Pam's Journal For October 2005

     
  Saturday 1st October  
  Lay day today. We went for our morning walk up the hill and back, it gives us a fair workout, being as unfit as we are! We had just had our breakfast and I was reading the newspapers when Greg (Lois and Greg) arrived with his grandson, Nathan. They came to invite us to a meal at their house on Monday which we are looking forward to very much as they are nice people. We didn't swim today as there were too many children in the pool. A short happy hour tonight as Marilyn and Greg had a dinner date.  
  Sunday 2nd October  
  Another beautiful day here in this paradise otherwise known as Cairns. Peter washed Billy and the caravan's awning (bat poo) and I did inside chores. We went for a swim with M & G which was very pleasant as the water was lovely and cool. We then had happy hour for a while.  
  Monday 3rd October  
  We went into Cairns centre to see the cardiologist and from what he has said it sounds like I might be able to stop taking the heart tablets. I am overjoyed. I still have to wait until he has all the information so he can make the correct decision. We then went to a coffee shop that we'd found on a previous visit to the hospital. They do the best Caesar salads. After that we did a little shopping and I was accosted by a lady inviting us to a 'presentation' As a reward for attending we could purchase a dinner cruise for two people for $39 which was normally $150.00. We couldn't find the catch so we signed up. When we got back to the caravan park we told our neighbours about it so they phoned to arrange signing up. We all wanted to go on this cruise together. We then updated the web site and sent emails. In the evening we went to Greg and Lois's home for dinner and very nice it was too.  
  Tuesday 4th October  
  We attended the presentation and listened to two hours of drivel. They wanted us to buy holiday points to spend over the next 75 years. All we could see was that they made a fat profit and we paid for points for expensive holidays we wouldn't take. Anyway we managed to escape unscathed and left with our cruise voucher. That evening we had a wonderful time on the cruise. The food was excellent and the crew were so obliging, nothing too much trouble. We enjoyed the good company of Marilyn and Greg and it would not be a lie to say we all had a ball.  
  Wednesday, 5th October  
  Lay day. We had a walk and a swim in the morning. In the evening we accepted an invitation from Lois and Greg to play lawn bowls. Peter and I have never played before. We found the group to be very friendly and helpful and we enjoyed ourselves. We have been invited to go again next week, but we will have to see how we feel as Peter has had a leg problem and I have had hip problems since that evening.  
  Thursday 6th October  
  No walk this morning as we both felt a little tired after last night. We are not fit !!!! We did have a very pleasant swim and, yes folks, it is now official - I swam from the deep end. Considering a few months ago I wouldn't even go in the water, I feel pretty pleased with myself. We had just finished lunch when we had a call from the cardiologist's secretary in Cairns to say the Darwin surgery needs another form signed to release my records. So we had to drive into Cairns just to sign the form. My advice to anyone - don't get sick in Darwin. Then back at the camp we had happy hour with Greg and Marilyn.  
  Friday 7th October  
  Lay day. Walked by myself this morning as Pete Mate is feeling old and aching. Apart from shopping and a swim we did little else. Happy hour in the evening finished the day off.  
  Saturday 8th October  
  We went to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation this morning. We enjoyed the scenery very much and the beach was lovely. The weather spoilt it a little as it was overcast for most of the day and poured with rain when we left the beach. The Daintree Village was a disappointment and quite strange really. We saw some spectacular views of the mountains on the way home. The clouds were low and swirling around the tops of the mountains. The effect was quite remarkable.  
  Sunday 9th October  
 

Marilyn and I left the men to fend for themselves for a couple of hours. We had a good browse through Spotlight and bought a few things and then, quite by accident, we came across a large store that sells storage items. Marilyn has been talking about getting some sliding shelving for her caravan so we had a browse around there too. Amazing what you can buy these days. After a visit to the supermarket it was home again for lunch.

A relaxing afternoon followed by a swim to cool us down. We had a happy hour first and then the men cooked a barbecue in the camp kitchen. They were so funny. Marilyn and I listened to them chatting to each other, "No you don't cook it like that, do it like this; and vice versa. Then when all was under control they burst into song and they sang as they cooked. They certainly kept the 'camp kitchen' amused. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening finished off by a cup of tea and dessert at our 'van.

 
  Monday 10th October  
  We had our morning walk and as the weather is getting warmer we were quite hot when we got back, so we went for a swim to 'reduce our core temperature'. Then after breakfast and reading the newspapers I did a few chores. Life is hard. After we did emails and updated the website we went for another swim. A cane fire deposited black ash on us as we swam so we decided it was time to get out and go and have happy hour. For us happy hour was a little different. Yes folks, we were teetotal. We are desperately trying to get our weight down as on Friday we are going on a boat cruise to Cape York and they have a five star chef on board. We are anxious not to disembark as puddings!! Too much hard work went into our weight loss to be foolish now.  
  Tuesday 11th October  
  Lay day. Apart from a walk, a swim and feeding the turtles we didn't do a lot. Happy hour of course. Low cal lemon again.  
  Wednesday 12th October  
  We went for our walk this morning and, as is our habit, called in at the office to collect the morning paper. Over breakfast I usually read out the headlines, any interesting 'letters to the editor', and check out the SUDOKU. Last week Pete Mate had a letter printed in the paper. It was a reply to a Cairns resident who accused self-funded retirees of being 'tax cheats' and 'privileged'. Well, Pete Mate got stuck in and told him what the true facts were.

Today, on checking the regular articles I discovered I had won a competition! The prize was a food hamper. Just what we need when we are on strict diets. Nevertheless, it is the thrill of winning. I phoned the newspaper to see where I could collect my prize, then we jumped in the car to go into the city. I was so excited. When we got there I was told, "The hampers haven't come in yet". So disappointing. They are going to phone me when they come in, hopefully tomorrow. After that we did some shopping and returned home to the air conditioner.

It is getting very hot and humid here. We didn't swim this afternoon as there was a child in the pool who consistently screams at a very high pitch. This child has been around all week and you can hear him wherever you are in the park. Cannot possibly print what we four say privately about the little brat!! Didn't stop us having happy hour, though.
 
  Thursday 13th October  
  The day started well, we had a very pleasant walk. After lunch we took a trip into the city to the cardiologist for my final results. Yippee!! I was given a clean bill of health, no more tablets or blood tests. To say I am ecstatic is an understatement. Working on the premise that all good things come in threes - the first being winning the hamper yesterday - I went and bought a lotto ticket. Back home we had a celebratory happy hour which included a farewell drink as well. (The wine all the more enjoyable after the previous three days abstinence). Tomorrow we leave on our boat trip to Cape York; when we return Marilyn and Greg will have left to continue their travels. We will miss them. Once again we are going to have to say goodbye to some nice people.  
  Friday 14th October  
  Even though we had our usual early start to the day we didn't go for a walk as I wanted to get organised. Why is it when you have all the time in the world you still find yourself ironing an hour before you are due to leave? Marilyn and Greg very kindly took us to the wharf and en route we introduced them to a café we had found that makes the world's best Caesar salad. Once we found our departure point it was time to say goodbye to Marilyn and Greg, always the bit I hate doing. We have said goodbye to too many nice people.

Once on board we were herded into the dining area where Adrienne, the purser explained the plan for the next five days. We were then shown to our cabin with the request we hurry back for our safety chat before the ship leaves the wharf. Did Adrienne not realise that I had already found MY life jacket and MY life raft!!

After the talk we were set loose to go and do whatever we wanted. We went down below to do our unpacking. The cabins are basic but comfortable and as we didn't intend to spend much time there apart from sleeping in them, we found them adequate. After our chores were done we had a cup of tea and went up on the deck to watch the activities. By this time I was beginning to worry that I might succumb to sea sickness but after a peppermint tea and a short 'nana nap' I felt fine - and remained so for the rest of the trip. It was now time for the bar to open and Peter and I, quite by chance, found ourselves propping it up. We enjoyed drinks and nibbles and started to get to know our fellow passengers.

Before we knew it, it was dinner time. Dinner was soup, followed by the main course of which there were several choices, plus vegetables and all the usual condiments. Dessert followed and by the time we had finished we were reasonably satiated to say the least. After dinner we took our drinks to the upper deck and sat and chatted a while. It was then time for bed.
 
  Saturday 15th October  
  Mum's birthday. She would have been 90 and I still miss her heaps. She would have loved this adventure. We both slept fairly well in spite of the noise and vibration from the ship's engine and sleeping in a strange bed.

I was up early and sat in the dining area drinking coffee and writing up my journal. Before long people started milling about and it was soon time for breakfast. Breakfast - heaps of different kinds of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit salad, orange juice toast and muffins plus all the hot food associated with breakfast, such as bacon, eggs, sausage, mushrooms and tomato.

After breakfast people sat about chatting or reading. One lady brought her knitting along. Before we knew it it was morning tea time and off we went to the dinning area for coffee and cake - as if we needed it! We then returned to the deck to see what was going on. By this time Peter had disappeared. I didn't need to think too hard as to where he might be - either in the wheel house or engine room. He reappeared in time for lunch, he had been invited into the wheel house. No one gets invited into the engine room for safety reasons.

Lunch consisted of soup plus lots of hot dishes and salads. Really yummy. Fresh fruit for dessert.

In the afternoon we reached Lockhart River where we unloaded cargo for the Aboriginal Community. As Peter has covered this on the website I won't go into detail. It was very interesting to watch and the crew have the procedure off to a fine art.

Once under way again it wasn't long before we found ourselves at the bar enjoying a wine and some nibbles. Dinner was excellent, and again we ate plenty. I won't repeat myself each day saying how wonderful the food was because it was all good. In between the set meals and morning tea and evening nibbles, you could help yourself to as much fresh fruit as you wanted, tea, coffee, cordials, biscuits and you could have cereals and toast at any time of the day or night. They had thought of everything; when one lady said she couldn't drink cows milk they provided soy milk for her. If at any time on that ship you were hungry then there would have to be something wrong with you. After dinner Peter went up on the top deck and I had an early night. Too much excitement in one day.
 
  Sunday 16th October  
  We arrived at Horn Island and had to be ready to disembark for our tour by 9.20am. It was a very interesting tour, learning about the island's involvement in the second world war. A Chinese family by the name of Seekee ran the tours, they also ran the restaurant, pub and the motel.

At the back of the pub was a museum. The main theme of the museum was to illustrate the part the veterans played in the war on Horn Island.

Vanessa married into the Seekee family and single handedly created the museum. When she had completed it she invited the veterans for a few days. A lot came and enjoyed the Seekee family hospitality. Vanessa also arranged for the Navy to take the vets over to the other islands for sightseeing tours. The whole occasion was a huge success and the vets, I am sure, felt that their war efforts had been appreciated. It was then time to go back to the ship for lunch and to head off to Thursday Island.

We had a short wander along the main streets of Thursday Island then found a small but nice Catholic church with beautiful statues and stained glass windows. You have to realise that everything on this island had to come by boat, and when this church was built it wouldn't be the type of boat we were travelling on with all the modern conveniences. Anyway, once I had managed to get Peter into church and decided that his father would have a smile on his face, we made our way to the 'Top Pub'. It was so hot and humid I had a cool drink.

It was time now for our tour of the Cultural Centre which was very interesting. We learnt how different the Torres Strait Islanders are to the mainland Aborigines. After we left there we boarded a bus for a tour of the Island. It was interesting but some of it was a repeat of what we had learnt this morning on Horn Island. After the tour there was enough time for us to return to the top pub with fellow passengers, Tom and Ann. Once back on board it was the usual routine - drinks, nibbles and then dinner followed by more drinks on deck whilst chatting.
 
  Monday 17th October  
  We had already arrived at Seisia the previous evening. We had to be ready to leave for our tour to the tip of Cape York by 7.25am. We were ready in time, quite a feat for us. Our tour guide was called 'Roo' who was a very pleasant man from Fiji. After boarding his four wheel drive vehicle we set off at, I might add, a very good pace down rough tracks and narrow, twisting, dirt roads. If we had met another car coming the other way, I don't know!!!! Anyway we arrived safe and sound at the car park area where we alighted for our twenty minute walk to the 'tip'. (The first time I heard someone talking about the 'tip' I imagined a rubbish tip and felt quite foolish when I realised they were talking about the most northern 'tip' of Australia.)

The first part of the journey was quite easy but the last part was a little taxing. Pat decided it was a little too much for her and opted to wait near the beach. One of the guides waited with her. Pat's grandson, Neal, who is disabled, made it all the way there. It wasn't easy in parts and he did extremely well, and we as a group were all proud of him.

Once everyone's photo shoot was over we trekked back to the car then it was off again at breakneck speed to morning tea. We stopped for morning tea near Lockerbie Station (sheep or cattle, I do not know. I know they had horses there). When morning tea was over we boarded the four wheel drive again and headed for Bamaga. A quick tour of Bamaga and then it was back to the boat where it was almost time for lunch.

Before long we were sailing again but this time we were retracing our route for the journey home. We saw Possession Island where Captain James Cook claimed the continent of Australia for the British crown, the Tip as we passed to the north of it, and Albany Passage, a narrow channel between mountains. After we had seen all of this it was back to the reading, chatting and knitting. With the bar open and Peter and I propping it up, before we knew it, it was dinner time.

We were joined by some of our new friends and during dinner there was a lot of merriment as we told jokes and funny stories. After dinner we sat up on the deck chatting and drinking. I went downstairs to have a drink of water and met Loye making a cup of tea which she promptly poured all over her and my feet. This produced a certain amount of activity with cold compresses administered. Adrienne seemed to appear from nowhere with mops and cloths. Loye and I were okay and re-ascended the stairs to the others. After a while we all made our way to our cabins for the night.
 
  Tuesday 18th October  
  I was woken up at 4.30am by Peter returning from the deck, having watched the crew unload cargo for Lockhart River. I didn't hear him get up at all. The day was passed pretty much the same as yesterday. It was nice and relaxing but we knew our wonderful trip was coming to an end. I would never have believed that I would enjoy a cruise so much and find it so relaxing. For years I avoided boats as I have a fear of water but I was never once afraid on this trip.

Dinner was again full of laughter and merriment, so much so that Loye knocked her wine all over me (see web page for photo). I was heard saying "I don't believe it!". Loye and her sister, Avonil, were lovely ladies, just so much fun. I had to go and change my clothes as Loye had soaked me in soda water to stop the wine from staining. Then it was up on deck for our final evening of drinks.
 
  Wednesday 19th October  
  In the Ranson household it is a significant day today. It is six years since my brother Tony died, it is son Bob and daughter-in-law Julie's wedding anniversary, sister Janet and Jim's wedding anniversary, and it is the day we finish our wonderful holiday. We are luckier than most as we are on a holiday from a holiday. We have met so many lovely people to whom we have to say goodbye yet again.

Once in dock we had one more thing to do - we were the victims in a fire drill. We supposedly had a fire in the engine room. The emergency people's skills were put to the test so that if there was a real life drama they would be able to cope. I am sure they learnt a lot but someone should tell them that to leave injured people out in the burning sun for an hour and a half isn't quite the thing!! I had an imaginary burn to my arm and ended up with a real sunburn to the back of my neck. Anyway once that was over and our luggage collected it was lots of hugging and goodbyes as we all boarded taxis home. The afternoon was a bit flat but as I had washing and shopping to do I was kept busy. Peter started work on the web site.
 
  Thursday 20th October  
  Before leaving the ship yesterday we had arranged to collect Loye and Avonil from their hotel and show them some of the Cairns beauty spots. We took them to the Copperlode Dam, Lake Placid and Yorkeys Knob before leaving them at the airport. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed their company very much. Another sad goodbye and we returned home.  
  Friday 21st October  
  Not a lot happening today. I went to the hairdresser and did some shopping while Peter worked on the web site. We did have some thunder late afternoon but no rain to speak of.  
  Saturday 22nd October  
  Lay day. Emails and updated the internet.  
  Sunday 23rd October  
  We decided to have a look around south of Cairns and if there was a lot to do we would move the caravan down there. Our first stop was a coffee shop in Babinda. They had some unusual bric-a-brac and photos scattered about the café. The ladies' toilet walls were covered with old editions of the Cairns Post. We left there and continued on to a beauty spot called The Boulders. We had been listening to Macca on Australia All Over and someone had phoned in and said what a lovely place it was. As we were heading in that direction we decided to have a look. It was very nice, lots of huge boulders and cool clear water cascading over them. Quite a few people were swimming in the designated area but as we walked through the rain forest to a lookout we saw some young boys jumping in the water in dangerous areas. Oh, to be so young and fearless! Two of the boys saw us watching so pretended to drown but when they didn't get any reaction they gave up and continued to have fun.

Our next destination was Josephine Falls. I had heard a lot about it and had added it to our list of places to visit a long time ago. When we arrived we ate our picnic lunch and then started on the short walk to the Falls. We heard thunder overhead so walked faster. Then we felt rain and walked even faster. By the time we reached the falls we had given our cardiovascular system a workout for the day. It was very pretty, but we had seen other more spectacular falls so we didn't hang about too long as by now the rain was quite heavy. Once back at the car the rain eased - as it does!

We drove a short distance into Innisfail to have a look around. Apart from the beautiful church building it was much like any other small town. I had a look inside the church - that's two Sundays in a row I have been inside a church, and both times they have been Catholic. What is God trying to tell me? We left there and headed home, calling in at a very odd pub on the way for a glass of red. Who should walk in but our new neighbour from the next caravan. On arriving back we went for a swim in the pool, it was lovely and warm.
 
  Monday 24th October.  
  A lay day today. We had to wait at home for our financial advisors to phone and carry out our annual review. We organised it that way so we weren't wandering around Woolworth's or in another crowded place discussing our finances. Apart from doing the ironing, having a lovely swim in the morning and tidying up some paperwork in the afternoon, we had an easy day.  
  Tuesday 25th October.  
  Walked today but didn't swim. Never got round to it. We had dental appointments as I lost a filling on Sunday and we were both due for our annual check-and-clean. The dentist was charming, very good, and didn't hurt a bit . . . but talked a lot. We did some shopping on the way home.  
  Wednesday 26th October  
  Lay day, washing ironing and emails. No walk this morning - someone slept in and it wasn't me. We did go for a swim.  
  Thursday 27th October  
  We had a visit from a very nice lady who represents the Green Island cruise company after we had complained about the meal (11th September). She came to hear the details of our complaint. Lets hope they do something to improve the standard for future tourists. After that we went into Cairns to do a few errands and finished up at a Sonya's Bar and Café at Machan Beach which had been recommended to us by Andrew in the office. We would have liked to have had a meal there but we are still trying to lose the weight we put on during our trip on the Trinity Bay. Nevertheless it was very pleasant sitting outside, looking across at the ocean, wine glass in hand.

Marilyn and Greg phoned us tonight; they are now home. Maybe we will see them in the New Year.
 
  Friday 28th October  
  I absconded in Billy today. I wanted to have some retail therapy and as much as I love Pete Mate I didn't really need him following behind me muttering, "Why exactly are we here", "Are you going to buy that? If not why are you looking at it" and of course "How much longer?" Ladies you know what I mean!!!! Anyway I took Billy and had a very nice relaxing couple of hours. I am more confident driving Billy now and have taken him out a few times. Apart from shopping we didn't do much. We walked and swam for some exercise and to bring down the 'core temperature'.  
  Saturday 29th October  
  After our last walk around the local park it was 'get ready' day. Tomorrow we leave Cairns for Townsville. We are sad to be leaving but are looking forward to seeing new places. After all our chores were done we had our last swim in the pool, which pleased Peter as he had something nice to look at!! I don't think his core temperature was lowered in the pool today! (I don't think there was a man in the park that missed seeing the young lady in question.)

After our swim we went up to the office to say goodbye to Sue, Dwayne and Andrew. Sue was out so we missed her but saw the other two and Peter took their photo for the web site. Earlier in the week we were trying to work out why Cool Waters was such a nice park. We have stayed in some really nice parks but Cool Waters is top of the list. We went through all the facilities and environment but in my opinion it is the fact that they look after the park and their guests like they would like to be looked after and make each guest feel as though they are the most import guest in the park. This gives them the edge over other parks. Many parks are nice, friendly and clean but lack going that extra mile.

Cairns itself we loved and will return hopefully next year. We spent a very pleasant evening with Raylene, Eryn, Kevin and Blair, our young neighbours from Bunbury. If only Nic could find someone like Raylene or Eryn I would be very happy.
 
  Sunday 30th October  
  We were up early but eventually left Cairns about 9.45am. Eryn, Raylene and Kevin came to see us off. Blair had left for work early so we had said goodbye to him last night. One thing I won't miss about Cairns is the family living opposite where we were. The most inconsiderate people we have met in a long time. Revving your engine when you arrive home at 3 o'clock in the morning and not keeping your kids under control doesn't exactly make you popular. We had a good run through to Townsville, had a couple of stops on the way and arrived at the caravan park around 3:30 p.m. The welcome we received here was friendly and helpful and the park itself is pleasant, not rainforest though. Our surrounding neighbours are friendly but the big let down is the amenities. Clean enough but no soap or paper towels not even a hand drier.

After setting up we had a walk around, checking everything out. Before we knew it, it was time for happy hour. As we sat outside we spoke to one or two people and then one of our neighbours gave us some vegetables as they had too much. As I said, friendly neighbours. We phoned friends Jenni and Gary and have made arrangements to see them later in the week.
 
  Monday 31st October  
  We packed a picnic lunch then set off to explore Townsville. We had a quick errand to do for Kevin and Raylene and once that was out of the way we decided to go to Castle Hill, a tourist site. As it is very high you have wonderful views over Townsville and surrounding areas. We arrived, went to get the lunch out of the car, and realised that it was still in the caravan. Not happy. We did the short walks around the hilltop to see all the vista then went home for a late lunch.