Blue. Deep, dark storm blue are the colour of the clouds as they roll into the hills. They pass by, cutting the top of the hills and threatening to rain heavier than the Titanic. They move ominously through the sky as we peer through the car windows wondering where we will camp tonight.
The road still lays before us. It is sad to leave a place like the Wet Tropics of Queensland. There trees stand tall, the water falls over rocks, that although they have been there since creation, seem purpose built to be used as water slides. Jacqui and the boys have loved every second playing in the warm, clear river water.
We stayed an extra day near Townsville to visit one last natural water slide. Trying to hold out a little longer before our drive south. It was the threat of rain that made us hurry to move and what has been keeping us going homeward - however reluctantly.
The lure of discussing fast food drive us further than a free camping site and into a disappointing evening.
There was a free camp north of Rockhampton on the highway. We stopped for a break, hindsight would have told us to stay the entire night. But we continued the drive south to Rockhampton, opting for a fast food dinner as a morale booster for some tired boys. I will remember nothing good of that meal, I could not finish it because it was so terrible.
To add to the meal we had to find a place to stay for the night. At 20:00 hours. I would guess there is a kind of caravan park collusion going on, because each unpowered camp site was between 22-30 dollars and each additional person was $10, regardless of age. That is a very expensive camp site for us and being late it is not a great offer. We rung around but everywhere was the same cost.
We drove down to a suburb and despite the sign on the door saying "Ring, and we'll get you in." We were turned away, from a caravan park at 8:45 at night, "Sorry, but we're closed up for the night." He said and went back inside.
We drove back to Rockhampton and found a park that would take us. $80 a night for an unpowered, single tent site. I know we have a lot of children, but we are not going to use $80 worth of their equipment in the 12 hours we will be there. I am sure this will be the topic of another rant.
Rockhampton may be a nice town but I will not remember it as one. If I was to use a visual metaphor to describe the town it would be; a crudely drawn penis on the inside of an unclean toilet stall.
The Monsoon is Coming
The end of the dry season is a marvellous time to be in the north. The rivers aren't yet running fast, so there are plenty of places to swim and explore smooth rocks as watersides. The weather is a fantastic 30 degrees with nice cool breezes in the evening to cool the tent down. There are many sightings of cane trains pulled heavy loads along the road.
Heading south was a sad time. The mountains that lead up towards the tablelands slowly faded to hills that rolled closer towards the horizon. The trees became less dense and less green, slowly edging into the yellow, long grass that surrounds much of the Mackay to Rockhampton region.
Yet, it was the coming of the wet season that made us move south. For four days we travelled, watching the deep, dark blue clouds roll over the hills. Each day wishing a storm would not be where we decided to camp, we did not see rain until the small town of Miriam Vale where we stopped for lunch. The plan was to head toward the beach for a few nights, but the thunder and lightning made us travel inland, toward Toowoomba.
I think we need to be a little more prepared to stay in the rain. Our tent handles it fine but we have little space to handle a day in the rain, the last time we were caught we took the train to Kuranda.
So we pitched our tent below a car port and enjoyed the wonderful company of family we do not get to see very often. The road has taken us to many places and it lead us to relax with family, it was unexpected and enjoyable. It didn't rain in Toowoomba, even though we were protected below the car port.