A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: airbornenemo

southbound again

... and back to civilisation...

With only 2 of the Frenchmens Crew left we decided to come down from the tip of Australia via the west coast. The crazy germens had a problem with the engine mounting so they drove back to Cairns straight down the Developmental Road, Dale's car we waved goodbye on the barge as it went back to Cairns to the assessor, the newly weds help take some of Dales kids back as from 3 vehicles they were down to 2 and everyone had to squeeze in somewhere, so it was left to us and Martin and Belinda (yes we have met another Martin and Belinda) to finish Cape York in style. We came back down via Vrillya Point which was just another beach at the end of the day, but there was something so special that we could not leave. Sunsets on the west coast is something so beautiful to see and it is quite weird to be travel up the east coast watching sunsets which are setting on the west, normally you need to be in Perth and we are so far from there.
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The fishing was amazing except for Rod who was eventually getting really frustrated as I proceeded to catch 8 different species of fish including a stingray, long tom, queenie, 2 types of mullet, some perch and some unknown species. I hope they were not a rare species and I caught the last of them. It was a place you could be a real "Bear Giles", we were even considering catching a 1.5 meter croc and having it for dinner, it was our first sighting of a croc in the sea and on the beach. You also get to understand the crocs as they mainly come out at night so not a good time to go swimming but during the day we swam all the time. If I had not seen that croc I would not have believed crocs swim in the sea. I was also trying to catch black tip reef sharks with the throw net, a device used in Qld but illegal in NSW. I hope I am still allowed to own one in NSW you never know. I did master the technique of throwing a cast net, you are supposed to catch live bait for fishing, well I was catching dinner.
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Personally I do not think I have ever seen as many fish as we saw at Vrillya Point. Driving along the beach with polarized sunglasses on was an experience, there were hundreds of schools of fish, crabs, turtles, and stingray. I think the most amazing thing I have ever seen in the water was that day. As we were driving along the beach we saw this fin sticking out the water, and when we realized it was to big to be a dolphin and the fact that it did not dolphin dive in and out the water we realized that it was a shark, either a tiger shark or a bull shark. It was about 4 meters and it swam only about 10meters from the shore line where we had been swimming. We walked down the beach for about 30 minutes following it. You could just hear the jaws music, do do - do do - do do - do do. With polarized lenses we could see the shape under the water, it was amazing I don' t think opportunities like that come around very often but then again I am not sure you want them to.

After being parked on the beach for two days we decided that it was time to visit the ship wreck and as we were about to leave Martin asked what was leaking out of our fuel tank. Well yes it was the fuel tank and it was fuel. We had over the last two days lost half a tank of fuel, and in a place where you can't get water you can imagine the seriousness of trying to get fuel. The closest garage was about 300 kms away. It was quite entertaining watching Rod with his finger over the hole and I had visions of him hanging out the back door holding the leak while I were driving. I think Rod was quite excited about the whole event as we have carried boxes and boxes of bits and pieces for any possibility of something going wrong and finally we could use it. Out came everything, it took him longer to unpack and see what he had, then it took him to fix the hole. He became the real Magiver..... In the end all we used was the tip of a finger of a glove and a self tapping screw, which is still in place and holding to this day. Martin had done the bearing on the idler pulley and we still had no starter motor after we sunk the car in the Nolans river, so neither of us were prepared to be separated. We would travel together no matter what until things got sorted.
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After a couple days southbound on the telegraph track again it was time to start heading out of Cape York, but not before we spend a last few days on the banks of Bertie Creek where we had our only rain of the Cape trip - quite a downpour, but great to cool off in, just could not go inside.
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...and what rain looks like from the bottom...
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From Bertie's we headed back to Coen. We were out of alcohol and nearly out of fuel and food. We pulled into Coen and Belinda decided a 2litre cask of wine will see her through a few days, it lasted 6 hours after a game of "kings" and things turned bad after that. The next day was full of moans and groans and eventually at 2pm she was feeling a bit more human.
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Cairns was our next stop as that was the only place we could get our starter motor fixed under warranty. We pulled into Lake Tinaroo still with Belinda and Martin in tow and we bunked there for a few days. Rods birthday was the 18th Oct and we were due to pick up the car in Cairns. We drove to town waited around for the day and Toyota phoned us at 4.50pm to advise that the car will not be ready today we must come back tomorrow. So we are stuck in Cairns and the rain starts to pour the biggest rain fall in 47 years. I suggested we stay in a hotel, so the Shangri-La it was, although we looked terrible and had no clothes. Target was the only place open until 6pm so some clean underwear, a toothbrush and something we could go to dinner in was purchased in about 30 minutes. I was dressing Rod as he happened to get a phone call from Matthew J and all of a sudden they had lots to talk about while I am trying to find, fit and dress Rod before the shops closed. All was done and dusted, I had a dress and sandals Rod had jeans and shirt and we were ready to hit the town. We decided that a nice dinner and movies in bed was what the doctor ordered, as we are so behind on our movies. We watched 3 movies and fell asleep at least we kept up the tradition as Rod was at Victoria Falls for his 30th, Niagra Falls for his 35th, Lake Macquarie for his 40th and the Cairns Marina for his 45th. Wonder where he will be for his 50th.

We left Cairns and headed for Chilligoe as there are some magnificent caves there, on the way we stopped at Irvinbank a one pub town with nothing else, not even a shop, everything you need comes out of the pub. We got talking to some guys who were the organizers of a mountain bike race, supposed to be the toughest in the world. How come no one in Australia knows about it. It is called the Croc Trophy. It is around 1200km through some of the most desolate and grueling country Australia has to offer. There were 88 entrants which very few of them were Aussie, this is a very big mtn bike race in Europe with most of the candidates coming from there. $2500 entry fee and it is a 10 day race. 100+kms a day is not bad to do but to do it for 10 days in a row is a bit grusome. The hardest challenge was for 2 guys with hand cycles, both been shot in the back years before and here they are taking on a challenge that most able-bodied men and women could not defeat. A good days cycling was when they completed the course and it was still day light. Sometime they were still out there at 10pm at night. Absolutely amazing, to qualify they were not to receive help from any outsider, they had to complete the race with only help from a cyclist. Andrew rode with them and when they had no traction under their tyre Andrew would give them a nudge, but this did not happen very often. They were so determined and disciplined it was amazing to watch. Thank you Carlos and Patrick you were a real inspiration I feel I should never winge about anything again.

Donna's cave and this why...
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...some fun with the camera
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We then received an email from our beautiful daughter asking us to come home as she needs her parents. She has just graduated from uni and done exceptionally well we are so proud of her. Also Zineta has hit a wombat in her car and done heaps of damage. The kids need us so we are on our way home, we expected to get home by the 15 November we will now be home by the 26th October. Look forward to seeing everyone back home and get this wedding underway. This will be our last blog until we are on the road again in a couple of months. Thank you to our 500 or so readers you keep us inspired and hope we can encourage you to take to the road it is easier then you think, just don't over think it.

Posted by airbornenemo 04:15 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

the telegraph track

... starring the frenchman's crew...

Its not everyday that one single road, or in this case 'track' commands a whole episode, but this one sure does - partly because of the challenge and accomplishment, partly the remoteness, partly the surrounding beauty... definately the friendships carved along the way. Friendships made not just in a passing wave, but those made when everyone at some point neeeds to trust and depend on someone else... whether for a a push or a winch, a few eggs, a bottle of water, a reassuring word ('sure it's doable... mate'), some diesel power plant know-how or simply sharing that muddied, water over the bonnet low range, near bogged escape from some croc-infested river crossing, experience that you know will stay stuck in the mind for years to come...

If you have ever wanted to do the Cape York / Telegraph Track experience... stop thinking about it and just get yourself up here for a few weeks - no regrets.

Getting up to it was half the fun via the east coast route through Lakefield National Park taking in Cape Flattery, Bathurst Head, Kalpowar along slow rough track. The winch came out on a few occasions to get over some dunes where the soft sand got the better of us.

Getting into Cape Flattery
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Running Creek Beach
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Chilli Beach
... while we were having a long overdue verbal slug-fest over something irrelevant... a troupe of three oversized 4x4's pulled up next to us in what had been a nice quiet remote campsite on beautiful Chilli Beach. Within minutes, kids were running rampant, music was pumping out of a subwoofer outsized only by the tyres stolen from some monster truck circus.. S**t!! was my first reaction, just what I need to add to the aggrivation of an illogical, stubborn woman. Figuring I have to do something, I opted to run... down the beach I went at what is a blistering pace for my lazy legs for as long as I could begging those endomorphines to turn up and work their magic - no prozac for 500kms!

Well, in short we are now relaxing at Loyalty Beach at The Tip, eleven or so days later, still with the same bunch of wonderful people - still enjoying Mick's sub-woofer (wish he had a bigger amp though..), the nightly entertainment provided by Martin and Barbara, the crazy Germans who turned up to have a crack at everthing Cape York could throw at them in true backpacker style driving a Jeep Cherokee older than them with the only bit of outback travel equipment being a guitar and a weird sounding flute that needs to be heard to be appreciated. Sadly, the Telegraph did have the last laugh for one Land Cruiser after getting a little too intimate with an unamed river - now standing proudly in the local Bamaga grave yard - Owner 'it's doable' Dale staring out over the ocean towards Thursday Island wondering if his next Land Cruiser would really need the ferry to get over there, while his ever tolerant wife, Kerry eyes him sternly... 'don't you even think about it...!'

Martin and Belinda... bazaar, I know. Who would have thought another couple bearing those infamous names would enter our lives... This is beginning to sound like a TV sitcom... 'these are our friends M&B and these are other friends M&B and these are our other friends M&B...' We really need to widen out. A carbon copy of our 'other friends' M&B... while Belinda makes all the noise, Martin watches on head swaying from side to side... until the sun sets and beers emerge... and Martin comes to life...!

The group, now grown to sixteen plus Boris (woof), with Craig and Melissa having joined us on the only bridge on the track - having been married only two weeks ago and still on honeymoon. We try to ignore the shinannigans of the night in the blue Hilux and rather marvel at Toyota suspension systems...

While bouncing along the trail Ang somehow found a stable enough hand and mind to write some peotry - it tells it all..
FRENCHMANS CREW

The road was tough, and ruggered and hard
Glad we took it now, before it gets tarred
We came to a crossing, "Pascoe" was his name
No one dared to put, the team to shame

The Nissans just cruised, to the top they went
The 100 series as usual, was good money spent
The Kimberly coughed once, but cruised like a dream
And the jeep we proved girls, drive better it seems

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Then came Bramwell, the pit stop we had
We asked for water, they thought we were mad
We filled up with fuel, and paid the high price
To find better camping, cause they weren't so nice

We hit the telegraph track, with gung hoe Mick
he was out there to prove, and try every trick
Palm crossings a whow, what are we to do
The chicken track Rod said, it's easy for two

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We watched in awe, Dales cunning decent
Bang boom the noise rang, it sounded bent
Martin the gentleman, eased in with grace
Which made it look easy, he had set the pace

There was no chicken track, ,or so we found out
We were all there for the Germans, to give them a shout
We all cleared through, no damage was done
Until the next crossing, when the winch was unspun

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We retired for the day, as the kids were enough
Good Tucker was cooked, and we were all stuffed
Good music and singing, now that was a treat
Then sound to sleep, as we were all beat.

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The telegraph track was an interesting place
Winding roads, and not much space
Bump after bump we went up and down
It felt like we were on, a merry go round

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Water was out, there was a worried smile
We will drive and see, no drinks for awhile
An oasis appeared before our eyes
We were dirty and grubby that no lies

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We showered and shaved and all washed our hair
Dirty feet, dirty hands we could no longer bare
Fresh spas were welcomed and we all filled our tanks
We ate our lunch as we sat on the banks

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A mud pit to launch Dales Nissan to the sky
Stop! Kerry said or home we will fly
I give it a go, Mick said with with a nod
Up and down he went till he got bogged

On your tummy! was a shout, from Acasia in the crowd
It rang in my ears, it rang out loud
A mud fight ensued with Kerry Mick and I
As Dale grabbed Kerry and threw mud up high

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Then came gunshot, the creek to be beat
'If I fuck it up' Dale said, I will take the heat
So down he went as the Nissan screamed with delight
It was amazing to see it was a wonderful sight

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We settled down with tales from our wonderful day
we talked and talked till there was nothing to say
What had been done was an amazing treat
The telegraph track was just about beat.

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More photos on facebook

Posted by airbornenemo 18:49 Archived in Australia Comments (6)

Captain Cook

History Lesson

Well Rod has been nagging me to do a blog as it is my turn, but it is hard to write something after the camel experience there is no coming back from that one, but I will do my best.  I am supposed to write about the visit I had from Tracy and Belinda and I thought what happens on a girls weekend stays on a girls weekend.  Just to let you know that we had a ball, sailing, being invited to a local "jam" session where at one stage we had a 12 piece band playing in some guys shed, jet skiing where there was a close encounter of death and although we were watching a dugong at the time,  the dogong did not try kill us they eat grass, but as you can see all is well the girls made it home safely.

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Some useful tips To remember for my next girls weekend, make sure Rod takes his medication  every day so that we do not have an argument through the open back windows of a parked land cruiser as there is nowhere else to scream at each other in a caravan park, and always treasure your friendships cause when your husband has long gone left you, you can always count on your girls to spend the rest of your holiday with you.  

We then we flew home and saw everyone at some old guys 50th where far too much alcohol was consumed, and someone had a penis enlargement, well it was a lot bigger then normal due to some 30 stitches that were still to dissolve, anyway we won't talk too much more about him, just to let you know that Mr Penis is doing fine and although was not put to any useful work when I last spoke to him he was in much better spirits both him and Mr Penis.

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After leaving Port Douglas which was a lovely touristy town we headed through the Daintree where we did an 8x8 off road tour through some exquisite tropical rainforest.  This was where we saw one of our most interesting animal encounters, a green tree snake eating a green tree frog.  He almost had it until the frog used every ounce of strength to pull himself out of the snakes throat which he literally did and managed to hook his legs onto the metal shed and back track his whole body out of the snakes mouth.  Unfortunately the snake got the better of him and although the snake almost couldn't  close the frogs legs as they were sticking out of his mouth  in the leap frog position, he decided to put his head in-between two panels on the shed and pull back thus straightening the frogs legs so he could swallow the rest of him.  Still we can all learn a lesson from that never give up but don't be surprised if your luck or strength runs out anyway.

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By the time we got to Cape tribulation named by Cpt James Cook as this was where his troubles started, we had had enough of the tourist stuff and needed some space.  We pretty much drove  straight through to Cook Town. This was where Cptn James Cook crashed the Endeavor and had to stay on the beach at Cape York for 48 days which makes Cape York the first Longest European settlement.  We went to the museum which was worth a look they have one of the cannons  and the anchor from the Endeavor of 1770.  The Lions Den Hotel is this amazing pub, and a must stop, you meet the most interesting people there.  The writing on the wall says itnall you just have to have 3days to read it.  Black rock mountain was a huge mountain covered in black rocks, go figure, but the interesting thing about it was the black on the rock was actually black lichen, no trees or grass or shrubs grow on this mountain only the lichen.  After 2 nights in the Big 4 at Cook Town and  snoring from the grey nomads we decided it was time to move on.  We grabbed a few last minute groceries from the IGA headed to the bottle store and I finally decided that I would get a box of cheap wine as this was easy to pack and we did not have to carry empty bottles up the tip.  I get to the counter to pay my $17.00 and the lady informs me that she cannot sell boxed wine until 6 pm and it was only 4.45pm.  I could have purchased copius amounts of any other alchol but not boxed wine, It is against the law, I thought she was joking so I started laughing as I thought she was mocking me because I had bought a cheap box of wine, but apparently not, her register/till would not even scan the bar code until 6pm it was very funny.  So I ended up with no alcohol and now nowhere to buy it and in the middle of  f;$&@9 nowhere.  GREAT!   but I will leave the next adventure to Rod he will remember all the effort he put in winching over sand dunes etc etc. Catch up with you all next time.

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Posted by airbornenemo 03:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

heading for the coast

but a few quick stops first...

Finally resolving to stay put for a few days to catch up on a few things... one being this blog... after spending the past weeks chasing up the coast via a trip to Sydney we now find ourselves in the Big4 camp kitchen in Port Douglas watching New Zealand play Australia in a Bledisloe Cup build-up to the world cup. Around us a couple of poms and an Aussie family travelling for 12 months with two young kids - home schooling along the way and picking up some work where possible... so who's coming to join us...?

Aside from a quick whirlwind trip back home for a week taking in some old guy's 50th, which was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone, we headed north again from Capela (the home of the camel races) to Theresa Creek Dam just south west of Clemont (where..?). Arriving we were presented with the delema of which group of Grey Nomads we should align ourselves with - the 40 ft caravans sporting Ford F250 diesel guzzlers upper class or the revamped busses and Jayco's from the '60's shivering from the decibels from the ancient generators running the Engel freezers...

Figuring the freezers were for the fish being hauled, we decided to go to where we may learn something... and learn we did. Firstly how delicious redclaw was (fresh water lobster) and secondly that we had no idea how to catch them. Ang quickly arranged a private lesson with a very abliging old boy and soon we were out on the kayak armed with borrowed nets and an enticing feast of half boiled potato, sunlight soap and naartjie (mandarin) skins. Dropping the net on the edge of the water lilies seemed to do the trick and we had a couple of lunches of redclaw in garlic butter or in a mayo sauce over a salad - yum!
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Conversing with a butcher bird...

Heading towards Airlie to meet 'the girls' we took a detour through Moranbah, the rental property mecca of north QLD. Popping in to the real estate agents... in short crappy houses fetching $600k but being rented for $1,200 pw... Investors queueing up with cash to buy, we figured Moranbah has been done... moving on... but a quick stop at a local hotspot gave us some awesome sights of all sorts of birds of prey.

black kites, whistling kites, little eagles (some ravens, crows and others..)
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for as long as we could stand the smell...
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Heading to Eungella for our overnight we got distracted by a rusted old sign 'Mount Britton'. Why was this place not on the map? We're so often amazed by the little gems that seem to jump out at us and give us an unexpected bit of magic. Mount Britton is... well nothing really - an ex-town with an ex-gold mine, a couple of ex-pubs and a current unused school house that looks like it will be 'ex' very soon. we were able to set up camp in the middle of (ex)town mainly because everything that would constitute a town was now gone, bar a few bits of old mining equipment and the said school house. Strangely, the entire area is kept mowed and street signs maintained, although the streets have long since disappeared.

We did our usual bicycle tour of the area and then as we were about to settle down for the night, our to-be neighbour for the evening drove in. Of-course any new face means Ang has to flick into entertaining mode, so our new neighbour came for dinner. At 70-odd touring around alone with his home-brewed rum, scotch and an array of mouth-organs he turned out to be quite a personality. A great evening ensued with assistance of the said home-brew and we sang very old songs to the sounds of the mouth organs and recounted too many dark secrets all around. Why we feel comfortable speaking to perfect strangers about things we would not disclose to even family, I'll never know - some call it the hairdresser syndrome...?
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the usual mucking around...
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102nd use for a mountain bike
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Eungella had to wait yet another day, but what a spectacular spot. Camp was perched right on the 700m high paraglider take-off site overlooking the 70km long valley with the city of Mackay in the distance - the wind just happened to be perfect when we arrived, so a nice little fly up the western slopes of the valley was just the perfect welcome to this little rain forest park and a breath of fresh air after the past few weeks in the dusty and dry Central Queensland.

Our first sighting of Platypus in the wild was an added bonus to the rainforest walks
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wild raspberries/youngberries...?
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Next stop was Airlie Beach and the now (in)famous girlie week starring touble-makers in no particular order... Belinda, Tracey and Ang.

I have been informed that what happens on girlie weeks, stays on girlie weeks... which is just as well as I have successfully blotted out all but one memory of the week. The one that does still haunt somewhat is coming uncomfortably close to meeting our proverbial maker by way of flying jetski to the head... However fun was had by all... blah blah blah... (phew thank god that week is over) I'll let Ang fill in the details as soon as she recovers from the red wine...

On to Cairns...
After screaming up the coast from the Whitsundays to Cairns via a quick stop at whats lefts of Mission Beach and Dunk Island after Cyclone Yasi had her way...
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we arrived at Cairns just in time for Colin to drive us and Anne to the airport and a week's 'break' back home in Sydney encompassing Charl's 50th and some other blurry bits. Before we knew, we were landing back at Cairns airport and ready to hit the road again, but not before spending a great few days with some of Ang's friends from Zim who took us in, in true Zim fashion even though the effects of the red wine the 'girlie week' and Charl's 50th had clearly not yet warn off. Bulawayo Anne proudly and unashamedly ran though a fine collection of party tricks on more than one occasion leaving most of us bewildered and the kids begging to trade in their xboxes for a video camera...

The nearby Atherton Tablelands just west of Cairns was next - spectacular beauty with more lakes than we could visit and coffee and chocolate indulgences that kept us up salivating for days. The Skyrail to Kuranda was memorable (where else do they serve tea 100m above the tree canopy in a cable-car...!).

The largest burger we'd ever seen...enjoyed with some fellow travellers
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thats all very nice mate, but we actually need that toilet behind you..
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One coffee plantation visit stands out, but not for the coffee... Upon arrival my attention was distracted by a hangar housing a gyrocopter and microlight. After having a fly around with the owner (a semi retired pilot from Tanzania named Jacques...), I'm thinking of reinstating the old gold-coin savings tin again, but unsure how to convince Scott that we should trade in the part built plane on one of these little beauties. I was particularly impressed by the power-off landing he carried out seemingly effortlessly. So stable in the air and nice to fly after having a go at the controls for a while. One more dial to watch though - rotor speed... Thankfully Ang was only mildly excited by her flight in the microlight ('trike' to comply with Aussie terminology) so we don't need two gold-coin tins..
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The ants around here have a serious problem with trees..

While out riding we came across a baby honey eater that had somehow got out the nest, so with Ang in rescue mode, making a new nest, we hung around to see who would come back..

Next was a round trip to the Undara Lava Tubes. Sorry Tracey we know you wanted to do this one, but I couldn't cope with you again so soon... Remarkable formations caused by lava flow from ancient volcanos. As the lava cooled from the outside in it created huge tunnels, now underground, as the lava eventually emptied from the tubes. The tubes have been exposed as the roof of some collapsed. Some required you crawl into a hole in the flat terrain only to find it opens up into a tube 500m long and 12m high/wide. Quite spectacular..
Going in..
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It's now on up to Cape York for our first real 4wd adventure... We have heard all sorts of horror stories about vehicles being swept away on river crossings... broken this and that... and the $11k to get towed back to Cooktown... 'easy does it' and we should be good..

CONGRATS...

MAT & NIC ON THE BIRTH OF AMELIA

and

GLEN AND KRISTEN ON THE BIRTH OF NUMBER TWO...OLIVIA ROSE

Proud daddy's and exhausted mommy's all round...

Posted by airbornenemo 01:17 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

lets go racing...!

THE 2011 QUEENSLAND STATE CAMEL RACING CHAMPIONSHIP...

will be held later in the year, but this does not in any way detract from the status of the Annual Capela Camel Races held at the local showgrounds over the weekend...

Of-course this could only be on Ang's 'must-do' list so after a few relaxed days on the banks of the Nogoa river catching Barramundi (more later...) we headed north a whole 50kms and setup camp at the Capela showgrounds to watch, and maybe bet on, some camels... I settled down with the laptop to do some work and Ang set off to see what we could expect from what seemed to be a total non-event. No people, two sad looking camels and one grey nomad (60+ caravaners joining dots on the caravan park map of Aus) and with 4 hours to go to 'gates open', it was not looking promising...

Then Ang arrived back back, smiling from ear to ear with that distinct pep in her step and I felt a familiar cold sweat coupled with swarming butterflies run through my gut... why did I agree to coming here...?

'I got us in...I got us in...!!' she yelled as if this was something to be happy about.

Tentatively I listened to the plan... she was going to be in the first race - 'how much did you bet?' I asked... 'no I'm the jockey!!' she replied excitedly... and then came the kicker... 'I got YOU into race 5!!'

What...!! I can't even ride a horse, let alone a camel... and now you want me to race the thing!! I glanced over to the pens where the camels had been grazing all morning - suddenly they appeared much larger and meaner than I remembered... these were finely tuned elite athletes - the Far-Lap's of the camel clan.
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In no time at all, it was 1:30pm and race one was on. Ang, now known as 'Zulu Princess' stepped out of the dressing room kitted out in silk jockey attire, and I must say, looking the part. She mounted her steed, Wachachooki, which promptly waddled from its crouching position to its feet and after a quick lap of the members stand, headed off with the others to the start. Slowly making their way to the far side of the main grandstand - hearts pounding, quiet tension filled the arena - muscles of the beasts quivering..
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Suddenly, with a shout from the marshals, and they were racing... Zulu Princess, starting from behind, began making up ground as she pounded the rump of Wachachooki over and over. Lethal Weapon, a huge animal was clearly going to be her only challenge, the others, although still in front were losing ground rapidly. Lethal Weapon went for the outside, Zulu Princess on Wachachooki took the inside has they left the others gasping in dust. Zulu Princess was gaining rapidly on Lethal Weapon, but the finish line came up too soon, and Zulu Princess was to be content with a well deserved 2nd place.
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$75 was the prize for 2nd place and so we headed down to the beer garden to enjoy the winnings... Soon enough though, it was 4pm and time for race 5, although my heart had been racing all afternoon, as was my stomach... However, there can be no turning back now. We sculled the remains of our beer, and headed down to the change rooms. Final thoughts of how to get out of this predicament got pushed aside and rather I focused on Ang's first comment after her race... 'you're gonna wipe out so bad..' she had said... nice darling!

Royal Blue was my chosen silks and slowly I started to feel a little ... terrified... 'ok, just a few seconds on the camel, then try landing gracefully on my head and then it's all over - maybe I can even get a free flight with the Royal Flying Doctors service..'
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All good.... year right..

Now for the briefing, the marshal assigned me the same camel as Zulu Princess, Wachachooki, saying in his best Queensland slur 'I know he threw the guy off in the last race, but '..you'll be right mate...' and then to all the riders, 'you can all ride a horse, it'll be a bit bumpy, but just ride it like a you would a horse..'.

Then his eye's met mine and it must have shown all over my face...
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'you can ride a horse can't you..?' he asked.

'Once 25 years ago...' I whimpered.

'oh.... well give me that crop, you are going to need both hand to hold on - and hold on tight!!' and then in true Aussie style '... you'll be right, mate...'

Walking the beast up to the start line, I wondered if the other guys could hear my heart beating, or worse... could the camel hear it?? Is that guy in the crowd laughing because he can see the terror on my face? Where's the first-aid van? I don't see one anyw....

'GO!!' - that damn mashal, no warning at all - just 'GO'!!

And we're racing - what happened over the following seconds was just a blur of dust, flying grass and heaving fur and muscles of these beasts pounding the ground. STOP!! I think I shouted and then remembered the race briefing ...'if you want to really get them going - shout at them..'

I hung on in deathly silence - where is that finish line...? Will my feet stay in the stirrup long enough to get there? Who said camels are the ships of the desert...? they're the bloody formula one powerboats of the desert...

Suddenly, the finish line was there - a calm came over me... phew, we made it... and then, this bloody camel decides we should jump the finish line. this is just a white line painted on the ground - why it would feel the need to clear it by 4 feet, will remain a mystery... but we're still on... feet are out the stirrups and flying dangerously close to me ears, but we're all still upright.

That's when the horror dawned on me - I don't remember seeing any one else at the finish line... were they already enjoying a beer in the beer garden? No they were still racing...! I had won! DAMN!!! that puts me in the semi-final... I have to do this all again!!

After a few high-five's and slaps on the back while walking out the change rooms... finally a little testosterone showed up...finally!!! Yeah, City-Slicker (my racing alias) will be back!!
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While making the turn up at the start of the semi-final, feeling a new-found confidence I looked down a Wachchooki, gave him a slap on the neck, and for a moment enjoyed the bond we had made together, we were as one. We had made a connection I did not believe was possible to make in such a short time... Wachochooki, looked back at me and I knew that he felt the same.

15 years with Ang had given me an almost unfair advantage... I glanced over at the other jockeys, anf felt only pity for them. Such aspirations about to be smashed...

And so it was... another first - I was getting used to this...
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Grand Final time... Wacha was feeling as good as I was - this was our time. $1000 up for grabs... what should I spend it on...mmm..?

I think I may play cricket for South Africa rather... choking must be more engrained in the society than I thought...

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Goat races for the kids

Well, together we had made $175 on our first camel racing experience which is to be proud of - but all night at the after party no one ever mentioned anyone but the winner!!! Where's the next race..?

For a part of our trip that we did not expect to experience much, this has turned out to be a great area in Central Queensland. We spent a few days on the banks of the Nogoa River near Emerald which was the best fishing we could have imagine - we did not even have to get the fishing rods out the car, and we ate barramundi until we hated it.

After 4 days, we had pulled out seven 4 to 5kg (and this is no fishy story...) Barramundi by simply scooping them up with a crab net. The dam further upstream had let out some water a while back and with it a heap of 'barras', but as the river resided again to more a creek status, the bigger barras don't have enough space, so they get stuck on the rapids flapping around or they are just so lazily swimming in the pools, that you just wonder over and scoop them up with a net. Ang scooped two 4kg barras in one hit... Good 'ol fish braais.
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Scott, came out to join us for a fish braai one evening after work. He had been doing one of his 10 day shifts at a local mine.
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The Emerald area is a hub of activity compared to the towns further south. Mining and cattle industries really creating a boom and bring in many city-folk for contracts lasting a few days to months, even years. Coal mining is the main attraction ensuring the China power stations continue to keep the greenies in high spirits.

And now off to the Whitsundays to meet up with Belinda and Tracey for girlie week.... HELP!!!

Posted by airbornenemo 00:23 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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