For those of you who have read my previous posts, I apologise for the time-gap. I endeavour to write once an ‘episode’ in our travels is complete. Once we left The Daintree & headed to Mareeba we were initially only going to spend a week or so there before heading further west & “Over the Top”. As you will see the more you read, this didn’t quite turn out that way. Oh, the beauty of having no timeframe & ‘no particular place to go’.
On arrival in Mareeba, we were advised that “THE” place to stay is the Rodeo Grounds, so there we went. At $14/night and only an additional $2 for power, we opted for the power.
Termite Mounds at the Rodeo Grounds
From here we moved to Davies Park – the leagues club grounds – for the annual CMCA “Christmas in July”. As ‘first-timers’ we found this rally fun-filled and it was fabulous to catch up again with some of the many friends we have made thus far on our trip – nearly all of whom are fellow “Highway Wanderers”.
Motorhomes Cheek by Jowl Christmas Dinner
The slide-out in the motorhome was (again) giving us a few issues, but then seemed to resolve itself – but not until after it had ripped up part of the lino flooring. Buy a new mat, cover it up and keep on going. (Hmm).
On open day, we were handed a couple of fliers – one for Ringers Rest and another for a Hot Air Balloon flight. As you may remember, heights are simply NOT my thing, but we kept the flier anyway. The offer was for a stand-by flight for just $50 instead of the usual $285. Now I might not like heights but I DO like a bargain and this sounded like just such a deal – for Gordon to take. We also (re)met a couple whom we had first met at the Rodeo Grounds – Erin & Bryan – who were volunteering at one of the stands, Motorco Townsville, and they advised us to check the sacrificial anode in our hot water system. The things no-one tells you until it’s (almost) too late. Our anode was down to the bare metal rod so the next step would have been damage to our HWS – thank heavens we learnt about it and managed to replace it in time. After this rally wrapped up, it was back to the Rodeo Grounds to map out the next stage of our journey. Here we re-joined Roy & Georgina (Coco) and met Chris & Mossy (Swagin Along) who also all had the balloon flight flier. Well, we decided we’d all go for it, so on 31 July (which co-incidentally is my birthday) we rang to be put on stand-by and were all placed on the list – be ready to be picked up at the front gates by 04:30 - 04:45. Yes, you read it correctly 04:30 IN THE BL**DY MORNING!!! And not only do I not do heights, I also do not do mornings. I was extremely nervous, but our friends Georgina & Roy just kept chattering away to me to take my mind off this dreadful thing I was about to do.
Flying High Let Me Touch Solid Earth Again
So . . . another ‘something’ I never thought I’d do – done & dusted. I took some amazing pictures but all were taken looking straight ahead, I couldn’t bring myself to look down. And I must say, I did thoroughly enjoy the experience and would possibly do it again – but only if we had another ‘cheapie’. Close to $300 is far too much to pay for that many heart palpitations!
The next day, Roy & Georgina took a little side trip out to “Ringers Rest” and met Dave. They came back & told us they were going for the weekend & did we want to come too. With nothing else planned, off we went – Roy & Georgina in Coco, Chris & Mossy in Swagin Along and Gordon & Juanita in Toad Hall. Gordon called in to the dump point on the way out and met Peter & Jo in Horsin’ Around so invited them, too.
Well, what can I say? Dave the Ringer is one of nature’s true gentlemen and his property is just, well, WOW! It is a bush camp, so if you’re looking for full powered sites, individual water taps, swimming pools & playgrounds – go to a caravan park. Ringers Rest is restful with all the space you could possibly dream of and wildlife and walks aplenty. There is fresh water available (two taps for ALL to share) and ecological composting toilets (absolutely NO odour). Dave is full of tales (and sometimes it’s not until you see the twinkle in his eyes at the end of a yarn that you realise he’s been having you on!).
Coco, Toad Hall & Swagin Along Sunset
Dave had provided plenty of firewood, so we had happy hour every evening around a roaring campfire. Sometimes we used it for cooking, sometimes just for looking. The occupants of Coco & Swagin Along had other plans and places to be so they left after the weekend, but Gordon & I decided to stay until the next weekend when we were booked in at the caravan park at Yungaburra, right on the banks of Lake Tinaroo where we were going to re-visit the Avenue of Honour Memorial to the soldiers and dogs of Afghanistan. During the week, Dave approached us and asked if we would be interested in coming back after Yungaburra to look after the place while he & his wife went to ‘the big smoke’ (Brisbane) for a family wedding. Well – Gordon & Dave had hit it off so well, they could almost have been mistaken for brothers, – Gordon hardly let Dave finish what he was saying before accepting! So, a weekend turned into a week turned into ‘a couple more’ weeks. . . Do you see where I’m going? During this time Dave either took us to places, or told us about others, which are not on everyone’s list of things to see and do around the Atherton Tablelands. One of the most amazing was Barney Springs which, during World War II, supplied over 1 million gallons (4.5 million litres) of water each DAY to the nearby Rocky Creek Military Hospital. Not many people visit there now, but the water is crystal clear and the nature walks are beautiful.
Juanita & Gordon
Gordon & Dave
We also visited Davies Creek Falls, Emerald Creek Falls and many other natural beauty spots.
On the Sunday in August nearest to VJ Day (often now called VP Day), there is a memorial service at Rocky Creek on the site where the military hospital once stood. This year another plaque was mounted on the granite rocks which are installed on site. The entire day was very moving and involved many members of the entire Tablelands community.
The day after this dedication, we said (a temporary) farewell to Dave, Barbara & Ringers Rest and moved out to Yungaburra. This is a quaint village on the banks of Lake Tinaroo – now forever famous as the home to the only national war memorial outside a major metropolitan centre. (There is a link on one of my earlier posts – June 2013 – to learn more about the birth of this moving monument).
There is so much more to see and do around the Atherton Tableland – too much for just one post, so we’ll leave you here with reflections on “Service and Sacrifice” – and continue our (static) journey in Far North Queensland.
Live the Life You Love . . .