A Travellerspoint blog

January 2018

Airlie Beach to Carnarvon Gorge

...and more mishaps!

sunny 37 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Nice though it would have been to spend more time at Airlie Beach, we had to press on. On the way to Mackay we peeled off to look at Cedar Creek Falls - a pretty area but not a lot of water actually falling. However, on our way to the falls, we had seen an osprey in a tree and when we came back, it was still there! After Judith had taken a few photos it did fly off, so it wasn't a dummy! We continued through more sugar cane areas and otherwise relatively unremarkable country to reach our destination.

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I think the origins of the city's name warrant a complete extract from Wikipedia: "The city was named after John Mackay. In 1860, he was the leader of an expedition into the Pioneer Valley. Initially Mackay proposed to name the river Mackay River after his father George Mackay. Thomas Henry Fitzgerald surveyed the township and proposed it was called Alexandra after Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who married Prince Edward (later King Edward VII). However, in 1862 the river was renamed to be the Pioneer River, after the HMS Pioneer in which Queensland Governor George Bowen travelled to the area, and the township name was changed to be Mackay in honour of John Mackay. Fitzgerald then decided to use the name Alexandra for his sugar cane plantation and sugar mill, which eventually provided the name to the Mackay suburb of Alexandra today." A less straightforward naming than many Australian towns and cities.

On arrival, we headed into town where I was able to buy a replacement for the camera that I had dunked on Whitehaven Beach. The following day I wasn't feeling crash hot but we took a drive out to Slade Point where we saw some birds new to us. We aren't twitchers but we do enjoy watching birds and especially coming across ones we haven't seen before on this trip. We had been under the impression that Mackay was a place people were not attracted to but we found it rather attractive and with friendly people.

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Next day, neither of us felt 100% but went into town to drop the LC off with an auto electrician as we had some problems with the headlights - quite important. We then took a walk through to Queens Park arriving just in time to see the orchids in the Ken Burgess Display House (Orchid House). Many photographs were taken but we'll try to be selective! On the way to the park, we saw several really nice Queenslander high-set houses. It is such a sensible design and they look good as well. Later in the day I was struck down by a virus which gave me a severe gastric upset which became so bad that Judith 'phoned a doctor who recommended that she take me to Emergency. We spent a couple of hours in the hospital where I received excellent treatment and was discharged after being rehydrated.

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Although I was still feeling pretty ropy, we drove across to Emerald and after a reasonable night I had a relapse and had to go to Emergency at the hospital next door. Again I received excellent care, had a few more tests and was again rehydrated. In order to recover, we had to extend our stay in Emerald and cut a couple of nights from our stay at Takarakka (Carnarvon Gorge). (Emerald is not named for the gemstone but apparently for a particularly grassy hill just outside the town). While based in Emerald, we took a trip back up the road to a small town called Capella (taking its name from Capella Creek which is believed to have been named after the star, probably by a surveyor, Charles Frederick Gregory) as we had seen their memorial to the Australian Light Horse on our way through. It is quite an impressive memorial in a small town.

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We finally got away and drove through varied countryside - farming, mining, eucalypt forest and grasslands including large areas of Queensland Blue - not to mention some mountain areas, including the Staircase Range - oh for more time! There was plenty to keep us occupied. We hoped to get into Minerva NP but when we started on the road, we found that it was going to take too long, so we carried on to Rolleston (named after a pastoralist in the 1860s) where we stopped for a coffee break. This we had in a lovely little park where we saw several birds new to us including some delightful little double-barred finches.

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We finally arrived at Takarakka and found that we had been upgraded to a cottage as the safari tent that had been allotted to us had been destroyed by flying foxes which had recently invaded the area and certainly made their presence felt. We arrived in time to drive down to the Visitor Centre and walk the Nature Trail which crossed the creek, ran back along through lovely forest...then ran out! We found our way to another river crossing and a track back to our car.

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Posted by SteveJD 03:39 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Cairns to Airlie Beach

...mixed fortunes

sunny 34 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

On our way from Cairns to stay with our friends Dawn & Alex in Bingil Bay (Bingil is believed to be an Aboriginal word meaning 'good camping ground'), we stopped off at Babinda Boulders. We had not heard of these and, although some of the paths were closed for maintenance, we thoroughly enjoyed our walk alongside the river to where huge boulders create a water diversion which must be spectacular in the wet season - if you can see through the spray! On our way through we passed through large areas planted to sugar cane.

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When we arrived, we were delighted to find that our old friends, Henry & Ruby, had come down from Innisfail to join us for lunch, which we enjoyed in nearby Mission Beach. It would appear that the name, Mission Beach, is perhaps a bit ironic as it is the site of a bloody clash between a couple of ship-wrecked sailors and local Aborigines and then became a penal settlement!

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We unfortunately only had one full day with Alex & Dawn and they took us for a lovely walk at Lacey Creek. It was short but there were so many things to tempt our cameras that we took a fair time completing the trail. We were very glad of the chance to cool off in Dawn's lovely pool when we got back to her house.

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We looked around the Mission Beach area for a cassowary without success and continued through more sugar cane areas, on this occasion seeing one of the little engines in action. We had seen many of the narrow railway tracks as we had travelled through Queensland but this was the first time we had seen a train. We stopped at Cardwell to see the Coral Sea Battle memorial. Neither of us had realised how close this battle was to the Australian mainland. The memorial is very interesting and is surrounded by flowering trees.

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We then continued on our way to Townsville (named for Robert Towns who visited for three days in 1866 and agreed to provide ongoing financial assistance to the new port settlement - naming rights are nothing new!) and came across a lookout point from which there were magnificent, if a little hazy, views over to Hinchinbrook Island. Our next stop was in Ingham where we were surprised to find Lee's Hotel which claims to be the pub which gave rise to Slim Dusty's famous song "Pub with no beer". The next stop had been planned, although we had not realised quite what a climbing, tortuous road we would need to drive in order to see Wallaman Falls which were quite splendid and are, I believe, either the highest single drop falls in Australia or, at least, in the top three. Frosty Mango was our last stop before Townsville, as instructed by our friends in Bingil Bay! We had mango pancakes with mango ice cream and mango sauce - decadent!

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Another change that we made, as a result of our bad experience in Cairns, was to cancel one night at Airlie Beach in favour of a night at Magnetic Island. The ferry crossing was smooth (what a relief!) and we wasted no time in exploring the various bays on the island. Close to our motel we had our first sighting of blue-winged kookaburras. We drove just about every road available on the island and then enjoyed a quite good sunset, taken from the jetty at Picnic Point. Our final entertainment was the (in)famous Toad Races!

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We had time before we left Magnetic Island to walk the Forts Walk and see koalas in the wild for the first time ever. Our return crossing was equally smooth and we were able to head on down to Airlie Beach (probably named after the parish of Airlie in Scotland, at the suggestion of a Jock who was chairman of the local shire council). We had a slight mechanical delay (replacement of air conditioning belt - an essential to our survival!) before getting away from Townsville. During our drive, we passed through open woodland, pastures, sugar cane plantations and mango orchards. The treed areas had an interesting mix of eucalypts, paperbarks and pandanus palms, quite different from both the rainforest and the treed areas in the Outback.

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Our original flight booking had been for a flight over the Whitsunday Islands and a landing at Whitehaven Beach. However, while we were travelling down the previous day, we were asked if we would accept a free upgrade to include a flight over the Great Barrier Reef - we accepted! I was delighted to find that our flight was in a de Havilland Beaver, an aeroplane which I have long admired. The weather for our flight was just about perfect and we had a lovely flight out to the Great Barrier Reef and then over the Whitsundays and landed on the sea at Whitehaven Beach. We stepped off the Beaver and waded to the shore - well, the others did! I managed to find a deep hole in the sand and, with my balance not fully restored, I went over into the sea - lovely, except that I had my camera over my shoulder and our day-pack on my back. Although I was up quickly, my camera was dead and so too was Judith's little 'everyday' camera which had been in the bottom of the day pack - luckily the pictures came off the cards but the cameras were ex-cameras. We had been unable to obtain travel insurance for the duration of our trip and the 90 days cover which came with our Building Society account had long expired. In spite of this mishap, we both thoroughly enjoyed our flight! On the return trip we flew over Hamilton Island which appears to be horribly overdeveloped by comparison with other islands - chacun a son gout!

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Posted by SteveJD 22:22 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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