A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Scotta's safari

Sunday 16th July, 2017

Headings West Mackay to Richmond

sunny 30 °C

Hello Friendly Followers,

Here I am sitting in Lucy with the air conditioner on COLD. It's so hot during the day, reaches 30+ but half that or below at night. We left Mackay and the coast last Sunday, good to get out of town and back on the road. Decided to keep driving and we almost reached Charters Towers, well we would have if there was a powered site but when I phoned the 3 parks to book all were full. We could stay in the showground but we had noticed free camps along the road so we pulled into one called Macrossan Park about 25klms East of Charters Towers along side the train bridge over the river. Plenty of space so we set up Lucy. The original rail bridge was build when gold was discovered in the area and you can see the workmanship that went into building the stone pillars with a slate finishing touch on the edge. The newer bridge is just concrete. Lovely peaceful spot and with the full moon coming up it was a spectacular sight.

You are never alone out here. I think that if all the Van's travelling in Australia at any one time would fill a city the size of Sydney. There are thousand of us! Some travel up from Victoria for the winter with their Foxtel and Dog. One couple sold everything and plan to travel till they die. It's very mixed and interesting. One thing is though most follow some footy team. And don't start me on the State of Origin. The Queenslanders are far more passionate that NSW are. You usually get a finger wave from every other van on the road as you pass them, but when we see a 5th Wheeler, we both wave madly.

Stayed in Charters Towers for 3 nights, it was a lovely old gold mining town. We visited the Battery where rocks were crushed for gold and the town had several museums and things to see, or not to as we discovered on the Ghost tour we did. Dan got his metal detector out to see if he could find his fortune. The machine beeped, he got excited but only to find a piece of tin in the dirt.

Hughenden and Richmond where our next stops, Dinosaur Country and we weren't disappointed. At Hughenden we went to check into a camp site to be surprised by Lucy big brother 'Tonto' camped there too. We got the spot beside them and met 'Tonto's owners Chris and Tony from Hawks Nest. Lovely Couple who we spent 2 happy hours with. Chris called Dan a 'Show Off' as they had a Ford Ranger too (they call their car Lone Ranger)
as Dan had a very interested Tony checking all Dan's 'Extras' on Pepe. They are all now Face Book Friends. Tonto was the model before Lucy and we compared what was different and I think Lucy has some better designs than Tonto.

Porcupine Gorge is 62Klms north of Hughenden, if anyone is ever coming this way, it worth the drive. 1.2klm walk down to the bottom and 22klm (well it felt like it,) coming back up. Gave my new knee a work out, wanted to see if it was worth the money! Fabulous rock formations. They say its the Australian 'Grand Canyon'. Fish in the water and very refreshing sitting with out feet in it before did the climb back to the top.

Then on to Richmond where we are now. Visited a Fossil site 12 klms out of time where fish bones and shells are found. Dan chatted to a far more experienced man who pointed out fish bones and scales and a rock with a white sort of worm inside it. We took them back to the visitors centre where a professional saw them and told us one was a bone, the other a fish scale, size of a razor blade and as sharp and the rock with the worm inside was fish shit!!! No Bull!! It was a moon rock which is what Dan was looking for as the usually had something inside them but he didn't want to believe that they said it was. Anyway, he wants to keep it.

We were planning to be in Mt Isa tomorrow but can't get a power site till Wednesday so we'll get a free camp at Julia Creek and then we've booked at Cloncurry. I've learnt not to believe the pictures you see in the brochures nor what they say in the books. Some of the comments people leave in the 'Reviews' aren't true either but what I know is if you want to stay somewhere book ahead. We have done that for the Horizontal Falls in Derby from the 4th September and booked Broome for 5 nights from the 7th September so we can see the Stairway to the moon and the Pearl Festival.

What is so amazing about this country of ours is how different it is, what hidden treasures there are to find. You can never be bored. Enjoying writing this and if you want to send a comment please do. Would love to see who is reading this and how you are. We only get to see it, it doesn't do a Face Book were everyone sees what you post.

We are both happy and healthy hope you are too but do miss our friends and family but with model technology we are never far away. Take care all, until next time .....

H(appy) & D(ays)

xxx

Posted by Scotta's safari 23:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Friday 7th July 2017

Mackay Queensland

sunny 26 °C

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all well and keeping warm if you're south from where we are. We haven't been out of T Shirts since November last year. It's humid and warm here. Just like it was up in the Cape.

Last Friday at 8am we were down at the Wharf with Pepe preparing to be shipped out off the Cape where we have been for 3 weeks. We were looking forward to a relaxing cruise back to Cairns instead of the long drive back. As Pepe had been cleaned up he was the cleanest car in the car park. People were asking how our car was so clean. We boarded at 10am with 3 other passengers. Had the 'Man Overboard' talk and where to eat and our cabins. Ours was opposite the engine room and very noisy but we were given ear plugs. We had to wait for the tide to be high enough before we could leave and that wasn't going to be until 7.30pm, pity because Dan and I had planned to take pictures of us drinking bubbles while we waved at the Tip of Australia but it was about 10pm when we went past. So we spent the whole day watching the ship being loaded, met the other passengers that had gone on a trip to the tip and ate! It was lovely though and it was good not to have to do anything.

On Sunday morning about 5.30am the engines stopped and the boat started to rock, both Dan and I woke up. I was a bit concerned about Dan and his seasickness but he was fine the whole trip. The engine started again so we weren't lost at see. Enjoyed the trip, food was fabulous. Had tour of the bridge with Captain Dave who was very relaxed in this shorts and thongs! Nothing like a Cruise Liner Captain.

Whales swam past us on their way north, an unexpected surprise as Captain Dave had told us only a few hours early that it was unlikely to see them this far north early in the season. No camera ready unfortunately but the vision is in my head.

We got back to Cairns on Sunday morning and Pepe was the first to be lifted of the ship so we were at Dan Murphy's to fill up supplies by 1pm! we visited Dan's Godmother at her daughters Carmen's home and had a cuppa before we headed off and spent the night in Ingham. Drove back to Mackay and picked up Lucy on Monday. She is looking good and higher now so she sits better on the back of Pepe. Booked into a caravan park by the river, very good and cheap, $20 per night with free Wifi. Decided to stay until Sunday so we can clean everything as it's covered in Dust and stay off the road until after the school holidays as everything costs more and roads are busy.

Sunday we are heading for Charter Towers and then on to Mt Isa. Along the way we hope to see dinosaur bones at Richmond so much to look forward too.

Take care, until next week.

Cheers,
H & D. xxx

Posted by Scotta's safari 22:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Thursday 29th June 2017

Hit the Tip and now waiting to be shipped out

overcast 28 °C

Hello Everyone,

In Weipa we did the mining tour which was interesting included a drive around town, history details and seeing the mining vehicles in action, Big Boy Toys! Driven by Women!!! Rio Tinto who lease the land from the traditional owners have policies of working staff that including 25% women, 25% indigenous and 50% of whatever I guess. All workers have to live in Weipa no fly ins so its very regimented. The company also makes sure that everything is run properly, sporting fields, schools, shops. Oh how exciting it was to walk into Woolworths!!! There is one of everything. eg camp ground, supermarket, bakery, no competition. The "resort" we stayed in was built at a guess back in the 70's-80's, our bed was so low that we think it was originally a water bed with vinyl head rest, like out of the Alvin Purple movie! hasn't been done up for years but it was better than camping. We visited the library but we couldn't find anything about the time Dan's Dad was there except for some photos of the buildings he may have built but it was good for Dan to see that.

After a big shop at Woolies, we got organised for 5 nights of camping. First stop was Morton Telegraph Station, and to my surprise the pictures in the booklet where just as it was. As they were able to use the water from the river, the camping area was coved in beautiful green grass. We picked a spot camping next to who I guy called Mick who reminded me of Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan). He had been there a week, knew everyone and had a very quick wit. We was traveling with a couple and their down syndrome son who was very lovely. We have seen them a few times since they left Morton. Mick left the next day and we stayed on for an extra night giving Dan a chance to fish and relax. Dan was down at the river for a few hours but came back with a broken rod and 3 less lures, not fish and not croc sightings. There was a lovely bush walk, heaps of birds to see and a creek with a natural rock bridge. By 5.30 the park was packed with overnighters either heading north or south. Wasn't a peaceful night as it was now school holidays and the place was full of kids. We had 4 men camping together and they snored all night, Father and Son-in-law that played, 'how much can we drink by the fire before midnight' and then at 5am the kids were awake! Bleary eyed we got up and packed up again. Oh how I was sick of doing this.

Our next plan stop was Fruit Bat Falls and then on to Eliot Falls to camp. We got to Fruit Bat by lunch time and again it was packed with families all swimming and eating lunch. We had a look, too the photos and then decided as it was very rough getting into the water with my knee we would move on to Eliot Falls, set up camp and then swim. Well that didn't happen. We got onto the Old Telegraph Road, very, very rough and only for serious 4WD's when we hit the first water crossing. I took one look at the water and so 'NO WAY are we going through that'! Dan agreed. He wasn't got to risk damaging Pepe or getting water into the back so we decided to push on to the top and see what accommodation or camping we could find. We had some lunch there while we watched some outback 4WD's go through the waist high water in there high machines but I think that a guy in a nice new Range Rover towing a new looking camper van was having second thoughts too.

We arrived at the Jardine Car Ferry where I had read that it could take hours to get over the river due to queues and that the locals run the ferry and charge what they like. We had been told that it was $100 per vehicle return as 99.9% of vehicles have to come back but we didn't. When we went in to pay, it took the guy about a minute to work out what he would charges us, but finally he said, '50 bucks will do'. I paid and got into the car as there wasn't anyone else there which was a surprise. Headed into Bamaga and Seisa hopeful of a bed for the night instead of camping. First went to the resort that we have booked on Thursday, but the reception was closed and was told by the staff in the bar where there with people setting up for a party that maybe at 4pm someone could help us. I then phoned Loyalty Beach Van park that said 'Paradise by the sea' who told me that had one room left for $175 plus GST for the night but single beds. We went there but checked it out before we decided to stay. They showed us a shoe box with 2 single beds with a small fridge as the bed side table and air con. The one toilet and one shower were at about 20 metres away! I felt faint. No way, I would rather set up the tent. Dan didn't say a thing, he only said something when we got back to Pepe and his phone beeped! He had Optus for 2 minutes then nothing.

No other accommodation available at the other camping ground so we went back to the resort as it was almost 4pm. When we finally got to speak to someone and explained our situation, that we would stay 3 nights and that we were booked in here on Thursday did they find us a room which we were most grateful for. Luxury in the desert! TV, Air Con, Pool. Bar, Restaurant, BBQ everything a ex camper could wish for. We realised that they don't pay staff here on the weekends, so no reception or housekeeping. I think because of the penalty rates they only take bookings for tour groups. We had the whole place to ourselves on Saturday night except for the 160 people (practically the whole town as it was the Mayors 50th Birthday party in the restaurant). On Sunday a tour group of APT over 80's arrived and they stayed 2 nights so we got to see their planned entertainment of the native dance group so that was good. On Monday we caught the ferry across to Thursday Island. Lovely day out, had lunch in the highest pub in Australia, did a bus tour of the island and learnt all about it.

Tuesday we headed for the tip. We had booked into a Tent site with shower and loo all included so no set up and we were away from the camping ground that was full of family groups. We were able to cool off in the pool but it became full of kids within a hour and no matter what the signs said about no jumping etc. all were ignored so we retreated back to our tent for happy hour watching the sun go down on the beach.

Yesterday was what we had spent days driving too, finally the tip was in sight. We got up early and got to the parking area by 10am with about 6 other cars. It was low tide so we were able to walk around the beach which meant only a short distance to climb over the rocks. It was queue up for the photo by the official sign and everyone was offering to take photos for couples and groups so it was all good fun and a lovely morning as it was raining all the drive up from the camping ground. We walked back over the rocks and the views were magical. The Turquoise waters surrounding the islands was picturesque. By the time we had hiked back over the rocks to the car park it was full of cars and people. It was 11am, we had been there an hour. 3 weeks of driving to spend an hour at the top, but was worth it

As my late friends Cheryl would have said, 'Been There, bought the T-Shirt!' Which we did plus Dan got a number plate to display in our Pizza Area back home and a croc water bottle holder.

Enjoyed last night in our Tent with Happy Hour on the beach but no sunset today as the clouds came in and it has been raining ever since. It's meant to be the dry season but it poured rain today.

We are now back at the resort, just doing this blog and sorting out what to take on the Cargo Ship tomorrow. So looking forward to our cruise! Dan has already started take Kwells to hopefully prevent him getting sea sick. It will probably put him to sleep for most of the cruise. We have to have Pepe down at the wharf by 8am and we are boarding at 10am so hopefully the rain will clear and we'll get a nice cruise back to Cairns. Sure beats driving the 1,000 klms back on the mud and dirt road.

We've had word that Lucy is all fixed and ready to go, we just have to discuss the details with the assessor on what the insurance company will pay for and what we have to but whatever it is we are so looking forward to getting back to Lucy and heading west. 3 weeks on the Cape has been a bit long but enjoyable.

Will update you on our cruise when we get back.

Much love to all,

Cheers,
H & D. xxx

Posted by Scotta's safari 22:57 Archived in Australia Tagged australia the of country it top to this made !!! wonderful ours Comments (0)

Tuesday 20th June, 2017

Weipa Far Far north Queensland

sunny 31 °C

Hello Everyone,

The whole reason we came up here was to see the re-enactment for Cooks landing on Sunday 11th and it was great. We were able to get a great view from our Balcony of our room, even though we had to check out at 10am, they let us stay to watch the show. It was run by locals, acted out by locals, not professional at all which made it more fun. The 'native' that Capt. Cook had with him to help communicate with the Aboriginals was acted out by an Italian who was very enthusiastic about being part of the show. We saw him in the RSL club where we had lunch and he was posing for photos and enjoying himself. Funny hearing his very strong accent. After the show, the town was empty. We sent another 3 nights there, went to the Capt. Cook Museum where the anchor from the Endeavour is amongst other artefacts and other items for the towns history. There was a lot of it, from Gold Rush days to mining and fishing. Also visited the botanical gardens and Black Mountain. Stayed in the rain forest in Milkwood our cabin was up amongst the trees.

Left there on Wednesday heading for Hann River were we camped the night. Oh what a drag, getting everything set up for on nights sleep. We were organised but everything in the wrong place in Pepe for easy access. We were the first to arrive so picked a site with a camp fire got that going and by 5.30 the place was packed with people coming back from the tip. Remember my last post when I hoped it didn't rain? Well it did! not a lot but we camped under a tree that dripped all night and they had the generator going all night too so it was a very rough sleep.

We were packed by 10.30 and the last to leave the site. Road was rough in patches, stretches of tared patches so it wasn't so bad. We got to Coen by lunch time and found they had rooms so we got one for the night so we dried out the tent and got organised for 3 nights camping in Chili Beach. That was a drive! Left early and got to the turn off to Chili Beach, it was described a slow dumpy road with many river crossings. They weren't wrong! 125klms took us 2 and half hours. Dan love it, driving Pepe through the water while I checked for crocks.

Arrived at our site to which we had to pre book though the National Parks to find a couple from Tambourine (where my sister lives) was camped there already. They had booked but didn't realise the numbers but as they were 2 couples together and they were leaving the next day, we set up in there site and moved when they left. First visit to the beach was disappointing, not because of the sea or sand but for the tonnes of rubbish that gets washed up on the high tide mark. Plastic in every shape, bags, shoes, ropes, nets, bottles, even a fridge. On the notice board it told us that tonnes of rubbish is cleared away every year and it comes from other countries in the Pacific. Over 6,500 thongs! Who would bother counting them I have no idea. So the Thong tree became something to see but it has blown over and only a rope with thongs attached is now displayed.

Our Car fridge played up so everything we had frozen wasn't anymore so we had to cook all the meat we had and bought a $10 block of ice from an old fisherman that lived up the road. We went to Lockhart River to fuel up, its an Aboriginal community with an airport that was build during WWII by the Americans. They hated it due to the weather and storms during the wet season and it was voted the worst area to set up a airport. The airport is still used and has 4 seats in the waiting room and a loo with frogs. Fuel prices have varied from $135 to $160 per litre. We have heard that they charge $2.00 a litre at the roadhouses north from here, wait and see.

Tomorrow morning we are doing a mine tour of Weipa. Dan's father was here in the early 1960's building the huts for the miners so we are going to check the library tomorrow too as they may have some photos and information about those times.

Thursday we leave here and will be camping for 2 nights at Moreton Telegraph Station by the Wenlock river. I have learnt not to envision what it will be like or believe everything you read in the booklets as it usually is not what I think it will be. Descriptions of 'Grassy areas by the river' ends up being dried dead grass or dirt patches by a fence that blocks you off from the river anyway. From there we head to Eliot Falls, we have heard they are the high-light of the cape. There are two falls, Fruit Bat and Eliot. You can only camp at Eliot and you must pre book which we have so we hope that nobody is camped in our spot this time. From there it's 175klms to the cape where we have booked accommodation or 3 nights and then on Friday 30th, we load up on to the Trinity Bay Cargo Ship and head south for Cairns. So glad we were able to do that as doing the return trip wouldn't have been that enjoyable.

Hope everyone who is reading this enjoys it as much as I am writing it and that you are all happy and healthy wherever you are.

Cheers,
H & D.

Posted by Scotta's safari 00:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Saturday 10th June, 2017

Cooktown

semi-overcast 24 °C

What a week. We left very Windy Bowen and was in Townsville Saturday. Wasn't sure what to expect but it is a very big city, about the same size of Cairns. The Cowboys and Gold Coast NRL teams were playing and the town pretty much booked out, so we decided to see what there was to see and then move on. We drove up the big hill called 'Castle Hill' that is in the middle of the city. Very popular with locals getting fit, walking and running up and down, but we did see a couple get a taxi up so they only had to walk down. We managed the lookout stairs, that was enough for us. After a Pub lunch we went to the Museum and Aquarium in Townsville which was both very interesting. The Museum detailed a ship that was wrecked of the coast that was sent to find 'The Bounty' and Dinosaurs and their bones found in the area.

No where booked to sleep and getting late, so we decided to head for Ingham, about an hours drive north of Townsville. We called ahead to realise that the van parks were booked out but a sign post gave us directions off the highway to 'Rollingstone' where a Big 4 van park was and it was an oasis in middle of nowhere. First when we rolled up we could hear music and thought that it was going to loud and noisy but it wasn't. It was the Saturday night entertainment and wood fire pizza were available for dinner, it was like hitting the jack pot. Decided to stay 2 nights and enjoy the pool, and walks along the beach. No Crocs sighted yet.

Moved on Monday morning and booked into the Flower House B&B at Mena Creek, a 10 minute drive from Paroella Park. This is a place I wanted to see. It is in ruins now from it's origins in the 1930's as being a tourist park with tennis courts, swimming, waterfall that generated power. It was the only place to have hot water and a ball room. Better Homes and Gardens TV show filmed a segment a few days before we were there and it will be on TV this Friday 16th June so you can see what we saw. We visited in the afternoon for a guided tour and then did the night tour at 6.15pm when they turn the lights on to the castle ruins. It was very interested and the garden is fabulous. History of a love story and the dreams of Joes Paroella to build his own castles came true but at a cost. It was destroyed by fire and then by 3 floods and cyclones over the years but wonderful to have been bought by a family while they were on holidays and are bringing it back to life. One day the ball room may have people dancing again if the funds can be raised.

Moved on from the Flower House where Dan tried and bought with him some of the tropical fruit that they grow there. Sarah, the owner, sells the ginger flowers to florists in Sydney and Melbourne. She picks them and boxes them up and they organise the pick up and flights. They get 4 metres of rain a year so we were very lucky to have 2 days of sunshine.

Arrived in Cairns and did our shopping and visited Mirella, Dan's godmother. Palm Cove was where Dan proposed to me back in May 2012 so we had a great Thai dinner and then drove down to the beach and had a Gelato on the same spot were he popped the question. It was lovely but very windy.

Yesterday we arrived in Cooktown. It is were Captain Cook landed his Endeavour to be repaired when it hit the reef in June 1770. They have a festival every year in June and that is why we are here. Last night we sat by the river and watched the local 'Fire Dancing Group' do their thing and then it was fireworks. As it's not crowded we were able to stand virtually right under them and it was fabulous. All the locals though it was great too. Must be the highlight of their year. Today was the Street Parade where the locals all walk down the street and when they passed us we followed them down to the park. So relaxed. Tonight the Indigenous Warrma Performance will be across the road from us so we will be able to watch if from our balcony. Tomorrow with the re-enactment for Capt Cooks landing which we will watch from our balcony too. We check out from our accommodation here and move to Milky Woods, a self contained accommodation a little out of town in the rain forest so we can go on walks and visit the gardens before we leave on Wednesday. From Wednesday we head north to Weipa, 5 days of camping! hope it doesn't rain.

More later, thanks for checking up on us. Love to all. H & D.

Posted by Scotta's safari 22:02 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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