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COVID escape - QLD road trip

k_sheep

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Well thanks COVID. Plans for 2020? Turkey, Chicago USA, Costa Rica, Alaska USA, Maldives, Croatia, Estonia ... poof, gone. Luckily we live in a beautiful part of the world (MCY) so decided to explore our own backyard. Our mate from Melbourne was to join us, but again, 2020 screwed us over so she was stuck 5km from home!

We settled on a road trip with a few major stops. Most folk hitch up a caravan or a camper trailer and take all the luxuries of home with them. We take the contrary view where we want to have as sleek a profile driving as possible - ie, think more decorator crab (you know, roof racks, side awnings etc adoring the outside) than a paralysed iguana which had been run over (like a caravan). Like the wily snail, we carried our home on our backs with as little excess as possible! Our 'iso' (not that we ever locked down) project was to fit a large drawer with a sleeping platform in the back of the Forester which worked out way better than we ever thought possible. Loads of storage but with a flat platform profile with no loss of visibility when driving.

General plan:
  • Gladstone, Rockhampton on transit
  • Airlie beach - 6 nights on chartered boat
  • Hinchinbrook island
  • Townsville for V8s
  • Heading back south with stops in Proserpine, Yeppoon, 1770 and Bargara.
 

k_sheep

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The car!

We originally designed the platform to be multifunctional - a drawer in the boot which could be used with all seats in place. Then an extra piece to allow 3 to travel in seats (for our MEL mate - the second pic shows the 4th quarter before it was carpeted) and a final quarter to make the finished platform.

The drawer lives in the car semi permanently now, but is easily removable (since it sits on top of the spare tyre). It rolls on skateboard bearings, and there are 2 pieces either side to form a snug fit over 2 other storage areas.

IMG-20200712-WA0005.jpg
The 3rd quarter (front drivers side) has a side access hatch accessible from the passenger door, lots of storage. The 4th quarter was MEANT to be a multifunction thing with a fold out table .... but we really had issues getting telescopic or folding legs for it that were stable enough. This is something to ponder for the future.

IMG-20200808-WA0001.jpeg 20200812_142622.jpg
The finished (well just about!) product ...
20201019_065319.jpg
Clothes, stove, all camping gear and kitchenware live in the drawer. Left back storage is shoes and fishing gear. Right back storage is toiletries, sunscreen and bottles which need to be kept upright. Drivers side middle is food, with snorkel gear and folding chairs in the footwell. Passenger middle is tools with esky in the footwell. Backpacks lay on top, with fishing rods on the roof racks.
 

VPS

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Wow - I would love to get a car that's been modified like that. I know that I won't be going too far in the next 12-18 months so have been thinking about getting another car that I could live out of for a few weeks like that
 

k_sheep

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For the 'warts and all' view, here's the passenger front quarter attempt. The idea was the box made of 12mm pine, with 2x 7mm pine pieces to fold out into a table. And why not add some board games to it.
IMG-20200823-WA0000.jpeg
The observant amongst us may recognise the backgammon board is wayyyy too close to the edge ... but I didn't, so the hinge covered it! And when the clear coat went on - disaster!
IMG-20200909-WA0000.jpeg
Plus, couldn't get the folding legs to work. Oh well, we tried.
 

k_sheep

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Wow - I would love to get a car that's been modified like that. I know that I won't be going too far in the next 12-18 months so have been thinking about getting another car that I could live out of for a few weeks like that
Well ironically the wiley snail is up for sale shortly! While we were away, mr k_sheep bought the exact same car, but with a bigger engine and 200,000km less on the engine. Sigh! Given it's the same body we are really hoping it'll just fit in the new one.
 

k_sheep

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Heading north.

I ran out of work at about 12:30 as soon as able. Last day of school holidays and there was a fair bit of traffic on the Bruce highway - so google maps took us some strange B road, gravel. So that was an interesting start!
Glad we weren't traveling south!

Some nice scenery on the way
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First stop: Gladstone.

Umm what to say about Gladstone? Uhhhhh .... we didn't get murdered!

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Had some snacks for dinner at Lightbox Espresso wine bar, actually a pretty good vibe on a Friday night.

Of course, impossible to get a coffee anywhere before 7am on a Saturday apparently. So back on the road!
 

k_sheep

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Off to Rockhampton.

Well, it's better than Gladstone!

First order of business - coffee! Off to the Two Professors for breakfast. Really good! 20201003_082605.jpg
The riverfront is actually a really nice area.
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With an excellent playground! We _may_ have had a few slides before it got too hot. No one wants to explain slide-induced 3rd degree burns as a 30-something year old ....
20201003_085104.jpg
Another piece of QLD road trips ....
20201003_141725.jpg
 

lovetravellingoz

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The car!

We originally designed the platform to be multifunctional - a drawer in the boot which could be used with all seats in place. Then an extra piece to allow 3 to travel in seats (for our MEL mate - the second pic shows the 4th quarter before it was carpeted) and a final quarter to make the finished platform.

The drawer lives in the car semi permanently now, but is easily removable (since it sits on top of the spare tyre). It rolls on skateboard bearings, and there are 2 pieces either side to form a snug fit over 2 other storage areas.

View attachment 231382
The 3rd quarter (front drivers side) has a side access hatch accessible from the passenger door, lots of storage. The 4th quarter was MEANT to be a multifunction thing with a fold out table .... but we really had issues getting telescopic or folding legs for it that were stable enough. This is something to ponder for the future.

View attachment 231383 View attachment 231385
The finished (well just about!) product ...
View attachment 231384
Clothes, stove, all camping gear and kitchenware live in the drawer. Left back storage is shoes and fishing gear. Right back storage is toiletries, sunscreen and bottles which need to be kept upright. Drivers side middle is food, with snorkel gear and folding chairs in the footwell. Passenger middle is tools with esky in the footwell. Backpacks lay on top, with fishing rods on the roof racks.


Nice work.

It reminds me of about 35 years ago when I bought a Landcruiser Troopcarrier, stripped out the rear longitudinal seats, and boxed in between the wheelarches to make a double bed with storage underneath. Just perfect for tent free 4WD touring. We had many great trips in it including Cape York, outback Qld, retracing Burke & Wills, Haasts Bluff, Central Australia and N&T etc as well as many Vic Trips. Kids came along though and we needed a back seat and so sadly it had to go.
 
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Well thanks COVID. Plans for 2020? Turkey, Chicago USA, Costa Rica, Alaska USA, Maldives, Croatia, Estonia ... poof, gone. Luckily we live in a beautiful part of the world (MCY) so decided to explore our own backyard. Our mate from Melbourne was to join us, but again, 2020 screwed us over so she was stuck 5km from home!

We settled on a road trip with a few major stops. Most folk hitch up a caravan or a camper trailer and take all the luxuries of home with them. We take the contrary view where we want to have as sleek a profile driving as possible - ie, think more decorator crab (you know, roof racks, side awnings etc adoring the outside) than a paralysed iguana which had been run over (like a caravan). Like the wily snail, we carried our home on our backs with as little excess as possible! Our 'iso' (not that we ever locked down) project was to fit a large drawer with a sleeping platform in the back of the Forester which worked out way better than we ever thought possible. Loads of storage but with a flat platform profile with no loss of visibility when driving.

General plan:
  • Gladstone, Rockhampton on transit
  • Airlie beach - 6 nights on chartered boat
  • Hinchinbrook island
  • Townsville for V8s
  • Heading back south with stops in Proserpine, Yeppoon, 1770 and Bargara.
We did a similar trip, but chose to take our MX5. Made the driving a bit more fun. Went all the way to Port Douglas. Our challenge was boot space, a mere 130 litres, just enough for 2 small soft o'night bags.
 

k_sheep

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Nice work.

It reminds me of about 35 years ago when I bought a Landcruiser Troopcarrier, stripped out the rear longitudinal seats, and boxed in between the wheelarches to make a double bed with storage underneath. Just perfect for tent free 4WD touring. We had many great trips in it including Cape York, outback Qld, retracing Burke & Wills, Haasts Bluff, Central Australia and N&T etc as well as many Vic Trips. Kids came along though and we needed a back seat and so sadly it had to go.

We really wanted to do something similar, but couldn't find a reasonably priced 'cruiser or 4runner or similar. So we decided to work with what we had! I'd quite like to get a proper 4wd, a troopie would be the dream ... hmmm ....

We did a similar trip, but chose to take our MX5. Made the driving a bit more fun. Went all the way to Port Douglas. Our challenge was boot space, a mere 130 litres, just enough for 2 small soft o'night bags.
About 2 weeks before we were due to leave, the car had a fuel pump issue ... and I can tell you we were measuring up my Swift and looking at roof rack options for the awning :D Luckily was a very easy fix.
 

k_sheep

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Airlie!

We arrived at Airlie at about lunchtime and quickly met up with 2 friends already there - one flew up that morning, the second had been out west in her campervan. Had a late lunch at the pub with them while waiting for the final 2 of our party to arrive at 2:35pm.

Then, the fatal phone call. They had missed their flight! I didn't ask how, because I could hear it in her voice that is was DEFINITELY the fiances' fault ;)

This was a thorn in our plans - the 6 of us were chartering a boat and it meant they would miss the briefing, and we may have to spend the night in the harbor - suboptimal! But nothing to be done about it, I was just glad they were able to get seats on the flight the next day.

We had booked 5 nights on the Island Drifter from Whitsunday Rent a Yacht Venturer 38 . We elected to do a sleep aboard the night before (for $220 I think) which meant 1/ a comfy bed for the night 2/ an earlier briefing in the morning and 3/ we got to know the boat and organise everything before setting sail.

This was ABSOLUTELY worthwhile. But damn it was gusting over 40kt winds - not a restful night banging up against the jetty! One of our party had never set foot on a boat so we weren't sure if he might get seasick. But that was a good test, and we reassured him there was no chance of another night that bad!

There's a special area around the whitsundays where you don't even need a boat licence to charter a yacht! 4 of us were seafaring folk and were quite comfortable but were still grateful for a few hours of refresher training. They take you out and make sure you can actually handle the boat without sinking their $250k tub before handing it over.
 

k_sheep

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Well I'm the featured TR for the week. Means I have to update again right?

Also, update - the drawer and platform fit in the new car! Woohoo!

Now back to Shute Harbour at Airlie. After our rough night we had our briefing. This is up to 4 hours with an experienced yachtie who covers everything about the boat, tides, wind, harbours, berthing, anchoring, snorkeling, fishing .... you name it! We didn't use the full 4 hours (it became pretty clear that we were pretty happy with tides, weather forecasts, marine navigation etc) but it was good to have a refresher. I hadn't picked up a mooring in maybe 20 years!

The boat has 4 berths, but the 2 aft cabins are definitely singles (not doubles as shown on the website!). The forward ones are very roomy, pretty close to a queen bed I believe. Clean linen was on the bed, including 2 towels each. Lots of stowage. 1 head; some of these boats have 2 at the expense of a lot of galley room.

There was a good sized common area with comfortable seating for 5 (the 6th often sat on the step - mainly me because I can't sit still so was pacing around so much!). Used the table for some meals but mainly for having the charts out and planning the next stops! Out the stern was a nice shaded area with seating for 4. A gas BBQ is out here too.

IMG-20201004-WA0000.jpg
The view in the harbour ... not bad eh?

At the bow there's lots of lounging room.
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Full lounging mode activated

The cockpit was EXCELLENT. Great high position with 360 visibility. Covered and shaded with clears on all 4 sides for inclement weather. Room to seat another 3 or so comfortably up on padded cushions at the sides. There are plenty of areas to get your own space if needed.
20201007_104023.jpg 20201006_102336.jpg
First bosun at the helm! Mind you she was the first to get fishing line caught around the engines, at which case she was promptly demoted below the dustpan and brush. And there's our included tender which she was also banned from controlling.

The galley is small but functional, with 3 burners over an oven, 2 smallish fridges and what is described as a freezer - but is definitely more an ice box than a freezer! Note for next time - do NOT buy ice cream! Salt and pepper were included, with some cleaning supplies (rubbish bags, detergent, sponges) but really nothing else so make sure to get oil and everything else needed.

Speaking of provisioning there's a few companies that specialise in it - just say how many people, how many nights and they make magic happen! We decided (okay I decided on everyones' behalf because I"m bossy) to go the cheaper route of self provisioning. Did an online woolies order for pickup, $760 which sounds horrendous but worked out at $26pp per day. Bargain!

Plenty of addons (upgrades? This IS AFF after all) available for a price - we went with a stand up paddle board and a double kayak.
 
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k_sheep

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Briefing complete, we had some time to kill while waiting for the final 2 of the party. At 10am I sent a message telling them to go to the airport NOW! (Flight departed at about 1pm!). We headed back into town because SOME of the party had grossly underestimated how much beer they would need, having already put a rather large dent in their supply night one. Also note for next time: if one must have beer, buy tinnies. Stubbies just take up way too much room before and after consumption. I went the responsible route and abstained. Just joking, I had vodka and some RTD tinnies - I'm really into the hard seltzers lately.

Good news! They made the flight. We were then fervently checking flight radar to see if there was any delay; normally the boat company wants people anchored or moored up by 4pm. We had planned a nice close anchorage for that night, and the company was pretty happy with us on the briefing and said they would let it slip a little for us, but we had a hard limit of casting off at 3:30pm or we would be spending another night in port. Their flight arrived at 2:35pm from memory, and the harbour is a 40+min drive from the airport. Eep! I dispacted mr k_sheep to fetch them at warp speed, while I set the boat up for a rapid departure. We had to move off the jetty at this stage, onto a remote mooring which added to the time required to get them in the boat via the tender.

They touched down early, thank goodness. Their lovely relaxing holiday started with: Get your bags! Get in the car gogogogo! Drive at the speed limit (of course). Dump the car! Throw the keys! Get your bags into the tender gogogogo! Rev that 8hp engine LET'SGOLET'SGOLET'SGO! Throw your stuff aboard! Oh no the beer carton dissolved. Throw the 6-packs! You get on! You tie off the tender! You lift the mooring! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhh!

.... made it with like 90 seconds to spare ;)

Anyway, off to Happy Bay for our first night. This was an anchor site, so no faffing about with moorings required.

We then had some breathing room, and I had a chance to catch up with these 2 who I hadn't actually seen for 18+ months. I still never found out why they missed the flight - but as they were sitting at home stewing and sulking, they got the phone call that his grandmother had been taken to Emergency with a stroke. So off to the hospital they went, and spent several hours with her.

She sadly passed away a couple days later, and if they hadn't missed their flight they wouldn't have gotten to see her that one last time. Everything happens for a reason, even missed flights.
 

tgh

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Nice place, the Whitsundays, and I have dined out on some of my adventures there..
Waking up at dawn in Nara... low tide and all(most) of the hire yachts were l e a n i n g as they bottomed from not anchoring in enough water..
The days entertainment was always the daily report in sked from the hire yachts…we were in stitches at the descriptions of their trials and tribulations.
Of course I had a few personal misadventures.. but better left for an AFF dinner sometime…..
 

k_sheep

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Oh the twice daily radio comms! Much hilarity. People who have no idea on radio etiquette, with no idea about boats. You listen in for the weather forecast in the morning, and give your days plans to the company who will very diplomatically make helpful suggestions if your plan is completely stupid. Then second call in in the afternoon to say where you've pulled up stumps for the night.
 

k_sheep

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So, here is what we ended up doing! Basically get up, leisurely coffee (VERY leisurely - that stoves take a LONG time to boil water! Next time I might be tempted to take a camp stove) and breakfast, then cast off at 8am (the earliest 'allowed' time if you hadn't cleared it with the company beforehand). We tended to move somewhere, stay there for a couple hours, have lunch, then move to the overnight anchorage point. Night one (red line) was very short for the reasons outlined above!

map labelled.jpg 20201004_174602.jpg
Sunset at Happy Bay.

Day 2. We headed north off Long island, relieved that our first night anchored was uneventful (I'm always nervous first time on a new boat!). We had some rain overnight but not too much wind so it was a restful night. We passed west of South Molle island and past Daydream Island (or West Molle which is its' previous name!). Through Unsafe Passage (quite the ironic name - one of the safest passages in the area!) and we were ready to cross Whitsunday Passage. We'd timed it so we had a following tide which made for a fairly comfortable trip. We moored up at Blue Pearl bay on Hayman island.

At this point, apparently I had taken basically no photos. Time on boat = time to put down the electronics clearly! We headed for a snorkel here, and there were some fantastically curious bat fish hanging out near the boat which were great fun to watch.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Just catching up on your thread.

The Cumberland Group (The Whitsundays) is one of my favourites spots and I just keep going back for bareboat yacht charters and have done about a dozen over 3 decades.

Unfortunately the last cyclone wiped out all the really good coral including at a few secret sites, and so the snorkelling is no where near as good as it was which is a great shame. Plenty of colorful fish still though, se-turtles, dolphins and the sunsets are always good. Plenty of good walks on the various islands too..

At Manta Ray Bay, is the Maori Wrasse still there? Over a twenty year period the same fish was there and was well over a metre long. The fish is very friendly. You can swim with it and it comes right up to you and hand feeds.

 
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k_sheep

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I saw 2x 1m+ long Maori wrasse, neither came up for cuddles though. Beautiful creatures though!

We snorkeled at several places, but dang the water was a bit cold for my liking. 2 people on the boat had 5mm steamer wetsuits and I will certainly do the same next time - I was using just a stinger suit (for sun protection only - not jellyfish season yet).

The other unfortunate thing is that my trusty Canon D30 waterproof camera may be dying a slow death - we would have taken a few hundred photos on it, but only about 12 turned up at the end (hence my paltry collection here). Unsure if it's the SD card or the camera ... but the camera is a bit old and has had an exceptionally tough life so it owes me nothing.

Coral is coming back nicely. Reasonable sized plate corals. Few good sized brains. Softs are flourishing. Lovely Christmas tree worms (pic 2). Heaps of clams.

IMG_5156 (2).JPG IMG_5159 (2).JPG IMG_5168 (2).JPG IMG_5169 (2).JPG IMG_5171 (2).JPG
Edit: found a photo of the bat fish! Ignore the odd creature in the background, concentrate on the silvery foreground lump.
20201005_112418.jpg
 
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k_sheep

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Day 3: Awake Butterfly Bay, across to Manta Ray Bay, then down to Nara Inlet. Yellow line.
map2.jpg
Butterfly bay is fantastic. We'd managed to wrap ourselves around the mooring somewhat, so it was banging on the hull, which involved the 2 lightest sleepers getting up and fixing it during the night .... I didn't notice a thing 😴

After breakfast it was time to get the toys out.
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Nervous first step on the SUP! And we're off.
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Who says these are built for 2? We transported our passenger to shore where he had a sneaky cigar - being the only one who partook, he made sure to escape when he decided to light up.


2 of us braved the slightly cold water as we'd seen some lovely reefs from the SUP and kayak. Not bad, not bad at all, but cold and fairly deep.

Off to Manta Ray Bay.
20201006_102835.jpg 20201006_131428.jpg
At this point I have to admit I TOTALLY wussed out and lay on a hot rock like a lizard basking instead of going snorkeling. I was chilled to the bone! Looks like no one took photos - my fault, the rest were snorkeling! They saw a few turtles here.
 

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