Queensland:- Mackay

(30/10/2017 – 14/12/2017)

We left Bundoora Dam in the morning and travelled on the Fitzroy Development Road up to Mackay.   This was about a 3 hour trip (actually, we didn’t even have our usual mid morning cappuccinos!!!!)  then we arrived at the Big4 Mackay Marine Tourist Park – our home for the next 6 weeks!!!!

We had a week to set up and get everything organised before Andrew started work on Monday 6th Nov.    He had a casual contract at the Dalrymple Bay Coal terminal – doing some shutdown maintenance work and he had to work 6 days a week at 12 hours a day!!!!

This caravan park is quite nice actually.    It’s only about 2km to the Marina and to the beach and about 4 km to Mackay City Centre.  I have to say there is more traffic in our little suburb back home than there is in Mackay city!!!

The office staff here are very helpful and friendly.  They had a kids pool with a waterslide and another larger deeper pool.   This one is big enough to do laps and is mainly used by the adults.     There was also a water play splash park, 9 hole putt putt golf course, little kids playground, a tyre maze and a jumping pillow!!!

On the Saturday night before we had a lovely family dinner out for my  4??? Birthday.   We went out to the The Deck Steakhouse at Mackay Marina.

After a couple of days into the job Andrew was able to get a company ute so that worked out well as now I have our car to get out and about with Mitch!!!

So, our weeks here consisted of me finally updating our travel blogs, usual domestics, regular grocery shopping at Canelands Central, some lunches and dinners out and about in Mackay, ice-creams at the Marina, trips to the Beach and Bluewater Lagoon, swimming and playing here at the caravan park, bike riding, Timezone, Ten Pin Bowling, Inflatable Kingdom, Roller Skating, kids workshops at Bunnings, indoor play centres, Movies and I think we have visited every outdoor playground there is around Mackay!!!!!  Mitchell also made some friends here so he would often play with them of an afternoon and on the weekend too.

Mackay region has plenty to offer with lots of beaches, the beautiful Pioneer River, rainforest hinterland and the recently revitalised Mackay City Centre provides the ultimate setting to enjoy a meal or coffee or shopping.   The Bluewater Trail is a very scenic shared pathway around the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists.     Along the trail is the Mackay Regional Botanical Gardens, Bluewater Lagoon , Bluewater Quay (a riverfront entertainment facility which has a kids playground, picnic and BBQ areas, artworks and a boardwalk), Sandfly Creek Environmental Walk (this walkway is an environmental reserve showcasing shorebird species), Iluka Playground (which is Mackay’s own all abilities playground) and the Catherine Freeman Walk (Cathy Freeman, Olympic runner was born in Mackay).

Sugar and coal and are biggest industries and exporters from Mackay.    Since commencing operations in 1983, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty Ltd has established itself as Queensland’s premier coal export facility.

The Port of Hay Point is one of the world’s largest coal export ports and is comprised of two separate coal terminals, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal and the Hay Point Services Coal Terminal and they operate alongside each other.

Mitch and I had some great days out at Bluewater Lagoon.   It’s in Mackay city centre and its not even a 10 minute drive from the caravan park – nice and close!!    WOW!!!   What a fantastic family leisure centre!!!  There are 3 huge swimming lagoons with one having a 20 metre waterslide.   There is also a terrific water splash park.   There are shaded tables and chairs, BBQs and a Cafe.   It’s all fully fenced and best of all it is Free!!!     Outside the lagoon area is a huge park with an undercover kids playground.

One day we drove to Sarina (about 40 minutes south from Mackay) and did a tour at Sarina Sugar Shed.   Here we learnt how sugar is made.  This mini sugar mill set up in front of the CSR Plane Creek Sugar Mill is a City Council run tourist attraction that aims to give people an idea of the sugar industry in the area.     We got to see how  sugar is grown, processed, milled and distilled in this unique miniature mill.   We got to taste the juice from crushed sugar cane (as you would imagine it was very very sweet – I didn’t like it).    We also had a look at some very old machines they used for harvesting a long time ago.     There was small distillery here as well and is the only one in Australia that produces its own syrup to produce hand crafted rum.

Sugar is believed to have been developed in India around 500BC, prior to that people relied on honey as a sweetener.   Sugar cane was bought to Australia from South Africa with the first fleet in 1788.   Approx 40 tonnes per acre of cane is grown in the Sarina district.   3000 Cane toads were introduced in North Queensland in July 1935 in an attempt to control the cane beetle.  In the end the cane toads ended up being a pest themselves!!   White sugar is not ‘bleached’ it just has all the molasses removed where as raw sugar has a slightly brown colour due to the molasses content.  There are some vitamins and minerals in  molasses which makes people believe that raw sugar is healthier for you but sugar is sugar!!!!!  As our tour guide, said “its all in the clever marketing to make you think like that” – Interesting!!!!

After the tour I got to do some taste testing of their chutneys, sauces, rum, liqueurs and ginger beer.     Mitchell loved watching how fairy floss was made and got to eat some for the first time ever!!!     The tour ran for about an hour or so and it was quite informative and the cost was $25.00 per adult.

One morning I took Mitchell to Mackay Leisure Centre for an hour’s roller skating lesson.    I thought this was something different for him to learn!!!  Obviously many more lessons are needed to skate properly but I thought he did quite well for his time (even though there were numerous falls on his bottom!!!!!) but it was great that he had a go, as this was a new experience for him!!!!

Another day  Mitch and I took a drive out to Jarravale Alpacas and Miniature Animal Farm.    We had a lovely drive out to the Farm which was about 40 minutes from the caravan park.    A little bit of rain here and everything goes lush green – beautiful rolling hills and lots of sugar cane farms in abundance.

We arrived at the farm and we were met by Josie the owner.    Mitch and I were the only ones on the tour which was good as we got up nice and close to the all the animals on the farm.   We helped bottle feed milk to the lambs, hand feed carrots to the donkeys, deer, a goat, and miniature horses.   There were also a couple of pigs we got to feed and pat and there lots of birds and chickens too.    Our last animal we got to feed and pat was an Alpaca.

On the last Sunday we were at Mackay, Mitchell and I went to Mackay Aqua Park (inflatable obstacle course on water) for the morning (while Andrew slept off his hangover after attending the work Christmas party on Sat night!!).    It was $20.00 for a 50 minute session each.  I had never done anything like this before and it was awesome, so much fun.  Mitch and I had a ball.   I have to say though, 50 minutes was enough for me, particularly when you fell into the water and you had to try and pull yourself up and then I had to pull Mitchell up too, it got pretty tiring.    It was pretty slippery on the inflatables so you had to walk slowly to keep your balance.

Andrew finished his work contract on Friday 8th.   It was a big 5 weeks of working and pretty tiring so needed to relax for a few days  before we continued on our travels.    He was offered more work for April 2018 but he declined, we will be heading to the other side of the country by then!  There are plenty of work opportunities for Andrew but as much I liked Mackay for the time we were there, I couldn’t live here.

The aircon in the van had also broken down so that needed repairing so we had to take the van to caravan aircon mechanic to get fixed.   After we dropped the van off we took a drive out to Eungella National Park.

It was a beautiful scenic drive which was only about an hour west of Mackay.   There are kms of bush walking tracks, great food and accommodation with mountain top views.     We stopped at a couple of lookouts – Peases Lookout and Sky Window which offer spectacular views of the Pioneer Valley.   We also stopped at Broken River and did a short walk along a boardwalk.  There are platypus here in the river but we were there at the wrong time of the day to see any, but we saw lots of turtles though.  We stopped for lunch at the Eungella Chalet.   Built in 1933 as a guest house for people requiring clear mountain air, the Eungella Chalet has been a landmark in the local area for decades.   We sat outside for lunch with magnificent views overlooking the Valley.  There is also a ramp there which people use to hanglide off.

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Our last lunch out in Mackay was up at Eimeo Pacific Hotel.   It was named after a Tahitian Island and the Eimeo Pacific Hotel, which is around 14km north of Mackay, effortlessly lives up to expectations of a South Pacific paradise.

Perched on top of a cliff for more than a century, the Eimeo Pacific Hotel has impressive views out to the ocean.

Mo’orea is an island near Tahiti once known as “Aimeho,’’ or  “Aimeo,’’ but meaning, “my only home’’.

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