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A Visit to Sugar Country

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Our view of Black's beach from the caravan

Heading off on an adventure

Wednesday was the end of the three-week shift at Disney cattle station.
The Gore Earthmoving workers worked until 10 am after which they come back to camp, showered, packed and headed off to Clermont for a “shift wrap up” counter meal at one of the pubs.
A colleague of Mick Gore used his private plane to pick up the crew in Clermont and fly them the one and a half hours to Goondiwindi.
We, on the other hand, headed off with the caravan for an adventure.
This is what we love, heading somewhere, anywhere.

With so many wonderful places to choose from, all within 4 hour drive of Disney, it was hard to make the decision but we chose Mackay.
Firstly, it was near the sea and secondly, Scotty and Farren (the head stockman and his wife) were heading to Nebo which is on the road to Mackay. They were going to a polo cross weekend and had invited us to come and watch.
With the office now set up in the house, all we had to do with the caravan was roll in the awning and hitch up. We love how easy the whole process is compared to setting up and dismantling the whole annex when the office is set up in it.

We drove to Clermont to fuel up and then came back 14 km to get on to the Peak Downs Highway where it’s a straight run to Mackay.
As always we love the ever-changing scenery.
The hills turned into volcanic plugs rising out of the ground surrounded by fertile crops sweeping over the plains.
It was a peaceful run until we arrived at Moranbah, the real beginning of the Central Queensland coal mining country.
The highway begins to get very busy here. Dozens of buses transport miners from Mackay to the many mines in the area. There were trucks with mining supplies, countless tradies, contractor’s vehicles and an endless convoy of caravans crisscrossing the country.
Once over the ranges you know you’re in sugar country.

Our View

We’d booked into the Big 4 Caravan park at Black’s Beach with the pick of the sites right on the beachfront. We definitely couldn’t complain about our view!

How the years have changed Mackay

Now it’s been 20 years since I’ve been to Mackay and the place has defiantly changed.
The old main street has a lot of shops up for lease or just boarded up. Even the beautiful old Customs building is for sale.  I bet the heritage listing would be a negative!

Always the shopping

Wednesday and Thursday were spent clothes shopping, Chris’s number one pet hate, but seeing he was the one that needed clothes he had to put up with it.
If he had wanted Hi-Vis clothes he could have found them in any shop but nooooo….he wanted a particular shirt and pants. So we got to see MOST of Mackay.

Now one shop, in particular, was an old shop in the main street of Mackay by the name of P.Comino & Sons. It was established in 1932 and I believe the original till is still there. It was fascinating to be there and Chris got most of what he wanted with the helpful staff.

The main shopping activity is now in the many shopping centres, literally just a few kilometres from each other, of which we visited three.

A day of sightseeing

Friday was spent sightseeing as tourists.
The Leichhardt Tree along the Pioneer River played a significant part in Mackay’s maritime history. As thousands of settlers, ships and cargoes arrived in Mackay the tree was used as an anchor for ships to tie to for access into
Then it was off to see the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminals.
This is a fascinating piece of industrial workmanship.
A couple of years ago we went on a tour of the Blair Athol mine at Clermont to see how they removed the coal from the ground. We’d seen the two kilometres long, five-engine trains loaded with tons of the black gold heading to Mackay’s wharf.
Now we got to see the coal being loaded onto the many ships and bulk carriers.
They say over 900 ships use the port each year and while we were there we saw 29 of them at anchor or being loaded.
The Hay Point Coal Terminal is one of Australia’s largest and most efficient coal export facilities and blends and despatches up to 44 million tonnes of coal per year.

Our next stop was 50 km north of Mackay at Cape Hillsborough and Seaforth.
These spots were recommended to us by Barry and Ian so maybe another visit will see us staying there.
Cars were parked with boat trailers right on the beach. You’d have to know your tides to make sure you got your car out before the tide came back in.

A lesson on Polo Crosse

Saturday was off to Nebo to watch and learn about Polo Crosse.
Scotty and Farren had invited us to watch their teams play.
We parked the van in the show grounds along with at least 100 horse trailers and other vans. We found the people friendly and willing to explain the rules of Polo Crosse and the different qualities of the horses to us novices.

The game is very exciting and strenuous for both horse and rider.
They play eight-minute quarters with two teams of six riders. Three riders at a time will play.
The horse needs to enjoy the game and be able to read the play as well as keep an eye on the ball. Players defend with their horses to stop the other team from shooting a goal.

We noticed the teams that trained together were very hard to beat.
One team of Father, son and daughter could virtually read each other’s moves. These kids were around 10 and 12 and the son was already playing internationally. There is no age limit so kids to 70+ were playing.
We loved it.

Back to Disney

Sunday found us heading back to Disney with a stop at Moranbah to pick up some supplies for the camp.
We came home to start up the generator and get the cold room and freezer up and running and prepare for the return of the workers the following day.


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