Author: frankeeg

642, Sunday 14th October 2018. Donnis flys back, a new shopping centre and Jeff Bridges movies…

Monday 8th October

Donnis arrived at Coolangatta Airport almost exactly on time. The sun was shining there was a light breeze and was well with the world. She wanted to go to the beach for a walk along the wet sand with the wind in her face.

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An interesting bit of sculpture on Bilinga Beach. It sort of looks like a deer…from this angle. Notice the storm fronts building up. Currumbin Beach is just further up the beach.

Within a few minutes of our walk there were three fingers of storm fronts creeping across the sky. The wind picked up the sky got darker and we could see Surfers Paradise in the north beginning to look hidden behind a haze of rain.

From Bilinga Beach we drove to Currumbin Beach and as we have done on a number of occasions, dropped into the Surf Club for a drink and a snack.

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Inside Currumbin Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Look at that location. Right on the rocks with magical views up the coastline.

By now the sky was heavily overcast and the air seemed to have an electric feel about it. Within minutes the lightning show began, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach disappeared under a curtain of rain and we had a front row seat beside the open floor to ceiling window.

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This is the magical view from Currumbib Beach Surf Club. The storm is building over Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.

Today was the beginning of what the forecasters were saying was daily storm cells, damaging winds and hail and rain, heavy at times including a tornado or two.

Wednesday 10th October

At line dancing today, the sun, which made a magical appearance for a few hours, reflected off the pool, through the windows and cast a shadow image of the palm fronds outside and the dancers inside onto the wall. Magical. We first noticed this last week. Today I brought the camera to capture a silhouette show but it is difficult to capture shadows just the way you want them.

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Sunlight reflects off the pool through the window and shows line dancers.

Friday 12th October.

I read back though my blog page for September and October 2010 when we first left Airlie Beach to begin our permanent travels in WWWGO. I note how the very first day it started to rain heavily and WWWGO developed a leak around the area where the TV antenna enters the roof. Luckily we were not far from my daughter Melissa horse stud and we parked WWWGO in their tractor shed. Over the next week Steve and I cleaned up anything which may have caused a leak and re-sealed everything. Over the course of the next month it rained more frequently in our travels and we were often caught in flooded areas. The wet season was beginning at this same time in 2008 in much the same manner as it is beginning this year. At the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 saw the disastrous Brisbane floods. I wonder if history is going to repeat itself.

Saturday 13th October

Heavy rain today. Hmmm! I know lets go to a brand new giant shopping centre. It will be nice and quiet. The new centre is Westfield Coomera and opened on Thursday to much fanfare. I figured the crowds would be thinner today and who would want to come out on a wet day like today. You would have to be crazy. Right! Like us! It is only 17 Klms from home and will take only 21 minutes according to Google Maps. OK lets go. Driving along the M1 with lots of traffic, heavy rain and spray from car wheels was OK. Hmmm! Said Donnis what is this red line on Google Maps for??? Once we turned off the M1 the red line became apparent. Traffic chaos! WT!!! Surely they are not all going to the new shopping centre. No, of course they ALL were not going there. Only the vast majority! I felt like turning off and going home but we were locked into umm err, gridlock.

A couple of Police cars were parked to block some traffic so that we all moved forward in a controlled manner. There were parking attendants in wet weather gear waving flashing batons. Everywhere we looked the car park was full. I asked a friendly looking baton waving raincoat shrouded figure how do I get out? So far my 21 minute journey has taken almost an hour and I want to go home. The attendant said turn left here, follow the wall and you will see the exit signs. With a wink he also mentioned we might find a parking spot.

We did.

Just as somebody pulled out we drove in and better yet it was under a shade sail. Meanwhile it was still raining.

Inside it was a mass of seething humanity all going somewhere with nowhere in mind. We did the same.

First things first. It was lunchtime so we looked at all the foody offerings to decide. There are 39 food outlets to choose from (with not a McDonalds or Hungry Jacks in sight) in several different locations. We looked at Hardy Boys and saw a plate for two with a price tag of $30. Some people just had theirs delivered to the table and we thought, A Ploughmans Lunch. Hmmm! Seems a bit much for lunch but even sushi elsewhere was going to cost $20 so it was back to Hardy Boys a place we have never heard of before. The platter for two was $16. The $30 option included a bottle of wine. WT! The amazing thing about this platter was sheer value for money. Honestly we struggled to finish the plate. It contained small cubes of a mild cheddar cheese, cubes of a goats milk fetta and some triangles of a Brie. Plus there were little bowls of sun dried tomatoes, olives, and smashed avocado. There was a steak cut into small chunks, salami, rocket lettuce, salsa, slices of smoked salmon and some toasted rye bread.

Bathrooms are interesting. When you wash your hands p;ace your hand under the spout and water runs as long as your hand is under the spout. There are two arms on the spour place hands under the arms and hey presto a blade of high speed warm air dries your hands and the drips go down the sink. So instead of finding one or two hand dryers in the bathroom, each hand basin has a dryer. No more waiting with dripping hands. Good new invention Mr Dyson.

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Dysons new hand wash and dry station.

Upstairs was a cinema complex with ticket prices starting at $20. (Our local movie complex prices are $9) Next door was a huge adventure and games complex. Wall climbing and walking across ropes and ladders and swinging bridges and a couple of flying foxes to keep kids amused and burning off energy without using a mobile phone. Geez if only old people could have a go but alas nobody older than teenagers.

The helpful thing about this Westfield as is the Helensvale Westfield is its location. Across the street from the railway stations at Helensvale and Coomera.

When we left it was still raining. In fact the rain brought back memories of 2010 and me wondering if this year will be a replay of 2010. So far it is

Tonight we watched the movie Hell or High Water with Jeff Bridges on SBS On Demand. Jeff Bridges is usually a great actor and he does not disappoint in this movie. It contains black humour, unexpected surprises and a few plot twists to keep you interested all the way.

Sunday 14th October

Still raining.

We went to the movies actually it cost $10 each. We saw Bad Times at the El Royale. This movie includes that stalwart Jeff Bridges and Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth. It is 2 hours and twenty one minutes of riveting edge of your seat surprises, black humour, suspense and enough plot twists to easily fill in those hours. We left the theatre drained of energy. Great movie.


641. Sunday 30th September 2018. Donnis flys away, neck pain worsens, Rock & Roll lessons and rain…

Tuesday 25th September

Today I drove Donnis to Coolangatta Airport to catch a flight to Melbourne. I dropped her off at 1.45pm in plenty of time to check in and join the flight which was scheduled to leave at 3.15pm. I waited at North Kirra Beach

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Coolangatta, Rainbow Bay and Greenmount Beach from North Kirra Beach.

in case there were delays or she could not get on her standby flight.

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Kirra Beach with Coolangatta in the background

Donnis called me 2pm to say she had her boarding pass and her flight was confirmed. In fact she was on an earlier flight which would be boarding shortly. As it turned out her flight was delayed and did not get away until 6.30 pm and she arrived in Melbourne at 9pm. Sheesh!

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Surfers Paradise from North Kirra Beach

On my way home I spied a black Tesla 2016 Model S P90D in the lane beside me at the traffic lights.tesla These cars still fetch around $160,000 used, on the Australian market. This all electric car can achieve 0 – 60 Klms in 2.8 seconds. The driver proved the point when the lights changed he changed lanes to pass the car in front of him then accelerated and pulled back into his original lane, he was over the first hill and away while the rest of the traffic was still moving up the hill. It supposedly has a range of 1,000 Klms on one charge. There are quite a number of re-charge stations around Australia and between Brisbane and Sydney there are many along the coastal route. The inland route is not so well serviced. On our recent trip to Townsville there is only 1 recharge station on the route but with a 1,000 Klm range it would have been no problem.

Wednesday 26th September.

Happy Birthday to my mate Tony whom I met on our first day of National Service Training last century. We have been friends ever since.

Tonight I am close to exhausted.

Line dancing this morning is normally a very active programme and good exercise.

This afternoon I saw the physiotherapist who gave me a series of neck exercises. He tells me another name for the degenerative problems in my neck is arthritis!!!–conditions/cervical-spondylosis-arthritis-of-the-neck/

I will do the exercises but the discomfort/pain is getting progressively worse. Sitting at the computer, reading, driving, riding the bike and sitting at a dining table with people to my right or left. If I do not turn my chair to face a person the pain begins in minutes.

Tonight the social club arranged Rock and Roll Dance lessons with a break for hot soup and bread. Our teachers are experienced Rock & Roll Dancers with at least 20 years experience…each. We started the lessons with the basic 1,2,3-4 steps and after we had almost mastered that they introduced us to combine with a partner. OK, almost have that, if not mastered at least familiar. Then we had to combine with a partner and put it a turn. We were so nervous and muscles were stiff trying to put the steps together and not embarrass ourselves in front of our village friends. Now let’s combine what we have learned and now include double turns.


Next we had to do it to music which I had set up on advice from two of the teachers. OK almost getting the hang of this when time out was called so we could have home- made chicken and vegetable soup with Turkish bread and social discussion about how we felt about our lessons then it was back into the lessons and now we had to add a cuddle step and a double turn. All too soon we had been learning for two hours and time to say goodnight.

We had a great night. A special thanks to Kay and Frank for agreeing to arrange the night along with their friends Clive & Shelley and to Wayne who yet again stepped up and did the catering.

Sunday 30th September

We have had some rain over the last few days including thunder and lightning. In surrounding suburbs they have also had big hailstones which caused damage. I am sure I have mentioned before that we seem to live in a pocket where all the bad weather usually bypasses us.

Thank goodness.

I had great plans for waking early and going for a bike ride to The Broadwater or even Southport. Yesterday morning I was awake at 5am so got dressed and went outside with the  bike and it started to rain.

Sigh! Cycling was taken off yesterday’s agenda.

Today you say??? Well I slept until 7am but it was raining again. The weather forecast for tomorrow is fine.

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”.


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.

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.   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  (   ) 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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

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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 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. ( ) 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 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. ( ) 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.

636. Sunday 26th August 2018. On the road again…

Thursday 23rd August

I have been reading a book called “KEEPER” by Andrea Gillies. It is true story about a family caring for a family member suffering from Alzheimers disease. The following short excerpt echoes in my mind, almost on a continuous loop.

IF I HAD to pick one catchall descriptor for Nancy’s life in the last few years it would be misery. Profound misery, unceasing and insolubly a family member suffering frome. She knows that something is wrong, very wrong, but what is it? She’s had a series of terrible daily encounters with herself and her environment that might have come directly from an amnesiac thriller: waking to find she has aged fifty years overnight, that her parents have disappeared, that she doesn’t know the woman in the mirror, nor the people who claim to be her husband and children, and has never seen the rooms and furnishings that everyone around her claims insistently are her home. Time has slipped, gone seriously askew. Every day for her is spent in an ongoing quest to put things right. The trouble is, she can’t seem to concentrate on the question or on possible clues to it. She can’t navigate the problem. When she left us for the nursing home, she was daily engaged in a very protracted, slow-motion form of panic. It’s been over eight years now since the formal diagnosis and eleven years at least since symptoms began, but even after all this time, she’s only at stage 6 of the disease. Stage 7 looms, the cruelest and last phase, with its loss of continence, motor control, speech, and ability to swallow. Eventually her lungs will forget how to breathe, her heart forget how to beat, and her quest will come to an end.”

Our Dad (that is, Dad to my brother Allan and sisters Enid, Bev and Sandra) died, not from Alzheimers but something I believe Alzheimers created. I suppose Dad was in Phase 7 as described above and even as he progressed from stage 6 to 7 there were moments of something like clarity and understanding on his part. Truthfully, they were only moments. I know that sister Enid probably saw the worst of stage 7 but by then he was in a nursing home and gradually deteriorating.


On reflection it seems so much time passed while he gradually worsened. In reality it was a relatively short period but the near daily dramas made it feel much longer.

My sisters and I tried to keep Dad independent and in his own home. That became increasingly difficult and just like the author of the book, we made the gut wrenching decision to have Dad enter a nursing home. Even carers starting off with the best intentions finally make the same decision.

We all watched and felt the repercussions of his gradual loss of short term memory. That was frustrating and difficult to continually try to remember this was a disease taking his mind and not some game he was playing and tormenting us with. We learned patience ( a long slow process in itself) which does not always come easily. Next we experienced the loss of even some of the long term memory and a gradual decline of knowing who he was or where he was. For a while he wanted to “go home”. Home being somewhere in his mind which only he knew or maybe not knew but had a vague idea home was somewhere else. Gradually that passed and every day for him became a challenge to not only know who he was, where he was but even recognising his children was gone. Recognising the people around him was like meeting new people every day.

Tunes are stored in a different part of the brain than words. That particular part of the brain is the last to lose its contents. That is why music seems to reach the Alzheimer sufferer with not only the tune but the words that go with it. Incredibly Dad remembered words and tunes but often did not have words for a conversation.

The last part of the brain to be taken over by the disease is the Cerebellum, tapping along, singing, clapping along and humming along with a song gets the cerebellum working. On my last visit with him I am still unsure if he knew I was there or if he did, did he know who I was? Music was playing in the hallway where we were sitting. The song was, “Those Were The Days My Friend”. He knew the tune AND the words. The song was not from his youth nor from his young adult life. The song was first released in 1968 sung by Mary Hopkins and produced by Paul McCartney. Dad would have been 50 when the song was released. At the end of the song after he had talked and sung and hummed along he declared “Oh wow!”

I am writing this for a couple of reasons. One is for my own, perhaps belated understanding but mainly to bring to the attention of any reader who may have a loved one or even a friend who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. Knowledge will not stop the disease as there is no known cure but knowledge may help you to understand and come to terms with what is happening. As well it may help you to accept the increasingly difficult behaviour. Not only what is happening now but as the disease progresses. It may help with learning new ways to cope and learning the big new talent… PATIENCE.

If you are interested, the book is available from Amazon.

I may be able to help you with a digital copy. Please contact me by email or leave a comment on this post with your contact details.

Friday 24th August

I looked back over what I wrote yesterday and recalled something which annoyed me, stuck in my craw and it still aggravates me, came to mind. In the early stages of Dad’s disease he was still independent, ambulant, still driving, still getting his own groceries and still paying his way. What annoyed me was this. His bank insisted he have a debit card which has those four numbers called a PIN. Personal Identification Number. We all have one and many people, much younger than Dad would forget the number and usually write the number somewhere they can find it easily. Dad forgot his number and forgot where he wrote it. We would go to the bank and in their wisdom the bank would issue a new PIN. Then the next time he forgot they would issue a new PIN. The bank kept saying they did not want customers coming into the bank every second Thursday to get their Pension. They wanted Pensioners to access their money via an ATM. Grrr! Banks still do this. Getting money from his account was always a stressful time for him and Enid when she had to sort it out for him. Surely the hierarchy in banks knows and understands that Alzheimers is here to stay. Could they not come up with a different way for a customer to access their money in that interim stage between astute mental clarity and when they lose all short term memory and need a carer?

Today I visited the Skin Doctor who firstly gave me the all clear on the cancer he removed last week. He has removed all traces of the cancer. He removed the 5 sutures, froze a few non malignant skin cancers and sent me home.

This evening we had some rain with thunder and lightning.

Saturday 25th August

Amazing experience here this morning. We were on our way by 8am.

We tracked through Toowoomba, Dalby, Chinchilla and stopped for lunch in a pub at Miles. The highway between Dalby and Chinchilla is undergoing huge roadworks including in the main streets through the towns. Two lanes is being turned into four lanes.Bae of people wanting coffee and cake.

Back on the road we arrived in Rolleston just on midday. We stopped for a toilet break and found another barista at a Coffee in the Park van and doing a roaring trade with the Grey Nomads constantly stopping.

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Coffee in the Park at Rolleston.
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This timber hut is called Purbrook Hut. It is mostly the original boundary riders hut from the 1850. Some of the timber and all of the roofing iron has been replaced but what you see is what it was like way back then.
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Inside you can see that it was pretty basic and draughty but would have provided shelter and shade from the sun and a dry place during the wet.

The coffee shop and sandwich bar across the street, the only other food outlet in town was closed.

On the road for another hour we passed through Springsure

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Springsure sits alongside the shadow of a worn down mountain range.

and later stopped at Red Rooster at Emerald for a yuk lunch and an hour later we were in Clermont, a Gold and Coal Mining Town. Gold was discovered here in 1861.

The final push of about 600 Klms to Townsville begins in the morning.

635. Sunday 19th August 2018. Skin doctor, cooking, smoke alarms and travel plans…

Tuesday 14th August

Last week I mentioned visiting the Skin Doctor who took a biopsy and sent it to the lab. Today on my follow up visit I was told the sample returned a positive result. It is a    Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. Cumulative, long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun over your lifetime causes most SCCs. Daily year-round sun exposure, intense exposure in the summer months or on sunny vacations. SCCs may occur on all areas of the body but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. The skin in these areas often reveals tell-tale signs of sun damage, including wrinkles, pigment changes, freckles, “age spots,” loss of elasticity and broken blood vessels. I have had several SCC removed over the years including one on my nose in March this year. Today I had surgery on my neck just below the jaw line and it required 5 stitches and I felt them all. I know the area was numb from the local anaesthetic but I still felt the cutting and stitching.

Wednesday 15th August

On Sunday at our fun sports day, Donnis chose a veggie burger instead of roast beef and gravy. I watched Wayne as he prepared and cooked the burgers. I noticed the yellow colour which I once thought must be potato and pumpkin mashed and other vegetables added. In fact the recipe used by Wayne has a Lentil Flour base. Lentil Flour! I happened to have some Chick Pea Flour I used on a bread I made earlier this year. The internet has hundreds of veggie burger recipes using either Lentil Flour or Chick Pea Flour so tonight I got to work making the burgers. I probably could have used more salt or pepper or even a curry powder but those veggie burgers were nice. There was no meat in our dinner tonight, just the burgers and a bit of broccoli and some cold baby cucumbers. We used some yoghurt as a dip and it was yummy. Next time I think I will add some crushed mint to the yoghurt and spice the burgers a bit more. I will also make a bigger batch.

Friday 17th August.

Where has my week gone?

A keen eyed resident noticed some spelling and typo flaws in my RV vehicle rules I wrote about last week.


I decided to take down the wonderful laminated copies I put on the notice board last week. I have re-written and tidied the rules and asked a neighbour who works in a legal office to proof read them before they get laminated.

Today is Art Day at a neighbours house where 8 to 10 residents get together to do their art…whatever that may be…and to have a coffee and cake social gathering. I usually go, bringing my own coffee and a photo slideshow culled from photos of our travels over the last 10 years. I usually show the photos on the iPad or laptop. That is my art contribution. While on the subject I will also mention I am a member of four “Photo” type Facebook Groups. I contribute my offerings and comment or Like other contributions. I enjoy my hour or so in the world of photography.

I have included a few photos from the first half of 2012. Some of these have been shown in this blog at the time while some have not been seen before. I have cropped some and digitally enhanced some but essentially they are all my own work.

belmore basin
I once lived in Wollongong. More than 20 years in fact. I have a special fondness for the area. Its history, its natural features and I have many friends who still live there. During 2012 we visited The Gong on a number of occasions. This location is Wollongong Harbour or Belmore Basin as it is known officially. This gnarly old tree has had children climbing on it for at least 100 years and with care will see another century of children climbing.
Wollongong Harbour boasts two lighthouses. One stands at the entrance to Belmore Basin while the other is higher above on Flagstaff Hill where its beam is seen well out to sea.
row of dinghy's
This tidy row of dinghy’s is located at Belmore Basin.
tallawarra jetty
Wollongong is fortunate to have a large lake on its doorstep. Lake Illawarra is popular with sailors, swimmers. crabbers, prawners, fishermen, water skiers, jet skiers, cyclist and family picnics. This jetty is near the site of Tallawarra Power Station with Mt Warrigal (Native Dog Hill) in the background.
Another favourite location especially for board riders is Sandon Point a little north of The Gong. For some reason most surf breaks…well at least the beaches I went to, had right hand breaks. I surfed as a goofy footer which meant on right hand breaks I surfed with my back to the breaking wave wall. I always enjoyed left hand breaks such as the one at Sandon Point. These fishermens huts have been here for more than 100 years. They are still in use.
surf at sandon
There is also a right hand break at Sandon Point which usually works in bigger swells. When I first started surfing here there were pylons still in place from an old coal loading jetty.

Sunday 19th August

Another week has rushed up at us and gone by so quickly. The weather has been kind. Sunshine and warmth, at least after about 9.30am. Early mornings are what we call chilly getting down as low as about 8 degrees. Usually we get cool westerly winds in August. We have had some of those as well.

This morning we could smell smoke. Donnis wondered who would need a fire at this time of day on a warm morning. It turns out there was a house fire about one Klm away. Early reports say the house was 60% damaged. All five people escaped without injury. The fire is believed to have started in the meter box in the garage. The Fire Chief when interviewed believes smoke alarms should also be installed in garages.

WTF! Sometime in the next few years every dwelling in Queensland must have a hard wired with back-up battery power smoke alarm installed in every room and hallway. The law was passed and effective 2017 but we have a ten year period of grace to get them installed. All smoke alarms must be set so if one goes off, they all go off. At a cost of around $120 each, plus installation even our modest 2 bedroom villa needs at least 6 fire alarms. It is not a cheap option. Now they want them in garages too!!!

Last week I mentioned we have some travel plans. We will be going to Townsvillle next week. Instead of taking the coast road as we have done 1,000 times before we will travel via the Warrego Highway up the Toowoomba Range, through Toowoomba to Dalby then Miles where we join the Leichhardt Highway to Taroom and spend the night there. We will probably stay at the Cattle Camp Motel. From there we will take a minor road, the Bauhinia Downs Road via the Palmgrove National Park and link up with the Dawson Highway to Bauhinia and on through Rolleston, Springsure and Emerald. Then we join the Gregory Highway to Capella, Cleremont and the long lonely haul via Cape River all the way to Charters Towers where we stay another night. The Cape River system feeds into the Burdekin River to create Dalrymple Lake and the immense Burdekin Dam. The catchment area alone is 115,000 square Klms. That is half the size of the state of Victoria and 50 times the size of the Australian Capital Territory. It is also about the same size as the state of Ohio in the USA. It is also larger in size than 14 US states and is the same size as 7 US states combined.  From there it is a reasonably short haul down the Mingella Range and across the flat country to Townsville. Whew that is about 1,500 Klms and 16 hours of driving. Once upon a time I would have driven that in one day. Not anymore. Some of those roads and places we have never visited before so we have allowed exploring time in the itinerary.

A little way south of Wollongong is another historic coastal town, Kiama. Just north of KIama is Bombo which was once a quarry which is often used for television commercials, usually for cars. The stretch of twisted ancient volcanic coastline also includes little beaches more often used by keen board riders. The Boneyard springs to mind as one such beach but on this day it was more like a pond.
cathedral rock
Cathedral Rock is a familiar rocky landmark known to thousands of board riders who have ever surfed at The Boneyard.
camp oven
The little town of Albion Park, south of Wollongong, has an historic railway park. On the day of our visit they had a camp oven cook off competition. Aromas of wood smoke and cakes, dampers, roasts and casseroles bubbling away was delightful.
mahon pool
My brother and sisters and I have fond memories of Mahon Pool in the rocks on the north end of Maroubra Beach, Growing up as a teenager, so close to the beach and this rock pool meant we always had something to do every weekend, summer or winter.
footbridge at hat head
The footbridge at Hat Head connects the public area and campground with a peninsular beach on the other side of a tidal estuary.
A lonbg way from The Gong is the inland town of Euchuca on the Murray River. The town was a bustling centre of river commerce with many paddle steamers moving wool and wheat from properties upriver to this inland port. It is still a busy port but the paddle wheelers take tourists today. I have no idea what these carts were for but they were everywhere around the port.

634. Sunday 12th August 2018. Social club activities, a visit by family and a fun sports day…

Gee what a slack old week. No photos. No new places visited but that will change.

Yeah yeah, I know I have promised that before. Usually I deliver…at my own pace of course.

Wednesday 8th August

My sister Bev has a birthday today. I called to wish her a Happy Birthday. She was at work and we could only chat for a few minutes. Sadly there will be nobody home to take her out for dinner tonight.


I saw my Skin Specialist today who took a skin punch biopsy sample on an itchy growth on my neck. I expect it will come back positive, after all I do live in sunshine most of the year and have done since I was a young pup. Sunshine can be a bit damaging to skin but the effects do not show up when you are young. Cancer waits until you are older, then pays a visit or dozen as payment for a misspent youth in the sun and surf.

I will know the results next week.

Thursday 9th August

Nothing happened today.

Oh wait! A few things did happen.

The co-pilot was busy cleaning house as my daughter Averyl and granddaughter Shelby are coming for the weekend.

I attended a Social Club Committee meeting to finalise arrangements for a fun sports day this Sunday.

We also made plans for a Rock and Roll night in October, a Wine and Cheese Night combined with Karaoke  in September, a speaker for our morning tea next month and we finalised and approved a set of rules for a Recreational Vehicle Storage Area.  I have been working on the rules for several weeks as they are long overdue and will help solve the problems which arise because there have been no clear cut rules in place. The rules are now approved, printed, laminated and placed on two notice boards within the village and copies have been sent to real estate agents to bring to the attention of potential buyers.

We also sketched out a rough plan for a progressive dinner during the summer months. We have a gazebo in our private park beside Biggera Creek, a pontoon and deck area, a couple of residents with large outdoor areas, an area around the pool, a barbecue area beside the bowls green and of course our clubhouse. There are plenty of places to have a progressive dinner. The committee liked my suggestion and a few residents we shared the idea with are enthusiastic.

Next I went and bought special Barista Milk and lots of coffee, hot chocolate and Chai Tea as I will provide all the coffee during the day. We have about 35 people attending and we will be self- catering muffins and coffee mid- morning and beef or chicken rolls with gravy for lunch followed by a selection of 4 different desserts. Fellow committee member Wayne will do the catering including baking as he has done in the past.

So, yes, something was done today.

Saturday 11th August

Collected Averyl and Shelby from Brisbane airport then drove home for a short break before attending the first of two appointments to inspect accommodation for Shelby,

Sunday 12th August.

While Averyl and Shelby were inspecting more accommodation options and attending Griffith University Open Day Donnis and I joined the Fun Sports Day. I was kept busy making cappuccino, hot chocolate and chai latte for 34 residents. I seem to have a reputation as a Barista. I made about 50 cups of coffee and some people came back for seconds, a few came back for thirds and one had 4 Chai Lattes. I operated three pod coffee machines and two milk frothers which kept the coffee/chocolate/chai drinkers happy.

Our Social Committee President, Graham sorted us into teams of 4 and had us doing all sorts of strange games which do not require a great deal of physical activity or special skills although quite honestly some people have no skills. I think it was just good luck which was on some teams side. Naah not sour grapes on my side it was all about having fun and we had lots of that.

We charged residents $5 per head for the day. That included as much real coffee as they wanted, muffins, lunch bread rolls and dessert plus of course the games entertainment and prizes of …chocolates of course. In most places you would be lucky to buy a cup of coffee for that price. The Social Committee subsidised the event and we lost $50 on the day. I had budgeted for a bigger loss so our catering skills are getting better.

In the afternoon we drove Averyl & Shelby back to Brisbane Airport.

It has been a busy couple of days.

I have been planning a trip to the north of the state in about two weeks. More details next week.


633. Sunday 5th August 2018. Seafood, beach walks, Rugby League and electrics…

Monday 30th July

Today we drove to Sea World Beach for a walk in the sunshine, fresh salty air and bare toes in the sand.

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While sitting on the beach we saw this pair walking up and down doing the Metal Detector Shuffle to the tune of Have Not Found Anything of Value or sometimes they play Just Bottle Tops.

Donnis felt invigorated after the walk. Afterwards we stopped to have a look at Peters Seafood Market in a little unnamed street just beside Palazzo Versace.   This is a hidden gem selling mostly, Australian Wild Caught fish and seafood. They have fish and chips for $9. Unfortunately you are only offered Basa catfish from Vietnam or Hoki from New Zealand. Both are pre filleted and half cooked in a thin batter then frozen. Peters finishes the cooking process. You can choose any other fresh Australian fillets of fish which they will cook for you. Battered, crumbed or grilled. Of course the price is dearer. Outside there are bench tables and seats all looking across the Broadwater and the fishing fleet marina on one side and the multi- million dollar boats in the Versace marina on the other side. These spectacular views cost nothing as you sit back and enjoy your seafood. Although there are only a couple of small signs on Seaworld Drive, this place is busy especially as it is Monday and not the busiest day of the week.

Thursday 2nd August.

Donnis is still not well but not so bad that she is confined to bed. She wanted to spend some time on the beach in the sand, just sitting there and enjoying the sunshine and fresh sea air. The beach opposite Marina Mirage seemed like a good idea but the breeze from the south was just a little cool and annoying. So we decamped and went to a walk around the marina precinct including Mariners Cove, Marina Mirage Palazzo Versace Marina and saw the boats, all in the multi- million dollar plus class at the private marina at Palazzo Versace.

There are a few seafood places here, one serves a $9 fish and chips but on checking found it is the dreaded Vietnamese Basa. Mariners Cove Fish and Chips will not be on our “to do” list.

Hogs Breath Café also serve fish but they offer whiting fillets, they are pre battered, half cooked and frozen ready to complete the cooking. It is still much better than Basa and for a $9.90 lunch time menu, Monday to Friday it’s not a bad deal. It comes with piggy fries and a salad too.  I still need to confirm if the fish is Australian or imported.

At the end of the marina is Fishermans Wharf Tavern.   They have $8.99 bar meals including a fish and chips option but I did not speak with the staff to discover what type of fish they serve. They also a dining area overlooking The Broadwater and the fish of the day including chips and salad is $19.90. Before we eat there we will ask the same question we ask here in Australia, Canada and the USA. What fish do you serve? If the answer is Basa, we leave.

Across the Broadwater we saw the circus tent for the Infamous Circus, well, it’s a circus but it isn’t.

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Across the Broadwater, viewed from Mariners Cove Marina is the spiral tent of the Infamous Circus/Cabaret show.

They call it simply, Infamous The Show, which does have circus acts but is also a bit like Circe de Soleil and a bit like a cabaret. It is a 18+ venue and ID is required. It seems there is some nudity and some adult suggestive themes and is intended to titillate attendees. Prices start at $50 and wander up from there. If you enjoy being titillated then this could be for you when it comes to your city.

We wandered to an unnamed beach just past Seaworld where all the yachts are moored.

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Looking across the Spit sheltered boat mooring area is The Broadwater and Southport.

We found a spot out of the breeze and within a few minutes had fallen asleep.

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Sea World, Marina Mirage and Palazzo Versace Marina are located to the left of the photo.

Wow! That was relaxing. It’s a pity Donnis was not well enough to stay for the sunset but once the sun begins to set the temperature drops too. The amazing thing about the beach is there were no mozzies or even more importantly. No sandflies.

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The Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club store their canoes on this unnamed beach. No wonder the car park always seems to be full.

Friday 3rd August

One of the elements on our Ceramic Cooktop stopped working. It is the element we use most of the time so it is a choice of…

  1. Continue to use the remaining three elements and put up with it as long as possible.
  2. Accept the offer of a used cooktop which may or may not have a long life ahead.
  3. Look for a Scratch and Dent sale and pick up a new cooktop at a reasonable price.
  4. Buy a new one and look for a good price.

For the moment we will use option a. Today I went to a Harvey Norman Scratch and Dent outlet and found the cheapest price was over $300 so option b is not going to happen. For option d we were told that Aldi had a cooktop on sale for $229 and recently dropped the price to $199. We called at a local Aldi but found they had sold out two weeks ago but called another store at Oxenford who reportedly had a dozen in the storeroom. I drove all the way to Oxenford and asked a helpful looking man. No idea about spare cooktops. Yes they have two gas cooktops but sold out of the ceramic style about two weeks ago. Hmmm! Sounds familiar. The store manager got involved and found a ceramic cooktop at another store west of Brisbane. They offered to have it shipped to a store near us and will call when it arrives. In the meantime we will run with option a. I read an on-line review of the product. They range from mostly glowing reports to a few who had cooktops fail after a few months. The cooktop comes with a three year warranty and past experience with Aldi is they usually honour the warranty with an instant replacement, no questions asked.

I should mention our toaster which cost about $20 in 2010 and which has travelled on the road with us ever since blew the power safety switch late last week. We bought a new toaster on Tuesday for $50 and Aldi had a new fancy toaster on sale for $42 on  Wednesday.

Saturday 4th August. I woke at 5am not feeling the best. Last night I had an upset stomach, a headache, my legs shaking and aching, diahorrea paid a visit and I had an indigestion pain which would not go away. On waking I still had those symptoms. So in the dark I dressed and went for walk. Arriving home at 6am I felt incredibly tired and sat in the recliner chair and umm err, reclined. I woke at 7.45 am and if not feeling 100% felt much better and the indigestion pain was gone.

In the afternoon we both felt a walk in the sunshine and along the beach or waterside was in order. So, for something different we parked the car at what is known as The Moondarewa Spit and walked the pathway along to the Gold Coast Spit and Seaway.

The Emergency Access Stairs in use. (Photo courtesy of Gold Coast Waterways Authority.)
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The dive entry/exit platforms are used by divers and snorkellers. A scuba diver drowned in this area a few years ago trying to climb out of the water onto slippery rocks Council has spent a truckload of money imp[roving the parklands around The Spit. Improvements include two sets of what are called Emergency Access Stairs. They are much used and are a testimony to something good coming out of something bad.
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It seems the local Fire Brigade organise free trips on the fire truck and information sessions where kids and adults can wear fire clothing and have a ride around the block with sirens sounding and lights flashing. You can also hire the truck for special events. I guess they need to cover the costs of running the vehicle and gives the firefighters something to do between fighting fires.

It seems half the population of the Gold Coast was there with the same idea as us.

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The Gold Coast has these wonderful para sailing adventures being towed behind a boat. The safety line is so long the riders were well out over the parkland before the boat wound them in.
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Almost wound in.

After returning to the car it was shoes off and a walk along the beach watching all the watercraft coming and going. While at The Spit we stopped to look at the menu of Seaway Kiosk.   We were quite surprised to see Flathead fillets, crumbed or battered with chips for $12 or Cod for the same price. Hmmm! I need to find out where the Cod comes from. I would rather pay that price for real Australian fish than the imported Basa junk for $9.

Of course while walking the pathway we passed a number of people sitting at bench tables and seats and eating their fish and chips. The smell was driving us crazy.

Last week we somehow got onto the subject of meat pies. Somehow this week we have Fish and Chips for discussion.

Near our home we have Charis Seafoods on the Broadwater at Labrador which sells mainly Australian wild caught seafood and they do a mighty fine fish and chips but you have to specify which fish.    $9 gets you Basa while $12 and up gets you Australian fish. This is a popular place which every day at 1 pm the staff feed the Pelicans (and seagulls) the remains of fish from the shop. Busloads of tourists show up for this event. Looking at the faces of the children as well as the adults shows they enjoy the spectacle. The downside of buying from Charis is if you do not choose your time wisely you end up waiting in a long queue before ordering then waiting with a huge press of bodies all anticipating their fish and chips.

Donnis and I have an aversion to the importation of cheap frozen bottom dwelling and feeding catfish which is farmed in the murky waters of the Mekong and other polluted waterways of Vietnam and other south East Asian countries.

We have a lesser aversion to local farmed fish and acknowledge that if we are going feed people fish, much of it will have to be farmed…under proper conditions. In the meantime we prefer wild caught fish.

Even closer to home is Harbour Seafood Market which is similar to Charis except they do not have nice views over the Broadwater.

They also serve Basa for $9 but will do Barramundi for $12 and Red Emperor for $15. I find it annoying that these local seafood outlets serve good quality fish but in order to win customers, even those who apparently have no taste buds, they offer up the cheap pre- packaged, pre- cooked, pre-frozen, risky import – Basa.

For our friends in the UK, Canada and the USA be aware that cheap Basa is available in many seafood places and the first clue is that it is CHEAP. It is also available through supermarkets especially Walmart and Costco and is sold as pre- frozen pre-cooked fillets under a variety of names but somewhere on the packaging the name Basa will appear. It frequently appears as fancy fare on cruise liners, cross country trains and towns a long way from the coast.

Hmmm! In Australia the fillets are available in 1 Kg packs of 7 fillets for $7.60 or about $1.10 per fillet. 1.4 Kg of Basa fillets for $9.97 CAN. OK lets see. An average of 10 fillets per pack that works out to be slightly less than $1 per fillet. No wonder seafood retailers, who can buy at wholesale prices can sell fish and chips for $9 and still make a profit.

Virtually outside our back door is Burger Bros a New Zealand franchise which offers a huge fish burger with chips and an extra fillet of fish…NZ Hoki – which is much better than Basa – for $13.It is not unusual to see other residents of our village at Burger Bros, some even go in groups once a month and sneak in a bottle of wine. The only fish served is Hoki and it is battered. No other choice. Kiwis are our neighbours so Hoki is acceptable.   It is Wild Caught.    Of course I would prefer Australian wild caught such as Barramundi, Red Emperor or even more local fish such as Bream, Flathead or Mullet

One more stand out fish and chips is both the restaurant and the take away of Doyles Seafood at Watsons Bay in Sydney.   Travelling to Watsons Bay by ferry from Circular Quay is half the fun. They have a great selection of mainly Sydney seafood but waiting in line in the summer sun is no fun. They really need to install some shade at the take away counter. Apart from that they have good fish and chips. Well worth the effort of going there when next you are in Sydney. Besides, the views across Sydney Harbour comes free. For an extra special treat you can always dine at the restaurant option.

While I am on the subject I must mention the good fish and chips AND seafood chowder we experienced in Canada. We had good fresh local wild caught fish and chips in Vancouver BC. Special mention is made of Daves Fish and Chips at Steveston Harbour and Tony’s Fish and Oyster Bar on Granville Island. Also we tasted wonderful fare in various fishing villages on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Mostly the fish on offer is Cod or Haddock but it is FRESH, it is LOCAL and it is WILD CAUGHT. Alecia had much to do with the choice of seafood places for us to eat at. I still salivate over the seafood chowder I ate at the Sou’ West Bar and Grill which is located at New London a small fishing village on Prince Edward Island.

Sunday 5th August

No fish and chips for us today although I had planned something along those lines before we left home. Somehow life seems to get in the way of plans.

We went to watch grandson Chris play Rugby League…again. Chris scored three tries today and his team won 32/16. Chris actually scored half the tries for his team.

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When he gets wound up very few can lay a hand on him.

Chris is a talented player although he is too young to understand or appreciate where his talent can take him.

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Scoring under the black dot.

It seems talent scouts for the major clubs are everywhere these days and offering training programs for young talent.

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Sorry this is out of focus. Once Chris gets the ball in his hand it is only a matter of moments before he is over the tryline and I have to get him in the viewfinder, zoom in or out and try to focus on a moving target.

We know that Chris has already been sighted and offered some training which he has attended…without enthusiasm…at this stage.

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Sometimes the opposing team do get a hand on him but he drags them along anyway.

Afterwards we went back to Regelyn’s home for coffee and cake. A friend of a friend works at a place where they make restaurant quality cakes. Any rejects often end up at her house. We had what was called a Jaffa Cheesecake with our coffee. By the time we left an afternoon had disappeared and we never did get a fish and chips lunch.