691. Wednesday 24th July 2019. Mackay Harbour, Blacks Beach Spit, Hay Point, Half Tide, Salonika and Grasstree Beaches…


Monday 22nd July

On Friday I heard a Naval Ship was in Mackay Harbour. I drove to the harbour but it was gone. Most likely it was HMAS Melbourne on final manouvres and taking part in the joint US, Japan, Australian war games exercise at Shoalwater Bay. However a mock battle was staged on Queens Beach, Bowen today and several ships took part in that exercise.

So, I missed seeing the ship but did see a huge tanker being manouvred into a berth by two tugs.

220719 ship
The tug boats were busy moving the ship into the wharf.

220719 ship2220719 ship1

The Pilot vessel stood by while all this was going on.

220719 ship3
The Pilot Boat was on standby although I do not know what it could do if something went wrong. Look at the tugs in the other photos, they are both connected to the ship by docking lines.

From the Harbour I went to Vines Creek area of North Mackay to see some boats which have been careened in the mangroves, presumably for repairs.

220719 vines creek1
Vines Creek is well known for boats, mainly older needing work that never seems to get completed as the amount of work increases by the square root of no work being done.

220719 vines creek

While there I also saw another abandoned house to add to my collection.

220719 north mackay
Abandoned house North Mackay.

This area of Mackay is a bit of an enigma with very large houses built of brick and fastidiously tidy stand alongside older houses well past their use by date, with loads of rubbish littering the front yards.

Tuesday 23rd July

Today I took a walk along a track to the Blacks Beach Spit.

230719 blacks beach spit
Blacks Beach Spit Track

The track is closed to vehicular traffic but has signs indicating distances and alternate paths to the beach.

230719 green tree ant
In the tropics it pays not to go to near some bushes. These things are a Green Ants nest. One touch on the outside and you will be swarmed by the frenzied biting ants. Not only from the nest but somehow every ant on every branch and on the ground somehow know that you are an intruder and you must be attacked at any cost. Their bodies also have a sticky substance that helps them to cling to skin and clothes.

I recall driving on this track many years ago and realistically although it is closed off I recall that it has not changed a great deal.

230719 bench seat
Along the lonely Blacks Beach Spit Track there are several directional signs and several conveniently placed bench seats. I never saw another person on the track, the beach or even in the street where I parked the car.

The track skirts the sand dune area behind the beach front on one side and McCready’s Creek on the other.

230719 mangrove
Notice the strong wall of roots put down by every mangrove plant. Each plant also has breather tubes. Debris collects around the roots and over time creates soil and the trees reclaim some land. It is also a wonderful aquatic breeding and feeding location.

All along the creek side is an almost impenetrable wall of mangroves while the dry sandy dune side is a mix of salt clay pans with, a few Pandanus, many Casuarina, Melaleuca in the more damp wetlands parts and a several Cabbage Palms.

The understory is thick grass much of it more than two metres tall. The entire area can be affected by higher than usual tides, Neap tides, King tides and cyclonic tidal surges.

230719 tide line
Different tides at different times during the year deposits debris and marks the high tides.

It is an amazing patch of native vegetation surround by suburbia. It is too easy to believe you are way out in the wilds of unexplored north Queensland. 230719 bench seat1I arrived at the mouth of the creek at low tide and still am amazed that what is all sand now will soon become a wild watercourse at high tide.

230719 dolphin heads
At the end of The Spit, looking back to Dolphin Heads. Look how far the tide has gone out. Come back in 6 hours and the water would be up almost to this fallen tree.
230719 more tide lines
From Blacks Beach Spit to Dolphin Heads. An amazing tidal range. Note the two distinct levels of debris deposited by diferent big tides during the year.

Further up the creek where the mangroves are thick the banks can be quite steep mud. This is where the Crocodiles come out to sun themselves.

230719 mud
Muddy tidal banks on McCready’s Creek near the mouth. This is Cocodile territory.

Wednesday 24th July

Over the last two weeks I have mentioned the many ships at anchor several Klms offshore, waiting their turn to be filled with coal. Today I visited the site of where the coal is stockpiled and delivered to those ships.

In fact there are two coal loaders, side by side stretching out about one Klm offshore. Both loaders operate independently but together form the biggest and most efficient coal loading facility in the world.

At a special viewing platform, provided by Hay Point/Dalrymple Bay you can see everything that is going on.

240719 hay point
Hay Point Coal Terminal Observation deck.

240719 hay point1

Everything except being up close. However the huge scale of the facility is plain to see. Today I counted 27 ships sitting at sea while at least one ship was being loaded.240719 hay point2240719 hay point3240719 hay point4240719 hay point5

From here I then went to Half Tide Beach and Salonika Beach where I spent some time photographing the lagoon.

240719 salonika
Lagoon Salonika Beach.

240719 salonika1240719 salonika2240719 salonika3

With the tide being out neither beach has anything interesting enough to photograph. The road ends at a wide sandy creek. Google Maps show a road and presumably a bridge on an as yet unmade road called Esplanade which continues through to Grasstree Beach. That road through mangrove wetlands does not exist.


I had to drive back through Half Tide and Hay Point and towards the Bruce Highway at Alligator Creek where I took the turn off to Grasstree Beach.

240719 grasstree creek
A modern free boat launching ramp with floating dock at Grasstree Creek.
240719 grasstree creek2
Grasstree Creek.
240719 grasstree creek1
Grasstree Creek

Grasstree Beach once upon a time had a small fishing fleet which used a safe anchorage in Grasstree Creek.

240719 jetty
Old fishing trawler jetty.

240719 jetty1

Some boats remain but mostly private vessels use the rough jetties and home made facilities. Also located at Grasstree is a gold mine. Yes, a gold mine, perched atop Mount Haden which dominates the town.

Even from here, some twenty Klms further south from Hay Point, many of the coal ships can be seen anchored offshore.

Once upon a time I knew fishermen from Grasstree as I was a Marine Insurance Broke and insuring fishing boats was what I knew best. I knew there were several boats which operated from here. It was not so much a fleet as each boat had one owner but they all knew each other and co-operated with berthing and getting a catch to their market.240719 jetty2

One vessel owner, whose vessel was much better maintained than the others stood out as a tough but fair skipper. 240719 jetty3His crew had to agree to abide by the Rule of No D. That is the crew were not to bring aboard certain items which began with D. No Drugs, No Dames and no Drink. He was even known to turn a boat around when he found somebody with drugs. When the Government started buying back licences many of the less maintained boats stopped working and soon became derelicts and had to be hauled out or sold. While other boats stopped working he retained his licence and still fished. Now even he has gone, a victim of licence buyback and the importation of fresh, frozen and canned fish from Asian nations. Even the Aquaculture Fish Farm has closed as has the Fish and Chip shop which sold local fresh fish.


240719 truck
Refrigerated truck Grasstree.
240719 letterbox
Letterbox Grasstree.

I also found a couple of abandoned houses at Grasstree. I was not surprised.

240719 house2 grasstree
Abandoned house on outskirts of Grasstree.
240719 house 1 grasstree
Abandoned house Half Tide.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s