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Published: August 11th 2011
Saturday 30th July 2011
By 8am we had left the park, stopping at Airlie Beach to go to the Saturday Market they hold there. This had the usual type of stall we have often seen, with a few fruit and vegetable stalls as well. We left with a couple of bags of vegetables and fruit, plus some gifts and a few photos we took.
Lunch was had in the van at Ayr, where we arrived just before lunch with time to buy some fresh bread and a hot chicken at the Coles store there. We continued on, reaching Townsville about 2pm. We had chosen a caravan park from one of the brochures but on arriving we were told there were no vacancies. The manager did ring a couple of other places, all full, until he rang one about 20kms north of the town, Bluewater Caravan Park. They had a couple of spots he was told, so we booked one there and then.
Bluewater park is set on 55 ares of land and the sites are huge. We're certain that they had more than a couple of sites free, and if not, the one we were given would be
big enough to easily put two caravans on it. The owner advised us to pre-book our sites when going further north as this was now peak time. We have only booked here for a night but think we will extend this for a few more, ringing ahead for bookings from now on. Sunday 31st July 2011
To explore Townsville was our objective for the day and we set off just after 8am to attend the markets which we were told, were held at the showgrounds. After a lot of driving to and fro, and getting directions from a local cyclist, we found the grounds, but the markets were nowhere to be seen.
Disappointed, we headed for town, only to find that a market was operating in the town mall. Here we spent an hour or so wandering around as we do, Judy finding an open dress shop amongst the stalls where at least there was a comfortable chair for Rags to sit whilst Judy tried on some tops.
Lunch at the market was quite different, we decided the fillet steak burgers looked inviting. On trying to order we were informed they'd run out of steak. As
an alternative we chose to have a hamburger, on which we were told they had run out of buns, but would we accept it on a hotdog bun? The combination was a little difficult to eat without spilling the contents but still tasty.
Castle Hill is made up of a large rock outcrop, overlooking the town and harbour. The road winds its way up over several kilometres to the carpark near the summit, from which you can walk to several lookouts with views in different directions. At one of these lookouts we met two ladies, a local and a Japanese visitor, the local pointing out several landmarks to us including a small island between Magnetic Island and the mainland. She named this island Rattlesnake Island and then added it was called this because it rattled regularly when the local RAAF planes used it as a bombing target!
The Strand, a beachside road, was where we went next, this being where most tourists and locals seem to go with its cappuccino strip on one side and the lawned path by the beach on the other. We joined in and when seated with our coffee, Judy asked the manager there
what type of tree it was we were sitting under. It was a banyan tree he advised, adding that he was asked the same question regularly. He added that it was the grandparents of an elderly lady, a regular customer, who planted the trees along the roadside many years ago.
A little bit of 'car hunting' followed, with us going to several car yards to check out different makes of vehicles. We haven't decided whether or not to replace the Jeep but are considering it if we can get a good deal. We have discussed several makes, discarding some as too expensive, too spartan, or not powerful enough to tow our 2.8 tonne van. A new Jeep is still our top pick, but we are considering a Patrol, Pathfinder, possibly a Pajero. Knowing us, we'll probably settle for a modified exhaust system on our Jeep!
So ended a full day, we both having enjoyed all of it, spending the evening publishing the last week or so of this blog, Judy continuing with some marking. We have decided to extend our time here, at present to Tuesday, but probably longer as we want to spend a day on Magnetic
Island. Monday 1st August 2011
Off to town to look at cars was the priority this morning (after hanging out a load of washing) and by 10am we were at Pickerings, looking for a Jeep. The salesman took some time to come out and talk with us, and even then he wasn't too helpful. They had nothing in stock, weren't expecting a delivery for a fortnight, and he didn't have a clue on what was coming. So much for the Jeep.
Went next door to the Nissan dealer and the young lady wanted our details before she would even discuss prices and availability. There were a couple of Patrols available but the more Judy looked at them the less she wanted one. OK for on the road with the van, but not what she wanted in the city. They didn't have the Pathfinder 550 in stock, only the less powerful one, but the price was over the top for what is really a glorified station wagon in our opinion.
Next, we went to another Pickering agency, this time for a Pajero. We were given one of the top of the range models for a test
run and after about 5kms had our previous opinions confirmed that it was a noisy and uncomfortable car to drive compared to our Jeep.
On driving out of town we agreed that the Jeep we have is quiet, comfortable and has lots of power, in fact it is the best car either of us has ever had. With that we went to an exhaust firm we saw the other day. Rags impressed with the attitude of the owner and booked the car in for tomorrow. Hopefully this time the exhaust will be rectified properly, we are getting annoyed at the smell of fumes we get at low speeds.
Lunch at Sizzlers was the treat for the day, we celebrating the savings we made in not buying a new car! On returning to the caravan park we emptied out all the gear we have in the rear of the car and spent the next couple of hours cleaning and washing it. If we're going to keep it let's at least have it looking good! Tuesday 2nd August 2011
We had the car in at the exhaust place by 7.30am, unfortunately they still weren't open. Rags then
drove to the ferry terminal, dropping Judy off to buy tickets to Magnetic Island, returning to Fast Fix Mufflers.
They were now in attendance, and Shane, an employee, dropped Rags back at the ferry terminal so that Jamie, the boss, could start on the repair. Just in time, Judy pacing the deck, as the ferry was leaving in about 2 minutes. Once on our way we relaxed for the 20 minute journey to the island.
On our arrival we bought an all-day bus pass and boarded to our first destination, Picnic Bay. The sites we were to visit today were advised by the Information Centre we went to on Sunday, near the market.
Picnic Bay was a pleasant enough place, several of the houses still being refurbished after the cyclone they had earlier in the year, and we spent the next hour on the beach and walking through part of the town. It was very quiet, but we could imagine how it would be during peak periods and over weekends. An interesting thing we noted was that the jetty had been saved because of its historical significance, restored in 2010 at great expense, and was now closed for
repair because of the damage this year's cyclone caused.
The bus then took us to the other side of the island, to Horseshoe Bay. This bay was lined with eating and gift shops (not many as it wasn't that large) and had quite a few boats and yachts anchored a short way out. Here we had our lunch, luckily one we had prepared this morning after seeing the prices of the meals advertised for the cafes. In some ways the bay reminded Rags of Rottnest, and how it is on a quiet day.
As the bus was not due for some time, on Judy's behest, we started walking to the Forts, the entry some way up the road. As it was being kept cool by the prevailing breeze it was a quite pleasant walk and the 4 kilometres or so, passed quickly. We then continued up the path to the Forts, which were actually lookouts made during WW2 to protect the dozen or so, merchant ships anchored in the bay at any time.
It took us nearly 45 minutes, at a solid pace, to reach the Forts, the view from which made it obvious why they were
This is the tree outside the cafe we had our coffee.
there in the first place. We met three young chaps from the Netherlands there, they were interested in Rags' background as well as finding out about what else to see in Australia. One gave his intention of spending at least 6 weeks in WA which endeared him to us both!
We returned to the bus-stop on time to get to the ferry just before its departure, arriving back in Townsville. Here we were met by Shane, who drove us the 15kms or so, back to the campground as the Jeep repair was not yet complete. Wednesday 3rd August 2011
Today was mainly a day of waiting for Rags, to hear that the Jeep was repaired. At 10pm Rags was told to meet outside the park for the Jeep, but after waiting for nearly an hour was told they had problems as a bolt had been snapped off. Not to worry, they had it under control.
Judy meanwhile, spent the day marking assignments, this being a great opportunity seeing as we were grounded. Rags did his bit by giving the van a thorough scrub, this being the first time he has been able to do that
as this caravan park does not appear to have any objection to tenants using the water to do so.
By lunchtime the van was gleaming and Judy was well into her marking. We still hadn't heard from the exhaust place, but at 3pm we were contacted to say that the car was ready. Rags was picked up by Shane in his car, which started a few bells ringing, but the car was 'ready' when he got there. On driving off, $300 lighter, the exhaust smell entered the car, then the turbo whine came in! An about turn saw Rags back at the workshop and they admitted it wasn't yet right.
Jamie agreed to do the job again, Rags giving the ok to make some modifications to the turbo intake.
It was 6pm by the time Rags returned, thanks to a lift from another of Jamie's customers who happened to be there. Jamie wanted to pay for a taxi back but Rags wasn't happy about that. Luckily the customer , who lived nearby, overheard and made the offer. Thursday 4th- Friday 5th August 2011
Judy spent most of the time during these two days with
her uni work, Rags reading and generally moping around. Luckily we had arranged with our friend Michelle and her partner Paul to meet us at the campsite, they have completed some work at some remote communities and Paul wanting to spend some time with his daughter and new grand daughter in Townsville.
We all got on well, they camped next to us and we all shared stories, food and ample drinks through the evening.
Paul took Rags into Townsville to check on the car, which was stripped down and no-where near complete. Jamie, the mechanic, was confident he had found the fault and said he wanted to ensure it was properly fixed this time. He promised it would be ready by Friday afternoon.
Friday was spent in a similar way to Thursday, Michelle and Paul cleaning their 4wd camper as they were leaving it for a month or so, before going to some more remote communities where they are ensuring they have some sort of communication with the outside world through satellite phone.
By 3pm Rags was getting impatient and after several attempts he got through to Jamie, only to be told all was going well
Our camp with Paul and Michelles' camper
and another hour or so should do it. Jamie's helper had been running Rags the 15 kms or so into town each time, but this time Michelle took him in on her way to pick up Paul from his daughter's place.
With low expectations Rags found the Jeep parked in the drive-way, Jamie telling him to take it for a drive around the block. This he did, making the motor really work, and joy on joy, all seemed well. When he came to pay the bill he couldn't believe it when told it was only an extra $85 for the work on the turbo inlet, no charge for the hours he put into the exhaust as he had paid for that previously. His comment was “I'm an honourable person”. Rags paid the account, then gave Jamie $50 for a carton to share with his helper.
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