Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Tuesday 25th May 2004 to Friday 28th May 2004

Tuesday 25th May 2004

We put on our ocean going legs this morning for our trip to Green Island. We managed to sleep in a little before getting ready and driving through Cairns to the wharf where we were to catch the 'Reef Rocket' to Green Island.

We had pre-paid out tickets but were still required to check in at the office and receive our boarding passes etc. As we had chosen to only do a half day trip to the island, we had to travel on one of the smaller catamarans that was called 'Reef Rocket'. This name would have been derived from the speed at which the craft traveled over the water. It departed the wharf at about 9.10am and headed straight out to the island at a good rate of knots, passing some of the other vessels that were on their way to the island as well.

We arrived out at Green Island at about 9.55am and disembarked on the jetty that leads in to the beach and the Green Island Resort. This island is quite a small cay that is quite mature, with considerable green foliage over everything above the high water mark. We took a stroll around the resort and a short way along on of the boardwalks into the rainforest area, then returned to the beach and watched a huge variation of shapes and sizes making out they were a lot younger than they looked while they paraded their swim wear into the water and attempted reef viewing with snorkels. It convinced us that we would remain covered, even if only with shorts and t-shirts.

It was then time to walk back out to the end of the jetty and board the 'Semi Sub' which is a boat that has a submerged viewing area that passengers sit in to view the reef and fish as it drives around the coral reef areas. This is similar but not as large or roomy as the Coral Bay version of the same thing. We had about 25 minutes in the 'Semi Sub' viewing the coral formations before changing over to a glass bottom boat that took us for another 25 minutes of viewing the coral and fish. Initially I was disappointed with the lack of colour in the coral until it was explained that the light filters the colour out when underwater at any depth unless it has been lit artificially. This explains why on my previous visit to Green Island in 1969 we viewed the brilliant colours of the coral from a submerged observation room, they had lights shining onto the live coral and it did have many shades of red and green. You learn something every day.... But it looked brighter and more like the brochures back then.

It was then time to get back onto the 'Reef Rocket' for our speedy journey back to Cairns. This trip was even smoother that the trip out in the morning, completing a pretty good half day trip to Green Island.

Once back in Cairns we drove around until we found the Cairns Central Shopping Centre and one of us' knew there was a 'Just Cuts' hairdressing Salon in that centre. The salon was located and some her hair was left behind. Then we located a Subway store so between us we enjoyed a foot and a half of their rather tasty sandwiches (or rolls).

Then it was back to the caravan where the colour of that shorter hair changed to one that was more acceptable to 'one of us'. WE also received a telephone call from our son Travis and Fiance Lana to let us know they have now taken up residence in our home in Kalamunda for a while. If the locks have been changes when we get home I guess we will get the idea and have to keep on traveling in the caravan, however 'one of us is breaking her neck even more to get home now.

'One of us' has also just reminded the other one that it is time for a "nice cold glass of wine" so the 'other one' will probably have to have a cold beer as well - just to be sociable mind!

The Reef Rocket

Great Barrier Reef

Green Island

Wednesday 26th May 2004

Not much to report today, because we are leaving Cairns tomorrow we called today a lay day so that we could get ready for the trip to Charters Towers in the morning.

First came the shopping trip to another souvenir shop where a couple more gifts were purchased and the caravan groaned again. Then came the food purchases that are meant to keep us going until we reach Darwin in just over a weeks time. So just over $200 later we walked out of Woolworths and returned to the caravan to stack it all away.

The rest of the day was spent catching up on a few more preparations but a great deal of it was taken up with the endless chats to other caravanners who constantly stopped for a discussion of where we had been, where they had been and where everyone was heading for in the future. All in all, only about half the running repairs were made but in the end we did get most items packed up so that our start in the morning will not be delayed too much.

Now it is time to test the tooth in the caravan park restaurant, our excuse is that it will save time and washing up.... sounds good anyway!

Thursday 27th May 2004

We are on the move again, heading for home (eventually, after many more stops and 7899 kilometres towing the caravan).

This morning 'One of us' was out of bed by about 5:40am and that meant the end of any more sleep the 'other one' had any ideas of having. However by the time all the personal and caravan preparations were completed, it was about 7.15am before we pulled out of the caravan park in Cairns.

Once on the Bruce Highway we had the reverse trip to that we made up to Cairns from Townsville. We passed through Fishery Falls, Deerall, Babinda., Miriwinni, Innisfail, Badyla, Diggers Creek, El-Arish, Tully, Silky Oak and Euramo before stopping near Bilyana for a welcome hot cup of tea/coffee and a biscuit for morning tea. While stopped we had a pretty long chat with 'Bob and Laraine Risely' from Yarwun QLD, who had parked in the same spot overnight with their caravan.

We then hit the road again and went through Kennedy then stopped in Cardwell to grab a photograph of the 'Big Crab' that sits in front of a restaurant in the main street of the town. Then it was through Ingham and Townsville before turning west through Woodstock on the Flinders Highway, stopping about 40 km out of Townsvill where we had lunch on the side of the road.

Fully recharged we continued on the Flinders Highway out past Mingela and on into Charters Towers which is about 133 km west of Townsville. We drove through Chartgers Towers with the caravan in tow and then decided the first caravan part we saw, the 'Aussie Outback Oasis' was the best one we had seen so back out to the edge of town we went and booked in to that park for the next two nights. It is a very green park, well maintained and has a four star rating so we should be comfortable here while we see what Charters Towers has to show us tomorrow.

Morning tea in the Trees at Bilyana

They grow big crabs around Cardwell

Friday 28th May 2004

A day in our life in Charters Towers... Went to bed with mostly blue sky and a beautiful warm night, only to be woken around midnight to the sounds of rain, rain and more rain! The morning appeared with overcast sky, a cool wind with temperatures hovering around a clear 19 degrees and white cockatoos screeching in the trees above us. I think this must be a sign to us that we have left the coast and are heading for the outback.

After a slow start this morning we took a drive into the centre of Charters Towers and out the other side to the top of a hill which is the main feature in the vicinity. There is an lookout shelter with views over the town and information boards that provide some of the history of the area. Like so many other country towns in this area, it was gold that brought the first settlers to Charters Towers in the mid 1800's.

We then drove around the town for a short time before parking in the main street and did a little shopping to help 'one of us' overcome withdrawal symptoms. The first purchase was another BBQ, yes that must make about 5 or 6 we own, but this one is a smaller electric BBQ that we can use outside the caravan very quickly, without the fuss of setting up the gas BBQ. We then stocked up with a loaf of bread for lunch and returned to the caravan for the day.

During the coarse of the afternoon 'one of us' sorted through the photographs that we have taken since about April 7th whilst the other one sat in a chair outside and started to read a book. Unfortunately not much book was read as most of the time was taken discussing the subject of the book with a couple of other campers from the caravan park. It seems amazing but as soon as they saw the book was about the war in Vietnam, the questions just kept coming and opinions and experiences were provided in number.

Later in the afternoon we both took a bit of a walk down the road near the Caravan Park and on our return, had a fairly long discussion with the park owner, during which he showed us a couple of rather large barramundi fish that he has in a pond at the entrance to his office.

Next we hooked up the Patrol to the caravan to make our getaway a bit quicker in the morning and then settled down with a cold drink for the night. As our son Travis and Fiancee Lana are having a drink or two with our daughter, son-in-law and friends Bill and Jo Forman, we feel we are obliged to have one here fore them as well!

Charters Towers from the lookout

Aussie Outback Oasis swimming pool