It’s a long way to the top, Day 23 – Mackay to Bowen

Day 23 Saturday June 28th 2014 Mackay to Bowen

I expected that driving to FNQ one wouldn’t have to suddenly acclimatise to the sticky heat. How wrong I was. Every day we wake to very different weather. Some mornings it’s windcheaters and trackies and others T shirts and shorts but it quickly becomes warmer.

This morning it is warm and all is drying out after the rain. The drive to Proserpine is picture perfect Queensland. Miles of sugar cane, the tops all mauve with tall fluffy flowers. The blue mountain ranges with big white clouds on top. There are small towns with wooden houses on stilts surrounded by tall palms and bright bougainvillea’s. It is 23 degrees at 9:00 and by noon 26 degrees. The Proserpine sugar mill is visible from 20kms away the white plume of steam rising high above it.

We’ve agonised for days over whether to visit Airlie Beach or not as we don’t want to be disappointed by changes that may have taken place since we were last there. With trepidation in we go. Tiny Cannonvale is now a large suburb like any other. As we crest the rise we see that first glimpse of the Whitsunday water, that amazing, indescribable colour of blue that is arresting. New much needed marinas have been built. At Airlie Beach the main street is still the same just busier. The mangrove waterfront has been reclaimed. A palm fringed beach has been created and a marina. Overlooking the marina is an attractive apartment complex with cafes and shops. Holiday apartment buildings climb the steep hillsides. Shute Harbour on the other hand is less developed and more of a haven to fishermen and blue water yachties.  

We stock up on fresh locally grown coffee at Proserpine and Woody is happy, it is good. At Bowen we check into the harbour Lights Caravan Park. This is the tightest park we have ever stayed in. There are only centimetres to spare between each awning and the next van. Even though we have a drive through site (that’ll be $3 extra thanks) it takes quite a bit of juggling to squeeze in. Even with the tide out the harbour is pretty and there are islands in the distance. The town itself is very hilly and the streets wide, two or three times wider than usual. Any spare walls in the town bear murals depicting the local history. Being a Saturday afternoon the town is eerily quiet other than a few kids wandering about looking bored and a bunch of younger kids having an absolute ball at the foreshore water park. We come across a building that was the headquarters of the Catalina flying squadron during World War Two. When we were in Lake Boga, Vic in May we visited the Catalina maintenance base. There are several hotels, the best being the Grand View Hotel, what a corker. It burnt down in 1927 and was rebuilt in art deco style. The walls are adorned with photos of the making of the movie ‘Australia’. The large windows are open to the breeze and showcase the view of the harbour.

The streets are wide in Bowen
Mural honouring the Catalina Flying Boats
Kids having fun in the sun at Bowen
The Grandview Pub, as good as you’ll find

Our neighbour pops in for a chat on our metre wide strip of grass and we are being bitten by midges. Tiny little black dots with a pin prick nip. “Oh” she says “they don’t really bite they just piss under your skin. Then in a few days all this liquid comes out when you scratch.” “And” says her husband “you’ll wake up at midnight scratching.” I can’t wait.

After sunset we walk out to the NQCYC and wander about the yachts. It is a balmy evening and we sleep with the windows open, come and get us you little buggers.

Travelling Kms: 192Kms

FNQ – Far North Queensland

Note: The Catalina Flying Boats played an important role in the war in the Pacific and their maintenance was performed in Lake Boga down in inland Victoria because it was remote and beyond the range of enemy aircraft.

Tide’s out – Bowen waterfront

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