Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Home - the long way!

We arrived at the airport in good time (of course, everyone knows I’m always early!) only to discover that we could have had 25kg each of luggage not 20 as we thought. Ian swears he didn’t know about this before, I’m still not convinced.
Our flight left on time and we were proceeding a little bumpy but fine towards our destination of Wellington where we were to change planes and proceed to Melbourne.
However half way to Wellington our friendly Captain advises that the winds on the ground are 100kph in Wellington so we’re being diverted to Palmerston North. OK I say to myself this is not looking like a normal trip home right now but I have faith in Air New Zealand. As we are about to land in Palmerston North we are told that we will be advised of how we are getting to our destination and we are--- we’re going back to Christchurch and then we’re staying there overnight and leaving for Melbourne at 6am so they would like to see us back at 4am. Yeah right ---- I’m really pretty at 4am, just ask Ian but of course that’s what we’ll do. So we wait for a couple of hours to fly back to Christchurch in this dinky little airport and have to pay a $5.00 departure tax for the privilege. I muttered that we hadn’t asked to come to Palmerston North but no one seemed to care anyway.
After arriving back in Christchurch we found a motel after discovering Air New Zealand are really not that interested in where we stay because we are paying as they have no control over the weather. Ah well, the perils of not knowing how windy Wellington is I suppose.
We assemble back at 5am having decided that 4am is too early and we would just get at the end of the line and fly uneventfully back to Melbourne having paid another departure tax. At least we are able to take advantage of the new in flight individual entertainment console which is even in cattle class and very handy. I thoroughly enjoyed Mumma Mia and bopped along with Meryl Streep to my heart’s content while Ian tried to pretend he didn’t know me.
When we arrived in Melbourne we enjoyed a 90 minute wait as we proceeded at snails pace through Customs, duly declaring our walking shoes, two fortune cookies for Tom and Jess and our flaked rice. None of which were of any interest to the Customs people, they had a flight from Bali, one from India and a couple of other Asian ones to keep them content. Home at last!
The last photo is one which probably best describes our final day and was one we saw so many times in New Zealand without any accompanying explanation that we couldn’t resist a photo figuring it would come in handy sometime.

Back to Christchurch

We returned to Christchurch and had a few hours to spare before we returned our trusty little chariot so we went to the Antarctic centre which was fascinating and well worth the visit. We experienced an authentic Antarctic storm in one area and were suitably rugged up in the most flattering jackets and boots which I could probably have used earlier in our visit! It was amazing and very, very cold and we now have a much better understanding of chill factors. We listened to a number of audio visual presentations and were amazed at the courage of the early explorers and also saw a film about the present research work being conducted which has its own challenges even now with all the modern conveniences.
However the highlight for me at least was the penguins which were so endearing, and we were fortunate enough to be there for feeding time which was even better. The penguins at the centre are Little Blue Penguins and have all been rescued and after recovery deemed unsuitable to be rehabilitated to the wild again. It seemed to us that they made very wise decisions --- what a life! They only have to wait to be fed twice a day with their favourite delicacy and if the wrong fish should come their way they spit it out and wait for the next one. Some even only eat certain parts of the fish so they reject the parts they don’t fancy and wait for another to come their way! We were particularly taken with one penguin – a senior who had had his share of trials and suffered a stroke last year only to be nursed back to health round the clock by the adoring staff and now is quite happy to come out for a chat during the day.
We left earlier than we would have liked to fulfil our obligations with the car and settled in to a motel close to the airport in preparation for the trip home via Wellington as we were unable to get a direct flight home.

Hanmer Springs

What a great place to feel really decadent! Obviously this is where the beautiful people go to veg out. We stayed in a really lovely self contained bed and breakfast which was quite luxurious and within walking distance to the town and the Springs which we spent a couple of hours enjoying in varying degrees of smell, the sulphur is a little overpowering in the hottest pool but we were assured it is very beneficial.
However the very best thing about Hanmer Springs (in my opinion at least) is the proximity to the Annual Culverden Fete, which I swear I didn’t know was on the first day we arrived in Hanmer.
This is the most fantastic event if you like really high class Farmers markets which also showcase a huge array of New Zealand Craft and produce. All the beautiful people were there and we joined them for a lovely day looking and tasting a number of New Zealand delicacies. I tried the venison which was so tender it absolutely melted in my mouth and we left feeling well satisfied. However I know it is hard to believe but I didn’t buy anything as we were concerned about losing it thru Customs (damn customs, damn!). It was a great day none the less and you can see from the photos how beautiful it was. An event not to be missed if you can manage it!
Sadly, now on to Christchurch and home.

Murchison to Blenheim

After we left Murchison we drove through to Nelson and the scenery along the way was absolutely spectacular. Ian stopped many times and took photos of the trip.
We stopped in Nelson and then decided to take a walk through the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve which is located midway between Nelson and Blenheim. There are lots of lovely walks around this area and we walked across a swing bridge and took in the view of the beautiful clear water below. One thing we have noticed everywhere we’ve been tramping is the beautiful ice blue clear water. You truly can see the bottom of every river and the shape of individual rocks is clearly discernable. Today some courageous tourists were even swimming in the ice cold water. We didn’t!
Our next stop is Hamner Springs where we will break out the bathers and enjoy the Springs for a couple of days.

Karamea to Murchison

We stayed the night in Karamea and enjoyed dinner at the pub. Ian was extremely adventurous and tried wild pig in a watercress broth which he said was delicious. It certainly was different and the stay at the pub was unique!
In the morning we went to the Zig Zag Track walk but unfortunately the track about half way up was blocked by a fallen tree just as we had prepared ourselves for a fantastic view. Nevertheless we did get some great shots from half way up the track. The countryside here has to be seen to be believed, everything is so lush and the cows and sheep certainly don’t have to go very far to graze, looking very contented.
After Karamea we drove on to Murchison and then planned to drive through to Nelson. However our plans were derailed after lunch when we found ourselves sitting in the longest traffic jam resulting from a very nasty accident somewhere on the road ahead. After two helicopters landed and we were told by a member of the NZ constabulary that we could expect a further delay of at least one hour on top of the hour we had already been sitting we decided to return to Murchison for the night.
It was fortunate that we did as we discovered a fantastic walk to the Six Mile Power Scheme which closed in November 1975 after nearly 54 years of operation.
In 1921 the Murchison City Council raised a loan of 12,000 pounds to provide a hydro electric scheme to supply light and power to Murchison Township, Six Mile Valley and Four River Plain. Construction proceeded through 1921. Pipes from a nearby sluicing claim were brought to the penstock and other materials (shingle, cement, steel) arrived by horse drawn dray or wagon. The first truck in the district was used to deliver parts of the plant.
The Country Chairman placed a notice in the Murchison Standard which read:
The residents of Murchison County are officially invited to be present at the Six Mile Creek on Wednesday the 25th instant at 1.30pm. The occasion being the official opening of the hydro electric development scheme. It is intended to hold a public picnic before the actual opening ceremony and the council will provide only hot water, tea, sugar and milk for the council’s official guests.
At least everyone knew where they stood!
It was a beautiful walk and we marvelled at the expertise that brought this scheme to the area and wondered why they have stopped using this wonderful way to provide power without the environmental issues we have today.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Next on our tour of the west coast we drove from Greymouth to Punakaiki to visit the Pancake Rocks which are described as one of the 101 must do’s for Kiwis.
Punakaiki has spectacular blowholes set in magnificent rocks which look like pancakes stacked one on top of another and are impressive both in their appearance and by the noise they produce as the waves slap on the limestone rocks which have stood the test of time over 30 million years. A few unwary tourists felt the full force of the water coming up through the blowholes which are at their best at high tide which was when we arrived, however we were standing just behind them so all was good, for us at least.
We also walked (sorry tramped!) along the coast and watched the seals sunning themselves on the massive rocks of the coast. There was a definite pecking order and a large bull seal was going around making his importance known to all and sundry and ended up on the prime rock but alone, looking like a grumpy “Nigel no mates”. The seals are so well camouflaged we spent some time just looking at the rocks and being surprised when what appeared to be just rocks moved and slid off into the ocean. They are amazing creatures to watch as they surf through the rough water and yet seem so clumsy on the rocks.After we had seen enough of the seals we climbed along the path high up to the point and enjoyed a fantastic view which Ian was able to take as a 360 degree panorama which we will enjoy looking at when we get home.

Greymouth Tramping

In New Zealand you don’t go ‘bushwalking’ you go ‘tramping’! Go figure but that’s what it says in the tourist information so when in Rome ……..
After we settled into our motel in Greymouth we set off to go tramping along the Woods Creek Track which is a 45 minute loop walk through native bush featuring tunnels dug by 19th century gold miners who earned every last penny they sweated for. The walk passes through tailings, past tailraces, tunnels and dams. The method used to mine the gold here differs quite a lot from the methods used in Australia as the miners made good use of the availability of water to separate the gold from the tailings by digging very long, narrow, deep tunnels and using the water to release the gold and force it to the bottom of the tunnels from where it could be retrieved.
The walk was lovely and took us along a suspension bridge, some very steep stairs and unexpectedly a long narrow tunnel at the end. Throughout the walk we noticed many different varieties of ferns and lichens which I took photos of as well as the spectacular timber which grows so well in this climate.
To gain access to the walk we passed through some really desolate country which is the result of timber plantations and also some areas of farming including these rather cute sheep pictured in a setting I though came straight out of an English travel guide.

Greymouth by train

On Saturday morning we set out early for the Trans Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth. The Trans Alpine is amongst the top six train rides in the world and certainly lived up to our expectations.
The journey took about four and half hours and travelled through Barfield, Springfield, Arthurs Pass, Otira and into Greymouth.
We crossed the farmlands of the Canterbury plains, spectacular gorges and the rugged, snow capped Southern Alps before descending into the lush forests of the west coast to Greymouth. We passed through many tunnels along the way, one of which was eight and a half kilometres and for many decades it was the third longest railway tunnel in the world. It takes as long to pass through this tunnel as it does to cross the English Channel tunnel due largely to it’s gradient and for those who know how much I enjoy (not!) the Eastlink tunnel – it felt very long!
However the train ride was spectacular and it was great for Ian to be able to sit back and enjoy without worrying about driving.
It was cold so we (I) didn’t spend a lot of time standing out in the open observation area. I cannot claim any credit for the photos as Ian was the one who stood out in the cold this time.
When we arrived in Greymouth we picked up our car which is a Toyota Corolla, small but we hope efficient and enough for our needs after which we walked around the town and found a pub to sample the New Zealand delicacy of whitebait in an omelette. Very tasty it is too, so we’ve marked off one culinary requirement to say we’ve visited New Zealand. We also managed to find some flaked rice which our friends David and Elaine who are Kiwis said was a must to bring home so that will be interesting. Have to get it through Customs first!

Thursday, 23 October 2008


We arrived in Christchurch on Monday afternoon and then Ian was off to the conference and I was left to amuse myself.
The first day was lovely and warm and I explored the city by foot and enjoyed the beautiful parks and gardens and churches. However the following days have been very cold, really cold. In fact it feels as tho’ we’re having the winter we missed by going away this year!
There is a lovely river which runs through the city called the Avon River and the water is as clear as clear and there is a punt service piloted by a young man resplendent in a straw boater hat. It really looks great but he certainly has his work cut out as there is quite a current running.
Today I went to the Art Gallery which is a beautiful new building with an Australian Architect, from Victoria no less and went on a guided tour. I have now seen more of the Christchurch Art Gallery than I have of the Shepparton Art Gallery – shame on me, I will rectify that when we get home.
Of course retail therapy has been very important and getting used to a new currency has been a little confusing but I’ve managed!
Across the road there is a beautiful Art Precinct which houses many beautiful local crafts and craft people such as painters, a patchwork shop, bone and wood carvings and beautiful fine woollen garments some incorporating mohair and possum which create wonderful soft and fine yarns which are just to die for.
In the evenings we’ve dined with the others from Shepparton and on Wednesday night we had the Conference dinner which had a Pacific cruise theme and was great fun.
Ian will complete his obligations for work on Friday and then we’re off on Saturday to take the train across the Alps to Greymouth. After that we’re taking a car and travelling along the west coast, up to the top and back down the east coast to Christchurch. We don’t have a lot of time so we’ve decided to see what we can well instead of just a road trip.

Gosford to Home ....

We arrived at Pete and Dawn’s on Friday and settled in to stay until Wednesday morning. It was lovely to stay in the guest room in their apartment and to leave the van parked out the front for a few days.
Pete and Dawn had a barbeque on Monday night and we met some of their friends which was a great night. We relaxed and caught up on their news including their new car which is very nice! We also went to see Wall-E which we all enjoyed.
All too soon we were on our way home and stopped for one more night on the road just north of Albury. As if to finish the holiday in style we had a beautiful sunset followed by a cold night just to make sure we went home and didn’t stay another night on the road arriving home early on Thursday morning.
At last we have been able to see Kate and Warwick’s house and we’re looking forward to seeing the transformation they have planned for their first home. On Saturday we went to give them a hand and arrived just in time to see a bee swarm in the back yard resulting from Waz and Andrew cutting down a tree and upsetting a large nest of bees. During the day the bees became a little more agitated and by the next morning Frank, the wonderful next door neighbour had called in the apiarist to remove them. Never a dull moment!
A few days at home and then its off to Christchurch for Ian’s conference and a week to look around.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Crowdy part two

After a restful night with the ocean crashing around us we stepped out of the van to see our neighbourhood kangaroos going about their early morning feeding routine and walked down to the beach. We walked along the beach for an hour and were entertained by the whales jumping out of the water, blowing and creating water fountains as they crash back into the sea. How lucky are we? For as long as we wanted to watch they were providing the entertainment.
As we returned to the van we were able to take photos of a rather large Monitor lizard one of many we saw during our stay. There is so much to see at Crowdy that we’re sure we will return again and see many new things.
After our walk we reluctantly packed the van and travelled on to Pete and Dawn in Gosford. Sadly we recognise that the travelling part of this holiday is all but gone now but it is also exciting to be able to see Pete and Dawn on our way home and we’re looking forward to seeing Kate and Waz and their house which everyone else from home has already seen.
However this year is a little different as we’re off to New Zealand a few days after we get home as Ian is attending a conference in Christchurch and I’m going along for the ride! We’re having a week after the conference to look around New Zealand so I’ll be blogging on for a while yet.

Crowdy - Part 1

After we left Gin Gin we travelled on to Caboolture for the night which was unremarkable to say the least and then on to Ballina to a great caravan park where we were able to fill up the water tanks and relax with a swim and spa. We went for a walk in the afternoon to the beach and watched the surfers competing with the dolphins who seemed to be giving them a surfing lesson and were definitely showing off. They were beautiful to watch and we didn’t even try to take photos as it was too hard to see where they were going to appear next. Sometimes the best things we have seen will have to remain in our memories not in photos.
From Caboolture we drove on to Crowdy Bay where we stayed for one night last year and had vowed to return. It is school holidays here and there were a lot more people around so we stayed at Kylies Beach Camping Area which is lovely. Again this year we had plenty of kangaroos wandering through the camp but also a lovely koala mum and baby who were in a tree quite low to the ground and very happy to have an audience with cameras going for hours on end.
On our first morning we went for a magnificent walk from our camping area to Kylies Hut then on to Indian Head Camping area, across to Diamond Head and back to our campsite.
Kylies Hut was built during World War 2 for Australian author Kylie Tennant by a local bushman, Ernie Metcalfe as a writing retreat. Our walk which was narrow and steep in sections took us 113 metres above sea level and along the way we saw beautiful native flowers and a magnificent coastline. Quotes from the book written by Kylie Tennant appear along the walk together with information from the National Park authorities and are a great way to rest and recover as you walk!
We had booked in for two nights and were pleased that we had, as we planned to walk along the beach on the second morning.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Last days at Yeppoon

It’s finally time to leave Yeppoon and David and Elaine who have been our hosts for the past three weeks which have been more like staying with friends than at a park. We’ve enjoyed camp cooking stews and damper courtesy of David and Elaine and we’ve returned the favour with a yummy curry. For Elaine’s birthday all the campers surprised her with a roast dinner and birthday cake and amazingly we managed to keep it a surprise.
We’ve finally been able to capture a photo of one of the other campers which are generally quite retiring. Our visitor was four foot long and very happy to stay quietly up the tree whilst we all took our photos.
On our last morning we went up to see what Elaine and David were up to. Ian and David disappeared behind the Lodge and before we knew what was happening it was decided to remove a tree which was blocking the sunlight to the newly installed solar hot water panels. Just in case you’re wondering Ian was in the vehicle pulling down the tree! So by 9.30am the tree was down and we adjourned to the pool to consider our next move.
Unfortunately our next move came at 2.30pm when we had to leave. We delayed as long as we could and had our last swim at 1.30 before travelling on to a roadside stop at Gin Gin for the night.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Yeppoon (go the mighty Hawks)!

Well it was a good day on Saturday, especially if you were a Hawthorn supporter. We decorated the common room in Hawthorn colours with a token offering to Geelong in the interest of fair play, of a couple of blue and white interruptions to the gold and brown. We had a great afternoon with the others from the park and thought the Hawks thoroughly deserved the victory. It certainly made two people at least very happy (and their partners I might add!).
At the end of the day there was a sunset, just right to finish off a great weekend.
We’ve continued to enjoy our visit to Yeppoon with magnificent weather every day. This week is our last lazy time before moving on on Sunday as we travel fairly quickly to Pete and Dawn on our way home.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


On Monday we went to Mt. Morgan for the day which was a really interesting insight of what happens when mining finishes. Mt. Morgan 130 years ago boasted as being the richest gold mine in the world creating one of the biggest bustling towns outside of Brisbane in Queensland, producing 225 tonnes of gold, 50 tonnes of silver and 360,000 tonnes of copper.
We had a fascinating guided tour which took us over the township of Mt. Morgan and then up to the open cut mine where we saw the process being undertaken by the Queensland government to reinstate what is left. It really is like a ghost town and quite eerie.
There are also a number of historical buildings remaining including a toilet block high on the main street which has a heritage classification based on the fact that it was an air raid shelter during the war. It’s hard to imagine an easier target but there you are, it doesn’t have to be logical.
Also included in the tour was a visit to the fireclay caverns which were excavated by pick and shovel over 100 years ago. The caverns are home to seven species of bats and early Jurassic dinosaur footprints.
We’ve also been to the Byfield National Park for a walk and visited a pottery nearby for some retail therapy.
Today was the local free paper delivery and guess what – there was a bike advertised which was an absolute bargain – especially when Ian offered less than the advertised price. So now I can ride around Yeppoon as well as walking. We can take the front wheel off and it fits in the car too!
On Saturday we’re planning a Grand Final get together here as we’ve found another Hawthorn supporter hopefully to celebrate a victory otherwise I’ll be keeping a very low profile, maybe a solo bike ride on Sunday!

Sunday, 21 September 2008


We’ve been to Yeppoon before except that last year we were driven out by bad weather and only stayed a short while. This year we have been very fortunate and have enjoyed the best weather of our trip so we’ve decided to stay a while and enjoy.
Each morning we go 5 km into town and take a walk along the beachfront path which sets us up for the day. Most of the day has so far been spent enjoying the sunshine, reading, swimming and for me sewing. There is a particularly nice patchwork store here so I have been able to pay a couple of visits so far.
This morning we went to the market at Emu Park and snapped these extremely attractive camels who were there to provide a rather unique form of transport for those who thought it worthwhile. You’ll notice that there were no passengers when I took the photos and we didn’t partake.
At the park we’re staying at there is a nine hole golf course and so Ian and I decided to have a try, thinking it can’t be that hard – well it is and we played our nine holes more in the style of mini golf with my personal top score of 13 for one hole. My greatest claim to fame is that I didn’t lose any golf balls!

Monday, 15 September 2008


We’ve returned to Seaforth as we make our way slowly south and have booked into the same council park we stayed in last year. As is the way of a lot of things after amalgamation in Queensland the park has changed with all the sites being marked and having to select a site was a bit like hard work but we managed and have settled in well.
We had planned to do our walks along the beach as we had enjoyed them last year especially with the tide going out so far and making for easy walking so on the fist afternoon we set out to walk to the point which was quite a long way. Having made it that far we walked back along the road which seemed to take a lot longer with all the streets we had to walk up and down to return to the park. Eventually we arrived back and I think Ian had had quite enough!
The next morning I was talking to some campers who have stayed here many times and they suggested that we go to the Cape Hillsborough National Park which we did and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of walks which were self guided walks and took us through mangrove and coastal woodland communities on the edge of Sandy Bay. On the way back to the park we called in at a lovely tea house which is a converted railway station and enjoyed Devonshire Tea sitting at a table decorated with beautiful stitcheries which made my finger ache for a new project as I have almost finished all the sewing I have brought with me unlike last year when I just about brought everything in my sewing room with me, including my machine, which I bravely left home this year!
On Saturday afternoon we were sitting at the van reading when Ian had a visitor who sat on his leg for quite a while and then left a small offering twice! I think we must be the only people in the park who are not feeding the birds, hence the offering as an expression of disdain!
Before we left on Sunday morning after the lovely sunrise we went to the market at Seaforth having decided that we were really only going for a look and left with ten books and bags of beautiful fresh fruit and vegies to take on to Yepoon which is our next stop.

Friday, 12 September 2008


We stayed at Cowley Beach for an extra day so we could go to the Tully Gumboot Festival. Greg, Joan and Ollie came too. Ollie travels in style these days as his hips are not what they used to be. We almost looked like we should have been in the parade and Greg was hoping we would so we could win the $500 prize! However there were much better attractions than us I have to say and we were particularly taken by the mini fire engine!
Tully has a huge gum boot at the entry to the town and the height of the gumboot represents the annual rainfall recorded in 1950, 7.9 metres – the Australian Record.
After the parade we went to the showgrounds and enjoyed watching the politicians throw gumboots, a display of Indigenous dancing and the presentation of the prize for the best float. The whole day was to go through until the evening but we left after enjoying some lovely local fare.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Cowley Beach 2

Everywhere we go we find something unique which takes our interest and Cowley Beach is no different. We discovered a truly unique variety of palm tree known hereabouts as “thongus”. Well not really but it’s a very original use for displaced thongs so we added a pair of our own. Apparently it began with a collection of mismatched thongs many years ago and more are nailed on to the tree regularly. There must be over 200 nailed onto this tree.
We’ve discovered to our relief that we are not the only people travelling who cannot seem to make decisions about moving on easily. Our neighbours Greg and Joan and Ollie arrived two days ago for one night ….. they’re still here !
Yesterday (Friday) Greg and Joan invited Ian to go for a ride in their tinny across to the islands not far off the coast. So off they went whilst I stayed on shore with Ollie who’s recovering from a nasty dose of kennel cough and is at present not too keen on going anywhere despite the fact that he has his own lifejacket for sea travel and a pram for land wandering!
So the two pirates and their damsel set sail for the island and had a lovely time exploring until Greg (the chief pirate!) discovered that the vessel was drifting away from the shore with some determination. It may have had something to do with the tide and also the fact that the anchor was still on board! Off into the water went Greg swimming and arriving at the boat to discover that he couldn’t get on board as the water was too deep. In went Ian to the rescue and between them they returned to the island and Joan. Lucky really considering the phone and the water were ….. on the boat! Ah well, all returned to Ollie and I none the worse for wear and enjoying a good laugh. Joan has recorded the whole incident and I hope to publish incriminating photos at some time. Should be a very good dinner party story.
After lunch Joan and I walked to the point which is about 5kms each way and despite an offer from Ian and Greg in the boat we walked all the way back. Can’t imagine why I declined can you?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Cowley Beach

Well we said we were moving and we did – sort of – actually we moved about 50kms down the beach to another park right on the water which is lovely. We were just driving down the road after refuelling in Innisfail and I saw a sign for Cowley Beach. As is our custom we drove down the road for a look and after checking out the park and the beach we booked in for two nights to begin with but now after our initial two nights we are staying for seven!
We’ve enjoyed walking along the beach for an hour each day and discovered on our first morning discovered part of the beach front contains a Defence Department facility which we have ascertained from Warwick’s father is a Training facility. On our second morning we discovered some of our country’s finest undertaking training in dinghy’s along the shore. As with our previous encounter with the Army, this was apparently not without incident and on our walk back to the park we passed a rubber dinghy being pumped up with a foot pump. Reminded us of the APC which was not cooperating!
We’ve also encountered a large flock of pelicans taking in the sea air and probably dinner when we walked up the beach yesterday and discovered that the far end of the beach trails away into a river.
We’ve been into Tully for shopping and will return there on Saturday for the Golden Gumboot Festival which I will write of afterwards and also include a photo of the huge gumboot which dominates the entry to the main shopping centre.
Speaking of big, we’re always on the lookout for ‘bigs’ and along the beach yesterday we saw a huge cuttlefish which we were going to collect on our way back only to find someone beat us to it which was disappointing. However when we walked down in the other direction today we saw dozens of them so here’s our very own edition of ‘bigs’. If anyone would like some cuttlefish, just let us know, we can collect plenty in smaller sizes before we leave on Sunday.
When I was waiting for the washing yesterday I had a friend who was very curious about what I was doing and I’m sure would have come into the laundry had I not walked (quickly!) back to the van for the camera.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

And again from Bramston Beach(but sadly the last!)

Well we were due to leave on Sunday and Sunday came and went and we didn’t! The weather wasn’t great and we had heard it was windy down the coast so we decided better the devil ……. So we’re still here.
However the weather has improved markedly now and the sun is shining so we made the right decision and haven’t had trouble filling in our time at all.
We’ve been going for long walks along the beach at low tide when the sand is firm and easy to walk. We’ve been for dinner at Babinda to a lovely Thai restaurant, reading and listening to the radio where we heard of a basketball carnival in Cairns which began on Thursday night and runs over the weekend as part of the Cairns festival. So we rang and booked tickets and for the princely sum of $24 we watched two NBL matches from the front row directly behind the Cairns Taipans bench. What incredible luck! We had a great night, although getting back to the van at 11.30pm was a bit of a rude shock! Never mind we didn’t have any pressing engagements for the morning anyway.
We did however make the most of the lovely morning and go for a walk through Eubenangee Swamp National Park which we had driven past many times. The walk begins at a lovely rail line which is one of the many cane train lines and winds its way through a tropical forest for about 1km. The tropical forest then gives way to a clearing with a steep walk up a hill from where you overlook a magnificent natural swamp which is teeming with life including birds and as we looked along the bank we noticed what looked like a log but in fact was a crocodile which validates all the warnings we saw posted along the way. The water lilies and other plants covered much of the surface of the Swamp and looked truly beautiful.
On our last day (we have really decided to go this time!) we went for a walk through Palmerston National Park to the North Johnstone River Lookout which is 1.5km from the road. It certainly was a challenge and we returned to our mountain goat ways again with the added interest of high humidity this time. The path was a very natural one over tree roots through the forest with some rudimentary steps provided along the way. The view was worth all the ‘are we there yets’ and something else to remember from our stay here.
Now we’re really going after two weeks which started at four nights!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Bramston Beach 2

Sometimes holidays are for revisiting comfortable places, a bit like comfy shorts, tee shirts and croc shoes (sorry Paula, and yes we do wear them all day at the beach!).
Then there are days that take you right out of your comfort zone and just explode with something really special. Today started out fairly as we planned with a visit to a market we had been told would be good and it certainly was very colourful and varied. We really enjoyed our visit to Youngaburra and after the market travelled back towards Milla Milla which is the dairy we visited twice last year to quality test the produce. We decided it was imperative to repeat the exercise this year and Ian has now ascertained that the chocolate orange cheesecake is indeed ‘to die for’.
As we sat on the deck enjoying our lunch we noticed that for today only there were helicopter flights available directly across the road from the dairy. Now I have never had a helicopter experience and so before I could do my usual risk assessment we found ourselves on board.
What a magic experience. I can only describe it as reminiscent to our balloon flight in Pennsylvania with a lot more noise and faster and being enclosed in a plastic bubble. We sped over the North Johnstone River and marvelled at all we saw. We have driven beside this beautiful country many many times and never known of the beautiful waterfalls cascading down as the river winds its way towards a junction and on to Innisfail. Our pilot Wayne told us that when the wet season is in progress this area is a favourite of white water rafters and I have made a mental note to myself if Ian ever suggests we try that I will be busy or wave from overhead in the helicopter I have now asked Kate to give me for Christmas!
Our flight was only for 10 minutes but it was an unforgettable experience probably even more so because of the spontaneity of our decision. I’m not expecting anything like this for the rest of the trip but it was so worth it.
If you are ever up here and would like to try out an adventure like this we highly recommend NQ Heli-Worx. Thanks Kate and Wayne, have a look at the website at

Bramston Beach 1

We have returned to Bramston Beach which was a favourite last year and one we had decided to return to again. We are not disappointed as it is just as we remembered and will stay for a record number of nights, yet to be decided as we keep extending! The photos may be a clue as to why --- the outlook from our caravan is none too shabby and going to sleep each night with the waves only 30-40 metres from your door is not hard to take. All this for $16 a night.
We don’t have any power here but do have water so it has been an opportunity to test out our generator to boost our battery in the van and we have managed very well. We put up the awning and even the wall across the back and have been sitting outside with our mosquito coil to protect us from the mossies (thanks Jenny for the coils – they are great!).
The chairs mum gave Ian are fantastic footstools so we’re set! The biggest decision is which book to read and which sewing to complete.
Innisfail is our closest main centre and is only 15 minutes away so shopping has not been a problem either.
We haven’t been totally lazy however and have started playing petanque along the foreshore in front of the van, sharpening our skills before we visit some friends further down the coast in a little while.
We’ve also been for a couple of walks through the National Parks nearby and the waterfalls are spectacular. We are discovering more things to see here the longer we stay and I’m sure there are more to come.