Sunday, 31 October 2010


We spent two days in Cooktown - leaving the caravan in Cairns and booking into a (tiny) cabin for the night (at an extortionate price!)  Never mind - it was well worth the visit and good to learn some more of the history of Australia and the first English man (from only a few miles from our Redcar home) to set foot in Oz.   The Capt Cook Museum was well worth the AUS $20.

Our journey to Cooktown - up the east coast towards Cape York; as far as you can on bitumen roads before it becomes inaccessible unless you have 4WD vehicles; through mountains on very windy roads with big drops; some absolutely amazing views and coastlines …WOW!

Apart from Captain Cook (and very large crocodiles!!!!) Cooktown is also famous for fishing - and my first real fishing experience took place during this trip - I managed to catch a seagull (I did catch a Spanish mackerel first but the seagull decided he’d have that!)  Geoff then had fun unhooking the bird, and a Travelly (which was HUGE!) but managed to bite through my line and got away.
 (Honest it did and it was big!)

And … for our Redcar followers … we had our evening meal at the local bowls club where Chicken Parmo was on the menu!!  How amazing was that?!

On our way home we came down through the Black Mountains and again some spectacular views.  We stopped at Port Douglas (holiday spot of rich and famous) for a much needed ice cream!

So …. Your History Lesson for the day ….

Captain James Cook - born in November 1728 in Marton, Middlesbrough.
Grew up in Great Ayton and attended school there.  He used to climb Roseberry Topping and enjoyed the solitude there.
At the age of 16 James moved to Staithes to serve his apprenticeship in a shop - it is assumed that this is where he first fell in love with the sea. 
18 months later - after an unsuccessful apprenticeship in the shop - he moved to nearby Whitby where he was taken on as a merchant navy apprentice - for three years.

In 1768 Cook set out on an expedition which was to last 3 years.  It was during this trip (June 1770) that his boat The Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, and Cook and his crew needed to make repairs to the boat on the beach - which took 7 weeks.  The coastline was claimed as British Territory.  The area they landed is now known as Cooktown. 

This was the first British landing in Australia although the Dutch record landing in 1606

Capt Cook died on 14 February 1779 (aged 51) during his third voyage when he came into conflict with locals on the island of Hawaii.

His parent’s home in Great Ayton was moved to Melbourn in Australia in 1934 - brick by brick.

Here endeth your History Lesson for today!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Chris and Keith’s - Quinola Lakes - Atherton

We’ve been at Chris and Keith’s place now for 2 weeks -  acres of land including woodland, a dairy farm with 120 head of cattle which are milked twice a day, fields of corn grown for fodder and wheat grown and used as silage.  Virtually in the centre of all this farming they have built a Christian Camp Site consisting a big hall/kitchen, 4 cabins each sleeping 8, 4 covered wagons also sleeping 8 and stacks of space for tents.  There’s a swimming hole with slides and a big lake for canoes, swimming etc.   Our caravan is parked in Keith and Chris’s back garden but we spend most of our time in their lovely home ….. so you can understand why we’ve been here for 2 weeks - and would happily stay longer but we have places to go and people to see!

So what have we done over the past two weeks????  Loads - but I will pick out some of the high-lights.

We’ve attended two church services with Chris and Keith at Malanda Baptist Church and even went to the pastor’s home for “Smoko” (coffee break to you and me!) Buddy (the pastor) is a carpenter and recently won a competition for his carving of a whale - everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen pieces “carved by Buddy Smith” - so Geoff - in  his unique style - asked him if Church was a part time thing as he obviously spends so much time whittling away.  Thankfully Buddy took this ok and invited us to go see some of his work.

Chris and Keith took us to Lake Tinnaroo for a picnic lunch, followed by Lake Eacham where Chris and Ruth went for a swim.

We also had a day out with Chris and Keith at Chillagoe (about 2 hours drive) to some caves.  We did the ‘touristy’ thing around the three caves.  A lovely day - very hot - in fact, so hot even Geoff went for a swim in the Water Hole at lunch time.  (Unfortunately no pics to prove that tho!)

Today we’ve been to Church with Glen and Hanna (Chris and Keith’s son and daughter in law) followed by a bbq at Glen and Hanna’s home - yummy!!!

A guided tour of another cousin’s daughter’s farm (Lynn) - check Ruth out on the back of the bike!

A trip to local Hot Springs which was so relaxing - however the stream was so hot you could only just put your toes in for a couple of seconds.

Best Chinese EVER at Pagoda Restaurant where Chris and Keith took us for our anniversary!

Ruth attended a Women’s Christian Conference Day with Chris which was excellent and a film night at a local church.

Geoff has enjoyed helping out about the ‘place’, cutting acres of lawns on the “ridey on” lawn mower, mending the lawn mower and cabin after Ruth drove into it (that’s another story!!), and cooking meals.

And loads of other little trips to local places, markets etc.

And next - we’re off to Cairns - parking up at Judy and Murray’s home and spending time in and around Cairns for a few days before taking a trip up to Cooktown.  (Think Cooktown may well be the next Blog instalment).

Looking forward to some time on Trinity Beach and catching up with Phil and Kayleen and family too - a handbag shopping trip with Kayleen and Sheree is calling me while Geoff is looking forward to some serious fishing.  Will let you know who catches the most!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Dot and Bev's ... Georgetown, Northern Goldfields

Imagine …………    a dusty track off the main road (main road being a single ‘development’ road for much of the way), drive 5 kms, past mango plantations, a further 2 kms … with kangaroos jumping over fences at the side of the track, skinny cows wandering about, termite mounds in their 1000’s,  dust and dust and even more dust … until eventually we see a sign saying Avaca Glen Farm …. an old Queenslander House (basically a house built on stilts to protect it from the floods and to help keep the house cool) with open doors everywhere to ensure a flow through of air and giant ceiling fans to keep the house cool (after all it is almost 40 deg), a giant dining table in the kitchen - the centre of all family life - 1200 acres of land, houses for the two sons and their families on the land, fields of hay which is cut and stored ready for sale, cows, pigs, chickens, amazing coloured birds (rosellas, parrots, budgerigars, kookaburras etc)  singing their lovely songs, stacks of farming equipment, a shed that Geoff would die for, a wagon used to deliver the straw, a huge expanse of water called a dam which they are making bigger to take advantage of the rain fall in the wet season to ensure they have sufficient water in the dry season …. and Dot and Bevan - two of the loveliest, most welcoming people we have ever met!

Imagine (or maybe you’d better not) … a trip to the loo to find four little eyes peeping over the top of the toilet cistern … two tiny little white frogs - and a white lizard on the loo wall.  Very disconcerting going to the loo with these creatures watching I can tell you!  Sitting eating our evening meal with frogs croaking at the door,  grasshoppers gazing at us through the windows, all sorts of little (hmmmm and some not so little) insects flying about … and this is all completely normal for Dot and Bev and life at Avaca Glen Farm.  And you know what - after a couple of days we are getting very used to it!

After dinner we made our way back across the garden to our caravan …. about 20 little toads were sat outside our door - but they ran off once we arrived (thankfully!) We’d left the windows of the van open (with the idea it might be a little cooler in there - wrong!) but with the mesh screens closed … supposedly to stop insects getting through … wrong again!  So as Ruth lays on the bed with the cover pulled up to her nose directing Geoff where the little blighters are … Geoff spends the next 20 minutes killing moths and other flying beasties!  When we were finally laid in bed we listened to the sounds of the nightlife outside - it felt like we were in Jurassic Park! It was totally amazing.

Sitting, relaxing, in the garden - trying to find some shade coz it’s so very hot - watching the parrots, budgerigars, Dot and Bev’s two little dogs, listening to the sounds of the nature happening all around - is totally mind blowing.

Geoff had a day out in the wagon with Roy (Dot and Bev’s son) delivering straw to a farm “just down the road”  (about 80kms away!) - hard work so he tells me - but he must have enjoyed it coz he volunteered to do it again a couple of days later!

A trip out to Georgetown - the largest (well only) town nearby - and ‘nearby’ is 60kms “down the road“.  Georgetown consists of; a tourist centre where we were able to see amazing stones and minerals mined from the local land; a post office; a tiny tiny police station (no bigger than our kitchen back home); two tiny churches - one Catholic, one Anglican - both made from corrugated sheets of steel - and both probably seating no more than 30 people;  a couple of petrol stations;  a shop; hospital; primary school - a total of 50 children from age 4-9, with 2 teachers, 2 teaching assistants and Dot and Bev‘s daughter in law is the principal (at the age of 10 children go off to boarding school); nursery; caravan park and a fantastic swimming pool (which of course I had to try out!).  So all in all - not a ‘town’ as we know it (but I guess it has everything there that the people need) - but it’s really no wonder that Dot and Bev only go shopping once every 10-12 weeks over to the Tablelands … they have the biggest pantry/cool room ever!

I’m pretty cool with the lizards and frogs and am even coping with the smaller of the flying insects … but I don’t like the big dragon fly things - especially when they fly down my tee shirt - I got in a bit (ok a lot) of a panic much to Geoff’s amusement.

Sitting with Dot and Bev we could listen for hours to the tales and adventures of their lives. There is no doubt whatsoever that they have worked so hard for what they have - they are rich in life experience and in love and are so very very happy with their lives - maybe a lesson to be learned for us and many others.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Uluru and Kings Canyon

"1027 Green Bottles hanging on the wall ....."    by this time Geoff was shouting at me to shut up!!  (And maybe not quite so politely!!)  But it was a very long drive from Coober Pedy to Uluru (2 days worth in fact!) a total of 800+ kms - and my book was rubbish and the battery went flat on the ipod so no Bookworm to play either! 

Uluru (Ayers Rock) was totally amazing - a lot of people had said "why bother going there?? Its a big rock and that's it!"  But we found it absolutely fantastic - very quiet, respectful and almost a spiritual feeling to the whole place.  A lot of people climbed the rock but the Aboriginals ask that tourists don't - so we stood and had out pics done and came off!  That's our excuse for not climbing to the top and we're sticking to it! 

We watched the sun setting on Uluru - along with a few hundred others - it was lovely to watch the changing colours (known as the changing moods of Uluru).  Again - very peaceful - and I felt God's presence when I saw the cross in the rock - see if you can spot it!  It was almost as though God was saying "I'm here too - despite the 'dreams' of the aboriginals with regard to Uluru - I'm in it!"

The following day we travelled a further 320 kms (and another 250 green bottles!) to Kings Canyon - with petrol at it's most expensive at AUS $1.91 per litre!  One thing we've learned is that you don't appreciate the vastness of Australia until you drive it!  There's an awful lot of "nothingness" inbetween places that look about 2 inches on the map!!!  It sounds like a short trip from Ayer's Rock to King's Canyon - but believe you me - it's a long way!  It was a scorching hot day but we decided we would do the top route of the Canynon - a 3 1/2 hour climb/walk.  BUT we realised a little way up that I didn't have any sugar sweets with me and I really didn't want to have a hypo at the top of the Canyon - so unfortunately (yes really!!) we had to come back down and do the easier route. 

They say a picture paints a thousand words - so the following pictures can tell you all about it - another of Australia's wonders which we feel privileged to have seen.