Time to unwind and transformÂ in Mackay
I underwent somewhat of a transformation during my stay in Mackay.
For the first time in about 16 years I had my hair cut quite short and, I must admit, itâ€™s a lot easier to manage than longer hair when you’re constantly on the move.
But the transformation wasnâ€™t just restricted to my hair.
Breathing at last
Iâ€™d been on the road for about a month by that time and had finally begun to relax after what was a fairly torrid four weeks before I left Tamworth.
Packing up 30 years of your life in a month is no mean feat and it can be emotionally draining, not to mention the physical toll it takes on a 50-something-year-old body. Add to that the stress of Gracie’s near-death experience back in July, and I was not in a good frame of mind.
I didnâ€™t realise just how drained I was until I stopped travelling for a five-week period in Mackay and started to unwind.
Warm welcome from my old mate
A big part of that was the warmth and friendship from my lovely mate, Anna Mill. Although her partner, Kim Wilson didnâ€™t know me from a bar of soap, that didnâ€™t make a scrap of difference to how I was welcomed into their home.
Anna wouldnâ€™t let me or the girls sleep in Rambling Rose. We had to stay inside. That first night not sleeping in RR was not my best effort in the snooze stakes, though.
I fretted all night, worrying that something might happen to her out on the street all by herself, without me and the #motorhomingmaltesemutts to protect her from harm.Â The next day we moved her into an enclosed yard and I felt so much better, even though it was strange not sleeping in the motorhome. Itâ€™s funny how some things become the norm so quickly.
Annaâ€™s come a long way â€“ in more ways than one
When we met about a quarter of a century ago in Tamworth, Anna was working with the developmentally disabled.
She was an enrolled nurse, but soon went down the studious path of becoming a registered nurse.
This wasnâ€™t an easy decision to make either, committing herself to years of university study when she was a single mum raising three small children.
Fast forward a few years and Anna became the first in her family to graduate from university â€“ sheâ€™s got a great story, which youâ€™ll read all about in one of my people stories elsewhere on this site in the near future.
Popping up to Pros
Itâ€™s funny. You can sit at home for weeks on end and then get two invitations to something on the same night. Thatâ€™s what happened with me in Mackay â€“ not that Iâ€™d been sitting idle or anything.
Ross Sermons, a musician friend from Tassie (originally from the States), is musical director of a great stage show thatâ€™s touring the country called Always â€¦ Patsy Cline, which was to appear at the Mackay Entertainment Centre the same night weâ€™d arranged dinner with Graeme and Lyn Connors at Burp.
During the conversation Ross mentioned theyâ€™d be playing Proserpine the following evening, so after discussing the distance with Anna, the girls and I decided to pop up to Pros for the night in Rambling Rose â€“ just so she didnâ€™t forget who we were.
Stop in the name of cane
On the way to Proserpine I had to stop for my first cane train at a crossing on the Bruce Highway, which had flashing lights.
Iâ€™d seen plenty of crossings and plenty of trains, but this was my first official cane train stop.
Arriving in Proserpine I sought out the local Auto One store and bought some deep-dish floor mats for Rambling Rose and for Annaâ€™s new Pajero.
Then I headed into town for lunch at a little coffee shop. I saw Ross drive by, so I went back down to Rambling Rose, which was parked in the shade, and moved it around the back of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre into a nice, shady spot at the end of the car park.
A bottle of wine and Patsy Cline
One of my sisterâ€™s favourite songs is A Bottle of Wine and Patsy Cline, which can be found on Anne Kirkpatrickâ€™s 1991 album, Out Of The Blue.
I took that song literally on this particular night, as I ordered a bottle of shiraz upon arrival at the ent cent and settled in for the show in the front row â€“ as you do â€“ with glass and camera in hand.
The show didnâ€™t disappoint. Mandi Lodge was excellent as the narrator, playing the part of Patsyâ€™s friend and greatest fan.
Courtney Conway sang Patsyâ€™s songs beautifully and her outfit changes were fabulous. And Ross and the other guy were just great.
Hunted down by the law
By nightâ€™s end, I had thoroughly enjoyed the show and met some lovely local people at interval.
Ross came back to Rambling Rose for a glass of wine after the show and when we got back there, there was a notice wedged in the door, clearly telling me I was not welcome there.
No camping! On-the-spot fines of $150 apply.
Okay. I can take the hint. I know when I am not wanted somewhere, although Ross felt it was a bit of overkill on the council rangerâ€™s part.
Weâ€™d only just taken a sip of wine when said council ranger appeared in his security vehicle.
Moved on â€¦
â€œYou know youâ€™re not allowed to camp here,â€ the ranger told me.
â€œYes, I had worked that one out,â€ I said. â€œIâ€™m just packing up the motorhome in preparation for moving. You canâ€™t just get in and drive, so Iâ€™ll be gone as soon as possible. Iâ€™ve just enjoyed the concert at your entertainment centre.â€
My support of his town obviously was not appreciated. So, with another move-on warning, he went on his way.
After consuming a bottle of wine, I didnâ€™t really fancy driving around Proserpine at 11 oâ€™clock at night seeking accommodation.
A right royal welcome â€“ almost
Ross called the entertainment centre manager, who very kindly escorted me and Rambling Rose along the back lane towards the rear car park of the Prince of Wales hotel.
He said the hotel manager didnâ€™t mind anyone using his car park for the night, so long as they were right over to the side of the park, near Vinnies.
Parked right out front of there, I thanked him for his kindness and settled in for the night.
After a decent nightâ€™s sleep, I got up and thought Iâ€™d take the girls for their morning constitutional, doggie clean-up bags in hand.
When I got outside, here was another one of those â€œNo camping!â€ notices wedged under the windscreen wiper. Heâ€™d had a busy night stalking this camping serial offender.
A girl can take a hint, you know, so after our brief morning walk, I packed up and headed for nearby Airlie Beach. Proserpine wasnâ€™t going to get any more money out of me.