The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #1

It’s happening again.

The Staff are taking liberties with my possessions and schedule. It’s an Outrage. For the past day, they have been bustling about with stuff in their paws, scarcely taking a moment to give me strokies or a treat. I grant you that meals and walkies arrived on time and up to standard, but it’s upsetting to have this stuff going on behind my back.

Later: Well, all is explained. They are loading my fence into the back of the car, my travel water bowl and a large bag of kibble are sitting on the bench, the Quartermaster (Mum) has put all my stuff into either the car or the caravan, and only my bed (currently occupied by Me) has not been whipped out from under my nose and taken away. Dad says he has bought extra fencing so my yard is now twice the size, which will be nice.

A solitary lead still hangs from the hook, so I expect there’ll be walkies before we go… Mum says we’re going north, even further north than Townsville, where I was adopted, but that we’ll be taking time out to visit friends at GAP Queensland in Townsville so I can say hello to Miss Nikki and the other greyhounds at the kennels. After that, we’ll go up to Cairns for just over a week, then home again.

I like Miz Lizzie the caravan. My bed is comfy, meals arrive at the usual time, Dad’s bunk is perfectly placed beside my bed for strokies whenever I want them, and there are fascinating new walks and smells to enjoy when we go out. Mum and Dad find fun places for me to run around like a maniac and stretch my legs along the way, and we all enjoy trying out all the dog-friendly things to do when we get there. Mum has printed out a list of cafĂ©s in Cairns where dogs are welcome and people can come along too. She says there will be beaches too, in case I should feel like a spot of cautious paddling (well, jellyfish, saltwater crocodiles and sharks permitting, of course, this is Far North Queensland, after all). I’ll have to think about that one…

Now, if only the Staff would hurry up and finish packing stuff, we can be on our way.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Paluma and Crystal Creek Falls

Day 2 of the Miz Lizzie Inaugural Adventure.

Our first night in the van was fine 🙂 The aircon worked very well, the bunks were comfortable, we got the site we wanted and virtually no neighbours. I’ve given the kitchen a serious workout, and it’s all good.

However, on waking, we discovered a few plumbing issues had materialised. Miz Lizzie is 18 years old, things have worn and perished, and now that we have her stretching her legs, problems are appearing. Nothing we can’t fix, so far. We spent the morning in the DIY store buying hose, joiners and connectors, plumbers’ Teflon tape and other fascinating bits and pieces.

After that, it was time for FUN!  We drove north for an hour, to make a visit to the Paluma Range National Park, a trip we’ve been promising ourselves for a while. It’s a World Heritage Listed Site, and having reached the top up an 18km intensely narrow and winding road, I can tell you it’s utterly worth the occasionally terrifying drive. For quite considerable parts of the journey the road is barely wide enough for two vehicles, and in many places, only wide enough for one. The drop off the edge is immediate and vertical, and there are no wussy safety barriers, either! However, in spite of all these drawbacks, the views are stunning, the lush wet tropical rainforest is dense and vivid, and for me, the highlight of the drive was stopping at the bridge over the Little Crystal Creek Falls. I’ll let the photos explain (click on them to enlarge, it’s worth it!).

little-crystal-creek-mt-speccrystal-creek-falls-2There were at least a dozen people swimming at all levels of the falls (I’ve carefully framed the photos so you don’t see the towels, sandals and snacks!), and I’m impressed at their fortitude, as despite the heat, the water’s cold. The top of the range is at 883 metres/2,900 ft above sea level, and it freezes up there in winter, tropics or no tropics.

After that, we tootled down the road a bit further to the famous Frosty Mango, a café serving ice cream made from a wide variety of tropical fruits grown on the premises. The flavours included guava, passionfruit, mango, sapodilla, soursop, jakfruit, black sapote, custard apple, Brazilian cherry, monstera, pineapple, carambola, jaboticaba and a handful more I can’t bring to mind. Mostly, these fruits never reach the mainstream market as they ripen quickly, don’t travel well and aren’t familiar to consumers, but they do produce delicious ice cream!

And then home, for a bit of a tinker with Miz Lizzie’s waterworks, a bottle of the golden throat-charmer for the Husband and a cider for me, and a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we pack up here in Townsville and head north again for Atherton, on the Tablelands above Cairns. We have a spot reserved in one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever stayed at, in a rainforest glade. Can’t wait!

So, a lot to do in the morning. An early night is called for….

On the road again, part 1

So, Day 1 was 410kms/255 miles of solid highway riding with a few breaks to unkink.

That night, we rolled into our campsite at 5pm and were set up by 6pm, just in time to sit down to a well-deserved drink.

townsville-camp

Next day, we’d arranged to meet up in the morning with another Kate, of Manic Mumdays blogging fame. I really enjoy meeting fellow bloggers, and Kate was no exception. She’s the 5th blogging friend I’ve met in person, and I find the experience is just as rewarding each time. Half the fun is in meeting people life would never turn up otherwise 🙂

with-manic-mum-kate

Townsville was scorching hot that day, as you can see from the photos below. The first is an image I’ve stitched together from two photos. Townsville is on Rose Bay, and the city is dominated by Castle Hill, a volcanic plug nearly 300m/984ft high. You reach it by a winding road which is bliss to all motorbike riders, and the view from the top is spectacular. Out there in the bay is Magnetic Island, so called because it sends all compasses wild; they point to it, instead of magnetic north.

magnetic-island-from-castle-hill

After Castle Hill, we headed out of town to Mt Stuart, another mini mountain 0f nearly 600m/1,960ft high, reached by a wonderful winding road. This one has TV and radio transmitters on the top, and provides very much the same view as Castle Hill, but higher, wilder and further inland. In the foreground, you see Laverack Barracks, then the Bruce Highway heading north, then the city, then Castle Hill and finally, Rose Bay and Magnetic Island.

rose-bay-from-mt-stuart

The next morning, we were up early, packed up and were away by 9am. But that’s a story for another day!