Sunshine State My Arse!!!

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April 7th 2009
Published: April 7th 2009
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A Perfect day in EungellaA Perfect day in EungellaA Perfect day in Eungella

Our campsite view before the clouds and rain came
Also staring Jean Smith as Mummy Jean & Mike Reed as Mike Wallop Reed!

You know when you've been Rednecked

We headed straight into a garage at Batchelor to check Pris's leaky radiator, at her age she can't help dribbling, bless her, anyway, we were welcomed into the garage with open arms and a broad smile. “bring her in and pop the lid” said the happy go lucky Father Christmas looking chap, Ho Ho HO! So we did just that. “I normally charge 500 bucks just to look under the hood, Ho Ho Ho”. We were then greeted by a couple of Santa's little helpers, wishing us all the joy's of summer and dancing around the workshop, “we will fix her, we will fix her” they sang!

“I @&*^ hate these cars you know, people die in these cars you know” no we didn't know but now we do! “Nah, can't find a leak, I hate these cars you know” said the less looking Santa, and yes we do know you hate these cars and the reason you can't find a leak, is because you haven't looked for a leak!

We stood there and got so much
Still SmilingStill SmilingStill Smiling

Group hug with Kirstin, Mike Wallop, Mummy Jean & Rob
more abuse, in fact our abuse lasted longer than he was checking for the leak, “your car is rubbish, your car is rubbish” the workshop helpers sang!

“Sorry for wasting your time” Rob said “you haven't, coz I gotta charge ya $45 HO HO HO”
We are still not sure if we paid $45 for the abuse or the not checking for the leak and the abuse thrown in for free! Rob handed a $50 note over. “Call it quits or do you want your 5 bucks change?” Rob politely asked for the change “please” through gritted teeth, if he wanted a tip it would have been to stop ripping off travelers!

“You don't wanna go to Tennant Creek, all crooks there, they will rob you blind, I used to live in Tennant Creek you know.“ That figures!

“We will rob you, we will rob you” the redneck helpers sang and danced around! We limped out of the garage feeling abused, Pris still dribbling like the old girl she is.
You know when you've been Rednecked!

We Hit the Road Running

We needed to cover 2400km's in 4 days to meet Mummy Jean (MJ) & Mike Wallop Reed (MWR), traveling through the rest of the Northern Territory and into Queensland. We started slowly and built momentum clocking up the Km's.

Dusk was setting as we pulled into Daly Water's an old Qantas air strip and filling station, now all that's left is a disused fuel station with a crashed helicopter on top, a pub and a campsite. No time for a shower it was straight to the pub for a quick beer, a burger and an early night; 10 beers or so, a burger and 6 six hours later we staggered back to Pris after spending a fantastic night with a brother and sister traveling to Kununurra, they invited us to take a seat with them and the rest is drunken history as they say!!!

We awoke when the alarm went off at 6.00am (that's in the morning!) but we were back asleep by 6.01am (that's still in the morning) Kirstin was the first to rise with a stagger in her step, Rob awoke a little later, went back to bed and woke up even later when the world stopped spinning! Breakfast was slow and packing away was even slower, we were already four
Barron FallsBarron FallsBarron Falls

This fall hardly flows in the dry season, hard to imagine in the wet season
hours driving behind and still with 1800km's to go. So much for the early start.

With half the day already gone, we weren't going to get far but it was just a case of getting as far past Tennant Creek as we possibly could, “they're all crooks there you know!”.

Northern Territory to Queensland

Driving into Queensland, The Sunshine State driving 1400km's in 2 days we were getting closer to Cairns, staying in Berkly Homestead then making our way to Richmond, camping overlooking the lake watching the sun slowly go down as we ate our chips. Another early start taking us pass rocky landscapes and ridges, the towns were getting bigger and the traffic heavier. It's funny, when you spend a lot of time surrounded by very few people, your personal space grows and now with more cars and people we could of quite easily turned around and headed straight back to the Outback. We drove through torrential rain and the landscape changed again, this time tropical rainforests climbed the hill sides and sugar cane made up the farmed fields.

The New Roadies!

We were concerned about the distance we had to cover in such a short space of time but we were one day late and nearly in Cairns, so close we could touch it. It was strange to think tomorrow we would be meeting Rob's Mum (Mummy Jean). Rob was feeling very excited and yet nervous.

After a quick drive we had arrived at MJ's and MWR's resort, we asked at reception, no reply, we walked around the resort, not to be seen. We had traveled 2400km's in four and a bit day's and they went out shopping! SHOPPING we tell you!
And then, we turned around, MJ and MWR were getting off the bus, Rob went one way, MJ went the other, Kirstin and MWR found each other OK, Rob and MJ were still circling the bus trying to find each other! Rob half expecting to be greeted with a giant pair of scissors, thankfully it was just a group hug and kisses. Rob felt quite emotional seeing his Mum again but after about an hour or so, it was if he had never been away. Now came the role reversals, we sat the newcomers down and explained don't feed or touch wild-life, always wear suncream and don't talk to strangers offering cough sweets!

MJ treated us to two nights at their resort while Pris went for another service; heavenly fluffy towels and crisp white sheets all in an air-conditioned room plus breakfast thrown in, priceless! Two days didn't last forever so MJ and MWR organized their hire vehicle, a super deluxe campervan, we were ready to hit the open road with our new roadies.

Falling on Hearing Impaired Ears!

With Pris still in the garage, we all piled into the deluxe campervan; this campervan was home from home, air-conditioned, fridge, toilet, shower and a water tight radiator all the things Pris doesn't have! Now, we have never done anything illegal on our travels until now! All four of us piled into a two man campervan, Kirstin and Rob laid on the back benches hiding from the police. MWR took the wheel, MJ the map, it wasn't long before we were lost and Kirstin and Rob were feeling sea sick rolling around the benches as MWR took the shaped winding corners at speed. MJ asking us for directions, us laying on our backs looking at the ceiling with the curtains shut and Mike saying “what” playing with his hearing aid! Somehow we got lost going 40km's down a straight road! But it all worked out good, with a break in the dark wet clouds we stopped at Barron Falls, these falls only trickle in the dry season, it's hard to imagine when you see it in the wet season flowing like a burst Thames water main! Finally we managed to find where we wanted to be, Ellis Beach, yet again another picturesque tropical beach without a single person on it and to complete the scene the weather had changed from dark rainy grey to clear blue. Cue another pet talk this time about “Stingers” (jellyfish) no matter how inviting the lazy lapping azure ocean looks, please don't take one step into the water (this is the main reason why the beaches are empty, it's the Stinger Season!) and these little buggers can kill you! Most of our pet talks fell on deaf ears (literally) as MWR puts on aftersun before sitting in the sun and both MJ and MWR were seen paddling in the lazy lapping azure ocean, the olds of today just don't listen!

Unforgettable Places

Back to Cairns to pick up Pris and we were off in convoy slowly making our way down the East Coast, only stopping at the finest 5 star caravan parks with all the bells and whistles you can ring and blow! That was until we arrived at Fred's caravan park near the middle of nowhere and the centre of somewhere! Fred an 80 year old eccentric German, who originally had huge plans for his state of the art caravan park with his man made water-skiing lake but alas there was one small problem, the saltwater croc's were in danger of eating the water-skiers which would of made water-skiing a little more interesting for the viewing public!

As the park stands now it was more shabby chic without the chic, Fred now sells it as an Eco park for bird watchers, his lake is about two feet deep with an old rickety pontoon defying gravity, but what this place lacked in luxury made up in character and tonnes of it, down to the thousands of Pretty-Face Wallabies that bounced around the site or the giant smiling Tree frog who stood guard at the dilapidated toilets or the Curlew's who watched over their eggs making a racket if you got too close or the
Wheel of fire fallsWheel of fire fallsWheel of fire falls

Finch Hatton Gorge
dark cloud covered mountains that surrounded this unconventional paradise. These are the places you remember.

Ningaloo Vs The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to the East Coast is complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, after snorkeling at Ningaloo the Barrier Reef had a lot to live up to, we based ourselves in Airlie Beach which has easy access to the Barrier and the Whitsunday's. As we deliberated over our options sandflies went to work on our legs and feet turning us into walking kebabs, this hurried our decision. We opted for the reef, leaving the Whitsunday's for another day, maybe when it's just the two of us again.

When you book a tour you never know or choose who the other people are and as small groups formed outside our caravan park getting ready to go on their trips we were just hoping that they weren't coming on ours! There was the older couple who were decked out in Hawaiian shirts, sweat bands and a huge flower in the ladies hair and a larger group of youngsters, lead by a cheeky chirpy cor blimey govna Jamie Oliver sound-a-like; as luck would have it, they all got on the party boat leaving us to enjoy an empty boat trip to Knuckle Reef passing through some of the Whitsunday islands along the way.

Three hours, 100km's and ten free coffees and Lamingtons later we were mooring at our private pontoon in the middle of the choppy Coral Sea, Rob had signed up for a scuba dive and had no time to waste, suited, booted and pushed straight into the cloudy water leaving the rest of the land lovers to a semi-sub boat ride around the reef. Both visibility on the dive and boat was a shocking 5 metres, this was due to cyclone Hamish just finishing his rounds off the North end of the East Coast churning the once crystal clear waters into a pea soup!

MJ and MWR both decided they would join us snorkeling, we donned our matching stinger suits and life vests (better safe than sorry) Kirstin took care of MWR and Rob, MJ, we jumped in and it was at this point both MWR and MJ took it in turns to drown in a funny not going under the water drowning but swallowing most of the sea by using their snorkel
The Sunshine State my Arse!!!The Sunshine State my Arse!!!The Sunshine State my Arse!!!

Crossing the Northern Territory boarder into Queensland
as a straw kind of drowning. Within five minutes a rescue boat pulled MWR to the pontoon and MJ splashed and swallowed her way back leaving us to explore the reef and what an AMAZING Reef it is, Ningaloo is good but it's not the Barrier. Visibility was better snorkeling and the colours of the fish and the reef itself was breathtaking. A whole underwater world of colour co-ordinated fish and corals, nature sure can be clever!

Returned to port, it was a rough and windy affair, people falling like flies with sick bags round their ears as we tucked into afternoon cakes and coffee. Sun hats off to MJ and MWR for giving the snorkeling a go, not many people can say they have nearly drowned wearing a life vest on the Great Barrier Reef!

Luckily they only come in three's!

The long and winding road up to Eungella National Park was spectacular enough but nothing could of prepared us for the view over the valley from our camp spot, you couldn't help but look out over the Divine Ranges which spread out before us. But we weren't just here for the views, NO, we were also
Pink cloud reflectionPink cloud reflectionPink cloud reflection

Eating our chips, watching the clouds play on the water Richmond
here to spot Duck-Billed Platypus but what was not in the plan was for Rob to wail out after being viciously attacked by a..................(there was a long pause before we found out what it was due to the wailing and expletives, visions of killer snakes and spiders running through our mind!), phew we breathed a sigh of relief when we found out it was just a bee! At dusk we managed to tear ourselves away from the stunning view and to the platypus viewing platform where we waited to see if we could spot our first platypus, loads of fresh water turtles but no platypus, an Azure Kingfisher but no platypus and then a ripple, a flash of silky fur then gone again, could it be.......... yes a platypus, flipping and flacking for food, if we were going to be picky about the Duck-Billed Platypus, they are a lot smaller in the flesh, maybe the camera puts pounds on them! But still amazing all the same!

A quick word about the weather in the Sunshine State, WET! Some clear days even blue skies but rain and dark clouds always have to muscle in. The day started clear and sunny in Eungella but as we ate our dinner the clouds crept over the ridge, blocking the view of the valley for the rest of our stay and bringing the rain with it. That night the heavens opened and buckets fell on our tiny tent, this happened all night, only stopping for a breath, Rob and Kirstin's sleep was reduced to those breaths, where MJ and MWR had the luxury of slight jet-lag, not sleeping in a tent and both being deaf! What a difference a day makes, waking up to thick cloud in the valley, barely seeing a metre in front of you, the view reduced to a distant memory. A planned walk still went ahead through the rainforest, well it wouldn't be a rainforest if it wasn't raining. Kirstin led the way following the creek and the rest of us followed Kirstin following the creek, after our leg stretch it was time for coffee and cake but before that one quick look for any platypus, no platypus today! Kirstin wasn't to be out done by a bee sting, after feeling a tingling on her hand discovered a tiny leech, his thin alien looking thing flapping around trying to suck blood was quickly removed, then we noticed blood on Kirstin's trousers and removed a fatter sucker (looking more like the leeches you see in films) we abandoned the coffee and cake idea to look for more. It was a quick dash back to the campervan to strip of and carry out body searches, they were on our shoes but one had got into Kirstin's shoe and already started feasting on her little toe, we were all clean except for Kirstin who then pulled down her trousers where Rob saw the biggest leech of them all attached to her hip and couldn't help but swear which didn't do Kirstin any favors. Now this one looked more like your film typical leech, very black and very big having got a hold and taken its fill of blood, it took Rob two attempts to remove. It was quickly back to the campsite for a final check and a shower. Leeches are not dangerous just very unpleasant and once bitten you bleed for an age, so the moral of the story is don't lead the walk in a wet rainforest! Who would of thought that such a sweet fruit could be so nasty!!! If you get this quality Rob joke send answers on a postcard.

The rest of the day was rained off so we played cards until dark, kind of felt sorry for the travelers who turned up in the thick cloud, set up in the thick cloud, looked into the thick cloud and packed away in the thick cloud not knowing of the beauty they had all missed. Shame!

Now MJ had to go one better than the bee sting and the plague of leeches by taking a spinning swan dive from the campervan step, gently closing the camper door as she fell, a few seconds passed before we had processed what happened, did she fall or was she pushed! Then a faint voice called out “Robert, Robert”, yep she fell, both Rob and Kirstin rushed to MJ 's aid, Mike still hadn't heard MJ's cries for help. It's never easy opening a camper door and seeing your Mum on the wet floor clutching her ankle, rolling around like a professional footballer screaming “REFEREE”, we scooped MJ up and sat her down. MJ was playing the pain down until her ankle was touched, Kirstin played nurse applying an ice pack to reduce swelling. Luckily things only come in three's, we all concluded that MWR was the winner and he didn't have to compete with Rob's sissy bee sting, Kirstin's alien looking blood suckers or MJ's 9.5 reverse triple twisting dive.

The next morning turned into one of those Monty Python sketches, MJ saying “I'm fine, see I can walk on it now” just before nearly falling over doubling up in pain, her ankle now twice the size of her other foot and a rather fetching bluey-black, MJ being MJ didn't want any fuss made or to go to the hospital but we took her anyway kicking and screaming on her good foot, after a quick strapping and a confirmation that it was a sprained ankle she was let loose again.

Turning up at a strangers door!

Our next stop was going to be a strange one, only in the fact that we were going to visit people we had never met before and emails had been our only contact, we were visiting Rob's cousin-in-law, Lee's sister who lives in Mackay, from the moment we knocked on Michaela's and Trevor's door we were welcomed as old friends. We were treated to our first Aussie BBQ (we have been in Australia for nearly 5 months and this was our first BBQ (shocking!)) and what an introduction, it was a carnivores dream feast not to mention the plentiful salads and great company that joined us, we were treated like Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses.

It was then time to bid an emotional farewell to Mummy Jean and Mike Wallop Reed as they continued to travel south down the East Coast to Sydney, we were going to miss the drowning, deaf and hobbling pair but not has much as we we're going to miss the fridge, bang goes our cold orange juice and bacon sandwich breakfasts and the odd cold beer! The time flew by, just wish we had a little more, we got use to the olds riding shotgun and secretly Rob thinks Mummy Jean quite liked his beard in the end!
Thank you both so much for coming half way around the world to see us.

We have been traveling for nearly 8 months, owning a travel towel and a coffee mug each and never missed anything homely but staying with Michaela and Trevor it was amazing how
Water LiliesWater LiliesWater Lilies

with a busy Bee
quickly we began to settle again. We were pretty concerned by how easily this happened and at one point wondered if we would leave or be allowed to leave at all! It was quite nice to have some down time, doing non-travel things, catching up with emails and chatting to Cousin Lee via web-cam, getting all the UK news and gossip live from his place of work plus finding out we can use our very own notepad for internet chatting which we tested with Rob's sister Bev. Strange really we knew we had all this technology but had not put two and two together!

Whilst at Mic and Trev's we ventured out on a couple of day trips to Cape Hillsborough, a beautiful national park where a walk took us through the rainforest and across a bay where we spotted dozens of huge turtles and soldier crabs who marched in their hundreds across the beach and scurried away and buried themselves once they spotted you. Then off to Finch Hatton Gorge, the drive itself was great fun, through water filled creeks crossing the road and “bumpy, bumpy” tracks. Stopped for a spot of lunch where we were soon joined
Standing on Fred's homemade pontoonStanding on Fred's homemade pontoonStanding on Fred's homemade pontoon

overlooking Fred's homemade lake
by a swooping Kookaburra who took a liking to the ham in Rob's sandwich, this was precision at its best, nothing else went from the sarnie that Rob was about to take a bite of, no tomato; no lettuce; no cucumber; he was definitely a carnivore. No man gets between Rob and his food but apparently birds are OK, you could not help but have a bit of admiration for the cheeky manouvre. We set off up the gorge in search of the Wheel of Fire; not some ancient quest of manhood but a freshwater pool, although it felt like a bit of a quest to get there after crossing the rapids where the bridge had been washed away and wading across up to our necks, well OK our knees! We reached the Wheel of Fire where a beautiful waterfall was cascading down the rocks into the pool, we could not wait to plunge in, it was icy cold and nothing but the slowly, slowly approach seemed an option. It was bliss once you were in and we had it all to ourselves, it seemed everyone else had gone to the lower pool - yipee!

We joined Trev for a bit of Aussie culture at the Retreat a roadhouse come restaurant, bar and accommodation where Trev operates a bucking Bull complete with real hide! The drunker some of the riders got the better they seem to be but the more they rode the more battered and bruised they looked, then it was Rob's turn, he was neither drunk or ready to ride such a beast, luckily with Trevor at the controls he made Rob look nearly good, it was yet again a great night, getting to meet such nice people including a chap called Mad Mick, a group of youngsters turned up who had shaved their heads bold to look like the “hard b*stard” (their words) that Mad Mick looked!

Trevor even worked his magic on Pris's leak (which no garage mechanic seemed capable of doing) with the aid of his Dad and stopped a squeaking here and a rubbing there, Pris was looking and sounding about 10 years younger and ready to hit the road again.

All too soon it was time to leave but we stayed a day longer, then we planned to go again and we stayed yet another day, will we find our
Mummy Jean with Sonny RobMummy Jean with Sonny RobMummy Jean with Sonny Rob

on the way to the Barrier Reef
travel feet again or will Mic and Trev have to hide a couple of illegal immigrants, we shall see in the next semi exciting blog!

A HUGE thank you to Mummy Jean, Mike, Michaela & Trevor who made our travels even more amazing than they already are.


Additional photos below
Photos: 56, Displayed: 38


The Man from AltantisThe Man from Altantis
The Man from Altantis

Rob on the Reef
View over the worldView over the world
View over the world

Eungella NationalPark
What a difference a day makesWhat a difference a day makes
What a difference a day makes

View over Eungella when the clouds came in
Blue & Black ButterflyBlue & Black Butterfly
Blue & Black Butterfly

Cape Hillsborough
Black & Blue ButterflyBlack & Blue Butterfly
Black & Blue Butterfly

Cape Hillsborough
Through an eye of a rockThrough an eye of a rock
Through an eye of a rock

Cape Hillsborough
Taking coverTaking cover
Taking cover

Cape Hillsborough
Jelly FishJelly Fish
Jelly Fish

washed up on Cape Hillsborough

15th April 2009

Oh, that God the Gift would give us
To see ourselves as others see us..... Do you remember Rob when I said when I'm old, useless and need to be taken to the toilet you could put a pillow over my face.... Well, forget I said it. O.K, we did have a few mishaps but it all added to the fun, I'm sure you are both still laughing at us bumbling around Oz. We had a great time travelling with you only wished it could have been longer although I don't think your nerves would have stood it. Are you off the Prozac yet? It was really something to travel behind Pris and be able to see and experience life on the road, whithout rubbing it in being able to do it in comfort. So many beautiful places, tropical beaches plus all the wildlife. A trip we will both remember for the rest of our lives. Eh...What country was we in??? I'm still smiling, Mike's still whistling. Much love to you both
26th April 2009

lucky bastards
gooday luky sods. nise 2 c u r havin such a luvlee time.we r spendin a fu daze wiv mj n wallop down ear in darkest kent.think that your pictures and comments are brilliant.hope that the rest of your journey continues to be enjoyable and without mishap. love to you both. bob n margaret.xxxxxx
17th May 2009

no we are not at all jealous.france spain and portugal should be enough for anyone. any more is pure greed.but we did enjoy reading all about your trip and generous as we are hope you enjoy every minute in new zealand love from maureen and pete
2nd March 2011

well of course it was wet
It was summer wasn't it?

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