Week 3 Of Our Weekly Blog 11/06/2021 - 17/06/2021
Week 3 Weekly Blog
Last week saw us getting back on the road after an extended stay in Birdsville and finished off heading Easterly towards the coast. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 3 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
It was a freezing morning in Julia Creek with it reaching the lowest temperature overnight for 37yrs for this time of the year, it hit a nice cold 0 degrees!! Had a bakery breakfast after packing up camp and getting on the road driving east towards Townsville (still approximately 550kms away). We forgot to get diesel at Julia Creek, luckily, we had a 20L jerry can on board which we had to use 52km from the closest petrol station at Richmond. Fuelled up at Richmond then kept driving towards Hughenden. 70km outside of Hughenden there was a large piece of debris on the other side of the road (looked like a truck bumper). There was a car towing a caravan coming the other way which ran over it (without slowing down- stupid caravan drivers haha) and spun the piece of metal onto our side of the road just as we were past them and we run over it with both driver side tyres and camper. At that point in time, there was no possibility of stopping on the side of the road, so we kept driving to the next rest bay to inspect the damage. Brian and Sue had no idea why we were stopping, as they did not even see the metal. After Allan inspected (thankfully no damage), we kept on to Hughenden. We did not have much luck on this trip to Hughenden, 30ishkm outside of Hughenden, a truck kicked up a rock and it hit our windscreen- did not smash it (good old tough Mitsubishi windscreens), just chipped it a bit and made a loud sound which scared both Allan and I. Stopped at The Coolabah Tree for lunch and a wander around town to the visitor information centre and the MJ Holden and Elvis Café (which closed 5mins before we got there). We decided to stay the night at Pentland Hotel (around the back there was free camping and could have a shower for $3). Allan was talking to Cory and Chan and their dog Soldier (CNC Road Trips from Instagram) and planned to meet them at Pentland Hotel as they were travelling west from Townsville. We got to Pentland Hotel, had a round of drinks, set up camp and Cory and Chan rocked up. Had a round of drinks with Cory and Chan before then going to the Hotel for another round and a couple of games of pool and a pub feed (it was a huge feed and the service by the staff was amazing!). Sat and chatted with Cory and Chan about travelling for hours and then when we finally decided to go to bed, our pillows were wet- it was a very cold night, not as cold as Julia Creek though!
We took our time packing up the next day, as the camper was very wet from dew. Stood in the sun having our coffee, chatting to Chan and Cory and patting Solider, then took a photo just before we departed. We got on the road heading towards Charters Towers. We had planned to stay 22km east of Charters Towers at Macrossan Campground, a free campground on the Burdekin River with amenities. On the way we stopped at a public toilet. Jess had to go to the toilet and there were three toilets. The first had a spider on the door, the second was occupied and the third looked all right. Jess did her business and then when she flushed there was an almighty scream, as there was a frog under the lip of the bowl… she said it was massive, as she could only see its legs! Got to the campground by midday, set up camp, had lunch, then drove back to Charters Towers for a look an to go to the visitor information centre and Allan insisted on buying some yabby/red claw nets because he wanted to go fishing and try his luck at getting some yabbies/red claw. Back at camp, Allan set up the nets (rope, put our name, number, address on ID tags and put pork in for bait), then we walked down to the river to put the nets in. Sat around a contained fire (had collected firewood earlier in the day), cooked dinner and Jess went to bed early while Allan stayed up chilling by the fire.
Allan and I went down to the river early to check the nets and ran into another Instagram family (PFC Trippers) and spoke to them for 1hourish before checking our nets. We got no yabbies, but Allan had lost most of his bait. We put the nets back in the water. We spent a couple of hours exploring Charters Towers, which has a lot of history with gold mining and World War 2. We walked around the town, looking at all the old buildings that are still standing. We went to Zara Clarke Museum, which cost $5 entry per person, but I did not know and both Allan and I had no money on us. The lovely lady on the desk let us through to have a look. There were five rooms full of artefacts that were still in exceptionally good condition. It was amazing to see the changes in technology, equipment and clothing over time. Some of the artefacts included clothes, shoes, gaming machines, computers, typewriters, bikes, fire engine and uniform, ice cream truck with prices, every day kitchen items, musical instruments, sewing machines, farm machinery and equipment, health care equipment (dentist chair and equipment, iron lung machine, birthing chair and wheelchair just to name a few). There were even war artillery guns, ammunition, uniforms (including a Nazi Uniform- Swastika and all!!) and medals. Jess said It was one of the best museums she has been to, as she could have spent hours there and that it was worth every cent of the $5! We then went to the Towers Hill Lookout. The lookout itself was beautiful and showed the whole town and its surrounds. There was an amphitheatre up the top which showcases a documentary at dusk over the weekend (it cost money which you had to pay at the visitor information centre). On the way up to the lookout there are 27 WW2 bunkers, ruins of a gold mine, and a seismograph station. The 27 WW2 bunkers are hidden around Towers Hill and were built facing different directions so if one was found and targeted by the enemy, the explosion did not cause a domino effect, so they only lose one bunker worth of ammunition, not all of them. There were short films and information boards situated in some of the bunkers and there was also the option to do augmented reality where we were able to download an app on our phones and just by putting our camera over certain plaques, we were able to see what it was like for planes to fly overhead and get information on artillery, equipment, flight plans and see battle plans from WW2. After this interactive morning, Allan and I went back to camp, checked our yabby pots (no yabbies, but Allan replenished his bait) and we went fishing for a couple of hours. Jess was not successful, but Allan caught 2 ridiculously small Sooty Grunters.
We woke early to the sound of rain. Allan got up and put away some of our stuff that we left outside overnight, then came back to bed. The rain kept getting heavier and heavier, which was not ideal, because we were meant to be packing up and heading to Townsville today (only 110km away). We did not want to pack our camper away wet, as we want to prevent it from getting mouldy for as long as possible. It was only going to be a short drive today, so once it stopped raining, we could wait for things to dry a bit before packing it away and then leave camp a bit later. Allan and I got up relatively early and had our coffee and waited for the rain to stop. By 9ish we decided to brave the small drizzle and walk down the river to collect our nets. It was a very slippery walk down the slight hill towards the river, so Allan decided to get rid of his thongs (safe walking shoes) and walk barefoot. Typical Allan caught one red claw (which we kept and gave to someone else at the campsite). The rain had stopped, and the sun was out so by the time we got back to camp, the camper was pretty much dry, so we packed up and left camp. Despite the rain, it was still 28 degrees, but very humid and sticky! We got to Townsville around 1ish, set up camp, annex and all (we were staying for 5 nights at the caravan park in Townsville). We all had showers. Jess claims hers was cold, but everyone else had hot showers. We decided to go to the Townsville Brewery which used to be the old Townsville Post Office, so the building was beautiful. Allan and Brian had a beer paddle, Sue had an iced tea cocktail, and I had a glass of wine. The staff were not helpful and knowledgeable about their products, and it was clear that they did not want to be there (I suppose it was a Sunday afternoon). Townsville City was dead. It is something that we are noticing in Queensland that weekends are noticeably quiet in major cities. We went back to the caravan park, cooked and ate tea (spag bog). Jess fell asleep early in her chair listening to the wildlife around us- bats flying between trees, bustards (birds) and brush turkeys scrounging in the bushes and curlews making their awful noise (sounds like children screaming).
We got up early had breakfast and did a load of washing and hung it out. Jess had booked in to donate plasma at the Townsville Lifeblood at 9am and Allan tagged along to see if he could donate around the same time as well. When we got there, the computer system was down so everything had to be done on individual laptops. We donated and while we were there it poured with rain the whole time which the staff were surprised at because it is very unusual for it to rain in Townsville. We took our time at the donor centre and Allan ate literally all the snacks! We then went to The Strand which is at the beach. We walked around the swimming rockpool (it is water from the ocean, but the stingers are filtered out- some still get in). Allan saw some electronic scooters and so he wanted to try them out. We toured long The Strand on the motorised scooters- Allan had the time of his life! We saw a water fountain coloured red- we later found out it was for the State of Origin. There were lots of beautiful trees with vines flowing to the ground from the branches. There was a waterfall close to the road- we think it is man-made. We went back to the caravan park to find our clothes saturated from the rain and the humidity was making it difficult for the clothes to dry. Allan and I went swimming in the pool- it was freezing!! We did another load of washing, cooked and ate tea (butter chicken) and Jess checked the clothes on the line 100x as she was paranoid about people taking them (she saw a green tree frog at one of the checks). We played Rummy-King. It was Brian’s first time playing and he hated it (probably because it was too hard, and he did not win?).
Today was Magnetic Island (MI) day!! We woke at 5am to get ready. We had booked a taxi the night before for 8:15am to get to the MI ferry by 9am. The taxi still had not arrived by 8:20, so Allan gave them a call to ask what was happening- we had selected that we preferred a station wagon and there was not one available. Allan asked if they could just send the next available cab and she said they would try. At this stage Jess was pacing and paranoid that we would not make the ferry, so she called the MI ferry company. They said if we missed the 9am ferry, they would be able to fit us on the 11am ferry. The taxi arrived at 8:25 (we were all relieved- especially Jess who had worn a path in the bitumen with her pacing). We arrived at the ferry boarding terminal at 8:50- the ferry was running late anyway, and we did not board until 9:05am. It took approximately 40mins to get to MI and it rained intermittently on the trip over, but it was still humid and 30degrees! Once at MI (landed in Nelly Bay) we walked to the car hire place (Isle Hire) and got a topless Suzuki Vitara, which we had booked a couple of days ago (it thankfully had a cover on it, so the seats were not wet). It only had 2 doors and Allan and I got the back seats so each time we wanted to get out of the car, either Brian or Sue (or both) had to get out as well. We found out we were not allowed to drive on the unsealed roads (despite the Suzuki Vitara being 4WD) which encompasses half of MI. A lot of the better snorkelling places were at the bays along the unsealed roads- we could still hike to them if we wanted to. We went to Picnic Bay first (there were not many people around), walked along the beach towards the jetty (the sand was very coarse and not soft), walked on the jetty where we saw a large school of Herring which people were trying to catch with a drop-net for bait. We waded through the water to a part of a shipwreck (it was low tide), but Jess got scared so we took some photos from where we were and went back to the car. We drove towards Horseshoe Bay. We decided that we wanted to do Forts Hike, so Brian dropped us off at the carpark of the hike and he and Sue drove to Horseshoe Bay. We did the walk in our safety shoes (our thongs), it was a beautiful scenic hike and we saw Rock Wallabies and koalas. It was quite a challenging hike, some steep hills and lots of stairs for the last 600m. There were some ruins, WW2 gunneries and forts which was interesting and felt eery because it was an overcast day and we felt like we were in the clouds. We completed the 4km hike in 1hr and 30mins and Brian picked us up from the carpark and took us to Horseshoe Bay. We had lunch at the pub (hamburgers and chips) where Brian had left Sue to pick us up (she was sitting peacefully with a glass of Sav Blanc). We wanted to go snorkelling, but a lot of the good places we could not access with our car, so we could hike them, but we did not think there was enough time to complete the hike (4.6km in 2hrs one-way) and go snorkelling, so we decided against it. In hindsight, we probably did have enough time to at least get to Arthur Bay and snorkel, then walk back- oh well! We drove back towards Nelly Bay and stopped at Alma Bay to have a look. The waves were a bit bigger here and it was windier. There was a lifeguard on duty, but the water did not look very inviting. We kept driving to the next bay (Geoffrey Bay), which had a snorkel trail marked out by buoys. We got in and snorkelled towards the closest buoy (approximately 60m from shore) across a very deep channel where the ferries used to arrive. Jess could not see the bottom, so she freaked out and wanted to turn back. Allan managed to calm her down and get her to keep going to the buoy. Once she could see the bottom and the coral, she was fine and quite enjoyed it. The visibility was not great, the water was quite murky, and the colours were not very vibrant, but there were still plenty of fish and one striped one that seemed to follow us. We only snorkelled around 3 of 4 buoys because Jess was too scared to go out to the last buoy, although the reef would have been more beautiful out that way. We snorkelled for about 1hr, then returned to shore. We got changed and, then continued driving to Nelly Bay, which has another snorkel trail. This trail was even further out (>100m) and boy did it look further! Jess struggled with the first swim which looked a lot closer than that so there was no way she was going to be able to do this one, so Allan decided not to as well. We drove back to Picnic Bay and dropped Brian and Sue off to the pub to have a few drinks, so Allan could drive the car and take a few Instagram-worthy photos. We drove back to Geoffrey Bay, as the rock wallabies are frequently found there. People were feeding them carrot, apple and wallaby pellets and the wallabies were allowing people to hand-feed them and the wallabies were even jumping on people’s laps. We took photos and videos of the wallabies, then of us in the car. We drove back to Picnic Bay, found Sue and Brian at the pub (of course), then drove back to Nelly Bay to drop the car off. Allan had to drive back because Brian had had too many drinks to drive. Brian had to sit in the back with me and he was singing to songs but making up his own lyrics. We got back to the ferry terminal with ½ hour to spare so we had a drink at the hotel/bar that was on the marina next to the ferry terminal-it was quite fancy. Got on the ferry just before 6pm, arrived back at Townsville by 6:30pm, waited for a taxi, then got back to the caravan park by 7pm. We were able to take our clothes off the line (they were finally dry enough after 2x days and 3x washes later), had tea in the camp kitchen (leftover spag bog). We saw a brown tree snake in the camp kitchen curled up behind the bin. On the way back to our camper, we saw a cane toad (the first of our trip), it was very fat and when it landed from a hop, it made a loud ‘thud’. We were very tired so went straight to bed.
Today was a bit of a recovery day and Allan really wanted to go fishing. We got some bait from BCF and went to the rockpool on the coast. We went fishing for 2hours, caught a few small inedible fish and chatted to a local who had rocked up an hour after us. The local said we could catch bigger fish here, but it can be a bit hit-and-miss. He gave us a few tips about other spots (we cannot remember all of them now but Ross River was one of them). We came back to the caravan park and went swimming in the pool- it was slightly warmer than a couple of days ago. Allan went fishing in the creek surrounding the caravan park. He claims he was catching fish that were 30-40cm, but they were dropping off at the bank (Jess did not see any proof of this- the most she saw was Allan catching trees with his lure). Sue and Brian spent pretty much the whole day at Telstra trying to get Brian a new phone (his old phone was not charging and was turning off when it got too hot). We sat around the caravan park, had tea, played Singapore Jo, then went to bed.
This week we stayed put a bit more and were less destination-bound. Stay tuned for next week where Allan might catch a fish that is edible, and Jess might get to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (something she has always wanted to do). Catch you next week!