Around Australia Week 7 – Rockhampton, Mackay, Airlie Beach

We were keen to hot-foot it up to Airlie to catch up with family there, so we did a couple of overnights at Rockhampton and Mackay and got into the Whitsunday Adventure Park at Cannonvale on a Wednesday morning. A couple of hours after arrival we were saying hello to Derek and Tracy and 6-month old Riley (known as ‘Smiley Riley’ for his even temperament).

We’ve stayed at this park before, and it was an easy choice for this visit: not only is it next door to a good shopping centre, but it’s just up the road from our son’s place at Cannonvale. Although we like to laze around a pool with a book or an iPod (occasionally taking a dip to cool off) we don’t usually take much notice of things like water slides, jumping pillows and playgrounds… but this time was different, because our 10-year-old granddaughter Maddy was due to fly into Hamilton Island on Thursday to try caravan life with Grandma and Grandpa for a week. She was really looking forward to that water slide!

And speaking of flying into Hamilton Island… I wandered up to the office to enquire about the ferry timetable to meet the plane, and discovered that Hamilton had instituted a new ‘day excursion’ ferry fare to the island… of $125! Apparently they want to discourage day trippers??? I pointed out that I didn’t have any choice other than to go to the island to pick up Maddy from the airport, since she was an unaccompanied minor. “Frogette Trudy” in the office interceded on my behalf, and I was able to go on the 45-minute direct trip to the airport to pick her up for the normal ferry fare of $90 return.

The ‘Grandma fix’

Both on the road and back home, we’ve encountered people from time to time who say they couldn’t go on a long trip because they’d miss the grandchildren too much. Sometimes it’s mostly Grandma who feels this way, while Grandpa would like to take on ‘the big one’.

However, there are lots of ways to get around the problem. We met one fellow who was on his own for a few weeks because he’d packed his wife off on a plane for a ‘Granny fix’. Others stay in touch using Skype, which is great for long trips… you can’t beat free video calls! (Skype to Skype, that is.) If you haven’t tried it before, have a go. You can’t break it! (I took a Skype call from my granddaughter after her visit, and asked her if she’d set it up herself. “No,” she said, “I asked Connor to do it.” Connor is her 7-year-old brother!)

Here’s a screen capture of Maddy and her sister Lilli (5) on a recent Skype call. You can see me in the embedded pic on the bottom of the screen (this is what you see on the screen during a Skype call… they see the opposite: I am on the full screen and they are in the small pic at their end.)

Skyping Family

Skyping Family

And of course, you don’t have to go to them… you can do what we did this week, and have one or more of your grandchildren fly out to join you for a week or two!

It was a real experience for Maddy. Not only was it the first time she’d experienced caravan life, it was the first time she’d flown by herself. We made sure that we picked a direct flight: her father put her on the plane in Sydney, and I was waiting at the gate at Hamilton Island.

Maddy Visits

Maddy Visits

Since the Adventure Whitsunday park is so child-friendly, there was plenty for Maddy to do: each week they print out a ‘what’s on’ sheet, and Maddy went through it eagerly checking off activities to join in. Throughout the week she was here she participated in a scavenger hunt and a photo trail (finding things throughout the park; rewarded with a small prize at the end) and had fun with pedal Go-Karts, mini-Golf, the pool and water slide and the jumping pillow. (She talked Grandma into accompanying her on the Go-Karts and then beat Grandpa soundly at mini-golf

07_03_Maddy_activities_Airle There was lots more, besides: we met up with her aunt and uncle and cousin Riley for meals and shopping, went on a sunset cruise around Airlie, and visited Colour Me Crazy at Proserpine to buy gifts for family and friends. Then there was the morning at the bead shop at Airlie Beach making jewellery (necklace and earrings for Maddy; bracelet for her little sister Lilli, necklace for her mum)… a visit to the Saturday markets… ice cream ‘smash’ at Cold Rock… and lots more. A very busy week – and a lot of fun for all concerned.

“Girly Stuff”: Buying a Lightweight Sewing Machine

One of the things I regretfully left behind was my Janome Quilter’s Companion sewing machine… it was just a bit too big and heavy to bring along. However, after using the services of fellow traveller Marion for some clothing repairs back at Tewantin, and talking to Rob about how we could fine-tune the shadecloth that we attach to the awning, I decided to look for a lightweight machine that I could take along with me on our trek around Australia.

I knew that Elna used to have a small machine, and one of the girls I ran into at Mudgee always took one along with her. So I took advantage of our overnighter at Mackay to nip over to Spotlight and see what they had… and found just the thing. The Elna Mini Opal is the perfect size for a caravan. It weighs just over 2 kilos and this pic of it next to the C&M magazine gives you some idea of its size. It was also a good price for an Elna machine… $129. I plan on putting it to good use soon to do some ‘home improvements’. I’ll keep you posted!

A lightweight sewing machine is handy for travel.

A lightweight sewing machine is handy for travel.

Josie’s Octopus

I remember back in Week 4 when I talked about buying wool at Laurieton I promised to show you the results of my knitting. So here it is: Josie’s octopus! Next I’m starting Grandma and Grandpa dolls for Riley.

Handicrafts on the Road

Handicrafts on the Road

Blokey Stuff

Now of course, Rob didn’t just spend all his time being beaten at mini-golf by Maddy and watching me knit an octopus. So what did he do in our first week at Airlie?

Rob says: “Being fully aware that Granddaughter Maddy would be spending a good deal of her time with Grandma, I decided that this was the opportunity to get a bit of the van housekeeping done, plus, do what a lot of people do… just mooch about town, take a short drive to see what’s there and do a spot of magazine reading.

For the van it was time to give it a tub & then give it a bit of a close look over, to see if there were any loose screws, sticking latches, or other little odd jobs.  I’m happy to report that apart from a couple of drawers that needed some slight adjustment all things were pretty much in order.  The small issue with sink odour we detected a week or two back appears to be fully resolved.  So van OK.  As for the car, again a bit of cleaning was in order, and some re arrangement of the boot section was needed.

With granddaughter staying for the week and having just the two single bed configuration, it was voted (and without argument) that I was to sleep outside under the awning.  No problems, but I needed a camp stretcher.  Another task that was accomplished without fuss. The stretcher will come in handy as we move even further North and sleeping outside could be a real option.

07_06_Grandpas_Bed As for some looking around, I decided that a trip up to Conway Beach and Cedar Falls was a good way to spend part of the day. Both areas are a lot quieter than Airlie itself. Conway Beach has a nice park that is worth a further look next time we pass through.  Given the number of empty boat trailers I saw near the park & adjoining boat ramps – fishing would appear to be high on the list of “to do” things for the area.  Maybe that’s where I’ll get to catch the fish I know are waiting out there for me & my fishing rod.

Cedar Falls weren’t really falling when I was there, more of a slow trickle over the ledge in fact.  I’m sure that when the wet season is in full swing though these falls would be quite spectacular. There are numerous  large boulders & tree trunks of all sizes scattered in and around the area giving visual clues as to the amount of water that passes through the falls & and nearby gorge.

Oh, by the way, sleeping outside the van worked a treat; a restful night was had each evening and I even escaped getting wet, when a small rain shower passed through on the first night!”

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