July 2018, Finch Hatton, Qld
Inland from Mackay the Pioneer Valley is positively bucolic. Small sugar towns, old Queenslanders surrounded by palms and cane, acres of cane. Sugar mills belching steam high into the air. Marian, the town where Dame Nellie Melba once lived as a young bride in an unsuccessful marriage. Towns like Mirani, Gargett where we stop to walk through the market and then we arrive at Finch Hatton.
The Main Street of Finch Hatton, where a railway line once ran is lined with palms and big old mango trees. There’s a pub, a general store, a real estate agency and one of those shops selling crystals that has a business for sale sign out front, I wonder why?
The showgrounds has been recommended to us by our Mackay caravanning mates ‘The Sugar City Pioneers’ as being the most central for touring the area. It has an expansive and well-maintained lawn area behind the town. Set between the ubiquitous cane handling depot and burbling Cattle Creek. The cane trucks each bring in two or three rail trolleys loaded with sugar cane and roll them down onto the railway line to await the night time pick up by the mill cane train. Sometime during the night they are hauled off to the mill at Marian. The Mackay Jayco caravan group are settled on the arena with around fifty vans for a weekend Club Muster. Even so we are still spoilt for choice as to where to set up, every site being equally as good and spacious. Lorraine our host is friendly and efficient. It costs us $25 a night for power and water and on the other side of the levee, beside the creek, those folks are camping for free. This is heaven.