Page 150: Tin Can Bay
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  Tin Can Bay  

As we prepared to leave Maroochydore we noticed a large wet patch under the caravan where no wet patch should be. No time to investigate before leaving; whatever was leaking could wait.

Our journey was relatively short and uneventful though we made a thorough nuisance of ourselves holding up the traffic on inadequate roads. How can they justify calling a narrow road with only one lane in each direction a "motorway"? Then it stops being a motorway while you navigate a roundabout before becoming a motorway again.

Anyway, we arrived safely at the Tin Can Bay Tourist Park and liked it immediately. It has large sites spread across generous acres of green, short grass with good concrete roads; no dust, no gravel, no mud.

Tin Can Bay. What a catchy name though the explanation is less intriguing. I quote from Wikipedia:

Tin Can Bay is a . . . seaside town located on a deep but narrow sheltered inlet . . . 218 kilometres north of the state capital, Brisbane. At the 2006 census, Tin Can Bay had a population of 1,918.

It is suggested that the town's name derives from the indigenous word, "Tuncanbar", thought to refer to the dugongs that frequent the inlet.

An important tourist feature is the regular arrival of wild Indo-Pacific dolphins which usually appear early mornings next to the Norman Point boat ramp. These dolphins can be hand fed under close supervision.

We didn't venture forth that first day as we were setting up and there was a leak under the caravan to locate and repair. Once again it was the red pressure hose that carries the hot water to the taps and shower; this time it was the pipe to the kitchen sink. Jayco must have used a faulty batch of pipe when our 'van was built as we've never met anyone else with this problem. Again it was a tiny pinhole that squirted a fine jet of water some way before dripping from somewhere different. Having seen this several times before, we were equipped to replace the pipe. The push-on connections used are a wonderful invention, though after nearly seven years of use ours are getting crusted up with calcium. This didn't present a problem as a few minutes soaking in CLR removed the calcium completely and I have plenty of rubber 'O' rings to replace the seal which had become hard and squashed. Then everything was like new again. We could have just used one of the new connections that we carry but it's so much more satisfying to repair the old one.


The next day we were up early and out by the crack of noon to explore the area. Tin Can Bay is not actually on the shore of the Coral Sea, rather it is located on the west side of an inlet, a continuation of a narrow passage which runs north/south between the mainland and nearby Fraser Island.

One picture is worth a thousand words. (Who said that?)

Tin Can Bay is not concentrated in one small area but spread along and around the intricate coastline. For boats the bay is in a sheltered location but with access to the Coral Sea (which is part of the South Pacific Ocean) and Fraser Island.

As we drove around we came across several more caravan parks, about five in all. Despite that, I would describe Tin Can Bay as a fishing village rather than as a resort. It isn't spoilt by high rise apartment blocks, casinos or any of the other trimmings that are designed to pull in holidaymakers and their wallets. Nor does its sheltered coastline lend itself to good surfing conditions so the younger element is more attracted to Rainbow Beach (see the map).

We decided to visit Rainbow Beach which meant quite a circuitous drive around the southern tip of the inlet. There is no bridge.

  Rainbow Beach  

Rainbow Beach is indeed a lovely little resort. After parking we headed to a lookout platform overlooking the beach, passing the sign (shown right) listing all the things that we were not allowed to do in Rainbow Beach. Well, okay Mr CEO. Thanks for the very warm welcome.

The view from the platform was lovely. Surf lifesavers were on duty down below with a few people swimming and sunbathing. We took some photos and turned to leave. Behind us was a large picture frame containing several photographs with text accompanying each one. It was a sort of memorial to young local people, each of whom had been killed in violent accidents. One man had been murdered. That cheered us up no end. Perhaps these poor unfortunates had been caught riding a horse or owned a defecating dog.

We chose one of several open cafés and had a very nice lunch. From our table we could see some modern holiday homes atop a nearby hill. They were priced upwards from $465,000. We thought about it for about a millisecond and decided to keep our caravan.

The views left and right from the lookout platform at Rainbow Beach in winter. The distant horizon on the left picture is Fraser Island.
Left: Rainbow Beach's very own wind turbine was made in Ireland.                                           Right: The CBD at Rainbow Beach                            

Gympie - or in 'Alice-speak' - Jimpie


Alice isn't so silly. How do you pronounce ‘gym’ (as in gymnasium)? Since I can't teach Alice English I have to learn her language. For example, when she says, "In 350 metres turn left onto Stew Art Tea Sea Eee" she means Stewart Terrace.

We weren't sure what to expect when we visited Gympie, the nearest town of any size to Tin Can Bay. Not finding any sign indicating which way the town centre lay, we drifted around until Pam had a brain wave. Well, more of a tsunami, really.

"Ask Alice to take us to the Town Hall." she said, "That's usually in the town centre."

Alice dutifully took us there. Apart from a shopping centre there was little of interest. We went into the shopping centre and found even less of interest. Needing a coffee, we had to sit at one of those tables in the middle of one of the mall's wide corridors. Great! We'd driven 55 km for this.

However, while searching through Alice's memory to find the Town Hall, we had come across Old Gympie Station. Pam remembered that the "Valley Rattler" was due to arrive at 15:30, or half past three in the afternoon, whichever came first. The "Valley Rattler" is a well known Gympie icon. It is a steam locomotive pulling fifteen to twenty old carriages through the picturesque Mary Valley. There was little time to spare so we gulped our drinks and asked Alice to guide us to Old Gympie Station.

We arrived with seconds to spare but it mattered little, the train was running about twenty minutes late. I idled the time away looking at a very wonky-looking footbridge over the railway track. Eventually we heard a train's whistle and soon the Valley Rattler chuffed into sight, hauling an assortment of slightly mismatched carriages.

  The "Rattler" approaching the footbridge. Pictured by Pam.
By the way, the sign on the post at the foot of the steps is reproduced below
  Imagine two hundred tired commuters alighting from a train and queuing to cross the tracks, two by two.  
  Here she comes, driver leaning out of the cab. All that tinder dry grass on the
embankment on the right is just waiting for a stray spark from the locomotive.
  But wait! Right behind the train came Gertie. Gertie is a fire fighting tender and should the loco start a fire, Gertie's crew would extinguish it before it took hold. MVHR stands for Mary Valley Heritage Railway.  
  Class C17 loco 802 arrived from England in 1927. Heritage Railway staff, in blue shirts, are much in evidence.
What is that woman on the left of the picture doing, demonstrating her opinion of the train trip? Look at the driver's expression.
  802 was uncoupled from the carriages and went off to refuel for the following day. Now it's clear why the driver and fireman
left the engine and stood chatting some distance away. For the driver of the front end loader, however, there was no escape.
  The Gympie Muster  

The "Gympie Muster" is a country music festival which takes place around this time of year. We checked it out with interest until we learned that admission will be $120 per head, per day. The Muster lasts five days!

If they charged like that last year they 'muster' made a fortune.

  Anyone want to talk about carbon dioxide reduction? The fire was about 10 km away.  

This was a ‘fuel reduction controlled burn’. That is, burning the undergrowth without destroying the trees and - hopefully - the wildlife. Rumour has it the burn ‘got away’ from the fire brigade. That euphemism - if it’s true - means in plain English that they made a hash of it. Fuel reduction is vital for the safety of communities. But . . . how to do it without returning all that ‘captured carbon’ to the atmosphere? Beats me.

The visible smoke consists of particles of carbon which are not a problem - unless your washing is hanging underneath - because they eventually fall back to earth. What we can't see is all that colourless gas, currently Public Enemy Number One, carbon dioxide.