Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200507 Australia-Qld

FRIDAY 1 JULY – The Mackay Sugarloafers are organising a big motorhome rally at Proserpine and we arrive at the showground where many vans are already parked up, $6 (£2.75) for a powered site and organised entertainment.  We are directed to a site on the edge of the arena and are soon joined by other campervans, mainly the small type like ours.  Neighbours are Butch & Jan from Gladstone and John & Beryl from Melbourne, with the exception of Tasmanian Butch they all originate in England.  Walk through the camping area then into town.  Arrive back just in time for afternoon tea where we meet a few other people and learn that over 100 vans are in attendance. It’s hot and noisy in the barn so we return to chat outside Butch and Jan’s van.  It’s a classic “old farts” rally and we must be the youngest in attendance but there are some interesting people amongst them.



SATURDAY 2 JULY – Steve fell asleep before 8pm last night and consequently wakes up early and heads off for a stroll around the golf course.  Almost everyone is up by 7am and it’s looking like a nice day.  At the morning coffee gathering we meet Judy a brummie who now lives on the Gold Coast and Jan & Peter (ex kiwi’s) who live near here but did a 3 year motorhome trip in Europe and bought their campervan from Drivelodge near Keighley of all places.   It’s a really hot day so we sit out and sunbathe before joining in the afternoon sports, throwing the broomstick then a type of boules using quoits.  There is an evening meal on sale for $5 (£2.25) and after this the Country & Western evening kicks off including a bit of line dancing.  The band sound like poor karaoke and it’s a relief when they wind it up at 9.30pm.



SUNDAY 3 JULY – We are up and about early for the 7am “Bush Poets” breakfast.  $3 (£1.35) buys us bacon, egg, sausage and baked beans and whilst eating this we listen to recitations of bush poetry.  9am the market stalls are set up and we have a brief wander round.  At 2pm it’s the fun “dog show” and what a pathetic effort that turns out to be.  A few dogs are dressed up in fancy outfits and the only tricks they seem to be able to do are to sit on command!  The evening talent show is much better. Kiwi’s Bruce and Chris are excellent singers, there’s a good magician and some funny comedians. 



MONDAY 4 JULY – The rally continues until tomorrow but we can’t handle any more excitement so take our leave.  After a major grocery shop we head out to the naturist resort of “Taylorwood”.  We have visited many times before so are not surprised to recognise a few of the other guests.  Spend the rest of the morning blanching our vegetables to store in the deep freeze.  After lunch we get a few rain showers so make use of the DVD lending library and watch a movie.  We are the only ones to show up for “happy hour”, not surprising, as it is cold and raining.


$11 (£5) powered site, $33 (£15) on site caravan, $55 (£25) en-suite cabin

(Brownie Ellie – Malcolm Mary – George Maree – Ian Toni – Rob Sylvia -Pete Pat –

Eric Norma – Rod Jo – Alan Lorna – Nigel Marita – Phil – Sergey)


TUESDAY 5 JULY – A much improved day, sufficient for me to make a start on the washing and get it dry.  Wander round and chat to other guests and play cards in the recreation room.  Happy hour is by the open-air fireplace and attended by many.



WEDNESDAY 6 JULY – Heavy rain throughout the night and this is supposed to be the dry season, goodness knows what it is like in the wet.  It stops raining mid morning but remains cloudy and cool all day.  Steve plays pool with Mal and in the afternoon we watch a DVD.  State of origin match is on in the evening and everyone gathers in the recreation room to watch.  On the news we are delighted to learn that London has won the bid to stage the Olympic games in 2012.



THURSDAY 7 JULY – More rain in the night but a better start to the day.  We are getting strange foisty smells in the van so I begin by washing all the bedding then wiping out all the cupboards.  This makes little difference and we finally trace it to a small gas leak (the gas here has a different smell to what we are used to).  Early afternoon there’s another change in the weather and it begins raining again.  I manage to get most of the washing dried inside one of the incomplete cabins without windows.  Play cards in the afternoon before watching yet another DVD.  Shocking news in the evening of London being hit by 4 terrorist bombs and many people killed. 



FRIDAY 8 JULY – Steve stays up until 3.30am watching cricket (live from Leeds) and breaking news on the London bombings.  With no sign of the rain abating we set up the gazebo but find it is not waterproof!  Friday evening is barefoot fun bowling at the lawn bowls club and we ride into Airlie Beach with Mal & Mary.  Our team is called “Woodies” and we play against “Bare Facts” with George & Maree and Alan & Lorna.  Surprisingly our team wins after a really enjoyable game.



SATURDAY 9 JULY – A hot and sunny morning so we get up early to take advantage and sit out by the pool.  Many new guests arrive throughout the day, Lance & Maureen from Werribee, Al & Julie from Bunbury, Errol & Jackie from Hervey Bay, Lawry and Jo from Mackay and Brian and Wendy.  Tina & Ian invite us down for an evening meal and we feast on delicious kangaroo fillets. 



SUNDAY 10 JULY – Another nice day that I begin with a walk all around Taylorwood.  Relax by the pool and feel less guilty after a 50-length swim.  Following the hot sunny day we have a very cold night.  Steve sits up watching the cricket until 3.30am and must burn almost a whole tree trying to keep warm.



MONDAY 11 JULY – Nice day but cool wind.  The pool has cooled to the extent that I can barely manage to swim 4 lengths without feeling too cold.  George comes back from town and tells us Maree is in hospital.  They went to meet up with their son who was passing through in his semi-trailer (huge lorry to us poms).  Maree went to his truck to get something and fell out of the cab into the road.  She has fractured a part of her back and will be in hospital for a few days for tests.  Ron (ex caretaker of Murrigal) and his new girlfriend Gillian arrive and we have to feel very sorry for them as it’s a cold night and they are sleeping in a tent. 



TUESDAY 12 JULY – We both get up early as we have the van booked in at   Cannonvale automotive repair service (Tel Ian 4946 6407).  Steve has been doing regular oil and filter changes but we want a big service and check up before heading into the outback.  I need to get some cash so cross the road to the Reef Motel and casino where there is an ATM.  There’s a free coffee machine for patrons so I pop $1 (45p) in the pokies then sit and enjoy our drink.  The van is finished in just over an hour; they have done the service and checked everything over, replaced the wiper blades and air filter and declared Billy to be in good shape.  The bill is $176 but $136 (£60) for cash.  At Cannonvale we do some shopping before driving into Airlie Beach.  It’s as busy as ever with back packers and much like a Spanish holiday resort.  Internet can be found at $2 (90p) hour but food and drinks seem pricey.  In the car park by the sailing club we chat to some lads in campervans and despite the “no camping” signs they have been there for weeks and say the signs are not enforceable.  Heading about 6km further on towards Shute Harbour we take a left turn after Flametree Creek (just before the airport) down Jasininque Drive then the first left into Langford Road (sign to Funnel Bay).  The road becomes a very rough dirt track but it’s only about 400m to the beach.  Nudists frequent the area and a number of campervans have been staying overnight despite signs indicating it is forbidden.  Chat to an elderly chap called Patrick who is British but staying here long term.  He tells us that over the age of 55 years it is now possible to get a 4-year visa to stay in Australia continuously if you can prove an income and have private medical insurance.   The weather is not that great and we’ve left a number of things back at Taylorwood but will certainly come back again and try out luck camping.  When we get back we join happy hour and find that Brownie & Elle are celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary and serving everyone a glass of wine.  Steve settles in for another all night cricket watching session.  The rain returns late at night.



WEDNESDAY 13 JULY – Spend a lazy day doing very little.  Dry but not hot weather.



THURSDAY 14 JULY – Hot day.  By the swimming pool most of the time.  In the evening Steve plays pool followed by table tennis whilst I join the card school.


FRIDAY 15 JULY – Nice again so pretty much a repeat of yesterday.  In the evening the remake of South Pacific is on TV. It was made in Australia and we recognise many local spots and have other locations pointed out to us.     



SATURDAY 16 JULY – More of the same



SUNDAY 17 JULY – After a morning sunbathing we gather for our Sunday dinner.  Jackie is cooking silverside of beef so we boil them together in the same pan.  Jackie & Errol, Marianne & Mick join us for Sunday dinner.  We enjoy roast potatoes, roast sweet potato, carrots, sprouts, cabbage, peas, gravy and white sauce. It’s Joy’s birthday today and instead of normal happy hour we have a bit of a party with everyone taking a plate of finger food.  People are arriving and leaving on a daily basis so this gives us a chance to catch up with the new inmates, today John & Nalan.

Steve gets involved playing more pool with Mick, Brownie and Alan.



MONDAY 18 JULY – We are ready for a change of scenery and after shopping at Cannonvale we head out to Funnel Bay.  Patrick is there and we chat to him.  It’s a cloudy and windy day but very warm and pleasant for sitting out observing all the boats going past.  We’re near the airport and many light planes fly overhead before landing.  It’s high tide in the evening and the bay looks lovely as we sip our gin and tonics.  At night we are along bar a catamaran in the bay. 



TUESDAY 19 JULY – Whilst taking an early walk along the beach I meet Daniel from the catamaran.  He tells us a storm is forecast so he is seeking shelter here.  I arrive back to find Steve emerging from an early morning skinny dip; the water is much warmer than the pool at Taylorwood.  Patrick arrives along with his fishing nets.  He shows Steve how to drag net the bay.  At the top and bottom of the net are rubber cuffs.  One is put over your ankle and the other on your wrist.  Steve wades out into the deeper water whilst Patrick walks near the shore.  When they drag the net into shore there are lots of garfish, many other small fish, 1 whiting and 1 stingray.  Not bad for 10 minutes work.  Patrick saves the small fish for bait and we cook up the whiting.  It’s not that big and barely does us a taste each on a slice of bread but we can’t complain about the freshness.  Steve attaches the bait fish to a couple of hand lines and throws them out to sea but as the tide is now going out fast it’s not surprising he doesn’t get a bite.  The storm begins late afternoon with heavy rain and strong winds.  Another campervan and car arrive before nightfall.  The wind is getting very strong so we drop the roof and batten down the hatches for the night.



WEDNESDAY 20 JULY – The wind has been so strong it has kept blowing the gas fridge out.  It’s a dull and cloudy morning with outbursts of rain so we pack up to head into town.  It’s difficult getting out along the track and at one point we glide sideways on the mud.  Luckily it is at a wide part of the road as some sections are narrow with mangrove swamp either side.  Steve manages to get us under control and we make it to the main road.  Back in Airlie Beach we get a terrific downpour.  Patrick tells us he is surprised we got out this morning and we would definitely have been trapped if we hadn’t left when we did.  Lots of small campervans are parked up by the sailing club and have obviously stayed overnight.  After Internet and shopping we return to Taylorwood where our site is getting sodden and muddy.  Following lunch we watch a DVD then have a siesta before happy hour.  Graeme & Jeanette (met at Tully) have arrived along with Dutch couple Wim &?  They live in Curacao but also do a lot of travelling in America so we have an interesting conversation.  The rain is coming down in bucketfuls so Steve stays up playing pool with Alan whilst I use the laptop. 



THURSDAY 21 JULY – Another windy and rainy night.  The swimming pool is almost full to overflowing and we have our own private pool and waterfall by the van!  The rain is lashing the coast from Cairns down to Brisbane so there is little point in us moving further.  Whilst Steve stays up late watching cricket there is news of a second lot of bombings in London.  Like two weeks ago there are 3 tube trains and 1bus hit but this time no deaths and just one person injured.  What is the world coming to?



FRIDAY 22 JULY – Still more rain but we do get a few longer breaks between downpours.  Quite a few people have left but it’s Christmas in July party next weekend so we will linger.  Jo & Ted, from Toronto, arrive and we catch up on theirs news since we last saw them.



SATURDAY 23 JULY – Mainly dry day.  The swimming pool is now full to overflowing.  In the evening we all congregate in the recreation room and take something to cook on the BBQ and a plate of salad type stuff to share.  After we’ve eaten they begin playing music but this regresses into real old time dancing stuff at which point we take our leave.



SUNDAY 24 JULY – After even more rain in the night we seem to wake to a more settled day and even manage a bit of sunbathing in the afternoon.



MONDAY 25 JULY – A dry day with the sun shining in the afternoon and Steve and I the only ones sat out by the pool.  The place is beginning to fill up ready for the party on Saturday.  At the moment there is one cabin in use and 4 in the making.  However guests are booked into another cabin tomorrow so the work gang stay up until 11pm trying to get one finished.



TUESDAY 26 JULYI pop in to look at the cabin, as they are obviously not finished judging by the early morning hive of activity.  The furniture is installed but the bathroom is not finished and there are areas where the wall doesn’t meet the ceiling in the main living area.  Looks like “Rogin’s rapid erection” is in need of a bit of viagra!   



WEDNESDAY 27 JULY – At last a nice hot sunny day.  Quickly get the washing done before lazing around the swimming pool.  People are piling in ready for the Christmas in July and it’s really noisy in the recreation room in the evening.  Bob & Joy have come from Darwin and bring us a message from Bev & Norm.



THURSDAY 28 JULY – Nice again so out by the pool.  Even more people arrive and it’s feeling quite crowded.  We meet Ted & Linda who are friends with Ray & Jeanne whom we know. 



FRIDAY 29 JULY – Two nice days and we are back to cloudy weather so I join Toni and Ian for a ride into Airlie Beach.  Even more people have arrived once I get back and it looks like there are going to be almost 80 of us over the weekend.  Early evening a group of people our sort of age arrive from Townsville.  Having already had 4 weeks as the youngsters in the retirement village we are ready for a change of company but they all seem to be in one big group and we only manage a brief introdution.  



SATURDAY 30 JULY – We both get up early to help Jackie & Errol who are decorating the recreation room.  This year it’s Japanese theme and they have gone out of their way to bring things for the tables, mainly in black and red.  The serviettes have been folded into fans and napkin rings made in black with raffia decoration.  Place setting cards are on lollypop sticks painted red and fixed together like easels.  Mini sand trays with pebbles and rakes and lots of Japanese flags and umbrellas complete the scene.  It’s fancy dress and I wear a Japanese kimono and fasten my hair back with chopsticks.  Steve wears two oranges attached above his knees and says he misheard the theme and thought it was “jaffa knees”!  A couple from Townsville run an ice sculpture business and have donated a huge blue swan and the sushi is laid onto a bed of rice in its back.  The $10 (£4.50) meal starts with oysters or beef stir fry followed by sushi then chicken and ham with all the trimmings.  Father Christmas arrives and we all get a pressie (you are all asked to buy a $5 gift for a male and a female).  Much later dessert is served, fruit salad and Christmas pudding.  It’s really hot in the room so I strip off for a swim to refresh myself for the evening dancing session – needn’t have bothered really as it all winds down at 8.30pm.



SUNDAY 31 JULY – Had planned to get all the washing done today prior to leaving tomorrow but rain stops play and with rain forecast all week we decided to pack up and leave.  It’s after 11am by the time we have done the rounds saying Good-bye to everyone, exchanged names and addresses and had a brief chat to the Townsville gang.  Heading north we soon get fine hot weather and notice how dry the landscape is.  Make numerous stops in Bowen, tourist info, Mullers lagoon for lunch, petrol station, shops then finally fruit barn on the way out of town.  Between Ayr and Townsville we turn off to the tiny village of Guru.  There’s a huge sugar cane factory here but more importantly the old campsite is closed but now used for free camping. It’s by the side of the railway track leading to the factory but shouldn’t be too noisy.  Toilets, cold showers and washing up sinks are available and it’s quite popular.  There’s a newspaper clipping on the wall about a 2.5m crocodile caught in the river here in April and another sighted but not yet caught.  Don’t think we will be exploring in that direction today.



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