Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 47

Mon. Feb 18    Kynuna to Hughenden
Miles 682 (3 days)
Awoke to find a small kangaroo playing around at the foot of my bed. It was a tame one belonging to the pub! Away by 9 and, apart from a few mud baths, had an uneventful run to Winton. We had coffee there and then drove on to Hughenden on quite a good road. Arrived at 5, had a few beers, and then found the caravan park. John cleaned the land rover while I cooked a big curry. In the evening we went to the swimming pool and swam for a couple of hours. Supper was a milk shake at a milk bar.

Tues. Feb 19    Hughenden to Townsville
On the road by 9 and away towards Charters Towers. This bit of road had everything, mud holes, creeks, potholes and even a couple of long stretches of mud about 6inches deep. We crossed 2 good-sized rivers after wading them first. The land rover sailed across with no bother, while Dulcie and I stood either side of the deepest part to mark it. The last crossing was only 100yards from the start of the bitumen. It would have been horrible to get stuck there as so many others had done. Reached Charters Towers at 3, had beer, fish and chips, and ice cream before motoring on to Townsville. Our home for the night is a caravan park right on the sea front. Heavy rain tonight with large numbers of mozzies so we have erected the nets inside the tent. Miles 229

Wed. Feb 20    Townsville

Lay in this morning and then worked on the land rover. Took the sump off and found a split pin missing from one of the bottom ends. The oil pump was loose, also. Fitted new rubbers to the front shock absorbers and did a grease and oil change. Went into town about 3 to do shopping and get literature from the tourist office. Back to camp for a ham salad and then away to the Drive-in to see, Woman in Dressing Gown and Left-handed Gun. The first one was very good and the second was lousy. It is raining again this evening.

Thurs. Feb 21    Townsville
A thoroughly idle day. To the Wirth Zoo in the a.m.—a bit disappointing. From there to the top of Castle Hill, which was very impressive. By this time the rain was getting heavy so we spent the p. m. drinking milk shakes, writing letters, and browsing in various bookshops. Went back to camp, washed and changed, and into town for a slap-up Chinese meal. Had a couple of drinks afterwards but got driven out of the bar by the T.V.. Cruised around in the land rover for a while and then headed for bed.

Fri. Feb 22    Townsville to Airlie
Miles 214
Still raining so we packed up and into town to buy food and found that honest Dulcie had paid for the campsite, which we had intended not to do! On the road by 10 and drove to Bowen, where we found a good beach, so we lay on it. Had a brew, a swim and some more lying down before going to town to try to buy diesel. After the usual amount of mucking around we found a man who could sell us some. When he heard that I was a diesel fitter he offered me a job, but I was not in the mood. Of all the countries we had been in, Australia was the most difficult one in which to buy fuel. None of the service stations have a diesel pump because there is generally no demand from the ordinary motorist. The big users of diesel, the big trucking firms all refuel at central depots, while the farmers out back use 44gallon drums and a hand pump.
We drove on to Proserpine and from there to Airlie Beach where we found a nice campsite in the gent’s toilet, Dulcie included. This is a nice part of Australia, very like the W.coast of Scotland but with a tropical climate.

Sat. Feb 23    Airlie
An early star and away to Shute Harbour to join the Leilani for a trip to Dent Island. The run out was terrific, quite rough, through beautiful scenery, islands and passages between them. John was nearly sick but not quite—blast!
Dent Island was a real little paradise. It is the home and work of Bill and Lynn Wallace who spend their time exploring the reefs and bringing up coral. Bill does the diving and Lynn does the painting. The finished product is then nicely arranged for display and sale. We bought a piece each to be sent home and Lynn also gave us some small pieces as souvenirs. They were a charming couple, obviously completely content with their lives. It was not such a bad life, either. On our way back in we passed one of the Ampol tankers on its way to Borneo by way of the Whitsunday Passage. At the end of the day Dulcie had a burnt neck, while both John and I had burnt noses All in all, a bloody marvellous day.

Sun. Feb 24    Airlie to Sarina
Miles 154
For the first time ever, Dulcie was last up. Packed up and drove to Proserpine and from there to Mackay where we had a swim and a feed of fish and chips. We decided to carry on down the coast to Sarina and found a great beach where we swam and lazed the afternoon away. Spotted a lot of large fish with prominent fins but we eventually realized that they were porpoises, not sharks.. Drove back to Sarina and settled down on the camping ground with cold cheese ,herrings and crackers on the menu tonight. These caravan parks are just the job for us. They provide showers, toilets and fresh water all for about 6 or7 shillings a night, which is pretty reasonable.