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October 15 - October 21, 2001

(Week 4 Continued)

I'm up early, and out of there by 6:30 AM on Wednesday.   I'm leaving a little reluctantly, since I've had a great time in this town.   Stayed in a great motel, The Heritage, a terrific staff, latched on to a great pub, The Cock & Bull, and just generally was made to feel at home.   Cairns is a city of a little under 120,000, but has a very laid back feel to it, and people are into "enjoy"!   It's even a pretty drive going out of town in a light rain.   I'm really doing a bit of backtracking today, at least as far as Townsville, but I'm still seeing gorgeous country  that I missed coming up.   Other than the tourism that is sparked by The Reef, and while it once was best known for mining activity, the primary industries in the region revolve around sugar cane, bananas, and other tropical fruits.   The rainforests, that I flew over yesterday, provide a magnificent backdrop, even with a little rain, and the clouds in the mountains lend a peaceful beauty to the morning!

As I near the town of Ingham, I decide to take a short (?) hike to get a photo vantage point of The Cardwell Range.   I haven't traipsed off too often on my own, but it's turning into a great day, I have my GPS, my phone, and lots of water.   It's a pretty climb, but actually starts out through some area that's been burned out very recently, the smoke smell is fresh.   The view was magnificent.   Unfortunately, after I got back to the truck I realized the digital shots really didn't do it justice.  Hope my other camera will!

Think about it.   This is just one tiny little plot of  land in this great country, and there are a zillion sites equally as gorgeous every time you glance right or left!   And here's downtown Ingham!

(That's Tony lurking there!)

As we get through Townsville, (and give the Goat Track a nod), we  begin to get into Mango country.   (That's Mangoes - plural!)

Then a few more sheep and cattle stations --

streambeds that reflect "The Dry"

and a little perspective on just how wide this one dry creekbed is - that's Tony, hanging out at the other end of the bridge!

and then a little Mackay storm --

-- but the thing I'll remember most about Mackay is VIOLENCE!   Not the kind of mugging we experience in the states, but a much more insidious, sneaky kind of attack!

On the next day we're on the way to Bundaberg, head still reasonably in tact.   (My new long hairdo may have protected me a bit, as well!)   It's a beautiful drive along The Capricorn Coast

--and obviously a great spot for a Bush Honeymoon!

-- but then we run into a tremendous amount of land burning, this time a bit too close in some areas, and for the first time that I recall this trip, the smoke really permeated the vehicle!

Before arriving in Bundaberg, we pass what I've named Fibber McGee's farm.   I REALLY hope my panoramic shots capture this better than my digital.  It was unbelievable!

There was everything scattered for about 200 yards!

Bundaberg is a sugar cane town --

-- sports a very nice downtown area

-- and "no worries" about muggings in this little town, so I put on my best boots and walked in to town for a Friday night KFC fix!

Had a little delay getting out of Bundaberg on Saturday morning.  Because of Tony's high profile (2.7 meters), I had come in to the motel parking area through a locked gate in the back, and the owner assured me that he'd be there at 6:30 AM.   When he wasn't there at 6:30 as promised, I had to just hang around, or take out his portico, and give Tony a headache, so I settled down to wait.     I had coffee with 8 blokes who were on a golf weekend in conjunction with an electricians' outing.   Really nice guys.   They had started yesterday, and one bloke allowed as how he must have had his golf cap on too tight yesterday, because his head was really hurting today!   The owner's son finally showed up at 7:15, and he said his Dad occasionally overslept.   Wonder if his hat had been on too tight, as well!   Anyway, we're off for the Sunshine Coast!   We go through an area called Boogooramunya (if you haven't figured it out by now, the Aborigines had a bit to do with the names!)

but I finally work my way through Brisbane, and down to The Hinze Dam, on Advancetown Lake where Des and Vi and their mates are having a day on the water as a part of an entire Family Fishing Derby, a benefit put on by the local Rotary, but sponsored by Des, and a few others, and Des is also MC.

Hey Patty - remember the Dam Fine Cafe?

   In case you haven't figured it out from my comments before, Des Charles is, in addition to just being one helluva great guy, a celebrity in these parts, having been the premier fishing guide in this part of Australia for some years, and having had his own TV show for some time, called "Hooked on Water".   I give him a call from my Sat phone to his mobile on board, and like the good guy that he is, he actually comes in and picks me up!!   What a guy!

Say hi to Tania, Muttley, Rags & Vi!

The gang (not much biting, right at the moment!)  Let's eat!

Des is also our cook, and does his sausage magic on a portable propane cooker!

--  and then, we're out of there, and gearing up for the night time dance and festivities!

That evening we have a great BBQ back at the Dam (I was into it, and forgot my camera!), and then the next day we will hit the Derby for the celebration and awards, handled, of course, by our own MC, Des.    But before that -- how about a casual breakie on the back deck with Vi & Tania (who is also a sponsor, having her own rod, reel and lure wrap business.  She's a super gal, and has done a great job of getting this business going.  Really quality stuff -- if you're in the market.   I mean both Tania and her products!)   Des is out with some clients early this AM, and will meet us at noon at the Awards presentations!

Tania is a little camera shy!

and so are the birds, but not very!

Kookaburras and Lorikeets

and off to the Family Fishing Derby!

A great time was had by all - like hill sliding on cardboard!

-- and just a great day for good mates!

--- and so ends one of the best truly Aussie experiences I've had, but stay tuned because tomorrow starts Week 5, and guess who I'm starting it with?

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