Wednesday, March 19, 2008

DAY 147 Day off in Mackay

Weds 19th March 2008
Distance to date 8873 km (5546 miles)
Cloudy, sunny intervals

A comfortable night in a real bed again, and a lie-in until 0730. After our hosts had gone off to work Norm and I busied ourselves doing washing and updating blogs, until around noon when we went off to explore the places Peter had told us about last night. The riverbank is quite pleasant with it’s smart walkways and shelters, and sections of rain forest vegetation. Everything is pretty new, like the Botanic Gardens, and as I understand it this city is expanding on the back of the huge open seam coal mining complex nearby. We crossed the road bridge to the north of the river and found a mangrove / swampland conservation area that could be cycled around easily enough. The sunlight shining through the trees and highlighting the pink trunks of the paperbark trees was utterly beautiful and I was in my element. Unfortunately the mozzies were out in force which reminded me to buy some more repellent. They are obviously worse in places like this where the ground is very wet, and Mackay has been one of the wettest places in Oz these last few months - in one 24-hour period a few weeks ago 770mm of rain fell - that’s an inch per hour for 24 hours, amazing. Peter told us that they just watched it rain and rain that day with the water rising to a foot deep under the house. The house was built in the 30's a la Queensland, stilt style - the whole house is supported on wooden posts, so the water didn't come into the main part of the house. Tamma used to have his bedroom down there though so that was washed out.
We got a bit lost on the way back to our hosts but eventually got there. We are planning to ride the 50km or so to Cape Hillsborough tomorrow, and hopefully get camped on the NP beach campsite there. We've had a great time with peter and family here and are very grateful for his unconditional hospitality.