Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 267. Airlie Beach

Happy Birthday to me.... Happy Birthday to me.....

Today is my 36th Birthday. Shane tried to make me believe I was in fact turning 37, and he really did have me, that was until I opened mum's card that read happy 36th Birthday. I had heaps of cards and pressies from family and friends that Shane has had secretly hidden since we left Sydney, and he and Scarlett also made me a lovey breakfast of eggs, beans and mushrooms on toast.

We decided a nice way to spend  the morning was to head off down into the town foreshore for a coffee over looking the water. However when we arrived there was a great market down at the beach (weird for a Monday) so we spent an hour or so prowsing the worderful stands. We soon found out that there was a huge cruise ship in, and the market was put on especially for their arrival. Good for us anyway!

I got some very deliciuos banana sorbet and Shane also bought me some cashew-nut brittle. It was a beautiful morning to be on the foreshore. We also explored the main street, where Scarlett talked Shane into a slushy and some McDonalds for lunch. Afterwards, we headed back to our van for our lunch as the weather was now starting to heat up.

I was lucky enough to spend some quality time alone in the van while Shane and Scarlett went off to the pool. Let me tell you that was the best Birthday pressie ever, something as simple as some time out. I took the opportuntiy to watch some episodes of my new 'True Blood' season III; that Adam and Courtney got me for my Birthday. What  a great relaxing afternoon....

Scarlett and Bella - two beautiful witches!

Scarlett was going 'trick or treating' this evening with the kids in the caravan park. The vans that were willing to have kids come by were all marked on a map. The kids were then placed in groups and walked around together collecting goodies. She dressed up as a witch with her little friend Bella and they looked so adorable.

Look into my lolly bag... Bwah.. Bwah... Bwah....

After their 'trick or treating'; Bella's father gratefuly offered to take the girls to the outdoor cinema this evening where they were showing  a scary 'Scooby Doo' movie in the spirit of Halloween. This worked out great for Shane and I, as we were then able to enjoy a nice quiet dinner of take away Thai for my Birthday.

It was a great Birthday, I am so lucky to have so many wonderful family and friends that even though I am miles away; the phone calls and 30 odd facebook messages still made my day really special.

Thank you all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 266. Bowen to Airlie Beach

Another Tropical Oasis in Paradise....

This morning we woke to a another warm tropical morning, with clear blue skies and the sound of birds in the palm tree's. After Scarlett finished some school work, I took her up to the pool for an early morning swim/play, before we hit the road. It certainly cooled us both down...

The Big Mango
Just out of town, we came across 'The Big Mango', and stopped for obligatory photo's. Unfortunately its Sunday - which means not much is open in QLD - The Big Mango included; so we continued or journey south on the Bruce Hwy.

We stopped in at Proserpine and found a little gem of a shop called 'Colour Me Crazy'. This shop has to be seen to be believed! Its got every brick-a-brak imaginable; and Bec was in heaven...

Bec and Scarlett 'dreaming' at Colour Me Crazy
She commented that she was disappointed as this shop is to far away from Sydney, as she would deck out our whole new home with the items this shop has to offer. the only thing we walked out with was a jar of 'Fairy Dust' for Scarlett.

We pulled into Airlie Beach at midday, and checked straight into the Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort. We were surprised to run straight into a couple of families staying here that we have met on the road before, including the "Hardy's" who Scarlett was most happy to see again! It's definitely a small world...

This afternoon, Bec and Scarlett spent a couple of hours over at the pool enjoying the water slides, and I set up camp 'to the max'; as we plan on spending at least a good week here enjoying all the activities the park has to offer.

After swimming, Scarlett was amazed when a flock of ducks came 'waddling' up to our caravan for a hand out - which she eagerly obliged! The birds here are everywhere, and they are so tame that they literally took bread out of Scarlett's hand.

Now this is paradise....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 265. Townsville to Bowen

Lights, Camera, Action....

This morning we left Townsville and headed south towards Bowen. Unfortunately, Townsville wasn't what we expected; and it felt like we left with a bad taste in our mouths...I guess it was just being back in suburbia again (with the traffic and smog etc). It was just too much for us after spending so much time in the 'Outback'. I guess along the way somewhere we've changed, as we are both originally from Sydney - Australia's largest and most populated city! Oh well, it's part of the travelling experience I guess...

The damaged windscreen - the cack is about 3 inches wide
We were on the road by 9am, and cruising down the hwy through cane field after cane field. There was a lot of road works along the way, and we felt like we were stopping more than we were cruising. Problem with road works is that there are lots of dirt, rocks, and large trucks. Unfortunately, this became norm, and before we knew what was happening we were awoken from our stop start driving daze as a large rock (about the size of a tennis ball), smashed into our windscreen. It's left a massive star crack in the middle of the windscreen, and I'm afraid we're going to have to get it fixed. BUGGER! It was only a matter of time, as everyone we have met along the way have all done a windscreen at some stage. At least now we're in a populated area, where we can get it fixed.

30 minutes later we pulled into Ayr, and while Bec and Scarlett went into McDonald's, I went across the road to visit 'Windscreens O'Briens' for a quote on a repair or replacement windscreen. Well it turns out that it needs replacing ($325 to fit a new one) as its too far damaged, but they couldn't fit us in until Monday! So I've decided to wear the damage for the time being until we reach a larger city, where I can get the windscreen replaced at a more convienient time.

Bowen's main street

We continued onto Bowen, and found a caravan park to stay at for the night. The original plan was to spend the next 3 days here, but on closer inspection there really isn't a lot here in town - and the van park we're at is almost empty. With Halloween is just around the corner, and Scarlett dying to go Trick-or-Treating, we've decided to move on in to Airlie Beach a couple of days early in the hope that there will be more kids around to make Scarlett's Halloween a little more exciting!

The 'Grandview Hotel', aka: The 'Territory Hotel' in the movie "Australia"
Bec and Scarlett enjoying the pool...
This afternoon we enjoyed a relaxing swim in the parks pool, where the three of us played and swam for ages. It was 'good therapy', as we were all in need of a good laugh and smile after the last few days of bad luck that we have experienced!

After our swim, we went for a self guided tour of Bowen, where we saw a couple of the buildings that were used in Baz Lurhmann's epic movie "Australia". The old Dept of Transport building which was transformed into the 'Carney Cattle Co', building. And the Grandview Hotel which was transformed into the 'Territory Hotel', also a main focal point in the movie. Obviously the movie magic was applied to make both these buildings appear different, but you can see the 'character' behind the buildings still.

The Bowen Dept Of Transport building transformed into
the Carney Cattle Co Headquarters for the movie
For the movie, Bowen was transformed into World War II Darwin, and tonnes of red dirt were shipped in to help create the scene. A multitude of tempaoray buildings were also constructed, but have since been dismantled and removed. All that remains is a vacant block across the road from the hotel.

Bec and Scarlett outside the same building
as it stands today...

We enjoyed a quiet beer inside the 'Territory Hotel', while admiring all the film's photo's adorning the walls. They create a montage of the set during filming, which both Bec and I thoroughly enjoyed. Even Scarlett liked looking at all the pictures of cattle being 'mustered down the main straight of Bowen, and out onto the wharf for the film.

The Grandview Hotel transformed into the
Territory Hotel for the movie

We finished off with a last minute shop, as we are off to Airlie Beach tomorrow....

Bec and Scarlett enjoying 'drinks' at the Grandview Hotel
- as it stands today
Is that Scarlett sitting in the pub playing Keno?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 264. Townsville

Bloody Car......

Today we are loosing the car to the Mitsubishi Service Centre here in Townsville. The engine light has come on a few times, and it has been blowing a heap of black smoke. The guys at Cairns did all they could, but without specific parts we didn't have time to hang around waiting for, it was just a band-aid job till we were able to get to a Mitsubishi service centre.

Shane dropped the car off at 8am, and they gave him a lift back to the park. We were hoping to get the car back not long after lunch, so we could get out for at least part of the day. It was so hot today, I decided to do some washing being stuck here anyway.

Scarlett and I did some school work, while Shane cleaned and packed ready to move on tomorrow. It was such a hot day that we basically hid in the van with the air-conditioner all day. We watched movies, and waited for a phone call about the car. By mid afternoon Shane called them only to find it still wasn't completed, so today we are going no where.

He finally got the car back with a huge bill at about 3:30pm, so we decided to not bother going out. This car has been the biggest lemon ever. Since we purchased it back in early 2009 it has cost us over $8,000 in repairs. Shane is absolutely astounded it's got us this far on the trip, and hasn't packed it in by now. It still has some major problems (about $7,000 worth), but should get us home anyway. As soon as we get back we are trading it into Mitsubishi for a new car, as I'm sure this will be the only way I will get anything for it.

Yesterday we saw the decommissioned HMAS Townsville

The Maritime Museum has added to it's collection the patrol boat HMAS Townsville. Well known for its role in the first of the popular TV series Patrol Boat, the vessel is close to the hearts of the Townsville community. She is sitting peacefully in Ross Creek at the Curtain Bros wharf, until its new home within the maritime precinct has been established. The ship was given to the museum in pristine condition, as if the crew had all just stepped out for lunch. Items left on board for display range from the fully equipped galley to the mattresses on the bunks. The Museum is hoping to maintain the vessel and keep the engines in working order to ensure that Townsville remains viable. They are even considering taking her out on special occasions....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 263. Townsville

A magnetic charm...

Scarlett eagerly waiting to catch the ferry
6am! Yep, that's the time that Bec made us get up this morning so that we made the early ferry over to Magnetic Island. Bugger! But up we got, and off to catch the ferry we did. We caught the Fantasea Car Ferry across, and Scarlett was very excited as there were trucks and cars on 'our boat'. She loved the idea of 'going overseas' and exploring a tropical island.
Scarlett helping daddy 'Slip, Slop, Slap...'

Bec had organised a Mini Moke Californian as our mode of transport, as this was one of her 'Bucket List' items from the very start of our trip. Scarlett was a little disappointed at first, as she wanted one of the hot pink convertibles, but the more we drove around, the more she relaxed. By the end of the day she was again disappointed; but this time because we were handing the car back and leaving the island.

The power of the 'Moke' was amazing!
So we spent the day exploring the island, walking along sandy beaches, swimming, and horse riding. Well Scarlett was the one who went for a horse ride, and she thoroughly enjoyed it! Actually, I think it was the highlight of her day.

The weather was very hot and sticky (with the occasional shower), so we ended up calling it a day by mid-afternoon as it was getting to uncomfortable. We caught the ferry back to the mainland, and Scarlett was fast asleep in the car as we pulled out of the car park.

Umm..... Hi!

We took a slight detour on the way back to the van, as Scarlett really wants to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, and we didn't have a costume for her. We found a great little witch costume, and picked up some lollies - ready for the hoards of children that will probably descend on us on Halloween.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 262. Mission Beach to Townsville

Mango's, mango's, mango's....

We said goodbye to our new friends in Mission Beach today, and again continued the trek South. I was a little sad to be leaving, as the weather had finally turned beautiful and Mission Beach was in all it's glory.

We stopped at the 'Frosty Mango' where I had a mango smoothie, and Shane got a Mango trifle. Both were delicious! We took the opportunity to make some chicken strip wraps for lunch, while Scarlett slept in the car in the air conditioning. She woke up just as we decided to move on, so had her lunch in the car while on the move.

When we got to Townsville it was so busy. There was so much traffic, and every caravan park was right on a main road. After 4 parks, we found one out of town that was very average and quite pricey, but was at least quite! We did plan on spending four nights here, as we loose the car on Friday for one whole day to the service centre. But upon first impressions, I'm keen to just stay for 3 and move on.

After we set up camp, Shane dropped Scarlett and me off at the foreshore for a swim. He was off to the Airforce base to see everyone, and discuss work talk. I was excited about hitting the foreshore's man-made beach thinking it would be like South Bank in Brisbane, only then to be very disappointed. You can't swim at the beaches here still because of the threat of stingers and crocs, so they have made a tidal pool where the water goes through mesh before entering.

The beach water is brown and muddy, and there was no sand on the bottom just a fine muddy silt. I felt so dirty after the swim, and my hair was like wire. I finally got Scarlett out with the promise of an ice-cream, so it was then off for a walk along the foreshore instead. We passed some fake coconuts that looked like art, a replica dugong, and finally an ice-cream shop only to find they were out of ice-cream :-( Scarlett settled on a slushie, and no sooner had we paid and walked out into the street, Shane came and picked us up.

On the way back to the van, we took a detour up 'Castle Hill' which has a lookout at the top. On the way up we must have passed over 100 people walking and jogging for their afternoon exercise. In this heat, I was impressed with their efforts. The view from the lookout was amazing, as we could see the whole of Townsville and out over to Magnetic Island. This was the best town lookout we have seen yet.

Looking out over to Magnetic Island

When we got back Scarlett and I had the longest shower ever, and I then cooked butter chicken for dinner. We were then off to bed as we are getting up early tomorrow, something we aren't used to. We will be catching the ferry over to Magnetic Island tomorrow, and it should be a really good day.

Magpie Geese at the caravan park

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 261. Mission Beach

The Good, the bad, and the down right ugly....

The Good. Today we finally woke to blue skies and no wind. This is the weather we have been waiting for! Today was such a beautiful day that we decided that we should try to enjoy it, so we spent most of the day lazing around the pool.... again!

After breakfast, Sarah, Lucy and Isabelle came to get Scarlett to go to the pool. It was great watching Scarlett play with three little girls around her own age, as they had such a great time. We took turns during the day watching them, as Scarlett has so much energy that she never stops, and I think we would find it exhausting if neither of us 'tagged' one another to get a break. She's just so full on!

Before we knew it, it was lunchtime and Bec brought over sausage sanga's to the pool so we didn't have to drag Scarlett away. It was wonderful just sitting around, enjoying a bite to eat and a cool refreshing drink under clear blue skies again.

Tully Sugar Mill

What big golden boots you have Bec!
At just after 1pm (which meant over 4 hours in the pool for Scarlett), we went for a leisurely drive over to Tully to check out the town and have a look at the Tully river. As we were driving into Tully township itself, we couldn't help but notice the 7.9 metre tall golden gumboot standing on the corner of  a local park. Further investigation showed us that the height of the gum boot indicates the amount of rain that fell in Tully in 1950; which still stands as an Australian record.  Tully is known as the place with the highest rainfall in Australia, with an average annual rainfall of 4.17 metres! I can certainly believe it, if going by the amount of rain we have experienced up here so far is any indication.


.... and more Bananas

Crossing the mighty Tully river
We then wanted to drive out to the Tully Gorge to have a look around, but soon discovered that the gorge was still another 47kms out of town. We started to drive out, and soon found ourselves in a sea of bananas. There were banana plantations for as far as the eye could see, and Scarlett couldn't understand why someone would want to grow so many bananas. :-) We ended up travelling about 35kms out of Tully, when we found a great lookout to see the river from. We noticed that Scarlett was tired and falling asleep in the car, so we decided this was far enough and grabbed a number photos before heading back to Mission Beach - approx 75kms away.

Tully River

A young Cassowary walking the tree line near Mission Beach
We had a rewarding experience on the way back into Mission Beach, as Bec spotted a young Cassowary coming out of the rainforest and walking along the roadside. We stopped to take some photos and were surprised to find it wasn't worried about us at all, just continuing on its merry way. Scarlett was stoked that she got the chance to see another 'wild' Cassowary; and this is the first  for Bec, as she didn't see the ones that Scarlett and I saw back at Etty Bay.

We returned to the caravan park and Bec and Scarlett went to visit Sarah, Lucy and Isabelle; as they had a date with some cup cakes. Bec had made some fresh cup cakes earlier in the day, and had organised with all the girls a cake decorating class. The girls had so much fun decorating and eating, and didn't want it to end.

Did someone say 'Cup Cakes?'
It was then another quick dip in the pool before dinner back up at the camp kitchen where we enjoyed a meal of gourmet sausages and veg on the BBQ. After dinner, Bec took all the girls back to our van to watch a movie inside, while us adults enjoyed drinks and nibbles outside.

The bad. Just before dinner I received an email from QBE Insurance informing us that our claim (that we were disputing)  lodged earlier in the year had been finalised. Unfortunately for us, they have decided to decline AGAIN! So now we find ourselves without a whole house hold full of furniture and belongings. To say we are devastated is an understatement! Bec took it pretty hard, and I must admit that I'm tiring of getting kicked in the guts all the time. I'm not saying that I'm not going to fight, as this is starting to become a regular occurance, but it is getting very disheartening. All we seem to be doing is hitting brick wall after brick wall, and all we want is a break! Sometimes it feels like life just isn't very fair.

The down right Ugly.... is that an Australian company can treat its customers so cruelly! As Bec keeps saying: QUOTE "QBE Insurance are Un-Australian arseholes, anyone with insurance with QBE needs to know it's not worth the paper it's written on. We had their flood cover and after losing everything in the Brisbane floods they said 'sorry wrong type of flood', so we don't get a cent. Good bye $80,000 worth of belongings. Now I know why no-one has insurance these days...." UNQUOTE.

Now thats just our opinion mind you....
posted by Shane

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 260. Mission Beach

Much a do about nothing....

Well today we spent pretty much the whole day at the pool... the end.

Well not quite, but nearly anyway. We had more rain overnight and it was a little cloudy, with patches of blue sky and some sunshine when we awoke. As soon as Scarlett got up she was asking for pancakes, so I whipped up a batch for her and Shane for breakfast. Everyday feels like Sunday lately, we sleep in, have a long lazy breakfast, watch some cartoons and finally climb into our swimmers and hit the pool.

While Scarlett and Shane were at the pool though, I took the opportunity to visit Woolworth's as it was closed yesterday. Turns out it with it closed yesterday, heaps of meat and deli goods were marked down 50% today. So, in the end,  it worked out better for me anyway. I did however go in with a planned menu that was thrown out the window, as there was so much other meat on sale. We got sausages, roast beef, chicken, kebabs and some mince all at half price. It was one of the best bargain shops yet.

When I returned the clouds had closed in and it was raining AGAIN! Scarlett and Shane were watching a movie, and were keen to help me unpack and see what goodies I got. While I was gone they had spent some time playing in the playground, and went for a bike ride over to the beach. So they actually did do something other than just hang at the pool. It was left over pizza from last nights dinner for lunch, and the sun again came back out so then we were back over to the pool.

Scarlett with her new friends Isabelle, Lucy and Sarah
 The rest of the afternoon was spent with me and Shane taking turns at life guard duty, while reading magazines and surfing the net on our phones. Scarlett has made some great new friends; a family with three lovely girls who are all travelling for three months along the east coast. We ended up talking with their parents most of the afternoon by the pool, while the girls played.

We had such a nice time chatting together, that we decided to all meet later at the camp kitchen for dinner. We did get Scarlett to do some more school work this afternoon, but she is really struggling to accept this new routine. Both Shane and I are adamant that we will have her ready by next year to hit 1st class, and not start at kindergarten; so we are determined to stick to it.

We then had a great night over at the BBQ area. The girls all played happily chasing cane toads, and a huge 'king skink' they found. We talked about our travels, and the great places we have seen, and recommended some places they should see. It was after 10pm by the time we were able to get Scarlett to come home, for the last hour or so the kids were happily in the girls camper trailer watching a movie. I'm guessing they will all be feral tomorrow though....

P.S - The memorial reads; 'To commemorate the centenary of the landing of Edmund B.C. Kennedy and party who landed two miles south of this cairn from the barque "Tam O'Shanter" on May 24th 1848 to explore the Cape York Peninsula. Faithful aboriginal "Jacky-Jacky" botanist W.Carron and W.Goddard were the only survivors of a party of thirteen men.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 259. Mission Beach

Just lazing by the pool...

Nobody stirred until after 7am. Scarlett was the first up; and by the time Bec and I woke she had already gotten herself dressed and was about to start brushing her teeth. To bad she hadn't had breakfast yet...

Our camp at Mission Beach

We talked her into climbing into bed with us for a while, and we all laid back and watched cartoons. Later that morning (and not wanting to break her routine), Scarlett wanted to spend some more time in the pool. So I took her over and swam/played with her, while Bec did some work on the computer and around the van. I must say; the weather is definitely on the improve, but the showers are still persistent. Hopefully it will clear in the next day or so.

What have I gotten myself into?
An hour or two later, we climbed out of the pool and joined Bec who wanted to get some grocery shopping done. We all jumped in the car and went over to Mission Beach, just to find out that Woolworths isn't open on a Sunday. Bugger! So with empty shopping bags and a full wallet, we decided to check out the 'strip' (if that's what you can call it). There are only a couple of touristy style shops here, and a few restaurants, so it didn't take long to do. Still, it was nice to just walk around checking out the shops and walking along the beach. However, we did end up getting Scarlett another set of swimming goggles, as she lost her last pair back in Cairns.

We returned to the van for lunch, and it wasn't long before Scarlett talked me into going back over to the pool. I was there for about an hour, before Bec 'tagged me' and took over Life Guard duties. I disappeared back to the van to catch the second race of the V8 Supercars on the Gold Coast. I enjoyed watching the race while sipping a few 'Bundies', before Bec and Scarlett finally returned from the pool after a couple of hours. That kid really is a water nymph - we just can't keep her out of the pool!

We finished the day with a walk along the foreshore up to the Surf Club; before returning into town to enjoy Pizza for dinner.... Nice. 

The cyclone devasted rainforest