shelley and grandson Matthew for an open day at the Army Lavarack Barracks in Townsville.

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Two Army groups fight it out in a Tug O War. The group on the right won.

There was an extr special reason for me to be here. A Squadron 2 Cavalry Regiment is based here.

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Armoured Personnel Carrier

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Cavalry_Regiment_(Australia) I was a member of this regiment when it was based in Holsworthy NSW. I must admit that today’s modern Army is far more technology equipped than my day.

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Armoured Troop Carriers

I suppose in my day we thought we had cutting edge machinery and equipment.

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The Army LARC… Lighter, Amphibious ReSupply, Cargo
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Heavy duty, fast, armoured patrol boat.

In my day both tanks and armoured personnel carriers were part of the one regiment. The personnel carriers and associated crews have now become part of 3 Royal Australian Regiment while tanks and associated crews are now all that make up 2 Cavalry Regiment.

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M1 Abrams tank. 62 tonnes of armour, speed and firepower.

Much of the equipment I was familiar with, including weapons, are now virtually museum pieces. Weapons such as Carl Gustav anti tank weapon and the 50 Calibre machine gun are still in use while everything else has been replaced. Only the tracked Armoured Personnel Carrier still remains in service but even it will be retired in a few years.

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Blackhawk helicopter

We got to look at helicopters and amphibious vessels and boats.

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The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter manufactured by Boeing. The CH-47 is among the heaviest lifting helicopters.

The big highlight of the day was when the big tank drove over cars and flattened them.010918 tank2

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M1 Abrams Tank speeds over and crushes a car.
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A car which has been run over by the Army tank.

A big joy for Donnis and myself to greet Trooper Courage a huge Wedge Tail Eagle who is the Regimental Mascot. ( http://www.contactairlandandsea.com/2017/11/15/2nd-cavalry-regt-recruits-new-mascot/ ) I was part of the original 1 Cav Regiment which started the very first Trooper Courage Mascot in 1967 and often assisted the very first handler Noel with his duties. It was also in 1967 the unit name was changed from 1 Cav to 2 Cav.

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Handler and Trooper Courage both needed a drink of water.
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It was a hot day. 30 degrees in fact. The handler has just given Trooper Courage a splash of water across his back.
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Trooper Courage with wings at three quarter spread.

We were also greatly impressed with the Dog Squad and how even the dogs are part of a fighting force.

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The Army attack dog has a special muzzle which has a thick panel of steel embedded in the front. The dog can deliver a pinpoint accurate blow to an aggressors chest. The power of the dog can stop an attacker, bowl them over and probably break a few ribs as well.
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The assistant who was suitably padded with protective armour vest and arm cverings was hit once and rolled over several times, got to her feet and the dog launched at her again and again bowling her over several times. Even with the protective padding she was still winded and took a minute slowly stand up.

The day was hot and the displays were spread over a large area with lots of walking and in some cases chasing after Matthew who thought this was the best day of his life.

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Matthew wearing an Australian Army Camouflage jacket
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Matthew loved playing with the machine guns but the powerful loading mechanism of the M50 had him struggling to even pull the cocking lever halfway.

I really enjoyed my day and pay tribute to the Army band which played mostly pop music and their lead singer was fabulous. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience was.

Thankfully there were lots of food and water outlets. Some food outlets were 3 CSR, which is also part of 3RAR. Other outlets were commercial operators.

All in all a very well organised day and the Army personnel were on hand to answer questions and interacted marvellously with the children.

Top marks to the Amy and their involvement with the local community.

To top off the day I picked up a head cold. It has probably been with me for a day or two but today I really noticed the symptoms. Grrr! I last had a head cold in May this year when we were travelling in Canada.

Sunday 2nd September

Happy Fathers Day.

We were on the road by 7am.

First stop was our once upon a time home – Airlie Beach.

We had a family gathering, brother Allan with wife Rae, and sisters Enid and Sandra with daughter Jo-Elle, son Luke with his girlfriend Ash.

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Ash Luke Jo-Elle Donnis Enid Al and Rae
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Enid Ash Sandi Jo-Elle and Luke who towers over everyone including me.
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Sandi Rae Allan Enid and a couple of faces in the shade.

We met at a new resort Northerlies, in Woodwark Bay to the north of Airlie.

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A busy Fathers Day at Northerlies.

This resort did not exist 4 years ago.

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Is this the Wreck of the Hesperus
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There was a sign on the beach warning of a recent crocodile sighting but no mention was made of this specimen under the resort entrance bridge.

The road was very steep and winding, slippery clay and mud, littered with potholes and the road was closed to the public. The entire area was thick bush. The road is still steep and winding but is now sealed and the bush has been cut away so the vista of Pioneer Bay can be seen. The resort is is a little difficult to find, off the beaten track and seemed to be patronised by locals. The food was good if a bit overpriced but the scenery was something special looking across the bay to Airlie Beach and giving views to South Molle Island, Whitsunday Island and Hayman Island.

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A scrawny Pandanus looking over Pioneer Bay to Point Almora.
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Looking back to Airlie Beach
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My guess is these poles were installed to give the impression there was once a jetty here.
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Looking through the poles to Airlie Beach.
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The original plans for the resort included using boat wrecks from several cyclones to be included in the accommodation.

All too soon our gathered participants started to drift away and it was time for us to get back on the road also.

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Australian White Egret

After 4 hours driving we still had another 2 hours ahead of us as we are staying at sister Sandra’s house in Mackay. We covered 450 Klms today.

It has been a remarkable week with lots of highlights.