Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200210 Australia-Qld

Tuesday 1 October 2002  Steve & Gerry soon have the old alternator off and also both batteries on charge.  I join Gerry & Anne in the afternoon for a big shopping trip into Bundaberg to stock up on groceries for the farm.  Anne doesn’t really enjoy cooking for the men so I take on the role of chef and knock up Pasta Carbonara for 7 which goes down well.  Round off the evening playing our pocket sized version of Trivial Pursuit.
Wednesday 2 October  Head off in Gerry & Anne’s 4WD to Norval  Park Beach.  It’s a lovely stretch of almost deserted sand where we sunbathe, stroll and play boules.  Paradise is complete when we have our French style picnic, chunks of cheese, home baked bread and a bottle of champagne.
Thursday 3 October  Steve stays in bed for a lie in (as usual) but today forgets to wake himself up properly before stepping out of the van.  He stumbles and ends up in a heap on the grass.  He’s twisted his ankle but is obviously not badly hurt so we can’t help laughing at the sight of him flat out with his bum sticking up where his shorts have fallen down!   Trip off inland first passing through the Boolboonda Tunnel, the longest non-supported man made tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere and pretty impressive.  The track surface deteriorates as we head out to where Anne’s brother John is working.  He’s a logger and unfortunately all the easy access timber in Queensland has already been cut so now they work the steep mountain sides.  After a few wrong turns we eventually track him down and clamber up the mountain to where he is working with the skidder.  This huge machine is brought in after the trees have been felled when it’s John’s job to cut a path to the logs then haul them down the hill.  Both Steve and I get to ride on it and find it very noisy, dusty and quite unpleasant.  Call in to see a block of land which Gerry & Anne have bought.  They’ve not had it long but already cleared a large area, almost built a shed canopy for over their caravan and had a dam prepared.  Can’t believe just how much land you can get in Australia for very little money. 
Friday 4 October   Bill returns to fit the new alternator and made a few other modifications.  His cash price is $270 (£97) which is good providing the problem is cured.  Gerry helps with a few other jobs on Billy who is now looking pretty good.  We need money from the bank so Steve hitches a ride into town with Bob in the semi trailer first calling in to the saw mill to deliver the logs.  BBQ in the evening and later we are joined by John’s daughter Michelle and her children Chase (3) and Shaianna (1).  John is baby sitting whilst Michelle has a night out.
Saturday 5 October  Chase is hyper active and quite a handful so we escape with Gerry & Anne and have another lovely day at Norval Park beach.  Late afternoon Steve gets to use the sit on lawn mower to cut the grass.  He has a few scary moments when he engages reverse and heads towards the bank but manages to stop in time.  Think we may have to take extra accident insurance on him for this trip the way things are going!  Joined by Anne’s daughter Yasmin, sister Pauline and her family we head to the local pub for an evening meal. 
Sunday 6 October   Turn south to return to Hervey Bay area to visit Noel and Lindy.  They recently moved out to Craignish and we find the house easily but no one’s home except Olly the dog (who would happily have let us into the unlocked house!)  Settle for passing time at the nearby beach only to find Noel pull up a few minutes later.  His son in law Gary and ex foster son Roger are visiting and they have driven down to show them the beach on the way back from church.  It’s pure luck that they find us there.  The lads along with Steve have come to help Noel build a shed (a 4 car garage to us).  Noel is adding a car port to the side for us to store Billy.  Their home is in traditional Queenslander style, built on stilts to catch any cooling breeze and surrounded by verandas from where you can just get a sea view.  Below the house they have built a guest room with en suite bathroom (yet to have the kitchen added).  This is where we will be staying.  There’s a big match on today with the New Zealand Auckland Warriors against the Sydney Roosters so using Noels car I drive the lads down to Hervey Bay where they can watch it on the big screen. 
Monday 7 October  Steve’s the last to get up.  Unfortunately they don’t have daylight saving time (like British summer time) here so unless you get up by 6.00am and go to bed at 9.00am you only get a short day.  Steve can’t understand this and wants to linger in bed until at least 8.00am!  Steve helps with a few basic labouring jobs but most of the work involves skills he doesn’t yet have.  Join Noel going into town to do some shopping and all settle round for a nice evening BBQ on the veranda.
Tuesday 8 October  Steve is most impressed by the comments on his early rising – until he works out that I have put the clock forward by 1 hour!   Noel is lending us a tent for a future camping trip so I attempt (and at first fail) to erect it.  Work goes well on the shed with cement for the base being delivered.  For luck we embed a New Zealand and a British coin in the concrete.  I return to my role of chef to prepare lunches for the workers.  Take Noels car into town for a shop and also pick up a couple of seriously bright pink throws to use as seat covers, this certainly cheers Billy up.  With the shed floor complete the gang knock off early for a round of Golf and a long stay at the 10th hole.  Our evening card session continues well into the night.
Wednesday 9 October   Another good day with the shed framework complete.  Lindy’s Mum and Dad join us for an evening BBQ
Thursday 10 October  By special request I do a full monty cooked breakfast which fires the lads up sufficiently to get on and fix all the roof trusses and side beams.  Evening visit to the local ten pin bowling $18 (£6.50) 3 games including shoe hire.  Steve does well with 145, 205 and 194 but I’m not over happy with 123, 112, 104 even though that was better than everyone else.  Return for a long card session
Friday 11 October  The shed roof is delivered but shortly after the heavens open up and it’s a battle between the showers to get the job done.  Lindy cooks a lovely Chinese meal for tea.
Saturday 12 October  Gary & Roger are leaving today and Noel has a few days work lined up in Brisbane so we are free.  Having been invited to Tony and Jenny’s wedding at Natures Rest we back track to join them.   Almost everyone else arrived and stayed over last night but we soon get to know them.  Al (originally from Bradford) is best man and his wife Raine is bridesmaid.  Our friends Ken and Kay are there and Ken is giving Jenny away.  Other guests are Shane & Heather (Aldershot), Eric and Marie (heavily tattooed), John & Joy (staying behind to look after things whilst Jenny & Tony are on honeymoon), Ted & Joyce (Rosco), Atoll and Anise (Aussie Bronze Nude tours),  Ken (the comedian) & Ann, Peter & Angie (Penrith), plus neighbours Carmel along with her husband and daughter who is flower girl.  The rain finally wins and the chairs and flower arch are transferred up onto the patio which has been covered over with tarpaulins.  The celebrant arrives along with the sunshine so the wedding arch is moved back onto the lawn and the ceremony begins.  It’s all very friendly and low key although a few formalities still have to be observed.  The wedding over the party starts in earnest with trays of food and champagne being passed around.  A singer plays in the background and we eventually sit down for the main food (finger buffet).  Ken gets up and does a great job telling jokes whilst pretending to be drunk.  Dancing follows but we are quite surprised when the singer packs in and everyone goes to bed by 9.30pm.
Sunday 13 October  Many people stay overnight with the early risers leaving just after 5.00am.  Jenny & Tony leave for their holiday sailing round the Whitsunday’s.  Soon there’s just us left with Joy & John.  Sport on TV is interrupted by tragic news of the terrorist bombing on Bali so it’s after 5.00pm by the time we drive about 30km up the road to the rest area in Tairo.  A sign tells us you are welcome to stay overnight in caravans and water and good toilets are provided.  Steve checks the village out and returns with fish and chips $5 (£1.80) so I still don’t have to cook.  In fact the only meal I have cooked inside Billy was the trial curry we had when parked at Keith and Dianas.  Tonight is the first night we have been parked up alone having previously either been visiting friends or at Naturist Retreats.  Not bad after 5 weeks in Australia.
Monday 14 October  Whilst shopping in Maryborough I need to put more money on my mobile phone.  Pay my $20 and get a till receipt with a PIN on it.  I phone a free call number and quote the PIN to have the money added, very efficient.  Spend an hour on the banks of the Mary River before driving out to Aldershot to Heather & Shanes (whom we met at the wedding).  Once again we are amazed by land prices in Australia when they tell us they bought the block next door to their house for just $1900 (£700).  By English standards it’s huge and we’d fit at least 2 properties onto it.   Spend the day sunbathing and also fit in an afternoon warm spa and an evening hot spa under the stars.
Tuesday 15 October  Heather and Shane are film buffs and have a great collection of videos.  We select Green Line to watch and think it’s excellent.  Leave after lunch and return to Hervey Bay only to find Noel has been delayed in Brisbane. No problem as we just move back into the studio and do our own thing as Lindy has to go out .  We’ve been left instructions to feed their chocolate labrador dog Olly at 5.00pm.  On the stroke of 5.00pm she nudges the door open to let us know it’s time.  The only other time she is allowed in the house is for a couple of hours at 7.00pm and sure enough she joins us by the TV and promptly goes to sleep on her back. 
Wednesday 16 October  Lindy sets out early leaving the house open for us.  Sunbathe until early afternoon when it gets just too hot.  Noel arrives back late in the evening.
Thursday 17 October  Both Steve and I help with the shed.  Noel has created a suspended floor so whilst Noel & Steve remove the timbers from underneath I remove the nails from the wood.  The same wood is next used to create a scaffolding across the back of the shed.
Friday 18 October  Begin transferring cupboards and tools from the old garage down to the new shed.  It still doesn’t have sides or doors on the front but that will come later.  Enough is done by afternoon for us to take a break and visit the local beach.  Olly dog just loves swimming in the creek and then rolling about in the sand.  She’s not so keen when we get up to the Baptist Church for Noel to water the flowers.  There she gets a hosing down and is not impressed. Inside the church Noel shows us the vast amount collected in the Christmas shoe box appeal.  People are asked to get a shoebox and in it put items from a suggested list for either a boy or girl of a selected age group. These boxes are then delivered to needy children as presents and at a later stage a video is returned showing them being opened.  What a great idea.   Evening visit to Pialba RSL club which is huge and has a section belonging to Jupiter’s Casino.  Lindy’s Mum and Dad, Gladys and Jim also join us for a good value meal.  A photographer comes round from the local paper and takes a picture of our group so it looks like once again we’ve made it into the papers. 
Saturday 19 October  Lindy is working but Noel takes us off for a tour down the coast starting at Boonooroo and Tuan, both nice quiet bays.  Tin Can Bay is also pleasant but more developed.  After a coffee stop it’s down to Rainbow Beach a big backpackers resort and a stopping off point for tours to Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach itself both of which require a 4WD for access.  With the Jackaroo in 4WD mode we head down to the beach.  The beach is a gazetted highway and almost like a motorway as it is so wide, smooth and busy.  . This stretch is so called because of the multi coloured cliffs and sands at the back and it’s a really pretty spot.  At the southern end we head off the beach along sand roads (much like Fraser Island) across the headland and out onto Cooloola Beach.   Stop by the impressive ship wreck of the "Cherry Venture" which is becoming a liability as it begins to rust and collapse With me at the wheel we drive along the beach and past a 15km section designated and extremely popular for camping.  We’re now almost back at Tewantin where we stayed on our second night in Australia!  Seems our progress is almost 1 step forward and 2 steps back so far.  Beyond the camping areas we find a quiet spot for a wino’s picnic and sunbathe.  As Steve drives the car slowly back Noel & I look for lumps in the sand and dig there to find the shellfish "pipis" underneath.  We quickly collect half a bucketful before setting off back to Hervey Bay.  Noel tells us we covered 300km of which over 100km was along the beach.  BBQ in the evening after which I have a terrible headache.  Having eaten just one chicken flavoured sausage I reckon this is conclusive proof that I am extremely allergic to chicken.
Sunday 20 October  Noel cooks up pipi fritters for breakfast which the others assure me are delicious. Before we leave Noel presents us with wattle to wear on Australia’s national day of remembrance for the Bali victims.  Head North through Bundaberg and out to Tegege Farm to rejoin Gerry & Anne.  Sunbathing afternoon but by evening my head is really bad so I opt out of the meal and go to bed early.
Monday 21 October  It’s a very hot, humid and cloudy day which does not help my head at all.  At least I know if I can avoid chicken and chilli I should be OK.  Afternoon trip into Bundaberg.  Our telephone is broken so we drop it off for repairs.  Billy is also poorly and back fires so much that we sound like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang going along but instead of taking off and flying away we just crawl in shame into the slow lane!  Drop him off at Ultra Tune for a check up.  Notice a new store called "The Good Guys" which has only opened today and has lot of special offers.  For Christmas we buy Billy a 14cm black and white, mains and battery TV with radio, a steal at $65 (£24).  Very tempted by the $10 (£3.50) iron, toaster and kettle sold as a combination for just $27 (£10).  Unfortunately there just isn’t room in Billy for that kind of luxury.  Visit Sugarland shopping centre then return for the verdict on Billy.  He’s quite poorly and needs surgery to correct a leaking inlet manifold.  Leave Billy for a sleepout at Ultra tune whilst we return with Gerry & Anne and sleep in the house.
Tuesday 22 October  At last my head is almost better.  Afternoon drive into Bundaberg with Anne.  Billy is in the recovery room having had his manifold attended to plus a few other jobs to the Ultra tune of $137 (£50). 
Wednesday 23 October  Off by 7.30am crossing the Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton.  When we visited Savannah Park (naturist retreat) near Yeppoon 2 years ago it wasn’t really open and there was nothing there.  Now there is a super club house, toilets and showers, swimming pool, BBQ area, rough golf course, on site caravans plus 10 powered camping sites –  $20 (£7.20) night with 7 nights for the price of 6.  Trevor and Heather welcome us back along with Glen who was here before.  We meet the other visitors – Marie & Lloyd who are also coming on the camping trip, Kevin & Jo (Vic), Warren & Sue (Sun Leisure), Glen & Rhonda (Bundaberg) and Robert & Sandra (Vic).  Within an hour of us arriving our friends Bev & Norm join us having driven down from Taylorwood.  It’s considerably hotter up here in the tropics and we spend much of the afternoon in the pool then compound the problem by me cooking a curry for us all to share for tea.
Thursday 24 October  Leaving Steve in peace and quiet I join Bev & Norm for a morning in Yeppoon.  Afternoon by the pool.  Glen & Rhondda leave then Alan & Jo (Motorhome) arrive. 
Friday 25 October  Norm has to take their car into Rockhampton (known as Rocky) for work so Steve & I join them.  First visit the large Rockhampton Fair shopping mall which proves very  productive (and expensive).  Walking to the library I call in at the barbers for a cut $17 (£6) in the hope that it will be easier to manage whilst camping.  Walk back through Kershaw Gardens where there is a lovely artificial waterfall area.  Rendezvous with Bev & Norm to find the cars not ready.  Pass the time at the afternoon cinema screening of "My big fat Greek wedding" $10.70 (£4) which gives us all a good laugh.  Get back with just enough time for a shower before 8 of us set out to the Footlights theatre restaurant $37 (£13).  It’s a small operation with the cast doubling up as doorman, barman and cashier.  After a lovely meal the show begins and we are immediately doubled up with laughter.  6 people spend about 2 hours entertaining us with music hall spoof songs, sketches and the occasional serious song but with deliberate farcical interruptions.  There’s plenty of audience participation especially by Norm who is singled out.  What a great day.  Arrivals – Gerry & Graham from Rockhampton
Saturday 26 October  Drive into Yeppoon to catch the Life Saving Club beach day activities.  Watch youngsters being taught to surf whilst others enter the sand sculpture competition.  Return at lunch time as it has got very windy at the beach.  Chat to Graham & Gerry and find out they know 2 couples here whom Gerry & Anne have suggested we get in touch with.  They phone up and make arrangements to take us out to meet them.  Steve’s delighted to find the midnight live football match is Liverpool – and they win.
Sunday 27 October  I’m up by 6.00am and join Bev & Norm on their walk.  Manage to get Steve out of the pit in time to go out with Graham & Gerry.  They take us down the beautiful Capricorn Coast to Emu Park where Jeff & Netty live.  We are joined by Brett & Megan who emigrated here 2 years ago from South Africa.  As we are all in our late 40’s or early 50’s we have plenty in common.  Head off down the beach but unfortunately by the time we arrive the wind is getting strong and after a couple of swims and a sandblasting whilst trying to sunbathe we give up.  Heading back we comment on the emu warning signs and Graham is just telling us that they have never seen one when out of the bush trots an emu and heads towards the road!  Early evening the clouds gather and we get a half an hour of torrential rain, the first they have had here since June.  At the evening Happy Hour we meet the new arrivals  Judy & Bill from Bundaberg and Mick from Sun Leisure.
Monday 27 October  Steve finds plenty to do here.  There’s a pool table in the club house, a scrub golf course (where you take three shots towards a flag and the nearest person wins the hole) plus the swimming pool for cooling off and the TV for watching sport etc.  Whilst he plays with the boys  (Warren, Glen & Mick) I read, chat, potter round and make use of the pool.  Evening BBQ with Bev & Norm
Tuesday 28 October  Robert & Sandra leave early.  I join Lloyd & Marie for a trip to Bi-Lo to shop for our island trip.
Wednesday 29 October  Bev & Norms week is up so we get up at 6.00am to see them off.  Alan & Isabel (Biloela) arrive.  Reckon if we stay here long enough we will meet at least half the naturists who are travelling round Australia!  Weather still perfect with hot days and cool nights. 
Thursday 30 October   Bill & Judy leave to soon be replaced by Gloria and Mervyn (Gladstone).  Early evening we take a drive down the coast to watch the sunset then visit Brett & Megan for supper.

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