Pam's Journal For August 2005

  Monday 1st August 2005  
  Shopping, mail collection, doctor’s appointment and blood test. That took care of most of the day. When back at camp we had visitors - some new next door neighbours, also from Perth. What with that and chatting to other people, I was still putting the shopping away at 7:00 p.m!  
  Tuesday 2nd August 2005  
  The owners of the caravan park have allowed us to borrow their ladder but deny all knowledge of us having it. They apparently have to say that in case Peter falls off and tries to sue them. Anyway we borrowed the ladder so that Peter could clean the caravan roof which has been irritating him since I-don’t-know-when. As you are only allowed to use the hose pipe until midday, you have to be up and started early to get it all done.

After lunch Peter went to help out Kevin as another light switch on their caravan had broken. There is a nice camaraderie between the grey nomads. When Peter was repairing our caravan at Katherine, our next door neighbour offered his help and tools, and our friend Ross was under the caravan helping Peter. Kevin (current neighbour) lent Peter a marvellous brush (designed for truck washing) to clean the top of the caravan. In turn Peter has helped out whoever he could, as I have.

We went to Kevin and Carol’s for happy hour when they received a phone call from the garage to say their car was ready after being repaired. They have been without transport for a week. Again the kindness of the grey nomads was demonstrated when complete strangers offered Kevin and Carol their car for the day as they weren’t using it. They didn’t accept but were very touched by the offer. Anyway, they rushed off to collect their vehicle and we went home to finish happy hour to the accompaniment of one our neighbours on an accordion. He was very good too.

Carol and Kevin came over when they returned and happy hour was extended, nothing new for us.
  Wednesday 3rd August 2005  
  We went into town for Peter to try and update the website without any joy. At least I read our emails using another computer. We did a bit of shopping but mainly we raced all over town looking for one of those truck washing brushes. You would think that an industrial town full of trucks would sell one of these, but no, we couldn’t find one. We will have to wait until we get to Townsville. We then went back to the caravan for lunch and to relax as we couldn’t do much else as it was pouring with rain. Yes rain - the first we have seen in months.
  Thursday 4th August 2005  
  We had decided to go back to town to try and update the website. We had also arranged to meet Carol and Kevin at the Irish Club for lunch. We were not successful with the website and the lady at the internet café didn’t care and in fact she was quite rude. I mention this as up to this point we have found the residents of Mt Isa lovely, helpful, friendly people. Thankfully this ‘woman’ (she is no lady), is of the minority. We met Kevin and Carol and had a very nice lunch with good company. The lunch and drinks were very reasonably priced as they have the dreaded ‘pokies’ and this subsidises the refreshments. A few more errands in town and then back to camp. No happy hour tonight as we were still overfull from lunch time.  
  Friday 5th August 2005  
  This morning we went to the free morning tea at the camp kitchen and listened to a talk about what there is to do in Mt Isa. We then went to the Underground Hospital which is now a museum. It was built in 1942 as an emergency hospital in case the Japanese bombed Mt Isa in the war. Mt Isa was classed as a target because of the lead mining here. The underground hospital - more an air raid shelter with minimum medical equipment - was never used, a familiar story. From there we went into the visitors’ centre to book for the Surface Mine Tour for tomorrow. We also went to the lookout and looked over the town of Mt Isa. We were talking to another couple there also from Perth and the lady commented that the town looked like Alice Springs from the lookout. She was right. Friday night we had our final happy hour with Kevin and Carol as they are moving on tomorrow. A very nice couple with whom we will keep in contact.  
  Saturday 6th August 2005  
  For a change it was me in a grumpy mood today. I get quite fed up meeting all these lovely people and then having to say goodbye. I said to Peter I am not making friends with anyone else! That won’t last long. It could be also that I started with a head cold last night. Anyway we went on the Surface Mine Tour. We had to wear closed in shoes otherwise we wouldn’t have been allowed on the bus. For the whole of the tour we never got off the bus!!! Peter found it interesting, I was just grumpy and found it even less interesting than an aeroplane museum. I think it would have been more interesting if we were allowed to get off the bus and look at things properly as very often we couldn’t see or understand what the tour guide was talking about. We then had a sandwich at the café at the visitors centre which is run by trainees so it is a lot cheaper than a normal café. The sandwiches were very nice but the coffee, yes well. Later in the day Peter went back to the lookout to take night photos and to find the unofficial lookout to see the truck from the mine pouring red hot tailings. He couldn’t find it so we are going to try again tomorrow.  
  Sunday 7th August 2005  
  We went to look at Lake Moondara this afternoon. It really is as lovely as everyone had said. It supplies the area of Mt Isa with its water but people are allowed to ski, sail, swim and fish in the waters. After we left the lake we went in search of this viewing place to see the truck tipping the red hot tailings. After going where the lady in the information centre sent us, which turned out to be wrong, we went here there and everywhere and eventually we found it. We saw them tipping in the daylight and decided to come back when it was dark. As the Irish Club was just around the corner we decided to go there and have a drink. We had just sat down with our drinks when Peter announced he wasn’t interested in going back to see the tipping at night. So why did we do all this chasing around, why are we having a drink here and not at home?? Men!!!!!!!!!  
  Monday 8th August 2005  
  We were quite busy with our chores and errands in town. Nothing exciting happening.  
  Tuesday 9th August 2005  
  We were restricted due to Billy being in for a service so we had a day at home cleaning, washing and getting ready for moving on tomorrow.  
  Wednesday 10th August 2005  
  A fairly early start. Our first stop was Cloncurry for a coffee break. Cloncurry was either closed or in some cases empty. We did find a newsagent and a bakery open. We went to the bakery for a coffee but the machine had broken down so we had to have instant. We could have made that in the ’van!

We stopped in the middle of a small town and had our lunch then carried on to our overnight stop. It was a rest area and one or two other campers had already arrived. Peter parked the ’van and I went to inspect the toilets. Just before I did he asked, “Should I park over there?”  “No” I replied, “It is muddy.” I came back from the toilet and found him parked on the mud. Anyway, as it was for one night I did not say a lot. We settled down for the evening and he announces that if it rains in the night we will have to get up and move the ’van otherwise we might be bogged in mud. Lucky for him it didn’t rain!!

We couldn’t sleep as a large refrigerated road train parked alongside all the caravans. Try sleeping with a large compressor going all night. He left around 3.00 a.m. and then it was too quiet to sleep. Usually the truck rest areas are separated from the caravan ones but this one was for both. I shall keep that in mind when selecting our next overnight stop.
  Thursday 11th August  
  We did not have any trouble being on the road early today. We travelled for an hour then stopped for a breakfast break. We bumped into another couple here that had stayed where we did last night. We then carried on to the next stop for lunch at a lookout. We found the scenery very picturesque in parts and totally boring in others. The road kept changing as well, in some places it was excellent in others in was either bumpy or very narrow. The Queensland government are actually upgrading the road so I guess the next time we travel along it, it will be much improved. Whilst having our lunch the heavens opened and it poured down. Quite an event for us as we have seen very little rain in these last few months. We arrived at Charters Towers in good time, set up camp and who should we see but the chap from last night. They are also staying at this caravan park. We then experienced some more rain, all night it seemed like. I gave up trying to sleep and made a cup of tea around 2.30am. It was still pouring with rain when we got up.  
  Friday 12th August 2005.  
  As it is pouring with rain, so far today we haven’t done a lot. We have an en suite site at this caravan park. We didn’t request it as we have our own shower and toilet in the ’van. It is quite a novelty having our own bathroom just outside the door. Peter went for a shower and came back with a crook back. Don’t ask me what he does in the shower!! Seriously, he is in a lot a pain, it is an old injury and he just turned in an awkward way and it went. As it is raining it isn’t a hardship to stay at home and relax for the day.  
  Saturday 13th August 2005  
  Peter’s back seems to be a little better today and the sun is shining so we went into the town. We had some shopping to do and to check the information centre. The lady there was very good. We tend to judge towns not only by the caravan ablution block but also by the person in the information centre. We liked Charters Towers it has a lot of fine old buildings and very friendly people. We decided, as we are taking it easy (Pete Mate’s back), that we would extend our stay for a few more days. Luckily I did an hour later Peter was back on the bed in pain as his back was worse. We will see what tomorrow brings.  
  Sunday 14th August 2005  
  53 years old today and I still find it hard to believe. I often forget that I have reached the 50 mark, never mind 53. It is also our Wedding Anniversary, twenty nine years married and still in love. We were to go out sightseeing in the afternoon and then go to one of the hotels for dinner but Pete Mate’s back is worse so we are taking it easy. He feels rotten about spoiling my birthday but we have so many nice days on our trip it doesn’t really matter. I suggested that, as my birthday cards are waiting for me in Cairns, that when I collect them I will celebrate my birthday then.  
  Monday 15th August 2005  
  Poor Peter had a terrible night; he hardly slept at all and the pain in his back was worse. I tried two of the surgeries in town but they were fully booked and they suggested that I took him to the hospital. So………four hours later with X-rays completed, a pain relief injection that didn’t work and armed with Panadeine Forte we left the hospital. The only way to get Peter to and from the hospital was for him to lie down on the back seat and me drive. Yes folks, I drove Billy, amazing what one is allowed to do in an emergency. With that major drama out of the way it was back to the caravan and hopefully by morning the patient will be feeling better.
  Tuesday 16th August 2005  
  We had a much better night last night so I guess the pills are working. Another rest day for Peter, I did some chores and relaxed. We decided we had better book in for another week to give Peter’s back time to heal. Hopefully in a couple of days he will be mobile enough to go out.  
  Wednesday 17th August 2005  
  Peter’s back is not getting any better so I made him a physiotherapist appointment for tomorrow. I went into town to do a little shopping and check our emails. I had a wander around the Excelsior Library. It used to be a hostel but it burnt down a few years ago, killing a lot of backpackers. The building's original shell was used when the building was repaired - it was about all that was left of the heritage-listed building. It is now the library and so far we have not seen anything that tells us about the fire, and to ask would be in poor taste. It reminds me of Port Arthur when we went there; you knew there had been a tragedy but you didn’t ask about it. I guess there is a memorial in town somewhere. Charters Towers is a nice little town with very friendly people and you could imagine the whole community would have been affected by the disaster in one way or another.  
  Thursday 18th August 2005  
  I took Peter to the physiotherapist this morning. It just so happens it is at the old people's home. Should I, should I not, leave him there …mmmmmmm.. Well I decided to keep him a little longer. After his treatment we went home, Peter to lie flat and me to do washing and other chores. We return to the physio tomorrow.  
  Friday 19th August 2005  
  After another physio session I left Peter at the caravan and went into town to do some shopping and lots of browsing in gift shops. It is Daffodil Day so I purchased some daffodils from the Cancer Foundation stall. Only trouble is I don’t have a vase in the caravan but they look pretty good in a jug.  
  Saturday 20th August 2005  
  Another beautiful day, weather wise, and Peter does seem a little better. In the afternoon I went into town to the local craft show. That took ten minutes as it wasn’t that good. I then checked out the local museum. Yes, well. Lissner Park was nice and after I walked around it checking out the memorials I made my way back to the car. I then decided to check out the Pioneer Cemetery. It was quite sad as it was neglected and it looked like someone had deliberately broken a number of the headstones. What I did discover was that in the details on the headstones of most of the children, the child was "the beloved son" (or daughter) of the father. There was no mention of poor old Mum that gave birth. It was very apparent, also, that a lot of the women died in their late forties and the men in their early sixties. It would be quite interesting to record the grave stones and do a chart so you would then get a sense of pioneering times and how tough it was. One man was from Manchester and another from Macclesfield. I then did a drive around the surrounding areas of the town then back home to check on the invalid. He was now in more pain having overdone it as one does when one is feeling better.  
  Sunday 21st August 2005  
  Again the sun is shining. Peter had a bad night in a lot of pain. He has had a hot pack on it all morning so this afternoon we took a drive out to Towers Hill which is a lookout with a vista of the town. We then went into the Information Centre for a list of caravan parks in Cairns. Back home to rest.  
  Monday 22nd August 2005  
  Peter went to the physio for another traction session. We then did a few errands and at last updated the website.  
  Tuesday 23rd August 2005  
  Peter had had another bad night so he just rested today. I cleaned and did the washing.  
  Wednesday 24th August 2005  
  Peter’s back does not seem to be getting any better. It seems much worse at night and we had another night of sleeplessness. He went for his final physio here whilst I did the shopping.  
  Thursday 25th August 2005  
  We left Charters Towers round 9.30am. We planned an overnight stay the other side of Townsville at Rollingstone. This free overnight stay had been recommended to us by a few people. We took a few breaks on the way so Peter could stretch his legs and at one stop have a snooze. His back is fine whilst driving. If it hadn’t been, I would have had to drive – heaven forbid!!! We arrived early afternoon and the site was very pleasant indeed. After a short rest Peter’s back was really bad so he walked around quite a bit, but could not sleep again during the night.  
  Friday 26th August 2005  
  Pouring rain greeted us at Cairns. Not much else to do but set up camp and hope the weather and Peter’s back have improved by tomorrow.  
  Saturday 27th August 2005  
  We went into the city to have a look around, pick up one or two supplies and try the Post Office on the off chance it was open on a Saturday as our mail is gathering dust in Cairns. Alas the mail collection section was closed. I suggested to Peter we visit the 24 hour clinic to see if the doctor could give him something. He decided to see how it went over the weekend. At 11.30pm I could not stand to watch him in so much pain any longer. I wasn’t asking this time - I told him to get in the car and I took him to the 24 hour clinic. The doctor there couldn’t have been less interested if he tried but he did give Peter a script for Voltaren after I requested something now as the pain is really bad and I, for one, would like some sleep. He went off and found two tablets. At last something that works, with Voltaren and the Codalgin Forte we finally got some sleep.  
  Sunday 28th August 2005  
  Apart from looking for, and thankfully finding, a chemist open on a Sunday we didn’t do very much. It is still pouring with rain but at least today we had some short sunny spells. We have decided a few days rest might help Peter and the weather may also improve.  
  Monday 29th August 2005  
  A reasonable night’s sleep. A lay day.  
  Tuesday 30th August 2005  
  Finally, sunshine for the whole day, let's hope it lasts. We went into the city to collect the mail, I got my birthday cards at last. We did some shopping and, as the sun was shining and Peter didn’t feel too bad, we went for a short drive to Lake Morris. It was a beautiful drive through rainforests. Sadly we forgot to take the camera, but it won’t be a hardship to do the drive again. The scenery reminded us very much of Tasmania. We arrived at Lake Morris which supplies the town with water, had lunch, and returned home.  
  Wednesday 31st August 2005  
  Peter’s back still pretty much the same. It rained again overnight and first thing this morning. By lunchtime the sun was shining. We went out in the afternoon to take photos of where we were yesterday. We then went for a drive to Crystal Cascades. Again very pretty scenery. There are some very large and beautiful houses nestled amongst the hills. It would certainly be a nice place to live, here.