Friday, September 30, 2016

Mackay, Queensland

Mackay is situated on Australia's east coast about 950 kilometres north of the Queensland capital Brisbane. With a population in excess of 120,000 people it's quite a big city. Mackay is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia as the region produces more than a third of Australia's cane sugar. As soon as you get out of the CBD and suburbs the sugar cane fills the fields. Another industry that Mackay relies on is coal. Coal reserves of central Queensland is the single largest coal reserve in Australia, with 34 operational coal mines extracting more than 100 million tonnes annually. While much of the coal is used in Australia a lot is shipped to Japan and China from Mackay. Standing on the breakwater I could see at least 15 container ships waiting out in the ocean for their turn to come into the dock to be loaded.
The very long Mackay breakwater

This Prawn Trawler was returning from  a night of fishing
The CBD of Mackay is quite nice sitting on the banks of the picturesque Pioneer River, but the thing that grabbed me was the outstanding collection of Art Deco architecture constructed in the early 20th century. Art Deco is an art style which was popular from the 1920's until the 1940's.

Pioneer River
Chaseley House - 1937

Ambassador Hotel - 1937

Australian Hotel - 1940

A row of very interesting buildings 

Parish Hall, another interesting building
 At the caravan park we are staying there are literally hundreds of ducks. We have never seen these types of ducks before, but after asking at the office and doing some research we now know they are the Plumed Whistler Duck. There are also quite a few Plovers with their little babies but they are just a bit to quick for me to get a photo - but I will keep trying.

This is only a tiny portion of the ducks

The Plumed Whistler Duck

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Airlie Beach

I have been to Airlie once before but it was under totally different circumstances. Quite a number of years ago I came up here with my daughter Rachel where we had a great Mother/Daughter 10 days in Airlie Beach and Long Island which is one of the Whitsunday Islands. Things have changed since then but it is still a great place to visit. The caravan park we are staying at is out of town a bit so we are out of the hustle and bustle. The only problem is there are midges or sandflies here and they like to eat me. We have been doing a bit is sightseeing as there are so many beautiful beaches. One day we headed into Proserpine as Shane was there back when he was at school and wanted to see it again. Proserpine is surrounded by sugar cane fields and I would say this is its main industry. After driving around and stopping off at the local bakery, which had been recommended, we drove out to Lake Proserpine and the Peter Faust Dam. Lake Proserpine is stocked regularly with Barramundi fingerling and is renowned for its one metre Barra, but of course we didn't have our fishing gear with us.

Peter Faust Dam
Looking out in the water we could see lots of black marks.
 It turned out to be a mass of Cormorants feeding on a school of small fish

On the way back to Airlie Beach we stopped off to have a look at Conway Beach and Cedar Creek Falls. Conway Beach was a pretty location although the beach had a lot of weed along it from the incoming tides.

Conway Beach
Cedar Creek Falls weren't flowing very much due the this area not having much rainfall lately. But the swimming hole at the base of the falls was a delightful little swimming area. As its school holidays there were quite a few families taking advantage of the water.

Suck a lovely swimming hole at the base of Cedar Creek Falls

Another beach we have driven out to see is Dingo Beach which turned out to be a beautiful beach. As stinging jelly fish (stingers) are a problem when the water gets warm the beach had an enclosed netted area for people to swim in. Talking to the guy in the local cafe, he said that they rarely get stingers here. He also said, "we don't have any crocodiles because the Sharks have eaten then or maybe we don't have sharks because the crocs have eaten them". So between the stingers, crocs and sharks I'm certainly not going for a swim. But I did walk down and put my feet in the water and it was the warmest beach water I have ever felt. Does that mean there could be stingers - oh well I'm not testing out that theory.

Another amazing view from Dingo Beach

I did put my feet in the water and it was the warmest water I have ever felt

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Whitsundays, Queensland

The Whitsundays, oh what a magnificent part of the world. While we are staying at Airlie Beach for a while we just had to get out into the islands. So yesterday was the day to cruise out amongst the most amazing scenery anyone could hope to see. The transfer bus picked us up at 7.15am at the front of the caravan park for our 5 minute transfer to Shute Harbour to board our vessel MV2001.

Looking down on Shute Harbour
After heading out through Whitsunday Passage we stopped just off Black Island, also known as Bali Hai' mainly for the tourists as the name Black Island wasn't attractive. At Black Island we were given the option of doing some snorkelling just off the beach or spending some time in the glass bottom boat. Even though I do love snorkelling I decided to go in the boat with Shane. Between you and me I wish I had had gone with the snorkelling, but it was still beautiful gliding over the various types of coral and exotic tropical fish. 

Heading out through Whitsunday Passage was stunning


more Coral
Then it was back to MV2001 for a lovely cold meat and salad buffet. With that we then headed to Whitsunday Island for a lovely walk through the National Park and onto the most amazing view I have ever seen in my life. As I came along the path over a small rise the view that was in front of me literally took my breath away. The lookout had an amazing view over the famous Whitehaven Beach, which was voted the best beach in the world - yes the world for 2015. The colour of the water was various shades from the most intense to a mellow shade of turquoise and the sand was the whitest of white I have ever seen.
The most amazing view I have ever seen
Then it was back to the boat, but there was still something I had to do. Even though the walk was quite tiring I just had to turn right and head down to Whitehaven Beach to walk in that stunning sand and maybe go in the water. The walk to the beach was only 50 metres and then once again my breath was taken away with the sight of the white sand and beyond it the luminescent, turquoise water. The sand is actually 98% Silica and it is wonderful for exfoliating your skin and cleaning your jewellery. I did rub it over my skin but didn't have any jewellery on to clean. As I thought I couldn't resist it and had to get in the water. It was nice and warm and I could have stayed there much longer than I did but I had to get back to the other side of the island to get the transfer dingy back to the MV2001.

Walking out onto Whitehaven Beach

The water was just to enticing to resist
Once back on board we we treated to afternoon tea which consisted of cheese, various cabana types of meat, dips, lots of fruit and cakes and tea and coffee. I must say the food on our three island cruise was pretty good. Then it was off to Daydream Island for an 1 1/2 hour stop to do whatever. We had met a nice couple on the cruise so we all decided to sit by the pool and have a drink. Daydream Island Resort has a living reef pool meandering throughout the grounds. The pool had a shark, a shovel nose shark, several stingrays, lots of very ugly sea cucumbers and numerous types of tropical fish.

Just a couple of the tropical fish in the Living Reef
Then it was back onto the vessel where we were greeted by a cocktail for each adult and then off on  our trip back to Shute Harbour. We arrived back on the mainland at around 5.00pm

The perfect sunset on a perfect day
Even though we were pretty tired after our big day we were both so glad we did it as it was an amazing  day. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bowen, Queensland

Bowen sits on the northern most part of the world famous Whitsundays and is halfway between Townsville and Mackay. Bowen is situated on a Peninsula with ocean on three sides so pretty much where ever you look you have an amazing view. It was very nice to walk in the white sand and the shallows of the beach today.
It was so nice to walk in the sand and water
This area is well known for its fertile soils and amazing crops grown, but it is most well known for its mangoes. In 2002 this seven tonne fibreglass, 10 metre high Big Mango was erected at a cost of $90,000. But one night in February 2014 the Big Mango was stolen in an overnight operation!! The mango was found the next day and it was later revealed that the theft was a publicity stunt. 
The Big Mango
This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Bowen Fishing Classic. There are lots of categories in which anglers can enter and have a chance of winning numerous prizes such as boats and money.

One of the fishing competition prizes
Even though it is a fishing weekend there are lots more activities happening such as concerts, markets, food stalls and heaps of stuff for the little ones to do.
Of course there was the usual beer tent
Saturday night was a night of music with bands such as the rockers The Cadillacs, rockabilly band Christian Power and the Lonesome Train followed by a great display of fireworks. The night was finished off with a great concert by the very talented Shannon Noll.

The Cadillacs

Shannon Noll
Back in 2006 Bowen was chosen as a filming location for a third of the production of the fantastic movie Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and directed by Baz Luhrmann. Anyone who has seen the movie may remember the scene where they drove the cattle down the main street. Well this is the pub from that scene minus the cattle. 
The Grandview Hotel
When it was announced that Australia was going to be filmed in Bowen the locals took it upon themselves to paint Bowenwood in large letters on an old water tank on top of a hill. I guess it was their take on the iconic Hollywood sign. 

Sunday was a pretty lazy day but seeing there was a market on we had to visit it. It was a pretty good market and I bought a new pair of thongs and a yummy sweet pineapple. But as we were leaving this painting on the toilet walls really caught my eye.  Obviously the men of Bowen feel strongly about the subject of abuse. 
Amazing piece of artwork
Today is also our last day in Bowen and I must say I have really enjoyed staying here. My son Shane said I would like it but I take everything he says with a grain of salt because he could be just pulling my leg. So tomorrow it's off to Airley Beach, which is pretty much in the heart of the Whitsundays. Could be a bit busy as its now school holidays!! 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Townsville is a city located on the north eastern coast of Queensland and with a population of  around 179,000 it is the biggest coastal city we have been in quite a while. It is a bit weird being back in a city as big as Townsville there are a lot of differences to being in the smaller locations in the outback. Other than the obvious differences, more cars, more houses and more people. It sort of hits you as to how everyone is in a hurry and on a bit of a mission. Now don't get me wrong I'm born and bred a big city girl and I don't see anything wrong with that, it's just different. One  thing that is different that I don't really like and I know I am guilty of it, is people seem to be not as friendly. I don't think it's that they aren't as friendly, there are just so many people they forget about the smiles, the hello's to passing fellow humans.

Just off Townsville's coastline is the world known Great Barrier Reef, which is a great place to head out and snorkel or scuba dive. We didn't go out but I have snorkeled there in the past and it is beautiful. Also standing on the strand you look out to the magnificent Magnetic Island. 
Magnetic Island in the distance
Standing in the middle of the city is a huge giant pink granite monolith (it's just a bit to short to be called a mountain) called Castle Hill. It's obviously a great place for visitors to view just how big and pretty the Townsville area is. It is also a very popular place for locals to walk or run up. There were so many taking on Castle Hill, in fact I read that over 2,000 locals frequent this big hill every day. It would literally kill me. The 360 degree views are pretty amazing though.

As well as providing all of us with some amazing views, Castle Hill has a significant WW11 history with a WW11 observation bunker sitting on one corner of the hill. The hills vantage point was used by visiting American soldiers during WW11. According to local legend, the American soldiers offered to demolish Castle Hill and use the rock to build a bridge to Magnetic Island. I really glad the city take them up on their offer. 
WW11 Observation Bunker

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rollingstone Pineapple Festival, Townsville

We have decided to head to the coast as we feel we need a bit of an ocean fix, so Townsville will be our base for about a week. We only arrived yesterday but have also realised the humidity isn't all that much fun, but we will survive. Today we headed about 50km north to the Rollingstone Pineapple Festival. This festival is held every year to celebrate the beginning of the Pineapple Harvest in the area. It was only a gold coin donation and from what a couple of locals told me this year there were about three times as many people as there has been in other years. There were heaps of stalls selling various products, lots of food outlets and some real down home country events. 

I'm sure the young local girls were enjoying doing their line dancing but they were concentrating so much there weren't many smiles. Except when one made a bit of a booboo. 

There was the usual tall man on stilts, of course a pineapple walking around and the luckiest person at the festival on this hot day. The guy who got dunked in the water when a ball hit the target. 

Yes it was a walking Pineapple!

One minute he was there.......

.....then he was gone
There was a feature of some immaculate amazing vintage cars. 

This was one big chainsaw!!
But the definite winner for me for it's cuteness was the Native Animal Rescue tent. The three tiny kangaroo joeys were absolutely adorable. This little lady was so young she didn't have all her hair on her belly yet. She is fed a special milk formula every three to four hours. 

This little lady was just too adorable