The most amazing thing happened this morning at 6.30am. Our mobile phone went off in the van, and normally we have to go up to the restaurant area for signal. When I checked, it was as I thought, and not good news. Ian's mum passed away early this morning, exactly 4 weeks after she fell and broke her hip. We had visited mum before we left Brisbane and said our goodbyes, and although expected, we were still saddened. The last 4 weeks haven't been easy for her, and I (Lorraine) in particular, am glad that she didn't linger on for years like my mum.
After a disrupted start, we left beautiful Cobbolt Gorge at 10am, an hour later than our usual departure time. Cobbold Gorge - 200 visitors in its first year of operation about 1994, and last year 2015, approximately 7,000 visitors. The beautiful Infinity pool which replaced a perfectly good, new pool, after Simon had seen one on a trip away, the peace, serenity - a true haven in the wilderness. Simon's son Harry, is the helicopter pilot, so a real family business. Even the 'outside' employees are like one big happy family.
We attacked the dusty dirt road again, passing a handful of vans heading into Cobbold Gorge - lucky people! We stopped at Forsayth, a pretty, small town through which the Gulflander train between Cairns and Normanton passes and stops, and about half way between Cobbold Gorge and Georgetown. Flowers lined the sides of the road as we drove in - pretty amazing in this climate. We went to the pub/local store/cafe, the focal point of this village, for coffee, only to be told that the machine had broken down, so it was instant coffee or tea! We opted for bottled iced coffee. Forsayth is a tiny town, but boasts a Police Station and a hospital - well, I saw the signs pointing to them. As everywhere we've been in the bush, the locals are very friendly and chatty.
About 13 months ago, the pub was going broke, so Simon Terry (Cobbold Gorge) bought it, has done it up and it seems to be doing very well now. A local who was talking to Don commented that 'he put up the price of beer' - I wonder what he would rather - paying a bit extra for his beer, or a having no pub and therefore no beer??? Life's full of choices!
Marcel and Trudi decided to take a shorter route through Einsaleigh, another small town, but they have no van, so can handle the rough roads better than us. We'll see them in a couple of hours back in Mt. Surprise.
We stopped at Georgetown and Ian and Don had their burgers they'd been waiting for since we saw someone with one on the way through 4 days ago. Pam and I had a 'side of chips', plus a nibble or two of the burgers. But we also shared our chips with the boys.
Smooth driving until we reached Mt. Surprise and checked into Bedrock Village Caravan Park, and were delighted to be told that tonight was pizza night. The whole purpose of this trip - well - a good excuse for the trip - was that we first met Trudi and Marcel at this caravan park 8 years ago on a Saturday, when it was pizza night. When Don made the bookings here, he related the story and so pizza night was changed to Sunday. People are so kind, and they loved our tale.
Marcel and Trudi had arrived a few minutes before us, and although they 'tented' at Cobbold Gorge, Marcel especially has had enough of tents, and they booked a cabin. No more camping!! We all went our own way and set up, and we'd just made a cuppa and sat down when Marcel came and said he was buying ice-creams - so on the move again. After ice-creams, we went to their cabin and played cards, then it was pizza time, but first, back to our vans for a quick change of clothes, because for the first time, it was getting a bit chilly with an expected overnight temperature of 11 degrees.
The pizzas were beautiful with lots of topping, and it was fun remembering and talking about our first meeting all those years ago. How much fun we've had in the years between. It was starting to get chilly, so we planned tomorrow nights dinner - we'll do our own combined meal rather than the sausage sizzle happening here - then said goodnight and headed to our respective homes.
I've been typing for a couple of hours now, and my fingers are frozen. I suppose we should have put the heater or air-con on, but I didn't think of it. Ian's just turned the electric blanket on- on both sides of the bed!! This is the first taste of winter we've had on the trip, and we certainly aren't complaining. It will be nice to snuggle up and have a sleep-in in the morning.