Pam's Journal for May 2006

Monday 1st May 06
Pete and Ross did some more furniture moving. Jan and I went to the shops and found them closed as it is a public holiday here. Jan and Ross were busy getting the caravan ready. Pete spent a lot of time on the computer and I caught up with my knitting. Not the most exciting day on the planet but very relaxing. Any stress caused by dropping stitches or accidentally deleting spreadsheets was alleviated by another very enjoyable Happy Hour!

Tuesday 2nd May 06
We went to Browns Plains to do some shopping in the hope that we will be moving on tomorrow. However, we received a phone call in the afternoon telling us the awning will not arrive in Brisbane until Monday now. We have to leave here as Jan and Ross are renting their house out from Thursday so during Happy Hour we came up with a plan; we would hitch up the caravan and leave in the morning, go up the coast and wait there for the awning. Jan and Ross would join us Thursday or Friday and then when the awning arrives, Pete and I will travel back into town to get it fitted. Once that is all done the expedition can start for real!

Wednesday 3rd May 06
We got ourselves ready and left Jan and Ross's quite early for us. We thought we would be in Mooloolaba around 11.00ish. We didn't take into account that Alice wanted us to go over the Gateway Bridge 3 times. Read the web page for details. All I will say is I never uttered a word, just silently got the toll fee ready . . . each time! Once back on track the journey was uneventful. Oh yes, there was one other time . . .  Never mind, we arrived here safe and sound. We met a nice 'Pommie couple' and the rest is history. Happy Hour, here we come! We later went with them for fish and chips and there goes the diet.

Thursday 4th May 06
We seem to have found our first 'low fat' fish and chips - we both lost weight yesterday. We both got badly bitten by sandflies and spent the night scratching. The park has a lot more noise than Jimboomba but we will get used to it. We packed our lunch and went sight seeing into the mountains where the scenery is spectacular. We visited a little town called Montville which reminded us very much of Hahndorf in S.A. A lot of little touristy shops and cafes. We had quite a trip around as Alice insists on taking us near there but not actually there. We had lunch out at a dam which was lovely, then finished the day at a lighthouse we can see from the beach here at Mooloolaba. Back home for Happy Hour and another day completed in paradise.

Friday 5th May 06
I went for a walk along the beach front. It is a beautiful spot here with a really good pathway beautifully set out. On the other side of the road are lots of shops, cafes and luxury apartments. It was 6.15 a.m. and to my surprise there were heaps of people milling about. They were walking, riding, running or drinking coffee in the many cafes. It was, though, very apparent that people here aren't as friendly as only one person said good morning. Once back at the caravan it was breakfast then chores whilst we waited for our friends, Jan and Ross, who arrived just before lunch. Later in the afternoon we said goodbye to our new friends, Doug and Mary, then Jan, Ross, Pete and I went for a walk along the beach front finishing at Gloria Jean's for refreshments. Then it was back to the caravan for Happy Hour.

Saturday 6th May 06
What a night! The noise of 'young people' enjoying themselves went on until around 4.00 a.m. Pete Mate and I got up early and went for another walk, we have to lose weight somehow. Pete agreed with my observations that people appeared unfriendly. We had some fun making people acknowledge our presence. Yes, I know, small things amuse small minds and all that! We, of course, had our morning coffee at Gloria Jean's. Home for breakfast and coffee with Jan and Ross. Later Jan and Ross went to visit friends and we had a surprise visit from Liz and Neville who we'd first met last year in Tennant Creek, then again at Daly Waters, Katherine and Darwin. We had a very pleasant afternoon catching up and then Jan and Ross returned home and joined us. We then all went over the road to the wharf for fish and chips. Very pleasant evening. Then the noise started from the nightclub across the road. It went on and on followed by fire crackers and shouting. Around 4:00 a.m. it quietened down, but not before someone had tried to take Jan and Ross's bikes. We certainly won't be staying here ever again!

Sunday 7th May 06
Today we went out with Jan and Ross, visiting their family. First we went to Ross's cousin's. It was a really nice journey there, beautiful scenery. We met Cousin Roy and his wife Pam. They were very interesting people as they had done a lot of traveling themselves. After we left there we went to son, Darren and his wife, Daniele. Their place was way up in the hills, what a beautiful spot. We enjoyed a drink or two there and then made our way home. Another perfect day.

Monday 8th May 06
We went to Liz and Nev's place for a barbecue and had a look around their retirement resort. Before that though, Alice took Pete, Jan and I shopping - only she thought she would direct us to Liz and Nev's instead. Luckily we realized before we actually got there or else Liz and Nev would have thought it a little rude arriving a few hours too early. Poor Alice, she gets berated and really it is down to the operator! Anyway we did our shopping then had lunch before getting ready to go out for the barbecue. The resort was very nice, everything planned down to the last detail. Liz and Nev showed us around and then we had the barbecue, followed by a free concert. The residents were performing a 'Mime Show' where they mime songs. They were very good and this was just the dress rehearsal. We all enjoyed ourselves, said our goodbyes and returned home to bed.

Tuesday 9th May 06
We went for our 'walk and coffee' early this morning as we had to be ready for 9:00 a.m. to catch the free bus to The Australian Zoo. This zoo is owned by crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and his family. We have never been fans of Steve's but after this day we changed our minds. The zoo was beautiful, so well looked after, the animals well cared for and their keepers loved them. You could see it in the way they handled the animals. They have the same passion for animals and the environment as Steve Irwin does. Everything about the park was well thought out; even the eating areas and café were in keeping with the park. We saw tortoises, camels, dingoes, snakes, crocodiles, birds, elephants, cassowaries, kangaroos and best of all, the tigers. They were beautiful. Peter had his photo taken with a snake. Rather him than me! I took photos. It was a long day and we were pretty tired when we got home.

Wednesday 10th May 06
Another early start to the day. We went out for a drive with Ross and Jan. Our first stop was Eumundi Markets. The drive out there was again lovely, the scenery is truly beautiful. The markets were huge and apparently on a Saturday they are even bigger. After coffees we left there for Noosa. We crossed over the river by ferry and went to a place where Ross's cousin and brother used to work and live. It was a type of resort and we had a meal in the pub there. It was very pleasant and a huge walk down memory lane for Jan and Ross. After that we had a look at Noosa and then went to Cotton Tree. We met a friend of Ross and Jan's then had a drink before returning home for Happy Hour. We were all tired as we had had some tiring days, so we had a rest before Happy Hour. Ross then went for a walk on the beach. When he returned, Pete was still asleep and Jan and I were sitting outside the 'van. Ross told us this long drawn out story of how he saw two girls on the beach and he had to take a closer look as they appeared to be twins. Then, he saw another girl that also looked like them, so he had a very good look at them. Well, Jan and I weren't really fooled by this twin theory but we didn't say anything. Then, as quiet as a mouse, Pete Mate opened the door and exclaimed, "Mr Taylor, if I ever have to make up such a confluted story as that, I'll give up! If you want to look at girls, just look!" We all fell about laughing and now Ross will have to put up with days of us asking "has he seen any twins today."

Thursday 11th May 06
Lay day today. At last the awning has arrived and we are off to Brisbane tomorrow to have it fitted. We did some shopping, washing and other chores. In the evening we had a barbecue followed by a very long Happy Hour with two young couples we had met in the caravan park. We retired around 11.45pm and the four young ones went off to the night club across the road. Where do they get their energy? We did enjoy the evening and the company. We had been told to expect another noisy night but it was fine and we slept reasonably well.

Friday 12th May 06
We were up and away early - on the road by 7:30 a.m. We drove down to Brisbane and left Bessie for her new awning to be fitted. We then found a Gloria Jean's to have a coffee and had a wander around the shops and then received the call to say our caravan was ready. Very quick. Once all the paperwork, etc., was sorted and Bessie was hooked up to Billy we were on our way to Hervey Bay. We made very good time arriving around 4:30 p.m. The journey was stressful as it rained most of the way and the traffic was heavy. Once we had the van set up we went next door for Happy Hour at Ross and Jan's. Jan, bless her, had made dinner and very nice it was too. We were all tired after the week we had had and it is so quiet here we are hoping for a good night's sleep.

Saturday 13th May 06
Apart from some shopping and a walk we spent the rest of the day relaxing, recovering from yesterday.

Sunday 14th May 06 – Mothers Day
The four of us went to Burrum Heads today. It is really a lovely place, lovely beaches and scenery. We went for a walk along the beachfront before making our way to the pub for lunch. We enjoyed a very pleasant lunch and as it is Mother’s Day, Jan and I were given a free drink. After lunch we had a drive around the area before making our way home for Happy Hour.

Monday 15th May 06
Washing, shopping and generally getting ready for our trip to Fraser Island.

Tuesday 16th May 06
The tour bus collected us from the caravan park at 7.45 A.M. After collecting another couple we boarded the ferry to cross over to Fraser Island. Once on the other side the bus roared off the ferry on a sandy track. The only way to get around the island is by these sandy tracks or on the beach. The tracks are rough and we soon discovered that every time we went over a bump we left our seats. It was not a pleasant feeling as the whole of your body got a good shaking! There were two spare seats on the bus so the four of us took turns sitting in relative comfort or being shaken to death. We saw Lake Allom, Knifeblade Sandblow, travelled along 75 Mile Beach, saw the Maheno shipwreck, and admired the Coloured Sands; last of all we visited Eli Creek where Ross walked the creek to the ocean. It was here on the beach we saw a Dingo. He looked us over and then proceeded on his way. It was now time to head off to our camp. I was a little apprehensive, as a camper I am not! I needn’t have worried as the tents were nice and the beds very comfortable. We had a communal mess where we enjoyed a Happy Hour before eating a barbecue dinner cooked by our tour guide, Greg. It was then good night all as I was well and truly worn out.

Wednesday 17th May 06
After a very comfortable night we enjoyed some breakfast before all boarding the bus again for day two. The only draw back with ‘camping’ is the nightly visits to the toilet block which could only be completed if Pete Mate took me. Who knows what is lurking out there. Today we visited Indian Head, Champagne Pool and Orchid Beach. We walked, some people swam and we all got rained on, some more so than others. We were quite near the bus so didn’t get very wet. It was a lovely day but exhausting and once back at camp we all headed off for a shower to revive us enough for Happy Hour. Another lovely meal was prepared by Greg. The lunches and dinners we have had so far have been excellent. We are all agreed that Fraser Island is lovely and this tour in particular is excellent and very good value for money.

Thursday 18th May 06
Same early morning routine, breakfast then board the bus. This time though we had to pack up our things as today is our third and last day. We walked over a sandblow to a barrage freshwater lake. The sand was not the best thing in the world for my foot but I managed. We rested on the sand, others walked to a lookout and one or two people swam in the lake. We then walked back to the bus through rain forest before heading off to a resort for lunch. It was very nice too. We then visited another lake, again some people swam but I do believe it was very cold if their shouts of anguish were anything to go by. Finally we had a walk through rainforest before making our way back to the ferry for the return trip home. What a magnificent three days!

Friday 19th May 06
Lay day. We had plenty of washing to do and some shopping. Then in the evening we caught the courtesy bus to the Boat Club for dinner. The dinner and drinks are subsidised by the poker machines that abound in these clubs. Good for us, though. It was a beautiful meal, we all ate too much then caught the bus home.

Saturday 20th May 06
We went for a long walk this morning which was needed after the last few days. Then we relaxed, I caught up on my reading whilst Peter did the web page. Jan and Ross went off for a bike ride before we all enjoyed Happy Hour.

Sunday 21st May 06
We pretty well did the same again today as yesterday.

Monday 22nd May 06
We went for an hour’s walk in the morning then Peter dropped me off at the hairdressers for a haircut. I walked the 2 kms back to the caravan park. We then walked to the boat club for lunch. We enjoyed another lovely meal then caught the courtesy bus home. I feel pretty pleased that in total I have walked 10 kms today.

Tuesday 23rd May 06
We went for another long walk today. In the afternoon we had a drive around Hervey Bay and Point Vernon. It is very pretty with some huge houses. Also, in the afternoon I received a call from That’s Life magazine. They are going to print a story I sent in months ago about my brother Tony. So at Happy Hour we celebrated. Sadly I overdid the celebrating! For once Pete Mate had to cook the dinner. He is pretty good at cheese on toast. It was so cold today we had to have Happy Hour inside the caravan.

Wednesday 24th May 06
We used today as a 'get ready day' because tomorrow we are off to Maryborough for the day. The best day to go to Maryborough is market day which is a Thursday, hence the change of routine for us.

Thursday 25th May 06
It was an early start to the day as we had to be in Maryborough for a guided walk at 9.00 a.m. We made it by the skin of our teeth and were very glad we did. It was an excellent tour led by Mary Heritage in full period costume. We enjoyed everything about Maryborough, even the markets. The town was alive and full of happy, friendly people. Lots of old buildings had been preserved and the whole ambiance of the place was delightful. At 1.00 p.m. we were all waiting to hear the cannon being fired by the Town Crier, helped by Mary Heritage. We didn’t expect it to be so loud and we all jumped a few feet in the air. Before leaving the town we visited the old town site which again was interesting even though there is only a couple of graves and information plaques. An excellent day was had by all.

Friday 26th May 06
We set off for Woodgate quite early and arrived in plenty of time for lunch. Woodgate is a little fishing village with a shop, a caravan park, a pub and not much else. It is a lovely spot and very peaceful.

Saturday 27th May 06
We went for our usual walk but not a long one as my foot is troubling me a little. Once back at the caravan park we all had breakfast at the little café here. Very nice it was too. In the afternoon we went to the pub and watched the horse racing as it was a big race day here in Queensland. Ross likes the races, and as he is an experienced TAB man he introduced me to the TAB. I had a little flutter and a few drinks. I lost my money but we had an enjoyable afternoon. We then had tea at the pub before returning home. It was a good day.

Sunday 28th May 06
We went for our usual walk but my heart wasn’t in it. I felt decidedly under the weather, must have been something I ate! After a coffee and a rest Ross and Jan took us for a drive around the area. It really is a lovely place. We went home for lunch and another rest! We had Happy Hour but again the weather was cold, so it was a short one. We can't be in Cairns soon enough!

Monday 29th May 06
Bundaberg, here we come. We had to be ready by 9.00 a.m. as we had a full day ahead. Ross was driving so he was the official tour guide. On arriving in the town we all had business to attend to so we went our separate ways and agreed to meet up in an hour. Well, we four seem to have developed homing instincts where coffee is concerned. Before the hour was up we had all finished what we had to do and bumped into each other searching out a coffee shop. Ross then drove us to the Department of Transport to see if Peter and I could get our driving licences renewed. No such luck, but a phone call to Perth sorted out what we have to do. First thing is to get some passport photos, so that is what we did. Peter looks okay but I look awful. That out of the way, we had a drive around Bundaberg and surrounding areas then it was off to a favourite café of Jan’s for lunch. It was all very nice but I just didn’t feel 100%. Anyway, once lunch was out of the way we continued our conducted tour of Bundaberg. Ross took us to see a house where, as a boy, he spent some holidays. A trip down memory lane for him. It was an excellent day but now time was drawing near for Happy Hour so we headed home.

Tuesday 30th May 06
Another day where we were ready by 9.00 a.m. for our day out in Childers. Today Pete Mate is driving so he is the tour director. We arrived in Childers in time for morning coffee and then we visited the ‘Palace Hotel’. The Palace Hotel, in the year 2000, was a backpacker’s hostel and housed far more backpackers than it could do in safety. Also, it didn’t have proper fire escapes. Some lunatic with a grudge set fire to some garbage bins outside the place and before long the whole building was on fire. Fifteen young people died and another seventy managed to escape. The building was rebuilt and is now called The Palace Memorial because inside they have individual glass boxes for each of the fifteen young people. Each glass box contains up to 30 photographs depicting the life of the young person. There is also a very large painting of the fifteen illustrating them fruit picking. It is very well done and leaves you with a sense of sadness, though not morbid or hopeless, as the memorial celebrates their lives and not their deaths. After that we went to the Historical Museum which was really interesting, and soon it was time for lunch. After lunch we had a walk around Childers followed by a drive out to the coastal town of Buxton to see what was there. It was a small place with no real attraction. On the way back we called at The Ice Cream Factory. Believe me it was lovely though very fattening as well. Then on home for . . . Happy Hour.

Wednesday 31st May 06
We went into Bundaberg again today, so we had to be ready early. We wanted to go on the first tour of the day at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. We arrived just in time and had a very interesting hour’s tour. The two lady tour guides were quite funny and told amusing stories as well as explaining the process of making rum. The tour ended at the bar where you could sample the different rums. Pete Mate and I tried them but decided it isn’t for us. After that we went to Ferry Mead to look at the place Ross lived as a child. We saw his old school and the sugar mill plus a house. Again it was a pleasure to share Ross’s travel down memory lane. Next on the itinerary was lunch in the café in the Botanic Gardens where we spent the afternoon. Not only were the gardens beautiful but there were also some museums. Bert Hinkler’s house was first on the list. The house had belonged to Bert when he lived in Southampton, England. People had banded together and raised the money to have it shipped over when they heard it was being demolished. It was dismantled brick by brick and then rebuilt here - a lot of work and money. The house contained all the information about this feat plus the life history of Bert. For those who do not know who Bert Hinkler is, he was a sole aviator born in Bundaberg but lived most of his life in the UK. The next house we saw was again a museum. Fairymead House was especially meaningful to Ross as the original owners of the house were the grandparents of the children he played with whilst growing up. This house contained much information about the sugar industry plus other associated industries. Again, all very interesting. We left there to go and do some grocery shopping, as on Friday we head off to 1770 for a few days and we are unsure of the shopping facilities there. It was so late when we finally arrived home we had a very short Happy Hour.

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