The Travels of Mouse: homeward bound

Hello peeps, Mouse here again.

Just a quick one this morning, as Mum says she hasn’t got much time for dictation.

Lovely day yesterday. We went and fetched coffees and pastries for the humans, and met Mum’s blogging friend Aunty Kate in the Sanctum dog park, which is close to her home (Hi Aunty Kate, nose boop!). The sun shone, I ran and sniffed, the humans talked and drank coffee and in Dad’s case, sneaked me a bit of sausage roll. Then a couple of very bad mannered dogs turned up with their human which caused a bit of an interruption, but they moved into another part of the dog park so it was OK after that. Mum says you might like to know that the pastries came from Cédric Corre Patisserie in Hermitage Park, in case you’re ever passing through and in urgent need of a delicious tarte au citron or galette aux pommes – or indeed, some very respectable sausage rolls.

After that we did a bit more exploring, down to Bushland Beach, which is lovely and empty, with a very shallow sloping beach so no surprise drop-offs for unsuspecting doggos. The Bushland Beach Tavern has a motel attached and is right at the beach, and the outdoor eating area overlooking a lagoon looked pretty good too, so we’ve marked that down for next time. Mum spotted some really big old fig trees which Dad says would make very good sustainable, self-renewing fences!

Last stop was a drive up to Cape Pallarenda in the north of the city. We didn’t stop and get out; it was very hot, the trails are long and doggos are not permitted as it is National Parkland, but we could see the start of it. If you love walking trails, natural beauty, bird watching and amazing views, it would be worth a visit. The view across to Magnetic Island is startlingly close, and back towards the city lets you see just how tall Castle Hill is in the background.

Right, got to go. Mum has to get moving, she says.

The Travels of Mouse: an unexpected bath, and other adventures

Well, it was a full day yesterday, and no mistake.

We waved goodbye to Uncle Johnny in the morning, he’s heading south again. And then it was time for the day’s adventures. Mum said she thought it would be a good idea to investigate all the other Townsville off-leash dog parks, because although Sanctum is really, really nice, it’s the other side of the city. So we set off with Google and the SatNav to investigate some of them. First on the list was Murray Paw Dog Park in Annandale. It’s nice, not really big and not much shade, but there’s dog agility stuff if that’s your thing. Second was Riverside Dog Park in Cranbrook, which is lovely! Lots of trees and shade, and the river runs beside it to a weir. There are birds, and it’s very quiet and scenic. And here I had my unexpected bath.The ground slopes down to the water. I trotted down to sniff. Mum and Dad said “no, Mouse”. I waded forward a little and they shouted. I leaped out into the water and Mum screamed: I had submerged because there was no bottom, as I’d expected! My legs are a bit slender and I was having to paddle quite hard to stay afloat, but my hero Dad came and grabbed my collar and hauled me forward and then helped me back up onto the bank. It was a relief to be back on dry land. Mum made a big fuss of me! I was nice and cool, if a bit drippy, because it was already a very hot day. So I generously shared by having a good shake of water all over both of them. I was slightly surprised this was not better received, but there you go… After that, we looked at a couple of other places, but I’d sort of lost my enthusiasm for the project and preferred to stay in the air conditioning of the car back seat.

Wet, but nice and cool

So the Staff decided it’d be fun to pay a visit to Mount Stuart, which is not only completely dry, but has some spectacular views over the whole of Townsville. It’s 584m high, or 1,916ft, and you can see a huge distance from the top. From one side, there are 180° views over Townsville from the Rotary Lookout up there, and you can look across the bay to Magnetic Island.

From the other side, you can see the Ross River Dam, which supplies water to the city. It’s looking a bit low, Dad says… Unlike last year, when the city was badly flooded due to the Dam reaching 200+% capacity and the floodgates had to be opened to release water or it would have given way and the city would have drowned completely.

There are some really good views to be had all around Townsville, and if you want an idea of what’s there, Mum says you should click on this link for a idea of what you can see and do.

We were all a bit zorsted in the afternoon. The Staff had stayed up late for Uncle Johnny’s visit, and I’d had a rather too ’citing adventure, so we all had a nice afternoon snooze and a quiet evening.

Today, Wednesday, we’re catching up with another friend, but more on that tomorrow.

The Travels of Mouse: just a quick one

Yesterday was very, very long.

Not the travelling part, I might add, that was just the usual 370km. No, it was the early start and late finish and the disruption to My Routine.

Packing up was nice and quick; the Staff really do have that down pat now, and I watched Mum stow all the stuff inside the caravan with an expression of alarm (which I always assume at times like these in case of a treat opportunity), while Dad did all the outside stuff like rolling up hoses and power cords and winding up the legs. Once the power was off, the air conditioning stops working, so Dad turns on the car, Mum makes up my bed in the back seat and I transfer myself into my Backseat Driver Position. We hook up the car, hand in the key and away we go. This morning was extra good because there was a Breakfast Opportunity for me too, and I got bits of bacon and sausage!

We stopped for an early lunch at Cardwell. Yes, you guessed it. There was a crab sandwich! Mum said the crab was an inch deep, but it lacked something; the wedge of lemon and large amounts of black pepper were apparently not enough. Finally, after much discussion the Staff agreed that tartare sauce, or at least mayonnaise and some chopped dill pickle would have achieved perfection. I hope Mum remembers pickles for the next trip… I got to sample some crab. It’s OK, I suppose, but give me chunks of Dad’s meat pie any day. All the food was enjoyed in a shady park beside the beach, and I had a nice sniff around and left some messages for later doggo visitors.

On the leg between Cardwell and Townsville, Mum got a message on her phone to say that Johnny, a friend from the Staff’s  OzSTOC motorbike club, was going to be passing through. He arranged to stay the night at the same caravan park as we’re staying at, as he’s travelling with an RV instead of his motorbike and trailer. Dad bought beer, Mum made Mee Goreng with chicken, we all sat around in the dusk and then the dark, and talked. It turned into a very late night, for me at any rate, and Mum and Dad were yawning hard by the time the party broke up.

He came for coffee again in the early morning before he left. Luckily he had to leave at 10am, because I have plans for the Staff to take me round all the Townsville fenced dog parks to investigate how suitable they are for a good run. I’ve been cooped up in the car and then the caravan for 48 hours now, not counting short walkies, and I need to run! I expect the Staff will report on the parks as usual, for the benefit of anyone else who might chance to pass through with a doggo.

It’s going to be a hot few days. The sun is bitey, the wind is scorching. Thank goodness for my comfy bed in the air conditioning…

The Travels of Mouse: so long – for now

It’s time to say goodbye to Far North Queensland again.

“Farewell to the wide, empty beaches, the rainforest sweeping down to the sea, with its tightly knotted dark green foliage fringed by palms and pale sand.

Farewell to the Coral Sea and her endless variations on blue, aqua, turquoise and indigo, the sudden colour changes as the clouds fly over, the white lace edging where the waves break on the reef.

Farewell to the joyful tropical vegetation, the stately trees with their exuberant foliage and flowers, their fringes of fern, the sword blades of the palms and strelitzias, the paddle blades of bananas and taro and the outrageous colour of cordyline and croton, frangipani and hibisicus.

It’s back to the dry tropics, also beautiful, but maybe a little less lavish, lush and luxuriant!”

Mum does that descriptive stuff well, doesn’t she? I could talk about the smells and tastes, but imagery’s not my bowl of kibble. You can’t ask too much of a dog; after all, we see blue and yellow but not red and green. Keep it simple, I say. Mum says it’s called Dichroic Vision… It has been a nice restful sort of a day, except for socialising with some doggos in Henley Dog Park this afternoon (there was one there who was a cross between a dachshund and a pit bull, a quite strornery combination!), and and then a short drive out on the Captain Cook Highway heading north  towards Port Douglas, just so Mum could get her ‘sea-dose’, without which it seems no holiday is complete.

They’ve started packing stuff up, which I hate, because it means Disruption and Change. To be fair, the Staff do try and keep my disturbance to a minimum, and any overt show of distress quickly generates treats. Oh well, I suppose I wouldn’t be a Well-Travelled Dog without it, so I’d better learn to live with it.

We’re heading south again tomorrow, turning our faces for home, but not in any great rush. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Townsville, and then home to my own bed on Thursday. Or should I say, Mum and Dad’s bed, which is considerably larger and can I just say, softer…

I suspect there will be reporting on crab sandwiches tomorrow. Watch this space.

The Travels of Mouse: quiet pleasures

Hello people, Mouse here again.

I think I’d find mad excitement every day of this holiday a bit too fatiguing. I am, after all, a greyhound. Almost by definition, I need to snooze at least 80% of my day. Whether this happens in the back of the car or in my bunk doesn’t really matter. But I do like days when we don’t have activities actually planned. Yesterday was one of those. Mum hijacked the blog back to write about bits of fabric, so I wasn’t required to dictate an entertaining account of what we’d been up to, either. But there were two highlights.

First, doga.

No one can do a downward dog like a greyhound. No one. I was demonstrating to Mum what a proper back stretch looks like. She spends several minutes each morning wriggling about trying to relieve her back after lying immobile all night. Apparently something has to go clunk before she’s out of pain and it can take a while. I thought I’d show her how I deal with back stretching. It does of course take up quite a bit of space… the humans are required to wait and watch since there’s no room for anything else to occur at that end of the caravan…

And secondly, dessert.

I think it speaks for itself, and the fact that I don’t actually like strawberry tarts doesn’t negate the fact that Mum didn’t buy anything for me. OK, I might be fibbing slightly there. I know for certain there’s suddenly half a kilo of chicken necks in the freezer, and they are definitely not for the humans. Mum says they last me longer and are more chewy when they’re frozen… They’re not nearly as photogenic as the tarts, though.

It’s raining today. Or, as Mum would say, it’s fabric shop weather!


The Travels of Mouse: Full day, full belly

Well, we certainly packed in the activities today.

And, as Mum has pointed out, we also filled our tummies to the point of needing a bit of a lie-down. Today was the day we went back to Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Dairy. After a sad experience last time, Mum had been having some email conversations with Michelle, the marketing lady at the Dairy. So we went back this morning and the Staff had an absolutely delicious morning tea of scones, rainforest jam and thick lactose free cream. And naturally I had my usual! So yummy was it all that the Staff bought takeaways: LF heavy cream, creme fraîche, banana choc chip ice cream and espresso ice cream. I can’t help noticing that none of these delights appear to be designed with Me in mind…

We took a fairly scenic route home, across the Tableland via Mareeba, and took the curly-wurly Gillies range down the mountain, one of Dad’s favourite motorbike rides. It’s not my favourite mainly because of all the bends, which I find unsettling, and the Staff were lucky I didn’t make my displeasure smelt felt.

We took a short break from zooming around so that I could snooze and the Staff could have a drink and catch up with a few things. And then Mum said why didn’t we go up to Copperlode Dam? This is one of the main water-storages for the city of Cairns, and is a natural bowl in the mountains above the city which has been converted into a dam, or reservoir. It’s also known as Lake Morris.

Mum also saw a sign about the gigantic electricity towers on the mountain.

At 75m (250ft) high, they were built extra tall to keep the wires clear of the rainforest canopy with minimal environmental impact and placed so that they can be serviced without disturbance to the local ecology. Where this is not possible due to location, the towers have a landing pad built into the top of them so that the repair crew can be flown in by helicopter without touching the ground. Isn’t that good?

The views from the 16km (10 mile) road up the mountain are amazing, says Mum. You can see all of Cairns laid out below, surrounded by rainforest which sweeps on up the side of the mountain. I didn’t like the road much, too much sliding about in the back of the car. Would this wiggly road torture never end…? I’m talking to you, Dad!

The last part of the day was all about Me. And about time too. We went to Goomboora Park, which is a large mixed leisure space, combining rainforest, creek and open grassland where families and children and Staff with their doggos can all go to have fun.

There are barbecue areas, a shallow creek where children can swim and doggos can join in and paddle, open grass where doggos can run about, socialise with their friends, chase balls and retrieve things, and Staffs can stand about and chat or sit at tables. It’s wonderful, and the only downside is that it isn’t fenced, so the Staff are concerned about letting me off the leash in case I get over excited and disappear into the distance before they can call me back. I think I may be able to persuade them to start small and work up to longer periods off leash. It all looks too much fun to miss out on…

Blue Quandong (Elaeocarpus angustifolius). The fruit were lying around everywhere. They look artificial, don’t they? You can eat them, but they’re a bit tart, so best made into jam or pickles, etc, apparently.

Mum says she hasn’t retouched the colour of this image at all, that’s the true colour.

There was curry for dinner for Mum and Dad. It smelt interesting but not altogether enticing, something a bit too exotic there for me, although the humans woofed it all down like they were worried about where the next meal was coming from. Also, it was not photogenic, according to Mum, so no, there won’t be a photo of that.

All in all, it was a great day, but very busy and I’m rather glad we don’t have so much planned for tomorrow.

I’m tolly, tolly zorsted.


The Travels of Mouse: Coffee, chores and catastrophe!

Yes, OK, perhaps catastrophe is a bit strong. Bear with me…

The staff hastened to rectify the coffee situation. We started with brunch at Brother Jenkins Café, a really very nice café literally across the road from the caravan park, and extremely welcoming to doggos, who get their own red drinking bowl on arrival. According to the Staff, they have a very good choice of breakfast options and decent coffee. I must say, there was another epic bacon situation with Dad’s pancake stack with maple syrup, so I was able to take full advantage by giving my best ‘starved greyhound’ impression. Mum’s eggs bennie with mushrooms were extremely good, on excellent crusty sourdough. The mushrooms were cooked with thyme, the eggs were perfectly poached, and her only beef was that the home made hollandaise sauce lacked a bit of acidity, it was almost too rich. You know the food’s good when the humans start nitpicking, don’t you?

Further rectification came when we went to buy a new coffee machine, Dad needed new paw-covers because his old ones were falling apart, and a thingy for the car, Mum needed groceries (and also bought some paw-covers, which she didn’t need).

Bridget was just too fast, she’s out of shot already!

But the best – and also worst – part of the morning came when we visited Touch Park off-leash dog park. It’s my favourite in Cairns, and has the best canine company and Staff attendants. There were heaps of doggos there as it was Sunday, and I was able to do a lot of racing. I made a new friend called Bridget, a cross between a red brindle whippet and something with a broader, shorter head. Up to this point, her Staff said, she’d always been the fastest dog in the park, so it must have come as a bit of a surprise to meet Me… We ran and played, the Staffs chatted. It seems she also has a lot of sighthound traits, like zoomies, paper shredding, unstuffing stuffed toys, and so on, which her Staff hadn’t realised were typical sighthound behaviours.

The catastrophe bit came when I Hurt My Paw. I’d been running and playing so hard I’d managed to acquire a small cut on the pad of my right front paw, and had torn the nail a little. Sigh…. I have naturally capitalised on this injury as much as possible, limping, wincing and looking pathetic, and it has resulted in a very satisfactory increase in fuss, attention and treats. I hope it heals soon, though, as the Staff won’t take me on the beach while I might get sand and salt in it. And I do want to run on the beach…

Today, according to Mum, is another lazy day. For me and Dad, at any rate. She has laundry to do… It’ll be a struggle, but I reckon I can manage a snooze or three on my quilt outside in the sun. Mum says she has to do more sewing as she needs something finished for Thursday. The caravan park is emptier just now; all the families with small children have gone home as school has started again after the spring break. It’s just the grey nomads (no relation to grey hounds) and the backpackers, and a rather rude and aggressive German Shepherd on the corner who leaps out and barks loudly and bares his teeth, at the full stretch of his tether. I don’t like him, and neither does Mum, and if he keeps it up, she’s going to say something at reception, as dogs are not supposed to be aggressive and bark too much. He’d be very frightening to small humans, I reckon.

Sorry about the lack of photos. The Staff were a bit slack about that and I shall attempt to keep them up to the mark tomorrow, when we’re planning a second attempt at Mungalli Creek Dairy and scones, jam and lactose free cream for Mum…

Doggos also welcome.

The Travels of Mouse: Smells familiar!

We’re here again!

I do like revisiting familiar places and persuading the Staff to let me make a thorough inspection of all the places I sniffed before! Anyway, I shall start at the beginning…

Because were were only going 300km or so yesterday, Mum and Dad didn’t need to pack up in a great rush in the morning to get away early. A fact I appreciate because it means I spend a bit longer lounging in the air conditioned caravan instead of in the car waiting for them to hook everything up. And I get a decent walk after breakfast instead of having my, ahem, inspection and evacuation rushed. So, it was Ingham for the first stop, and Fiori with Love, mentioned in an earlier trip report for the great coffee and lumberjack cake, and let me just say, very agreeable puppacino.

It’s so much nicer when they don’t make it so hot that I have to wait for it to cool enough for me to drink. Of course, the Staff tore into portions of cake, and Mum actually had hazelnut hot chocolate rather than coffee, although how she can drink that stuff is beyond me. I mean, it’s actually toxic to doggos. Humans showing off how tough they are, if you ask me…

So, onward to the next food stop, which is traditionally Cardwell. On the way into town, Mum tentatively suggested they might consider mud-crab sandwiches (a local speciality) instead of a pie, but Dad held out for the meaty option, which I heartily endorsed. Mum was overruled… (I’ll get my way one of these days – Mum). You don’t need me to tell you that the pies were up to scratch, but I did feel the need to check in case anyone had dropped their pie – in the interests of tidying up, you understand.

And finally, we were in the home stretch. I made a point of keeping the Staff to their assigned tasks by supervising from the back seat. I felt they were getting too interested in the talking book they had playing rather than giving me strokies and passing back snacks and treats. Still, we got to Cairns nice and early, my enclosure was set up, my bed was put out and the Staff sat outside in the shade with me, with Mum messing about with that fabric stuff and Dad bashing away at his plank thing with his front paws. A pleasant evening all round, a spot of dinner (curried lamb with coconut, chana dal, vegetables and flatbreads for the Staff), a nice walk around the park sniffing all the corners and leaving comments myself, and so to bed.

But in the morning, O Drama! The coffee machine isn’t working! Apparently this is a Staff Catastrophe and requires immediate action as soon as the shops open. I can’t see what the fuss is about myself, except that the Staff function a whole lot more efficiently with a cup of that stuff inside them. There are also some groceries required, including food for Me, which is obviously vital! So long as a run to the dog park is included in the morning’s expedition, I shall be content. Mum says she also has to make dog soup and do laundry (why humans wear clothes is a perennial mystery to me), and Dad is going to put out some side awnings to keep out the hot afternoon sun.

So, that’s the Staff activities sorted out. I shall catch up on my important beauty sleep.


The Travels of Mouse: High Tea

… And when I say High, I mean high up!

Mum made a booking this time, and despite a bit of sitting around waiting for the Stop & Go man at the Range roadworks, we made it to the Hervey’s Range Heritage Tearooms only 15 minutes late. Which they clearly expected. I’ve shared morning tea with the Staff before, but I must say, this one was a bit of alright! Mum’s going to put in a link to the menu, so you can see the sort of thing. I wasn’t terribly interested in her apple & cinnamon scones with butter and plum jam.

They looked OK, but not my kind of thing. I know I’m not an obligate carnivore, but I do prefer my snacks meaty. So Dad’s corn fritter stack with tomato and chilli salsa, avocado with balsamic vinegar and a side order of back bacon rashers was much more my kind of thing. Especially the baaaaacccoooonnnnn mmmmmmm. Er, excuse me, I was just having a moment there… It strikes me that the bacon was less a side order than the main feature (I mean, you can hardly see the fritters), but neither of us was complaining.

There was some debate about whether we’d make a run out to Charters Towers after that, but the Staff were feeling rather stuffed around the tummy department (no surprise there, then), and I can always use another nap, so we decided to leave that to when we’re back here on the return trip. Dad was at school there for a while, and it’s supposed to be a nice town with an interesting gold rush history, so we’ll see what it has to offer for doggos as well as the Staff. Mum did score some new fabric when we did a tiny detour via Olive Branch Quilts. She had a good old rummage in the remnants bin and came away with two bits of red and white floral prints. Good for her, so long as she doesn’t expect Me to wear them. The green bandanna is much more my style.

We’re moving on to Cairns tomorrow, so the Staff have been Putting Stuff Away, which I never like, it’s so unsettling. I made my displeasure known by taking over first Mum’s bunk and then Dad’s. There was lots of squeaking and growling about it, so I reluctantly moved on, but I feel I made my point.

Still, Road Trip tomorrow!  Always fun, so long as someone else does the work…

The Travels of Mouse: Spring break #1

Humans are funny old creatures.

I tend to leave the arrangements to Mum, on the basis that if she does it all, I don’t have to lift a paw. So far this policy has worked very well. I watch her ‘anxiously’ while she loads up the caravan, wiggling my eyebrows and looking as pathetic as I can manage. This generally results in extra pats, frozen chicken necks, meaty treats and extended belly-tickling privileges. But sometimes, it can be a bit hit and miss.

Yesterday was fine. We got away on time and reached Bowen at early lunchtime, so that Dad didn’t have to stand too long in the queue at Jochheim’s Pies. We got to our usual bench in the shade at the beach, and my offers to quality test both pies were accepted – I do like to make sure my humans are being properly fed and there’s nothing nasty in their lunches. On from Bowen to Townsville, and this time we’re staying at a different holiday park, closer to the centre of town and a bit smaller. Mum says she thinks it’s OK, not too noisy or cramped, and Dad feels the water pressure in the showers is acceptable, if not quite as good as our normal place.

The plan was to have a lazy start, a bit of lunch for the humans and then head up Hervey’s Range to the Heritage Tearooms for a Devonshire tea. Dogs are welcome, humans attendants may also visit. Trouble was, this Covid-thingy had changed the opening hours and when we got there, it was shut already. Pity. I was looking forward to my puppacino. Never mind, it seems we’ll try again tomorrow, and book this time to make sure.

Then, we thought we’d drop in at GAP, where I was adopted, so I could say hello to Miss Gail and the other doggos. But somehow we missed the turning off the highway. So that was a washout too. See what I mean about human arrangements? I’m sure I’d have managed better if I’d been in charge. Still, Mum got some good shots of the view from the top of the range (709 metres, or 2,300 feet, Mum says). She also says she’ll take photos of the Devonshire tea tomorrow… if we ever get there, of course.

Left, Magnetic Island; Centre, Castle Hill with Cape Bowling Green beyond it; Right, Mt Stuart. From Hervey’s Range. Click to enlarge

Oh, and I did get a really excellent run in Sanctum dog park off leash area. I got to play with Ruby the golden retriever and Athena the Rough Collie puppy, who is going to grow up into a Lassie look-alike. Of course, I was faster than both, but Athena especially was lots of fun, she was only 17 weeks old and still very rolypoly, with her puppy coat and huge paws.

Right now, I’m zorsted, and Mum says as soon as I’ve finished dictation, she’ll prepare my dinner so I can snooze the evening away while she and Dad sew and read and watch a movie. It’s nice that we (by which I mean they, naturally) don’t have to pack up for another whole day.

I am looking forward to getting to Cairns, though. My most favourite caravan park!