November 2010

  • Cover Page
  • Map of Trip-2006.
  • Map of Trip-2008.
  • Map of Trip-2009.
  • Map of Trip-2010.

  • The Family The Boys
                                              The Team

    Welcome to November. It has been both a busy and rather wet month, but more of that later.

    We arrived in Townsville and settled into Greg and Jos' nice new house. What absolute luxury. They had better watch out or we will stay for a month. Their two kids, Jenna and Kyle have turned into very nice young adults and it was great seeing what they have grown into. It just goes to show that generally good parents end up producing good kids. I'm sure it's not rocket science.

    Next morning we abandoned the camper and headed to Magnetic Island in the car. Certainly taking the car over is the most cost efficient way of getting around over there. The barge fee also includes as many people as the car (to a limit of 6) can legally carry. The barge trip takes just over 30 minutes. The last time Chris and I were on Maggie must have been about 22 years ago, and other than a few small changes, the place is fundamentally much the same. The main change is that the boats now go to Nellie Bay, where previously they went to Picinic Bay. The new marina complex is rather flash, verging on a bit sterile with some rather flashy accommodation scattered around the marina.

    Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville Magnetic Island- Townsville                                       
                                          Magnetic Island- Townsville

    We booked a bure on Wotif for $115-00 a night at Island Leisure Resort. Of course I should have waited as we were the only ones staying there and the Wotif price dropped to $100-00 a night. You could imagine how happy that made me!! Now resort is probably a slight stretch but I must say it was OK and has got the potential to be rather flash with a bit of TLC. We stayed there 2 nights and had a really good look around the island. It reminded me a bit of Rottnest (Is) with rocky outcrops and secluded beaches hidden away at every turn. There are more than enough good value eateries, bakeries and hotels to keep you entertained and nourished during your stay. We went to a very trendy and I must say extremely popular Mexican Restuarant that was all but packed for a Monday night. What a great atmosphere complete with possums popping up all over the place. Very cute. Harry said they were Mexican possums as they seemed to really enjoy eating corn chips(!!!) that the owner fed them.

    Two days of exploring and it was then time to return to Townsville and to our palacial accommodation. Of course Greg and Jos had missed us terribly and we had a great night with some sensational food and too many Gin and Tonics. We also had to pack our bags as we were off to Daydream Island the next morning. Of course when we needed to open the camper and get sorted the heavens opened and apparently had no intention of stopping. We ended up moving their cars out of their garage and putting the camper in, just so we could open it.

    Next morning we were gone by 0700 heading towards Airlie Beach to catch our boat to Daydream by 12-00pm. Unfortunately it did rain for most of the trip down and continued on and off for most of the day. We dropped our bags off at the marina and then headed to the caravan park where we were storing the car and camper, where we had then planned to have a week following our island holiday. The caravan park in question was Adventure Whitsunday (Green Frog Big 4). It is a very nice park with extremely helpful staff. They even put all our frozen food in their reception freezer so we could turn our car fridge up a little to conserve power. That's good service, and it got better, but more of that later.

    Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays
                                                      Daydream Island

    We made our way to the marina and onto the boat for a short 30 minute trip across to Daydream. Of course in island tradition we were greeted at the wharf, given shell necklaces and a welcome drink before checking in and heading to our room. We had told them when booking that it was our 25th wedding anniversary and in our room was a lovely letter and a complimentary bottle of champagne with chocolates. The room was much nicer than expected, very roomy with big glass sliding doors and a balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean. More than happy, you betch ya.

    We had another family joining us for the week. Shaun and Tanya (and kids) are the guys we stay with in Darwin who we first met in Yulara. For those regular readers, Shaun was the OIC of the fire station where we have stayed a few times in the visiting officers quarters (VOQ). They don't read the web page so I am safe to tell you they are a heap of fun (I would never say that to them) and it was guaranteed to be a week of fun, too much drinking and plenty of bad manners. They arrived at 3-00pm after flying in to Hamilton Island, and yes it was still raining.

    Daydream is a very well maintained, well laid-out resort that is very kid friendly. There is heaps to do with a good activities team that always have something outdoorsy going on to tire out the kids (and the adults). Unfortunately the resort didn't have many guests which was good, but also bad as not all the restuarants were open, which meant the choice was a little limited. The staff are the happiest bunch I have ever encountered and must be genuinely very happy with their jobs, because you simply can't make that many people be happy, unless they are happy.

    Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays Daydream Island- Whitsundays
                                          Daydream Island- A beautiful spot

    The weather was mostly kind to us with a couple of sunny days, a couple cloudy and a couple rainy. We swam, played mini golf, went to the outdoor cinema, sailed, paddled, walked and of course played bingo every night. We actually did very well winning a few bottles of champagne, plenty of cocktails and 1x $30-00 bar prize.
    We also did a day's cruise out to Knuckle Lagoon which took a few hours in a very fast and comfortable large cat. They have a huge floating pontoon at Knuckles Lagoon from which you could dive or snorkel. They had glass bottom boats and semi submersible subs, and a water slide. It was a great, very well organised day with some of the best snorkelling I have done for a long time. The coral was spectacular and in really good condition with an abundance of fish life. For a place that has so many visitors, it is well preseved and well managed. It was Harry's first proper snorkel and he did so well spending well over an hour marvelling at the underwater kaleidoscope of colour that lay beneath us like a well planned canvas. The lunch was not only very nice but also very much appreciated after spending a few hours in the water. Boy do you get hungry swimming around! This is a trip that we would strongly recommend if up that way, and yes it does also depart from Airlie Beach.

    Knuckles Logoon Knuckles Logoon Knuckles Logoon Knuckles Logoon
                                            Cruise Whitsundays to Knuckles Lagoon

    Our last few days on the island were a little overcast with it pouring on our departure day. We caught the 11-00am boat back so that we would have plenty of time to get set up at the caravan park, well that was the plan!! Before leaving the island I had checked out the long range weather forcast. Rain, rain and more rain for at least 7 days. Great. Our plan was to have a week in Airlie and then head slighty north again to Bowen staying at Horseshoe Bay. We looked at the forecast and looked at each other. What should we do?? It was a rapid family decision. Let's head back to Bundy and revisit these places in the future when the weather is better. Camping in the rain for days on end is no joy, believe me. My next minor problem is that we had already paid in full for our week's camping at Adventure Whitsunday when we dropped the car and camper off. I emailed them and explained that we thought it best if we moved on and they fully understood and happily gave us a full refund, no arguing, bitching or complaining. Now that is good customer service and yes, we will be back to Airlie Beach, and guess where we will be staying.

    We only planned to get as far as Mackay as we have some good friends live there, who we stayed with before getting up early the next morning and completing the drive back to Bundaberg.
    Total distance travelled from Looma to Bundy = approx 5,500  Kms with a few side trips thrown in. It was again back to the Joiners house, which Harry has named his 4th home as we stay with them so often. We were now two weeks ahead of our planned schedule so what were we going to do with ourselves? Our van had been covered and in a carport but boy was it still in need of a good clean. It was a bit mouldy (this is the second year this has happened) and it was full of crap that we had stuffed in there when we took off at the begining of this year. We decided to sleep in the Joiners van which meant we could clean and do some repairs without also having to try and live in it. I had a few must-do jobs, one of which was scrub and then reseal the van roof as we had a small water leak last year. It was actually a fairly lengthy and labour intensive job, but one I was glad to have done. I also decided to climb underneath the van, remove the water tanks and sand back and repaint the entire underneath of the van. I have been wanting to do this since we bought the van about 9 years ago, but it is such a terrible, filthy, unpleasant job that it just keeps getting put on the back burner. First I got under with the grinder with a wire brush attachment and finished it off with a hand powered wire brush, then washed it all before applying two coats of a silver paint mixed with Penetrol. It was a lovely paint to use but laying on your back using a brush and roller I ended up completely covered in silver paint. The kids called me 'Tin Man' for reasons that you can see.  I still have not completed the job 100% as I ran out of paint (started out with 4 litres - 3 on the van and 1 on me) but will get it finished soon. That is a job I shouldn't have to do again for a long time, thank goodness.

    The tin man Leaving the carport
                              Van repairs and the final departure.

    I also replaced the old chipboard under all the seats that was well past its use-by date which is another job I have have wanted to do for years. I had a few jobs that also had to be done at one of our rentals so I was kept very busy. Again the weather was not that kind to us but we did manage to get things done regardless, although it would have been much easier had the sun been shining.
    Towing the van out of the Joiners carport for the last time was a little nostalgic. We have stored it in their carport for about 6 - 7 years and Jon has been dropping hints for the last few years that he could do with the space. Well this year after a few minor council issues we have ordered a 9 metre x 3.5 metres x 3.8 metre high garage to go in the back of Buss St, complete with concrete floor. It should be finished while we are at Burrum in mid-January. As much as it has been great and very generous of the Joiners, it will be nice to have our own shed to store it in, finally!!!!!!!! The shed will be worth more than the van!! Go figure. The minor issue we had is that the council has introduced new regulations regarding how many square metres of sheds are allowable on a house block. They are trying to stop suburban blocks looking like small industrial estates which I fully agree with. I went in and spoke to a town planner at the council, put forward my case, they reviewed the block and the impact it will have on the neighbours (which will be nil, luckily) and approved it within days. Very pleasant, very efficient experience. Thanks Bundaberg City Council.

    Our final few days in Bundaberg where a bit rushed and we didn't get all our jobs done, but it was time to head south. Chris's mother had had a severe bout of shingles and was still not well, so Chris headed to Brisbane to spend a few days with her, while the boys and I spent a few days with my mother at the Sunshine Coast before we also headed to Brisbane for a week. This week in Brissy had been planned for months as we had an appointment for Alex at an Optometrist who is a guru in Ortho-Keratology. What the hell is that I hear you ask! This is the story. It amazes me sometimes how things pan out in life. While we were living in Warmun this year we had an optometrist come up for a few days from Perth. I was chatting to him about Alex and his lousy eyesight and how painful glasses are when you are young and you want to swim, surf and play sports. He said he would like to have a look at Alex's eyes so I ducked next door and got him. After a few minutes he said he would possibly benefit from Ortho-Keratology. I clearly had a very vague 'what the hell are you talking about' look on my face so he explained it all to me and again through pure luck this expert is in Brisbane, so we rang and made an appointment straight away. In lay terms (because that is all I know) you wear special contact lenses at night and take them out during the day, giving you perfect 20/20 vision. No operation, nothing invasive. Surely this is too good to be true. The next stumbling block was that you have to have a certain eye shape to be eligible, so there was good chance they would not suit him. So in Brissy we all took the bus into the city and had our first appointment. The first thing he asked Alex to do was read the eye chart. Alex responded "I can't even see the eye chart". Then he did about 50 tests, measuring his eye shape and goodness only knows what else. After about 20 minutes and a lot of mathematical calculations being made he says 'Perfect!'. That got me very excited. It appears Alex has the ideal eye shape for this to work. John (the optometrist) put some local (anaesthetic) into Alex's eyes and then put in a set of trial lenses. He was very optomistic we would get a good result. Next it was into another room to learn how to insert and remove them. Alex being Alex took to it like a duck to water and amazed the lady who was teaching him by how quickly he picked it all up.  Off home we went with an appointment for 8-00am the next morning. He wanted to see Alex the next day with contacts still in to measure the pressures. That night Alex got them in with ease and at the cracker in the morning we again caught the bus into town. John took his lenses out and asked Alex if he could see the eye chart now. Like magic he was able to read every line. This was too good to believe. Within 10 days of wearing the contacts at night only, Alex was going to have 20/20 vision all day. We had one more appointment a week later and John was extremely happy with his progress. In fact he said that this was a perfect result, and he rarely sees them this good. His proper lenses ordered and a bill of $1,400-00 (take off a whopping $167-00  MBF paid) and we were gone. While that may sound a little expensive, the lenses last up to 10 years if looked after, you never need glasses and you have perfect vision. To make it even better you eventually only need to wear them maybe 4 times a week to maintain your 20/20 vision. That is not only magic, it is money very well spent. We are over the moon. If anyone wants details of this guy, drop me an email (email address on Cover Page). Who knows, you might have the perfect eye shape as well.

    We then squeezed in a weekend with Jill and Matty at Victoria Point and we had a ball. It is a lovely area with a beautiful foreshore that we walked from one end to the other. Jill's bloke, Nunny also has a new home two streets away from hers. That would have to be almost the perfect set up. Close but not too close. They recently bought a jet ski so we spent the afternoon over at Cudgee Mudlo Island where the boys tore around like maniacs. Boys will be boys. What a great playground within minutes of their house.They also showed us around the area and we went out to lunch. It was great to catch up again. 

    Visiting Jill Visiting Jill Visiting Jill Visiting Jill
                                                  Victoria Point - Brisbane

    It was then back to the Sunshine Coast to get the van and prepare for our month at Cotton Tree. More of that next month.

    One more thing. We now have a plan for 2011. Originally we thought we may be back in Bundaberg to settle down so Alex could start year 8. No one was keen on that idea so we started looking at other places we could live for a few years, so the kids could settle and maybe even go to a school. We definitely want to be back in Bundaberg by 2013 for Alex to do years 10, 11 and 12. We applied at a few different places and did have a job lined up until we all decided we really need to do Tasmania and Cape York before we finally settle down somewhere. If we don't do both of them now, when in the foreseeable future could we do it?? So now 2011 will have us heading straight to Tassy in late January for 2-3 months and then up to Cape York (of course they are close together) which should bring us up to around July/ August to get a bit of work, hopefully somewhere in the gulf. We are about to book the Spirit of Tasmania and I am about to resign from Qld Health after being with them for over 25 years, as my unpaid leave runs out at the end of this year. There has been a bit of soul searching about whether that is the right thing to do and now believe it is something I must do. We will only have Alex wanting to go on holidays with us for maybe another 2-3 years and a bit longer for Harry. I don't want to go back to a regimented system with 4 weeks annual leave a year and having to fight for school holidays off. I want control so we can spend as much time together as we choose, so while I had my reservations, I really had no choice if I want to have the time to spend with the kids before they want to do their own things. All I want is control, surely that's not too much to ask!!

    So that is it for November. It didn't all go to plan, but hey, we are flexible and it all worked out very nicely. We will do the Airlie/ Bowen thing on the way north in May. The weather should be perfect then.

    Have a great Christmas.

    Until next month.