Airlie Beach, Monday 27 to Thursday 30 May 2019

On Monday we drove non-stop from Flaggy Rock Café to the Island Gateway Holiday Park at Jubilee Pocket, which is just a little way past the main central business district of Airlie Beach. The park’s admin staff were especially friendly and helpful, and they also act as booking agents for local tours.

Matilda was allocated a nice grassy site. When we set up we looked at the awning and the electronic, which were both playing up. Ian slapped more tape on the awning to keep it closed at the rear end. The step now needs a little nudge to retract, and we decided to live with this.

We considered activities, dining and accommodation options for the next few days, and looked into a doggie day care for Dexter. Katie found an advertisement for a café that was particularly welcoming.

Nice to know that they welcome Chinese people, but what about people of other races?

We received a phone call from our friends John and Joy from Bowen (our next stop), and we arranged to catch up on Thursday and to try camping on vacant land across from their house. We met John and Joy on our Majestic Princess cruise to Hong Kong. We cooked smoked mackerel from Grunske’s and pearl couscous for dinner—so good!

After Dexter’s morning walk and breakfast, we decided to go a one-day sail in the Whitsunday Passage. We considered three boats recommended by the park’s admin staff, and settled on the Providence V. This boat is a replica of the Grand Banks fishing schooners and was built from North Queensland timber. The main objective of the sail was to see Whitehaven Beach, which is well known for incredibly white and fine quartz sand. We turned our attention to doggie daycare, and rang several providers. We had two professional people available to mind Dexter, but Narelle from the office also offered to mind Dexter overnight too so we could get away early for sailing the next morning. We settled on accepting Narelle’s offer.

We drove to Cedar Creek Falls which was a very nice secluded creek with rocky outcrops leading to a waterfall and a swimming hole. At first Dexter was not very confident to go over the rocky surface leading to the water—this was different from a sandy beach. The temptation to get wet was eventually too great, and he went for a paddle, but did not get out of his depth.

Dexter and Ian at Cedar Creek Falls

We then dropped Dexter off at Narelle’s house for an overnight stay. Narelle has a Labrador X Border Collie called Buster, and her daughter, Teagan, has a parrot called Mango. Dexter immediately got on well with Buster, but we were a bit concerned about the parrot, who often has the run of the house. We warned Narelle that Dexter likes to chase birds, and we did not want to think about what he would do if he caught one. We were assured that the bird would be OK, so we left Dexter with his bedding and some food. We received an SMS from Narelle later with good evidence that Dexter had settled in well—he was being spoilt by Teagan.

Dexter with new best friends Buster and Teagan

As we were now dogless, we walked across the road from the caravan park to the Jubilee Tavern for dinner on pasta night.

On Wednesday morning, we rose early to find sticky syrup leaking from a plastic bottle of peaches in the fridge, onto the motorhome floor. Cleaning up took some time, so we missed breakfast and went to the front of the caravan park to be collected by a shuttle bus. We arrived at Abell Point Marina North for boarding the Providence V.

Katie boarding Providence V

We had 20 adults and 2 small children on board as passengers. Kieran from Scotland was the skipper and Brett from Poland was the crew. This sailing boat has 2 masts and can raise a bunch of sails, but we motored all the way to Tongue Bay or Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island.

Ian the sailor
Katie the sailor
Kieran the Skipper
Cutting through the water

Brett led us to a series of lookouts over Whitehaven Beach, where we looked down to Whitehaven Beach.

Our landing site for Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach from the lookouts

We then were given time to climb down onto the beach itself. Ian walked out into the clear water in search of rays and lemon sharks. There were plenty of rays and whiting, but no sharks on the day. We tried rubbing the very fine white sand on our bodies to exfoliate our skin.

Not real crowded here, and no sharks!

Back on the boat, we had a packed salad for lunch. Providence V then motored back to Hook Passage between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island to allow passengers to go snorkelling along the fringing reef. Ian wore his contact lenses for better vision underwater. You can lose track of time when snorkelling, and Ian was one of the last to come out of the water. Again, there was a total lack of sharks.

Most people on the cruise enjoyed some snorkelling

On the way back to Abell Point, we motored all of the way but raised four sails to assist sailing. It was a good feeling to be under sail in a relatively large sailing boat (for us). We enjoyed some fruit, then the bar opened and Ian had a couple of Coronas while topless soaking up the late afternoon sun. There are no photos of Ian topless.

All sails up

We arrived back at Abell Point at 4:30pm after a full 9 hours on board. We were driven back to the caravan park, from where we set off to collect Dexter. It was dusk, and Narelle told us that she had to go out at 5:00 pm, and she thought Buster was best in the house. We wanted to collect Dexter before dark so that he would not fret by being alone in the yard. James in the Tom Tom got us lost, but we recovered and arrived at Narelle’s just on dark to find Dexter waiting patiently for us at the front gate. We left a bottle of good Hunter Valley Semillon and a box of Malteasers for Narelle and her daughter Teagan for looking after Dexter.

Back at the caravan park, Ian relaxed over a couple of Cloud Catchers. All three of us were pooped. Dexter had his normal dinner, but Katie and I just had some bread and jam and ice cream for dinner. We all hit the sack early.

We slept well after a big day. We were ready to leave at 9:30 am on Thursday, and dropped into the office to leave a message of farewell and thanks to Narelle. We drove out to Shute Harbour, from where in 2004 we caught a boat to Long Island. We spent five nights at Club Croc. Unfortunately, the area was flattened by a cyclone a couple of years ago, and we understand that Club Croc no longer exists. The area around Shute Harbour was still looking a bit derelict.

Shute Barbour from the nearby lookout

John had asked Ian to pick up some ukulele strings from the Airlie Beach music shop. We found the shop OK, and bought some good quality strings with a low-G. In the same street there was a brewery, but it had just been set up and was not yet open—bugger!

We headed north for Bowen.

Flaggy Rock, Saturday 25 to Sunday 26 May 2019

Agnes Water to Airlie Beach is over 700 km. We had decided to try and limit each daily drive to 400 km, or about 5 hours of driving, so we looked for a stopover on the way to Airlie Beach. Using GeoWiki, we found a low cost ($10) camp site at the Flaggy Rock Café at Clairview on the Bruce Highway. However, multiple attempts to contact the Café by phone over two days failed to get a person to answer the phone. There was also the Flaggy Rock Community Centre, and the first phone call encountered a very helpful woman, who said there would be plenty of room on several hectares of grassy paddock.

After leaving Agnes Water on Saturday, we stopped at the Rockhampton Information Centre where we parked on the main street street and had our lunch of tuna sandwich. Two volunteers in the Information Centre were very chatty and helpful. The Tropic of Capricorn passes through Rockhampton, and the road west of Rockhampton to Longreach, which we drove in 2015 on the way to Alice Springs, is the Capricorn Highway. The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost circle of latitude where the sun can lie directly overhead the earth. It is currently at 23°26′12.4″S, but it is moving northwards at about 15 m per year.

We reached the Flaggy Rock Community Centre at 4:15pm, having not seen any evidence of the cafe.  We were met by Ray, the cheerful and helpful caretaker, and we had no trouble finding a grassy spot to camp well away from others, and the facilities. Ray collected $15 from us just before dark. The site was next to a railway line, but apart from a few trains, we had a quiet night.

Dexter enjoyed a long walk on Sunday morning to the facilities, which are good. We met a couple in another Jayco Conquest motorhome who were travelling with their young Border Collie, and towing a small Mazda car on a tilt trailer. They had sold their house and were travelling indefinitely. Unsure if we could do that.

We wanted to get away early, but the awning refused to retract all the way at the rear end. Ian was able to tape it closed so it was not a problem when we were driving. Ian had wondered how long the flimsy looking awning would last. The electric step also decided not to retract unless it was given a light kick. Matilda was starting to play up—nothing critical, but definitely annoying. It brought back memories of a major problem we had with our awning on our tag-along trip to the Kimberleys in 2015.

When we eventually got away, soon after getting back on the Bruce Highway we came up to the Flaggy Rock Café, which looked open. We stopped in a dirt carpark, which is presumably where people are supposed to camp. Ian went in an explained that he had wanted to book a spot to stay, but he could not get anyone to answer the phone, possibly because the phone was faulty. The response was that they knew the phone was faulty, and words to the effect that they were seriously considering the possibility of thinking about trying to approach someone about doing something about it, maybe.

So, if you need to find an overnight stopover for a self-contained RV and on the Bruce Highway between Agnes Water and Airlie Beach, you would not do much better than the Flaggy Rock Community Centre (0477 545 618) at Clairview. We suggest giving the Flaggy Rock Café a miss, at least as far as a stopover point. Can’t comment on the coffee, as Ian did not feel obliged to support their business after their lack of interest in fixing their business phone line.