Published: January 4th 2011January 3rd 2011
If you know the Nanny McPhee stories and films by Emma Thompson you’ll have seen two rather posh, well-dressed evacuees getting out of their chauffeur-driven limousine into a muck-filled farmyard and exclaim that they have landed in the land of poo … ‘Hello, poo-people’ is the greeting offered by the boy to the children of the farm …
So it must have looked to the hardened Aussie campers (with their set-ups the size of a small cul de sac in Wincanton) when we disembarked from the Spaceship© having arrived at our ‘rainforest-experience’ campsite near Mt Warning – squelch … yuk. Due to it being school holidays and peak season; this was the closest campsite to Byron Bay I could find back in October through Google. It looked great; sunny, verdant pastures full of strong, healthy looking black cows, the promise of hundreds of different birds and of breakfasting with wallabies and a chance to climb Mt Warning and to explore the Australian bush. We did indeed enjoy watching the Wallabies watching us and the drive to the campsite in the volcanic caldera that forms this region was impressive.
Unfortunately, the rains in Queensland (and the cows…) had reduced the pastures
... a rare view clear of clouds
to a muddy (let’s be generous), treacherous slope. Setting up the Spaceship© in the rain is always going to be a challenge – doing it when being assaulted by wave after wave of mozzies and other biting insects tested our sense of humours a bit. Actually this was our second night … our first had seen a glorious sunset and evening chorus, and we had enjoyed the novelty of washing up in the river and of brushing our teeth in brown rainwater, but it is strange how quickly memories fade. If you add in wet bedding for W and E, soaked towels from our day trip (in the rain!) to Byron Bay and numerous leech attacks (especially for the new King of the Jungle, P) we decided to leave a day early and to try and find somewhere where we could scrape the poo off our shoes, wash all our clothes and have a warm meal in the dry without being a meal for something else at the same time! William’s insistence that he really needed (!) a shower and Diana not washing for three days shows quite how bad things were getting …
A drive along the very
high banks of the wide and brown River Tweed took us back to the coast and to the motorway that runs past Surfers’ Paradise, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Pulling off for petrol at a service station, we checked for information about local campsites and found one just up the coast on the sand island of Bribie at Woorim. That was the good news; the bad news was that the flooding further north of us had become very serious with thousands evacuated from their houses in Rockhampton (where we due to be camping in three days’ time) and all roads north closed at this point. Surely, THE main North-South highway in Australia couldn’t stay closed for long?
The normally turquoise waters off the beach were a curious beer-brown colour (as noted on the lifeguards’ information board) and we were still 500km from Rockhampton … Our worst fears were confirmed the following morning with news reports that the main highways towards Cairns would remain closed for up to ten days, and police and highway authority advice not to travel towards Rockhampton. We moved on to our next campsite at Bridie Island and started making some phonecalls … to campsites, to the
camper company, to the airline (to change our onward flight from Cairns to Brisbane) and to our insurance company.
We’ll still get to snorkel the Barrier Reef (with a boat trip from 1770 to Lady Musgrave Island) but we won’t get to the Whitsundays and the real Tropical North which is a shame. But as the news stories emerge of parents drowning whilst trying to rescue their children from floods and of flooded houses being inhabited by snakes and crocodiles as the flood waters rise still further we must consider ourselves lucky.
There are more photos below