Wednesday, 14 August 2013

From the beach to the bush and homeward bound...

Amazing how time flies.
As we settle into the camper trailer for the last night of our trip Skennars Beach near Ballina... we can't believe it has been seven weeks and 11,000 kilometres since we left home at the end of June.
We have seen some amazing sights, had some great experiences, met many new camping friends, and it has firmed our resolve to make getting away in our camper trailer a regular event.
So the last few days...
Monday morning we packed up and bid a sad farewell to Airlie Beach. We just love that place and will be back there as soon as possible.
Airlie Beach

Coincidentally as we drove out and took one last look at the next book...Dangerous Desire...which begins at that very marina went live on Amazon! Hopefully an omen for great sales.
A long, long trip down the Bruce Highway through unending roadworks for seven hundred ks until we reached Lake Monduran near Gin Gin just before dark. Definitely requires another and longer stay than one night for some serious barramundi fishing. The only downside is the midges. We survived the Northern Territory, but now we are covered in bites.
Morning at Lake Monduran

We had to wait around the next morning for the damp trailer to dry out before pack up, and went for a walk along the dam wall and to the lookout, and spotted a platypus.
Lake Monduran
 Only the second platypus we have ever seen in the wild.
Spot the platypus
Back on the road and a quick visit into Maryborough to visit my cousin, Janice and her husband, Ian. We were very envious to hear about their planned trip to the UK and Europe. A bit far for the camper trailer!
A late lunch in Gympie and some more wildlife. A pair of swans and their cygnets entertained us as we sat on the grass and had a lunch break.

Down to Bribie Island to meet and spend a great night (with dinner at the Woorim Surf Club) with my writing partner for an upcoming series, Sally Rigby (Sara Hantz) and her husband Gary. We became known as #8 rather than the Smiths!
Sally and me...#1 and #5
 We stayed in one of their lovely apartments and can recommend On the Beach at Woorim...if you are looking for a relaxing location for a holiday.
Woorim Beach
An early start today, down through Brisbane and a quick visit to Uncle Tom and Narelle, the parents of my cousin, Michelle who sadly passed away in May. It was lovely to catch up and Tom gave me an orchid to plant in the garden at home.
Nothing like family!

So our final set up tonight. Back in New South Wales, a cold north easterly is blowing off the ocean and we are reluctant to step outside to the kitchen to cook dinner.
Home tomorrow to meet our house sitters, Katy and Jason, see family, distribute presents and greet Bob Dog and the cats.
Till next trip... which will be soon...stay posted!
And thanks for following our first adventure. We hope you have enjoyed our outback blog.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A brush with luxury...

Another four days has passed since we last reported in. We have been hobnobbing with the rich and famous over on the exclusive six star international resort of Hayman Island . (Actually not only did we not see anyone rich and famous... we didn't really see anyone at was very quiet and private)
We arrived in Airlie Beach and spent Thursday reacquainting ourselves with our favourite little town. We set off on a long walk and headed off to Abel Point Marina. Ian wanted to trade in his Cumberland Charter Yachts cap which he's had for quite a few years. The marina staff were fascinated by the age (and state) of it. We wandered around drooling over the multi million dollar yachts
Abel Point Marina

After the marina, we walked through the foreshore area where they have built a huge lagoon pool overlooking the bay.

We picked up a great standby deal and headed off on Friday morning for two days and nights on the luxury launch that ferries the guests over to Hayman Island. The wind was blowing really hard and the sea was very rough.

But it was worth the rough trip when we arrived . 
It is the most beautiful place with manicured gardens

Look at the view from our room! Over the Coral Sea and the pool that is bigger than seven Olympic swimming pools.

The view from our room

We spent two days soaking up the good life...eating, drinking, sailing, walking, sleeping and reading.

And of course the fish feeding...where we met Jacko the 200 kg groper that arrived to be hand fed each morning.
Fish feeding

And we climbed to the lookout on the top of the island to see the most amazing view of the Whitsunday Passage. We have been blessed with great weather the whole trip. One cloudy day in almost seven weeks.
Whitsunday Lookout

A smooth trip  across to Shute Harbour this morning back to the camper trailer!
Smooth sailing today

Our little camper trailer was waiting patiently for us to return. It was nice to be 'home'

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Rest and relaxation as the trek comes to a close

I just realised I haven't posted for four days.
No, we're not lost in the tropics... we have been chilling and relaxing as a  return to normality creeps closer... so reporting in about the last four days below.

We did lots of reading and went for a drive into Lucinda to charge the battery to keep the fridge going in the back of the ute. The views across to Hinchinbrook Island are gorgeous.

Ian found a fisherman to chat to as well!

While I enjoyed the sunshine...which there has been lots of. In almost seven weeks, we have had only one cloudy day and one night of rain. It is going to be a shock to go back to winter, but reports of good weather at home are encouraging. I haven't been game to look at New Zealand weather as I am flying out to a writers' conference in Wellington as soon as we get home. Hmm. August in Wellington? Very different to the picture below perhaps.

 Being on an unpowered site has not been too difficult.. Having the second battery has been fabulous. Charging lights and laptops as we go!
We have enjoyed spending time with Bob and Dell from Tassie and Ian and Bob are off on a charter tomorrow. We also befriended Kathy and Tim from Newcastle.. and discovered mutual acquaintances. It is truly a small world. So a night of wine around the campsite with the midges. We are both covered in bites and had to resort to a trip to the pharmacy for insect bite salve.

Ian and Bob headed off for the big barra adventure with Crackajack Sport Fishing Adventures.  A great day with a fabulous guide.
Hooked but didn't manage to land some good size barra. They caught some sooty grunter and Ian got smashed by a mangrove jack.

And off they go...

 Ian was surprised by the many crocodiles in the water and on the banks of the Herbert River. They travelled seventeen kilometres up into the fresh and the crocodiles were all the way. Alas no photos. The crocs disappeared as oon as the boat came close, very different to Kakadu posing crocodiles.

As for me? I spent the day editing. A deadline loomed for my November book and unfortunately I had to spend a brilliant sunny day hunched over the laptop. It was quite amusing...when the battery ran out, I adjourned to the park laundry and wrote while it charged. I doubt if many romance novels have been written in the Taylor's Beach Caravan Park laundry.

As the fish were catch and release, we headed back to Lucinda for bought fish and chips for dinner after we had packed up the camp to get away in the morning. Ian rolls his eyes at my choice of drink. I love my Queensland sarsparilla. Brings back my childhood!

We packed up and left about ten, excited to be heading to one of our favorite places in the world...Airlie Beach in the beautiful Whitsunday region. The trip was very slow, roadworks all the way and we passed a huge convoy of army trucks heading north.  We couldn't believe it when we stopped for morning tea one hundred kilometers into the trip and parked at Balgal Beach next to Tim and Kathy, who we'd met a couple of days ago. It is a small world.
Then onto the Whitsundays...

The view over Abel Point Marina out to the islands is gorgeous. I could live here!
We should be sailing!

One relaxed fisherman!

We now have a great tropical campsite set up. Very different from the days of red dust.

Five days of exploring lies ahead...
Until next post...

Postscript! We are off to Hayman Island for two days on a standby!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

How will we ever get back to real life?

Sunday... a very relaxing day. We sat around and read in the morning sun and then packed a picnic lunch and headed off to Broadwater. A magnificent drive along the Herbert River through cane fields with high mountains in the background. The roads are certainly different to those we have travelled on recently.
The road into Broadwater

As we drove into the national park we saw the devastation to the pine plantations wreaked by cyclone Yasi in Feb 2011.
There was a photographic display of the damage to the park

The national park is maintained beautifully and New South Wales Parks and Wildlife could learn a lot from their Queensland counterparts.

There were some beautiful walks  and a boardwalk led us to a spectacular old fig tree. This circuit walk passes through endangered riparian rainforest with views of Broadwater Creek
and leading to to a magnificent white fig (Ficus virens var. sublanceolata) commonly known as the Broadwater fig.
Fig tree in Broadwater National Park, Ingham

The headwaters of the Herbert River were crystal clear and there were some small rapids to be seen along the walk.

Around the bend was a deep swimming hole with a deck for diving. The water was so clear you could see the boulders on the bottom. A warning sign advised swimmers to be aware of bullrouts... a small fish which will spike you and cause intense pain.

One of the locals commented to us the other day, that in Queensland. the wildlife will either bite you, sting you or eat you!

And then we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the extensive grassy park.It was almost deserted with only a couple of family groups nearby.

They were absorbed in watching the reptilian visitor.(He stayed well away from our table.) Only a small goanna

Then back to the park to have a social afternoon with our Tassie friends and to bemoan the lack of fish caught. On the way back, we called in at the channel to see if there were any fish being caught.

Perhaps the fishing charter later in the week may produce some results!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Italians, fishing and a damp camp.

Friday night...Taylor's Beach
We were woken a few times during the night by an unfamiliar sound and it took a moment to realize it was the noise of raindrops spattering on the canvas roof of our little home.Hmm...would we stay dry! The first night of rain in five weeks . Maybe it would wash some of the red dust from the camper trailer and the canvas?
Our site at Talyor's Beach. Unpowered but private,
All was good and only one small leak in the corner near my pillow...but alas, I had put the dongle there on the shelf before I went to sleep.
Unfortunately the laptop was flat and as we are on an unpowered site, I had to wait till it charged in the back of the ute in the special battery setup Ian installed for me before I could test the dongle.
I am pleased to report all is well and we had no casualties from our minor leak.

Saturday.. a restful morning, drying out a few damp bits and pieces. Ian went fishing and got 'smashed' on the rocks but alas the fish lived to tell the tale. We left out little camp site to head through some lovely countryside to the annual Australian/Italian festival in the Wetland Centre in  Ingham. The sky cleared and we drove through beautiful cane fields, past the Victoria Sugar Mill which was pumping huge clouds of white smoke into the brilliant blue sky with the lush green mountains as a back drop. Absolutely beautiful scenery as we drove through huge mango trees and past old buildings. We walked across a high bridge through the Wetlands and were amazed by all the turtles among the lilies.
See the turtles?
Ravioli, lasagne and really good coffee for lunch!
A very busy food court on the grass

Great food!

A mango tree in Halifax

Then we headed down to Forrest Beach for a drive through more beautiful scenery
Sugar cane train and Hinchinbrook Island in the background
but Taylors' Beach gets the vote for the best spot in the district.
Forrest Beach with the exclusive Orpheus Island in the background
On the way back to the campsite we called into Halifax to buy Barry, a new fishing hat. The disgustingly dirty, lucky fishing hat has gone missing and a replacement was needed. A tiny little village with character as can be seen by the two signs outside the pub.
Read the small sign on the right too...
A lazy afternoon spent reading and editing, and being eaten by midges... the private camp spot has a couple of disadvantages.Midges and 
Sandflies.  The Stingose lotion came out for the bites this morning.
The day finished off peacefully on the edges of the serene waterways of Taylor's Beach. New camping acquaintances, Bob and Dell from Tassie, met us over there and we fished, barbequed (alas steak not fish) and shared a bottle of Pinot Gris.Bob is a fisherman and Dell is a romance reader so we all got on very well!
A beautiful setting's a shame you can't swim because of marine stingers and crocodiles!

A peaceful end to a great day

Today we are thinking about a drive inland to some local waterfalls. But of course the mandatory fishing expedition on the high tide first!