May 25, 2017
Well, itâ€™s been quite a while since I last posted a blog on here, but itâ€™s not due to the fact Iâ€™ve been idle. Far from it.
Since I last blogged Iâ€™ve been all over Queensland and spent a month touring Tassie.Â In Queensland, I missed a few choice spots I intend to catch on my next go-round and Tassie is somewhere I really left my heart. I’ll be back.
When I returned to Tamworth in January, I realised after wrangling my old faithful Rambling Rose all over Queensland for six months, it really was too big for me.
Iâ€™m not cut out to be a truckie, which I felt like, piloting that 4-tonne, 6.7-metre-long rig around Queensland roads from July to December.
Selling and downsizing
I emptied her out, and took over more of cousin Richardâ€™s house at Kingswood Estate, and plastered â€œfor saleâ€ signs all over Rambling Rose.
My good mate, Mark Oats, some of you may know as that wild-haired fiddler from The Bushwackers and Finn MacCool, among other bands, bought it at the end of the festival.
I was looking to downsize, so my sister, Carly Rose, helped me source another motorhome which was more suited to me.Â We found it at Queensland RVs at Caloundra, so we drove over to sisâ€™s place at Stokers Siding, and headed up the coast the next day to pick up my new Rambling Rose Too (as in also).
Sheâ€™s a little beauty â€“ a Huntsman Winnebago body, driven by a 2010 Toyota Hilux and is just 5.5 metres long â€“ fits into a standard car space for vehicles under 6 metres. Â For me, itâ€™s made the difference between driving a truck and a car.
New signage and ready to roll
Rambling Rose Too is a dream to drive. After I picked it up, I drove back to Tamworth and packed it for a month-long stay on the beautiful Apple Isle, after making a few custom modifications.
I went to Lloyd Sign Co in Dampier St, Taminda, and had a new Rambling Rose Too logo put on the front, and tipped my hatÂ to my faithful travelling companions â€“ the #motorhomingmaltesemutts â€“ with their photo right across the large rear window of RRT.
With the new signage in place and a trimmed-back repack (this vehicle is so much smaller than the previous RR), I was ready to hit the road.
But let’s not get too far ahead … I think I need to take you back to Mackay, in August-September last year.
I’ve covered a few major items here and there since then but my regular blogs have been lacking, so I hope to get back on track.
My beautiful friend, Anna Mill, welcomed me and the three #maltesemotorhomingmutts into the home she shares with her beautiful man, Kim Wilson in North Mackay. After moving on, from place to place since Tamworth in early July I was to spend the next five weeks mainly here in this tropical zone.
Missing my own family, it was wonderful to be welcomed into the bosom of Annaâ€™s gorgeous brood â€“ daughter Sam and husband Craig, along with their two gorgeous girls, Elkie and Matilda â€“ and Annaâ€™s son Jayc.
We celebrated Elkieâ€™s fifth birthday with a gathering at Sam and Craigâ€™s house and generally settled into life in sunny, downtown Mackay.
Itâ€™s a beautiful city, with the port the centre of activity. Lots of great shopping centres and, despite several mines closing in the area, it is a thriving community.
Burp â€¦ pardon me â€¦
Itâ€™s also the home of Graeme Connors and his lovely wife, Lyn, who comes from a well-known Mackay family, the Deguaras, and their family of five fine sons.
Every Tuesday night at Burp, the restaurant owned by the Connors family has roast and red night â€“ now that sounds like itâ€™s right up my alley â€“ so Anna, Kim and I joined Graeme and Lyn for dinner and a catch-up.
Kim is Mackay born-and-bred so he grew up with Graeme and Lyn. Anna, whoâ€™s lived in Mackay for the past 20 years, met Graeme one day doing laps at the pool, not realising he was THE Graeme Connors â€“ he was just some bloke doing laps like her.
A mini-trip to Proserpine and Airlie Beach
The day after our dinner I was invited to attend the Always â€¦ Patsy Cline show at Proserpine Entertainment Centre by American-born Ross Sermons, musical director of the event.
I covered this in a previous post on this website, and my subsequent trip to beautiful Airlie Beach, where I felt the earth move. This is where I spent some time with Gavin Butlin and Elly, organisers of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music.
Back to beautiful Mackay
Back in Mackay I met some of Anna and Kimâ€™s gorgeous friends, Lainey and Dennis Gregor, a lovely couple who live on the Goose Ponds, a beautiful, parkland-type spot not far from Anna and Kim.
I was looking forward to a catch-up with Catherine Britt and her hubby James Beverley, on their way through Mackay. The new owners of Rhythms magazine had been on a whirlwind trek around outback Australia with their dog, Rascal, in a camper van, and were en route to Byron Bay for a meeting.
As luck would have it, we were all free for brekky so Catherine, James, Graeme, Lyn and I chose to share our morning sustenance at Our Kitchen â€“ situated right next door to Burp and The Dispensary â€“ the Connors familyâ€™s trifecta of tastebud-tempers in the heart of Mackayâ€™s main foodie precinct.
After some fabulous stories around the table, and a delicious breakfast, Graeme and Lyn took the three of us on a grand tour of the other two family eateries â€“ Burp and The Dispensary.Â Iâ€™d already eaten at Burp previously, but getting the royal tour was something special.
They showed us upstairs at The Dispensary, an intimate bar ideal for smaller parties and functions. Itâ€™s also the scene of some pretty cool occasional musical gatherings.
Just below this at The Dispensary is a very exclusive dining experience,
where a limited number of guests can dine in the climate-controlled wine cellar (with complimentary shawls provided).
It was here Graeme revealed his long-time love affair with wine â€“ heâ€™s quite the sommelier, you know. But that is a story on its own for another time.
The restaurant is owned by Adrian, and administered by Lyn and her team. Lynâ€™s very much hands-on in the restaurant and is the go-to girl if thereâ€™s ever a problem.
When asked whereâ€™s the best place to eat in Mackay, most people will recommend Burp/The Dispensary. It comes from years of local knowledge, ongoing training, and being born and raised in the port of Mackay.
Taking a short cut
I underwent a rather radical change in the hair department at Mackay, visiting the lovely Stella at Gina T Hair & Beauty, who cut my hair as short as itâ€™s been in about 20 years â€“ the ideal style for travelling.
Kim arranged for me to be the guest speaker at his Port of Mackay Rotary Club on Friday, August 26. I hastily put together a Power Point presentation to accompany my talk. Nobody went to sleep or left.
A day at the races
On Saturday, August 27 I was in for quite an experience â€“ the Mackay Beach Horse Races. As it wasnâ€™t an accredited racing event, with thoroughbreds, they had all types of horses running along the beach. It was quite a sight.
I particularly enjoyed watching the Clydesdales run. A horse called Dave, which I backed, won! Prior to that, Georgy Girl, which I also tipped, flashed first past the post.
The night before Anna, Kim and granddaughter Elkie left for their annual holiday at Coolangatta, I attended the Anne Kirkpatrick Family and Friends concert at Mackay Senior Citizens Centre.
It was a genuine family affair, with Anneâ€™s husband Greg selling tickets at the door, and Anne, their son James (Jim) Arneman, his now wife, Flora (Small Town Romance), and Rod Coe, Slim Dustyâ€™s long-time musical director and bass player on the stage.
Anne and Gregâ€™s daughter Kate was a special fly-in guest, making it a true family concert of great country music.
House-sitting in Mackay
With Anna and Kim away for 10 days, I had the house to myself with their Jack Russell Tela, and cat, Mr Baxter. The girls â€“ Gracie, Carla and Evie â€“ were dead scared of the cat, but he tolerated them and allowed them to stay.
I wasnâ€™t alone for long, as my good friend Christina Noordhof, who Iâ€™ve known for almost 40 years, arrived in Mackay with her husband, Stuart and were staying not far away.
We met at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens and spent a couple of hours wandering around and taking in the tropical beauty of the place.
A little further north
Pretty soon, my time in Mackay was coming to an end, so on our last night in town Anna, Kim and I had dinner at Burp once again with Graeme and Lyn, a lovely way to farewell this beautiful city.
Graeme charged me with a mission â€¦ to head a little further north â€¦ which I did.Â He told me he and Don Walker had enjoyed a whirlwind trip around North Queensland and at Cooktown they heard about a couple whoâ€™d opened a French patisserie.
As they didnâ€™t have time to meet this couple, Graeme suggested I track them down, write a story on how and why they chose Cooktown for their patisserie, and he could pinch a line here and there for a song he had in mind about them.
A co-write on a Graeme Connors song? You beauty.
No way, said Graeme!
Check under the Characters Iâ€™ve Met part of this website for the story on Luc and Lena.Â Iâ€™ll be waiting for that royalty cheque in the mail, Graeme.