Pam's Journal for October 2006

Sunday 1st October 06
Lay day, Pete Mate and I seem to have picked up some flu bug. In the evening we watched the NRL Final and Brisbane won. It wasn't as exciting as the Eagles match as Brisbane seemed to have the match sewn up very early on.

Monday 2nd October 06
We both still felt under the weather but decided a change of scenery would do us good so we set forth and visited the local garbage tip. Well, actually two tips as the first one wasn't the right one. I have previously mentioned that we were running short of new places to visit. Truth is, we had the engine oil to dispose of after Pete Mate changed the oil in Billy. Once that was out of the way and Alice had been updated with the correct tip location we went to Bunnings and then Earlville shopping centre. Pete Mate needed some more tools and we needed new sheets for the caravan. The tools Pete Mate needed he already has at home but that's a long way to go and collect them, so we had to buy more. A bit annoying but necessary. Anyone reading this, who is contemplating the nomadic life, do not buy white sheets. The caravan park washing machines are adequate but your whites never stay white, and of course you cannot soak them as you would at home. I tried using buckets but sheets are a little big for that. Anyway we now have beige sheets and I hope they last longer than two years. Once home, Pete Mate attempted again to change the car's oil filter, the tool he had bought broke so off he went to the auto shop for a stronger one. This time it worked and we now have the old filter and some more oil to take to the tip. Another big outing for us!

Tuesday 3rd October 06
We have befriended a little boy who is staying here with his dad. His parents recently separated and the poor little chap has been very unhappy. We'd see him trotting around behind his tall father, for all the world like Bryan Brown's daughter in the movie, The Shiralee. Most of us would say hello to him but he acted as if we were not there. A week ago his mum arrived to spend time with him and the change in that little boy was amazing. He is now full of life and very chatty. Today is his fourth birthday and Pete Mate and I bought him a present. We took it over and he had just been given a Buzz doll that did all sorts of things and made all sorts of sounds. He was one happy chappy. He told me he is a 'cool dude'. Both his parents are so nice and seemed to get on so well, it's an awful shame they can't make a go of it.
I had to go back to the surgeon today for a check up. Pete Mate decided to drop off the filter and oil at the tip on the way. Alice decided she would have a sight seeing day and took us all over the world. In the end we had to crank up our brains and work out the route for ourselves. Bloody Alice!!! Hence we arrived at my appointment ten minutes late but the surgeon still kept us waiting for over an hour. Thank goodness we had taken our books. Once I had received the okay (apart from not being allowed to blow my nose or sneeze for another week) we went to Cairns Central to sort out some medical bills at Medicare. The woman there was obviously having a bad day, or maybe she is always that grumpy. Next stop was Spotlight then on home so that Pete Mate can look underneath Billy again. We then joined the little birthday boy, his parents and a family friend for Happy Hour. After an hour I came home but Pete Mate stayed as he was having a good time talking about motor bikes and car engines.

Wednesday 4th October 06
We went into Cairns to see the Al Gore movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It made quite an impact; we came away thinking about what we, as individuals, could do.

Thursday 5th October 2006
Lay day. Some cleaning, shopping and a general get-ready day. Peter finished washing the caravan.

Friday 6th October 2006
A busy day today. We had a few errands to do including our last visit to the markets. Next to the markets is a pub called Shenanigans. It is a very old pub and we have passed it a few times and thought it was worth a visit. The Caesar salad was good, though not the best we have tasted. The place was very noisy as it is a backpackers pub. Once home we did a few more chores and then it was Happy Hour.

Saturday 7th October 2006
Get-ready day to day. We were busy all day getting things ready to move. We had Happy Hour and a barbecue with Helene, Greg Andrew and Logan. Andrew's father arrived in the evening and joined us. It was a very good evening but Pete Mate and I drank too much red wine and ate far too much as well.

Sunday 8th October 2006
We left Cool Waters around 10.00 a.m. having said goodbye to our new friends. Little Logan gave us each a goodbye hug and then we set off. It was a very uneventful journey and we arrived at Mission Beach in plenty of time. We set up, had a rest, and then went for a walk. We found a nice little bar to enjoy Happy Hour.

Monday 9th October 2006
We had a marvellous day out at Tully Gorge. The weather was perfect and the scenery spectacular. We even went on dirt tracks. One of these led down to the river to a really nice spot so we thought we might as well have our picnic lunch there. We had just settled down when enormous march flies descended upon us. Pete Mate said they were as big as vultures but that is just plain exaggerating - they were only as big as my fist. Anyway, we decided to eat our lunch in the car. We walked down to the river in a couple more places but each time were beaten back by these damn flies. We saw some people doing the white water rafting which looked like fun if you like water. We arrived home in time for Happy Hour so parked Billy and walked over to the bar. We were enjoying a glass or two when we heard a voice say, "Fancy meeting you two here". Troy and Renae from Cool Waters were staying overnight at Mission Beach. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening eating, drinking and catching up with their news. They had just got back from Cape York and were now travelling south to Airlie Beach.

Tuesday 10th October 2006
Lay day today, it is raining. In the afternoon we went for a walk along the beach and then we found a path. On the way back we saw skydivers landing on the beach. It looked like fun and over Happy Hour we discussed whether we should do it or not. Maybe one day, was the conclusion.

Wednesday 11th October 2006
We didn't do very much today as the weather was not the best. I walked up to the shops and got soaked for my trouble. Where was my raincoat? Yep, in the caravan keeping nice and dry. Late afternoon we decided to go for a walk and then end up at the bar for Happy Hour. We hadn't got very far when it started to rain so what can one do in these circumstances - b????r the walk and head for the bar.

Thursday 12th October 2006
We awoke to rain again but decided whatever the weather was doing, we would go out. We drove over to have a good look at Innisfail; previously we had just passed through it. Innisfail really doesn't have much to offer, it is very pretty near the water but apart from that it is just another town. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the RSL club and departed to check out a winery. I know what you are thinking, here they go again, but all I really wanted to do was check out why it had the name of Murdering Point. I didn't like the wine so we didn't buy any but I got the run down on the name. In the 1800's four white men landed on the beach and were murdered and buried - hence the name. The winery is on Murdering Point Road so took its unusual name from it. After that we headed home for Happy Hour.

Friday 13th October 2006
The day started pretty much the same as the previous few days, pouring with rain. I went to the public phone box and phoned my sister, Angie, for a chat. I then decided that as the weather doesn't look like improving I might as well get all the washing done and dry it in the dryers.

Our neighbours decided to move on but got stuck against a tree so a couple of men came to help whilst we women watched and derided the male hand signals. It is well known in caravan parks that men always criticise the women's hand signals but here were two men doing the exact same hand signals. I know this as their wives were alongside me saying, "Look at that, that's what I do and he has a go at me". For those wondering where Pete Mate was, he was at the back of the caravan hoping to stop the man hitting the tree again. So far just a normal day in paradise. Then it all changed.

I was talking to NP on the phone when Pete Mate jumped up and said he could hear a plane, and declared it must be the parachutists.
NP asked, "What is Dad saying?"
"He is going to the beach," I replied
NP said "I had better let you go then."
I replied, "No, Dad said he was going to the beach, I'm not going."
Anyway, phone call finished, I had started to get the lunch ready when Pete Mate rushed back, telling me to leave it because we were going skydiving. Okay I said, calm as anything. We hurried over to the beach where the bus was waiting to take us to the airport. We arrived at Tully Airport in what seemed like no time as the 'skydivers' were a jolly crowd and kept us amused with stories of their first jumps. Once there, they explained what we should expect and how we were to do the tandem jump, then it was on with the equipment and off to the plane. The flight to 14,000 feet was really good as we saw all the scenery including Dunk Island. The skydivers kept up the banter, I think to makes us feel more relaxed. I felt quite calm at this point; I was much more scared when I had to get on a camel in Denham! Funny how strange thoughts pop into your head at times like this - I kept thinking that I hadn't shaved my legs that morning. Sometimes I think I am loopy. Then the most frightening moment of my life came. All the others had jumped and Glenn, my skydiver, shuffled me over until I was sitting in the plane doorway with my feet dangling in space. Suddenly, 'Oh, My God', we sort of fell forward out of the plane into nothing. The freefall was exhilarating but cold and the wind was fierce. I was glad when Glenn opened the parachute. Immediately it was calm; utterly amazing. You just felt like you were floating on clouds. Glenn pointed out places of interest and believe me, seeing Dunk Island from a parachute beats catching a ferry and walking on it. Then we gently landed on the beach and it was all over.

In less than two hours I had been in a minibus, flown in a light aircraft, and jumped out it 14,000 feet up. And now, here I was back in the caravan making lunch. No wonder I felt in a daze for the rest of the day. Did I, or did I not, enjoy Happy Hour today!

Saturday 14th October 2006
Get ready day today for tomorrow we are off to Townsville. Yesterday's excitement has definitely turned Pete Mate's head. He was about to leave the caravan and spied a camper trailer all set up. He suggested that is what we should have. The man is mad; I would rather jump out of a plane than go 'camping'. We walked up to our favourite bar for Happy Hour then enjoyed a Chinese meal on the way home.

Sunday 15th October 2006
We set off for Townsville in without any hitches. (Except the one connecting the car to the caravan. Ed.) We arrived just about lunchtime, set up camp, had lunch and then relaxed for the rest of the day.

Monday 16th October 2006
We went shopping, collected the mail and had a look around the centre of Townsville.

Tuesday 17th October 2006
Last night I broke my glasses, so this morning we had to find an optometrist. Once that was done, we headed for The Strand to have a look around. The weather wasn't the best and we both felt a bit grotty; the chicken salad we had yesterday seems to have upset our stomachs. We went home, had a sleep and did some reading.

Wednesday 18th October 2006
We packed a picnic lunch and set off for Ayr. We hadn't been there before and thought we would check it out. The weather wasn't too bad, we had rain on the way but when we got there it was nice and sunny. The scenery on the way there was lovely, very steep cliffs and green hills. Ayr itself was not very interesting but we found a park for our picnic and then decided to go a little further to the next town of Home Hill. To get there you had to cross a huge bridge which is called the Silver Link. I took the picture (left) through the windscreen. It is quite impressive and is supposed to be longer than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once over it and into Home Hill we were pleasantly surprised, the town was small but a lovely little town. It had the best 'comfort stop' we have ever seen. Toilets, showers, a barbecue area, seats, and music playing. It also had a dancing water fountain which, to me, seemed to be working in time to the music. After watching it for a while we decided my imagination had run away with itself yet again. We crossed the road to a coffee shop which served one of the best coffees we have had in a while. Yes, I would say it even beat Gloria Jean's. The curb was about a foot deep and I misjudged it when I stepped off and jarred my back so we decided, after coffee of course, to go back to the car and make the return journey home. Pete Mate wanted a photo of the bridge so on the way back he left the road and we travelled through cane fields and ended up parked on the river bed. All this, then when he looked at the photos at home he deleted them all as they were 'no good'. No comment!!!

Thursday 19th October 2006
I collected my glasses, we did some shopping and then in the evening went over to Gary and Jenni's for dinner. Jenni was away in Newcastle at a conference. Gary cooked dinner for us and very nice it was too. We had a very pleasant evening and it was really good to catch up with Gary again.

Friday 20th October 2006
We had a bit of a lazy day today, apart from going into town to collect the mail we didn't do very much.

Saturday 21st October 2006
In the morning we packed everything away getting ready for our departure tomorrow. In the afternoon we went to a country music festival. Our first shock of the day was the $15.00 per head entry fee. Usually these amateur concerts are free. The programmes were extra and the drinks were top dollar. Fine, we thought, if the music is good. It wasn't. There were some very good artistes and some very poor the others were mediocre. All of the acts were winners of their particular category in concerts previously held. Both Pete Mate and I were in agreement that the losers must have been b????y awful. Thank goodness we had to meet Jenni and Gary for dinner other wise we would have felt duty bound to stay to the end, just to get our money's worth. We had a lovely evening with Jenni and Gary at an Italian restaurant they like.

Sunday 22nd October 2006
We left Townsville around 10.00am and headed for our first stop at Home Hill. We had a very short break there as the coffee shop we liked was closed. Onwards we trekked towards Airlie Beach. We had one more stop on the way for lunch and arrived at Airlie around 3.00pm. We set up camp and then relaxed. The caravan park is really nice, clean and airy amenities. We are surrounded by hills and greenery and it is quiet - no trucks, cars, trains or planes to disturb the peace. The down side is we don't have internet coverage. Ah well, we can't have everything.

Monday 23rd October 2006
We had a drive around the place, going up to Shute Harbour and back. We then went into the town of Airlie which is about 2.5kms from the caravan park. We liked the area, the scenery is out of this world, but the place is full of tourists and the people are not as friendly as we have been used to. The guy in the information centre must have been very busy with something important as when we interrupted him as he was less than interested in helping us. We had a wander and some lunch then decided to look at the town of Proserpine and area of Cannonvale. Both nice little places but that is about it. The lady in the information centre at Proserpine was very helpful and friendly. We did some shopping and headed home and walked up to the local pub for Happy Hour.

Tuesday 24th October 2006
Lay day today. I didn't feel the best so we relaxed at home.

Wednesday 25th October 2006
We went into Airlie to complete a couple of chores then we walked the 'Beach Walk'. Strictly speaking you don't actually walk on the beach, it is a path that starts at Airlie and finishes at Cannonvale. We walked for a while and then found ourselves walking alongside the road with all the traffic so we turned back to Airlie and found a nice shady spot to have our picnic lunch. One part of the path did give beautiful views of Airlie and the islands. Whilst walking we were amused to see a lot of young people hurrying along the path hauling copious amounts of alcohol. All was revealed when we arrived at Able Point jetty as they were all waiting to board boats to go over to one of the islands. In the afternoon we walked around Airlie then had the customary refreshment at the backpackers bar. Yes, there are other bars in Airlie but Pete Mate fancied this one, I wonder why? Which reminds me, Airlie is full of 'beautiful' young people in bathers; some are only just wearing bathers!

Thursday 26th October 2006
We packed a picnic lunch and headed off in the direction of Dingo Beach. According to the tourist book it was well worth a visit. Well, we found Supacheap Autos where Pete Mate made some purchases, then we found Bowen. We will have to 'look' for Dingo Beach some other time. We were very glad we went to Bowen as it is a lovely town. Beautiful beaches, a nice country town with very friendly people. The information centre in Bowen is one of the best, Jane who attended to us was excellent, not only for the Bowen area but she helped us with Mackay (our next port of call) giving lots of information. We had our lunch at Flagstaff Hill which is a lookout and the views from there are spectacular. The beach at Horseshoe Bay was also lovely. We then wandered around town looking at the murals that depicted the history of Bowen, they were very good indeed. We called in at a very nice hostelry for refreshments, finished our town walk and then headed home.

Friday 27th October 2006
We went back to Shute Harbour for another look. This time we drove up the winding roads to look at the views. They were spectacular. We found a little café at the top where we had lunch and were entertained by a very mature and precocious four year old. Monique insisted that we gave her our phone number and she gave her hers, just in case we felt like ringing her up for a chat. Once we left there we had a walk down a couple of the streets to see if we could see the views. What we saw were houses with million dollar views. We left there and went into Cannonvale to do the shopping before heading home.

Saturday 28th October 2006
Lay day, getting ready to leave tomorrow.

Sunday 29th October 2006
We set off around 9.30am to travel a short distance to Marion which is just outside the Eungella National Park. On the way there we could not believe our eyes. Four young men wearing hats and shoes and nothing else jumped out of a mini bus and started running alongside the Bruce Highway. We roared with laughter as we passed by them. The things you see on the highways and byways of Australia! We arrived at Marion and set up camp fairly quickly so after lunch we went to explore the Eungella National Park. It is very beautiful and we could see why people had recommended we visit here. We found a unique little coffee shop which Pete Mate has covered on the net. Susanne was very friendly and allowed us to look around her garden even though it was closed. Amazing place but the worst coffee I have ever tasted.

Now ladies, if you are wondering what to do with all those old shoes and handbags, here are
a couple of ideas.
(The row of sneakers in the left picture is a bit hard to see.)

I loved this peacock.

We then travelled back towards home and found nice little pub with friendly people and nice red wine.

Monday 30th October 2006
More exploring to be done today. First we checked out Cape Hillsborough which again had been recommended to us by a couple of people. In fact, it is our good friend Ross's favourite place. We can see why, it is lovely so we decided to move the caravan over there for a week. Now, their coffee shop makes nice coffee. We then went into MacKay which is just another town, nothing spectacular. They have kept and restored some of the old buildings, which is always good to see. The old Town Hall is now the information centre and that is where we headed first. Once we had the information we wanted we then had to find a 'Ladies'. Now I thought the 'comfort stop' at Homehill was pretty swish but MacKay beats that. Ladies, to get to the loos you first walk through a lounge area where, if weary, you can rest a while. It even had a fridge but I wasn't sure what that was for. Men could also use the rest room if they had children, as it was also a parent room for feeding and changing babies. We had lunch (not in the toilets) and filled up with fuel then headed home. Later we again found ourselves in our friendly little pub. When we first arrived they weren't so friendly. Pete Mate, what did you do last night! Anyway after the first ten or fifteen minutes the locals started chatting and they were as friendly as the previous night. We enjoyed copious amounts of red wine and their home-made pies would have to be the best pies I have ever tasted. (Apart from Jim Leah's red wine and beef pie when he had the café in Kelmscott). We enjoyed a very pleasant evening.

Tuesday 31st October 2006
We awoke around 5.00am to rain pouring down on the caravan roof. As we didn't have the awning out, our chairs and 'stuff' were getting wet so we had to dash out. Sorry, I had to dash out and pass all our gear to Pete Mate. A nice way to start the day. We waited until lunchtime to see what the weather was going to do. We then decided to skip the walk we had planned on doing, that wasn't a hard decision as we are becoming very lazy, and drive to Broken River to see the elusive Platypus. On the way there we called in again at Susanne's coffee shop but this time I had tea. I won't mention the huge slice of carrot cake we both ate. Later we found ourselves on the bank of the creek quietly waiting for a sighting of a platypus and we weren't disappointed. They are very quick and can disappear again before you catch a good look. I used the binoculars at first but found as soon as I 'zoomed' in on them all I could see were ripples on the surface, so I gave up on them. It was quite thrilling seeing a platypus for the first time, they are much smaller than we imagined but beautiful little creatures. We had been there for about two hours when the peace was shattered by some hoon on a motor bike. He was riding to and fro past where we all were, making as much noise as he could. It was obvious we would not get to see any more platypuses as they are very shy creatures. So what else to do but wend our way home via the nice friendly pub for some more red wine and one of their famous Pinnacle pies.

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