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.

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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.

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.

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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°.

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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……

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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.

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

Big4 Adventure park, Whitsundays

We’re definitely in the tropics. It’s pleasantly warm, and this week it’s been wet. That’s the tropics. Sunshine and rain, rain and sunshine – the recipe for gorgeous gardens full of rich colours, green palms and ferns,  and lots of birds.

We’re so pleased we treated ourselves to this particular caravan park. It’s only slightly more expensive than all its nearby competition, but it has so much going for it.

The sites are big and individually bordered on both sides with tall lush ferns and spacious areas of green grass to the rear of each caravan. It’s pleasant not to be back to back and up close and personal with other vans to our rear.

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Big private sites

There’s plenty of space everywhere with large shady grassed areas, very inviting for outdoor activities and games.

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Playing bocce

The pool is big and heated to 28°.

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Heated, landscaped pool

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A cooler day so sun loungers are empty.

They have a mini golf course, a giant chess set,  a small menagerie of farm animals and heaps of other activities. The sow in the menagerie is due to give birth any day now, so with school holidays just over a week away, a litter of newborn piglets is sure to bring lots of joy to the visiting ankle biters.

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Mini golf to be played under a tropical canopy of lush ferns

All of the staff seem very happy in their jobs, and all that I’ve spoken to can’t speak highly enough of their bosses and their work place. I’m sure that’s the reason for the fantastic atmosphere around the park. One particular staff member, Mel runs a lot of the free activities for guests. For the adults she puts on pancake breakfasts, coffee and cake quiz morning teas, and wine and cheese afternoons by the pool. She also runs activities for kids clubs. I bet she helps make some memorable and happy moments for the visiting families.

The park also puts on movie nights several times a week in an outside cinema.

We’ve just come back from a trivia morning tea. Mel thought it was a funny touch to include a face creaming machine for wrong answers. However it didn’t seem to be working, so I suggested she try it out.

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Mel demonstrating the creaming machine.

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Yep, it works.

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A good sport.

I hope the park owners appreciate her and pay her well. She’s perfect in her job, they couldn’t get better. Paul says she’s like gold.

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Infectious happiness – that’s Mel.

We were reluctant to come here, thinking it was going to be one of the overpriced parks where we would be paying premium rates for such things as jumping pillows, pool water slides, playground equipment and any number of other things we’d not be likely to use. Not this time though, the owners of this Big4 certainly haven’t forgotten the adults. We’re being well catered for. Congratulations, Big4 Adventure Park, Cannonvale (Airlie Beach).  You’ve made this a wonderful place for both children and adults alike to stay, and you’ve created a work place where your staff are happy to be working. Loving this place.

Whitsundays – Airlie Beach

First Impressions:

We arrived at the tourist mecca of Airlie Beach almost a week ago. First impressions are that the world wide attention this place gets is well deserved.

We’ve finally reached the right climate. Bathers (togs or swimmers), and thongs (Aussie summer footwear/flip flops) are the dress of the day. There’s no need for either heating or air conditioning – it’s perfect, day and night.
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