Friday, 8 October 2010

A Little Further North to Proserpine

Some decision making was required overnight and this morning after extensive study of the weather sites which indicated rain was about to descend on us, starting in the next evening and going on for four days ... some of it heavy and some of in the form of thunderstorms. Our camper trailer has always been leak proof in heavy rain before, but the prospect of setting down wet and then setting up in more wet and for four days, was beyond what is called for as a camper, especially in separating those downs and ups with two or three hundred kilometres each day.

We had also planed to be at Airlie Beach for the next three nights and during one of those days, taking a cruise of the Whitsundays, so the other part of our decision making was to hold Airlie Beach over until the trip back down the coast. With all this in mind, we booked a cabin in Proserpine and set off to explore.

Mackay, only 36kms away from our overnight at Sarina, was quickly reached and as usual, we consulted with the local Tourist Information. Well, occasionally things must go wrong and this was one of those times. Fairly obviously, Mackay is well served by tourists so those in charge of tourism have no need to make the tourists happy or cater for them at all, in fact. Either that or Robyn was having a bad day - even though that day only stood at 10:45am. Regardless of the reasons, we left unserviced and with all the issues we had sought information on disregarded.

By the time we found parking for the car and trailer beside a building site between a dump truck and bobcat, we realised that we had no time to walk the six city blocks we needed to get to the art deco building precinct and the art gallery. We chose to attend to some tasks we had to remedy in the next few days anyway, have lunch and then leave in time to reach the sugar mill at Farleigh.

Disappointed with the outcome of our morning, we approached the tour of the sugar mill at Farleigh some zeal, having missed the chance to tour the mill in Sarina because it wasn't Tuesday. I parked whilst Sue went inside to confirm our attendance, having rung earlier. Rushing into long sleeves and long pants and boots - a condition of entry on the tour - I knew something was wrong as Sue sauntered back towards me despite the time for the tour being only minutes away. The guide informed Sue that she wasn't sure if the tour could go ahead because of a maintenance shutdown and that they had shut down part of the plant which allowed air to circulate and it was currently 45C in the plant. It didn't take too much thought to realise that we'd be better off passing on the tour. We walked up to the tour office - a near empty hall with about 20 chairs facing a large screen TV and draped with yellow fluro safety jackets. Tourist material was laid out on a wooden table and an urn bubbled away beside polystyrene cups and a bowl of sugar, complete with its own ants. Sue got to sample a northern Queensland tropical grapefruit, well, we both did but mine quickly got sent out to the Rainbow Lorikeets who were feeding on the sugar that spills as the tankers are filled to transport the raw sugar for further refining. There was nothing for it ... ice creams at the shop across the road was the only thing to do.

From here we found another coastal loop to explore. At the start of the loop was The Leap, noted on the RACQ map as "a locality". At this particular locality, there was a community hall, a colourful pub, a love and mung beans organic shop which charged like a bull and a sapphire cutter and polisher. Sue visited the sapphire and organic shops whilst I investigated the pub - both of us well qualified for our tasks. The Pub was one of those wide verandah Qld pubs covered in XXXX signs but inside the bar was very interesting with its collections of clocks, household appliances, bottles, drills and drill bits, jerry jugs, walking canes and all sorts of other things. I made the mistake of asking the publican where the town scored its name, mindful that a tall mountain with a deadly vertical face loomed over the place.

"On the wall" was his compassionate and interested response. Sue eventually arrived and read the screed on the wall ... The Leap was named after an aboriginal girl had been persecuted by whites, chased up the mountain and eventually lept from its highest face in grief around 1880. Nice try but unlikely to be true. The death is likely to be true but we have to ask, did she jump or was she pushed. In most cases across Australia, the Jeddah legend is promulgated but truth, if it was really known, shows murder at the nub of the legend.

We followed the road out to Cape Hillsborough, an area of National Park south of Seaforth, with Halliday and Ball Bay between. Our favourite spot was the beach right out at the Cape, with its long flat beach covered in balls of sand fashioned by crabs and facing Wedge Island. This was a beautiful place and apart from two other beachcombers at the far southern end, the place was a scene just for Sue and I. We made a note of the camping ground right at the end of the Cape for a possible return visit.

We took a short cut from Seaforth which included about 20kms of dirt and eventually made it back to the Bruce and settled in to get ourselves to Proserpine. We stopped briefly for some photos beside a field of cane but basically got ourselves to our cabin. Not the most salubrious of caravan parks - council run - and we are in one of only two cabins. The rain has started so vindication will help, but everything is tied down and locked with chain, padlock and high tensile steel wire just in case. It wasn't the sort of place where you wand at night.

Tomorrow, off to Townsville and meeting up with some old friends, the Parsons.

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