Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200506 Australia-Qld

WEDNESDAY 1 JUNE 2006 – First day of winter here, a bit cloudy but still warm with good temperatures forecast for later.  Walk to the local shops then spend the rest of the day relaxing.  In the evening we join Keith & Di for a meal at the golf club and meet up with Joan & Jeff (whom we know) and Jean & Keith.  $9.95 (£4.70) buys you a 2-course meal with a choice from a traditional or Mexican menu.  All return to Keith & Di’s for coffee.



THURSDAY 2 JUNE – Even more cloud cover this morning.  Stocked up with oranges from Keith & Di we drive down the Sunshine Coast to Maroochydore and the Cotton Tree caravan park.  Our site is at the river mouth directly behind the scenic ocean beach.  Egrets stroll amongst the caravans and pelicans gather on the riverside beach.  We’re come to visit Bernie who is up from Melbourne to visit his Mum Josie and Dad Ben who spend 3 months here.  Just after we arrive the weather makes a dramatic change with a drop in temperature and the start of many downpours.  With Bernie we walk over to the big Sunshine Plaza shopping centre where Steve buys a new electric shaver and I get a new sun lounger.  It’s our lucky day as the shaver is already on at a special price but this week there is a further 10% discount making it $89 (£40) and my lounger already on end of season price at $12 goes through the check out at $10 (4.50).   Stop for lunch at the canal side Chinese restaurant where all you can fit on a small plate is $7.50 (£3.50), you’d be amaze by just how much we manage to pile up.  The afternoon is dry and we sit by the van catching up on Bernie’s news and then chatting to Josie and Ben.  After eating with Bernie we head to the library where the Internet is free. 


$21 (£9.00) un-powered site


FRIDAY 3 JUNE – Talk to Bernie until our 12.00 check out time.  Drive along the coast road south to Alexander Headland where we park up for lunch and a snooze.  A short drive further down the coast brings us to Minyama where Ken & Kay live.  We house sitted for them 18 months ago so know the area quite well.  It’s Kens 70th birthday today and he’s having an all weekend party.  Many of their family have already arrived, daughter Rosie and sons Phillip and Evan, plus a number of friends.  Some have travelled for 2 days to get here, a distance equivalent to someone from England driving to the south of France for the weekend.  I join the women helping to prepare food for tomorrows party whilst Steve sits out on the patio peeling a bucketful of prawns.  Rosie makes a terrific birthday cake that looks like a voluptuous female torso in a corset, guess where the candles will sit?  The weather is terrible with even more heavy downpours.   Ken & Kay have had Brazilian student Francis staying with them for the last 6 months and we join her in getting a lift with neighbours Vikki and Ron to the golf club.  About 40 people turn up for the celebratory meal.  Ken has made us all nametags and this helps as we know no one at all but have a great evening.  There’s a spare bedroom in adjoining rented apartment and we take this for the night.



SATURDAY 4 JUNE – At last the rain has passed through and the weather looks calmer.  Very good news as Ken & Kay intend holding the party on the two patios.  The party starts at 3pm with guests arriving in dribs and drabs.  Ken has allocated each man a stubby holder with their name on and stocked up on beer with hundreds of bottles chilling on ice.  Nibbles are served throughout the afternoon and the hired jukebox (also a karaoke machine) provides a variety of backing music.  We are introduced to fellow naturists Murray & Debbie and soon realise we have 2 lots of friends in common.  Also at the party are Jeanne & Ray whom we met briefly on our first big trip to Australia.  After dark the party gets going in earnest.  Food is served, mountains of cooked meat, fish and lots of salads.  Ken is presented with a blow up doll and lots of rude poems are read out.  Further presentations are made for Francis who leaves on Monday and their granddaughter Hannah who will soon be 21.  Each of these events is preceded and followed up with speeches and lots of toasts.  These people sure know how to party.  The music is cranked up a notch and dancing begins.  Ken does a turn dressed up as Elvis and their friend Annette does some belly dancing.  Even later on the desserts are served after which people slowly begin to leave.  The party is just about over by 1.30.  Last night we slept in the rented unit but there is no room tonight so we sleep in the camper in the underground car park.



SUNDAY 5 JUNE – I go back up upstairs just before 8am and find most people awake.  Some are catching early flights back to Sydney and have to leave at 9am.  There is lots of clearing up to do and we all get stuck in.  We’ve just about finished when guests begin arriving for the cooked breakfast, bacon and eggs and pancakes with syrup, fruit and cream – needless to say I end up having both.  More people come and go and different snacks are served up throughout the day and the alcohol begins to flow.  The music is turned up and the party animals make themselves known.   “Dolly”, the inflatable doll, ends up floating out in the marina.  Late evening we begin the big clean up.  The caterers will be here at 8am to collect the crockery etc and the apartment next door has to be vacated by 10am. There are empty bottles everywhere, enough to fill at supermarket trolley!   Ken & Kay are staying up really late to take Francis to the airport at 3am.  We take the spare room in the rented apartment.



MONDAY 6 JUNE – We all get up early to continue clearing up.  “Party Animals” arrive at 8am to collect the glasses and the jukebox.  Helen & Lisa head off for their 2 day drive back to Ulladulla leaving Ken & Kay’s sons Phillip and Evan, who are flying back to Sydney tonight, and us.  Their friend Rhonda arrives mid afternoon and drinks begin flowing again – this is beginning to seem like a never-ending party.  We have also been invited to a 50th birthday next weekend so this is quickly turning into a “party round Australia” trip.  Tonight we get to sleep in the spare room in Ken & Kay’s unit.



TUESDY 7 JUNE – Kay needs to go to Caloundra to have her eyes checked following a cataract operation so I join her for the ride.  Wandering round town I find a gazebo in the sale at “Crazy Clarks” for $18 (£8) and snap it up.  This should be ideal for shade in the day and with our mosquito net hung inside we should be bite free when sitting out at night.  Kay catches up with me and is very glad that I can drive as they have blurred her vision with drops.  Spend our last few hours chatting and exchanging info as Ken & Kay are going to Vietnam and Cambodia next year.  Reluctantly leave at 4.30pm heading to Yandina.  Bev & Norm’s daughter Louise and her partner Jye have recently moved here.  Louise meets us by the village pub and we follow her out to their property in the North Arm area.  The last few kilometres are dirt road through rain forest.  Their large bungalow sits on 5 acres – a requirement by law here if you have 2 dogs, theirs are collies called Jackson and Leo.  They managed to get a good deal as the property had been on the market for over a year.  People may have been put off by the decoration as all the walls are painted in bright colours and every wall is different.  In one room alone we can see bright blue, lime green, yellow and orange walls.  Louise & Jye don’t like the colour scheme but can see beyond that and everything else about the house is superb, 3 bedrooms (one en-suite), study, playroom, 2 lounge/dining areas and a kitchen.  They have recently bought a new pasta making machine and want to try it out so Louise & I get stuck in whilst Jye helps by downloading instructions off the Internet.  At one stage it’s a 4 man job – one to feed the pasta into the machine, another to turn the handle, a 3rd person to catch the tagliatelle as it emerges and a 4th to cut it size and hang it to dry.  What a laugh and what a delicious meal when it is finally finished.



WEDNESDAY 8 JUNE – It’s light very early in the morning so we take a walk around the property and only then get an idea of how large it is, for the same money you would be lucky to get a 3 bedroom semi-detached house in England, and this is only 10 minutes from the beach.  Unfortunately during our walk Steve picks up a leech and this is sucking the blood from his ankle.  When we knock it off it looks like a 3cm thin piece of black string but soon arches it’s back then rears up in a standing position.  It flings itself forward on the tiles to take a grip further ahead and then repeats the process as a way of moving.  Louise eventually manages to kill it but it takes a good few attempts.  We leave to continue our journey north up the Bruce Highway.  Stop south of Maryborough at the rest area with tourist information.  They have created a garden with native plants and I am surprised to find a Marsh (my maiden name) grapefruit tree.  Heading onward we get a few really heavy downpours but it’s not at all cold.  Early afternoon we arrive near Hervey Bay and park up at a rest area behind Dundowran beach.  With toilets, shower, BBQ, picnic tables and water it’s a super spot except for the “no camping” signs.  We just want to have lunch and a siesta so it’s no problem.  At 4.00pm we drive up to Craignish to Noel & Lindy’s house. The shed we helped to build is now complete and there have been a few other changes.  We chat to Noel, about their future intended five-year trip around Australia until Lindy arrives home and cooks us all a meal. 



THURSDAY 9 JUNE – Noel is having a water tank delivered today and has enlisted Steve’s help in man handling it into position.  It’s a 5000 gallon steel one and looks huge on the back of the truck.  The driver parks near the garage then commences unloading.  Lots of sheets of foam and old rubber tyres are used for cushioning the tank.  The driver is obviously very experienced in his job and makes it all into a quick and easy operation.  The tank s rolled down ramps off the back of the truck, rotated into position on a tyre then rolled slowly down the hill.  Once level with the concrete base it is again spun around on a tyre then dropped down onto some special sheets that enable the tank to be rotated into the exact spot to line up with the in fill pipes.  This tank has cost $1750 (£800) and Noel will get a rebate from the council towards this cost so it’s easy to see why they are popular in Australia when it cuts out your water bill.  Noel sets about connecting all the pipes but doesn’t need help so we sunbathe.  Late afternoon Noel and Steve go down for a walk on the beach and leave me lazing in the hammock.  Meet Lindy at the RSL club where the special of the day $5.50 (£240) roast beef is excellent value.  



FRIDAY 10 JUNE – A glorious day and there is nothing we can help Noel with so we sunbathe on the veranda. Loaded up with Noels homegrown pumpkins and mandarins we head into town.  Jeane & Ray moved up here from Adelaide to the suburb of Kawungan.  They live in a new 4-bedroom bungalow and have created a very private garden with a swimming pool.  The climate is perfect for plant growth and despite the garden only being planted last September it is really well established and the paw paw tree bears fruit.  We sit out on the terrace with Ray until late afternoon when he takes us for a drive around the area.  Since our last visit 2 ½ years ago there has been a lot of development on the foreshore with many more areas sprouting holidays units.  Jeane returns from her part time job at the bank and we enjoy an evening meal cooked on the BBQ and get to know them both better. 



SATURDAY 11 JUNE – Another beautiful hot and sunny day and we just about manage to make it from the patio to the swimming pool and back again.  Late afternoon their sister in law “Yoki” arrives from Brisbane.  She’s Malaysian and married to Ray’s brother Gary.  We pick up Rays other brother John and his wife Judy and head down to the sailing club for a meal.  It’s a lovely evening that we sit out on the terrace looking over the water.  Return to Jeane & Rays for more drinking and chatting.



SUNDAY 12 JUNE – We want to be in Bundaberg by late morning so make an early start in leaving Jeane & Ray and this time take a fresh paw paw with us.  Having only had 2 nights on our own since arriving in Australia we are having trouble catching up with eating all the food we have on board!  Stop in Childers where 15 backpackers died in the fire at the Palace backpackers.  The building now houses a memorial and it’s very moving to look at the individual niches with photos of the youngsters layered on sheets of glass.  7 of those who died were British and 1 was Irish.  Arrive in Bundaberg at the place where Gerry & Anne are house sitting.  It’s on 1 acre of land and the space is needed for parking for all the guests who arrive to celebrate Anne’s 50th birthday.  They put on a buffet with barbequed beef burgers and sausages followed by cheesecakes.  Anne has 8 sisters and 2 brothers and many of them and their families attend so we get to put faces to the names of people we have often heard her mention.  We stay overnight along with Mick, Sonia and children Amy& Zoë. 



MONDAY 13 JUNE – Wake to a really damp and misty morning.  Anne & Gerry go with the family to the beach whilst we stay behind and enjoy sunbathing between the clouds. 



TUESDAY 14 JUNE – Anne’s actual birthday so we begin the day with a pancake breakfast.  Mick, Sonia, Amy & Zoë leave late morning and at lunchtime the rest of us head out to Sizzlers.  Its $10.95 (£5) for the salad buffet and this includes a choice of soups for starters, salads, pasta with sauces, taco chips, potato wedges and all you can eat desserts.  For an extra $2 (£90p) you can also have unlimited soft and hot drinks, very good value and nice food.  After 4pm the prices go up for the evening meal but you get exactly the same buffet. 



WEDNESDAY 15 JUNE – Visit the big Sugarland shopping centre with Gerry & Anne and return in time to catch the computer man.  Gerry has a laptop like mine but has virus problems after connecting to the Internet.  He took the laptop to the Acer recommended specialist who charged him $88 (£40) and returned the laptop with the same problems.  From the newspaper Gerry has picked out Jettech solutions.  Sam (Email charges $30 (£13) an hour and works in your own home.  He’s extremely helpful, installs spy ware software, explains to Gerry that the other company should not have added a second anti virus without removing the original (they conflict), and basically gets the whole thing up and running.  In the evening we all go round the Murray and Debbie’s.  Gerry & Anne met Murray when he was touring round Australia a few years ago with his now ex wife, we met them at Ken and Kay’s party.  It’s a small world when you are a naturist and definitely a very friendly one.  The lads play pool whilst we women chat before enjoying a roast lamb dinner.  Gerry & Anne head home whilst we settle into the spare bedroom.  Billy must be feeling rather neglected as in the 5 weeks since arriving in Australia we have only slept in it 5 times. 



THURSDAY 16 JUNE – We get heavy rain in the night and it’s still cool and drizzly when we get up.  Debbie goes out to work at the bank and Murray is busy doing some home improvements.  We go back to Gerry & Anne’s to pick up some books we left behind before doing a few messages around town (Aussie speak).  By the time we get back it’s a beaut afternoon and we strip off and soak up the sun.  After our evening meal together we get stuck into a game of Rummykub before bed.



FRIDAY 17 JUNE – Had planned to leave today (only planned to stay one night) but Debbie has invited friends round for the evening that she would like us to meet.  With no fixed time schedule we are happy to linger.  Another day for sunbathing but as soon as the sun drops it goes quite cold.  Luanne and Kevin arrive and we have another interesting evening.



SATURDAY 18 JUNE – Set off to visit Judy & Bill who live out a Moore Park.  They are also naturists and have included Debbie & Murray in the invite.    Bill is an artist and has a quirky studio in the garden self built by filling plastic carrier bags with cement then stacking them up like bricks.  He used a blowtorch on the finished wall to melt away the plastic backs before pointing the gaps.  Windows are made from fragments of glass fitted into a framework of small squares and the overall effect is amazing.  After drinks and scones we walk to the beach with Murray & Debbie.  It’s a seemingly never-ending narrow strip of sand and we make a long walk before settling down to sunbathe.  Return to the house where a BBQ follows happy hour and then Murray & Debbie leave.  We’ve been offered a bed in the house but feel that Billy will be getting an inferiority complex so we opt to sleep in the van.



SUNDAY 19 JUNE – Heavy rain throughout the night and a dull drizzly morning.  We join Judy & Bill for a ride to the Sunday market in Bundaberg.  Local produce and homemade goods are the main items on sale and it’s really busy.  Next we call in to the retirement village to see Judy’s Mum.  In Australia you buy into these villages and can move within them to different levels of assisted accommodation.  Initially most people buy one of the bungalows but as their needs increase they sell them back to the group (usually for the same price they bought them for) then move into a higher dependency unit and may eventually be in the nursing home section.  Back at Moore Park I spend the afternoon helping Judy with her computer whilst Steve rests.



MONDAY 20 JUNE – It’s still raining when we head off so we see lots of wallabies drinking the surface water.  By lunchtime we are at the Calliope River rest area where you can free camp by the river for up to 48 hours.  It’s a super spot and we’ve stayed before but this time it is spoilt by the heavy rain.



TUESDAY 21 JUNE – There has been almost no respite in the rain but as we head north towards Rockhampton it finally stops.  We are now in the tropics and it should be warmer.  Arrive at Mike & Cherie’s just before Cherie gets back with the boys Nathan (11) and Blake (9).  We’re still catching up on all the family news when Mike arrives back from work.  He cooks up a lovely roast beef dinner and we linger at the table chatting.



WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE – Whilst it is really great to catch up with all our friends we feel that after 6 weeks in Australia and only 3 nights on our own we are ready for a break.  Drive out towards Yeppoon to return to Savannah Park naturist retreat.  We know Brian and Betty who are staying there but not well enough to feel the need for more than a brief re-introductory chat.  The on site caravans are all empty and Trevor kindly offers us use of one at no extra charge.  With the electric fan heater we are soon warm and cosy with Steve snoozing in bed and me catching up with my diary and photos on the computer.  Another couple arrive just before happy hour, Harvey & Loris from near Brisbane whom we have also met previously.  There’s a log fire burning in the lodge so we stay there watching TV.


$20 (£9) night, 7 nights for 6 


THURSDAY 23 JUNE – It’s great to wake to a fine morning with clear blue skies.  Out of the breeze it is hot enough to strip of and sunbathe.  Take a late morning walk around the bush tracks before lunch.  Mid afternoon we join Trevor for a round of “golf”.  The course consists of 7 “holes” on the green with the 8th hole being a mini golf type set up.  There are no actual holes but the ruling is that the winner is the person nearest the flag after 3 shots.  Steve and I win a hole each whilst Trevor gets the rest.  The clear skies produce a very cold night and I need 2 duvets and a hot water bottle to keep warm as Steve spends most of the night in the lodge watching first football and then cricket.



FRIDAY 24 JUNE – Another nice day and we make the effort to do the bush walks before lunch. Spend the afternoon sunbathing.  Before visiting the lodge in the evening I put a hot water bottle in the bed and leave the fan heater on low.



SATURDAY 25 JUNE – A nice start to the day but it soon begins to cloud over.  Leave at 5pm to head into Yeppoon where we stroll around and do a bit of shopping.  At 7pm we arrive at Brett & Megan’s and spend a pleasant evening chatting, mainly about their home country of South Africa as we are almost certain to visit there next year. They had offered to take us out on their boat tomorrow but the weather forecast is not good so we are happy to change to a 4wd visit into Byfield national park.  We stay in Billy out on the street and leave the pop-top down.  Fortunately it’s considerably warmer than the caravan. 



SUNDAY 26 JUNE – When we go into the house for breakfast their daughter Michelle (17) and two of her friends are camped out on the lounge floor, having spent most of the night watching horror videos.  We head off towards Byfield and soon turn off the main road.  Brett’s Toyota HiLux is very high clearance as well as 4wd and it makes for easy going along the rough and often deep tracks.  We journey across the wetlands then out to Stockyards Point with fine views up the coast to Five Rocks and south towards Yeppoon.  At this point the sky is black and there’s a cold wind so we are pleased not to be out on the boat.  Brett tells us about an interesting treasure hunt style game that is played internationally via the Internet site where people leave clues.  You need a GPS system to get started and sometimes a 4wd vehicle but many are walks.  Brett has hidden a treasure cache at this location and checks the contents and log book and finds 2 people have already found it.  Retrace our steps and head through the small town of Byfield then back on dirt tracks into the jungle.  Suddenly the greenery clears and we find ourselves at the surreal “Ferns Hideaway with grassy camping area, restaurant, swimming pool, hot spa and children’s playground.  Whilst sitting on the terrace eating Devonshire tea we have good views of the wildlife including almost tame wallabies that come very close.  There are lots of walking tracks in the area and one leads down to Water Park Creek.  If you are patronising Ferns it’s free to use their canoes so we grab some paddles and head for the water.  We manage to find two fairly dry ones and set off upstream.  The water is stained orange from the tea trees and makes for stunning reflections.  It’s really tranquil paddling along and we see many cormorants.  Return to Ferns then drive back to Water Park Creek day use area where we enjoy our picnic before driving to Yeppoon.  One of Brett’s businesses is to look after animals in their own homes whilst the owners are away and he needs to start his afternoon feeding programme.  Brett & Megan go out in the evening but leave us in the good hands of their daughters Michelle and Chantal, who is 22 today but celebrated her birthday yesterday.  Michelle cooks us a pasta meal and Chantal gives us more info in South Africa.  I make use of the Internet and telephone access and we manage to get Claire booked onto a flight out to visit us next March during the Commonwealth Games.  She’s flying with KLM to Amsterdam then Malaysian airlines the rest of the way, £680). 



MONDAY 27 JUNE – Call into the house for coffee before heading off.  The weather is still poor with lots of clouds and drizzle although it is very warm.  Just off the main highway is the small town of St Lawrence.  At the edge of town you can free camp at the stockyards and they provide good clean toilets, showers ($1 for a hot one), washing lines, picnic tables and BBQ’s.  Needless to say it’s a very popular spot.  After lunch we walk into town, once a bustling river port but less so now as the tide rarely brings the water this far up.  There’s a mapped trail that takes us past many painted telegraph poles, a garden full of bougainvillea and very little else other than massive wide streets and a general feeling that the town has died – this can’t be so as there are very few graves in the cemetery however interestingly quite a number are strewn with shells.  One is a very basic concrete block etched with a mans name and 1997, a good man – the best Dad.   On the mound are a beer bottle and a felt hat – very poignant.  The “main” street has two shops, two petrol pumps and a pub but no customers until I pop in to buy an ice cream.  The only other attraction is the old meat works factory but this is 6km further on and it’s beginning to rain so we walk back to camp.  Vans pile in late afternoon and on dusk people begin to crank up their generators, thankfully they have to be turned off between 9pm and 7am.  It’s still a noisy night with lots of trains passing by and many stopping to shunt.



TUESDAY 28 JUNE – We’re soon driving in heavy rain even more frustrating is the fact that it is very hot in England at the moment.  Still as we always say we would rather be on holiday with mixed weather than having to go to work in the sunshine!  At Sarina Beach the caravan park has closed so it would be possible to park overnight on the esplanade.  It’s a very nice spot but right beside the road so we drive off to the lookout before checking out the next beach north, Campwin Beach.  This is really a continuation of Sarina Beach but this time has houses directly behind the beach.  There’s a nice picnic area with toilets, outdoor shower, water, BBQ’s and picnic tables so we settle in.  Between showers we manage a stroll along the beach.  Graham & Lyn from New Zealand join us in their campervan and we have a chat.  There are dozens of coconuts on the ground so Steve collects them and begins the difficult task of removing the outer shell.  I spot electric sockets in the covered picnic area so set myself off to do some work on the laptop.  Unfortunately the lights do not come on at dusk so we begin cooking in the van.  Part way through we see all the lights come on, and stay on for the night.



WEDNESDAY 29 JUNE – It’s still drizzling as we drive north to Mackay.  Following Bernie’s directions we head out on Harbour Road then pick up signs to the port.  Just before the security area there is a left turn to Northern Beach where we find a car park with a cold shower directly behind the beach.  It’s now quite pleasant so we stroll north along the beach and even strip off for a swim finding the water quite warm.  At the rocks we find Lambert’s Beach on the other side where there is a lookout, guess a few people will have had spotted us skinny dipping.  After lunch the beach gets busy with dog walkers and late afternoon with lots of surfers.  It’s a noisy start to the night with teenagers congregating to chat and play music but things improve after they leave.



THURSDAY 30 JUNE – Following the Bruce Highway north of Mackay we suddenly spot a sign saying C.M.C.A. (Campervan and motorhome club of Australia) welcome.  We are just north of Kuttabul (and just south of Palm Tree Creek rest area) and McGills side road leads us to Les & Nora’s property.  They are offering free parking for motorhomes so we set up in their paddock with a fine view of the road below.  Water and a portaloo are provided and there’s no charge.  Late afternoon the rain returns and we hear on the news that the Gold Coast area of Queensland and the northern coast of New South Wales are flooded with serious problems.  Some areas have had 500mm of rain in the last 24 hours so I reckon we are not doing too badly.





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