After leaving Noosa, we headed up the coast, stopping first at Childers for one night and then on to St. Lawrence for two nights . We met another couple, Lareen and Allan, who have just started their full time adventure on the road. We enjoyed their company at happy hours, sharing some tips and enthusiasm for this lifestyle with them and others.
Carrying on up the coast we drove through heavy rain and bounced through all the potholes on the Bruce highway but even this was not enough to slow some drivers down. We could hardly see through the windscreen for the rain but some drivers were still speeding past us. Some overtaking two rigs at a time. Crazy!
We have been amazed how many caravans are now on the road this year, probably since Covid but we’re hoping that when these people have done their “year off” they’ll give us back our space.
We spent a night behind the pub at Kuttabil, joining other travellers for dinner before heading off in the morning to our next stop at Proserpine with another great free camp right in town. We explored the town and spent time in the bank where I transferred some money over to the UK to make up my English pension contributions in readiness for when I hit the ripe old age of 66.
After Proserpine we headed to Bowen and the big Mango at the visitors centre. We booked into the Showgrounds which is only used for caravaners when all the caravan parks are full. There must have been around 100 vans at the Showgrounds so the town was busy. We drove to the lookout and went to the museum where we read the story of James Morrell, a seaman who was washed ashore at Cape Cleveland after 42 days at sea. He came from Maldon, Essex, in the U.K. near where Chris was born. We saw a game of polo as we drove around Bowen and fields of tomatoes rotting on the ground for want of pickers. We went out to the wharf and picked up a bargain. A box of frozen raw banana prawns, 5kgs for $50. We had to break off all the prawn heads and rearrange our freezer so we could get them in.
Home Hill comfort stop was another good freebie. Everyone parks along the roadside one street back from the main road and there is a good amenities block just up the road. We walked around the town checking out the murals, the visitors centre, and of course the op shop.
As we headed towards Townsville we rang Jim and Lee, friends we had met in Tasmania. They have a big back yard with plenty of room for our van and we were made to feel very welcome. We explored the area, did all the walks around the very impressive Castle Hill Lookout, walked along the esplanade and around the Rockpool then driving back Chris pointed out the Cowboy’s NRL stadium.
We had a great couple of days with Jim and Lee, enjoying their company, their beautiful gardens and feeding the many Kookaburras that visit twice a day knowing Lee will feed them. We promised we will call in again on our way back down.
Next stop, Toomulla for 2 nights and it was here that we started to have problems with the batteries in the van. They seemed to be loosing too much charge overnight.
We left Toomulla and headed to Mystic Sands Golf and Bowls Club to meet more friends. We had met Chris and Nola eight years ago near Katherine as we were both heading up to the same park in Darwin. They were now coming back from Cairns as we were heading up. We managed to have a couple of days with Chris and Nola before our batteries all but died on us. They went down to a reading of 9.2 overnight and that was not enough to keep the fridge going.
As the batteries were still under warranty we drove straight up to Cairns to R&J Batteries to get them replaced. It was not that easy though as the guys would not replace them without testing them first which is at least overnight. The problem was that Cairns was so busy at the time and we couldn’t get a powered site anywhere. Even the park at Edmonton, a suburb of Cairns where we had already booked into for later on could not help, as much as the owner wanted to.
After explaining our issue of no power (and remembering all those prawns in the freezer) I convinced the guy at R&J Batteries to lend us a couple of batteries while ours were being tested. My issue was that if our batteries were not under warranty they would have sold us two new ones straight away, no question. Anyway, with two borrowed batteries we headed back down to a free camp at Gordonvale and spent our waiting time there. Next day we got the call to say that Yes, the batteries were stuffed and to go back and get them replaced. Now with new batteries and still a few days before we can book into Edmonton, we decided to drive back to the free camp at Babinda and check out the area from Innisfail up. At Babinda we drove out to the boulders and did the walk before enjoying a picnic lunch in the beautiful setting. Another day we visited Josephine Falls and watched the swimmers sliding down over the rocks into the waterhole. Then we drove out to Brampton Beach and enjoyed a picnic lunch next to the caravan park, sitting in our car just people watching. Chris also managed to get in a game of golf at Babinda, having missed out at the Mystic Sands resort.
Then it’s back up to Edmonton for a few days before our long awaited trip to Cape York. We have four days before we leave and one of them is my birthday. We go into Cairns for the day and wander along the waterfront before a beautiful seafood lunch at “Dundees on the Waterfront”
We have booked a 9 day/8 night trip, flying up to Horn Island, then Thursday Island before crossing to the mainland, up to the tip of Cape York and then 4WD drive back down to Cairns.
Leaving the van on site at the Barrier Reef Caravan Park Edmonton, we drive to Betta Car Parking and wait to be picked up by the courtesy bus and head for the airport. After meeting up with others in our group we board the plane to Horn Island and our adventure begins.
(I wanted to leave an entry at this point so I can get a marker on the map at Horn Island before again at Cape York. I know, I’m being picky.)