Thursday, 11 August 2011

North Queensland

Mission Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and Free Camping thru the National Parks
Mission Beach was just beautiful, heavily hit by the cyclone, the devastation to the small town and the surrounding national parks is still clearly prevalent. We happened upon this very small caravan park in south mission beach that had only reopened for business 6 weeks ago. For the low price of $25 dollars a night you got a powered site, amenities and the great company of other travelers. The park had a very relaxed feeling about it, the manager, Marty, (picture attractive hippy like man, with long flowing locks big sun hat and barefeet) waved us in as we drove past, nearly running onto the street to tell us they were open, he then offered us freshly baked chocolate cake and coffee for morning tea which was a hit for the kids and their mother! We sat down with the other campers and chatted whilst Marty pottered on his pottery wheel with the clay. He then wandered me over to our site and helped to pick out a good one, introducing us to our other new neighbours and instilling this relaxed, friendly approach in us all. We spent a few days here wandering around, playing at the beach and playing pool whilst having a few drinks with the other campers.

Wednesday August 3rd
Mike and I are a little sick of each other’s company. Yep I said it, four months in a little camper with not a lot of other adult conversation can really test a marriage. In many ways it has been the best time ever, but. our gags are a little stale, we can finish each others sentences without even starting them and even the kids are sick of hearing us talk!. 
We now literally jump to talk to the nearest adult that passes by, eager to engage in conversation with someone different, someone exciting. We are the couple that we used to laugh at, that wanders up to someone’s campsite for a quick chat, only to find that they are still there 3 hours later. I find myself talking to anyone I can just to get some more conversation in, I even try to talk to the overseas tourists who can’t speak English when I am desperate!

Now it’s not just me and mike that are a little ‘over’ each other. Oscar now asks how old do you have to be before you can move out? He says he is sick of us all and would like to spend less time with us! He wants Mike to build a little hidey spot in the camper for him to go and be by himself without the girls chasing him!......yep it sure is cozy in the camper!!!!

Even with our confined space issues we are still enjoying our travels, I think we have become  a little complacent to the beauty of Australia, we now go to a national park and start to think, yep that’s another waterfall, yep that’s another gorge….what ungrateful buggers we are!!!!!  So to pep us up for our last 10 weeks of travelling we have had  a bit of a holiday from our holiday. We have spent the last week staying at the coconut cairns resort,  it has 2 jumping pillow, a water playground, 2 pools, a bike track, mini golf, movie nights, pancake breakfasts….it is a kids paradise. We have kicked back and relaxed, played with the kids, done minimal sight seeing and regrouped. We have surrounded ourselves with people and had a great time. Oscar made friends with the boy next door and had a great time playing for a few days. Mike and I enjoyed the company of his parents and enjoyed having new things and people to talk about.

Cairns is very pretty, we have enjoyed wandering around the town, the esplanade and the lagoons. Today we went to kuranda and wandered around the markets and the beautiful rainforests. Mike and the 2 older kids took the skyrail back down to Cairns and the kids loved being that high up! Their mother did the sensible thing and drove the car back down with Lola…..(as I am not a great fan of heights at the best of times!)

We are heading to green island tomorrow for a day of snorkeling and coral viewing, it should be fantastic! Then the following day we are off to Port douglas for another week of relaxation….what a tough life this is!

Thursday August 4th
Today has been a great day, unfortunately when we went to confirm our booking for green island the lady advised that the weather is not too great to take kids out on the boat. She regailed a few tails about the amount of vomit that the crew have been cleaning up this week and we quickly agreed to abandon our boat trip. So instead we have just relaxed by the caravan park, playing at the playground and laughing with the kids. I have been partaking in my favourite activity, people watching, there is a group of campers all set up with lots of kids ranging from 8 – 16ish. The kids are having so much fun running around the caravan park, playing in the laundry and toilets at night and generally doing what kids do. It makes me think that in years to come this scene will be filled with Hodge, Mahar and Watson kids getting into mishchief, Oscar chasing Jess around, the hodge and mahar girls leading my angelic Scarlett up to no good and Lola bossing the boys around, making them chase her all over the park. I can’t wait to see what they get up to! By then I imagine that one of the menfolk will have got a boat and be out catching us dinner, (eg drinking on the river!),The women  folk will be kicking back ‘looking after’ the younger kids, (eg drinking wine from coffee cups, whilst gossiping over a game of  cards.) I can only hope that our kids grow up to have great memories of these camping trips I forsee for our future!

Mike and I spent the better part of our last afternoon in Cairns, chatting to our new neighbours and having a few beers, it was great to  relax and hear about another families travels, where they have been and what they have seen. We have arranged to meet up again in Airlie Beach in a few weeks time. I think Mike was happy for some ‘bloke’ company and Ben was more than willing to sink a few beers and spend the day chatting away. For someone who was so reserved, Mike has been the consistent friend maker on this trip, I think it has been great for him to have this chance to relax and enjoy the company of others as many of you will  know he is more than happy in his own company most of the time!

From Cairns we drove the picturesque drive to Port Douglas, the highway travels right against the coast so the view were amazing, we spent a few beautiful days in Port Douglas  wandering the streets, visiting the great Sunday market, playing on the beach and generally hanging out. It was so lovely to get back into a relaxed rhythm of enjoying each others company again, Cairns had certainly pepped our spirits back up and even thought the weather was not great we still made the most of any bursts of sunshine we had. We visited Mossman gorge and did a a very beautiful walk through the rainforest. We will however endeavour to read the sign next time that says the walk is a ‘moderate’ walk, and although it wasn’t too hard having a tired Scarlett and Lola who we had to carry for much of the walk did not make it any easier. But with a lot of cajoling Scarlett into believing that we were hunting for fairies in the magical forest we made our way around the walk. Scarlett was so funny as I would pretend to sprinkle fairy dust on her legs to get her to walk a little more, she would get all excited and circle her arms around and around as if she was building up momentum and then woosh she would be off, for an ever so brief moment climbing up the hills and stairs until a very short distance on she would need more fairy dust and the process would begin again. Another couple who were doing the walk were very impressed by my ingenuity and you could see them giggling every time Scarlett would do her very pronounced ‘circle work’.

After all this effort a poor little Lola fell asleep in my arms before I could lay her into the pram and Scarlett announced that her tummy had worked up an appetite for an icecream! Scarli’s tummy tells her a lot of things, that she is hungry, that she doesn’t want to do her chores, that she loves mummy more than daddy, that she should have some chocolate… years to come I think she will continue to use her tummy as an excuse for EVERYTHING, she even pushes it together so the skinfolds can ‘talk’ to me when I don’t believer her, she is such a funny little creature!

I loved the short time we spent in Port Douglas and now can totally understand why my dear friend Kym says Port Douglas refreshes the soul, it was great! So after a beautiful last play on four mile beach we packed up the camper and headed to our next destination, Paronella Park, to learn more about Jose’s dream!!!.

Paronella Park is a castle and private gardens that a man called Jose built for his beloved earlier this century, (not very good with the details, but it was maybe around the 1930’s) We drove to Mena Creek to do the tour and stayed in the caravan park attached to paronella park for the night. The story told about Jose was very interesting and the amount of work that this single man did to build these beautiful buildings, by hand, was incredible. We did a couple of tours, one during the day that described the historical story about Jose and his ‘DREAM’ (this wording featured very heavily in the tours)  and then the night tour which was just even more spectacular. Although the castle and other buildings have been heavily hit by cyclones and time, you can picture so clearly what these buildings must have been like in their hey day. Scarlett and I wandered around the night tour and she was so excited to be seeing a ‘real live castle’ she even asked if santa could make her one like that for Christmas!

The next day we headed off for a few nights of free camping at Murray Falls, even though we had visited this national park previously Mike loved it so much that we have come back to have a few days ‘out in the bush’.

It has been a lovely couple of days out here communing with nature. We have swam in rock pools, getting carried away by the rapids, the kids have played and explored the bushland. Oscar has found some secret hiding spots to try and hide from his sisters and has had a great time at night sitting by the fire chewin’ the fat with his old dad. It is so gorgeous to eavesdrop on their conversations, I love listening to what they talk about.

We have read books, relaxed watching the waterfall and roughly plotted the next leg of our journey to Brisbane. We also met another great family who have been on the road for approx 4 months too. They had two daughters and Oscar has had such a great time playing with their eldest daughter, Honey. They hit it off so well and it was so cute to see them cosying up by the fire toasting marshmallows! We were so disappointed to see them head off as Oscar had so much fun. Scarlett loved it too as all the kids sat with Sara and made lip gloss, Scarli wandered around all day reapplying her lip gloss to her lips until they have doubled in size, she then tries to kiss you and you end up wearing half a pot of lipgloss all over you too! It is nice to see the kids playing all day outside, as much as Oscar loves his ds, he is just as happy to be outside playing by the river and climbing up hills exploring. Free camping is a great way of ensuring we do this more often as you can’t power up the ds or the computer, you do stop and take time out. I think I am so relaxed from the last couple of days I could fall into a coma!!! ( quick get me  to the nearest facebook access and shopping mall!!!)

We have now made our way to Ayr for the night before we hit Airlie beach tomorrow, happy travels!

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