More from Sarina Range

We finished our house sit at Sarina Range officially two days ago, but stayed an extra night to enjoy a ‘happy hour or three,’ plus a meal with Elaine and Larry. Elaine reminds us so much of our friend Eileen from Perth. We told her that on our first meeting, and she was concerned that may have been a bad thing, which of course is so very much not the case. Eileen is the salt of the earth, someone who calls a spade a spade, and within a few minutes of meeting her she feels like a life long friend. A feeling that doesn’t diminish no matter how long one knows her, and no matter how infrequently we meet up. So, to tell a woman that she reminds us of Eileen is to pay her a tremendous compliment.

Whilst we were there we had a lot of trouble with uploading photos as the internet could be a bit hit and miss. The ones I uploaded previously didn’t do any justice at all to Titan. However, saying that, none of the photos since have done him a great deal of justice either. He’s a brindle, and just like our last rescue cat, Fuji, who was also a brindle, somehow the colouring of their coat seems to blend out in photos and somehow disguises the character that otherwise shows in their face and eyes.

We did capture a typical photo of Titan having a day nap with Tommy Tigger. Again, his colouring doesn’t show him up to his best in a photo, but it was about the best we could do. They often snuggled together through the day, and always at night. Sometimes back to back, but more often as is demonstrated in this photo, with Titan having his front paw protectively wrapped over Tommy.

Tommy Tigger enjoying the protective paw of Titan.

Tommy Tigger enjoying the protective paw of Titan.

Much as they both were very comfortable with us, they were both clearly overjoyed to see Elaine and Larry return. Whilst Tommy Tigger in typical haughty, independent cat style (the reason I love cats so much), couldn’t have cared less when we left, Titan looked a little sad. I’m sure if he could have things his way, Elaine and Larry would be his favourite people, but he would be very happy to have dozens more living with him. That’s so as he could do a continuous round getting petted from each person in turn without wearing out his welcome with each person.

The swinging chair is Elaine’s favourite place to enjoy a cuppa or a read. It’s positioned so as to overlook the entry to the property and the two bottom paddocks. Wallabies are usually happily grazing here, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon. A very pleasant place for a read, and I almost fell asleep here as the breeze swayed me two and fro on more than one occasion.

A lovely chair to enjoy a nap in.

A lovely chair to enjoy a nap in.

Our van, and the accommodation is high on a hill, with a steep hill down to either get to the road at the front, or the creek through the back paddocks. I nicknamed both hills, ‘Cardiac Hill’. I’m not sure whether I was getting a good cardiac work out by the time I walked back up each time, or whether I was close to cardiac arrest. Needless to say, poor Titan didn’t get the walk each day that he’s used to, and had to make do all to often with a run around the house area. Not easy to instigate as he doesn’t fetch a ball, but by enthusiastically stamping my feet at him he seemed to get the message that there was a bit of game involved. I’m not sure who looked the biggest idiot, him running in wide circles like an electric train set, or me instigating each lap. I suspect as far as looking like an idiot, I won hands down……

The natural habitat down by the creek - at the bottom  of Cardiac Hill.

The natural habitat down by the creek – at the bottom of Cardiac Hill.

Sarina Range would be a lovely place to live, but staying there only for a short time had us at a bit of loss as to what to do with ourselves.

At Elaine’s suggestion we took a day trip to Eungella National Park one day. It’s almost two hours drive in each direction, but was worth it. A beautiful park with nice walk tracks to water falls, and lovely little concreted fords placed to drive through the clearest of creeks to get to the picnic area and walk tracks.

A cool, clear stream to ford to get to Eungella picnic ground.

A cool, clear stream to ford to get to Eungella picnic ground.

A walk track in Eungella (pronounced Youngilla). A cruel reminder of how unfit I am.

A walk track in Eungella (pronounced Youngilla). A cruel reminder of how unfit I am.

We’ve now moved on and are camping at a farm stay just a little north of Townsville, after spending a single night at road stop stay on the way here. We’re expecting another wet week. This year Queensland’s ‘dry season’ has been unseasonably wet. In fact for our last night at Sarina Range we received 213mm of rain (that’s more than 8 inches for those like me, who can relate better to imperial measurements). We weren’t sure whether or not we were going to be flooded in. Elaine drove us down to the road before we hitched up to make sure the creek hadn’t cut the road off. It was flowing fast, but was still below road level. I’m not sure if that’ll be the case after tomorrow’s expected weather. A stormy day tomorrow is expected with thunder, lightening and lots of rain.

We’re camped in a reasonably boggy place, so it’s possible we’ll be stuck here for a while. We’re hoping though to get a fine, warm day before we leave so as we go across to Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville.

Watch this space…..

 

A little more about our house sit

Our caravan is backed into a huge shed on some land in Sarina Ridge. We’ll be here for a little over two weeks, and will be getting some animal and garden time, along with a good chance to polish up the van.

I’m not sure how many acres Elaine and Larry have. It’s a lovely property with a permanent creek running through it. The creeks a bit of a hike, and we’ve only been there once so far. We’ll go again and try to spy out the platypus that live there.

Currently Elaine and Larry only use the place as a weekender. For my overseas readers, weekenders on acreage in country areas often means utilising part of a very big shed as living quarters, and this is what E & L have done here. There is the huge garage where our caravan is housed. That has a lovely new bathroom fitted into a small corner. Opposite is another tin shed used as basic accommodation. It’s drafty and basic but gives the owners a chance to establish their land and gardens and work out the best position for their permanent abode to be built later. There’s a magic sort of quality about living in a basic and very rustic weekender that appeals to anyone with any ‘pioneering’ spirit. It appeals to us.

There’s eleven head of cattle here that keep the grass under control. Titan the dog, and Tommy Tigger the cat travel with E & L weekly between their week house and the weekender.

Our job here is to keep the plants watered, and to keep an eye on the cattle while Elaine and Larry have a holiday. Titans job is to make sure our hands are never idle – he thinks our hands are much better utilised giving him a good pat than they are at doing anything else. He’s pretty good at doing his job! Tommy Tigger occasionally treats us to a ‘real fur’ snuggle, but mainly he leaves the job of occupying our hands fully to Titan.

The days here so far have been sunny and pleasant. The nights are freezing. We’re enjoying the company of the fur babies, and the peaceful country setting. Technology is a bit sketchie. Although full bars show on our phone hot spot, I can’t seem to upload any photos, and after last nights lost draft, I’m now saving several times whilst typing a draft to ensure I dont completely lose another post. I’ll keep trying with the photos.

Apart from the sketchy technology and the freezing nights – what a pleasure.

Looking after ‘the doggies’

We’re currently at Sarina Range doing a two and a half week house sit. The Internet is sketchy so blogs will be short while I’m here, if at all. I just lost a full draft because it wouldn’t save – only took me two hours to type it.

We’re looking after Titan the rescue dog, Tommy Tigger the rescue cat, and 11 head of cattle. And for now I’ll attempt to save this and update it bit by bit with more details and photos over the next few days  – if the Internet technology will allow it.

Whitehaven Xpress – trip to Whitehaven beach

You can’t come to the Whitsundays without going out on at least one Island cruise. It’s what the Whitsundays are all about. With an unlimited budget we would have taken unlimited cruises. Alas our budget isn’t unlimited so we had to settle for just one. Therefore it was important to be sure the ‘just one’ we chose wasn’t going to be a disappointment.

We looked for a boat that didn’t take too many passengers, and one that didn’t operate like a ‘milk run’ using our time to pick up passengers from other islands. Looking at Tripadvisor, Whitehaven Xpress seemed to tick all of our boxes. Today’s boat trip carried 33 passengers including Paul and I. We departed from the Port at Airlie at 9am, and returned around 5pm, with transport to and from the boat included. Three meaningful stops were included for the day, none of which involved picking up passengers from other islands.

Whitehaven Xpress

Whitehaven Xpress

The day was beautiful. The sea was calm. First stop was the look out at Whitehaven Beach. It took around an hour to get there, and one of the crew, Ed, made us coffee and served us biscuits as we cruised through the calm clear waters.

The look out was accessed by way of a gradually ascending shady bush track. It was an easy walk and no trouble to complete with just thongs on our feet.

A natural sculpture on the bush track  - with some imagination perhaps an emu tackling  a croc!

A natural sculpture on the bush track – with some imagination perhaps an emu tackling a croc!

The view from the top was stunning.

This hasn't been photo shopped.

This hasn’t been photo shopped.

P1050170

On the way back down the track we came across a rather large golden orb spider. I put my hand behind the web as close as a dared for a comparison of size.

What a whoppa

What a whoppa

Next stop was Whitehaven beach itself. Whitehaven has the well deserved reputation of being the best beach in Australia. Theres no argument from us – if there’s a better one we’ve not come across it yet. The sand is white silica. It doesn’t get hot, and it squeaks when you walk on it. The water was warm, but at this time of year cool enough to have a very low stinger risk, so no stinger suits were needed when we swam there.

What a place for a dip

What a place for a dip

One of our other favourite beaches also has silica sand – Lucky Bay at Esperance. Lucky Bay though is on the Southern Ocean so although still stunningly beautiful like Whitehaven, any extended time in the water is likely to result in hypothermia. Today we happily floated around for ages without even getting a goose bump.

We had two hours there which included a pretty damned good barbecue cooked for us by the crew and served in a shady area just back from the beach.

There were plenty of goannas sharing our lunch area.

There were plenty of goannas sharing our lunch area.

Then onto Manderlay Beach at Hook Island for some snorkelling over part of the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkels, flippers, floatation aids etc were all provided, and for those who preferred to stay dry, there was a glass bottomed boat.

Then cheese and biscuits for our return trip.

We had a marvellous day, and met some nice people. There were a couple of families with young children on board. The kids, ranging in age from around two to around 12, quickly formed friendships and were amongst the happiest kids I’ve ever seen. I’m sure they must have been exhausted by the days end, but I didn’t hear a grizzle from any of them. They, like me, I’m sure will sleep soundly tonight.

Did we choose right for our boat trip . Absolutely. The crew of three were all competent and friendly (especially Ed), we were fed and watered well including a supurbly cooked barbecue lunch. We had a terrific balance of time on the boat and time ashore or in the water. The day was full, but not overloaded.  No time was wasted with a dreaded ‘milk run’ itenarary. It was fantastic.

What a pleasure.

 

Fishing from Shute Harbour Jetty

Airlie Beach has returned to magnificent weather. The grounds dried out, the skies are blue, and its warm – a very pleasant 26 Degrees today. So, what does one do on a glorious sunny day at Airlie Beach when there’s nothing else on – fish of course.

I took some lambs liver out of the freezer (my preferred fishing bait), and packed up a few crackers and cheese, chopped up some water melon and put ice cubes into a bottle of water. In the meantime Paul sorted out the fishing gear. High tide was around 11.30am, so we timed our arrival at Shute Harbour jetty for around 11am, calling at a fishing tackle shop on the way to purchase some more hooks and Pauls preferred bait.

Paul trying his luck.

Paul trying his luck.

Within a very short time I’d caught a small shark (only about 1/2 metre in length), which didn’t live to see to see another day. A giant groper who lives under the jetty seized the opportunity of a captive lunch and lunged from the watery depths to claim my prize, hook, line, sinker – and shark, gone in a mouthful. This groper is famed for stealing catches from fisher people such as myself who are to slow in reeling in their catch. I kid you not – he is a massive fish. I wouldn’t like to fall in nearby, he’s certainly big enough to do me some serious damage should he mistake me for someones ‘slow catch’. Had he not taken my prize we would have released the shark back to continue on with his day. Just his rotten luck that I was to slow at reeling him in. It was awesome to see – so, so fast, for such a massive lump of a water creature. A spectacle we’d been warned about, and one we’re pleased to have witnessed.

A couple of hours later we’d had the joy of being surprised by a big ray completing a serious of high jumps only about 10 metres in front of the jetty. Obviously, something much bigger had decided he’d make a good lunch. We didn’t see if he’d been successful in evading the enemy. I hope so, we’re rather partial to rays. They’re such relaxing sea creatures to watch as they glide peacefully through clear waters. We witnessed a large turtle swimming along and poking his head up every so often for a look around. And we’d completely surrendered to the peaceful tranquility thet comes with a couple of hours gazing out over the calm, blue/green waters of Shute Harbour. So meditational!

The island fringed waters of Shute Harbour.

The island fringed waters of Shute Harbour.

Boats of all shapes and sizes coming and going.

Boats of all shapes and sizes coming and going.

Apart from the shark  nothing else was caught that was worthy of a mention. But our bait was constantly being nibbled so our hopes of ‘the big one’ was constantly being nurtured. With or without a catch, the jetty on a warm 26 degree day is one hell of place to wile away a couple of hours.

What a pleasure!

Ya can go off a place

A week of wet here in Airlie Beach, and today I think we’ve had more rain than that which has been received in total in the preceding week. It’s even cold today at 17°.

P1050134

Yep, our vans almost ready to start floating.

Our barbecue table is standing in about 4 inch deep water. Ya can go off a place. Only joking – but seriously……

P1050133

Guess we’re not barbecuing tonight.

It’s 30° and fine in Broome – feels like the grass is always greener somewhere else sometimes. Perhaps after nearly 40 years of living in WA we both just became used to predictable weather. In Perth in summer it’s hot and dry, almost without exception. In winter it’s cool, and there’s a reasonable amount of wet days, winter after winter without exception. That’s when folks go up to Broome, where it’s warm and dry, day after day without exception.

I often say, ‘no good complaining about the weather, you can’t control it, so just live with it.’ But this time I feel justified in complaining. Weve tried to put a lot of miles between us and bad weather. Seems we’re destined to live with wet feet lately. I don’t mind crisp cold. And I don’t even mind a day or two of rain, but this is so much more than that. It’s supposed to be the dry season. It’s bloody torrential.

P1050136

Im wondering when I should get the oars out for our neighbours.