VanEssa: the shakedown trip

Well, it’s been great.

We’ve just spent 4 days at Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. We took our caravan VanEssa up for her maiden voyage with us, and because Airlie is only 150km/90ish miles away, it was the perfect spot: beautiful, warm, but close enough to home to head back easily in a couple of hours if anything went wrong. But nothing (much) did. With one or two notable exceptions, of course. I mean, it wouldn’t be us if there weren’t at least two issues. Since they relate to the, ahem, sanitary facilities, I’m going to gloss over that bit hastily as no-one wants to hear about things like that. However, on the plus side, VanEssa is amazingly well insulated for both heat and sound, the reverse-cycle aircon is a dream for both heating and cooling, the beds were even comfier than I thought, the fridge/freezer was fantastic, the stovetop worked beautifully, the range hood was efficient. I could go on…

Airlie Beach has always been a bit too close for our holiday trips, and it’s a major tourist centre, but off-season we found it was perfect for the Husband’s 4-day off shift, so we’ll definitely be going back. Because of this, we hadn’t done much exploring in the area, and one of the places I wanted to visit was in Proserpine, about 30km from where we were staying. It’s a small, busy sugar town, not the sort of place you’d expect to find a shop like Colour Me Crazy. From the name and the look of the website, you expect a certain degree of kookiness, but believe me, there’s nothing kooky about this place. It’s crammed floor to ceiling in multiple rooms with utter fabulousness. I can’t describe it, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

The Husband and doggo decided that it was not their kind of thing, and sat outside in the sunshine while I drifted about inside, coveting and fingering the merch. It’s not cheap (although worth every penny, I’d say), and I just couldn’t justify spending the sort of money my acquisitive little heart pined to… Gorgeous clothing, jewellery, bags, shoes, homewares, candles, pictures. aaaargh…

So after I tore myself away we went and investigated Prossy Pies, because it was lunchtime, and you know what I’m like about pies. Nice, but not as good as some we’ve had recently (although Doggo did appreciate his share). Not something I can say about Fish D’vine, where the fish and chips were indeed Divine. The coral trout was off the boat that day, the batter was light and crispy, as were the chips, and we got a generous side order of aioli. Worth going back to Airlie just for that, and the place is very dog friendly, having a large outdoor seating area overlooking the sea and out to the reef.

We did other stuff too, including a short visit to the Peter Faust Dam, which is beautiful, has a very nice unpowered camping area, several pristine picnic huts and is extremely peaceful and beautiful, with an open horizon, distant hills and a remarkable volcanic plug visible on the other side of the water. I’ve been unable to find a name for this very distinctive bit of geology.

Panoramic photo, do click for a larger image

I’d have loved to stay longer, but 4 days is all we had. Doggo, however, is delighted to be home and have his own backyard to zoom around and a wide choice of places to snooze. And now that we’re back, it’s time to fix up those issues, give her a clean and get her ready for our next trip to Cairns in August.

Oh, and I have sewing projects calling my name!


44 thoughts on “VanEssa: the shakedown trip

  1. Marty K says:

    Glad you were able to give VanEssa a trial run to work out the kinks. Bummer that the kinks were in the loo, though. That could lend itself to a rather sticky situation. Hope you get to go back to Airlie Beach for little jaunts and some more exploring soon!

    • katechiconi says:

      I saw what you did there! We’ll definitely be going back another time, since the whole process was so much easier than a long trip and it’s easily done in 4 days.

  2. Simon says:

    Haha sounds like great fun!!!

  3. Oohhh my Golly Gosh ‼️
    We did go past Proserpine on our way back from Cape York but had no idea this jewel even existed 🤩
    Well it’s a definite when we do come back up again.
    VanEssa has had her Maiden Voyage and sound like all things were good 😌

  4. Amo says:

    I had to laugh. The last time we ate fish and chips outside a shop was in Augusta just north of Leeuwin about as opposite side of Aus as you can get to yours! 😂

  5. Cathy says:

    We spend most of the winter in Bowen ( it’s definitely warmer than Melbourne) and I’ve been popping into this gorgeous gorgeous shop since 2008 ( well apart from the year we had to stay home because of you know what). There used to be a little coffee shop inside- for the other halves to sit and wait! There’s a great op shop just a few doors down the laneway as well😊

    • katechiconi says:

      No coffee shop any more, I don’t think, and these days I think the Husband Waiting Area is the little café style tables outside in the sun. The op shop is pretty good if you want bric a brac or housewares too. I like Airlie because it’s such a short run from home in the Mackay area, but I can’t stand it in high season or school holidays!

  6. Sounds like an excellent trip. That shop looks amazing. What self-control you had to resist buying something.

    • katechiconi says:

      I know… I wanted so badly to walk out with an armful of those gorgeous scented candles, especially the ‘Amalfi’ and ‘Montego Bay’ variants…

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a lovely trip. We were super comfortable, the surroundings were quiet and lush with foliage, the weather was perfect, and we had fun trips to do. I’ll happily go back any time1

  7. How fun to take yourselves, VanEssa and Mouse on a little outing! Good to get the bugs in the bog worked out before it results in a critical situation!
    That shop – wow, you could get lost in there especially if you were wearing your fabulous coat!

    • katechiconi says:

      I thing the bog-bug is a cracked seal, and they’re easy to replace, so that’s on the Husband’s To Do list on his next off shift. My job will be to do the scrub-out of the compartment. I’m not sure which is worse…
      The shop was the epitome of fabulousness. In fact, it makes me feel a rainbow quilt is coming on…

  8. magpiesue says:

    I’d be drooling in Colour Me Crazy too! Looks and sounds like a wonderful getaway – minus the sanitary issues of course.

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a great trip, and next time, I’ll spend longer in that shop, not to buy probably, but to take colour inspiration photos. The owner is a very talented display artist.

  9. Sounds perfect, and it’s always good to test drive on a short run 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      This is what we thought. I’d also had the foresight to book a powered site near the amenities block, so it wasn’t the issue it might have been. The shower worked just fine, too, so no problems there. VanEssa is more comfortable than Miz Lizzie was, by leaps and bounds.

  10. Oh. Airlie Beach. Nice. Clever colourful merchandising sales pitch… hard to resist… all those colours and patterns reminds me of one if your quilts… no wonder you loved the shop.
    A close by shakedown getaway makes sense, as does off-season tourist destination to make the most of your time.
    Sanitary… I can’t bear to think. But at least everything else went ok.

    • katechiconi says:

      Look, the issue wasn’t lovely, but it also wasn’t a disaster, since it was a massive 20 steps to the nearest amenities block. I think the fix will hopefully be as simple as replacing the seal into the cassette, and then I have to scrub out the works. Apparently you need to keep seals lubricated or they crack, especially in our climate. Who knew? But it didn’t really put much of a damper on the otherwise lovely trip. And best of all, our favourite Fish D’vine is now doggo friendly! And Mouse approves of battered coral trout…

  11. kymlucas says:

    Sounds delightful. And I’m sure you’ll sort out the, er, sanitary issues!

  12. nanacathy2 says:

    What a fabulous shop and view. Sorry about the issues. Caravan toilets are not pleasant at the best of times!.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think the rubber seal must have perished and cracked. It happens a lot in this climate, and if the thing is not maintained with a bit of special lubricant or indeed a drop of olive oil. We’ll know for next time.

  13. That sounds wonderful and that colourful shop!! I love that your new rolling accommodation works well -and hoping your can fix that toilet ( was it the toilet?) – I hate using toilets in confined spaces though.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m not keen on it either, but it saves an early-hours dash to the facilities, and it came all moulded into one with the shower, so I might as well embrace the convenience. The shop was utterly fabulous and smelt amazing.

  14. Dayphoto says:

    Thank you for that fun four day whirlwind…my kind of trip. A quick one here and there and home again

  15. Going Batty in Wales says:

    A good idea to try out Van Essa without going too far. Glad it went well.

  16. tialys says:

    Sounds like the perfect four day break (loo issues aside) – not too far away, a tempting shop to browse, beautiful views,comfy beds and lovely food – I did laugh at coral trout being called fish and chips as I’m sure you’ll appreciate from the other side of the World.

    • katechiconi says:

      Coral trout actually makes perfect battered fish, as it’s a tasty reef fish with firm white flesh, rather like cod in texture. Not at all like the delicate river fish the Northern Hemisphere knows. Australia has nicked a lot of names to use for fish that aren’t at all the same. Makerel’s another one that’s quite different.

  17. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    I bet you felt like a kid in a candy shop lol. What happened to your other caravan ? Big hug for the doggo.

  18. Colour Me Crazy looks like a fun place to visit. Sounds like you have a wonderful little holiday! I like your panoramic of the Peter Faust Dam!

    • katechiconi says:

      Colour Me Crazy is epic! If I ever win the lottery I’ll be straight over there to spend a motza! It was a fun trip, and one we plan to repeat sometime soon.

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