Like a Rollingstone, Day 69 – Atmospheric Mackay

Day 69 Sunday 17/7/2016, soggy, damp, wet, sultry and record-breaking July (dry season) rains.

It is still wet with a shower hourly. The roadsides are swamped, creeks are swollen and the Bruce Highway is cut further south at Marlborough. Our sugar mill tour on Monday has been cancelled as due to inclement weather all harvesting has been stopped.

We drive out to Greenmount Homestead at Walkerston. Built by the Cook family a hundred years ago and with no descendants to carry it on the homestead was given to the community of Mackay, with the proviso that the last maid Gloria remain in residence.

A grand timber home topped with a red iron roof and surrounded by tall palms. Inside, timber walls, pressed metal ceilings 14ft high. It is in original condition and with window glass that was brought out from England floating in tanks of molasses. There is a central dining room with sitting room and bedrooms on either side. Each room has French doors opening on to the wide airy verandah. While our guide plays the pianola ‘to give the right atmosphere’ Gloria shows us the sweeping views across the paddocks to Mackay. How grand it is and thank you ladies for the atmosphere.

A little older and not as well kept is the General Gordon Hotel near Homebush. Surrounded by hectares of sugar cane and big muddy puddles the GG was built in 1886 and this afternoon it is rocking to live music. An eclectic bunch of drinkers are perched on handmade wooden stools. A bloke cooks snags and onions on the bbq and small dogs wearing hoodie coats wander about looking for affection. This old joint has atmosphere in spades.

Outside there is a free camp with a few campers but the ground is so waterlogged they’ll be stuck here for days. At least they won’t go thirsty, if they packed their gumboots.

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