Tag: Cyclone Ului

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. https://www.facebook.com/Bee-casia-Honey-145037879555168/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 9th September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Sandi and Dave for looking after us.

546. Sunday 2nd April 2017. Tropical Cyclone Debbie cuts a huge swathe of destruction over two states…

Monday 27th March

Tropical Cyclone Debbie, located off the coast near Townsville is increasing in size and moving slowly towards the coast. The Bureau of Meteorology predicts it will make landfall around Ayr, give or take a few Klms somewhere around 7am tomorrow morning. That predicted crossing of the coast would coincide with a King Tide. If that were to happen there may be a massive tidal surge of around an additional three metres.  I, on the other hand had this gut feeling landfall would be between Bowen and Airlie Beach, more likely Airlie Beach as happened in 2010 and 2014.

In 2010 Airlie suffered a direct hit and a tree crashed into our bedroom roof

tree on roof
We were asleep while Tropical Cyclone Ului, Category three was raging outside. It was mid February 2010. Around midnight we were awoken by a falling tree over our bedroom roof. Just in case we moved a mattress and cushions into the bathroom in case the roof came off in the winds. Somehow we managed to get back to a troubled fitful sleep.

and another punched a hole through the garage roof.

tree on garage
Naturally we heard the noise of the tree on our bedrtoom roof but were oblivious to this heavy tree branch which punched a hole through the garage roof.

Sixty four boats were washed up on the rocks in Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour.

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Cyclone Ului 2010 twisted the arm of this crane used in the construction of a new marina and resort complex at Airlie Beach.
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Cyclone Ului 2010. The catamaran Jade was a popular bareboat based out of Airlie Beach. It was a total loss.
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Cyclone Ului 2010. This well known and popular backpacker charter boat was washed up on the rocks near the yacht club. The conditions were too savage to begin and salvage works and over the next few days was ground into a splintered total loss.
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Cyclone Ului 2010. The debris scattered along this beach at Airlie Beach had been washed out of two live aboard boats moored off the Sailing Club.

In 2014 I was living in our motorhome at Airlie Beach waiting for our tenants to move out. There was no damage to our house and the caravan park, despite large trees all around me was a safe place…for me. Around 70 boats were washed onto rocks, beaches and mangroves. Both cyclones were rather fast moving and level two…winds to 160 Kph when they crossed. Debbie was a slow moving system and was a level four…winds to 270 Kph…when it crossed the coast. The width of the cyclone would have swallowed the entire British Isles and perhaps even Iceland as well.

By tonight the cyclone started slowly tracking south and Bowen was the predicted impact point. I still felt Airlie Beach would be the impact zone. By bedtime heavy rains were falling and winds were screeching and throwing debris around. Of course we saw all this on the news reports from the comfort of our lounge room on the Gold Coast 1,000 Klms away!

Tuesday 28th March

Up early to watch the special news coverage. TV networks had reporters in Townsville, Ayr, Bowen, Airlie Beach and Mackay. They had all bases covered. Reporters were to report on what they could see from wherever they were accommodated but not to go away from the safety offered by a building. Good thing they did. Even filming from a balcony in Airlie Beach the reporter could barely stand in the wind and were drenched by driving rain. By now all power was out in Bowen, Airlie and Mackay. As the morning progressed it was clear Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour would cop a direct hit but places like Proserpine, Collinsville, Bowen, Mackay, Mirani and many other small towns would cop the whip from the tail of TC Debbie. We managed to call our neighbour in Airlie Beach who had no power but was charging his phone in the car. The cyclone was still raging but so far, all OK. The cyclone eye would soon pass and then the winds would change direction and intensity. As it turned out, after the eye passed, the wind changed direction and unbelievably was stronger and rain heavier and lasted far longer. Even after TC Debbie had crossed the coast and moved inland the wind and rain continued all night.

The fabulous resort islands of Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream were impacted with buildings unroofed, windows blown in, water seeping through open roofs and marina damage and beach erosion adding to the confusion. Guests who elected or had no choice but to stay now began demanding refunds or a better room and free meals and unbelievably, removal from the islands.  Damage to marina especially in the case of Daydream where the entire jetty system was destroyed meant that after the seas abated nobody could be removed by sea from the island.

Meanwhile the Shute Harbour Ferry terminal and jetties were also totally destroyed.

The main Airlie Beach Marina at Abel Point had the main passenger pontoon and gangways totally destroyed. Boats simply cannot leave Airlie Beach to service the Islands and the islands have no landing facilities anyway.

The Hamilton Island Airport was closed and the control tower and radar installation were damaged.

What is in store for tomorrow?

Wednesday 29th March

Unbelievably and unpredictably, the wind and rain continued along the coast. TC Debbie moved inland as a Category two and not yet downgraded to a Tropical Low. Inland towns such as Collinsville and Proserpine also copped a hammering, lost houses, power, and roads were cut and flooding began. Further south but west of Mackay in towns along the Pioneer Valley were also drenched and flooded and houses unroofed. The main western road to Nebo, Moranbah and the mining towns were cut off when the Eton Range road was washed away in several places. Still further south at Sarina and the alternate main road to Nebo and the mining towns, The Sarina Range Road was also washed away in several places.

Power was cut in most towns with fallen power lines and flooded or washed away roads or trees fallen over the road simply added to the mammoth destruction still occurring.

As ex TC Debbie started to move south wind and rains lashed Queensland from the coast to the Great Dividing Range. Flooding was occurring in places far removed from the original impact zone at Airlie Beach.

Thursday 30th March

Ex Tc Debbie continued its southward push dumping huge volumes of rain and still punching out winds of over 100 Kph. Rainfall of 700mm to 1,000 mm in 24 hours was being recorded. Flooding occurred all along the south east Queensland area from Gympie to Brisbane to the Gold Coast and across the Tweed River into NSW where Lismore was in flood as were many smaller towns. The rain continued all along the east coast of NSW as far south as Sydney and Wollongong.

Here on the Gold Coast 30 roads were closed due to flooding and or bridges being washed away. In places roads were washed away. Most of the hinterland was isolated due to flooding and or road closures.

The State Government declared a state of Emergency and closed all schools from Ayr to the NSW Qld border. They also asked that all non -essential businesses to close for two days. This had the effect of keeping huge volumes of traffic off the roads (except for some people doing stupid things like getting caught in floodwaters or simply clogging up roads with their rubber necking) and allowing essential services to move around more easily.

To date there has been no deaths due to TC Debbie and ex TC Debbie. Our emergency procedures worked as they were planned. Thanks to all essential services such as Police, Ambulance, Ergon Energy, SES and from today, the Armed Forces.

I’m guessing not many new born daughters will be called Debbie in the next few years.

Here at our home enormous volumes of water were dumped on us but the Biggera Creek coped with the volume and never looked like breaking its banks.

Here, life went on as normal.

Friday 30th March

Life goes on but for those people affected by the cyclone and the aftermath and all the rain and flooding and power failures and road closures we can only sympathise and hope for a speedy recovery.

Saturday 1st April.

Virgin Airlines announces it will be using specially trained friendly dogs on its flights.

That would appeal to about 50% of passengers.

Today is April Fool’s Day.

Sunday 2nd April

Overcast, windy and cool.

Cool? Yep only 27° today!

Actually it was cold last night. We have been sleeping with only a sheet or even no sheet, during summer. Now that autumn has arrived we needed the equivalent of two sheets on the bed last night. I am reliably informed the temperature dropped as low as 19° last night. Hehehehe!

In the southern districts of Brisbane around the Logan and Albert Rivers, floodwaters are continuing to rise. Tales of losses are a major feature of the news every night. Every few hours a new flooding emergency arises. Towns such as Beenleigh and Eagleby are popular with small acreages and lots of small farms with horse or cattle. Today they are in flood. The mud army which cleaned up after the Brisbane floods of 2011 are at it again.

Rockhampton in the Capricornia District of Qld, dodged a bullet when TC Debbie and ex TC Debbie raged around it but did not dump wind or rain on the town. The cyclone did dump huge amounts of rain inland in the tributaries which feed into the Fitzroy River. Now almost a week since TC Debbie fist started its path of destruction, Rockhampton, on the Fitzroy River is now bracing for major flooding sometime tomorrow.