Missing the Big4
17.08.2010 23 °C
Huge problems uploading photos and video. So sorry about the lack of photos.
We visited a castle built by Jose Paranella circa 1913. Ancient right? Jose was a working man that moved to Australia in the late 1800’s. He worked on cane farms and when he saved enough money, he would buy a home and property, fix it up and sell for a profit. He did this several times and is Australia’s first “Flip it” entrepeneur. (I made that last bit up.) He returned to Spain and married his love Marguerite. They moved back to Australia and he purchased the 5 hectares that contained the falls near Mena Creek, Australia. He built a cottage for the family to live in and then commenced to work on his very own castle. This he did by himself and it took him 16 years. As he planned the various parts to his castle and its domain, not once did he create a blueprint or write anything down in terms of locations, dimensions etc. By trade, he was not a builder, never the less all the buildings that he created were beautifully done, with exquisite architecture and symmetry. He was however, a true romantic building special tunnels of love, and secret gardens for people he loved dearly. For every structure that he built, the water falls was his inspiration and this is shown, by the fact that when standing at different points in the park you can see the falls. At one spot, you can see through the buildings he created to the falls. Another spot on the property called Kauri Lane which is a walkway created by two rows of Kauri trees he planted shows the falls off in the distance. Incredible planning...all without a single blueprint!!
Parnella Falls; Small Spider, the Huntsman, about 3 in. diameter counting legs; Paul Monkeying Around for Bananas; Parnella Castle - Ayden and Claire; Fruit Bats
In this park we also saw some amazing animals which include a half dozen turtles, a few eels, hundreds of fish, 50 micro bats, a huntsman spider and dozens of fruit bats, (Paul’s favourite.)
This was a driving day. Eight hours in the car, so not much to show you. What was interesting however, is the change in the landscape. We moved from the lush tropical rainforest into very arid barren lands. Although we could see the Great Divide mountain range in the distance, the land was flat, very, very dry, (most rivers, creeks etc were dry) and the only animal life that we saw were cows and dead kangaroos. Beside any building there are water towers that collect rain water either for the household, business, or to water the cattle. We knew that we were in the ‘dry’ season but were not expecting things to be this dry.
We arrived at our destination, a Big 4 campground in Airlie Beach. A very busy spot.
We checked out Airlie Beach. A great place to be if you are twenty-something, backpacking, and single. The town right beside the beach is definetly a tourist spot with a multitude of shops selling “souvenirs”, and the plethora of store fronts for tour operators. Once again we had to remind ourselves that the draw for this particular spot is not the town itself but rather what the town gives us access to....the Whitsunday Islands; a series of 74 islands that are scattered within the inner part of the great barrier reef. Our goal is to get out to some of these islands!
We concluded the day with the kids swimming in the pool and the adults reading by the edge of the pool. Oh yeah, we got the coldest night in Airlie Beach in a year! It seems like our trip in Australia is coinciding with numerous weather records being broken!! In this unexpected cold, sleeping was difficult to come by. I am sure the temp was down in the single digits, but no one could tell us what the actual temp was.
Off to buy extra blankets. This was a job to find for currently stores are not stocking ‘winter’ weather blankets for they are all geared up for the warm summer weather. We went to Canonvale’s “Big W” and then some other places and eventually found blankets to help keep us warm. Otherwise another lazy day at Airlie Beach. We crashed the other Big4 in Airlie Beach and tried to use some of the facilities, but were discovered and kicked off the premises without any incident. We are quite the rebels, don’t you think? We actually bumped into our “Three Amigos” from Glengarry Big4 in Port Douglas and the Kurrimine Beach Big 4. (The guy and his girlfriend along with her cousin). It’s funny how you build a little relationship with people from other countries doing the same thing you are doing. We gave each other travel tips and in a way it was good to see someone familiar.
We took a three island tour, that’s not 3 hour tour, but 3 island tour to Hook Island for snorkelling, WhiteHaven Beach on Whitsunday Island and Day Dream Island, all islands in the ‘Whitsunday’ Island grouping. This was a fantastic tour!! On our way to our first Island stop we were able to watch a mother and baby hump back whale play in the water....beautiful sight! Once at Hook Island we made our way to a beach that we could snorkel directly from and view part of the inner reef. This was a perfect spot for snorkelling for there were hardly any waves thus you could just float over the coral reef and take in the beauty before you. It is actually a very peacefully experience. Once your head is in the water all you can hear is your own breathing...so it feels like it is just you and the fish and the coral, and of course sunlight streaming through the water. Just beautiful!!! We saw a turtle, tonnes of fish and, of course, interesting hard and soft coral. There are over 400 different varieties of coral...easy to comprehend when viewing this underwater delight! From Hook Island we also did a semi-sub tour off Hook Island over more of the inner reef. This was a great fun and a nice way to see the coral and also get a bit of a commentary on what we were seeing, the names of the coral and fish etc. In a way it would have been good to do a semi-sub tour earlier on in our trip here just so that we would have a bit more education about what we were seeing...we had planned this but, remember that semi-sub that was beached up at Frankland Island....!!!!!.
Our next stop on this tour was WhiteHaven Beach. At WhiteHaven Beach, (one of the worlds top ten beaches), we had an hour and half to explore, swim, relax. Which we did. The sand on this beach is white and called silica sand. Just stunning next to the very blue ocean. The day was not overly hot so we were able to very comfortably enjoy playing in this sand (that squeaks when you walk in it) and water. With reluctance we boarder the boat once again and headed to Day dream island is an island resort and home to a man made coral lagoon that contained a lemon shark, black tipped reef sharks, sting rays, manta rays, arrow headed rays, starfish, parrot fish, turtles and other salt water coral inhabitants. By this point in our day we were all getting tired so a not so strenuous tour of this lagoon and island was a perfect end to a very enjoyable day. Would highly recommend the Whitsunday Islands to anyone!!
Allores on Whithaven Beach in the WhitSundays; Paul in the WhitSundays; Hook Island Snorkling; More Snorkling at Hook Island; Turtle at Hook Island; Claire Whitehaven Beach
Another driving day. We drove to Rockhampton Big 4 and stayed in a cabin. We were headed to Agnes Water, but it would have been too much of a drive, so we shortened the drive to 6 hours and rested in Rockhampton. Distances in Australia are long, but unlike Canada, the roads are not as fast. This might be due to the roundabouts everywhere, the narrower lanes, lack of shoulder on the road, and the fact that you are driving around “mountains”. I put that in quotes, because anyone who has been out west in Canada, would laugh at the thought of these geologic structures being called mountains. They are formidable hills I’d say.
Agnes Water. When we drove into the caravan park we were supposed to camp at, it looked like it was built in the 50’s and hasn’t been updated or maintained since then. We quickly backed out of the driveway and found a caravan park on the water in the town of Agnes Water and booked a site for three nights. The campground looked beautiful, but we soon found out that the facilities were not up to the Big 4 standards we’ve grown accustomed to. For example, when taking a shower, there is a ‘trough’ that runs along the back wall of all the showers (9 showers in total) that collect the wash water from each shower stall. SO, if you are in stall #9, you get the joy of having everyone else’s shower water run by your shower stall. Not at all attractive. BUT we figured out a way around this....shower at odd times in the day when no one else is showering...oh we are so smart!!
We met some Aussies from Gin Gin (which is about an hours drive away) while trying to make our dinner on a ‘cooker’ in the camp kitchen during a power outage. Great people...some also teachers so we were able to compare stories about being high school teachers. To make a long story short, kids and education systems are basically the same! These people also gave us some travel advice by saying that the Southern Aussies were not as friendly as the New South Wales and Queenslanders were, so we should not be surprised when we head south. We have run into a number of friendly folks down here that are at the same time quite prejudiced . They are on a long weekend holiday as every community gets a long weekend because of the “show” that is in town. A show is like our fairs or carnivals and each community will have a different long weekend. We’ve run into about 3 different local long weekends so far, all for the ‘show’. It appears to be going our way. These Aussies also gave us another WORD WONDER......
SITUATION: We are eating our breakfast of eggs on toast at the camp kitchen. A male Aussie from Gin Gin walks into the kitchen, looks at Gwen, and says “So you like bum nuts”
OUR REACTION: Silence. We thought he was being rude.
COSEQUENCE OF OUR ACTION: The Aussie looked at us ... silence ... after seeing the slightly agitated look on Paul’s face he repeats the question ... we continued to look stunned.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT: Bum nuts is the slang term for eggs. So, yes, we do like bum nuts!!!!
Claire Agnes Water Beach; Gwen at Agnes Water Beach; Claire, Gwen and Ayden at Agnes Water Beach
After laundry, showers and breakfast we drove to 1770, (This is the name of a town near by) and perused the local market. It was not up to Port Douglas’ standards as we previously blogged about. We then drove through 1770 and found a nice beach to walk on. There are a number of nice picnic areas near the beach and we intend to head back there for supper.
Our afternoon as spent under a beautiful shade tree on the beach of Agnes Water. The take was just starting to make it’s way in. There was a cooling breeze, sky was blue...perfect for a beach afternoon. We relaxed, read our books, played in the sand, beach combed, and played in the waves. We also took this opportunity to burry Ayden!
For dinner we decided to head back to the beach front cookers and picnic shelters of the town of 1770...a 5 minute drive. On our drive there we witnessed a young woman from Ireland, have an accident on her motorcycle. Gwen jumped out of the car and rushed to help out. Jane is travelling alone and, instead of making a tight left turn in the road, missed the turn and went straight through oncoming traffic (in front of our van), over an embankment, and into a car park. Gwen was the first person to her side, and, along with two other people helped to calm Jane down and keep her awake and still till the ambulance got there. We helped the sole ambulance attendant get Jane on the backboard and into the ambulance. She was VERY lucky. Probably a broken nose and some sort of damage to her arm and shoulder. We were all very glad that her injuries were not greater. Our hearts did go out to her....she is young, travelling by herself, and was most definitely scared. Made me realize why travelling alone is not always the best idea.
ANYWAY, after this unnerving event, we did continue on to our dinner spot. For dinner we were having....can you guess......?? Kangaroo Steaks!!!!!!! Here is a video with our impression of this Aussie protein source!
Guess what? We had 4 inches of rain last night and early this morning. The Allore's have been bringing the rain to Australia in their dry season. Once again we hear from the locals, "boy this sure is an anomoly". We' are starting to grow webs between our toes. We won't need fins the next time we snorkle.
What is it?
Well it is difficult to keep points because of the intermittant access to the internet, so I will problably quit updating the points file. I can tell you that Terry was right on about the bush turkey. Actually to be honest, he gave the correct answer before we even knew what they were. They are a protected bird here in OZ, but the Aussies think they are a pest. They will dig up your garden and mak a 1m tall, 3m diameter nest. If you bulldoz down the heap, the turkey's will come back and do it again and again. Luckily, they will move around each year so you might only have to put up with the Bush Turkey in your yard for one year.