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Variety is the spice of life

We’ve done so much since I last updated our blog that it’s hard to believe its only been a week!

After leaving Rockhampton we headed for Mackay to spend a few days with Ashley & Lynn – a couple we’d met through our shared interest in old motorcycles and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC). Once again we had great timing as Ashley, who is a shift worker, was not rostered to work during our stay. Ashley is also a keen fisherman and a dab hand in the kitchen and a result we had wonderful meals each night including a great feed of Barramundi that Ashely had caught.

We arrived in Mackay on a Friday afternoon and the following morning Ron and I did the picturesque 10km Bluewater Trail Walk which mostly follows the Pioneer River. Ashley dropped us off at the visitor information centre (near where the walk starts) and we walked through the beautiful Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, along the Catherine Freeman walk, past the Bluewater Lagoon swimming facility and Bluewater Quay Public Open Space, through the Sandfly Creek Environmental walkway and ended up in Iluka Park in time for the monthly VJMC meeting. One of the highlights of the walk was the beautiful mural painted along the River Street levee wall (which is about 250m long) that depicts the history of the Mackay region from the late 1800s up to 2015.

Ashley took Ron fishing on Sunday and even though the much sought after Barramundi were elusive they still managed to come home with a feed of salmon and whiting. Lynn and I spent most of the day relaxing although we did manage to get some cooking done – I made a gluten-free orange and almond cake and Lynn prepared baked apples for dinner that night (Ashley had invited Peter and Helen, some other VJMC friends, over to dinner).

We packed up and left on Monday morning (with a lovely feed of fresh salmon to take with us – thanks Ashley!) and, on the recommendation of Ashley, Lynn, Peter and Helen, headed for the Eungella National Park where we setup camp at the Broken River bush camp. Unfortunately the weather turned very wet and windy along the way and by the time we arrived we were driving through heavy fog/mist.

Not long after we arrived a young tourist camped nearby returned to his car and a short time later I noticed he had stripped off to his shirt and undies (which seemed odd given how cool and wet it was). A few minutes later I noticed he was picking/flicking things of his legs and I realised that he must have picked up some leeches. ‘Some’ turned out to be a bit of an underestimate as the next time I saw him he had blood streaming down both lower legs! As there was only minimal cold water available at the amenities block we fired up our hot water service and a short time later he was able to wash his legs off with warm water. He seemed more surprised than concerned about the leeches (he told us “We don’t get so many leeches in Germany” and “My grandfather would probably say this is not a bad thing”) but even so the next morning he said he’d fallen asleep in his car straight away after finally getting his legs and clothes clean. He also told us that he’d counted 30 leech bites on his legs!

Prior to leaving Broken River we did a couple of the short walks nearby to well known platypus habitats and although other people had reported seeing them the previous day we weren’t so lucky. Mind you, given how miserable the weather was I don’t think I would have been venturing out from a warm, dry burrow if I didn’t have to!

After carefully making our way down through patches of thick fog and cloud we detoured to Finch Hatton Gorge and did the short walk to the ‘Araluen Cascades’ water feature and despite sticking to the formed gravel paths both Ron and I each ended up with about half a dozen needle-thin leeches on our shoes and lower legs! (Fortunately we were able to get them off before they latched on thereby ensuring they stayed needle-thin!) After stopping in to visit Peter and Helen for a cup of tea and some cake we continued on to Proserpine via Mount Charlton.

We ended up staying in Proserpine for three nights and from there we visited Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and Cedar Creek Falls. From Airlie Beach we also took a one hour flight out over Whitsunday Island and parts of the Great Barrier Reef – it was amazing to see the reef colours and formations from the air!

While we were in Proserpine, and on Ashley’s advice, we visited the local motorcycle shop to see their wonderful collection of about 20 old motorcycles – it was like walking into a mini-museum for British, Italian and Japanese motorcycles! After that we had lunch at the nearby ‘Cafe22’ which apart from having delicious food also had some lovely watercolour paintings by a local artist on display.


The car and the camper …

We’ve had quite a few cold nights again recently and as Ron really suffers from the cold due to poor circulation I splashed out and bought him a 12v electric blanket for his birthday. Now all we need is some more cold nights …

We’ve booked the FJ in at a Toyota dealership in Cairns for its 60,000km service and, after a bit of hassling from a spare parts guy who reckoned I didn’t know what I was talking about, ordered a spare windscreen trim. (This piece of trim usually breaks when it is removed to replace the windscreen and we don’t want to find ourselves stuck out in the middle of almost nowhere with a broken windscreen either being delayed further while waiting for this part and/or having to pay high shipping costs.) We’ve also booked it in with TJM in Cairns to get a pair of FyrLyt 5000 halogen driving lights and a set of PolyAir bags fitted – should improve visibility for night-time diving and give us the ability to adjust the ride height when towing the Ultimate.

Our Ultimate has been colonised by hundreds of ants on three separate occasions in the last month or so – thankfully they aren’t the bitey variety (and that we have all our food stored in airtight containers). We’ve also had quite a few small cockroach visitors but a shot of Pea-Beau tends to despatch them fairly quickly.