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Published: July 31st 2011
When one hears the words "Whitsunday" most think of a group of islands off Queensland. In fact, the area has been named after the Whitsunday Strait which passes between the islands and the mainland.The islands belong to the Cumberland group. No matter, besides this piece of trivia, we found this a wonderful area to visit and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Sunday 24th July 2011
We had done most of the preparation for our departure yesterday and after completing the last few things we could only do before leaving we joined John and Marilyn for breakfast. This had been arranged last night over some drinks we had on our return from dinner. John presented us with scrambled eggs and bacon, cooked tomato, toast, with a side of black pudding for the men. Delicious!
Brendan, the manager, came to farewell us and to guide us out of the site. We were off! It was only a short trip today, we intended to drive to Marian, only 70kms or so away. As it was, Marian was only a sugar mill town and we passed through it without realising. Ten kilometres further on we came to Mirani and
here we set up camp in the shire caravan park. Nice grassed areas and very clean facilities, although very few tourists. This, like many of the caravan parks we have come to in Queensland, seems to be mainly permanent residents or perhaps seasonal as they are most probably employed in the sugar cane industry.
After having some lunch we set off towards Eungella National Park, where we intended going tomorrow morning, hopefully to see a platypus in the wild.
We stopped at the little town of Gargett, just 25kms away and looked through an art gallery and the bric-a-brac shop next door. Besides these the only other building was a small hotel, set in amongst hundreds of hectares of sugar cane plantations.
The plains and plantations ended and we climbed up into the ranges along a steep, winding road until we reached Eungella. We continued a short distance to Broken River, this being the entrance to the national park. We walked for a while through rain forest, this park having the largest continuous stretch of rain forest in Australia. It was beautiful country, lots of greenery and ferns, and it reminding us of some of the tropical
forests we have walked through, without the heat.
The track came out onto a viewing platform where platypus can be seen early in the morning or late in the afternoon on cloudy days. The platypus obviously didn't know this as it was only 1.30pm and the skies were blue. We saw one swimming along the opposite bank but every time we managed to get it into focus with the tele-lenses, it dived under the water. Never mind, we saw what we set out to see, a platypus in the wild!
On our return to the van we spent time getting the blog up to date, this is behind as we had such a poor internet connection at Armstrong Beach. We have decided to continue heading north tomorrow with Airlie Beach as a possible destination. This could change from one moment to the next as is our want. Monday 25th July 2011
We didn't change our minds and after a restless early morning due to heavy trucks and other cars moving around us, we left the area at 8.30am. We headed north towards Proserpine, this town did not give us any good vibes especially when we
entered the marked Information Centre only to find it had moved. A bit of careful reversing followed before we could get out of the carpark, luckily there weren't any other cars around.
The town itself was as many other towns we had seen, we decided there was little to keep us, instead we headed up the coast to Airlie Beach, the “Gateway to the Whitsundays”. The scenery as we entered was magnificent, with rolling green hills ending at white beaches and very blue water. Marinas abounded, these being noted by Rags for further exploration, and the touristy shops caught Judy's eye.
We passed through the main area and continued to Flametree Caravan Park where we soon settled in on nice green grass with trees all around. At first we only booked for two nights, but after booking a night at Long Island resort, one of the Whitsunday islands, for Wednesday night, and a ferry trip to three islands followed by a sea-plane ride over them on Sunday, we extended for a week.
The rest of the day was spent walking along Airlie Beach and generally exploring the area. From the snippets of conversation we overheard, we were
in the minority here, most of the other people around were from overseas.
On our return to the van we found that the site next to us had been taken and we later met the South Australian couple in it and had a talk over a drink. Later in the afternoon Rags prepared dinner whilst Judy logged in to do some work with her students, this continuing into the evening.
There was a break at about 4.30pm when the owner of the park fed the wild birds just behind our van. Lorikeets, blue-faced honey eaters and bush stone-curlews arrived, to share in the bread/honey mixture provided. We managed a few good photos, it being difficult to focus on the swiftly moving birds. We'll try again tomorrow.
[Tuesday 26th July 2011
Today was a quiet day, we did very little except returning to the town of Proserpine. We drove around the town nothing really jumping out at us to want us to explore it any further. Glad we didn't stay at the nearest caravan park.
We did however, drive some distance out of town and visit the Proserpine Dam. This is officially called the Peter Faust
Dam, the main street also named after him. No idea who he is/was though. The amount of water held back by the dam was very impressive, stretching as far as the eye could see. WA would love to have so much water.
Besides doing a little shopping for a grandson's birthday and Judy then getting carried away so that we had something for all the grandkids, we spent the end of the day at the park. Wednesday 27th July 2011
Today was an early start as we had to be at the caravan office by 7.30am to get a lift to the harbour. We had booked an overnight stay on Long Island Resort and at 8.30 were on the ferry to our destination.
On our arrival there about 45 minutes later, having come via Daydream Island, we were taken by an electric cart to the Reception area. Here we were allocated our room, an upper storey unit overlooking the beach with coconut trees and tropical growth all around us. Very romantic!
Before a delicious buffet lunch we took a canoe out into the bay, this was a good way to see the resort from
the water. The water conditions were good with a shore breeze keeping the water flat. It did make paddling back a little harder but we made it back before lunch.
Lunch was so good we needed a 'nana' nap afterwards, lovely way to spend a restful afternoon. We later went for a walk along several of the tracks around the island which were in the Molle Islands National Park, some ended in mangroves, others in stony shorelines as the tide was out.
Sunset was enjoyed whilst sitting on our balcony sipping our glasses of scotch, this we both couldn't resist bragging about on Facebook, getting the expected jealous responses. We are enjoying life so much, we hope all our friends and family can experience the same.
The wildlife on the island included bush turkeys, many of whom spent the day walking around the buildings and occasionally racing off after each other. There were also bush stone curlews, these appearing in the most unexpected places where they lived up to their name and just stood very still as if made of stone. This would have to be how they hunted as small animals and reptiles would just walk
into range of their sharp beaks. They gave Judy ample opportunity to take photos of them as they just allowed you to come right up to them without them moving. The other animal we saw was the black-faced wallaby, these coming out on dusk, again ignoring humans up to a point.
Dinner was a surprise in that it was a la carte, besides the large array of salads and desert. We did our best to do the chef proud. We joined another couple from South Australia whom we had met earlier, for coffee. We found that he was a religious minister, making him the third of that occupation we have met in our travels over the last few years. The wife was a kindergarten teacher so we found plenty to talk about. Thursday 28th July 2011
A filling buffet breakfast started our day, we assuaging our guilt by playing a couple of games of table tennis, followed by a couple of rounds of mini golf. This was followed by us returning to the room to pack our bags and check out before 10am.
We spent the rest of the morning in a shady spot overlooking
the bay, Judy working on her laptop as she had a connection, Rags absorbed in a novel. At midday we were taken by the electric trailer to catch the ferry back to Abel Point, from where we had to find our own way back to the park. Unfortunately we didn't realise the bus stop was directly outside the ferry office, instead walking about 2 kms into Airlie Beach town where we finally caught our bus.
The caravan was as we had left it, much to our relief, and we soon settled back in. The rest of the afternoon was spent snoozing, reading, working etc, before a quiet evening. Both of us agreed that the past 30 hours or so had been an activity well worth doing. Friday 29th July 2011
Rather than take the caravan there on the way to Townsville, we drove up to Bowen, about 60kms north. Our first stop was at the town jetty from where coal was exported for many years. We then drove up to Flagstaff Hill which has sweeping views over the town and the Whitsunday Islands. The view was good, but would have been spectacular if it had been
a clear day.
A walk through the town followed, big wide streets as we have come to expect in these Queensland towns, with a variety of businesses and shops in the old buildings. We had lunch at the RSL club there, but left disappointed in the meal as it was a chinese meal and they hadn't got it right! We both had soup and Judy ordered Tom Yum and sent hers back as she considered it tasted like dishwater although Rags described it as watered down tomato soup! She chose instead to have the Seafood Laksa that had been Rags choice too although this was still considered the worst laksa we had ever had.
On our way back to Airlie Beach we detoured and had a look at Hideaway Bay, where John and Marilyn were headed. Looked interesting with islands just off the coast and huge sandbars near the shore. If we catch up with them before we head further north, we're sure they will tell us of all the fish they caught there!
On our way back to the caravan park we had a phone call asking us to call in at the office regarding the
trip we had booked for Sunday. Back at Flametree Caravan Park we were advised that the operators of the tour we had booked for Sunday had cancelled the planned trip. It was originally a cruise to three islands with a chance of some snorkelling followed by a 10 minute seaplane flight over them. This had now been reduced to a visit to two islands and the flight cancelled.
We were given the choice of other boat trips but it was the flight which we really wanted and most of the others catered to the young ones who wanted to lay on the beaches. We therefore cancelled the excursion and after a bit of 'sweet talking' Rags obtained a refund for the next two days at the park, as we now keen to move on.
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