COOOEE : A long, loud call used to attract attention when at a distance, mainly done in the Australian bush
OZ : Australia!

26 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
I haven’t usually posted a blog entry till we have moved on to the next port-of-call but here we are still in Cairns. We had only booked in for a week and were supposed to be off today but the brakes have developed an ominous shudder so we have booked it in for a check-up - and the first available was on Monday.
Not that staying in Cairns extra time is any hardship ... we love it! Thinking of checking out the real estate on offer ... summer’s humidity would be daunting but what a place to spend winter.
Cairns is clean, spacious, verdant and set in front of an imposing mountain range. The roads are wide and it is easy to get around. There is a wonderful variety of dining options in Shield Street and at the Pier. We had a truly brilliant meal at “Tamarind” at the casino.
We enjoyed going up on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and coming down on the Skytrain ... but Kuranda itself was woeful (if you have been to the Carrara Markets at the Gold Coast then think about how much you would spend on your transport to get there!).
So far the weather has been a bit on the windy side so we haven’t been our on a snorkel trip ... not to worry ... we have decided that we will spend more time in Cairns after our visit to the Daintree and the Atherton Tableland.

25 June 2011

Travels With Mac

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY of "Dog Friendly Caravan Parks"
Fully believing that it is “All about me!”, we kind of think that we are part of that every growing tidal wave of Baby Boomers, Gray Nomads, Old Whatevers, that are hitting the road to Do the Tour. And many of us have dogs ... as old, or older than us in dog years, that come for the ride.
At home Mac was a dog who went by a timetable. He didn’t like change. On the road he is the most adaptable of the three of us! He travels well in the car and is (of course!!!) well behaved in the caravan parks. Mac, due to the dingo in his genetic makeup, very, very rarely barks. Because he has been “fixed” he is not a wanderer and not a fighter.
So far, the dog-friendly caravan parks have ranged between The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I know we are just beginners so these are beginners observations.
The GOOD : (Flametree Park at Airlie Beach) : they advertise themselves as “Pet Friendly” and they truly are. There are grassy areas to walk your dog. If you book a tour through the office, they will check on your dog during the day and take him for a walk. Signs encourage dog owners to be responsible - and they are! Dogs and owners interact in a friendly way.
The BAD : (Beachcomber at Cardwell) : Almost the exact opposite to the above. There were 2 labradors that wandered and pooed at will. There were NO signs up regarding pets and pet owners were laissez faire about their responsibilities. YUK.
The UGLY : (Lake Placid at Cairns) : My goodness they have rules for everything. Their Dog Rules say I am to walk the dog down the centre of the road till outside the front gate so he doesn’t pee on any of their trees and we are not to leave the dog unattended (so A & I can’t walk down to the no-dogs-allowed Lake Placid Reserve together; we can’t go together to the Camp Trivia Night or the Camp Asian Banquet; if we were to book to go out on a snorkel tour we would need to board Mac at doggie care for 2 or 3 days because of their opening hours; if we were to go out to dinner ....... well, you get the picture) And I am talking about an old dog who sleeps 80% of the day! I really, really can’t call that “Pet Friendly” ... it’s like booking into a “Clothing Optional Resort” and being handed rules that tell you that you can only remove your clothes when inside your van or outside the park!

19 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
Through no fault of its own, Cardwell won’t go down as one of the fondest memories.
The caravan park was a let down ... very,very dusty and vans parked close together. Part of our learning curve is finding out what “dog friendly” means in a caravan park. Flametree at Airlie Beach was perfect :they walked your dog for you when you went out for the day, dog owners were responsible, there were grassy areas for pets to roam. Cardwell was anything goes and there were doggy deposits here and there (yuk!) with no encouragement to clean up.
Cardwell is still very much showing the scars of Cyclone Yasi. Many shops were closed. Many houses being rebuilt but also many were empty shells. The waterfront park was awash with sand after the tidal surge. Trees were starting to show stubby regrowth after being stripped bare of leaves.
Another result of the Cyclone damage that never entered our heads ... so many people have told us how "lucky" we are to have been able to get into this dustbowl without a booking. It seems that winter is "high season" when all the Victorians head north for the warmer weather. This year, because of the cyclone damage, they have gone west ... and it seems that usually you have ti have an advance booking to get in to places like this.

15 June 2011

Red Rock Storm

We hope all our friends and neighbours in Red Rock are all right after that destructive storm. Fingers crossed that you are all safe and haven’t had much damage. Thoughts are with you. Thank you to Val who kindly looked in to check that all was ok in the Five Star Fibro and to Lesley who is sorting out a small problem caused by the inundation.

Airlie Beach

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
A picture-postcard day. Perfect weather. Not too hot, not too windy. We had decided to stay a few extra days to make up for the wet start we had here at Airlie. So we had our big reef splurge ~ the Panorama Tour with Air Whitsunday.

There were only four on the plane (plus the pilot) and we flew out to the Great Barrier Reef on a small sea plane. We landed on the water, transferred to a private semi submersible inside a coral ringed lagoon for some underwater viewing followed by snorkelling. Out in the middle of nowhere on the reef. Awesome! Then we returned to our seaplane and flew off for a picnic lunch on Whitehaven Beach - a long stretch of amazing, fine, white sand edged by aquamarine water.

I shall post a photo album soon! It was a great overall experience.

I fell in love with snorkelling in Maui ... and Alphie said that I HAD to snorkel the GBR to get the benchmark. Sadly our experience yesterday wasn’t up to his earlier memories or mine of Maui. Maybe the coral was suffering damage from Cyclone Yasi, but visibility wasn’t terrific, the coral wasn’t colourful and there were few fish.

And Alphie promises to post a blog entry from Cardwell ... where we hope to do some Barra fishing

11 June 2011

Airlie Beach

This is a composite of the scenic road trip ... a lot of long, long open stretches of highway ... a lot of sugar cane ... and not much else. There were some cute, quaint country towns along the way ... but towing LardArse behind you inhibits the photographic opportunities!!!

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ

We arrived here on Thursday after a drive of around 400km. The caravan park is on the outskirts of Airlie Beach on the way to Shute Harbour. As it is a holiday weekend for the Queen’s Birthday we decided to have a break from the travelling and catch up on a few maintenance things.
We have already had 2 trips to Bunnings.
I’ve done 2 loads of washing.
I’ve been to the supermarket twice.
And we have only been here two days.
No problem ... there isn’t much else to do as it is quite cold and it is raining. Ahhhhh! Cabin Fever ... who said it couldn’t get much better.
But is has been a chance to do some maintenance on this website and get it reposted.
And it has been a chance to do some reading ... finished off “The Last Werewolf” (I liked it Michael. I obviously have lower taste than Alphie!)
At least on the afternoon we arrived the sun was shining so we had a teasing taste of the stunning seascape of the Whitsunday Islands. Fingers crossed for more sunshine before we move on.
So that’s this blog up to date.

08 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
Did I say yesterday’s drive was a long haul ... today’s was longer! Around 480km.
Maccie is loving it!
We had another drive-through-no-need-to-unhitch site so there was little hassle at the end of the day and little hassle to start the next.
Marlborough is a flyspeck on the map. As with most little towns the highway now bypasses it. The campground was dry and dusty and the amenities a bit on the sparse side. The motel attached had a Restaurant but it was more an old 60’s style Dining Room where we enjoyed prawn cutlets and steak dianne. Not saying that we would recommend it to fellow travellers ... but we loved it.

07 June 2011


The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
A long drive ... we crossed the border into Queensland, through the Gold Coast, through Brisbane, through the Sunshine Coast and on to Maryborough. A long haul ... around 460km. Alphie has done all the driving so far ... hey, why mess with perfection.
Just before we reached Maryborough the arm of my glasses suddenly went “boing” ... broken beyond repair. Cool! I needed that!
We only had an overnighter in Maryborough on a site where we didn’t have to unhitch the van. We think our plan is to head to the Far North rather quickly, taking note of where we would like to stay on our return trip (so if you are reading this and have any campground favourites then please Add A Comment).
We plan to stop at Poona on the coast a short distance from Maryborough on our return. Maryborough really deserves more time - such beautiful old houses!
Traffic noise got the better of a good night’s sleep again.

06 June 2011

Brunswick Heads #2

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
“And so to sleep ... our first night in the caravan.”
HA! Is that what I said!!!
This caravan park is in a great location ... right beside the Brunswick River ... but also right beside the bridge over the Brunswick River. Trucks roared through the night.
The amenities block was excellent ... great ... because that is what we had a close up view of from our van site. The neighbouring van was a metre away from our awning. Privacy? A thing of the past. I know that “claustrophobia” is not the right phobia but it is on the right track ... there we were “on the wallaby” and I felt totally hemmed in.
No plug for the sink ... thanks Watson’s Caravans.
No gas in the gas bottle ... thanks Watson’s Caravans.
Power cord won’t plug into socket ... thanks Watson’s Caravan.
Awning arms jump out of track ... thanks Watson’s Caravans.
Cupboard locks that don’t work ... thanks Watson’s Caravans.
If you are getting an impression that I was/am not a “happy camper” ... you are right.
It was/is totally doing my head in.
As someone who is chronically smiling, I was/am the opposite end of the spectrum.
I have been told by other caravanners that it WILL get better.
So here’s a reason to keep your eye on this blog ...
It was not all negative at Brunswick Heads ...
  • awesome tuna from the co-op;
  • a great bicycle track from the campgrounds to the town;
  • Alphie had a kayak ... but didn’t get to fish;
  • beautiful old pub;
  • happy dog;
  • but, most especially, the wonderful kindness of strangers who helped us, advised us and told us “It WILL get better!”

PS ... Alphie needs to write his own comments ... he has his hopes up is a believer.

01 June 2011

First Stop ~ Brunswick Heads

The There & Back Again Tour to FNQ
We hitched up and the wagon was ready to roll. Last minute light check ... and the left blinker wasn’t working. So really the first stop was Royal’s Garage at Corindi.
The drive to Brunswick Heads was uneventful and we had a drive-though spot (great for novices).

And so to sleep ... our first night in the caravan.