So, after packing up Clive and saying our goodbyes, we started our 2000km journey to the closest NSW town: Tweed Heads. Our first stop was Kuranada and the Barron waterfalls. A mighty powerful sight and sound indeed and nice to get out of the car and cool off as the Air Conditioning didn't work. It was a good few km along tree-bound boardwalks which hugged the side of the mountain before arriving at the rather majestic falls.
Windows down, our next stop was Mareeba and "Coffee World" where even I had a decaf coffee to go with a delicious Ginger and pumpkin cake (might have to try and recreate that one when I get home) Tim enjoyed a slice of yummy cookies and cream cheesecake with a full caf coffee.
At the airfield, Des asked me if I wanted to jump first or last, I opted for last meaning first in last out, now I noticed that out of the 5 of us jumping, Tim was the last in (the significance of this hadn't dawned on him). Up we went looking down at more cyclone mayhem, huge oil containers had been dragged through fields, smashing up homes and barns. All very sad to see, but Des and Ralph weren't upset by the cyclone, they have the attitude that," well, no one died" and apparently as long as you have good insurance you're ok and it’s just a fact of life around here.
The following morning I was up early for a run along Mission Beach, I got along was down when I came across a large river opening, which had been a lot smaller yesterday, as I stood wondering if I could wade across a nice chap in a small tin boat sailed past, I asked if I could get across, he offered me a lift but said I would have to go around the road to get back, when I said I would wade across he pointed out that there were crocodiles in there and it wouldn't be a good idea! Crocs (and I’m not talking footwear)!!!! Needless to say I thanked him for the offer but decided not to cross and ran back along the beach.
Leaving Mission Beach we had to head to Ingham to collect the credit cards for our Aussie bank account. Our intention was to collect cards and carry on with our journey. What happened next is in true Travelling Marsh's mayhem. Ingham is a small town, somewhere you drive through - maybe even stop for fuel if you’re desperate - but nothing happens here. When we got there, the whole town appeared shut, everything including banks. So we realised we'd be there for two nights until the bank opened on Monday. Not so bad I guess. We found a campsite which was a strange kind of hotel, guest house maybe even a restaurant, who knows?
We put the tent up and it started to rain, Tim had moved the computer and himself into the dance hall of a dining room, again no one around. While I was aware that the rain had been getting heavier, I looked into the tent and moved it onto a veranda under some shelter but unfortunately the rain had leaked in and the bedding was already wet. So resigned to the fact that we had paid for a night of camping we settled in for the night in Clive. It wasn't a great night’s sleep. And to top that the only place we could find open on a Sunday in Ingham for food was McDonalds. On the plus side it had free wifi and it was dry.
Spending a day in Ingham in the rain isn't fun. There is diddly-squat to do. We felt as if we were being held hostage; it resembled Bill Murray’s 1993 classic Ground Hog Day.
So with our evening booked in we ventured down stairs to our first Ozzie pub, and were greeted by Keith (who looked remarkably like my dad) and Barbara his wife. A lovely old couple, they were very apologetic for the state of their place. They even showed us pictures of what was a lovely roofed building before Yasi decided to whip it off. The clientele was very "local" and it would seem that we were somewhat of a tourist attraction for the evening. The locals were very friendly and at one point a lady went and got her stuffed crocodile from the boot of her car where it had been since the floods...we had photos taken with him, apparently he's over 80 years old, and he was quite dusty!
The following morning I went for a run in the rain, and then back to find Tim. We had our picnic breakfast at the bar then off to get our much waited for credit cards from the now open bank. I thank you the National Australia Bank. Also what we did find out was that all the roads were shut off by the floods, I say all the roads; there was only 1 road we could take to get us the hell out of Ingham and it was several feet under so after booking another night at the Station Inn we headed off to try and find internet, again ending up in McDonalds.
By lunchtime we were quite despondent and almost resigned to the fact that Ingham had us, but then we over heard a police officer talking to the lady behind the food counter say he had been on the road out of Ingham directing traffic carefully through the flooded roads, we jumped at this information and asked if we could get out? He said if we were quick as more rain was on its way. With that we rushed out and unbooked ourselves from the Station Inn, and off we went.
When we got to the road, it was just by where we were due to camp the following night, it was indeed deep. We slowly cruised through the murky water hoping Clive would at least float with not too much leakage. And bless him he did well and thankfully we were at last free of Ingham, never to return...
And with a hop skip and a jump from Ingham to Townsville. Not a lot to say about it, nice beach to see. Sure it would be lovely if it wasn't raining. Ideal for an over night stay.
The rain had held off in the night and we had an almost good night sleep. It was an early start for our trip to be welcomed with the news that the boat had been cancelled. A quick call around and we were re-booked onto what turned out to be a brilliant fun packed day with Ocean Rafting. The boat was a big yellow inflatable safety vessel, with a brilliant sound track and lots of whizzing around. A bit worrying on the way, we came across what can only be described as the remains of a smashed up boat. Stuff everywhere, but we were reassured that as there were no life jackets in the water, it was safe to say that the crew would of been ok.
The following morning after our roomy had come in late and left early, we packed up once more and headed for a long drive to Brisbane via Rockhampton for an overnight stop
We managed to find ourselves a place to stay, the Light House Campsite; right by the beach. After setting up our camp we went off to cool off in the sea. I tried to surf once more but still couldn't get up. So the following morning after a fantastic run up to the light house, past many beaches and surfers with some magnificent views, I got back and signed up for a afternoon lesson with Black Dog surfing.
That evening we walked over to Waitego Beach, a quiet little beach off the main drag; to watch the sunset and the surfers bob about. We finished off our evening in Mongers for a delicious Fish & Chips dinner. A bit of a treat for us, we hadn’t been to a restaurant for ages. And McDonalds doesn’t count, no matter what the advertising says.
The following morning it was rainy and grey, thankfully the tarp had done its best. And the only thing to do after my run was to go a test my new surfing technique, you can only get so wet after all. I hired a big green foamy from the campsite shop and went for a splash. Tim came and had a go too. It was a fun morning, if a little tiring with the weather. Soon it was lunch time and after we had warmed up with noodles I decided to head back in; Tim was staying in the dry and warm of the camp kitchen.
So with big green foamy under my arm, well almost, off I went. Catching my first wave I jumped up, crouched down and then I’m not quite sure what happened next, but I was tumbling in the surf and smashing my face against the beach. When I up turned myself up the right way, I was helped out of the wash by a young woman who had seen my surfing display, she looked quite concerned, and rightly so as I had blood coming out of my mouth. Honestly blood just seems to “bleed” on wet skin.
That evening when I was feeling very sorry for myself, applying Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream on my battered face. We were visited by our camp neighbours,no not that kind of camp,they were actually an old ex pat Essex couple who had come to admitted to driving into Clive. Apparently their new big people carrier is much larger than their other car when reversing it. So with a little chit chat about "home" they went back to their tent. We left it with the agreement that they would leave us there info. etc. so they would reimburse us for the damage they did. The following morning when we packed up to leave they had "gone out" already in their big car. So with me looking like a battered wife we headed off, asking the campsite manager to give the Essex man our details. Obviously we've never heard anything from them. Gotta love those Essex folks?!