Monday, January 27, 2014

27 January 2014 - Yandina Caravan Park, Yandina, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

We have had a lovely day today, enjoying the statutory holiday doing something other than sitting about watching sport on television or sorting through gathered possessions.

Philomena, another of the newly released films since Christmas, was showing in Maroochydore, so we headed the twenty kilometres south east to this tourist destination immediately after breakfast and had no trouble finding parking at the shopping centre where the cinema is to be found. It was only about 8.45 am and there were few about; the supermarket did not open until 9 am, and apart from a few cafes open for the latte and cappuccino addicts, everything was closed, security roller doors pulled firmly down over entrances. 

Fishermen on Cornmeal Creek
This very large shopping centre, the Sunshine Plaza, which had so impressed me when we first arrived on the Sunshine Coast three years ago, looked decidedly tired without the melee of brightly dressed shoppers. And here on the Sunshine Coast, there is usually an air of permanent holidaymaking; folk dress in gaudy and cheery collections of the fashionable and unfashionable reflecting the bright sunshine which usually shines down upon this little paradise. Today there were only the early bird shoppers about, waiting outside the supermarket to shop, the few like us waiting for the cinema to open and curiously, four fishermen in two small boats trying their luck in the Cornmeal Creek, an inlet of the Maroochy River. The shopping centre is built across the creek in a manner that would surely never pass the bureaucratic consent labyrinths of today. A sign up on the boardwalk edge of the creek announced the life that lived in the murky depths below: White Breasted Swallows, Blue Faced Honeyeaters,  the Grey Teal and Pacific Black ducks, Black Flathead, Herring, Butter Bream, Yellow Fin Bream, and all within the shopping complex!

We absolutely loved the movie and would be delighted if Judi Dench won an Oscar for her performance, and hope that the story will be another nudge to those brainwashed by religion to re-examine their faith; that there is life beyond fantasy land and the puppeteers who control that world.

Escaping the very slightly busier centre after emerging from the cinema, we set off up along the Maroochy River, toward Bli Bli, a satellite settlement we had hoped to base ourselves before realising that the Australia Day weekend would fill the seaside accommodation of Queensland. As we drove up along the Bradman Way which morphs into the Don Low Way, I drew Chris’s attention to the fact we had picnicked here three years ago; he could not drag up the memory from the many we have accumulated during our incredible journey.

Bli Bli, pronounced Bligh-Bligh, has a population of over 6,200 and has a rather mixed history. The plaque at the entrance announces that it was established in 1868, but development was slow. Those early settlors felled the scrub and established grazing leases. By 1903, a significant area of the Bli Bli area was under cultivation with corn, potatoes and other vegetables, along with pawpaw, oranges and even coffee. But it was sugar cane that really took off, making Bli Bli, rising from the wetlands, the home of the Sunshine Coast sugar cane industry. A cane tramway was built to Deepwater in the vicinity of Bli Bli in 1912 and cane was grown in commercial quantities here by 1915. Extension of the tramway system in 1836 through Bli Bli ensured that sugarcane became the staple agricultural crop in the locality. The name is derived from the bastardised version of “billai billai”, the local lingo for “swamp oak”.

Aboriginal middens alerted Europeans entrepreneurs that there were oysters for the taking and by 1881, oysters were being harvested commercially at Bli Bli, collected by handpicking and dredging, and conveyed by cutter and steamship to Brisbane until the turn of the century. Then they were conveyed by motor launch to Yandina, where we are now. In 1903, the farming of oysters was commenced at Bli Bli and continues today.

In 1913, five acres of pineapples were planted, and a sawmill to cut timber into fruit cases was erected. Eight years later a shortage of timber gave rise to a pineapple cannery where the current caravan park is sited.

And this is where we headed today after we lunched across the river at Muller Park. And it was here that we received our first response to the reduced price for our landcruiser; a cash offer with little quizzing, an offer of $3,000 less that asked. Again it is obvious that we have offered our beloved chariot for a price too low. The refreshed advertisement has been online for a mere twenty four hours.

We called into the caravan park and chatted with the pommie-accented receptionist who is the wife of an ex-Kiwi from places-we-are-familiar-with; we secured a powered site for the days that follow the certification process that will hopefully not only take place but be finalised on Wednesday, and those that will be required when our beloved caravan is gone to new ownership and we are reduced to living in cabins and other-people things. We paid a deposit of $50 for the most airy-fairy accommodation arrangement we have ever entered into; a mix of drive-through powered site for Wednesday to accommodate a possible revisit to the garage for the required certification, a loose date for a transfer into a cabin and an even looser arrangement as far as a leaving date. Mandy was marvellous; what more could we say.

Views from Dunethin Rock
We headed back to Yandina, via the Nambour access road, turning off toward Yandina over undulating low hills crossing from one river lowland to another until we happened upon a turn off to Dunethin Rock, a granite outcrop marginally above the Maroochy River. We alighted from the landcruiser and climbed to the various mounds from where we had a variety of views, north and east to a far coastal settlement which we decided was probably Marcoola. Here, like many of the places we have wandered through in the past few days, was a fine mango tree, hanging with abundant ripe fruit, some of which had already fallen and lay rotting on the ground. I suggested to Chris that we rescue a few fallen fruit for personal consumption; however he is as unenthused as I about this sickly sweet fibrous yellow fruit.

South Maroochy River at Yandina
We were soon back in Yandina and the afternoon was still very early. Chris suggested we wander across the river which seems in most to be little more than a chain of ponds, and up into the township for some exercise, however we did not get far before the heavens opened and we were driven under the shelter of the verandahs. The rain eventually eased and we wandered around the block, past the now notorious Yandina Pub and back up to the new shopping block. We wandered up and down the aisles of the bland new supermarket, hoping to find semi-prepared products that required only the addition of boiled water fresh from the kettle, preplanning our last few days in poorly appointed (but cheap) accommodation. None such exists, yet I am sure I saw advertisements for foods that would qualify as such, on the television back in New Zealand five years ago or so; I should have paid more attention. Instead we settled for a couple of bottles of wine from the equally band new liquor outlet; there seems to be much to celebrate these days, or to lament.

The infamous Yandina Pub
The day has been full of ups and downs all day; the film was fabulous, we received that unacceptable cash offer by telephone for the landcruiser, an email from Keith of Lowood offering storage and control of the sale of the same vehicle and an inquiry from New Zealanders interested in buying the complete rig. We have booked our next stage of accommodation and learned that the hotel we have booked in Brisbane from which to launch our final flight, offers the most minimal of facilities and is not really adequate at all. As Chris said to his daughter last night during our long Skype chat, leaving New Zealand three years ago was a whole lot easier than leaving Australia now for the return. Then we had backup and support from family and friends, here we are on our own. However I should be more positive; people leave countries every day with the burden of asset transfer; at least they speak English here.

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