And we are off! But where to begin…
Blog posts are a little difficult to complete thanks to intermittent internet connections but I’ll try to catch everyone up over one or two posts. We are currently at the Musgrave Roadhouse using a paid wifi account, and have started our trek to the Tip. We have been gone for a week and have already had some amazing adventures and seen some wonderful sites.
After the final pack up at home (can’t believe we fit it all in!) we set off for Gladstone via (a) the tip to weigh ourselves and (b) the Sunshine Coast to stop and say goodbye to Mum.
Then we were off to our first overnight stop just north of Gladstone. We initially intended to stay at the Calliope River rest area but we really wanted something that was near food for an easy first night (i.e. no cooking!) so after a quick check of Wikicamps (best app purchase ever!), we headed for the Raglan Tavern on the Bruce Highway. We camped in their giant carpark/truck stop but the meals at the Tavern were wonderful and the showers were hot. Can’t ask for more than that! Being right on the Bruce Highway, it wasn’t exactly a restful night with trucks and trains going past all the time, and then Charlotte’s coughing magically re-appeared in the middle of the night so sleep was hard to come by. I think my nerves about all that we had in front of us probably also contributed a bit to my lack of sleep.
After that our next stop was Smalley’s Beach campground in Cape Hillsborough National Park. We had the best spot there was – peaceful and slightly away from the other sites, opening right to the beach, but still within walking distance of the toilet block. We stayed here for two nights and it was a lovely first introduction to ‘bush camping’ where we essentially fend for ourselves instead of relying on all that is available at taverns or caravan parks. I had one moment of fear when Charlotte and Brandon decided to go for a walk along the beach and 3 hours later they still hadn’t come back! Phone reception was intermittent so I couldn’t reach Brandon at first and as the sun was starting to set, I started to get a little nervous. I walked among the nearest campsites and asked if they had seen Brandon and Charlotte but no-one had seen them. I finally tried Brandon’s mobile again and thankfully I had reception and he answered the phone! I didn’t realise how worried I was until I heard his voice and I promptly burst into tears! Turns out Charlotte had found some friends at a nearby camp site and Brandon allowed her some time to play with them before heading back to our site He tried to send a text to let me know where he was but it didn’t go through. Phew – much relief!
After this our next stop was two nights with Brandon’s cousin Jayson and his lovely family in Cairns. We haven’t seen them since Charlotte was about 10 weeks old so it was great to be able to catch up. A few beers, a few laughs and lots of wonderful food made for a great visit.
Before we left, I remember reading a question on one of the camping/caravanning forums about what people believed was the etiquette for waving at other campers/travellers while on the road. I didn’t give it much thought because I figured there are so many travellers out there, it would be odd to try to wave to everyone. That being said, it’s not hard to tell who the long-term travellers are – they usually have loads of crap on their vehicles/vans and their vans are certainly not in showroom condition. I figured maybe waving to these folks, as a kind of kinship thing, it might be worth starting to wave. I delicately began – but not with much enthusiasm. Brandon said I needed to be assertive and early with my waving – like there’s a style to it! 😉 So he started to put a finger up from the steering wheel to ‘force’ others to wave to us. Can you believe we are taking this much pleasure out of getting people to wave to us?! Clearly we have already spent too much time on the road! There are times when I think waving should be compulsory – for example, when you are on a 4WD track and you pull aside to let someone else go past you, a wave then should be compulsory. On the open highway, not so much. I stopped waving after a while because no-one was waving back at me but then spontaneous recovery occurred when a random couple waved to both of us quite enthusiastically out of the blue!
Another behaviour I have noticed more on this trip than other trips is blinker etiquette. As a big rig, we tend to sit just below the speed limit for comfort and fuel economy. But this means we can get some people sit behind us who might get frustrated being stuck behind us. Brandon always does the right thing and lets people behind him know when the path is clear for overtaking, by putting his right indicator on momentarily and slowing down just a bit. Just like getting the occasional wave from a random stranger, it’s quite pleasant to see people recognise these little efforts by ‘blinkering’ us (i.e. blinking left, right, then left again) as they move back across to the left side of the road. Yep, we’ve definitely been on the road too long already to get this much pleasure from such a little thing!
I knew this trip would test me on a number of levels, particularly my desire for cleanliness and orderliness. What I didn’t realise was how early this would be tested. The carpark at Raglan was dirt/gravel and Smalley’s Beach was also dirt/dust. I am fighting a losing battle trying to keep everything clean and tidy so I guess I need to accept this will be my one nemesis during this trip. As we move closer to the Tip the dust gets heavier, the car and camper get dirtier and everything gets just that little bit harder.
Big things we have seen so far? Big bulls in Rockhampton (many without their erm… manly bits); the big mango (in Bowen), and the big pumpkin and watermelon (in Gumlu).
Nights on the road up to this point: 5