Map of Trip-2006.
Map of Trip-2008.
Map of Trip-2009.
Map of Trip-2010.
Welcome to November. It has been both a busy and rather wet
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
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.
new marina complex is rather flash, verging on a bit sterile with some
rather flashy accommodation scattered around the marina.
We booked a bure on Wotif for $115-00 a night at Island Leisure
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
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
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
We made our way to the marina and onto the boat for a short 30
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
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
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
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
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
simply can't make that many people be happy, unless they are happy.
The weather was mostly kind to us with a couple of sunny days, a
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.
Our last few days on the island were a little overcast with it
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.
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
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
I also replaced the old chipboard under all the seats that was
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
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
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
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
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
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.
It was then back to the Sunshine Coast to get the van and
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
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.