Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Memories . . .

 The Ladies bathroom, at Conway Beach Caravan Park -
 reputed to be the most photographed bathroom in Aus
From Slade Point, Mackay we move north to Conway Beach - only 35 kms from Airlie Beach but a thousand miles from all that touristy bullsh*t.  We did actually take a day trip to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour and the only real 'up' note was that I managed to buy two lovely white summery blouses for only $5 each.  The rest was a bit passé - and was not helped by the fact that the main drag through Airlie was being dug up. The whole area is so very tired and dreary.  Oh well.  Conway Beach is peaceful, beautiful and the start of our 'warm winter'.

Cedar Falls - just off the Shute Harbour/Conway Beach Road
These places are the reason we travel - the out-of-the-way places that it seems very few people have been to before us.  We spent three days at Conway - including the first State of Origin where we were the only Blues supporters - before moving on to Home Hill.  Here I was hoping to fit in a game of golf at Karrie Webb's home course but, much like our inflatable kayak, our golf clubs seem to be coming along just for the ride and not to be used.  The main problem here is that in these warmer climes I would much rather play early in the morning and be done & dusted by late morning whereas Gordon would rather play after lunch & really enjoy that beer at the 19th! 
Our first night in Home Hill was at the comfort stop just behind the Tourist Information stop in the old railway station.  Wonderful amenities - once again all free - with hot showers, camp kitchen, potable water and plenty of space.  The only drawback is that although the station is closed the railway line isn't.  Trains go past very regularly - all through the night.  Our second and subsequent nights were spent at the showgrounds, with thanks to HWW member BJ who had organised this as a stopover for those on their way to the Dam Fine Rally in Townsville.  At $10 per vehicle per night for power & hot showers, and far enough away from the railway line for a peaceful night's sleep, we stayed for a few days.
From Home Hill it's only a hop skip & a jump to Ayr - the home of the most wonderful 'Butterfly House'.  I had been here many many years ago - 45 to be exact - when we lived in Townsville & my Dad had brought us down for a day trip.  The dear old gent who set up the display is now long dead, but his lovely wife Jessie is still alive and living in Townsville with their daughter.  Every now & then they come down to spruce up the old place & while they are there they re-open it to the public for just $5 per adult & $2 per child. 
Just one of the displays - this one of stones.
There are many more, mainly butterflies and beetles but also some shells.
I remember my Dad telling me that this fellow had the shortest address in the country, maybe even the world.  This was in the days before postcodes & the address was just 7 letters -
The entire place is just as it was when they first moved into it in the '50s - complete with lino, laminex table, plastic canister set - yes you know the one,  Yes, THAT ONE! It is just such a fabulous trip down memory lane.  Unfortunately some of the displays are showing their age, but they are still fabulous and well worth a visit if you are anywhere within cooee of Ayr.  Photos are only permissible without flash, so most of ours didn't come out very well so you'll just have to go along to see for yourselves.
We met & made some new friends at Home Hill, as well as catching up with Dave & Rita (and of course Henry) from Monto.

Another of our side trips from here - and that is one of the great benefits of a 5th wheeler over a motorhome, you can just hop in the car & go - was to a very whimsical place called Groper Creek.  It would appear that floods (or very high tides) are high & frequent - even the gas tank for refills is up on the verandah of the 'shop'.

Just one of the local homes at Groper Creek
Still chasing warmth we head further north - this time towards Townsville where I hope to catch up with my nephew, Andrew, who is in the army & stationed there.  Oh, nearly forgot!  While we were talking to Jessie Ey & her daughter at the Butterfly house, they asked were we going to Townsville, and of course I said yes, to try to meet up with my nephew and also to see if I could find my old house at 175 Bayswater Road, Currajong.  After our visit to the Butterfly house we went to have a coffee & whilst we were waiting for the coffee to arrive, Gordon was talking to his sister Di on the phone so I amused myself by browsing through the local paper.  Well blow me down - I'll be burnt & buttered on both sides - there was "Thundagulla" (as our home was called)  advertised for Auction, complete with pictures.  Just made me feel 10 years old again - brought back so many memories.  I have kept the advertisement & will send copies of it to my sisters for old times' sake. 
We tried to free-camp at Saunders Beach which is about 25 kms north of Townsville but there was scarcely enough room for a bongo  van style camper, much less our 27' rig; so we continued on to Bluewater Park about another 35 kms further on. Even though we arrived about 3:30 (early enough, we thought) the place was virtually full already except for a bit of a patch right up the end.  Much to the amazement of several others who looked at us as though to say "You'll never get that thing in there" Gordon managed to reverse into a fairly tight spot with only minimal assistance from me - that being "That'll do, Darl".  The occupants of about three or four other vans appeared a bit dumbfounded.  Later on another van arrived & Gordon helped guide them in to a very tight spot beside us.  George & Linda (Bickerdike) from WA joined us for a most enjoyable happy hour (or two) and a little wine (or three).  This was just a one-nighter and the following morning (we're up to 10th June by this time) we set out for Hull Heads Campground which is just behind the Coastguard at Hull Heads and raises funds for their ongoing work.  Well, we thought that's where we were going, except Wanda (our GPS) just wanted to keep taking us through canefield after canefield.   Eventually, after a phone call to BJ (back at Home Hill) we finally arrived.  After just over 200 kms to travel what should have been about 150.  This is the first time we wet a line - no fish but no wet ars* either.

From here it's just an easy 150 kms to Cairns, where we are booked in at Coconut Village Resort, a Big 4 Caravan Park, and where we will meet up with Bob & Carol.  The park is a bit on the expensive side, but it has been voted Queensland's #1 Park seven times.  On arrival we can see why,  The grounds are impeccable, as are the amenities.  The staff are ever so friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable.  This will be our base for the next two weeks.

The entry is a bit kitsch but you can't miss it!
This is where I leave you for now - stay tuned for Cairns and its surrounds.  A truly tropical wonderland where Mother Nature spreads her wings.
Live the Life You Love . . .






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