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A Shout Out to Our Friends (That Fish!)

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds and cultures with differing personalities and differing reasons for being friends. Now we could get bogged down with definitions of friends’ vs acquaintances, you know Facebook or Insta friends and then the people who really mean something to you or you to them, but I would rather celebrate friends for what they are and what they do.

Now I consider myself very lucky I have a few really great friends which I love spending time with. You may start to pick up on a theme with our friends too, they all like fishing! Coincidence you ask? Probably not but what the hell, it works for us.

Let me tell you about a few of our nearest and dearest friends:

 

The Drabbles

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Dave and Di Drabble are our true dinky-di Aussie mates. We first met at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party. We stayed awake and alert (well maybe just awake) to watch the sun dawn on a new year together, having a few drinks, loads of laughs and sharing a sense of achievement (that we were fairly old and could still see the night through to the dawn!). Just a note to say we have not been able to do that since, but hey at least we could say we had done it! That was about 6 years ago now and our friendship has gone from strength to strength (hopefully they agree with this, if not tough you Drabbles are stuck with us Pozzies now!).

Dave is ex-army and has a unique way of approaching things, such as DIY and fixing anything mechanical (dodgy but functional is the phrase we would use). Di is just a beautiful soul who would do anything for anybody. She is also very patient and almost saint like for putting up with Dave and his dodgy fixes!

Now just to explain Dave is my fishing husband. He is as passionate about fishing as I am (maybe more) and has taught me quite a few things over the years. We very often joke about him having two wives, the loving and beautiful wife that he spends most of his time with (yes that is Di) and then his fishing wife who he takes fishing and imparts his fishing wisdom to (that would be me). He is my Mr Miyagi and I am his, not so little, grasshopper!

We have had many a camping and fishing adventure with this pair and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the time spent together. We had the pleasure of going on a 3-week expedition to the cape with them and it was 3 weeks filled with fun, laughter, 4WDriving, fishing and a few arguments (but that was between me and my husband not us and the Drabbles). Di is extremely good company and I love the fact that she and I have a natural friendship (even if some people think I am a posh earthy type!)

I guess we cannot be that bad to be around as we are all going away again next year for a 5-week adventure in the Kimberley’s. I am sure it will be full of exciting events such as breaking things, getting stuck, maybe having to Jump Snatch Winch and Blow (see blog of the same name) the old BT-50 etc. etc.

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Can’t wait for next year and all the adventures to come!

The Deb and Mark Effect

I met Deb and Mark a few years ago, when I joined a boot camp run by a very strange, but very good PT in Townsville. We struck up a friendship and started socialising together outside of boot camp. Now our socialising (involving cheese, wine and generally having a great time), may have conflicted with our training goals (to lose weight and get fit), but we did not let that stop us!

Deb and I built the friendship up and the fellas just kind of followed. Luckily enough (for Deb and I) the fellas get on extremely well, so we spend a lot of time socialising, going to the footy and fishing together.

Deb is my faithful girlfriend, who turns up to my charity fundraisers, even on her own, and we have an annual ritual of going to the races together, for an afternoon of fun, laughter and champagne. She is easy going if a bit disorganised sometimes (i.e. stressing about not having anything to wear for the races on the night before the event!)

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Mark (or as I call him Capt. Mark Phillips) is a very clever fella, builder with an engineer’s head and has helped us out more than a few times with our caravan renos. You can almost guarantee they will be late or “just” on time for anything, but in all honesty, they are truly worth the wait (even if it is just for the laughs the story about why they were late gives us).

Mark and Deb love their fishing as well and we have ventured out in convoy to fish the beautiful waters in and around, Townsville, Hinchinbrook and the reef. There is always some funny story to relate while supping a few beers after we get back from fishing. These stories usually have something to do with things not working for Mark (such as the sounder or electric motor) or having to come back in early due to Deb getting a lure well and truly stuck in her arm!

In fact, not long ago my husband and I were out fishing, and our electric motor refused to work, then our anchor rope got caught around the electric winch mechanism and then back at the ramp our winch post on our trailer came away from its fixing. We called it the Mark and Deb effect (due to so many things going wrong in a short space of time) and oh how we laughed and laughed (well after we got everything fixed!).

Now Mark is retiring in a couple of weeks and they are moving back down south. We are very sad to see them go but know that we will have more good times and adventures with them even if they do not live down the road.

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Oh, and Mike asks, “Are you OK Mark?” (this is in reference to a very drunken night on International are you OK day, details will not be disclosed!)

Wally and Sharelle

Now these two, beautiful people, are dear friends of ours. We met at a fishing club, surprise, surprise! They have a way of making you feel included and supported in a world that is a bit cruel and spiteful sometimes.

Wally repairs windscreens and has his own mobile business (Wally’s Mobile Windscreens) and Sharelle not only works but ensures the family (grown kids and a gaggle of grandkids) are supported and looked after. Family is everything to this pair.

Sharelle always comes and supports our charity events (which my daughter arranges for Ovarian Cancer) and Wally always answers my silly questions about fishing (and occasionally fixes my chips in my windscreens).

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They have taken me out fishing more than once whilst my husband has been away (working overseas) and we have had a great time even caught some fish! We see each other at the fishing club weigh-ins and it can sometimes be a bit of a standing joke as to whose turn it is to win the ladies prize this time.

We go for dinner with them (and our other friends Garry and Jenny) and they entertain us with tall stories of fishing, “what Wally did” and their wonderful family.

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Garry and Jenny

We first met Garry at a fishing club (again surprise, surprise!) He was single at the time and I remember my first impressions were, nice enough, bit weird! My love for him grew when I found out he knew a lot about fishing and worked at the Fishing Warehouse! Only kidding, that’s not all we loved him for, honest!

The fishing club had arranged a weekend away to Terrible Creek and Mike and I went along with Wally, Sharelle, Garry and a few other members. This was about the same time that Garry got himself a girlfriend so there was much leg pulling and teasing about him being love struck!

We became good friends through our mutual friends Wally and Sharelle and then I met his new girlfriend, Jenny, and we decided we had several things in common, not least a good Sauvignon Blanc! And so, a friendship between two couples was born!

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We like to pay out on Garry a lot (well he has got the nickname of crumpet!), so he gets teased about being short, balding and old! We tell him that we are only friends with him because of Jenny! Although this is not true, it still is fun to pay out on him! We do love you Crumpet!

Jenny works very hard running her own business (JAG MiniMart) and Garry helps out when he is not working at the Fishing Warehouse. In between doing all this we still have time for a catch up at the footy or go out to dinner with our other friends Wally and Sharelle and of course Jenny and I get to drink plenty of Sauv blanc together!

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So, I guess the moral of this story is, you do not have to have thousands of likes on Facebook and Insta to be happy. You just need to have a few genuine friends. Friends who you can do daft stuff with, friends who will support you in your life and friends who you can have a laugh and a few Sauv blancs with, sharing your travels, life and dreams.

So, thank you guys for being our friends, cheers to many more years!

Renovations in Fishing Heaven

Lucinda, the place of my dreams. As you may have gathered I am a passionate and crazy fishing lady. Love the water, love fishing and love the Hinchinbrook area. Ever since moving to Townsville in 2011 I have been in love with the waters, scenery and fishing opportunities around the Hinchinbrook area. Pristine waters giving the avid angler a real choice of creek, river, open water and reef fishing. What more could a girl ask for!

Mike (my husband) and I started going up to Lucinda for fishing not long after finding out about the place. It is only 1 hour 40 minutes from home so easy for a day trip or a quick weekend getaway. The caravan park was easy for overnight stays, pitching the tent and making the most of the time out on the water. I would say it was almost perfect, except for one small tiny inconvenience. Yes you guessed it, pitching a tent, taking up all your camping stuff as well as the boat and hot in the summer months (like dripping humidity hot!)

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We  often looked on enviously at our friends who had a semi permanent caravan at the park. They had comfort, a ready made home away from home and aircon whenever they came home from a hot days fishing. It’s true, I coveted the luxury of having a caravan in one of the best fishing places on earth!

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The Vision

I Want One

Now these semi permanent caravans are as rare as hens teeth, the park is only allowed to have a certain amount. My goal was to score us one. One morning, whilst browsing through Facebook I happened upon a post about a semi permanent for sale at the park! I could not believe my luck. So after very quick negotiations with my husband and a promise that it would be extremely beneficial for us to snag this van I contacted the person through a DM and told them we were very, very interested. After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing in the message department I was then informed that it was sold and we had missed out …………. gutted is too mild a word!!

But, as fate would have it, our friends (who have a semi permanent at the park) phoned and told us that the park owners (Shane and Genevieve) had a caravan that they would be happy to sell us!!!!!!!! Woohoo happy again. So, we promptly contacted Shane at the park and told him we would come up to look at it on the weekend. Excited much? You betcha!

We turned up on the Saturday and Shane showed us around and told us to think about it. So we did, it took all of about 5 minutes and I was in his office asking who I made the payment to!!!! Our very own bolt hole, fishing shack! Ok so it needed a fair bit of work, but still our very own fishing shack, how lucky was I!!!!!!!

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Our little piece of heaven

Now the only minus, in a world of positives, about owning your own semi permanent in your fishing mecca, is the husbands need to get everything done now! For those that do not know my husband is particular. He has to have everything done just so (ocd tendencies) and in a timely manner. He does not like to leave a job unfinished even if only for a short period of time. If he starts something he will go full pelt on it to the exclusion of everything else until it is finished! How to balance renovations (with a very impatient and task focussed husband) with the need to just go fishing? Now I am not sure how other people deal with this, but, I used bribery, coercion, compromise and a few other techniques (which I will not go in to here!) to ensure that every weekend was not devoted to the caravan renovations.

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Before reno’s

Renovations

Where to start? Well we started with the inside of the caravan, it still had the shower cubicle and old units (which had to go for aesthetics sake at the very least!). Mike started ripping out the shower cubicle, as we decided we really did not need it due to the park having very nice modern amenities, and it would give us more space around the bed. This in itself was a learning curve! YouTube is awesome for learning about plumbing, electrical work and general renovating tips! We had plenty advice and assistance from our friends; David Drabble (Drabble Inc.) and Mark Phillips, (who we call Capt. Mark Phillips although he has no royal connections). So the boys had fun demolishing and generally making a mess! Hammers, mallets and screw drivers were flying everywhere with a few “whoops”, “oh balderdash” and other words that I will not type here (children don’t need to be exposed to that kind of language!)

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Demo time

Just as a sidleine I guess I had better explain the difference between our friends in terms of construction and building styles. Capt. Mark Philips is very particular (having done construction as a full time job for most of his life) and like my husband he measures everything a minimum of 3 times so he only has to cut once. Drabble Inc. on the other hand is a cut 3 times without measuring (why bother with that time consuming activity) kind of guy. However we love them both and they both have skills which are extremely useful, especially when you have little or no idea how to do it yourself.

We spent more than a few weekends sleeping on a mattress in the annexe, which was a compromise because it meant that we did not need to spend every weekend working, we could enjoy some fishing too even if it meant the work got done a little more slowly than my husband was comfortable with. But we still had aircon, ah heaven!

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Our bedroom for a while

We modified the bed somewhat to ensure that the two of us had enough space to roll over without giving each other a black eye. Mike laid carpet tiles in the bedroom area and then it was time to get the bed back in. How exciting! Roxy and Lucas came for a visit and Lucas was drafted in to help Mike put the bed frame and mattress back in. Roxy and I gave them our full support and encouragement from the patio (with a glass of wine in hand), as our favourite Czech (Lucas) and my favourite pozzie (Mike) did a great impression of the Chuckle Brothers “To me, to you”! (I guess only pommies will get this reference).

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Our new bedroom

Well bed was in and walls were painted now time to relax and enjoy the fishing, before the next stage of renovations.

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Renovations then started on the living area end of the caravan so demolition time again! One part of the seating area was ripped out and the flooring was pulled up. This was to give us more worktop space in the kitchen, plus we were going to have a living area in annexe so did not need all the seating in the caravan. My husband worked about 5 weekends solid on getting everything demolished and prepped ready for a refit.

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Now it just so happened that I had to go Italy for 2 weeks (yes I can hear you say “Shame”, “oh you have a hard life” etc.). So, it was agreed that while I was away Mike would finish off the inside of the caravan (and yes I can hear you say “spoilt much?”). I had already painted the cupboard doors and the inside of the caravan (my contribution when not fishing), so all he had to do was put some cupboards in! Not too taxing (says she who is swanning around Italy!).

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Doing a bit of swanning at the Colosseum

Capt. Mark Phillips came to help Mike put the cupboards in and got the inside of the caravan finished whilst I was away. I popped in on my way back from a fishing competition (yes I was fishing 1 day immediatley after coming back from Italy, dedicated or what!). It was amazing coming back to a fresh, bright  and modern fishing shack (and the aircon still worked). All we had to do now was to enjoy the serenity and fishing for a while without any more renovating!

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Inside done

That sentiment did not last long! Just after Christmas we started planning the annexe renovations.

Again just as a sideline and to set the scene I guess I should define the term “we” used throughout this blog. There are varying levels of “we”, as most of you ladies will recognise. “We” renovated may mean that husband and wife or husband, wife and friends, had an equal part to play in the renovations. “We” could also mean that I did a lot of swanning around and fishing whilst “they” did the renovations. Just thought I would clear that up before proceeding.

Annexe Renovations

Now the annexe on the caravan was a soft annexe with a hardwood floor. It was very old and the canvas was torn in a few places. I dreamed of a good (lockable) and comfy room to compliment the caravan space. A room in which to sit on a sofa and watch telly (comfortably), store some fishing gear (securely) and have somewhere for guests to stay. Now I know what you are thinking, “gosh she wants a lot for a fishing shack!” but there is no point going through life uncomfortable! Our friends have a cold room panelled annexe and we thought yes, that is a fantastic idea. Our favourite Czech had told us in broken English that “when I was 14 I help father put up big room with panels for cold”, so we knew we could call on his experience if required. Mike went and spoke to the fabulous guys (and gals) at Norfoam in Townsville and worked out the plan to get a hard annexe put on the caravan.

Before we could get the annexe up we had to paint the outside of the caravan as it was looking very old and tired. So, we had to spend a weekend painting (I did take my fishing rods with me and sneaked off to the beach for a fish in between coats!). Mike also had to take the old annexe down, out with the old in with the new!

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Before and after

These panels come in a kit that is easy to erect and can be done by people with no building experience (apparently!). So, we hired a trailer and picked the kit up with a view to spending the whole weekend getting the annexe up. Mike was fully prepared with the plans, parts and tools with which to get this structure up. We got to the caravan bright and early ready to go. Capt. Mark Phillips (our construction engineer) was not available that weekend and our usual tool (Drabble Inc.) was fishing, so would not be able to assist until later that morning.

Now the caravan park is absolutely chock full of grey nomads and we just so happened to have a couple across the way from us who were not only very friendly but extremely useful too. John volunteered to lend a hand (well truth be told his wife volunteerred him, but same thing), and he came over to start the construction. Now we have found out that having a John trumps having a Drabble (sorry Dave and we still love you!). John has a wealth of experience, he is a welder and has a tool for just about every job!

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Men at work

Construction began. It was not long before the natural order of things emerged. John was the foreman, Drabble (who had arrived back from fishing) was the worker and Mike was the apprentice. I was cleaning lady and on tea duties, with the help of Di, Drabbles better half. Now us girls did not mind leaving the physical labour to the men although we did our fair share of propping up, passing tools, cleaning the worksite and generally encouraging the troops!

Now something which I learnt through the construction phase was there are varying different types of spirit levels. Now not being familiar with the tool myself I was startled to find out that you could get spirit levels with a small gap for the bubble to sit in (apparently that is the norm) or you could get spirit levels with a large gap for the bubble to sit in (that is a Drabble Inc. level). John preffered the small gap type (something to do with being more accurate) and Drabble Inc. preffered the large gap type (something to do with “she’ll be right mate”). I found the robust discussion that was had over the two types very interesting!

Us two girls (DI and myself) were given the very important task (by John the foreman) of holding the panels up until they were riveted and secured into place (we felt very important). So, all was going well at a cracking pace until ……… crash! The panels fell over and we had to start all over again.

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Hold it girls

One job girls, just one job!!!!!!!

It is a bit like building a house of cards. Until you get the full structure up it is not too strong. So the day was spent generally riveting, screwing, holding, leaning and manoeuvring the panels into place.

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Still holding it

So the value of John you will ask? It seemed that the apprentice (Mike), although well prepared for the construction with half his shed of tools, did not have the right tools amongst his hoard, but John did! Very often during the day you would hear John say “have you got such and such tool” and then you would hear him say “never mind I have one”. Luckily he was only across the way so did not have to go very far for to get them.

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Still holding it

Eventually the structure was up and all that was left was the filling, cleaning and finishing off. Oh, and the sealing strip on the outside of the roof. Which meant someone getting up there, preferably the smallest, lightest person. Why was everyone looking at me? So bravely I said I would. Now I am not a great lover of heights and I still was not a great believer in the strength of the panels. But bravely I climbed the ladder and got onto the roof. And that is as far as I got. I sat on the roof telling myself to take deep breaths when around the corner our friendly Drabble came. Saviour! He got up there instead (true chivalry) and proceeded to put the flashing on the roof. I was still having kittens due to the roof panels flexing and my imagination that told me the whole thing could come down at any moment, but he did it.

So all that had to happen now was to lay the internal floor, build the furniture and decorate with some nicknacks. So, in true Tracey fashion, the following weekend I went to the Townsville Cup with friends and Mike went and finished the caravan.

 

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Townsville Cup

After another weekend of fixing up little things and painting the caravan is almost unrecognisable from when we first purchased it. Remember the vision ……….?

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The vision

Woohoo, caravan is finished and although it may not resemble the vision picture above it is now a comfortable little bolt hole for us to enjoy fishing and relaxing in the beautiful paradise of the Hinchinbrook area.

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The finished product

And yes I am 2SPOILT!

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Thats me!

“Go to the Beach”, they said – “It Will be Fun”, they said.

Fraser Island.

Fraser is a beautifully unique island off the south-east coast of Queensland. It is the world’s largest sand island, stretching over 120km, with rainforest growing out of the sand. The island is World Heritage listed and is a camping and 4 wheel driving mecca for many Australians and international tourists.

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Fraser Island

So, for our first real adventure since moving to Townsville my husband and I decided to venture forth and make the trip. We had booked just over two weeks off and travelled down from Townsville stopping at the beautiful Smalleys beach, in the beautiful Cape Hillsborough National Park, on the way.

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Smalleys Beach

We had booked in at the Waddy Point beachfront camping area to the north for 7 days and as we made our way over on the ferry we were very excited.

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Waiting for the Ferry

We had been told by many of our friends that Fraser can be a bit difficult to drive on with lots of soft sand, soft coffee rock, dingoes and plenty of traffic (especially during school holidays). We were also told to ensure we check the tides as getting up Seventy-Five Mile beach could be a bit tricky if you got your timings wrong.

Being excited (and a little bit naive) we trundled off the ferry at Wanggoolba Creek along with a few other tourists and hit our first sand trap about 10 minutes later. To be fair it wasn’t completely our fault. We were following a car full of Japanese tourists who decided to stop in the middle of the track for a photo opportunity! So, we pulled up and immediately sank in the sand! We did realise, after being dragged out by some very accommodating people, that our tyre pressures were not low enough, first schoolboy error! We had them somewhere around 25psi and were told they should be somewhere around 16, oops! Lesson learnt, and we were off again, travelling through the sandy roads to get onto Seventy-Five Mile Beach.

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Maheno shipwreck on Seventy-Five Mile Beach

Now driving Seventy-Five Mile beach is a bit of an experience! Not only do you have to dodge other cars, the sea, tour buses and people but airplanes too! Tourist flights land on every shifting airstrips on the beach and it can be quite unnerving to see an airplane coming in to land in front of you!

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Airstrip

On our way up to our campsite we came across another couple who were stuck half way up Indian Heads. They were towing a camper trailer and drove a Patrol (yep Toyota’s are forever pulling Patrol’s out of trouble). We stopped to assist (with our limited Pozzie knowledge) and got them out and on their way up. It just so happened that they ended up camping next door to us and thus a friendship was born.

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Fun in the Sand

With our new-found friends we explored the northern end of Fraser, enjoying the sun, sea and sand. We also explored a few tins of xxxx and the odd wine bottle, (well it would be rude not to!). We thought it would be a good idea to travel over to the other side of the island and visit Wathumba Creek.

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Beautiful Wathumba

Wathumba Creek is a beautiful place, just picture perfect with white sands and turquoise water, good fishing and abundant marine life. We spent the best part of the day exploring this area and swimming in the beautiful pristine waters. On our way back, our new-found friends told us of another beach which was, if possible, even more beautiful than Wathumba.

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More Wathumba

They pulled over and directed us to the track that led to this said beach in Platypus Bay. They told us that there was a small water crossing with a log in it then we would see the entrance to the beach. They told us we would need to gun it over the rise as the sand was soft, but it was ok there was plenty of room on the other side to slow down and get onto the beach. They would wait for us in the pub and we could catch them up there.

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The Pub

So, like good Pozzies off we trundled, got through the water crossing (no drama really) and over the sand track. We did as instructed and gunned it over the rise and then ……. thump! Straight onto the beach in soft sand with the sea directly in front of us! Bringing to mind the saying “Go to the Beach”, they said – “It Will be Fun”, they said!!! Yeah right!

We were well and truly stuck! Right up to the axle! With water in front of us and soft sand behind. After a while of trying to drive the car out (backwards and forwards) and trying to hail our new-found friends on the UHF (who were probably having too much fun in the pub), we clambered out and started to dig. And dig. And dig. And dig! This car was well and truly bogged!!!!!

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Stuck

All the while we were keeping an eye on the tide, pretty sure it was coming in!

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Keep Smiling

So, we dug and dug and moved the car about 25 metres!!! We were both absolutely exhausted, but knew we had to try and get out of there, so we dug some more. As a side note I must admit my husband and I worked as a team that afternoon, no arguing, no blame game just one focussed goal of getting out and getting on track (very unusual I know but we obviously function better together under stress!).

We were desperate and ready to give up and walk, we had both been digging, hauling and generally trying to retrieve the car for over two hours in the hot sun. Enough was enough! I was that hot and tired I thought I was hallucinating as I saw people coming over the sand dune! I have never been so happy to see complete strangers in my life! So, after some hysterical relief and hugs for the rescuers the guys tried to haul our Prado out of the sand dune backwards. It took several attempts and two other cars, but we got there eventually.

There are no photos of this great rescue, due to the fact that I was just so bloody knackered and stressed I did not have presence of mind to take any! But I will say we are eternally grateful to the guys and gals that got us out of that mess, they were awesome!

We headed back to camp (not the pub, we were too dirty, sweaty and knackered). As we pulled up to our camp our new-found friends came out to greet us, with a beer, dinner and platitudes of “we were just thinking about coming to look for you”, “oh my what happened”, “are you ok, we have made you dinner”, “here have a stiff drink everything will be alright”!!!!!! We had a much-needed hot shower and ate dinner, drank lot’s, laughed about our adventure, (sometimes hysterically!) and slept like little babies.

We really enjoyed our time on Fraser and enjoyed the company of the people we met there, so much so we took my parents the year after (without any mishaps). It really is a beautiful place and one I would encourage everyone to see at least once in their lifetime. We will be going back again sometime soon, hopefully armed with a little bit more experience!

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Fraser Island

That’s not a 4wd – This is a 4wd

The Prado

When we moved to Townsville, my husband bought a second-hand Prado. We needed it to tow the boat (as my little RAV was having a hard time), and we wanted something we could do more adventurous trips in.

The Prado was already set up with a long-range fuel tank, so we did not need to worry about that, but it did need some other extras. My husband went all out getting the mods done to make it capable of going off road. That included a 2-inch lift with old man emu suspension, snorkel, bull bar, winch, roof rack, side awning, drop slide fridge, road shower, a set of Drifta drawers for the back and the list went on and on. The car morphed from a comfortable dirt road only 4wd into something that could cope with a bit of rougher track and we could happily take camping on our adventures.

Our first real trip was to Fraser Island. It coped well and we did not really have any problems with it. The set up was fantastic and the convenience of having everything out of the back of the car was great. A whole new experience for us Pozzie adventurers! The Drifta drawers were amazing, I could keep all my food and cooking stuff in them and they gave easy access without having to dig through plastic storage boxes. The fridge was also amazing and was just at the right height for me with the drop slide.

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Yes we do eat a lot!

The Prado performed well on the sand, once we had mastered the tyre pressures and because it was relatively light had no problems getting places. We did have a couple of hiccups that I will elaborate on in a future blog, so you will have to wait.


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Camping Set Up

After taking the parents to Fraser (our second time) we decided we were ready for a bigger trip, so we started planning our trip to the Cape. We ensured that the Prado had its full check over and added a cargo barrier (just in case we had a mishap), breathers and a bra to cope with water crossings and the all-important UHF radio and spare before we set off. We also made sure we took a Drabble with us in case of mechanical emergencies, (see Jump, Snatch, Blow and Winch). The trip up was good. The Prado did the hard yards, rescuing the BT-50 numerous times on the Tele Track and we thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck, getting out and generally running amok. The Prado did everything we asked of it, but we wanted more.

Campfire discussions were had with the other two couples we made the trip with. We began discussing and weighing up the pros and cons of a new 4wd vehicle, 79 series Landcruiser or 200 series Cruiser or another type altogether. Many a robust discussion was held around the campfire fueled by XXXX Gold tinnies and our own biases. Do we get a 200 series (for comfort) and chop it, or do we get a 79 series for practicality? Do the 200 series have too many electrical gadgets to go wrong? Are the 79 series cruisers too utility like (and uncomfortable)? These were answers we needed so we decided we would do our research once back home.

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Well anyway it seems like the Prado got a whiff of us wanting to trade her in. She must have overheard our campfire talk and got a bit upset, so she thought “I will show them!” On the way to Chilli Beach her alternator packed in (I think she did it on purpose!). Well that put us in a bit of a situation. After many discussions of what to do – put the generator on the roof (yes that was a real suggestion!), use solar panels, strip the car down etc. my husband strapped the solar panels to the roof, duck taped the wires down the side of the car and onto the battery and off we set for Cooktown. Luckily it was near the end of our holiday, so we drove from Chilli Beach to Cooktown without aircon (hot and sticky), windows open, red dust covering everything and not stopping (even for a call of nature). Luckily for my husband I sang all the way so he had music!!!!!

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Definitely a technical modification

Research, Research and More Research

So back home (with the alternator fixed) it was time for some of the famous Holmes research. My husband and I did our homework, spoke to heaps of people, took a few test drives and went to see our local (friendly) engineer (Mick at AEV) about the pros and cons of modifications to both the 200 series and the 79. It was decided that the 79 series Cruisers were the better option for our requirements (and minimal mechanical knowledge), spares would also be easy to come by as they are the most used vehicle in outback Australia. We also agreed that the 200 series Cruisers were too computer reliant which would not be a good thing if we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a failure.

So, after taking the 79 series for a test drive, we agreed this was the way to go, but only if we could change the manual gearbox out for an auto (getting on in life and like the easier option). Our local dealer was a little vague about when they were getting a graphite one in stock and could not tell us until we had paid for it, so we ended up getting one from John Coles at Atherton. Service was amazing, and we got a discount! We made the trip up to Atherton and picked up our stubby little dual cab.

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What a cutie! (and the car, heehee!)

The Cruiser (aka my husband’s truck)

Now the real fun began. We wanted the chassis extended so we went back to see Mick at AEV in Townsville and had long chats with him over the best set up for the new vehicle. He did try to convince us to go to a six-wheel option (with a fully working 3rd axle) but we decided that was probably a bit overkill for us. He informed us we could get the chassis extended by 300mm and change out the manual gearbox for an auto. So, we dropped the vehicle into him and he started work on it. While in the shop we got him to put a 3-inch lift on, JMACX coil conversion (which rectified the rear tracking alignment), a brake booster, GVM upgrade and all our accessories including; snorkel (standard Toyota one is rubbish apparently), bull bar, winch, batteries, long range fuel tank, steel rims and new tyres and the list went on and on! (again!).

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JMACX Coil Conversion

Although extremely happy with the service it is slightly disconcerting to see your brand new hardly been used vehicle chopped in two before they reattach with the extension!

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Just to give a big plug here, the service and quality of work we have received from Michael and the team at Australian Expedition Vehicles (AEV) has been outstanding. Nothing has been too much bother for them and they are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and good at dealing with clueless Pozzies.

Then it was time to work out the canopy. The guys at Allytech built this for us and arranged to have the Redarc Battery Management and inverter installed. Of course, it had to have a rack for the tinnie (with and ATV winch because I am getting on a bit and like the easy life!), lithium battery, a potable water tank and the tray for when we did not want the canopy on.

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Canopy by AllyTech Townsville

Then we ordered the drawers from Drifta and when they arrived my husband and I had to install them. That was fun! Just getting the canopy off the back was an art in itself, on our sloping block we had to find genius ways of stopping it from falling over! Drawers installed, along with a 90ltr fridge slide and generator slide, we soon realised that the pull-out table was a bit too high for me to do anything on! So, I had to source some steps otherwise I would not be able to see what I was cooking.

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Hmmm cooking could be difficult

After buying solar panels, hot water system, gas bottle holder, and umpteen bits and pieces we finally had a car (took about 6 months from purchase). Must say though the husband is very happy and informs me that it will only need a few extra bits before our big Kimberley trip next year!

You know what they say; “Happy husband (and truck), happy life!”

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The Love of My Husbands Life!

Women Can Fish Too

Fishing should be a recreational past time that is accessible to all: men, women and children. So how do we fare in the fishing equality stakes in Australia?

Well let’s start with the media. Australia has an abundance of fishing shows, IFish, Hook Line and Sinker, Fishing Australia, Escape with ET, Creek to Coast, Fishing Australia, Fishing Addiction (and the list goes on!). These shows all have one thing in common, they are hosted by men and filmed from a male perspective using male gender noun and pronouns. Rarely do you see women on these shows and if you do catch a glimpse they are usually either bikini clad models or introduced as somebody’s wife.

So, what is my point? Well guys believe it or not women can fish (in their own right, on their own, without male assistance) too! Now do not get me wrong, I am not a raving feminist that thinks all men are oppressors of the female species. Quite the opposite actually. I have a very supportive husband who is very patient with my fishing obsession event though he does not share my degree of passion for the sport (he is long-suffering). I also realise that physically there are some things I cannot do as well as men (such as use brute strength to undo a jar of jam). But I can fish! I love fishing, I would be out on the water 24/7 if my bank balance (and marriage) allowed.

So, what can we do to address the gender inequality in the fishing world?

Let me share with you my experience of being a woman who lives and breathes fishing in a male dominated region of Australia.

Boats

I found my love of fishing in Darwin. We moved to Darwin in 2007 and no sooner had we settled in we decided that we should buy a boat. Well why not? The only safe way to enjoy the water in Darwin is in the confines of a boat (due to the big lizards with teeth they had up there). In truth I did not know that many people in Darwin and certainly knew less about fishing.

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Our new boat

Once on the water I quickly realised that fishing was my thing. I would convince my husband to take me out as much as possible onto the pristine waters of Darwin Harbour where we fumbled around trying to work out the best places and ways to catch fish. I must say not many fish were caught in the four years we were in Darwin, but it did confirm my feeling, that fishing was my passion.

I would do anything to go fishing (well almost anything!). I was lucky enough to have a couple of work colleagues who also went fishing with their partners so I could share fishing stories and ask for tips and pointers on how to improve. After a few years the girls at work decided that a day out fishing (girls only) was just what we needed. After organising who, where and what we were going to do we left the fellas at home and headed out bright and early one Saturday morning to a beautiful billabong for a day’s fish.

Bang that was where I caught my very first Barra, thanks to an all girl crew, and become even more obsessed with fishing!

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My very first Barramundi

This was when I realised girls can do this stuff! It was also when I realised that the boat needed to transform and I needed to lift my game in the fishing stakes.

Fishing Clubs

We moved to Townsville in 2011 and I got very worried. I had left my fishing chicks in Darwin and moved to somewhere that was so much busier, too many boats on the water. How was I ever going to find the right places to fish, where could I go, who could I go with. My trusted husband was there of course and he put a lot of time and effort in to get me out on the water and find me places to fish. In fact, he was the one that suggested we join a fishing club, so that is exactly what we did.

We joined the Townsville Fishing Club and I became very aware that there were only a couple of women in the club who actively fished (and enjoyed it!). I became firm friends with one of the women and also made friends with a few of the fellas. When a few of the members moved clubs, we joined them and became members of the Alice River Fishing Club. This, again, was a male dominated club but I was made to feel welcome and slowly the club evolved into a more female friendly environment.

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It’s still a fish!

Clubs are a great way to meet like-minded individuals that share your passion. It can be daunting to join a club that is male dominated, but there is just something about fishing that makes most men forget your gender and talk to you like a normal human being. My advice would be to go and get involved, go to club meetings, speak to people (including the dreaded men) and get as much information from them as possible. Many times, I have been in a situation where my love and passion for fishing has seen me meet new people and break down the stereotypical views that some men hold on women and fishing.

Women Can

I was a little fortunate in the fact that I learnt a lot of my boat driving skills in Darwin where it was sparsely populated and so I did not feel the pressure as you would on some of Queensland’s busier waterways. I learnt very quickly how to drive the boat on the trailer, due to a healthy respect for the big toothed lizards in the water up in Darwin. This would stun a few blokes at the boat ramp (especially the ones that were holding and manually winching their boats on to the trailers). I have lost count of the times some bloke stopped and stared as I drove the boat up onto the trailer, some congratulating me on my skills, some just too dumfounded to speak (omg it was chick that did that!). For me, to be able to do these things is a matter of female pride and I have to admit I get a great sense of achievement when I do it right. I do not always get it right though, I still miss the mark sometimes and pray that no one is watching, but I do breathe a sigh of relief when it all goes well when I have an audience. Although, I must admit that I am absolutely hopeless at backing the trailer down the boat ramp! I definatley need a lot more practise at that before I am allowed to do it in public, (typical female I hear you cry!)

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Ladies Game Fishing Competition

I also had to learn to look after my own tackle and tie fishing knots. As previously mentioned my husband is not really that keen on fishing, so he would drive the boat and I would rig his rods and lures as payment for his services. I spent a lot of time practising knot tying and I must say some have failed me through the years. I also spent a fair bit of time in my local tackle shop (Fishing Warehouse in Townsville). Now I have to say these guys at the shop are amazing. They give me so much assistance and impart their knowledge to me on what bait/lure to use, where to use it, how to use it etc. They are an amazing friendly bunch even if they are all blokes!

It pays to get in with your local tackle store. They have a lot of local knowledge and will even assist you in how to rig your bait, lures and line etc. Make the most of the “woman” thing and pump them for their expertise!

Find a Friend

Fishing is always better when you can enjoy it in good company. I have been fortunate enough to have a few good female friends who love to fish. I met my current fishing buddy through friends in Townsville. Mad Mel they call her (and for a very good reason I might add). She is your typical independent, passionate fisher. She is very outgoing and is not afraid to get out there and give everything a crack (so much so she scares me at times!) She owns her own boat called Miss Adventures, because she is very accident prone and goes fishing on her own a fair bit.

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Mad Mel in Miss Adventures

Now we are polar opposites. I am an original pom, not too fit, bit of an academic, work in project development, base career is an accountant, outdoorsy in a comfortable way. She on the other hand is an original true-blue Aussie, gives everything and anything a go, pretty fit, very independent, scrubs dunnies for a living (her words not mine) and calls me a bit of a princess (just because I have my finger nails painted on the boat!) We only really have fishing in common, but the friendship works! We work well together on the boat (that is mainly because she bosses me around and I let her!) and we get out there and have a crack.

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Fishing Buddies

We started entering fishing competitions together and I must say we have an absolute ball. Many of the fishing comps in our area are male dominated so we take great pleasure at turning up on sign in night to see a room full of men go silent as we walk in. You can almost hear a pin drop and you can see what is going through their heads … “hey love, looks like you are in the wrong place!” or “well this should be fun, what would chicks know about Barra fishing!”

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Cardwell Barra Bash

But being the fearless ladies that we are we get in, get on and mingle with the guys. I must admit that once they are aware of how much we love fishing we become part of the clique in no time. Luckily neither of us are shy so we just start talking to the other competition entrants and eventually get accepted. I do have an ulterior motive in that these guys usually know a lot about fishing so playing the unknowledgeable female can usually score me some good tips and pointers.

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And the Point Is?

The morale of the story? Ladies put yourselves out there! There is nothing in our DNA as females that stops us from learning how to drive a boat, back a car, rig rods, tie knots or find fish. If you love fishing and want to enjoy the great outdoors, as Nike said, JUST DO IT!

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And if you need any help or a bit of encouragement, I am willing to impart my vast array of knowledge (just joking I don’t know that much, I will refer you to Mad Mel).

Check out Mad Mel Fishing facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Madmelfishing/

Station Camping

For our first ever station camping adventure we chose Goshen Station in North Queensland. Only 250km’s from home we thought this would be a good place to cut our teeth as they say.

Goshen Station is a working cattle station not far from Blencoe Falls through the Kirrama Range Road. The range road can get a bit rough and slippery and even though it was shorter in km’s to our trip on the highway it took much longer due to the twisty windy nature of the road. But don’t let that put you off, the scenery was amazing, looking out over the region through the rainforest.

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Cashmere Crossing

Once at the station we picked up our key and mud map directions to our campsite. The gate to the camping area is locked so you do not get any unwanted visitors (unless you count cattle!). We stayed at the “Kucha” campsite which was very private and we never saw another soul for the whole 3 days (although it was not in school holidays or a public holiday weekend).

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Our very own creek

The campsite was spacious and had a fire pit and seating, so we quickly pitched our tent and set about getting the camp fire going to cook dinner. Being June the evenings were chilly so I wrapped up warm (husband does not fear the cold!), set the pot on the fire with dinner and cracked open a bottle of wine (well it would be rude not to!)

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Dinner time

In the morning we woke up to a fine mist, but it soon burnt off to reveal a glorious view from our tent. Mornings like these make you thankful that the country you live in is so beautiful and that you can spend time relaxing and forgetting about the big wide world outside.

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Kucha campsite

After breakfast I dutifully traipsed down to the waters edge to try my luck at a spot of fishing. Now I knew it was probably a bit too cold for the fishes to give me some entertainment but I still tried anyway (diehard fisher woman, will fish in a 5cm puddle!). So after fishing for about 3 hours (in various different spots) I realised that all the fishes were still in bed so I returned to camp to see how my husband was fairing.

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Here fishy fishy

It is so easy to relax and forget the world in a place like this. I was so chilled out that I think I almost forget to put dinner on! We did have rain and it was damp for the three days we were there, but neither of us minded. It was just so unique for us to be away from people, enjoying each others company and forgetting about work, home and all the little pressures of life, oh and to practise my casting (can’t call it fishing because there were not any fish!)

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I would highly recommend a trip to Goshen as the area is beautiful, the cows are friendly and the river is perfect. Swimming was out for us (it was a little cold and we are acclimatised to the tropics even though we are originally whinging poms), but the river is idilic and no fear of salties, just freshwater crocs.

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Swimming is not compulsory

So for a true bush camp away form the world pop into Goshen Station, you won’t regret it trust me!
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Lucinda Heaven

Who would not want a comfortable bolt hole to stay in at your favourite fishing spot? To come and go as you please, without having to set up camp every time. Somewhere where you can fish all day and come back to air-conditioned comfort, a proper bed and great facilities, with a pub just across the road. Sounds like heaven to me.

Lucinda is an ideal jumping off point for exploring (and fishing) the Hinchinbrook Channel, the Great Barrier Reef and the islands in between. Not to mention great fishing around the sugar jetty (which is the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 5.76 km’s).

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Hinchinbrook Channel

A few years ago, Mike (my long-suffering husband) and I found ourselves heading up to Lucinda on a regular basis to fish. I mean who wouldn’t? Only an hour forty drive from home, great scenery and a fantastic options on where to go if the weather is not too great. So the problem? Well we either stayed in the apartments and villas at the boat ramp (expensive option) or camped out with our boat, tent and all related paraphernalia in the local caravan park (cheaper option).

Whilst we love camping, the time it took to set up camp and the weather in North Queensland (humid nights, hot days and the odd cyclone) was not conducive to a quick and comfortable fishing getaway. We would leave after work on a Friday, meaning nine times out of ten we would be setting up camp in the dark (which has the potential to be divorce material). We would then fish Saturday and come back to our camp hot, sweaty and sometimes a bit smelly (also potentially divorce material!). We would also have to pack down Sunday morning (check out time at the caravan park), so no fishing, as our tent and everything was transported in the boat. So this was inconvenient, it ate into our time out on the water and seriously interfered with my chances of getting as many hours fishing in as possible.

Over the years we realised that occasionally some of the spots had caravans on all year round. After a bit of investigation it turned out that the park owners had one for sale. So after much discussion with the husband (about 5 minutes worth) we made them an offer and signed ourselves up for a lease agreement and the caravan! Our own little Holmes away from Home! (Just for those that do not get it our surname is Holmes, play on words people).

So now we had a caravan (in sore need of some attention), but it did have air-conditioning and the park had all the facilities you could ever want (beautiful shower blocks, swimming pool, bbq’s and friendly staff). Time for Reno’s.

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That is where the fun began. I go to Lucinda to fish not to spend time renovating a caravan! My husband, being a very thorough chap likes to get things done in quick time, he cannot bear dragging out jobs. I on the other hand would spend my life (24/7) fishing. Hmmm a potential divorce making situation?

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Before Reno’s

So I sacrificed a couple of weekends fishing to assist in the renovations. I know he is such a lucky husband having a wife willing to take one for the team!

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During Reno’s

Let’s not mention the fact that buying the caravan was so I could go fishing more often and come back to comfort and luxury! And because you never let the truth get in the way of a good story I will not tell you about the two weekends of hard work he put in to finish the reno’s whilst I was swanning off in Italy with Miss Progress International Australia!

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Finished

If you want to take advantage of the great fishing in the Hinchinbrook area, stay at the Wanderers Holiday Village, great place to stop and unwind.

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Visit http://www.wanderers-lucinda.com.au/