From Mission Beach I drive back into the foothills of the Tableland, threading my way along backroads, fields of sugar cane and the many narrow gauge railtracks used by cane trains for the transport of the harvested cane to one of the many sugar mills. Eck had recommended to come see Paronella Park, a private property that has been developed by a well to do man from Spain.
José Paronella’s dream was to build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 5 Hectares beside Mena Creek Falls he built his castle, picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees (now a lush rainforest!). It opened to the public in 1935.
Various cyclones and floods have done major damage to a large part of the property, being in the Wet Tropics obviously adds its own measure of destruction as most of what is left standing is covered in green moss and lichen, also adding to a sense of eeriness.
I have spent the night at their Caravan Park but leave the following morning to head once again closer to the ocean, to the town of Ingham. While I am at Ingham I drive back into the hills to take another look at Wallerman Falls as it is more than 2 years since my last visit there. Its a steep and windy road that takes me to the top of the Falls and I am rewarded with a much larger amount of water rushing to drop about 270 metres into the valley.
I stop at Balgal Beach, about 45km north of Townsville, staying for two nights. During the day, a Minibus arrived with about a dozen geriatrics, probably from a home for the elderly. They were accompanied by two ladies who worked with them, throwing a ball to one at a time and them having to do simple arithmetic calculations, like adding 10 to the previously called number. Obviously there were a number of variations to that game and it looked as if most of the oldies seemed to enjoy it. Eck and Suki had also arrived and we all had a good laugh with the players.
"Oldies" having a bit of fun with a ball
I have had some difficulties with my house batteries not holding proper charge, so the first thing I do when I get into Townsville, is to drive to Battery World the same company I had bought two new batteries from back in Sydney last December. Turns out that one of the two was not holding charge and they replaced it under warranty. It also turned out that the 240V power unit supplied with the Motorhome only has an output voltage of 12V, not nearly enough to properly recharge my house batteries which require about 14.2V. I invested in a new power supply to take care of that part into the future.
The following morning I drive by the Post Office to collect my forwarded mail and leave Townsville for Lake Carlyle a fairly large lake, about 120km south off the main highway to Charters Towers. Two lazy days above Burdekin Dam in a near empty Caravan Park provide a good opportunity to give my Motorhome a good wash on the outside, finally getting rid of a lot of dust and grime. Being Friday, by late that day quite a few new neighbours arrive, all of them with large powerboats in tow and all of them setting up large tents for their families. All of them are really looking forward, to a day of water skiing on the lake.
Damm wall at Lake Carlyle
A very colourful character strolling around the park
The drive to and from the lake crosses several cattle properties, as I count 22 cattle grids which separate different property pastures. There is lots of green grass after the recent rains and also many stray cattle all over the road at various places. I keep an eye on my speed as I do not want to end up with a dead Bull across the front of my vehicle.