We departed Moore Park Beach by 9.30am on a beautiful day no wind and under a clear sky our destination Rockhampton. We had decided to stay overnight at a free camp just off the highway and near one of Rockhampton’s wonderful parks, Pam and I went to stretch the legs taking in the water falls, ponds, bird life and wonderful manicured gardens. This garden is now being extended to include fountains, more ponds, plenty of lawn space and a children’s water park, the council are putting millions into this project and I have no doubt it will be well patronised once finished. Dinner and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Sunday 22nd July
On our way early heading to our next destination Cape Palmerston this will be our third time at this caravan park, which is by far one of the best laid out caravan parks we have visited. The sites are all drive through and the amenities are modern and clean. The caravan park borders the Cape Palmerston National Park, gazetted in 1976, it has an area of 7,160 ha, and has recovered into a magnificent forest and wetland. One of the benefits of allowing nature to take its course is the regrowth of native species we were amazed at the regeneration of tree grass growing all through the park. When in the park you are back into nature, the driving of four-wheel drive only vehicles along narrow rugged tracks, which would be very difficult if not impossible in the wet season also along the beach is a challenge and great fun. Our drive took us down a track to the beach along the beach approximately 20 km long then inland along mangrove and forest area to the Windmill Bay camping area, from there we drove to Mount Funnel a 344m high headland with a steep track taking you right to the peak. The view was marvellous looking across to the Whitsunday Islands with a reef which runs from the headland well into the ocean. Looking inland the view follows the inlet through to Cape Creek our next stop, and out to sea we can see the many islands of the great barrier reef, simply magnificent on a clear day, which it was. On our way, again no improvement in track conditions but we were determined to get to Cape Creek as we were told this is an amazing fishing area, finally we made the swamp crossing then through a small water course to cape creek. Much to our surprise Matt who told us about the park was fishing there and what a great catch he had, two 50cm Flathead and six smaller ones none under 35cm, unfortunately we were too late, the time for fishing was over, however that did not stop me throwing in a line.
Back to the caravan park the car needing a good wash and Pam preparing dinner. Another reason we love cape Palmerston is the ability to launch our tinny from the beach, which is only a short drive via the village, we can drive onto the beach close to the water launch the boat off the Rhino roof rack set up and we are ready to go in about 15 minutes, the car parked above the high tide mark and we are off to fish. We decided to head towards an island and reef about 10km to the north fishing the last hour of the outgoing tide and the first hour of the incoming tide, which we did. Pam had the first catch a nice Rock Cod but after an hour this was our only catch so we returned it to fight another day.
We moved further out to sea to another part of the reef and my turn to catch a fish, a blue bone an interesting looking reef fish but again only one so once again returned to fight another day. One benefit no fish cleaning today. We fished for another hour near where we had success catching whiting in past visits, no success. The tide now on the move it was time to head back to shore. It takes about 20 minutes to unload the boat and return it to the roof of the car, we allowed some 50 metres between the water and the car and by the time we had the boat loaded on to the Rhino the tide was only 2 metres from the car we had to move again to finish off securing the boat on the roof rack. A fun day fishing.
Wednesday 24th July.
Our next destination Townsville, we set off at about 10am looking to get to Ayr for an overnight stop however I became tired and with road work affecting our travel we decided to stop in a roadside rest area at about 4.30pm. it was a large area and we were the only people there it seemed ideal. Not so being alongside the Bruce highway we had trucks passing all night with a refrigerated truck deciding to stay for most of the night, not a great night’s sleep
Thursday 25th July
Only a short drive to Townsville arriving at the Bush Oasis Caravan park on the Bruce Highway, this will be our third stay here. Two years ago, we were unable to get into a caravan park in Townsville due to heavy rain and flooding, the Bruce highway being cut for one day. We called into the Bush Oasis who originally advised us they were booked out on the hope something may have become available, as Sailing friends, Sandy and Rosemary McPherson were staying at this park and we wanted to catch up with them. The park owners Martin and Fiona could not have been more helpful and found us a space between two cabins, we now stay here whenever in this area. Martin and Fiona have done a great job with improvements, park amenities refurbished, gates at the entrance providing good security and an increased number of powered sites.
We stopped in Townsville mainly to catch up with one of our tennis club friends Pauline Davies, after setting up the van we met up with Pauline and went to have lunch at the Townsville Yacht Club, a great place to sit and relax with friends. Tomorrow we will take Pauline on a tour of Townsville.
Friday 26th & 27th July
We picked up Pauline at her hotel and drove to the top of Castle Hill an isolated pink granite monolith standing some 286 metres above sea level, it is quite majestic standing in the centre of Townsville presiding over a huge area of flat country. From Castle Hill (Aboriginal name Cootharinga) one gets a 360 degree view of Townsville and the surrounding area. Townsville has a population of 180000 and is growing, the main industry here is sugar cane, Zinc mining, service industries to the mining industry and local community, a wharf, goods rail transport, tourism and a significant military base. From Castle Hill we drove to Jezzine Barracks an old fort established in 1870, situated at Kissing Point a small rocky outlet north of Townsville looking out towards Magnetic Island. It was in continuous military use from 1885 through to 2006, today it is a tourist attraction.
The main attractions here are the military museum, an art centre, gardens, the old forte and an area representing the local aboriginals, certainly worth a visit. Time to eat so off to the water front for lunch and we decided upon the C Bar restaurant on the strand overlooking the beach. The food was excellent and this topped off a special day chatting, sightseeing and reminiscing with Pauline. An early night ready to head to Cairns next day.
Saturday 28th July
Up early and on our way by 8am, arriving at our destination the Lake Placid caravan park by 3pm a comfortable drive. Time to set up the van and relax, which is just what we did.
Sunday 29th July.
Today we are heading to Palm Cove to catch up with friends Mick & Beth Nash, Greg Martin & Heather, tennis and yacht club friends, a very pleasant relaxing day. Palm Cove is a favourite destination of theirs, a popular holiday destination particularly for Southerners during the winter, it has a magnificent beach and the esplanade has a wonderful choice of hotels, restaurants and cafes overlooking the beach. Visitors have a wonderful choice of holiday accommodation and again all close to the beach front. The caravan park is situated at the northern end of the strip it is very popular and one needs to book well in advance to secure a site, which we didn’t. However Palm Cove is situated just a short drive from Lake Placid.
Monday 30th July.
Pam and I decided to visit the Crystal Falls about 45 minutes from our caravan park. A pleasant walk through rain forest a beautiful area with water cascading over granite rocks and forming various size swimming holes many with swimmers enjoying the water. This is a favourite area for locals as the path along the water way is wide with an easy slope for walking, running, cycling or as us taking a relaxing walk. Later We went to the Barron River which feeds a Hydro Electric scheme built in the 1960s an important power supply to Cairns. The river source is the Atherton Table lands it has several damns along its route one of them being Lake Tinaroo an excellent camping spot with Yungaburra an old logging town on its banks now a tourist attraction.
Tuesday 31th July.
Today I drive to Kuranda to meet up with a dear friend we are going to Mareeba to play golf, Pam is being picked up by Beth Nash and she is joining our friends at Palm Cove for a relaxing day. The Mareeba golf course is in great condition as they have had good summer rain leaving the course with good growth on the fairways, the last few times I have played here it has been dry. Golf with Michael and Kevin was most enjoyable Kevin only needed two clubs in his bag a one wood, which he used everywhere and a putter. It worked for him but I don’t think I will follow his lead. A little refreshment after the game then off to pick up Pam at Palm Cove.
Wednesday 1st August.
Pam catching up on washing and I took the opportunity to tidy up the car, afterwards we drove to Cairns for lunch and to sightsee around the foreshore. We first walked along the beach area overlooking the inlet then to the marina where we watched sail training taking place at the Cairns YC. This is a busy marina with boats taking tourists out to the various islands and diving on the reef, popular destinations. Unfortunately, there was a considerable amount of construction taking place huge new apartment buildings being built and road work, which was a little inconvenient. There were very few people around possible due to all the construction going on. Tonight, we are off to Palm Cove for dinner meeting up with Christine, Pam’s cousin who had booked the Portofino Restaurant this apparently one of the best restaurants in Palm Cove. The restaurant did not disappoint, Pam and I had the whole Barramundi and it was delicious washed down with a couple nice wines. Great to catch up with Christine and to meet the new love in her life, Joe who joined us later in the evening for coffee. As it turned out Joe lived in Mt Eliza for some years and he knew many of our friends, Joe is a very jovial fellow and good company. Back to the van for a good night’s sleep.
Thursday 2nd August.
Relaxing day shopping, banking business, lunch at the coffee club, not much more. That evening the lions club were running a sausage sizzle at the caravan park raising money to support research into prostate cancer. They did a great job with Norm who ran proceedings entertaining us and having us in fits of laughter delivering some very good jokes.
Friday 3rd August.
Today we meet up with friends from Kuranda Michael and Sue Van-Cuylenberg and Sue’s family over from England, Michael chose the Vivo restaurant at Palm Cove good food and location. We enjoyed meeting Sue’s family, plenty of chatter about the UK and hearing of Sue’s sister and husband looking to move from E.ngland to Queensland. After lunch we caught up with friends from Melbourne and had coffee with Pam’s cousin Christine who had my life jacket that I had left at Burrum Heads.
Saturday 4th August.
This morning we drive to Atherton to meet up with Arthur and Wendy Wood friends from Mornington. There was a small market being held there and we chose this place to meet. Not a lot at the market but stocked up on some fruit. From there we decided to have coffee in Atherton then visit the Crystal Caves, which we did. The crystal Caves are fascinating and nothing like what I had expected, this tourist attraction is in fact a shop with an artificial cave made from urethane foam, sounds tacky but in fact it is well worth a visit. The creator Rene Boissevain a Dutchman was encouraged to spend a weekend with a friend trekking the country trying to find Agate’s he found a massive agate and this started a passion which found him travelling the world collecting agate and fossils. He now has an amazing collection many spectacular specimens beautifully presented in the manmade cave. We bid our farewell to our friends and headed to Lake Tinaroo where we have been previously.