More Midge Point then Sarina, Emu Park and Biloela.
More From Midge Point
Lounging around idyllic Midge Point was very peaceful but sometimes you
have to buy in supplies. Midge Point had a new supermarket but choice
was rather limited. The nearest small town was Proserpine, however a few
kilometres further was the popular resort of Airlie Beach. To reach Airlie
we would have to pass through Cannonvale where there was a new shopping
centre. We decided to kill two birds (which turned into three) with one
Frankly, Airlie Beach is not our favourite spot. When we stayed there
we found it a picturesque location horribly ruined by development. This
time we found even more development taking place; talk about killing the
golden goose! But as we drove through Airlie we recalled a wonderful little
café overlooking Shute Harbour (the third bird)
which is a few kilometres beyond Airlie and totally unspoiled.
We visited Shute Harbour for lunch and this was the view from the café balcony. If you've seen it before on
these pages, you're right. We were here on Page 32, but I couldn't resist another picture. Well, could you?
The photo above doesn't even begin to do justice to the view from that café.
Look to the right or the left and it's as beautiful. The small area which
has been developed is completely enclosed by the Conway National Park
so hopefully it will never be spoiled. The forest-covered hills opposite
are part of that National Park.
Update: Within a week of writing the above, we read
in the newspaper that there is a development planned for Shute Harbour
that "would include 733 marina berths, 155 high density units
and a five-storey resort complex".
The residents are opposing
the development. Good luck to them.
At least we saw it before they make it into a second Airlie Beach.
While staying at Midge Point we also visited Cape Hillsborough, calling
in to spend a pleasant hour with our friend Michele Shea at the Old Station
Tea House and Craft Gallery. Michele had very kindly let us use her tea
house to access the internet when we stayed at Hillsborough last year
(Page 33). It had been the closest location to our caravan where our modem
could receive a signal.
And finally on Midge Point, did it live up to its name? No. There were
'mozzies' and sand flies, of course, but no worse than anywhere else on
Leaving Midge Point we made a short(ish) hop to the town of Sarina for
a one-night stop. Again we travelled through sugar country with the harvest
in full swing and the mills working flat out. Sarina is a sugar town,
but the region is also heavily into the mining and export of coal, or
so the caravan park manager told me. I remarked that what Australia's
coal industry desperately needs - to secure its long term future - is
'clean coal technology'.
"Oh, they wash it these days," he replied.
I looked at him, not sure if he was joking or not. I don't think he was.
We took the opportunity to drive along the coast and took a walk along
Grasstree Beach. (Grasstrees used to called Black Boys but that name is
no longer PC.) Near the water's edge we came across a starfish. We'd never
seen one so large and wondered whether it was still alive, the tide having
only receded a few metres.
The starfish, its size illustrated by the inset. Real or rubber?
"Let's put it back in the water" suggested Pam.
"Good idea," I said. "Pick it up then."
"No, I didn't mean me," she replied.
Not knowing anything about starfish, I hadn't a clue whether it might
sting. I got around that by picking up the sand on which it rested and
carrying the lot out into the lovely warm water as far as I could before
putting it gently down. I don't know what I expected to happen but nothing
did. The sand quickly sank and the starfish floated on the surface, quite
motionless other than rising and falling on the swell. While watching
it, a nasty suspicion entered my mind. What if it's a child's beach toy
made of rubber? A quick glance along the dunes didn't reveal a hidden
camera or a crowd of people rolling about with laughter so I was somewhat
reassured - but not totally. The waves were slowly taking the critter
back towards the beach although it did
appear to be slowly sinking.
"You're on your own now, mate," I told it, and waded back
to shore. We continued our walk, returning some forty minutes later to
find the starfish again high and dry on the beach.
A later glance at the Internet informed us that there are over 1,800 varieties
of starfish. A few pictures were shown but 'ours' wasn't recognisable
amongst them. At least it definitely wasn't one of those Crown Of Thorns
Starfish that reputedly damage the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the text
was interesting: "They have no front or back: they can move in
any direction without turning. Rather than using muscles to move their
hundreds of tiny legs, starfish use a complex hydraulic system to move
around or cling to rocks. The intake valve for this system is generally
located on the top of the Starfish, just off centre . . . "
It can be seen clearly on the photo above.
We continued our exploration of the coastline and found ourselves overlooking
a huge coal export terminal.
Hay Point coal loading facility. Raw materials stocked up ready for export and conversion into
greenhouse gases. Waiting ships (top) seem suspended in the air.
Most of this coal is bound for China and Japan. There was a promotional video running at the viewing platform and
though I wasn't paying it too much attention I did hear the soundtrack
proclaim that coal trains that are two kilometres long can unload in fifteen
minutes without stopping.
Pam counted over thirty colliers waiting at sea to dock and load. Did
you notice them in the photo above? They appeared to be hovering in the
sky - have another look. We could see four ships tied up and loading.
A French-built Eurocopter AS.350B2A, the pilot's helicopter, returns to its pad.
Ever since buying the caravan I have been trying to find a good system for
mounting a driver's door extension mirror. There are many attachments
commercially available but not many which satisfy our criteria which are:
- The extension arm must be sufficiently long to provide a clear view of traffic behind the caravan.
- The mirror must not vibrate excessively.
Naturally, the more you try to satisfy the first condition, the worse
the second one becomes. We eventually found a good compromise which held
the mirror firmly in all three axes by adding a second magnetic pad and
The down side is, of course, the cost. These magnetic pads are close to
$100 each. Even so, I'm very relieved that I now have this arrangement
which makes towing so much more relaxing. A quick glance at the mirror is all that's required then I can concentrate on the road again.
The previous arm being shorter, I used to have to perform contortions to try and make
out what was behind the caravan, often having to weave the car slightly
to achieve that.
Since the pads pull off the door easily, there's only one butterfly nut
under the car's normal mirror to slacken and the whole rig comes off.
I always leather off the contact surface of the pads and the door before
re-attaching the extension mirror and there's been no hint of damage to
We left Sarina at about 07:30 just as the morning mist was burning off
and were setting up at Bell Park, 342 km to the south east, by 12:30 after
a pleasant and uneventful journey. As in Cairns, it was like coming home
to old friends - and soon some new ones. Now most people think I'm crazy
and they're probably right, but I was really happy to see that the bats
were still there and as numerous as ever.
This young lady had a small hole through her left wing and, I think, a baby clinging to her breast.
To avoid confusion I'd better explain
that Emu Park is the name of the little town; Bell Park is its caravan
park. I tend to use both names for the caravan park. It was great to see
Jim and Susie Waterman again - Jim runs the park. Don't ever come to Bell
Park if you're an overly-sensitive person as you're likely to get ribbed
unmercifully or acquire a (possibly uncomplimentary) nickname. It's all
good natured, though, and it's a very happy park.
Two Emu Park characters - "Dingo Bill"(left) and the caravan park manager, Jim Waterman.
Bill gets his name from the little Dingo earth mover he operates - nothing to do with wild dogs.
Jim's unique personality makes Bell Park the fun place it is. And,
yes Jim, this "photo" is a fake made up from three different
images taken with a Canon 350D, naturally. What else? (Jim's a Nikon devotee.)
Regarding nicknames, as
mentioned in the picture caption, there's "Dingo Bill", also
"Penguin Pete" (a different Pete), "Tiger" and "Shorty".
One poor Irish girl called Carmel had not been in the park five minutes
before she became "Carnal". All credit to Carmel, she took it
in good part. As I mentioned, it's all good natured and there's a very
happy atmosphere in the park - especially at Happy Hour.
A Late Picture from Cairns
Thanks to our old mate, John Stone, I can include a recently
received picture of some of the gang from Cool Waters Holiday Park in
Cairns. John took it during a "Morning Tea" session as we all
piled on the calories. Almost every Thursday morning the management provided
a seemingly unlimited quantity of buttered scones with jam and heaps of
cream, plus tea and coffee. All it cost us was a donation to charity.
Highlighted in bright colour are some of our friends because a colourful
lot they are! Left to right:
• Ross Taylor in horizontal stripes.
• An unknown bloke in blue (not with us).
• Terri-Anne Walton, daughter of Ross and Jan Taylor.
• Between Terri and Pam is Jan Taylor, hiding from the camera.
• Pam in a white top.
• Rhonda Stone in a tangerine top.
• Pat Crowe in a black top. Pat is the mother of Dwayne who,
with his wife Sue, runs the park.
Missing spouses are:
• John Stone (taking the photo).
• Terry Crowe (he wasn't far away).
• Me (I think I was taking photos too).
Emu Park continued.
The days passed very happily in Emu Park. The outlook from the caravan
was of the Coral Sea through a gap in the foliage which was all that separated
the park from the beach. There were islands dotted about and the sound
of the waves breaking onto the beach was always with us.
The Washer-up's View From Our Caravan Window.
In one sense our
contentedness was a warning sign because we found ourselves wanting
to stay longer than the two weeks which we had allocated. Well, why not?
you may ask. One reason was that we had to be in Sydney to meet up with
my visiting brother and his wife in a few weeks. Besides, despite all
the places in Australia that we have now visited, there are still vast
areas waiting to be explored. So, having established the reasons why we
able to linger longer in Emu Park, we extended our stay
for a further two weeks. In fact, we even checked the price of real estate
along the coast. Scary - both the fact that we checked the prices and
the prices themselves. Sadly this area is earmarked for 'development'
and the property prices already reflect that.
So the days drifted by in this idyllic setting, time only marked by the
interval until the next Happy Hour. Each dusk the
big bats stopped their noisy squabbling and began flying around the colony
before heading off in a scattered stream, silent silhouettes flapping
steadily westward. Occasionally we'd hear them returning in the stillness
of the early hours, their passing only betrayed by the "woosh, woosh,
woosh" of their wings.
Who Says Size Isn't Important?
Just before leaving Emu Park some new neighbours moved in next door. We've
seen big caravans in the past but this "5th wheeler" was by
far the biggest.
The insignificant little caravan in the background is ours.
Just take a look at this beauty! Once it was correctly parked, hydraulic jacks
extended down from each corner, lifting the wheels clear of the ground
and levelling the trailer. The lounge and bedroom
walls slid out hydraulically to greatly increase the interior space (see
right) and looking at it from further away revealed that both rooms had
a separate air conditioner on the roof. But that wasn't all. Because the
living accommodation was at the top, the door on the side opened into
a hydraulic lift! Would you believe that? A caravan with its own elevator!
I would hardly have been surprised to find an olympic swimming pool or
tennis court in there too. It certainly gave a new meaning to the word
Later, Pam was talking to some new arrivals in the park. They
asked which was our caravan. She pointed out the giant and - as their
eyes widened - she told them that our 'van was just behind it.
A truck licence was required to drive this leviathan and a logbook had
to be kept, as applies to any truck of that size. As might be expected,
all the residents of the park looked upon this mobile home with a great
deal of interest, curiosity and not a little envy. But t'was us who got
invited to inspect the interior.
It was fully self-contained with a five hundred litre water tank and built-in
240 volt electrical generator with the control panel conveniently placed
behind cupboard doors. When the generator motor was started up we could
barely hear it.
Left: Pam descending in the elevator.
Right: The electrical control panel.
As you might expect, there was a fully
automatic satellite dish - none of this aligning it with a compass and
setting the angle of elevation manually. The interior was very impressive
as the picture below shows. Where is the bedroom? Through a short corridor
behind the camera. It, too, expanded out to make enough space for a queen
sized bed, wardrobes and a small office. Between the living and sleeping
areas were the shower and toilet.
Everything to the left of the wood panelled floor - the lounge area - slides in at
the press of a button until the trailer sides are flush for travelling.
Well, enough drooling over the biggest
motorhome we ever saw. All too soon our day of departure was upon us and
this time we resisted the strong urge to stay at Emu Park for a little
longer. The friendliness shown to us by so many people was quite overwhelming,
and that was by no means limited to the people in the caravan park. Farewells
are never easy but once we finally hit the road we relaxed and got into
'travelling mode' again. In many ways these days of moving on through
the wide open spaces of Australia are the days I enjoy most. Unfortunately
I can't say the same for Pam who is not the world's best traveller. However,
with a short stop every couple of hours she manages well and doesn't complain.
Sometimes we pass something that makes us smile . . .
Our next stop was a three day visit to the open-cut coal mining town of
Biloela (pronounced Bill O'Wheeler)
. The name is derived from
an Aboriginal word meaning white cockatoo
How can I describe the White Cockatoo Caravan Park? Most of the residents
were shift workers at the coal mine so trying to sleep after 6 a.m. was
a waste of time - it was like camping in a transport depot with vehicles
constantly arriving and departing. Additionally there was a mess hall
a few metres from our 'van where breakfast was served from 5 a.m. for
those preparing to leave for work and later for those returning. Just
outside the park ran two busy roads separated by a railway line. What
a contrast to Emu Park where all that could be heard were the birds and
the breakers on the beach. Yes folks, we were back in the world of commerce
Continued on the next page.
Footnote: This re-working of Page 53 was completed on 20 May 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.