Around Australia Week 9 – Mackay to Airlie Beach

After having a busy couple of weeks catching up with family at Airlie Beach, it was time to head on back to Mackay for the next ‘official’ leg of our trip around Oz. We checked into Andergrove Park and just a few hours after setting up had a surprise visit – Robyn and Mel, whom we met at Airlie Beach! You might remember that Robyn gave me a pattern for ‘Funky Boots’ to knit for a grandchild (see last week’s blog). Well, she realised that she’d forgotten to tell me the correct knitting needle size… so even though she and Mel were staying at a different park in Mackay, she made a special trip to find me just to make sure that I had the right info! No wonder we have so many fond memories of people we meet. So that afternoon it was off to Spotlight to buy ‘funky boots’ wool… I’ll let you know how they turned out.

Andergrove Park was full of interesting travellers and rigs (as most parks are!) and like many others, we usually go for a bit of a wander around the park to see what’s around. This time it was an unusual annexe that grabbed our attention: it looked so light and airy – almost like a solarium! It was attached to a Swift 610 van and belonged to John and Hazel, an English couple who live in WA. John said since the van was a UK model (although he bought it on the West Coast of Australia) he ordered the annexe from the UK- and it took only 3 days to arrive! (And I thought the delivery time from was good…) It takes them about 45 minutes to erect the annexe, but they assure us it’s worth it

09_01_John_Hazel_Swift_Annext After meeting lots of other happy travellers at the morning tea on Thursday we caught up with the Caravan and Motorhome crew on Thursday night (they arrived to find us in the midst of yet another happy hour outside our van, chatting to John and Hazel and Rob and Rhonda from the van next door. I’m sure they think we do nothing else but sit around with a stubby and a glass of wine and eat too many snacks! Hmmmm… guess they’re not too far off, at that…)

Once Friday dawned, Rob went off to get a Taipan exhaust fitted to the car (he was really looking forward to that!) while I decided to do something other than stare at a black fourbie up on a hoist: I went off to Eungella National Park with one of the crew to have a wander around. It’s a beautiful spot, accessed by a steep and winding road… I was quite glad not to be towing the van up there! There are several walking tracks and lookouts – a nice day trip for keen walkers, or just to take a picnic.

After Eungella I met up with Rob again at the Polstone sugar cane farm for a tour. Now THAT was fun: take a look at it on the DVD! Cec was a real character (I think he could almost star in his own movie) and gave us a real insight into what happens on a sugar farm. Who would have thought that sugar cane juice was so nice? When Cec urged us to try a glass, I was a bit dubious… I thought it would be like mainlining sugar! But no: it was delicious.

Polstone Farm

Polstone Farm

Friday night brought with it the sausage sizzle back at Andergrove Park. This is a terrific way to meet people, and it’s even better when there’s live music. The new managers at Andergrove, Kym and Rose Boxall, had only been there a few weeks, and were dead keen to make this popular park even better. They’re certainly on the right track!

Sausage Sizzle

Sausage Sizzle

Saturday came and it was time to head on back to Airlie, where Rob and our son Derek went out on a fishing charter (“NOW I’ll catch a fish!” promised Rob confidently. “I’m with the experts!”) and Tracy and grandson Riley kept me company while I cooked a curry for our dinner that night.

I must note here that Rob and Derek did NOT bring back any fish when they returned. They insisted that they caught some… but threw them back. Humph. Is this just another fishing story??? I want PROOF.

Objection from Rob: Sometimes the proof is not in the eating! The 40 minute trip out of Airlie on the Whitsunday Fishing Charters boat was relatively uneventful although there were early tell-tale signs that the return trip might not be quite as comfortable.
The first stop where we dropped our lines was in a nice little sheltered cove on the lee side of one of the 74 Whitsunday Islands. Here Skipper Chris advised us all that we’d catch a few bait fish for use later on.  I’m not sure if the target bait fish heard our skipper or not, but not a lot eventuated.  There were a couple caught by the “punters”, but certainly not enough to crow about.  Then it was onto a spot along the same island, but a little more exposed to the 20 knot winds. Greater success at this location with everyone, including me, pulling in a couple of small fish & a couple of “keepers”.

Of course while all the serious fishing was going on, Skipper Chris brought out the refreshments (liquid & edible) to help us pass the time.  The final stop on the trip was a 20 minute bash into the steadily increasing headwind. Seas were up and the boat was creating some great bow waves. We found another little sheltered spot behind a rock outcrop and dropped our lines.  More success for the others – not much for me though.  It looks like fish & I just don’t operate on the same level. Son Derek scored a good one, though, and it ended up in the freezer.

So after a full afternoon of activity, in very enjoyable company,  it was time for the return home.  The wind had increased to around 25 knots, the seas were choppy and there was plenty of white water coming off the bow of our boat.  Skipper Chris picked the right line through all the chop and after another 30 minutes or so, reached the relatively calmer waters of Airlie. So as they say, at the end of the day – Rob 0, Fish 1!
Our Skipper, Chris, has only just taken over Whitsunday Fishing Charters  and his enthusiasm & knowledge of the local area is first rate.  Despite the so-so weather conditions he went out of his way to find the best spots possible for us to fish in comfort.  So despite my continued inability to nail the big one, this trip was a great one: lots of laughs, lots of good company and another story to tell everyone about.

Rob on the Fishing Charter

Rob on the Fishing Charter

 Back to Marg: Saturday night brought with it gusty winds that kept us awake half the night, and the weather forecast was for continuing 25 knot winds and a large ocean swell. The winds were supposed to intensify during the day and be even stronger on Monday… so it didn’t sound as though the weather was going to improve. Rob and I had been booked on the popular Ocean Rafting trip on Sunday, but when we checked out the weather report that morning we reluctantly decided to opt out. As it turned out, we could have gone… the wind actually died down in the afternoon and once the boat reached the reef, it was calm and clear.

You can imagine how we felt knowing we had missed such a great experience! (Adam the cameraman went and had a ball… and brought back plenty of footage to prove it!) But… these things happen. We made a call based on the predicted weather conditions, and that’s about all you can do. Sigh…

Well, when disappointment sets in, there’s always retail therapy. I knew that Microsoft Office 2010 was available, and from the reviews I’d read it was supposed to have great photo editing capabilities. Being such a geek, I just had to have it… so off I trotted to pick up my copy. (Rob just rolled his eyes and waited in the car. The minute I start talking software and computers his eyes glaze over. If I say something like “4WD… suspension… torsion bars… blah blah blah” he snaps to attention. Good grief.)

Anyway, back to photos –here’s a tip: you can insert high-resolution (that is, large file size) photos into a PowerPoint slide, arrange them into a collage with some nice effects, group them into one image, then save the results as a picture under another name… and you’ll have a great photo to send via email as a small file. Nifty, huh?)  Here’s a sample, using 4 photos I took at Eungella National Park:


And that brings us to the end of this week. Tomorrow, it’s on to beautiful Bowen, and then Townsville.

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