Thursday, 1 December 2011

Next roadtrip: Brisbane-Cairns

Day 1 317k Brisbane-Childers

Today we collected the campervan and set off about midday.  It is a better van than last time - newer, and with only half the mileage of the last one.  But this time, rather than having all the kit you could need on board, transfer drivers were charged if you wanted a table and chairs, linen and if you opened the sealed first aid kit.  Needless to say, Jim and I went for the cheapest budget option and had none of them!

Jim with the Cheapa Campa van (do you think he may be scottish?)

Weather forecast - rain all the way, but we saw lots of cloud and fortunately missed nearly all the rain.

Rusty redundant equipment at heritage village.  Humidity makes metal objects rust quicker.

I have decided to spend some time looking at the colours in the landscape as we travel.  I've noticed that the landscape changed from Perth to Sydney, and wish I had noted the colours.  It was very arid and bleached/burnt across the Nullabor and got greener as we entered Southern Australia.  I'm expecting it to get more tropical as we get towards Cairns. 

Palest grey and blue - clouds and sky; dark and light olive green - trees; blue green bulrushes and dark heads; brownish and bleached dried grass.  Orange flowers on bright green trees. 
Interesting patterns in tropical plants

And interesting shapes too.
Wonderful blossom

The buds are the same shape as pomegranate flowers

A single flower

I liked the texture around this fallen pod - so chunky for such a delicate flower

We were following a truck at one stage.  On his right hand side it said "Passing Side", and on the left hand side, "Suicide".   Says it all really!

Day 2 Childers-Bloomsbury 874k

A long drive today.  Set off at 5.30am, once it was light.  We went through lots of roadworks, and apparently the roadworks go on all the way to Cairns.  This is because there are lots of road repairs following bush fires and floods over the past year.  On long stretches there are signs advising drivers to take a break and in known fatigue areas, a roadside quiz.  What is the national flower of Queensland.  A: The Cooktown Orchid. 

Colours today - Grass/leaf green; schored leaf brown, black, grey brown, sky blue and palest grey. 
Jim studying the route

We took a long time to find a free campsite tonight, which is why we drove about 100k more than intended. Jim was driving for about 10 hours of the 12 hours we were on the road.  Either side of a town, the campsites are all charging for facilities and we only want to stop.  We don't need water or power.  At the camp area we found, we parked and started preparing a meal, and saw two wallabies bound out of the vegetation, see us, and bound on into another area of vegetation. 

Day 3 Bloomsbury-Bilyana  500k

Another 5.30 start.  The weather is much more tropical now.  Much more humid.  Threatened to rain several times, but only rained once, and only enough to make the roads greasy.  More roadworks. 

We went past several sugar cane factories, and there was a narrow gauge railway running alongside the road that went through the fields.  We crossed the narrow gauge tracks several times, and all had rusty rails - indicative of non-use.  All the sugar cane factories were defunct, but the sugar cane was still being grown so presumably it is processed elsewhere.  I think it is the start of the harvest, as we saw 2/3 fields being cut.  There were about a dozen hawks flying overhead, behind the cutting machine.  We subsequently went to a wetland wildlife centre, where it said that the hawks benefitted from the sugar cane, as rats and other small rodents lived there, and it was a good living for birds of prey.  As the harvester cut round, you could see the hawks taking it in turns to drop down on to the freshly cut area - presumably this was their gourmet dinner time!

We went through a town called Ayr.  It has a population of about 20,000, half the size of our home town, but had a thriving town centre, and a fantastic large sports shop.  It carried all the equipment for football, rugby, tennis, cricket, fishing, boxing, swimming, and lifesaving.  We had a discussion with the staff, and they said the local population were active sportspeople, which was why they could carry such a large stock of sports equipment, and not just sports fashion.  In particular, we were interested in the all-in-one suits that were for the lifesaving club.  Apparently these were designed to protect from the sun, and stingers - jellyfish.
"Ayr?  Not the one with which I am familiar!"

We went past Shute Harbour and Dingo Beach.  We wondered if this was where Nevil Shute came from.  Jim remembered reading a Nevil Shute book written in the 1950s, where Shute speculated what Britain would be like in the 1980s, and his guess was that it would be a communist country.  Jim thinks Nevil Shute was a British migrant in the 1950s. 

Day 4 - Bilyana- just outside Cairns

Todays colours - brown/grey; bright and dark leaf green; orange blossoms, blue sky, white/grey clouds; honey beige.  And dark brown soil, bright green sugar cane, olive trees, light and dark grey cloud, rusted silos, blackened trees and white trunks.

The staff at the Wetland Centre recommended a campsite for us, and as we got there the rain that had threatened all day, came down.  As it had been very hot, this made the evening and night very humid. As usual we went to bed when it got dark - 7pm.   This was the first night that I have not enjoyed in the campervan.  I woke up, very sweaty and thirsty about midnight, drank a pint of water from the fridge, and slept until daybreak at 5am.

As we only had about 120k to do today, we had a late start - we hit the road at 7am.  It poured with rain all morning.  As we were not in a hurry, whenever it got to torrential proportions, we pulled over and sat in a layby or at McDonalds. Needless to say, not to buy any food, but to use their free wifi.

Cairns is very sunny, hot and humid.  Jim dropped me off at the backpackers, while he returned the van to the depot.  He took about 45 minutes to walk back, and has acquired a distinctive sunburn around his singlet!

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