Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Magnetic Island 24 – 26 August 2014

We awoke on Sunday morning to another beautiful sunrise, picked up Judy and Bill and caught the barge across to Magnetic Island, a short 20 minute trip. We didn’t know what to expect, but we had hired a delightful (but old) house right on the beach at Nelly Bay. A friend of ours (Ingrid James) was preforming at the Magnetic Island Jazz Festival, so we headed off to catch up with her. The concerts were held in a pub just across from the beach at Arcadia. Magnetic Island consists of a number of villages with their own beaches, surrounded by national park. Each beach has a different aspect and its own delightful character. On Monday night we drove south to Cockle Bay to watch the sunset. We found a sheltered spot right next to an old fisherman’s shack that was literally right on the beach that can only be accessed across the sand, in fact we were told that during king tides they moor their boat on the front veranda! The next day we went to Arcadia and snorkelled at beautiful Alma Beach. This is a tiny sheltered beach in the shape of a horseshoe and we saw lots of tropical fish and some large coral. The next day we went to Picnic Bay for a seafood lunch in the pub – another attractive village with a row of Curtain Fig Trees growing along the esplanade. We explored the rest of the island and watched another beautiful sunset at West Point, a tiny settlement on the western end of the island. We were surprised with how much we packed into four days and will defiantly come back again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Townsville 18 – 23 August 2014

Drove down the highway towards Townsville, through heavily treed forests and expanses of water – seems strange after months of stunted plains. Townsville is the largest city we have visited this trip – about 170,000 with a strong military presence. It is an attractive city set around a busy harbour, with Magnetic Island clearly visible to the east. On Thursday Judy and Bill came up for a visit. Like us they are enjoying Townsville, finding it attractive and the locals friendly. The HQ Aquarium is remarkable with an authentic representation of the numerous plants and fish that make up the Great Barrier Reef. There is an amazing variety of living things of every shape, colour, propulsion and size that fill every niche of the reef. It also reinforced the fragile nature of the reef and how quickly the natural balance can be altered, so it is of real concern that the government has approved the dumping of mining waste at the reef. The Botanical Garden was also exciting with the large variety of tropical plants and we were all inspired to plant lots of beautiful plants in our gardens. On Friday we had a look at the Museum of Northern Queensland, which has the remains of HMS Pandora, the ship that was sent to Tahiti to capture the Bounty rebels, but sunk on the Great Barrier Reef. We also explored the northern beaches, which have an enormous rock pool to stop people being stung by the poisonous jelly fish.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Charters Towers 13 – 16 August 2014

We had intended to spend some time exploring the villages along the highway, but found that there wasn’t much to see and we quickly drove through Torrens Creek, Homestead, Pentland and Balfes Creek and then onto Charters Towers. Charters Towers was a refreshing change after the dry conditions we had experienced in the trip so far. As we drove east, the scenery changed with the heavy black soil and prickly shrubs being replaced with red sandy soil, green grass and large tropical trees. Charters Towers has an interesting history as a mining and cattle town and many fine heritage buildings from the gold rush have been preserved. It was also where Peter’s dad was born (a long time ago). We went to the local history centre to find out what records they had, but there wasn’t much around, however the historical museum was very interesting and we saw lots of items from our house!

Prairie 12 August 2014

We had expected to get away early today but had some problems with the RV so we didn’t get away til later in the day. We drove onto Prairie, a tiny village with a fascinating old pub, which we camped behind. With a bar about the size of a lounge room, you wouldn’t think it would attract too many people, but we sat down for dinner with a great selection of interesting people. The pub was decorated with all sorts of farming memorabilia and was once a Cob and Co stage coach stop that was particularly interesting to Peter, as his great uncle was a Cob and Co stage coach driver. Heather even got her nails painted for $2 by the owner’s young daughter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hughenden 9 – 11 August 2014

Said goodbye to our lovely hosts and headed through Richmond for Hughenden to attend a campdraft at the showground. This requires a lot more skill than a rodeo ride (although not as much courage) and drovers have to “cut out” a beast from a mob and then drive it through a series of gates by a set time. Peter’s grandparents lived in this area and he did some research at the local library but didn’t find anything new. Hughenden only has 1,000 people but it is another small town that welcomes grey nomads and we enjoyed staying here a few days at the RV camp.

Cattle Station (near Nelia) 1 – 7 August 2014

Set off in the morning for the cattle station, which is north of Nelia on a on a windy dirt road. While Nelia is the ‘big smoke’ around here, it only has about 8 people and a closed post office. The Station is about 40,000 acres and is part of a string of properties owned by the one family – around 360,000 acres. While this is enormous by coastal standards, you need this size to make it viable. Normally this property has over 3,000 head of cattle, but because of the drought they have been shipping out most of the cattle. We arrived at the property to help out as part of the Blaze Aid volunteer program. The family is very warm and welcoming and there was plenty of work to do. Unfortunately Peter got sick straight away and was out of action for a few days. However we were able to do some jobs for them. It was very peaceful on the property and we got a better insight into the issues that face people on isolated outback stations, especially during a drought. We had a tour of the property and saw the drovers mustering cattle into yards for extra feed – very hot and dusty! There is so little feed in the paddocks that the cattle need additional feed to survive as most paddocks have only Mitchell or Flinders Grasses, interspersed with prickly shrubs. There are no dams on the property and they get all their water from bores drilled into the Great Artisan Basin.