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Published: October 9th 2015
After sharing a wonderful week with Tristan and Zoe it was time to move on to Balnagowan for 5 nights with our friend Marian, who we met on our 2012 WA caravan trip.
An early departure in the hope we would avoid the predicted strong winds meant we arrived earlier than expected. Marian was working until late afternoon so this gave us plenty of time to set up the van in her backyard, Greg to write his weekly Stock Market Technical Analysis and time left to sit on the front patio and enjoy the stunning view over the Pioneer valley. The day had moved us from the dry Central Highlands where cattle stations and coal mining predominated, over the Eton Range to the Pioneer Valley, inland of Mackay, with its lush sugar cane fields and tropical fruit plantations. Such a contrast!
Marian has quite a menagerie of animals at her place. Her 4 chooks are a great source of entertainment. Once let out of their pen they are free to roam and do a great job of keeping pests at bay. However they will peck at anything that moves on the ground. Ones toes are
frequent fair game. The patio pot plants are out of bounds but the moment no-one is watching they are ‘in like Flynn’ flicking the dirt here and there and destroying the poor plants. They chase each other and the bush turkeys that raid the food in the chook pen. In the morning and evening, while Marian feeds the kookaburras, butcher birds and magpies meat treats, they can be harassed add chased if the chooks are out. A range of parrots, topknots and other small birds come to bird feeder … and the chooks of course. Wallabies can be spotted at dusk and dawn grazing in the orchard. Two of the 3 bush turkeys often flash across the lawn or backyard as one male defends his territory against a younger dare devil. Occasionally you could also see a pheasant foraging between the mango trees.
An 8 foot carpet python in the house ceiling space made its presence felt on several nights, keeping Marian awake with scratching sounds as it moved about. Greg was tempted to stick his head up into the ceiling to have a sticky beak but chickened out in the end. Marian is keen to get
someone to remove it, however snake catchers are no longer permitted into ceiling spaces for Occ., Health and Safety reasons. So until some kind, eager or stupid snake lover offers their services to remove it, it will continue to grow and scritch and scratch about during the night.
Marian is a keen Cowboys supporter so together we watched the NRL Grand final; the Townsville Cowboys against the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday night. Not knowing much about the NRL Marian tried to teach us as a nail biting game played out. In the dying minutes, just when it looked like the Cowboys would lose, their fortunes changed and they pulled off a stunning 2 point win. This is how any grand final should play out! Marian was a very happy girl.
Together Greg and Marian spent time in the shed and orchard trying to solve the bug in the automatic watering system. A number of her precious fruit trees were looking rather sick and obviously lacking water. With the problem solved and some general maintenance on the system they proudly returned to announce the good news. Next up, a generous application of WD40 to the
garden sprinklers also had them working … well one at least.
Wednesday was our final day together so we decided to see what we could see around Mackay. The harbour causeway has been greatly expanded since we were there with Tristan and Zoe 2 years ago. Major road works are happening all over the city, and with new housing developments occurring in a number of places, this is a rapidly expanding city.
After fish and chips at the marina the three of us walked in the Botanical Gardens then headed out the road to the Farley Mill where a local pineapple grower sells pineapples and a few other things from the tray of his truck. At this time of the year he is only there on Wednesday but in full pineapple season he is there daily with his truck stacked high. We bought 2 yummy pineapples to add to the caravan larder.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Marian, her menagerie and the stunning view.
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