Tag Archive | grey nomads

Flying Fish

Although it is a few years since we finished our caravanning adventure through Australia we have many wonderful memories to look back on – places we visited, people we met, things we did. It is such a diverse country that activities can range from skiing in the snowfields of the Southern Alps to snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, or at Ningaloo in West Australia.

But ask any caravanner what they like best about caravanning and the reply you will receive most often is,“The friendliness of the people you meet.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in Tropical Far North Queensland, Australia’s top winter destination. While everyone else shivers down south during our winter, some lucky ones are able to escape winter by heading north, to our land of eternal summer.

Far North Queensland acts like a magnet to southerners in winter. From May onward the caravans roll in. Parks fill up. Towns overflow with tourists.
Many ’vanners spend at least three winter months enjoying sunshine, swimming, and fishing as far north as Cairns. Many come to the same spot each year, and so enduring friendships are formed.

Flying Fish Point is situated seven kilometres east of Innisfail, on the Cassowary Coast.It stands on both the beach front and alongside the mouth of the Johnstone River andis one such place. It holds a special place in our hearts, for we spent much time there.We arrived there during the winter of our first year on the road, and used it as a base for many months to visit other areas.

The caravan park there was green and shady, and the owner guided us to a shady site plenty big enough for our large rig.

The park boasts a swimming pool

and store and backs on to a green Oval

belonging to the neighbouring school.

A great spot to take the dogs for a walk outside off school  hours.

 

Rainforest edges the other side

of the Oval       

and it was not unusual to see

kangaroos sitting

or cropping grass under the

trees, or even bounding across

the Oval.

The then owners, George and Debbie, with their young daughter Tiani, made us feel as if we had come to a second home.

They were friendly and welcoming. They did everything in their power to ensure that everyone enjoyed their stay, be it short or long.

One of them personally guided each new arrival into their site, leading the way in their white golf buggy. They were always ready to stop and have a chat.

“We like to help everyone get to know each other,” Debbie said, “and for everyone to enjoy themselves.”

They always held a barbecue dinner on Saturday nights – with often fifty or more park visitors attending.

It was here on our first Saturday night that we made friends with other like-minded couples, and organized a group to meet regularly each evening before dinner for drinks during a ‘Happy Hour’.

 

Jock and Maggie’s story is different. Living on the Gold Coast, they were on the first leg of a trip around Australia. They arrived in a motor home for one night. They decided to stay a second night. And then another. Then a week. Then a month.

They fell in love with the area. One day Maggie told me, “We’ve decided to buy a house up here.”
“But what about the summer?” I asked, “they say it’s pretty hot and humid.”
“Well, we have our motor home,” Maggie replied, “if it’s too bad we can always go south for a while.”

They found the perfect house and bought it. While awaiting settlement they stayed on in the Caravan Park.

At the next Saturday night barbecue George announced, “For those of you who will still be here on the third of August we are having a wedding here. Jock and Maggie are going to tie the knot.”

And so they did.

Shortly before the big day the following notice appeared. “Jock and Maggie are being married on Saturday night. Your presence is requested but no presents please.”

We all turned up to see them married. What a happy night it was!

Debbie, with a little help, had decorated the long table and hung balloons. A bridal table was set up and decorated.

The buggy was pressed into service as a wedding car, and the happy couple arrived in this with their young attendant, Tiani, and were piped in by bagpipes. After all, Jock is a Scot.

After the ceremony we all sat down to our usual Saturday night repast, accompanied by liquid refreshments provided by the bridegroom. For dessert it was wedding cake all round. Truly a memorable night, and one of many happy memories we have of Flying Fish Point.

 

 

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Dallying with Dogs

While flipping through some photos I came upon a file marked “OUR TRAVELS.

It was like a trip down memory lane, and I thought I’d share some with you in the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

Here is the first.

DALLYING with DOGS

Life on the road is fun.  Two people, a caravan, a car, the open road.  No worries, no commitments, just follow the sun and your own inclinations.

Picture 364

As novice caravanners, we had just made the big decision to retire and take to the road. We left Sydney and headed north along the Pacific Highway with a 7.3metre van, setting out on our big adventure; to see Australia with a large van and two small dogs.

Mimi was a 14-year-old miniature poodle.   She had been our good mate for ten years, since we rescued her from the pound. The day we brought her home she was frightened, in need of a bath, and had a red and green ball clamped in her mouth. Her “security blanket”

Mimi

I decided to nurse her on the trip home.  She looked at me with trust in her eyes, put her head on my shoulder and cuddled up to me.  She won my heart then, and was able to wrap me around her little paw from then on. “Saved from death row,” said my friend Maria, “to live a life of luxury.

Lucy was a four year old Maltese-Shizu whom we inherited when she was two and had grown to love equally with Mimi.   The two were good pals but Mimi never left any doubt as to who was top dog, a fact reluctantly accepted by Lucy.

Lucy

On our second day out of Sydney we approached the White Albatross Caravan Park at Nambucca Heads. It had been a fast learning curve; travelling with a large and unfamiliar rig on one of the busiest highways in Australia. Now we looked forward to a few quiet days in this peaceful spot.

White Abatross Holiday Centre welcome sign.

The entrance to the caravan park is not well marked.  Peter mistook the turn off and went straight onto the fishing area next door; a narrow wharf with sea ahead, fence on the left and a row of cars parked on the right.  No room to turn. No option but to reverse 500 metres. Not an easy task with only two days experience at maneuvering this leviathan!

With me, rookie navigator, trying to guide him in a straight line while two dogs barked encouragement from the back seat he finally extricated us from the dead end.

white-albatross-park

When we reached our site and unhitched the van, he mopped his brow. “Well, I guess the locals enjoyed watching that and had a good laugh.”

A little later, Peter was chatting to another vanner, who remarked, “By the way, I must thank you for winning me $10.”

“Really?  How come?”

“A group of us were watching from the tavern upstairs when you came in, and took the wrong road.  It was obvious you were fairly new to backing a van.  There was a lot of banter as to whether you’d be able to back up and turn or not.  I bet $10 you’d make it. Thanks for that.”

Well, the only thing dented was Peter’s pride.

After our eventful day we both looked forward to a good night’s sleep. We settled down happily. But. Lucy decided in the wee hours that she needed to go outside.

Peter took her out and, after she had attended to her needs, he was shepherding her back inside when disaster struck.  In the next van lived a fox terrier that chose just that moment to also heed the call of nature.  He came past to our van, a situation not to be tolerated by Lucy.
fox terrier

With a loud bark, she decided to chase him away.  Away they both went. How those dogs could run! We hadn’t nicknamed Lucy ‘the pocket rocket’ for nothing.  Through the park those two dogs tore, calls from their masters totally ignored. In and out between the vans. What fun!

Finally two angry and flustered men collared their dogs and shoved them inside.  Lucy happily settled down to sleep away the rest of the night, but we heard that foxie barking for the next hour.

I told you life on the road is fun!

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