Andy: After our awesome Queensland road trip was completed we arrived in Mackay – Our temporary Christmas home…
One million tourists visit Australia’s east Queensland coast every year. As one of the locals said to us, Mackay is not really somewhere you’d come if you didn’t have a reason to. It has a population of around 125,000 and it’s an important contributor to the Australian economy through sugar production. There are many beaches, national parks, forests and hills to see in the region and all well protected and looked after for the public to enjoy freely.
Seda: The reason we ended up staying here is via house-sit arrangements again. A couple from Mackay chose us specifically and made contact a while back asking if we would house-sit for them over Christmas. We felt that it would be a good excuse to travel north-east, so we agreed.
It wasn’t the easiest house-sit we did because the resident dog was an unsatisfiable attention seeker who barked or pined endlessly if you ignored her. The cats were simply scared to death about their new house (the owners had just moved in) and by the two strangers looking after them. So they didn’t eat to start with, and the food we put down for them would then get covered by millions of ants. We would walk around with our heads in our hands thinking how would we explain to the owners if they died after not eating for 2 weeks!
Andy: If we didn’t have our hire car Zach, we would die out of boredom with nothing to do there because their place was quite far out of town on a fairly new but small estate. Strangely enough all the roads had a Scottish theme too – Kintyre Court, Caledonian Drive, Edinburgh Street, Dundee Road, Ben Nevis Drive and Aberdeen Drive etc. We pointed this out to the home owners, but they were oblivious to it having never been to the UK. When we did go out and about though, we found some enjoyable parts of the region.
Seda: Our most enjoyable experience was the platypus sighting in Eungella National Park. This was apparently the most likely place to catch a glimpse of these lovely animals. The first spot where we waited to see them was ruined by noisy kids arriving all screams and shouts of “Is this where we will see platypus mummy?” “No” I wanted to say “no chance of that anymore!”
Andy: We moved to another spot further down the river where we weren’t disappointed this time, and had a good look at a playful platypus. They are really cute! Also, there were some huge cockatoos in the trees making one hell of a noise as the platypus happily swam around diving for food. I guess they don’t mind some noises!
Seda: We did a couple of walks in the forest after our platypus sighting – one to a lookout point and the other along a rainforest trail. This may seem strange to some of you but I enjoyed those walks much more than visiting beaches. There is something about a forest that energises me and make me feel intoxicated with fresh air.
Andy: We had another national park visit, this time to Cape Hillsborough. This place is famous for wallabies grazing on the beach at first light. We didn’t quite make it that early strangely enough! We took two walks there – one to Yuibera trail where the highlight was the giant lizard we saw! And I really do mean giant. It was about a metre long!
Seda: It was a very hot day and not feeling like doing a massive walk we decided to climb up to a look out point and leave it at that. Somehow the trail took us all the way to the top but continued down to the other side of the hill. Intrigued, we continued but only to end up on the beach. I knew this beach is famous for wallabies and considered unmissable so we completed the walk there. Much to the displeasure of my sulky companion!
At the time the tide was out and sand was very soft! So soft that way back at the beach, this is how much your feet would sink if you attempted to walk on it. Andy insisted that i go further and watched with great amusement as I sank!
Mackay has a lot to offer in the town centre. There are big shopping malls, cinemas where we watched the movie “Knives Out” which was excellent by the way. Andy also watched the latest Star Wars movie but even the promise of a large pop corn wouldn’t be enough to be persuade me! No no no!
It seems common in sea side towns for the local council to have a “lagoon” in the city centre with one or more swimming pools for the public to swim without worrying about losing a leg to sharks or getting overrun by stingers. These are decent clean pools with changing depths allowing something for everyone. There are toilets, changing rooms, a cafe, sheltered seating areas. It’s also worth mentioning that each pool has several life guards available all the time the pools are open. We enjoyed it much more than we thought we would even though when we got out a mother with two kids was happily lounging where our towels and bag was supposed to be.
Andy: Evenings seemed nicer in their house after a few days when the cats started eating. We would sit and watch The Crown on their Netflix and assume some sort of homely mood surrounded by cats and a very needy dog. So needy was the dog that even if you were to stroke her for 2 hours and then stopped, she would look up at you as if to say “I didn’t say you should stop!”
Seda: You know about our Christmas day and the thunder storms we had in the evening. It was a scary night with loads of loud tropical thunder and lightening! We knew it was going to be a difficult night but nothing could prepare us for a “lost cat” situation. We looked everywhere, even rolling up the shutters in the garage in order to go around the parked truck to find Lilly but she was nowhere to be seen. In the early afternoon, we started to wonder if we should confess to the owners that we lost their furry baby! A cat normally scared of her shadow, must have lost her mind to get into that impossible space between the sofa and the floor. Have a look at the picture of the sofa above and the gap underneath it and tell me how it is possible for anything bigger than a mouse to get in there please?!
Andy: Because of the heavy rain and thunderstorms I decided to postpone a fishing trip I had planned. When it eventually came around a few days later I set off early to Lake Proserpine excited to catch my first barramundi. Aussies seem obsessed with catching these fish and with good reason. They grow huge, and are extremely powerful. I was full of hope, but even with the best efforts of both myself and my guide Colin we couldn’t manage to hook one up. We had a couple of bites each, but nothing came to anything unfortunately, hence no big fish pictures!
Seda: We were stuck in the house for days due to rain and thunderstorms. There were road closures around us due to floods and the house owners were worried because of the flooded fields at the back of the house.
Our only escape was to regional botanical gardens during which we got wet, twice! Even the birds were wet.
Continuing with our Aussie observations…
- Australians like open plan houses.
- There seems to be a riverside walk and a botanical garden in every town and city.
- Its a country of extremes; either draught or flood!
- As well as saying “No worries” when there’s nothing to worry about, Aussies also love saying “No dramas” when there was no drama in the first place!
- Aussies also love greeting people with a friendly “How you going?” which i’m determined to reply just once with “I’m not going anywhere, I’ve only just arrived!