Refreshed and dried out after our city break, we cruised along the motorway for couple of hours to Maroochydore. Despite the fact that it’s centrally located in the ‘Sunshine Coast’, the weather still wasn’t that great. Cloudy skies with the odd patch of blue, but at least it wasn’t raining.
We did the circuit a couple of times before picking our spot as far away from everybody else as possible. Still only thirty seconds to the beach however. A great wee camp ground.
Now to open up the tent. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty but it wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, and the weather gods must have taken pity on us, as the sun came out just as we began to set up. Stingy bastards though, they gave us only enough to dry out, before opening the heavens up once again.
I can now understand how ancient civilisations based their religions around the sun. Living in the outdoors makes the weather the most important thing in the world.
When you live in an apartment or a house, it doesn’t really have that much of an effect on your life at all. If it’s pouring and you live in a tent, then you’re pretty restricted as to what you can do – and when the sun comes out it lifts your spirits enormously.
So when the rain came down again this time, I was gutted.
Also, for some god forsaken reason we hadn’t put the walls up on our ‘living room’, again, so we got soaked as we footered around in the dark sorting it out. We should have learned our lesson by now. I couldn’t believe it. I thought we were done with the rain. Fucking summer in Australia. What the fuck?!
I was so despondent I started to lose faith in the whole endeavour. What kind of nonsense have I brought upon my family. Eaking out a living in the rain, floating from caravan park to caravan park. I felt like a total loser. I’d had it. Fuck this. Erin, thankfully, had not – and told me to take a break.
Fortunately my own dark clouds were more fleeting than those above, and I came back after a walk to put the storm cover on – which meant that we finally had a perfectly fitting, rainproof cover over the canvas. At fucking last.
The first three days we never even left the park. There were so many things to fix. We spent the time getting our camp back in order, and whenever there was a break in the weather we hopped down to the beach. It was a perfect little sanctuary.
Oh oh… here comes Debbie
We spent about a week there in total, hanging out by the beach and doing a little bit of exploring, and when we left Maroochydore it was, literally, an hour in front of the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie. One of the biggest storms to hit Queensland in years. ‘The Big Wet’ they were calling it. A shit load of rain combined with 125 km an hour winds, which is as strong as a category 1 cyclone.
There were massive queues for sand bags. Shops were closing down right left and centre and the Mayor was on the radio telling people to stay home, don’t go anywhere as it’s too dangerous. The whole place had bit of a siege mentality about it. It was a quite exciting actually.
Despite the fact that you weren’t supposed to drive anywhere, we made the sensible decision not to see how our camper trailer would hold up in the equivalent of a category one cyclone. So we took off south with Debbie in pursuit like some crazed American storm chasers.
For some strange reason though, we decided to stop in at Bunnings first. I can’t even remember what for. Although I must admit if I was looking to prepare for a cyclone, Bunnings would be the only place I would go.
Erin has joked that we’re actually touring the Bunnings’ and Supercheap Auto’s of Australia. They’re everywhere! And if you throw BCF (Boating Camping Fishing) into the mix, there’s nothing that you cannot buy in those three shops.
Anyhoo we left Bunnings thinking we really should be getting on, only to be held up by a trio of black geese! They hopped out of a creek onto the road in front of me, and toddled along for five minutes while a massive traffic jam of cyclone fearing motorists built up behind me. Eventually they plopped into another creek and we all got on with our lives. Nice weather for ducks. And geese I guess.
We were heading for the Gold Coast, where we’d booked into an apartment for the night and where we’d be picking up Erin’s sister in a day or two. God willing.
The drive down was fine. Lots of rain and only a few idiots on the road, nothing untoward. I was very happy to finally arrive at the NRMA Pirate Treasure Holiday Park though. Especially when I’d parked and we’d moved into our unit for the night. Brick and mortar please. Thank you.
I might have been close to a hurricane or two in my time, but never a ‘generations’ large cyclone. And never with my family in tow.
We sloshed over to the bistro which was full of tourists wondering what the fuck had happened to their holiday. The rain was relentless, and had been for about five or six hours, but it wasn’t torrential. As a Glaswegian you get to know rain pretty well. I’ve seen heavier rain, and I’ve seen it go on for months. Nevertheless I had a look on Google Maps to locate the nearest creek, which, to my dismay, was pretty close.
Waiting for dinner I wandered off to see how high it was, and to ponder the best course of action should the creek overflow. Erin thought I was being a wee bit over the top, but I didn’t care. I’d rather be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best. I’ve seen enough sorry faces on TV saying “Oh I didn’t really think it could happen to me!” Fuck that.
Now I don’t know how high shit creek is normally of course, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be that close to the bridge. Hmm… I returned to dinner and determined to check it every two hours thereafter.
The peak of the storm was forecast to be around midnight, and when I checked it for the last time, at 11pm, there were some houses that looked like they might be in trouble. I spoke to a lady who was getting her bags packed just in case. But they were right on the edge of the creek. Even if it broke its banks now, we were still a good bit higher up so I felt comfortable we were going to be OK. I finally gave up my vigil, resigned myself to the universe and got a bloody good night’s sleep.
We all woke up to a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the only indication of anything having happened the previous night, was a few palm fronds lying around – nothing that bad overall. In the end it was all a bit of an anticlimax actually. The Big Wet was more of a damp squib. The high winds never materialised and while there was flooding all over Queensland, there was none where we happened to be – thank goodness.
The most exciting part of the evening was Katie getting hit in the face with a cream pie! She’d entered into a kid’s club competition where you had to play ‘pie face’ – and she was the first to get splatted. It was hilarious!
I don’t mean to be flippant about the storm, lots of areas of Queensland and Northern NSW were underwater for weeks, but the devastation just didn’t hit where we were. Maybe the weather gods really were looking after us… I think I should become a druid. Heya heya heya heya 🙂
A couple of weeks later, I read that Dave Hughes had joked at the opening of the Logies that the news coverage of Debbie was over the top. “If they’re taking about high winds I want to see a cow flying sideways past a news reporter!” – Ha!