I had intended to post this to the internet on Sunday night. Regrettably download/upload speed and internet were unstable. I suppose with a full motel and lots of people wanting internet I should have expected it to be slow. As well I was tired from the long drive and went to bed early. So, here it is, New Years Day and I am just finding time and inclination to finish what I started.
Today I drove 70 Klms to Finch Hatton in the Pioneer Valley which lies under the brow of the Eungella Range. Along the way I stopped at Mirani beneath the road bridge and the sugar cane railway bridge where they span the deep chasm over the Pioneer River.
Locals and council have worked together to convert a popular rough swimming spot into an even more popular better organised family picnic and swimming and canoeing spot. It is called, affectionately, Platypus Beach.
I went to visit my daughter Melissa, horse stud and training facility. She and hubby Steve prepared a picnic lunch and drove us up the Eungella Mountain Range to picnic spot called Sky Window. This place is normally part of a lush rainforest National Park. Recently a bushfire which started in Finch Hatton and quickly got out of control raced up the escarpment along lots of deep and steep hidden ravines. The forest floor was littered with 70 years of accumulated fire fuel. It had been 70 years since a fire came through here. Residents of Eungella and Finch Hatton and small villages between were evacuated. My daughter managed to evacuate her 10 horses 3 dogs and other farm animals until the fire was brought under control. The fire jumped the only road into and out of Eungella. Many people had to be air lifted out. The Eungella Chalet which has sat at the top of the pass for 85 years was expected to be destroyed by the fire which was out of control.
Aircraft Foam Bombed the leading edge of the fire on the perimeter of the chalet.
On the one hand it was a wonderful effort by all involved to save the Chalet. On the other hand it is tired, crumbling, dirty and badly in need of repairs, maintenance, a big overhaul and a general tidy up of all the rubbish and bits and pieces stored there over the years. As it was built on the top of an escarpment known for land slippage, it is easy to see the cracks in the foundations. Eungella receives a very high average rainfall and now the fire has destroyed much of the plants holding the steep hillsides intact, a good solid heavy rainfall this season may bring some unexpected slippage. We could see where the fire was stopped literally metres from the chalet.
In other places within the National Park we could see where the fire jumped the road and continued the devastation. In other places with park tracks only a metre wide and the canopy of tree crowns were touching, the fire stopped at the pathway.
The possibility for disaster was enormous but somehow most properties survived with little or no damage. Many houses and sheds were destroyed without human life or cattle losses.
It was a great opportunity to spend time with Melissa and hear of her personal account of the fire. Soon it was time to go as she and Steve have a training session with horses every afternoon. It was back on the road for me and another 70 Klms return to Sandi’s house.
Friday 28th December
Today grandson Anakin was spending a few hours training at the Wake Board Park.
I joined daughter Averyl, granddaughter Shelby and him at the water park and watched him show off.
I may have gone overboard on photos but he needs some to supply to his clothing sponsor.
Aferwards, Averyl, Shelby and I went to The Lighthouse at Mackay Marina for fish and chips. Today I had my favourite, Red Throat Emperor. I could have done with more fish and less chips.
Saturday 29th December
I woke this morning with realisation I have made an error in my travel plans. For some reason I thought Sunday was 29th December and by leaving Sunday to drive back to the Gold Coast I would arrive on 30th and have a whole day of relaxation before a New Years Eve party.
Gulp! Today is the 29th. I will arrive home on 31st December sometime in the evening. No relaxation.
I also woke with realisation that sitting beside the water wind the wind blowing, although I was sitting in the shade, the sun reflects off the water. I woke with a huge facial sunburn. I expect over the next few days the burn will start to flake off my face.
I visited my daughter Averyl and grandson Anakin after lunch and told them I would be leaving in the morning.
Back at Sandi’s house she cooked up a wonderful baked Barramundi for dinner. Wonderful. If there is one fish better than Barra it is the Red Emperor I had yesterday.
Rain has come and gone in squalls all day and tomorrow promises to be fine to begin my road trip.
Sunday 30th December
I was on my way by 7.45am. About an hour down the highway the sunny skies turned dark. Very dark. I took off my sunglasses and then the rain began. Slow then hard and constant for about 30 minutes. Perhaps the heavy rain will splash up under the car and find any bits of salt I may have missed when I twice washed the car this week. See post 656 for details.
After the rain came the sun. Thank goodness I always use the air con.
I stopped in Rockhampton for lunch, then a fuel top up at Mt Larcom and I arrived at Bororen Hotel at 2pm. It was a good trip although the usual boring section between Sarina and Rockhampton lived up to its name. It is always good to get that part of the journey behind you.
I have a comfortable room here at the Bororen Hotel. On arrival they asked if I had a reservation. Ummm NO! Do I need one? Yes you do for the next 6 weeks. School holidays and lots of travellers. That said, I managed to get the last available room.
Dinner saw the dining room crowded with mostly families. There were locals on a Saturday night out and a few travellers who stopped for dinner. Another guest I spoke with said she had been there for a week as part of her regular trip to the area. She has researched accommodation and found this is the best deal anywhere. Other guests also mentioned they had been here 10 days and use it as a base to travel to the coast around Gladstone an d a myriad of beaches, rivers lake etc to satisfy their fishing activities. I can see why you need a reservation.
I had the local delicacy, Whiting fillets, crumbed and deep fried. Nice but I could have had more fillets and less chips. Hmmm! I think I already said that about another fish and chips meal this week. I am grateful this week has mostly been seafood and none of it was the dreaded imported, bottle dwelling a feeding catfish, BASA. Beware Basa and always ask what fish is being served to you. If the fish and chips you are going to buy seems cheap, it probably is and probably is Basa. Say no to Basa.
There endeth the sermon.