Goodbye Cairns – Traveling back home to the Netherlands


Monday, 19th March 2018

We’ve been home already a week and I am aware that I haven’t finished off my travelogue so here follows a recap of our last morning in Cairns and then our very, very, very long haul back to Amsterdam!

It was Sunday morning March 11th, and you will never guess, we woke up to bright sunshine – Gerry and I looked at each other and though – have we decided too rashly to go back home after some 5 days of continuous rainfall? Well, looking back positively, we left Cairns with a good feeling and certainly as we had gone for a walk towards the older part of Cairns and found Cairns Station, an Art Deco building which was modernised internally to house a very modern shopping mall and food courts.  And finally Gerry got to meet Ronald McDonald and share a bench with him! We’ve spent many hours in total using McDonald’s WIFI to be able to send out my blog – it was the best WIFI in the whole of Australia!!! And Gerry learnt to drink McDonald’s milkshake and coffee – also a primeur for him!!


We also saw huge bats hanging from the trees and screeching their heads off at the same time – very scary!


When we arrived back at our hotel we picked up our luggage which was in the storage room and a taxi came to pick us up at 13.30 – and yes it had started raining again!! Well our trip to the airport only took us half an hour and that meant we had a long wait as our flight was at 16.05.

Our first leg of our trip back home was to Melbourne a 3 hour flight going south and then a hectic connection at the international terminal for our flight to Doha – a 14 hour flight!! That broke us up – we didn’t really sleep, however we did watch a few movies till we touched down in Doha. Her we had a 2 hour stop over and gave us some leisure time before taking the last flight of our trip back to Amsterdam – another 7 hours.

When we arrived in Amsterdam, it was bitterly cold and grey – we were met by Monique, Gerry’s daughter and after Gerry had his first smoke in 24 hours, we made our way back to Krimpen – and my little BMW was still packed nicely in its cover!


And now to return to our way of life – seeing sunrise in Krimpen as we drink coffee in the morning and then getting my car going so that I can go back to Deventer and see how everything is at my home!

So this was the end of our three month trip – and we survived each other’s company and had fun on the way!! We’ll be starting to plan our next trip, however before that happens, we have Gerry’s birthday to celebrate – at least I’ve kept my promise to his (grand) children that I would bring him back home before his birthday!!!

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it – I will need to have this printed it out so that I can refer back to it when I’m sitting in my armchair tucked under a blanket and reminiscing about those adventures down under!!

And the rains stopped and the sun came out – Cairns

Saturday, 10th March 2018

When I woke up this morning, I was lying in a proper bed and not in the camper van!! What luxury!! And at night when I needed to go to the loo, I just stepped into the bathroom, instead of taking a hike on a camp site to the camp bathrooms!! And something else – more important – the rains had stopped and when i went out onto the verandah, I could see spots of blue skies amid the white fluffs of clouds!! It was still very early to wake up Gerry but my first thought was : let’s make good use of this dry spell – let’s go out for a walk along the esplanade and enjoy the views of the bay. Up to now we had only seen Cairns in the rain!

When we were ready, we went outdoors and it was ever so pleasant – the air was so fresh and not yet sticky – so we crossed the road to have breakfast at the Aqualuna, the Aquarium’s restaurant. We sat outdoors just to enjoy the weather!

After breakfast, we strolled along the esplanade, where there was also a Saturday market specialising in arts and craft and while we were taking a rest in the park, we got chatting to this Aussie guy dressed as ranger and he started giving us some interesting historical information about Cairns. Also an interesting fact: the man made lagoon is actually designed as the state of Queensland but upside down – but then that’s OK as we were down under, he told us!!! Anyway, what we did do is follow some of his suggestions and visited the Jungle Dome above the Casino and also the St. Monica’s Cathedral ( just a block from our hotel)

In the Jungle Dome, we met all the animals we’ve seen in their natural surroundings especially the red tailed black cockatoo, the kookaburra ( who swooped down at our first campsite in Port Stephens to snatch one of our oysters), white cockatoo and parrot. Luckily, we had not encountered any of the crocs or snakes during our travels, even though we had seen enough signs to be aware of the danger!

At St. Monica’s Cathedral – a modern church – we were amazed with the beautiful glass windows which depicted the creation of the world and then specifically Australia and then at the back two stained glass windows depicted the Battle of the Coral Sea during WWII. 

After our walk about, we went back to our hotel to have a siesta by the swimming pool and I could finish reading my book as well. We still had some wine in our room and some snacks so we sneaked that to the pool area ( we were on our own) and enjoyed a glass of wine with crackers and cherry tomatoes . However the skies started turning greyish and before we knew it we had a drizzle – it didn’t last long but we thought better go back to our verandah! Finally I finished my book while Gerry did take a nap! 

By now it was time to get ready to go out for our dinner – our last dinner in Australia and we thought we should go back to the Italian restaurant, Villa Romana, as i wanted to have my pasta al Scoglio again with all the seafood and of course as a starter I was having my beloved oysters – it will be the last time for a long while……. We had a lovely dinner and it remained dry all evening so that we could enjoy our stroll back to the hotel through the night market and the town centre. At least now we have some good memories of Cairns too, just like all the other places we have visited.

Tomorrow we will be packing up our gear and flying out of Cairns in the afternoon and getting back to Amsterdam on Monday afternoon with two stops in between: Melbourne and Doha. And then start planning a new trip………..

Time to deliver the camper van in Cairns

Friday, 9th March 2018

Again a rainy day – it was very dismal at the camp site so we had our breakfast at the camp kitchen where we were dry and comfortable – used up the last of our food supplies and had fried eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes accompanied by sliced avocado on toasted ciabatta bread, coffee and tea. We left our left over food supply which included olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs in the camp kitchen to be used by other campers. 

Then we tried tidying up the camper but we couldn’t put anything outside as it was still raining so we just packed our bags, showered and started driving. We did stop on the way out to settle our one night stay. The lady at the reception desk thanked me for our honesty and not having driven away!

As we had booked a hotel in Cairns, we drove there first to the hotel to offload our luggage and then to the Apollo offices and depot to deliver back our camper van.  We travelled 3.500 km with our van from Sydney to Cairns with all the stops we had at the beautiful sites.  We have very good memories of waterfalls, fantastic rock formations, scenic bays, luscious green rain forests, kangaroos, koalas, white surf but also memories of flies, mozzies who chose to chew me up but not Gerry!

We had hoped to deliver our camper van next week Friday, but both of us could not stand the wet season even though the temperatures are high – so after settling everything at the Apollo office, we got a taxi back to the hotel and settled in – luckily we have a veranda where Gerry can enjoy his smoke and very good wifi connection so that I could catch up with my blog! We didn’t need to McDonald’s today!

Later in the evening, we did get out a bit to have dinner – again so much rain – we watched people dressed in ponchos and carrying umbrellas go past the restaurant – all drenched to the skin – and that’s how we got back to the hotel, completely soaked! 

Let’s see what it’s like tomorrow!!

Storm on the Great Barrier Reef

Thursday, 8th March 2018

It was a restless night for me! I was imagining that the police would come along and shine their torch into the camper to see if there were people sleeping – I am sure sleeping in a camper on a parking area in front of the harbour is not allowed…….. Anyway by 6 am we were up and had a shower at the public amenities  by the lagoon.  Then we went to check in at the harbour terminal – the weather was somewhat stable although there were some threatening clouds rolling in. 

After check in, we had some coffee and banana bread as our breakfast and walked towards our catamaran – The Magic Reef – for embarkment. We were one of the first passengers to board and then just took in the whole scene – quite a bit of activity going on in the harbour. Our boat can take 250 passengers but today we were 200 – I was quite astonished at the amount of people boarding!

We went up on the top deck to enjoy our trip but those threatening clouds seemed to be getting closer and we could see already the rain falling in the direction we were going! We had enrolled for various activities  – as Gerry is a certified diver, he joined a group of 4 divers with an instructor to do a number of dives. I was going to try the helmet dive ( wearing a helmet from which I could breathe and then get lowered in a cage to see the reef and fish). However by the time we went down for our instructions, it had started to rain so we moved everything down to the lower deck. The boat was rolling on the waves and quite a few people on board were feeling sea sick – the staff were kept busy getting rid of the sickness bags……….

Finally we made it to the pontoon moored on the outer barrier – and it was quite a madhouse – people getting their wet suits on, eager to get into the choppy waters. Gerry had his first dive immediately we moored onto the pontoon. I had to wait for my helmet dive which was planned for 12.50. In the meantime, the weather got worse and a real storm was blowing up – the underwater currents were getting stronger and the snorkel supervisors had to constantly get people back into the snorkel area as they drifted outwards. 

When Gerry got back from his first dive, we had some lunch – we had very good catering and enough food to go round. However, while we were having lunch, we were advised that the helmet diver was being postponed by half an hour due to the storm (and underwater currents) and Gerry did say that his visibility was also very minimal – all he saw was grey coral and grey fish as there was no sunlight seeping through! The below pictures should have been the real experience that Gerry should have had of his dive!


Then we were told that the helmet dive was cancelled! I had plucked up so much courage to do this and then it was cancelled………. Gerry too had his other dives cancelled!! He was glad he had his session but it was not worth going down again. He did take some pictures of pictures of the reef as it should have been but of course he never saw this – nor did I – it’s such a shame coming so far and then the weather gods not being kind to us to marvel at this creation!

We headed back to the harbour – a trip of one and a half hours and this time hardly anyone was sea sick – but that’s because the boat wasn’t rolling as it was in the morning. By the time we arrived in the harbour, we all were very tired and glad to be on land again. We walked to our camper which was still parked on the parking area and then drove back to the campsite we had stayed at the other night.

We arrived there just after 6 pm and the reception was closed – however, as we knew the campsite, we could easily enter and find a site to stay overnight. Luckily we had enough food in the camper both for our evening meal as well as for breakfast – we decided that this would be our last night sleeping in the camper van. We then made plans for flight back to Holland and 2 night stay at a hotel in Cairns. Tomorrow morning, I will be calling up Apollo to let them know we will be returning the camper a week early. We were just tired of the wet season!!

Mini Cyclone in Cairns

Wednesday, 7th March 2018

Yesterday evening we finally made it to the campsite outside Cairns – just in time before closing! The last part of the drive was really scary as we had sheets of rain coming down and visibility was next to nothing. 

As it was raining so much, we decided to get our meal ready at the camp kitchen where other campers were also preparing their dinner – well I prepared my famous vegetable pasta with feta cheese and it just tasted great. Sat around a while and watched the rain while enjoying our glass of wine – the mountain at the back of the campsite kept disappearing in the rain. And then finally after washing up , we sprinted towards the camper van – the lawns were just like swamps – we sank deep into the slosh!!

Well we woke up and the rain had ceased somewhat, so we left the campsite and made our way to downtown Cairns  – it would have been prettier in the sun – the long esplanade along the coastline; a manmade lagoon for swimming without any stingers around; loads of restaurants and shops along the esplanade and the harbour with all the boats that drove to the barrier reef .

By the time we had reached the harbour on foot, it started raining again and this time with strong winds blowing – a real mini cyclone Cairns!

 It lasted for about 30 minutes and then it was back to a drizzle. We made our way back to McDonalds so that I could send off some emails and touch base with my social media and blog. At the same time, Gerry went looking for a trip to the barrier reef so he could go diving and after some time came back with some really good suggestions. 

We both went to get more information from the tour agency – next door to Mcdonalds and decided on a trip the following morning. W had to be a the harbour very early – 7 am – and as our campsite was a good hour away from town, we thought we would stay in town. Then the tour agent suggested that we could leave our camper van on the parking area in front of the lagoon ( where we had actually parked) and as all the amenities are available we cold spend the night there as well  and won’t have to get up eve so early to get to the harbour. Gerry was in for this – but I was somewhat hesitant – luckily there were other camper vans parked for the night too so we wouldn’t be exactly on our own. 

Anyway we walked around and took in  the – grey – sights – the lagoon now was full with people doing aqua gym to music and instructors dancing away the paces on a stage. We also aw a long line of Asian kids walking along the esplanade – all perfectly in rows – we wondered where they were off too and so disciplined!!

There are also BBQ areas where others were preparing their BBQ’d fish – the tide was out and various birds were digging into the sand for worms and other grub; a big pelican was just hanging around, just watching! By the time we had walked quite a bit, we were quite hungry and chose an Italian restaurant for dinner – Villa Romana – where Gerry had his Surf and Turf and i enjoyed a pasta frutti di mare – deliciozo!!!


After dinner, we walked a bit and found an indoor night market – lots of Aussie stuff here and it was fun looking around – Gerry got himself a real Aussie hat made of kangaroo leather and I got some small trinkets for back home!

And then back to the camper for a good night’s sleep and prepare ourselves for an early start tomorrow – it’s going to be a big day on the Great Barrier Reef!

A rainy day at MaMu National Park

Tuesday, 6th March 2018


Oh no!! It rained all night so our chairs outside were completely soaked and hence we had our breakfast at the camp kitchen – together with the 3 Germany guys, the French girl with her parents and the Norwegian girl! The boys had hung up their hammocks above the table in one part of the kitchen as that was the only dry spot and the French family had to spend the night in their car as their tent was leaking! So we didn’t do too badly that morning!!


Anyway, we were the first ones to leave and made our way to Mamu Tropical Skywalk in the rain forest. Well within half an hour we `arrived at the Skywalk – also owned by the same owners of Paranella Park, Mark and Judy Evans. However we sort of lost our way and asked directions at the post office in Johnstone – The lady was ever so helpful, giving us maps of the area.   

Once we arrived at the park, we were given umbrellas to visit the park and we were told that some of the walkways had been damaged with the heavy rainfall of the past days. Well we started our walk and listened to our audio. Once we reached the elevated walkway, it started pouring with rain – well what do you expect in a rain forest???? But at one moment, it was so bad that we had to take shelter as we couldn’t see anything! All I had to do is dance to the tune “singing in the rain”……. By the time we came to the observation tower, there was nothing for us to observe! The visibility was nothing! So we didn’t make the effort to climb the 100 steps to the top to look across the gorge and mountains, as we couldn’t see them.



By the time we made our way back to the main centre, we were completely drenched, and only then we were given rain poncho’s……….. But we didn’t even bother to open them up as it was not worth it for the few meters to the van as we were already so wet!


Our next stop was at the Sugar Museum in Mourilyan – about half an hour’s drive and by this time it was somewhat dry. This was very interesting especially as it had quite a few stories of the first workers who came to work on the sugar cane plantations and the way they lived. The other day, we had seen how one of these sugar cane workers followed his dream and built his castle, but many barely made a living especially those who were transported from the South Sea Islands – they went back to their island homes just as poor but with a “Returns” trunk full of memorabilia which they had bought with their little wages.

The ladies at the museum reception gave us a good introduction of the museum and when they asked us where we came from – Malta and Holland – they were very happy to meet a Maltese as both of them are children of Maltese (and Gozitan) immigrants and both understand Maltese! I’ve taken to saying that I come from Malta and this way I keep meeting my fellow countrymen and women or people who are related to Maltese – in any case they all speak positively of the Maltese!!


Once we had visited the museum, we were finally on our way to Cairns! And we had another downpour, which made it ever so difficult to drive – I was quite agitated and hoped we arrived at the campsite safely! Well Gerry is a really good driver and even though sometimes I would panic and say he should be more careful, he had everything under control.


The campsite was practically empty and we could choose where we wanted to stay. Once we pitched our site, we decided to make a plan – if this was really still the wet season, we were not going to stay much longer in Cairns. Gerry wanted still to go diving at the Barrier Reef, so tomorrow we will be going into town and see what the possibilities are. I am ready to start planning our trip back home!

















A surprising Monday – Paranella Park

Monday, 5th March 2018

Weather still good when we woke up and actually I felt quite sad to leave this park – so peaceful and close to the natural surroundings – the ocean on one side and the rain forest with the Cassowaries, parrots, cockatoos and green frogs just behind our camper van. Anyway, Cairns is only some 150 km away and we found a similar campsite to stay but on the way we wanted to stop at MaMu Forest to walk the Tropical Skywalk.

We weren’t even half an hour on the road when we came across another sight worth visiting – The Paronella Park – when I had read about it briefly, I thought it was a fake castle just built to make it look old and next to a waterfall. Well we were in for a surprise! It was a dream come true of a Spaniard, Jose Paronella, who emigrated to Australia and landed in Innisfail in 1913 to work in the sugar cane plantations. Jose dreamt of bringing his fiancée out to Australia once he had enough money to go and collect her from Spain. That took 11 years and as he was not a writer (he never wrote one single letter), and by that time his fiancée had got married to someone else. Anyway, his family arranged that he met up with his ex-fiancee’s younger sister, Margarita and it was love at first sight and they got married and travelled back to Australia. They continued building their castle of dreams as by this time, Jose was a wealthy man buying and selling sugar cane plantations and inviting loads of people to come and stay at his park next to the Mena Creek water falls and rainforest!

 Anyway, we crossed the wooden swing bridge where we also saw a sign that rather alarmed us – beware of crocodiles!!! But the waterfall was magnificent and we wanted to see further so we bought tickets to the park and we had really made a good choice!


So we decided to spend the day here and join the tour – Cathy, our tour guide gae us such a great description of Jose and Margarita’s love story and also their love for their Paronella Park that often (and seeing the ruins) I had to think back to my home, Villa Frere. Nowadays this park is owned by Mark and Judy Evans and they are spending a lot of time restoring the park and buildings – the museum contains quite a number of photos of the Paronella family and I did actually get quite emotional about it all. This was a person who believed in his dream and made it come true! And now Mark and Judy are continuing that dream!


When we bought our tickets for the tour, we were also told that we could spend the night free of charge on the park’s campsite. We also got ourselves a combined ticket to visit the MaMu Tropical Skywalk just half an hour further up the highway. So we would be doing this tomorrow.


After our tour, which also included that we could feed the turtles and fish, we parked our camper van on the campsite and had a bit of lunch and siesta. Later in the afternoon, we went on a tour of the hydraulic driven generator, which Jose had bought as scrap from the Australian government and installed it to generate all the electricity need to run the house and park. The new owners had this generator revised at a grand price of 340k Aussie dollars – just about the same price they paid for the estate!! All very interesting and our guide Yeng, was knowledgeable enough to give us a good explanation. We also visited the museum which is full of film equipment and film reels which Jose used to show in his little cinema and invite friends over to join him to watch movies.



That evening we joined another tour of the grounds and this time we all had torches and the grounds were lit in very special areas including the grand house! That was a really magical moment and I’m sure wherever Jose and Margarita are in the starry skies, they must be enjoying that their beloved park is still being visited by so many people and that Mark and Judy are carrying out their dream! We met Mark later on in the evening (and his daughter is married to a Maltese Australian with the name of Aquilina!) and he even gave us a lift to the pub (which also belongs to him) so that we could have our evening dinner.


We had such a lovely and unexpected day and by the time we walked back to the park I could imagine the ghosts of the past were lingering around enjoying the beauty of the park!


Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting the Mamu National Park, before we get to Cairns!




Mission Beach – day 2

Sunday, 4th March 2018


Woke up to a bright sunny day – great for a leisure day to potter around the campsite – some swimming in the ocean and in the swimming pool, prepare some breakfast, reading, writing up my blog but not being able to post anything due to the slow WIFI, then lunch and some dinner and then bed.

Well that’s the summary of the whole day but there was more that happened on this leisurely Sunday!

I woke up early enough to watch the beautiful skies as the sun rose. Such a wonderful experience!


Swimming in the partitioned ocean was much better than yesterday as the tide was high, however the sea is still a murky colour due to the previous heavy rains and rain water running down into the sea carrying earth, twigs and leaves. But for sure, we were protected from the stingers.

Back at the park, there was some commotion – a Cassowary was strolling around the park, picking at berries and just doing its own thing. The park keeper told us not to get in front of the bird’s as she could easily attack – and she does have massive feet with 3 claws! Anyway as long as we kept on to the side, we were able to take pictures of her – the park keeper told us that she was some 35 years old and there is also a male with two chicks roaming around as well but we didn’t get to see him. These prehistoric birds, which cannot fly, have survived millions of years, however recently due to heavy cyclones, quite a bit of the rain forest was ripped up leaving the Cassowaries and their eggs vulnerable – the wild pigs ate the eggs and the Cassowaries did not have any food as there were no berries from the trees. We were told that the younger generation of the Cassowaries is friendlier towards humans as they were hand fed but the older ones like this lady strutting around our camp could be quite aggressive.


After all that commotion, I went back to reading my book just before lunch. As we had done our grocery shopping the day before, we had fresh salad and I had in mind to prepare a Salade Niciose for the evening so had to boil potatoes, eggs and green beans to let them cold. So we moved all of our stuff to the camp kitchen and Gerry was a great help in cutting up the vegetables! In the meantime, I prepared some healthy toasted sandwiches and coffee for our lunch. We left our vegetables ready for the evening meal in the fridge and as there were hardly any guests, we knew that it would be safe and no one else would be eating it up……….


As I was walking back to the camper van, I cam across the park keeper who was cutting down excessive leaves around one of the cabins and he asked me whether I would like to see a native green frog – I was a bit hesitant as the other night we had seen a massive toad near our camper and it frightened the life out of me when it jumped close to me……….. So the park keeper rummaged between the leaves and yes – there was the most beautiful green frog that I had ever seen – a beautiful luminous green colour, not at all slimy and with little suction pads under its toes. He picked it up and asked me whether I would like to hold it – by that time Gerry was also around with his camera – anyway the frog jumped out of my hand onto my arm and made its way to my back – it was a strange sensation feeling those little suction pads on my body!! I didn’t know whether I liked it or not………But he was the most beautiful frog I’ve ever seen and if, as the fairytale goes, the princess had to kiss the frog to turn into a prince, I would have done it straight away!!!!


Well it was time for siesta – and to continue reading my book – I’m so into this book which is about the early settlers – The Dream Seekers – and the how this group of German Lutheran settlers try to get through all the hardships they had when arriving in their “promised land”.


After siesta, we had a dip in the campsite pool and here we met the same people as the day before but this time they had a couple with them (both senior citizens) and when the guy heard us talking in Dutch, he asked us which part of Holland we came from in very good but old fashioned Dutch!! He was an 80 year old man coming from Schiedam and came to Australia with his family when he was 12 years old and only 2 years ago, he had gone back to the Netherlands for the first time!! Well with Gerry being born in Rotterdam, these two men were like two old ladies in the pool chatting away and giving each other loads of information about the area where they had spent their childhood. Then this guy tells Gerry that he had lost a very good friend of his 2 years ago and he came from Malta and guess what his name was? – Joe Spiteri! Of course there are loads of Maltese here in Australia and everyone speaks highly of them – hardworking!!! 

It was now late afternoon so after having a shower and getting dressed, we prepared our Salade Niciose, which we enjoyed with a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc.


Back to my book – haven’t finished yet – and trying to keep up with my blog and then program Miss Serena to take us to Cairns tomorrow!



Laid Back Mission Beach

Saturday, 3rd March 2018


We woke up to a bright sunny day – so this meant that the rains only came for 24 hours prior to our visit and stayed away for the 24 hours we were there.

We had everything packed and ready to start our drive by 9.30 – at first Gerry wanted to do some mileage and head straight to Cairns but that would mean that we would spend all day driving as it was some 350 km further north. Although we don’t drive on the fast motorway but rather have been taking the Bruce Highway A1, I think I have had enough of driving or actually sitting as a co-navigator. So we decided our next stop to be Mission Beach and we would spend 2 nights there to recuperate from all the driving! 

We are now in the Wet Tropics, meaning there are quite a lot of mosquitos – mossies – and even though I have been using insect repellant spray, my feet and legs are covered with bites! And it makes sleeping very uncomfortable as I wake up scratching my legs……… And Gerry has none of these annoying mossie attacks!!! The worst part is when the tiny mosquitoes attack you – midges – as you can’t see them!


Again our drive took us through sugar cane plantations and now there were also banana plantations. Interesting to note, is that the bunches are already enclosed in plastic bags – I guess that’s to keep the birds off the fruit – will need to look this up. Behind the plantations, there is the rain forest – so verdant and fresh. We could see that there was quite some rain that had fallen as some of the younger sugar cane plants looked as though they were planted in a rice paddy!! Still lots of water around and we followed the signs saying that the A1, Bruce Highway was open up to Cairns.


On the way, I had read that there was a waterfall close by if we turned off to the left – the Jourama Falls National Park – and took a look at this waterfall. However as soon as we turned off there was a sign board that the road was closed due to floods. Well we thought we would drive as far as we could get, especially as there hadn’t been any rain now for more than 24 hours. The road was not more than a sealed track and as we got closer there was a gate placed to say that the flooding was dangerous to cross. We got out of the van to get a better look at the overflow and indeed the power and strength of the rushing waters would have been too much even for our van. So we took a couple of pictures and turned back to get back on the Bruce Highway.


Back in the van, I was feeling really sleepy, especially as the sun was shining through the windscreen. However further on the road, Gerry noticed that there were signs to a lookout point and we both agreed that it would be good to get out of the van for a while. This was the Hinchinbrook and Panjoo Lookouts. From here, we had an awesome view of the Hichinbrook Island that is the biggest island National Park. On one of the boards, we learnt that hundreds of millions of years ago, Australia was cloaked in a temperate rainforest as part of the super-continent, Gondwana (made up of South America, Africa, India, Antartica and Australia. Australia broke free and drifted northwards carrying with it ancient ferns and cycads and some of the first primitive flowering plants. The mountains provided moist refuge for the rain forest species to survive and so from such ancient origins, the Wet Tropics is a living museum containing plants, which have hardly evolved since the break-up of Gondwana. And there we were, admiring this beautiful and awesome scenery!



When we were done with taking in this magnificent landscape, we continued our drive, which was only like some 30km to Mission Beach and our campsite, The Beachcomber and Coconut Beachfront. However these last 30 km, we noticed another road sign to beware and mind a great big bird – the cassowary – we hand’t seen that one yet so we were wondering whether we would encounter such an Australian native!!


At the camping grounds, there were enough sites to choose from, as there were hardly any guests. This was a fantastic park with beautifully landscaped gardens full of palm trees and tropical flowers. We got ourselves settled in and Gerry really wanted to have a swim in the ocean. I was not too keen as this is also where the stingers are present and as I have already been a victim to all the little midges and mossies, I didn’t want to be come a stinger victim too!! However the camping grounds had an area in the ocean which was protected by a net so that the stingers could not get in, so with some trepidation, I did join Gerry in the sea – but the tide was out so we really had to go far out in the sea before we could swim a few strokes. I felt happier when we got back to our park and I could swim our swimming pool.


Because we had had a late lunch, we were not really in the mood of getting any dinner so we had a few snacks with a glass of wine and before we knew it, it was time for bed. Tomorrow we will be staying at this wonderful camping ground and enjoy a relaxed Sunday……





From Airlie Beach to Townsville

Friday, 2nd March 2018


We woke up to a bright sunny day and already at 7 a.m. it was 28 degrees. Today was a travel day, leaving Airlie Beach to travel further north to Townsville. So after our breakfast outside our camper van we were ready to start driving!

We passed beautiful green scenery along the way – cane sugar plantations are in abundance here! We were advised through Facebook that it had rained terribly in the last 24 hours in Townsville area and most roads were closed due to flooding. Well, we had to take a chance and see what we would find when we got to Townsville. It’s amazing, we left Airlie Beach with bright sunshine and we kept that for a good 100 km……….



On the way up we did a detour to Bowen – a small seaside town with wide streets and detached houses – we saw loads of orchards along the way and while at first we thought these orchards were filled with peach trees, it turned out to be mangos! This town is well known for its vegetable garden, however what we found most interesting is when we went up to Flagstaff Hill and admired the spectacular panoramic views that astounded and delighted us. With sweeping views from Rose Bay, along the expanse of Kings Beach, across to the lighthouse on North Head Island, Stony Island, Gloucester Island back to the Marina, and across town, we felt like we’re on top of the world. This was similar to the Panorama Mesdag in the Hague (a 360 degree painting of Scheveningen in the late 1800’s) but then in real life with bright blue skies and seas!


Then back on the road again, not too far to Townsville, which is a sprawling seaside town We had programmed Serena to take us straight to a camping site situated not too far the town centre. After driving through vast sugar cane plantations and mango orchards, we finally arrived in Townsville – it was larger than we had expected, so we wondered if our campsite was actually close to the town centre.

We now have learnt that we don’t need to worry that we wont find a campsite when we want to camp down for the night – it is a quiet season after the Aussie school holidays and then domestic tourism gets a boost over the Easter holidays – the only thing we had to make sure is that we arrived before reception closing time which is normally between 5-6 p.m. 

The park – Rowes Bay Caravan Park – was situated on the beach front and opposite Magnetic Island (according to Captain Cook, when he approached this island with his ship the Endeavor, his compass wasn’t working well and he attributed this to the island being magnetic!). Once we were settled in, we hiked the 4 km along a beach front boardwalk to the Strand – that’s where the town activities started and went on for another 2.2 km. Along the boardwalk we came across works of art which gave some background history to the original people who had been living here for thousands of years – the Bindal and Wulgurukaba people When Europeans first arrived in Townsville, they presumed that no one occupied or owned the land because there were no boundaries, marked by farms or fences. However the Bindal and Wulgurukaba Peoples had been living here for many, many generations. Archaeological sites near Townsville have been dated over 10.000 years.


We also walked up to the Kissing Point Fortress – a fortification built in 1888 as protection against any invasion from……..Russia. Later on it was upgraded over the years and finally used actively during WWII against the Japanese fighter plains.

The complete boardwalk and redevelopment of the Kissing Point Fortification cost some 40mln AUD but then Townsville has a really fantastic walkway with historical points ending in the artificial rock pool, which is stinger free! Further than the rock pool, the esplanade is tree lined and shady – huge eucalyptus trees with arial roots hanging like a beard!  And then besides lovely houses and apartments situated on the beach front, there were also restaurants and other eateries.


By that time I was quite worn out – I was walking on my flip-flops – not exactly the right footwear for such a hike! We finally decided that it was also dinner time and we found a really great restaurant along the esplanade – The Watermark – We had a lovely dinner and were waited on by a lovely waitress who was very informative about the area! This time Gerry did not have a steak but rather we went quite healthy! Medium rare tuna with vegetables and French fries and of course then we had a desert – apple pie with vanilla ice cream for Gerry and crème brulee for me. 

And then, while waiting for the taxi to take us back to the campsite, we watched the full moon rising over the bay!! 




It was a short overnight stop at Townsville as tomorrow we are back on the road, heading to Mission Beach.