Just south west of Innisfail is an old castle ruins that was the dream and creation of a young Spanish man. Some of you may already know of it and been there but I’m going to give you a short version and you can google the full story yourself. Or better still if your up this way, just go and see it.
Jose’ Paronella arrived at Innisfail in 1913 and over 11 years built his wealth by working hard, buying, improving and selling cane farms until he found and brought his dream 13 acres with a waterfall to build his castle. Meanwhile he returned to Spain to marry his fiancé and bring her to Australia but found she’d moved on and married someone else therefore he married her younger sister instead and they returned to build his dream.
So they built their castle, cottage, movie theatre/ ballroom, tennis courts, tunnels, bridges, pathways, staircases, entertaining area, change rooms for swimming, picnic area, tables and so much more all made by hand mixed concrete. Then they planted 7000 tropical plants and trees and added NQ’s first hydro electric plant to light up the lot and opened the park to the public in 1935.
It’s mind blowing how much work they put into the place and he also hand made over 500 concrete plant holders and something like 8000 balustrades. Jose’ passed away in 1948 and it since passed through the family until his daughter sold in 1977.
Sadly though over the years the place has been through floods, cyclones and in 1979 was devastated by fire.
The current owners were holidaying when they came across the park which was overgrown and in a very bad state. But they brought it and with lots of hard work and determination they cleared and made the park safe to open once again to the public.
There’s also a small caravan park attached which Jose’s son created and Mark and Judy, the new owners are building a new park in the near future behind the pub across the road which they also brought. Smart people!
It’s certainly a credit to Jose’ and his family for this outstanding masterpiece they built and also to Mark and Judy for bringing it up to where it is now saving a big piece of history.and sharing Jose’s story and dream!
The Castle & ballroom.
Lower refreshment rooms
Lower refreshment rooms from the tennis courts.
Lower refreshment rooms and fountain.
Bridge and stairway.
Mena Creek Falls
Lower Refreshment Rooms & fountain.
Mena Creek Falls
After leaving Townsville we took our time heading north with some relaxing, peaceful camps alongside creeks and beautiful waterfalls. We were still getting a bit of rain (especially in the rainforests) but nothing too heavy. We visited numerous waterfalls and they all had a fair amount of water running over especially as the locals reckon they haven’t had much rain this year. Speaking of which, we called into Tully, the wettest town in Australia and true to form, it was pelting down when we came out of the supermarket. We sat and waited til it stopped before walking back to the car but the locals didn’t even notice and just carried on in it. One lady we spoke to who moved from Tully to Townsville said the one thing she didn’t miss was the mould and when you looked you could indeed see the mould growing on the outside of the houses so would hate to see the insides!
We stayed a couple of nights at Ingham and did day trips out to Lucinda on the coast (which has the best fish and chips I’ve tasted yet) and up in the hills to Wallaman Falls which is the highest single drop fall in Australia at 268 metres. On the way we drove through the village Trebonne and came across this old corrugated iron post office with old private boxes outside and still opens for one hour a day.
We then went on up past Hinchinbrook Island, through Cardwell stopping at the local ‘Spa Pool’ out in the forest for a dip before camping at Murray Falls for a couple of nights. Onwards next up to Paronella Park for a couple of nights (but that’s another story) and through Innisfail which we should have stayed at for at least a night as there’s some history and old ‘Art Deco’ buildings. We drove to Millaa Millaa up in the Atherton Tablelands and stayed a few nights using this as a base to look around and yep, more waterfalls! There’s some beautiful old historic villages up there worth seeing but watch out for one of the locals who bailed us up for a good hour telling us where and what to see. He was trying to send us up some goat track and in the end was reciting poems he wrote and movie lines before we got away!
For Easter we went out to Chillagoe stopping for a night on the way at Innot Springs where the creek has natural hot thermal springs and you can dig your own spa to sit in. Or you can just stay in the caravan park next door and use their pools all at different temperatures.
Chillagoe is on the Burke Development Road on the way to Normanton and has numerous limestone caves but only a few you can visit, some with a guide only and a couple on your own. There’s also the old smelter that use to refine tin, silver, gold, zinc but mainly copper. Mining is still(or again) active in the area. The main reason we came out this way was to get away from the school holiday and Easter crowds but there was a bit to see and turns out the camping was free at the rodeo grounds and had a nice creek alongside with swimming holes.
After Easter we headed back up to the tablelands and stayed a few nights at Tinaroo Dam and hoped to catch some ‘red claw yabbies’ but there was none about. This may have something to do with the low water levels, the rain or maybe cleaned out over Easter. Not just us, as others weren’t getting any as well!
Next stop the big smoke Cairns. Tell you about it later!
Hinchinbrook Island & Channel
Lucinda Jetty, 5.76kms long for loading sugar.
Spa Pool, Cardwell.
Wallaman Falls, Australia’s largest single drop fall at 268m.
Trebonne Post Office, still opens for one hour daily!
Art Deco building
Innisfail-Art Deco church.
Innisfail-Art Deco buildings.
The Tinnie! Kurrimine Beach.
Kurrimine Beach-stinger net.
Millaa Millaa Falls
Curtain Fig Tree
Curtain Fig Tree
Royal Hotel, Herberton. See the old fire escape!
Welcome to Queensland’s monsoon season! Since we left Yeppoon we’ve run into plenty of rain and 100% humidity so we therefore seem to be constantly wet from either sweat or rain! Yuk!
We spent a few days at Mackay with Greg’s aunt and uncle and was lucky enough to go out fishing one morning before the sky’s opened again. We got a few nice ‘keepers’ and lots of ‘throw backs’. I think maybe I hooked a stingray or shovel nose as I saw something big come to the surface before breaking the 100lb line. (Another fish story)!
Our next stop was Airlie Beach for three nights. Talk about backpackers haven, we were one of the oldest there! We didn’t end up going out to the islands as the weather was crap. Before we got to Airlie we were thinking of hiring a yacht for a few days and cruising ourselves around but the price and the weather impacted that decision which was probably lucky for us. People were telling us that a cyclone was building up out there (was there?), so instead of spending the next few days at Bowen as we wanted to, we called in and had a look then headed up to Townsville. We had no idea if we were heading straight into the heart of ‘Debbie’ but friends we’d met in Kalgoorlie were living there and we bunked down with them (THANKYOU). Karen, Mick and the boys had been through two big cyclones before, Larry and Yasi and from the stories of how terrifying they can be, we were damn lucky we missed it. It was great to wake up to a normal day and say ‘what cyclone?’. In fact we barely got any wind and no rain at all from her. Sorry to say all you guys down south are copping it while we go on our merry way again north!
Going fishing at Mackay.
Well earned drink!
Raining in Airlie Beach.
Airlie Beach marina.
Creek crossing to Cedar Falls.
Cedar Falls near Airlie.
Bowen before the cyclone.
Some people will live anywhere!
Getting undercover before the cyclone.
Anchoring the boat to the house.
Pre cyclone sunset at Townsville.
Illuka fishing marina
Sand sculptures – Surfers Paradise
Main street – 1770
Sunrise at Calliope
Yeppoon marina homes with boat parking!
Low tide at Yeppoon.
High tide – Yeppoon
Five Rocks – Byfield NP
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!
Shower at Five Rocks Beach
The adventure has started again after four months off the road with work, family, friends and Xmas. We were both enthusiastic to get going again in January and have pointed the car and trailer north. The destination is as far north as we can go to the tip of Cape York and so far the journey has been mostly about catching up with many friends we made while in WA who are now either living or travelling on the east side.
Up until Bundaberg we covered places we had already been to last trip and are now seeing new sights and astounded with progress and changes since twenty years ago. For example Hervey Bay is no longer a small seaside town but a city with many suburbs and Yeppoon where Mum and Dad use to go to every winter for three or four months now has high rises and shopping centres!
We’ve camped at many beaches along the way and no doubt will see more but now we are getting in the areas where you shouldn’t swim due to stingers and crocs so it might be lots of cold showers from now on. The crocs are moving further south and are apparently in the Mary River at Maryborough which is only about 250 kms north of Brisbane and also sighted in the creek and bay at Yeppoon. If they don’t start culling them soon they’ll end up coming through the heads of Sydney Harbour looking for new territories!
So we now only have about 950 kms to go for Cairns and then another 1000 kms to the top but there’s no hurry as we’re waiting for the wet season to end before venturing past Cairns. Cheers till next time!
We enjoyed the ‘Cunnamulla Fella Festival’ in outback Queensland with entertainment all weekend. There were two nights of bull and bronc riding (lots of spills), the ‘Cunnamulla Fella’ challenge, band, fireworks and heaps more. Top weekend and they got a good crowd especially as the Birdsville races were on the following weekend. But, OMG the nights were freezing!
From there we headed south to Bourke and then Cobar. We planned on going to Gundabooka National Park near Bourke but with all the rain they had, all dirt roads were closed. The country is looking magnificent being so green and wildflowers galore (as good as WA). The locals say they haven’t seen it like this for years!
Cobar, a copper and gold mining town, is very busy and enterprising being at a major junction with trucks and caravans passing through non stop. We stayed four nights and was amazed how the caravan park would empty out each morning and be full again that afternoon. No doubt the owners are sitting on their own gold mine as it’s the only caravan park in town! A bit of trivia we didn’t know was that the town water supply is piped from Burrendong Dam near Wellington. Shouldn’t run out for a while now as the level has gone from about 15% to around 135% last I heard!
Nyngan was our next stop and we camped at the Riverview Caravan Park. And the river view was slowly getting closer each day, but the day before we left it started rising much quicker. I have since been back and where we were camped the week before was then about a metre under water!
So now it’s ‘head down, bum up’ for awhile as Greg is working out at Wallerawang near Lithgow for a couple of months and I am waiting for the grain harvest to start (if it ever stops raining) and head back out to Nyngan for a few weeks work. Then it’s back for Xmas and who knows what after that!
Crack Up Sisters!
Wildflowers in outback Qld.
Welcome to Cobar.
Open cut mine at Cobar.
Bogan River on the rise!
Our campsite the week before.
Riverview caravan park!
Fossicking for sapphires
$200,000 Sapphire Necklace
Carnarvon Gorge Walk
Young Pretty Faced Wallaby
Cathedral Cave artwork.
Climbing up to the Amphitheatre.
Cattle feeding Fodder Bushes
Lake Nuga Nuga
Moonie the Alpaca at happy hour!
Trucks on the farm stay.
Emu Egg Carvings
Variety Bash Cars
We left the coast and headed inland to the Gemfields around Emerald, Sapphire, Rubyvale and Willows. Greg’s aunt and uncle from Wallerarang visit Willows every year for the months of winter and seeing we were up this way we decided to visit and see what they get up to. His aunt and uncle from Mackay came over as well so it was great to catch up with them too. We met some nice people who happily go there every year as they’ve made some great mates and love the close community atmosphere. A lot still go out fossicking everyday for sapphires while some just go for the company and great weather. We got to see some beautiful stones they have had the good fortune to find over the years. We tried fossicking a couple of times for a few hours but no luck so we went to a tourist site where you pay $25 for a drum of dirt then sift through and we found a few small ones. As we we leaving we went to the annual Gemfest and was overwhelmed by the amount and sizes of stones, both real and copies on offer. There was one particular necklace with a reduced price of a mere $200,000 but unfortunately it didn’t suit me!
While driving inland, the Queensland country is quite green as they’ve had more than usual rainfall. We have come across acres of fodder bushes grown in rows to feed the cattle. This apparently doubles the feed production as they eat the grass as well as up the bushes and it is high in protein and other nutrients. Had to stop and get a photo as we’ve never seen these before!
We went on to Carnarvon Gorge next and it was stunning. You had to do a lot of walking to see it all and the second day we did 30 kms so needless to say we were tired and aching at the end. Next day was a lay day with just a couple of short walks closer to camp.
Next we went across the road to Lake Nuga Nuga NP (but you have to drive down the highway 30kms, across 25kms and up again 30kms to get to it). There’s basically just a bird sanitary lake here but it’s relaxing and quite until nighttime when the frogs kick in.
We met an old bloke from Tassie who’d been there for a month. He had this homemade wooden camper on the back of his ute complete with a combustion stove inside. He had given his fridge away and was living mainly on dried bread, cheese, some fruit and veggies and drinking the water out of the lake. He was as happy as Larry living his Spartan life and wanted for nothing!
We went on to Roma to a farm stay where we found a friend in an Alpaca. We’d come back to camp or wake up finding him under the awning sucking on our mat (he was teething). While here we went to a bull sale at supposedly the biggest sale yards in Qld. The bulls went from $15,000 to $3,000 and we honestly couldn’t tell the difference between them.
We had one night at St George and saw a carved emu egg display done over six decades by a Greek fellow. He had even done one for Barack Obama, the Pope, Tony Abbot and more as well as representing different themes such as Melbourne Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Anzacs to name a few. They were absolutely amazing!
We are now camped along side Wallam Creek in Bollan and it’s steadily raining. Today Starlight Foundation Bash cars came through and from the opposite way came the Variety Bash mob.
From here we plan on going up the road west about 175 kms to the Cunnamulla Fella Festival if it doesn’t get washed out!
Yes, it’s been four years now since we started our new lifestyle and the best move we ever made! And it’s also been four months since our last post, you’ve got to wonder where the time goes! A bit has happened since then and sadly we lost two brother in laws a day apart to that ‘bastard’ cancer. And that is why we are getting out there now doing what we want as life is too short and you just don’t know what’s around the corner for any of us!
So having said that, when Greg finished his work we hit the road again looking for some sunshine and warmth. We headed up the coast and spent our first few nights at Smoky Cape NP just out of South West Rocks. We were amazed by the amount of whales going by heading north, Humpback Hwy! Couldn’t blame them and so we too kept going north even though at a slower pace.
Our next stop was at Pebbly Beach in Yuraygir NP north of Coffs Harbour. To get there you have to travel up the beach a few kilometres and cross a creek at low tide. We had an early start to get out but it was worth it! Some of the best camps and beaches are in hard to get places. Surprisingly not many were there for the school holidays but apparently it’s a different story at Xmas.
Another nice place was Evans Head. We arrived in time for the ‘fishing classic’ and also school holidays but still managed to get a site. We didn’t bother about trying to fish as they were almost shoulder to shoulder along the banks and also we didn’t have a licence. No doubt the inspectors would have been around somewhere.
Along the way we caught up with friends and relos from Iluka to the Sunshine Coast, most of them we haven’t seen for four years. While at the Sunshine Coast we went to Australia Zoo which we gave a miss the first time round as it was school holidays. But we enjoyed it this time around.
We again camped on Teewah Beach near Rainbow Beach just south of Fraser Island as it’s a top spot and one of our favourites. While we were waiting for the tide to go down so we could drive up the beach, we saw a whale and her calf playing in the bay and waving their tails.
A lot of people have asked us if in our travels have we found the perfect place where we would like to live. Well, we believe we may have found it now. A small town on the beach, inlet and river, just south of Bundaberg and north of Harvey Bay called Woodgate. It’s just got that feel about it and the weather is pretty good all year round. Who knows, maybe if we win lotto! Cheers for now!
Pebbly Beach – Yuraygir NP
Greg and the Irwin family!
Jabiru – Black-necked stork
Hairy-nosed or fat-arse wombat!
Southern White Rhinoceros
Waiting for the tide, Burrum Heads in the background
Lunch at Kirra Hotel. Cheers!
Coober Pedy! It’s certainly a unique town and looks barren with barely any grass and overrun with dumped, broken down old trucks and machinery which are in fact parked out the front of underground houses and used for modern day opal mining! Fifty percent of the residents live in dugouts and we went into one which was dug out by three women. Quite impressive with a cellar, lounge/entertaining room, three bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and an indoor pool and games room on the ground level. The temperature stays around 23 to 25oC all year round and is comfortable as long as you don’t mind no windows and lights on all day! And if you need a bigger house, no need to move, just simply extend or dig out another room! There’s also underground hotels, motels, churches and more opal souvenir shops that you can poke a stick at! About 30kms out of town is ‘The Breakaways’, an outcrop of spectacular coloured hills used in films such as Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome and Ground Zero as well as numerous ads. As we were leaving town we stopped at the Coober Pedy sign with the truck and blower for a photo and picked up a few pieces of opal on the ground. Planted? Who cares!
Our next overnight stop was the town of Woomera which was a rocket testing range and is now a RAAF base. It’s quite eerie as you don’t see anyone on the streets but apparently they all come out about 6pm to go to the pub.
Next was onto Burra where we caught up with a friend from Kalgoorlie who was also passing through. Burra itself is a nice town with lots of history from when it was a copper mining town run by mostly Cornish people and the majority of buildings are heritage listed.
From here we camped a couple of nights at Lake Bonnie and the only fish we could catch were huge carps but it was great for canoeing and the sunsets. Mildura was the next stop and you should see all the houseboats! Most were huge and parked at the door of rather large houses. Some people have too much money!
We continued on across the Hay Plains and spent a couple of nights in Hay camped on the Murrumbidgee. What we didn’t know was that Hay was where they had internment and POW camps during WW11.
Onwards and heading east, we went to Lake Cargelligo, Eugowra, Orange and Bathurst before arriving back to the Central Coast. Greg has picked up a couple of months shutdown work at Bayswater Power Station and was to start on the 1st April but has now been delayed to the 19th at this stage. So at present we are at a mates property near Kew having a rest from our trip, and feasting on mud crabs before work starts.
We flew back into Perth after a hectic trip back to the east coast but was again great to see everyone. Once we got back we stocked up and headed up to Laverton to begin our trip across the Great Victoria Desert via the Anne Beadell Hwy. What an awesome trip! We travelled 1420 kms along a mostly single lane track which changed from sandy to dirt to rocky to corrugation to sometimes ‘barely there’! We traversed many sand dunes and often along what seemed like just creek beds! At first we followed the tracks of a couple of vehicles with CALM workers for about 70 kms till we caught up to their camp and where they were working. After that we were on our own and never saw another car again the whole week! Luckily we had a digital map as sometimes the track would disappear or fork with no signs or directions. Our average speed was mostly 20 to 40kms/hr as you just couldn’t go any faster without doing damage. Towards the end we got up to 80kms/hr where the grader had been for about 120kms but then he must have gave up and it was back down to 30 again. The only incident we had was when going out to see a plane wreck we had to go over heaps of sand dunes and we got stuck on top of one. We finally got off and unhitched the trailer to go the rest of the way. On our return and picking up the trailer we got back over the one we got bogged on but had to make another track over one which was just too steep to get up. We acquired a slow leak from that and had to pump the tyre up every morning but that’s all good!
Not quite halfway across is the only roadhouse and at $3.00 a litre it set us back $330 to fill up including the jerrycans. We had four cans onboard but decided to buy another one ($50) ‘just in case’. We made it without using the fifth one but only just!
We couldn’t get over how green it was and the amount of vegetation on the WA side. As we got further into SA it started changing to more dryer and what you would expect out there. As for wildlife, we saw one emu, three kangaroos, one dingo, quite a few camels and lots of zebra finches and some other birdlife.
We passed through and camped at Woomera where the British military had their base camp called Emu with a landing strip on the salt pan and did two atomic bomb tests back in October 1953. While here we had a bit of rain overnight and the track next day had a good bit of water over it. Some we could go through and some we had to go around and hope we didn’t get bogged. As we drove into Coober Pedy the skies opened up and dropped a couple of inches on us. How lucky we made it not a minute too soon otherwise we’d be still be out there now waiting for the road to dry out!
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and take our hat off to Len Beadell (who named the track for his wife, Anne) and the Gunbarrel Construction Crew for their amazing feat in surveying and cutting the track by grader back in the late 50’s to 1962.
||Anne Beadell Hwy.
This album has 24 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 11-Jun-16.
The Powell family returned to the farm from their holiday in New Zealand which they loved and the kids enjoyed visiting ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ scenes. We packed up and prepared to head off in a couple of days when the weather was a bit nicer to go and camp at Little Bay near Horrocks. Next thing, one of their neighbours turns up on our doorstep to see if we wanted a few days work driving their tractor and ripper. They wanted a couple of paddocks ‘deep ripped’ before they planted their next crop. Greg started doing the midnight to midday shift and another bloke was doing the other twelve hours. He had a family emergency after a couple of shifts and had to go so then I stepped into his shift. It was a new experience for both of us and something else to put on the resume. It was pretty easy to drive as it was on GPS auto steering and you just had to line it up in the next row and push a button and the tractor took over. We just had to lift and lower the ripper when there was a lot of rocks or gravel and on changing lanes.
While we were still at the farm we did a day trip to Kalbarri and also stepped out of the country to visit Principality of Hutt River. Prince Leonard who is there to have a chat and tell you how it came about is a character and a very intelligent man and still very bright at 93. He basically taught himself law and outsmarted the government with their own laws and seceded from Australia in 1970 when they tried to resume his land. He is now exempt from paying tax, has his own currency and international stamps and can legally stamp your passport and issue visas to enter his country. If you’re interested in knowing more I recommend you Google www.principality-hutt-river.com
Since leaving the farm we’ve had five very relaxing days at Little Bay and saw a large sea lion sunbaking while there too. We are now about 300kms north of Perth at another beach camp, this one is free and we’re doing nothing more than a bit of fishing, canoeing and taking it easy before we head to Perth on Monday ready to fly back east on Tuesday for a two and a half week visit.
||This email has been sent from a virus-free computer protected by Avast.