Sunday, 16 June 2013

And onward . . .

Leaving Lake Leslie (April 3) & off to Highfields near Toowoomba to visit Gordon’s old army mate Ken Perry and his wife Marelle.  As always, we were made to feel most welcome – more at home than at home!  And once again, we ate too much, drank too much and talked lots. 
The late husband of one of Gordon’s Legacy widows had been in the 7th Division, and Laurel knew there was a museum in the Toowoomba region to which she wished to donate some of Keith’s memorabilia so we took a little detour to obtain some information for her.  Although we were unable to take a tour of the Milne Bay Military Museum;
we were able to speak with some of the volunteers and see the general set up which is quite good. 

We had bought a new, smaller 2Kva generator before this trip; had only given it a quick run before leaving and it all seemed ok.  But . . . and it’s a very big but . . . when we went to use it to top up the house batteries in Toad Hall after a few grey and miserable days, all it wanted to do was ‘overload protect’ and then cut out.  Could manage to just run the power board enough to charge tablet and phone or small 300w fan or 800w toaster – one at a time – but anything more and it would automatically cut out, again.  This made for a very unhappy camper and a very angry one!  So, after asking around we were referred to ODES SUPERSTORE (in Toowoomba) .  They had a 2500 ‘gennie’, imported same as both of ours, on the shelf for $949.  After having spoken over the phone, we arrived to find ‘John’ had fuelled one up ready for us to try.  Gordon asked for ‘best price’ and we settled on $850.  Took it straight back to Highfields and gave it a test run.  Gordon threw everything at it – toaster, microwave, kettle and even the air-conditioner.  The only think it didn’t like was the kettle (at 2400w).  So young John could rest easily . . . we weren’t going to be back the next day, having told him if it wasn’t suitable we would be.  I was not expecting to be using the AC at anytime unless we were on 240v, so this is a real bonus.  All I really wanted was to be able to top up the house batteries and use the coffee machine . . . anything more is in all ways super.

Saying farewell to Ken & Marelle, we head off to Wivenhoe Dam, Lumley Hill Campground.  This is only about 80kms from Brisbane which will enable Gordon’s daughter Peta, her husband (another) Gordon and their two children Emily and Andrew to come visit us over the weekend.  They live in a very built-up hilly area in Brisbane which would make manoeuvring – much less parking – Toad Hall extremely difficult to say the least.
Lumley Hill (they say) has sites suitable for ‘large rigs’.  Unfortunately Carmel (who took our booking) didn’t seem to classify a 27ft 5th Wheeler as a big rig.  It took quite a considerable amount of to-ing and fro-ing for Gordon to be able to position us on site.  Now we can only hope that no-one comes in too close in front of us before we leave on Monday.  Fingers crossed. 

With the family coming for lunch on Sunday April 7, we went to Fernvale shops (about 15kms) to stock up for a barbecue.  All we can hope now is that the weather improves and the Met Bureau is wrong!
The amenities at Lumley Hill are very good – certainly no lack of water.  Showers are clean and hot, each site has its own bbq and with attached undercover wood storage and the tariff doesn’t change – be it Christmas, Easter, School Holidays or mid-week.  Bookings only open 12 months on advance for peak seasons and you can only book 2 sites per phone call.  Overall it is a good spot and appears popular with families.  We have a Mum, Dad & three littlies on one side and 3 Dads with three young boys in front in a tent . . . all having the absolute time of their lives!

We left Lumley Hill behind us on Monday April 8 and arrived at Imbil (south west of Gympie) quite late that afternoon.  Here we were to spend time with youngest daughter Courtney and Little Miss Haylea Jayne (5 months old).  Once again, we are unable to park Toad Hall anywhere near Courtney’s house.  She was going to take in goats on agistment to supplement her income & keep the grasses down, but even the goats couldn’t climb the hill! So we booked in to The Island Reach Camping Resort for an extended stay so Grandma could have her fill of Haylea before she too was all grown up. 

The camping resort/caravan park was severely damaged (again!) during flooding earlier in the year and they have been valiantly cleaning & gardening to try to restore the park.  Unfortunately for me, the soggy grounds are a breeding ground for biteys of all kinds so we opt to move out to Standown Park on the Gympie-Tin Can Bay road.  This beautiful park is owned and run by Rod and Pam Elkington who originally set it up as a veterans’ retreat, although it is now open to all.

The Memorial – awaiting consecration

Standown is a quiet park – with none of the gimmicks designed to attract young children like jumping castles and water parks – so costs are kept down and resting comes easily.  It is very well positioned as a staging point for Fraser Island, Gympie, Tin Can Bay and even Maryborough is only 77kms north. 
The campfire is lit at 16:30 precisely (half past four for the uninitiated) every afternoon ready for happy hour (or two or three).  All very civilized.  Here we met some lovely people – Bob & Dawn, John & Esther, Graham & Mary, Jim & Joy, Sue & Rich – among many others.  Some of these we were to catch up with again at the CMCA Rally in Maryborough.

Like many others, we took a day trip to Fraser Island with Courtney playing chauffeur in her Jeep.  I had last been on Fraser some 30 years earlier and no-one else had ever been so it was quite a trip for us all.  Haylea had her first ice-cream (vanilla paddlepop; thanks Grandma) and Courtney, John & Haylea swam in Lake Mackenzie. Well Courtney & Haylea swam & John almost managed a wet chest. Said it was too cold – wimp.  The barge trip was just as I remembered it but the island was much more sand – great vast sand drives which Courtney handled with aplomb.  Well done kiddo!

While we were at Imbil, John had taken Gordon 4WDing and he was much more impressed with Courtney’s driving than with John’s.  Not that John drove dangerously but it was much more adrenalin based than Courtney’s ‘family drive’ style.


From Standown we also went to The Silky Oak Tea Gardens – a most delightful country pub serving good food and cold drinks.  We had a night out with John’s parents – Jim & Suzette – for the Full Moon Pig-on-a-Spit dinner; along with about 130 other people.  Good basic wholesome food with fabulous atmosphere and great company – you can’t ask for more.  We had earlier enjoyed Jim & Suzette’s company at Imbil Bowling Club and were wowed by the food cooked and presented by Rainer Kruse from  A truly fabulous meal and not what one would expect in a small country town bowlo. 

Also from Standown we travelled into Gympie for Anzac Day – a very moving march followed by a Citizens’ Service in the town’s Central Park.  The whole town was involved; combined schools band and choirs, the Mayor affirming on behalf of the people support for all troops and a commitment to remembrances.  So much to take in.  And from out of the crowd came Marianne and her husband (?Leon) from Taree! You can’t afford to misbehave whilst travelling, you never know who might see you. 

Monday 29th April saw us head north to Maryborough for the CMCA Rally.  This is a full week of fun, frivolity, learning, meeting old friends and new.  There is just so much to see and do at a Rally that words tumble far more quickly than I can type.  Entertainment every night.  Trade stalls, craft lessons, information seminars.  On and on.  Or one can just sit back and do as little as you wish.  All for $50 per person up front and $9 per night unpowered.  Full shower and toilet facilities (and those provided at Maryborough were the best we’ve seen in five years).  Free shuttle bus service into town, shopkeepers making special offers available to CMCA members.  It just keeps going.  The showgrounds became a mini-city in its own right.  And someone was there filming it – from the sky – in his own helicopter – towed behind his own motorhome.  Boy oh boy, was that some rig! The trailer is also his heliport.

The ball on Saturday night is quite a culmination; and a chance meeting with another couple from back home – Linda Parker from Telecross and her husband.  Like I said, no misbehaviour because you never know who’s watching & ready to report back home.
Maryborough has some wonderful tourist attractions, including at Portside the Customs House Interpretive Centre, Bond Store Museum, Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum and the Customs Residence Cellar Dor – entry to all of which is just $5.50 per adult.  The Time Cannon is fired at 11am daily and costumed characters mill about the area whilst old time piano playing can be heard throughout the day.  The Military Museum is THE BEST we have seen outside of the War Memorial in Canberra.  The way their memorabilia is presented and preserved would surely stand out as a model to be followed by many an organisation.

Part of the Vietnam War Memorabilia

Various firearms arranged to represent the Rising Sun Badge

In the next issue – Hervey Bay and points further north.  Off to watch the Rabbitohs play the Titans in Cairns.   “Live the Life You Love”

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