Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200310 Australia-Qld

WEDNESDAY 1 OCTOBER 2003 – Our first stop, a skinny dip in Five Mile Creek just south of Cardwell.  It’s a great spot with crystal clear water and not too many fish.  Detour off he main highway to Paronella Park $18 (£7.20).  Built early last century as Jose Paronella’s dream it’s a real folly that has suffered many setbacks until bought in 1993 and opened to the public.  The admission includes a guided walking tour.  Ruined old buildings hand built by Jose pop up from the undergrowth and he even created a “Lovers Tunnel” which now houses bats.  There’s a magnificent waterfall with a swimming hole below and original concrete picnic tables and chairs at the edge.  At one time the park had a huge ballroom but this was destroyed in a fire.  The building style is a bit over the top and has lots of fancy finishing touches but really appeals to us.  Mid afternoon we head out through Innisfail to Ella Bay.  Unfortunately being the school holidays all the camping areas are taken but we “make do” with a grassy parking spot right behind a long sandy beach.



THURSDAY 2 OCTOBER – It’s a windy day which makes our time on the beach much more comfortable under the scorching sun.  By lunchtime we’ve had enough and retire to sit around the van in the shade. 



FRIDAY 3 OCTOBER – Arrive in Cairns before the shops are open so drive along the esplanade.  There’s a lovely new swimming pool here, free, so we have a cooling swim with great views.  Do a big shop and finally manage to get a replacement fridge knob (broken by our Canadian borrowers) and set on our way.  The coastal drive north offers superb views of stunning beaches.  Wonga Beach home stay owned by Carol & Graham lets campers stay on the property so we call in.  We are made to feel very welcome and appreciate a dip in their outdoor solar heated pool but it’s like a warm bath.  They are keeping an eye on friend Malcolm’s house so take us up when they visit. His property is huge with fabulous views from the hillside location.  It’s very luxurious with a fountain in the entrance hall, 3 bedrooms, all en-suite, and a pool on the patio.  You’d pay millions for it in England but he built it this year and it only cost about $500,000 (£200,000).  Return to Carol & Grahams where we play croquet followed by petanque then round off the evening with cards.



SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER – Graham & Carol are members of Barrier Reef Sun Club and talk us into joining them for a weekend visit.  Head up onto the Atherton Tablelands and 90 minutes later arrive at the club near Mareeba.  They have a caravan on site and we are staying in it with them tonight.  Once we’ve unpacked we set out to explore.  Although the club is fairly new they have a nice toilet block, clubhouse and chance of a cooling dip in the creek.  Members arrive throughout the afternoon and we meet lots of people who also run other naturist homestays in the area.  Croquet is very much in fashion and we fit in lots of games and reckon the bending helps with the all over tan!  Evening entertainment is a pot luck supper where you all contribute a dish and the theme is Boot Scootin and although no one knows how to do the dances we all have a good laugh.



SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER – Cooked breakfast is prepared and served in the clubhouse then it’s back to the serious business of croquet.  I surprise myself and win quite a few games so must have remembered it from when we last played in 1975 with a children’s set bought by Auntie Joan.  Leave mid afternoon to return to Wonga Beach Home stay to chat away the evening.  Steve is very impressed with Graham’s home made Graham.  In Australia it is legal to distil your own spirit.  You then buy flavouring essence to make it taste like your preffered spirit.



MONDAY 6 OCTOBER – We get 5mm of rain throughout the night.  The Aussies may take the Mickey out of poms regarding weather conversations but we reckon they are worse when they start comparing rain fall levels.  It’s a bit like a challenge with everyone bragging about how many mils they got!  After a last swim we set off and cross the Daintree River on the ferry $20 (£8) return for a 5-minute crossing.  We are now on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland in an area we couldn’t visit in 1994, as there were no proper roads.  Now you can drive all the way to Cape Tribulation on bitumen.  It’s an attractive drive up and over the hills in the rainforest.  Stop to do a boardwalk and also at a Alexandra Range lookout for splendid views.   Noah’s Beach campground is full so we continue right through to Cape Tribulation.  The beaches here are fabulous, rainforest sweeps down to miles of soft sand with blue water topped off by a paler blue sky.  Take the Dubuji boardwalk with information about the flora before returning to Noah’s Beach and securing a site after people have left.  $4 (£1.60) per person.  The self-registration booth has a special notice warning of lace monitors around the campground and asking you not to feed them.  The first vacant site we find has a huge monitor strolling across it.  Find a better spot beside a path through to the beautiful beach.  In no time at all we are sunbathing and taking in the superb setting.  The sea is pleasantly warm and we are lucky there are no jellyfish here yet but at the end of the beach we do spot warning signs for crocodiles. 



TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER – Down to the beach early morning before it gets too hot.  Power walk along the shore then settle down to read.  Our afternoon nap is disturbed when a large lace monitor strolls right past our door as if he owns the place!  In the evening neighbours Terry & Sally stroll past and end up stopping for a long chat.   They are fellow travellers who take their sons all over the world.  By the time we are ready to cook dinner it’s dark and we end up eating out by candelight, very romantic. 



WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER – How can we leave this paradise?  We are camping in a tropical rainforest behind a superb beach on a cheap site with flushing toilets, washing up sinks and a cold shower by the beach.  In the evening we invite our “neighbours” round for drinks.  Terry & Sally bring sons Liam and Grady round and by chance today is Terry’s 46th birthday so we help him celebrate. 



THURSDAY 9 OCTOBER – Our decision to leave is made easier when we wake to light drizzle.  Return to Wonga Beach home stay as we have a problem with the diff leaking oil and Graham knows a good mechanic.  We get booked into the garage in Cairns for tomorrow so now have the day free.  Our other friends Noel and Val, whom we met in Darwin in 1999, are now home so Graham and Carol drive us up to Julatten as they also know them.  They live next door to a barramundi farm so we call in and pick up some fillets to BBQ for lunch.  Croquet and petanque are the order of the day and a good time is had by all.



FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER- In Cairns we easily find Modern Automotive garages where Steve does a great job replacing the seal and the bill is a reasonable $73 (£30), the only problem is that he has spotted a bulge in one tyre, which requires attention.  Next job is to get some new foam for the seat cushions as I am bottoming out on it!  It’s quite expensive so we just get my side done at Clarke’s Rubber for $97 (£38).  After doing the grocery shopping we head to Bob Jane for the new tyre at $80 (£32) but the bad news is that we are soon going to need 2 more.  It’s really hot so we head to the Esplanade for a dip in the lagoon pool.  Bob, the president of Barrier Reef Sun Club, lives in Cairns and Carol has made arrangements for us to stay there overnight.  He makes us very welcome and in no time has talked us into staying on so that we can join the nude cruise to the Barrier Reef on Sunday.  It’s too good an opportunity to miss as it normally costs $125 (£50) but Bob has negotiated a special rate of $75 (£30) for club members and can get this rate for us.  Bob’s girlfriend Tess returns from work and I cook tea.



SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER – There is a concert in Fogarty Park tonight featuring John Paul Young and 10CC so we head down to the Esplanade car park at lunch time to get a good spot.  The car park is opposite the sound shell where the concert is being held and from our parking spot we can just see the stage and will easily be able to hear the music.  Spend the day exploring Cairns before relaxing in the lagoon.  Steve makes use of the BBQ to cook tea before we settle down for the concert.  Quite a few Aussie bands come on first and they are pretty good.  John Paul Young puts on a good show but the only song we know is “Love is in the Air”.  10CC are a bit disappointing.  They play most of the hits we know but sound rather flat.  Glad we didn’t spend the $41 (£16) to get into the concert.



SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER – Our Nude Adventures Australia cruise leaves at 10am to give the rest of the ships a head start.  This means that as soon as we have cleared port we can strip off and go nude.  Henk & Tania are running the cruise and along with Captain John there are 3 other couples on board.  Cynthia & Chris are from New Zealand and live one street behind our friends Jenny & Ron in Devonport.  Dutch George and Corry now live in Townsville and the other couple are Swiss.  We’re on the catamaran “Day Tripper” and it’s fun to lie in the boom nets whilst we bounce over the waves.  After a couple of hours we anchor up and set out with our snorkels and goggles to “Find Nemo”.   Although the coral isn’t all that colourful we do see a wide variety of bright coloured fish and spend a long time in the water.  Lunch is served before we head on to our next stop Upolu Cay, a tiny sand island.  We’re taken to it by dinghy and have the option of snorkelling back to the boat.  Here we see different species of fish and again spend considerable time in the sea, as it is very warm.  Wine, fruit, cheese and biscuits are served when we get back on the boat.  It’s dark when we return and we are greeted by the spectacle of the pretty lights of Cairns. 



MONDAY 13 OCTOBER – The fridge in the van is not working very well and as Steve can no longer keep his beer cold it needs attention.  Bob takes us to Derek who runs Dick’s caravan repairs.  In just over an hour we have had a hole cut in the van, a flue fitted from the fridge and a ventilation plate to cover it, $80 (£32).  The start of the rainy season is heralded by more rain but this doesn’t deter us from visiting Babinda Boulders and doing the walk downstream to The Devil’s Pool and the end of the gorge.  It’s a really pretty place and the huge swimming hole would make it a beaut spot on a hot day.  Mission Beach is famous amongst backpackers but seems just like another nice stretch of beach backed by 4 small towns.  Maybe pouring rain and grey seas don’t make it look as attractive as it could or maybe it’s the potential visits to islands opposite that make it so popular.  Back inland we settle for free camping at the cricket ground in Tully.



TUESDAY 14 OCTOBER –   In Tully we take a look at the big wellie.  The 8m high boot symbolises the highest rainfall recorded here in 1950.  This area still has the highest rainfall in Australia so we are not surprised that it is pouring down by the time we reach Murrigal Nature Retreat.  Archie, Jenny and their 5 children have extended their home to include camping sites and all the facilities campers require.  We are made very welcome in the recreation room and meet fellow guests Graham & Jeanette, Neil & Judy, Brian & Jane, George the Greek and Ron the caretaker.  Between showers I make use of the washing machine $1 (40p) and even get things dry.  For cooking there is a conventional stove but also a log burning BBQ and oven.  Unpowered sites are $10 (£4), powered $15 (£6) and on site vans and cabins only $22 (£8.80).  Archie brews beer and sells it for 50c (20p) bottle, which guarantees a very happy “happy hour”.  An old washing machine drum has been converted into a fireplace and once it’s fired up we all gather round for a drink and a yarn



WEDNESDAY 15 OCTOBER – Although we have already had our breakfast we find Archie’s offer of bacon and eggs impossible to resist.  By noon Graham & Jeanette and Neil & Judy have left and in the afternoon Jane & Brian set off making the place very quiet.  The rain has stopped and it’s hot and sunny enough for us to take dips in the pool.  Take a short walk to explore the Pioneer cemetery next door with some interesting graves.  A subdued happy hour with just Ron, George and Jenny joining us.



THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER –  Archie insists we don’t rush off so we end up leaving after lunch.  Balgal Beach is another great free camping spot right behind the beach with toilets, BBQ and seating area available and a shop for groceries.  We stroll along the beach then up the river taking note of the crocodile warning signs.



FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER – Take an early morning stroll along the almost deserted beach and enjoy a dip in the warm sea.  Get chatting to a French family who have been parked next to us.  They are going to a lot of the World Cup Rugby matches and we are surprised to learn how cheap it is.  A family ticket for the France V Japan match in Townsville tomorrow night is only $20 (£8) and this includes public transport to the stadium.  This gets Steve thinking as we are heading there today.   Late morning we pull up at the Strand in Townsville by the Rock Pool.  We have lunch on the BBQ before strolling along to an area protected by stinger nets.  The rock pool is lovely for swimming in and like Cairns it is free but I’m more interested in the free Water Park further along so we move the van.  One part of the park is a huge bucket above the slides.  It fills up with water then tips up to drench everyone underneath, great fun and again free of charge.  We meet up with the French family again and the twin boys are really enjoying themselves.  Corry & George, whom we met on the boat trip last weekend, live in Townsville and we have been invited to visit and stay over.  They have a secluded swimming pool and outdoor entertainment area and we good use of it.  After dark they take us for a drive up Castle Hill to take in the panoramic views.  We stay in the house but find the bed a bit narrow for a good sleep.



SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER – Steve makes a phone call and finds there are still tickets available for the rugby tonight and they are only $10 (£4).  He goes off to collect two as George has agreed to go with him.  In the afternoon Corry wants to view a house for sale a few doors along just out of interest.  In Australia they have open house when the agent sits in the house for an hour to show prospective purchasers around whilst the owners are out.  This one at $160,000 (£64,000) has 3 bedrooms and a lovely tropical design free flowing swimming pool and looks great value compared to England.  Whilst the lads are at the rugby match we go out to do some shopping.



SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER – We are all up at 5am to make the most of our trip to Magnetic Island.  George launches the boat onto Ross Creek that leads out to sea.  Once out on the water we cut the engine and stop for a coffee whilst watching the sun rise.   George takes us the long way around the island before landing at Balding Bay a recognised nude beach.  It’s a beautiful beach surrounded by attractive rock formations.  After breakfast we wade ashore and pass the day sunbathing, snorkelling, picnicking, playing boules and relaxing.  Watch a beautiful sunset as we head back to town arriving just on dusk. 



MONDAY 20 OCTOBER – George & Corry have made us very welcome and invite us to stay on but we have lots to see further down the coast and leave at 10am.  Alligator Creek is a pleasant detour and we get to pat a friendly wallaby before taking a walk along the creek.  Unfortunately this is in an area suffering from drought because last year the rainy season didn’t materialise.  There is little water around and certainly no point making the walk to the waterfall.  Make a lunch stop in Ayr making use of the BBQ.  Just south of town the van starts jerking.  Pull over but can’t find anything wrong.  A bit later we hear a real clunking and when we stop we find the rubber has come off the tyre.  Pull over and manage to find a bit of shade whilst putting the spare tyre on.  In Bowen we catch Quick Fit before they close and end up buying two matching tyres for $182 (£73).  At least we now know we have 4 good tyres before heading into the outback.  It’s getting dark when we leave so we head straight for Taylorwood Resort near Proserpine.  It’s quite busy and at happy hour we find out the other guests are Rob & Judi, Kevin & Ellie, Col & Evelyn, Alfred & Ursula, Robin & Ellie, and Andrew & Clare.



TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER – Fester in bed until 9.30am.  The weather is perfect, mainly sunny but with just a few clouds and we easily slip into a routine of pottering around in between sun bathing.



WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER – Quiet day. I hitch a life into Propserpine with Kevin to buy some pork for tonight. We cook it on the open fire and it makes a lovely roast dinner.



THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER – I make the most of he electricity to finally rename photos and do other work on the computer – in between sunbathing of course.



FRIDAY 24 OCTOBEREllie gives me a lift into Proserpine and I have a good wander around.



SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER – We both go into Airlie Beach with Kevin and Ellie.  There is a market on with fruit & veg stalls, craft and fast food.  We stroll along the front and spot yet another lagoon style pool, this one is really long and goes underneath a bridge.  Wish we had them like that in England. Catch an Aboriginal show on the beach with fire dancers.  Spend the evening playing pool with Gerry & Debbie



SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER – Lazy day with Steve locked away in the TV room for most of it watching sport!



MONDAY 27 OCTOBER – We’re staying an extra day than planned so that Steve can watch spot on TV tonight.  Rogin & Linda are out for the day so I man the phone.  They arrive back late afternoon with Louise the new “WOOFER” (Willing workers on organic farms). In exchange for food and accommodation you work 4 hours each day.  Louise is from Hertfordshire and is new to naturism so we soon make her feel comfortable.



TUESDAY 28 OCTOBER – When we come to pay the bill Rogin insists we only pay for 1 week and not 8 days and even then discounts it to $60 (£24) as he says he appreciates the help we have given them.  Down the coast we turn off to Seaforth, on the coast but busy so we continue into Cape Hillsborough national park to the recommended Smalley’s Beach.  It’s a basic campground right behind the beach at   $4 (£1.60) pppn, honesty system.   We take site 1 which has a lovely view but after lunch the wind drives us in to site 10 which is set back.  We’re very private and secluded and make the most of this to strip off.  Late afternoon the tide has gone out and we take a walk along the beach.  The bay is shallow and the sea is soon in the distance leaving mud flats behind.  The sunset is spectacular and a nice finale to a lovely day.



WEDNESDAY 29 OCTOBER – Brush turkeys have been hanging round our site and greedily pounce on and spilt water.  We fill up a container with water when we realise how thirsty they are.  Leaving the park some huge Eastern Grey kangaroos bounce across the road.  Further into Cape Hillsborough near the Nature Resort we set out on the “Juipera plant trail” to Hidden Valley.  The trail highlights plant food used by the Juipera Aboriginal people and takes us to Hidden Valley, full of butterflies.  Next we do the Andrews Point Track and make it along the beach before the tide comes in thus shortening the walk and making it circular.  Five lookouts give spectacular views and make the climb up worthwhile.  Return to Smalley’s beach and enjoy a bush shower to cool off.  Late afternoon a storm brews up and we are soon in the midst of thunder, lightening and torrential rain.  It’s still very hot so we sit in the back of the van in nude and have an early “happy hour” with wine and peanuts until the storm passes.



THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER – Get up early but still don’t catch he kangaroos on the beach, what this area is famous for.  Perfect the bush showering with the addition of a plastic carrier bag to stand in and keep our feet clean!  Further down the coast we are disappointed to find we can’t get onto the free camping area at Carmilla Beach.  Lots of 4WD’s have used he area and churned up the sand.  Clairview is not too bad as we still have a sea view.  There are lots of pretty “Rosella” parrots in the trees but I soon go off them when one does his business in my hair and over my clothes.  Steve takes a dislike to birds in he evening when a crow nicks our food off the BBQ.  Mum’s away in Canada at the moment for the scattering of Auntie Joan’s ashes so it’s Netty who has to tell us the sad news that John has lost his fight against cancer.



FRIDAY 31 OCTOBER – Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia so we call for Mike before visiting the famous Criterion restaurant for a steak meal.  We are not disappointed and both enjoy thick juicy steaks.  Head up to the house where we are just settling in the pool when Cherie arrives back with the boys.  For the evening meal Mike has got some steak in, 3kg of it.  It only cost him $10 (£4) kilo, seems very cheap to us for good quality rump steak. He cuts us the most enormous steaks, which seems to get even bigger as they are being cooked and without exaggerating they end up about 2” thick – and taste delicious.  The diet starts tomorrow.



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