Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200008 Australia-Qld

Tuesday 1 August 2000  A cloudy morning so it suits us when Linda asks us to take the mini bus to pick someone up. The gearbox is terrible and we are full of kangaroo petrol which cracks up Tracey & Tony who have joined us.  Walk round Airlie Beach then drive on to Shute Harbour.  Pick up John who is the latest Woof’s (worker on organic farms) for Taylorwood,  in exchange for about 4 hours work a day they get food and accommodation.  A brighter afternoon and we play lots of Canasta with Olly & John.  I get a big shock when helping wash up at the clubhouse.  I am just about to move the bright green ceramic scouring pad holder when Olly points out that it is a green tree frog and very much alive.  I do my own frog impression jumping out of the way whilst John comes and removes it.  Can’t believe how perfect it looked or how close I came to giving it a wipe over.
Wednesday 2 August  Mainly cloudy day then rain late afternoon.  It’s curry night and I have been asked to take a sausage curry. The food is shared by everyone and includes Thai prawn curry, chicken curry, sweet beef curry, lamb curry and lots of pickles and side dishes.  We are sat with Brownie and Ell, Tony & Tracey and John & Olly.  Brownie introduces us to a disgusting game – if you "break wind" you put your hand over the table doing a thumbs down signal.  Everyone then does the same but the last to do it has to breathe in very deeply!  Bet I know a few who will be playing it in the future.  We have some good laughs with lot of toilet talk brought on by the effects of the curries.  A great evening.
Thursday 3 August    It’s "poms away" at lunchtime and everyone comes out to wave us off.  Just down the coast Laguna Quays is a very posh resort with one of the top golf courses in Australia.  It’s still being developed but already looks highly salubrious.  We met Trevor at Taylorwood but he lives here at the marina whilst doing up his yacht "Inoke".  He meets us on the car park and as an ex truckie he is successful in finally tracking down our noise problem to a bad weld under the bonnet which is temporarily cured with lots of WD40 and not doing any permanent damage.  Stroll around admiring the surroundings then join Trevor in the yacht club to eat, drink and chat to some of the other "yachties".
Friday 4 August  An early start for our visit into Pioneer Valley and up in Eungella National Park where platypus are frequently seen.  Pause in Mirani at the shire offices to re check the road conditions.  We are advised against going into Finch Hatton gorge as we would ground on the recently eroded creek beds but he says we will make it up the mountain to Eungella.  Lunch at Pinnacle Hotel on the famous Wendy’s homemade pies $3.50 (1.40), a bit expensive but big and with crispy pastry packed full of delicious meat, peas, carrots, sweetcorn and potatoes.  Re check with locals on our ability to proceed and are assured that coaches and milk tankers go up and down the hill and with a 6.2 litre engine we will be fine.  Start the climb but by the second bend the temperature gauge is up into the red. Read the manual and turn on the heater to compensate pushing our faces also up into the red.  We are both concerned and pull over to assess the situation but the brakes won’t hold us.  We carefully do a 3 point turn and head downhill at which point the temperature gauge promptly falls back to normal.  We feel Mike has overloaded the bus when he added wood, mirrors and marble type worktops and although he off set this by adding a turbo to the engine it is still straining.  Frustrating for us as it has been a big and expensive detour (we only get 12 miles per gallon/ 4 kilometres a litre) for nothing.  No success finding a tour from Finch Hatton, just people telling us what a great spot we are missing, more reason for us to visit in the future in a different vehicle.  Continue south and back to the nice free camping spot by Calliope River.  Leanne & Sheldon are away for the weekend but Gary calls in late afternoon to say he will be back with some hot food.  He returns after dark with a tray full of ribs in sauce, a big pizza and a bottle of wine.  Plough through the food with the addition of a few beers.
Sunday 6 August  Gary takes us for a tour around the Gladstone area dominated by industrial sites including the largest alumina plant in Australia.  After lunch at the yacht club we stroll over to the park where they are holding the multi-cultural festival.  It’s strange to see Greek dancing and hear Indonesian music in Australia.  Return to camp late afternoon.
Monday 7 August   It’s a terrible road into Agnes Water made even worse by road works.  Turn off to visit fellow naturists John & Joan who invite people to stay on their property.  Since buying the block 5 years ago they have moved from the original caravan into a nice 2 bedroom bungalow and developed a tea tree plantation. 
Tuesday 8 August   John has offered his car for our drive into the town of 1770 named after Captain Cooks first Queensland landing here in May of that year. It’s $125 (50.00) for the full day trip to Lady Musgrave Island and Coral Lagoon on the Outer Barrier Reef.  At 7.45 we are on a Largo (amphibious duck) for our journey at low tide out to the "Spirit of 1770" catamaran.  Heading out over the sand bar and into open sea things get bumpy.  It’s a glorious hot sunny day but there’s a strong swell and we are going directly into it.  The first casualty grabs a sick bucket and as he fills it his wife leans over for a replacement, loses her balance and falls onto the deck.  Her husband reaches to grab her and empties the contents of his bucket over her – yuk.  She just about manages to crawl back to her seat when a big bump causes the process to be repeated.  It’s too rough for anyone to want to offer help and risk ending up in the same boat!  Crew take him below and try to clean him up and which point she starts being sick and misses the bucket.  We reach the island after almost 2 hours instead of the normal 1 1/2 with 3 spewers on our deck and more below.  We had no problem as the boat bumped rather than swayed and we spent our time concentrating on keeping away from the slopping buckets around us.  Lady Musgrave is a beautiful natural coral cay surrounded by a coral reef through which the Japanese blasted an entry channel.  In the lagoon the water is deep, crystal clear and the most incredible colour.  Anchor up then after morning tea you snorkel ashore or take the glass bottom boat.  I am undecided until sight of very long thin fish (long tom) makes my choice easy.  Steve sets off snorkelling and I enjoy seeing the coral gardens, reef fish and turtles from the boat.  Steve missed the turtles but saw manta rays.  It takes less than 45 minutes to walk the sandy and coral shale beaches which circle the pristine uninhabited island then a few minutes to cut across it listening to the many bird calls.  Back to the boat with the first group for a tropical buffet lunch.  Having plucked up my courage we are both togged up to go out on the glass bottom boat to a snorkelling circuit.  For 45 minutes we swim along a natural coral wall following 5 marker buoys which each indicate different things.  Water temperature varies from pleasantly warm to quite chilly . Swim around bommies looking into crevices and caves each with different varieties of fish and coral.  Less colourful than other places we have visited but still fantastic.  A brilliant experience and more exciting than looking through the glass bottom boat.   Back for afternoon tea and fish feeding whilst the second group follow in our footsteps.  Spot some humpback whales out beyond the reef and also dolphins.  Move outside the reef for fishing with someone catching a coral trout very quickly.  A long tom is hooked and landed on deck but it jumps up and with razor sharp teeth bites the next lady.  Not a good day for her as she is one of the people to be sick on the way out.  No other legal catches and with time against us the 1 1/2 hour fishing session is cut to 1/2 hour for us to head back.  A very smooth and quicker journey back taking in the lovely pink sky as sun sets.  Take a very quick drive to explore the twin towns of 1770 and Agnes Water the most northern surf beach on this coast.  Just starting to be developed there is little to see before we return exhilarated but exhausted.
Wednesday 9 August  A relaxing day with time spent chatting to New Zealanders Stan & Dauphne who roll up in their motorhome.  We all congregate at the house for happy hour with John trying to use up his home brewed beer as he needs the bottles for the next batch. Steve attacks the problem with gusto.
Thursday 10 August  An early start has us back on Bargara Beach Caravan Park by mid morning.  We chose an unpowered site $14 (5.60) night or $77 (31.00) week in a grassy area with a few trees as all the powered ones are close together and like soldiers in rows. We’re back to catch up with friends Gerry & Anne again and also to organise some tyres being sent up from Sydney as ours are not going to get us back.  Lots to catch up on as Gerry & Anne now have a new caravan.  Cook for us in our van in the evening.
Friday 11 August  A super morning and by 9.30am we are stretched out on Mon Repos beach – bliss.  Tear ourselves away at lunch time as Gerry has booked the Internet at the library for me to teach them how to use hotmail.  Do some shopping before returning.  Feast together at Anne’s on the bargain pies we picked up at 6 for $5 (2.00) and a $3 (1.20) portion of chips – boy we do know how to live it up!
Saturday 12 August  A hot and breezy morning on the beach.  Tea at Gerry & Anne’s.
Sunday 13 August  Intermittent clouds so we hover by the van and do jobs between sunbathing.  Paul, Karen and Emily call to visit and we invite them to join us for a BBQ tomorrow.  Take a walk up to town late afternoon.
Monday 14 August  Morning on the beach with Gerry & Anne and Paul & Karen.  Anne’s struggling with flu and retires to the van whilst we have the BBQ which also includes Vin and Karen’s Mum Gloria.  Gerry stays on to play games and I surprise myself in Scrabble by scoring 192 from one word.  I play "silvered" and cover both triple word squares and get 50 bonus points for using all my letters. Needless to say I go on to win the game!
Tuesday 15 August  Gerry & Anne take us out to nearby Coonarr Beach which is a lovely long lonely bay with fine white sand.  Anne retires when we return but Gerry joins us for a meal and we enjoy watching "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" an Australian film about 3 drag queens driving a purple bus from Sydney to Alice Springs.
Wednesday 16 August  Anne’s still unwell so just Gerry joins us when we take the van into Bundaberg to get the new tyres fitted then the wheels aligned.  Back to "Across The Waves" for the $4.40 (1.80) buffet then some shopping before returning.
Thursday 17 August  Early start to call back to the tyre place as they forgot to balance them yesterday.  Back into Childers to check out the old pharmacy.  Can’t seem to make Australians understand that old things here are not old or not interesting to us having seen similar elsewhere.  Near Hervey Bay we catch some sun on Toogoom Beach before hitting the town.  It’s really 5 small seaside towns, now merged and the main attraction is whale watching trips and visits to Fraser Island.  Collect our information before driving to nearby Nikenbah to visit friends of friends Noel & Lindy from New Zealand.  We are made most welcome and they put on a BBQ for us during which they guide us on the many whale watching trips.  Phone and book one on Princess 11 at $65 (26.00) leaving at 7.30am and returning when everyone is satisfied.  Noel is going to the Olympics alone so we compare notes and find our events are all on different dates but with gaps in between when we plan to meet up.
Friday 18 August  I wake up full of cold with my nose streaming – thanks Anne.  At 7.00am Noel drives us to the marina where Captain David welcomes us aboard his 32 passenger small boat.  Chug steadily out to sea being overtaken by a few big catamarans.  However unlike the fast catamarans this smaller boat gives a full day with the whales and unrestricted viewing.  Rachel serves morning tea of Aussie damper and golden syrup just before our first sighting.  These humpback whales can grow to 15m long and weigh 40 tonnes.  Being blackish with white underneath they are easy to spot.  Excitement mounts as we draw closer but there are other boats around and after a brief look David spots more whales elsewhere and points us in that direction.  There are many regulations on approaching whales and having cut our engines nearby it is quite acceptable for the whales to swim to us.  One does and almost nudges the bow as it passes by.  It’s a wonder the boat doesn’t tip up as we all move from one side to the other to spot the whale who seems to be playing games with us. It rolls around in the water doing pectoral slaps, tail slaps and blows.  As the activity lessens we set off in chase of a pod.  Plenty of dolphins are around and we stand on the bow whilst one rides the bow wave underneath us, magical.  It’s not a particularly rough sea but some of the Italians are starting to be sick.  Spot a few pods and by the time we reach them they are all close together.  We get the full range of behaviour patterns including one breaching directly in front of us.  This is when the whale propels most of it’s body from the water and jumps and twists doing a Fosbury Flip to crash spectacularly onto the water.  Another rises out of the water with it’s eyes clear and this is called a spy hop.  There is so much activity going on we can’t believe our luck as the whales seem to take great delight in performing for us.  The Italians are pleading to go back and although we are entranced by the whales the consensus is that we have had good sightings and will turn back. In calmer waters BBQ lunch of rib fillet, sausage, salad and pasta is served to us excluding the Italians!  Tracking the coast of Fraser Island we spot a turtle in the water and more dolphins.  The day is rounded off with afternoon tea and carrot cake.  Arrive back at the marina at 4.15pm to be met by Noel.  The Tavern is an American ranch style steak house where we go for a meal joined by Lindy’s brother Rod and wife Liz who are over from England.  The food is excellent and plentiful and we quiz Rod & Liz over what they have been doing.  Fraser Island 2 day safari was one of their highlights. Reckon is my cold if no worse and the weather good we may go ourselves tomorrow.
Saturday 19 August  I survive the night and it’s a fine morning.  Phone and book the trip at $165 (66.00) each plus $12.00 (4.80) for a double room rather than a quad.  Again Noel takes us to the marina for our 9.30am departure.  Bronco is our guide and herds us onto a coach to take us to the barge at River Heads.  The crossing takes about 1/2 hour then we board a 4wd coach for our safari exploring a little of the worlds largest sand island now a world heritage site.  It feels like another world as we set out along sandy tracks through the rain forest.  Bronco informs us we never get bogged or stuck but possibly motionally challenged which could lead to us becoming geographically permanent!  First stop Central Station where logs used to be collected.  It’s an hour’s hike through Pile Valley along the banks of Wanggoolba Creek.  At first sight the creek appears to have scum floating on it but closer inspection reveals a crystal clear stream with a sandy bottom.  Continue by coach to Eurong Beach Resort where we are shown to our motel units.  Ours is huge with a bathroom, kitchen, settee, twin beds and balcony.  The resort is excellent with 2 pools, tennis courts, 2 bars, TV lounge, shops and restaurant all right on the beach.  After a buffet lunch it’s onto the safari vehicle heading North up the east coast 75 mile surf beach gazetted as a road.  The Cathedrals are towering cliffs of coloured sands hewn by wind into spires and turrets which look great.  The beach also becomes a temporary air strip as a plane lands to offer 15 minute sightseeing flights for $45 (18.00).  Back down the beach the Maheno ship was beached more than 60 years ago but is still visible as an enormous shipwreck.  Next stop Eli Creek where the water flows so fast it will carry you from upstream in the forest right out to the beach.  I’m still full of cold but Steve braves the cool water to enjoy the experience.  Bronco has to use many of his skills negotiating the bus back over rocks and through fast flowing creeks in time for us to freshen up before the evening meal. After our 3 course meal we relax in the TV lounge for coffee before strolling down to the beach bar for a drink and a short spell watching the karaoke.  Having confirmed that karaoke has died a death I head back to bed to leave Steve watching the football.
Sunday 20 August  I’m much better and ready for action.  Following buffet breakfast it’s back up the beach to be dropped off for a good half hours walk through forest and over dunes to Lake Wabby.  It’s a barrage lake which was created when sand was blown upstream to dam the flow and we have time to sunbathe and swim.  Back for lunch then out to Lake McKenzie judged to have one of  the world’s best 10 beaches (we must have seen at least 12 of them!).  
The water is again crystal clear and varying shades of blue edged by lovely fine soft white sand.  Have to keep an eye on our stuff whilst we are in the water as signs and our guide warn of Dingoes which steal things but we don’t spot any.  Time to wind our way back through the forest to the ferry having decided that we would like to spend at least a week on Fraser Island in the future but with our own 4WD to explore further.  It’s a very special place and we can relate to Broncos comment that we are about to board the ferry back to Australia.  Noel is waiting for us when the ferry docks and I invite him and Lindy to join us for a meal in the van.
Monday 21 August  Down to Noosa where we check out the apartment where Stronach & Judy whom we met in New Zealand are staying.  The parking is poor so we drive to Parkedge Road to walk through the national park for 2.3km to Alexandria Beach.  We soon spot Stronach & Judy sunning themselves and in no time are stripped off to join them.  Reluctantly leave mid afternoon and Stronach drives us around in the car to find a suitable spot for us to stay overnight.  The Bicentennial Club has a good car park hidden from view so we return and re locate the van.  Stronach & Judy return and after drinks and nibbles we go to the yacht club for a meal and this time Steve gets the hock as previously the person in front of him got the last one.  At $8.50 (3.40) he is impressed with how big and tasty it is.
Tuesday 22 August  Another nice day so back to Parkedge Road where we check out an alternative walk to the beach giving fine views over the bays.  Judy also takes me for a climb at the end of the beach to view all the way down the Sunshine Coast.  Return for a shower at Stronach & Judy’s large impressive apartment with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, big enough for a family and a steal at $50 (20.00) a night.  Following afternoon tea it’s off down the coast to Alexandra Headland to check out where we are visiting Ric & Chris tomorrow.  Continue to Mooloolaba to Ken & Kay’s but find we have crossed paths as they have gone north for a few days which is why they didn’t answer our phone messages.  It’s getting late so we park in the same place as last time by the canal.
Wednesday 23 August  Ric works nights as a Doctor at Noosa hospital so with time to kill we drive to the Sunshine Plaza for shopping and a browse.   I buy a pair of zip off trousers $29.99 (12.00) with zips both below and above the knee to create 3 different items. The bottoms of the long trousers and peddle pushers have optional elasticated drawstrings so once you have unzipped them they can then be joined together to make a bag – brilliant.  Chris has invited us for lunch and we arrive late morning to catch up with happenings since we saw them on the cruise last year when Ric was the Doctor.  As fellow travellers they appreciate our needs and we are offered use of the washing machine, computer and phone.  Spend time calling about an Airtours flight we have seen from Sydney to Manchester offered at $799 (320.00) return or $419 (168.00) one way in November but it takes 24 hours to confirm availability. The weather deteriorates to heavy rain with thunder and lightening.  Play cards with Chris after Ric has gone to work and fortunately the rain stops before we retire to bed as the noise is amplified on the motorhome roof.
Thursday 24 August  Stop on the Bruce Highway to visit Aussie World site of the quirky wonky Ettamogah Pub which fronts an old aussie fairground offering fair dinkum fun. Stroll round having a chuckle at some of the funny signs almost all of which end in the word "mate".  Stop further on to buy some incredibly cheap fruit and veg including apples 69c (28p) kilo, 3 pineapples $1 (40p) and 1 kilo strawberries with free chocolate dip at $2.50 (1.00).  End up with a box full of stuff for $14.20 (5.70) but we will be stocked up for ages.  Pacific Sun Friends near Donnybrook is a large naturist park with a special offer of $11.00 (4.40) per family unit for a day visit including overnight camping, normally $14 (5.60).  A lovely spot with the lack of mains power compensated for by lots of solar panels and a wind turbine.  Stroll the grounds and down to the river with a sandy beach just before the clouds roll in. Steve curses the detours on the way here whilst the weather was good.
Friday 25 August  A cool night but by 8.00am the thermometer shows 20C and I clamber out of bed.  I get busy and make a fresh fruit salad and enough pumpkin soup for me to freeze 3 portions.  Manage to beat Steve on the 9 hole pitch and putt golf course then decline another game on the basis of quitting whilst I’m ahead.  Whilst sunbathing in the afternoon we spot a sulphur crested cockatoo walking along a rope fence.  He jumps off and waddles over to us chirping "Hello Cocky" (must have noticed Steve in the nude!).  He’s very friendly and allows Steve to hand feed him and even jumps onto his hand.  When something frightens him he ruffles his sulphur crest and stamps around in a circle but stays by us giving us lots of photo opportunities.
Saturday 26 August  A very cold night but nice hot day.  Neville & Denise invite us to join a happy hour in the afternoon which just gives us time to nip back for a bite to eat before everyone gathers around the camp fire.
Sunday 27 August  Take the gateway motorway to avoid Brisbane.  The city is shrouded in smoke and we are glad to be driving around it even if we do have to pay $2.20 (88p) toll to cross one of the big high bridges over the river.  Aquarius Sun Club at Browns Plains is south of the city and ideal for us to head on to the Gold Coast tomorrow.  $23 (9.20) a powered site with good facilities including a saltwater pool and lots of tennis courts.  Within minutes Steve is playing miniten with 3 other men whilst I sunbathe.  During the day we chat to James & Robin who are planning a long motorhoming trip around Europe. Shortly after they leave Ian & Jan call round to ask us questions as they are planning a 2 month trip motorhoming around Europe and surprisingly don’t know James & Robin. So much for Steve’s idea of an afternoon siesta!
Monday 28 August  Approaching the Gold Coast you could easily be in America. Hosts of billboards advertise  factory shopping outlets and theme parks our choice for today being Warner Bros. Movie World.  A three day pass covers you for admission to Movie World, Sea World and West & Wild plus a free return visit to the park of your choice normally $127.80 (51.00) but with 10% RAC discount we pay $115 (46.00).  It’s a cloudy day and we’re parked up and ready for the gates to open at 9.30am – well I’m out checking my plan of action whilst Steve is still drinking his coffee!  Much to his horror Steve gets chosen to play superman in the Movie Magic Special Effects Show.   The Police Academy Stunt Show is excellent but Steve is not at all impressed with the Lethal Weapon ride which is like Nemesis at Alton Towers.  I laugh all the way round whilst he cringes and moans.  I can see it will be Grandma who has to take our grandchildren on all the theme park rides as Steve also declines the Batman simulator ride and leaves me to go it alone.  The day passes quickly with us taking in all the rides, shows, lunch with the legends and Looney Tunes Star Parade by the time it starts to rain at about 3.00pm.  There are few people here today so we have time to go back to watch Police Academy for a second time before leaving the park at 4.00pm.  Hope Island Resort is very exclusive and here we are visiting Josh whom we met at his Mums on our journey north.  Security is very strict and we have to wait on the car park for Josh to return to let us into the estate.  Each house is individual, big and no doubt all have a pool as Josh’s does and either back onto the golf course or have their own mooring on the river.   We park on a vacant block of land next to Josh’s and he says we can stay all week whilst we visit the theme parks nearby.  His wife Nurika is Japanese and we join them and Hayden (3 in November) for Japanese curry and rice.
Tuesday 29 August  Josh offers use of his computer and we pick up an E-mail confirmation of our flights back to Manchester which will arrive on Friday 1st December at 4.00am – any offers to pick us up???  It’s a bright hot morning with clear skies – perfect for a visit Wet and Wild which opens at 10.00am.  There are some excellent rides and having done them all numerous times Steve wants a rest.  He relaxes on one of the made beaches whilst I circle around on the lazy river. However you need two people to go on the Tower of Terror twin tube ride so his peace is short lived.  He says I’m up like a bottle of pop and severely hyper now we are at the theme parks – he’s not wrong!  Keep giving Steve a rest and going it alone but by 3.00pm with between 50 and 100 steps to climb to each ride I am also tiring.  Back to Hope Island where we enjoy a leisurely stroll around a small section of the 18 hole golf course whilst admiring some of the impressive homes.  Prices from $295,000 (120,000.pounds) and that’s for a 2 bedroom apartment.  They are having a lot of problems with fires in Queensland and we can see the smoke from one nearby.  At least we can "move house" if it gets too near.  When Nurika gets home they all come into the van for an evening meal.
Wednesday 30 August  Daniel’s 3rd birthday. Smoke clouds fill the sky so I reckon it was a good thing we chose to visit Wet and Wild yesterday although with the exception of Movie World all the other theme parks here also have a small section with wet rides and a pool.  Dreamworld’s on the agenda today and with the RAC 10% discount we pay $47 (18.80) for a 2 day pass, just $2 (80p) more than a one day so you’ve got to go for it.  Covering a bigger area than movie world we find the shows less spectacular but there are more of the thrilling rides.  Tower of Terror is billed as the fastest, tallest ride in the world and I wouldn’t like to dispute that and neither would my stomach as we blast from 0 to 100mph in 7 seconds. Wipeout is pretty scary when you are twisted, turned and flung upside down on a crooked type of a swing.  On more than one occasion we ask ourselves why we are doing this but keep going anyway.  Call it a day just after 4.00pm and return to look forward to the BBQ Josh is cooking for us.  

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