Innisfail reminiscing

Our itinerary today centred on Innisfail where we lived from 1984 until 1988. People rose as they woke and all but Claire were up and had eaten breakfast by about 8:30 am. She had ‘partied’ through the night and was sleeping it off.

We agreed that the best plan was to leave as we were ready and meet at Good Counsel College around 10:00 am. Majella and I took Emily and Sophie again and were on the road a little before 9:00 am. All but the Gutkes were there when we arrived close to 10:00 am.

Although some parts of the school were secured by metal screens we were able to access the large covered area and looked around there. Nick and the kids roamed more extensively and found another way out via the top entrance. A few of us climbed the hill for a look at the primary school but it was clear school did not interest some.

Jane called Hannah and Matt who were approaching Innisfail and arranged to have us all meet at 48 Ryan Street in East Innisfail. That was the house we had bought and renovated while living in Innisfail.

By the time we all arrived there were six cars to park. We managed to get first the five of us – Majella, me, Jane, Nick, and Hannah – and then all of us lined up on the footpath in front of the house for a photograph. Renee, Hannah’s friend, was there to take that so we could all be in it.

Next stop was Jack Fossey park on the bank of the North Johnstone River. The kids enjoyed the play equipment for a while and Matt set up to fish in the river. Those of us who wanted coffee were disappointed to find the nearby Coffee Club was closed. 

Before long we were off and heading for Coquette Point leaving Matt to fish in peace. There was no cassowary on the road today and we stopped at the top just long enough to enjoy the view before getting back in our cars to beat a rain shower.

Our next waypoint was the Sugar Heritage Centre at Mourilyan. We arrived just ahead of Nick to find the museum open but the cafe not. We were earlier than scheduled so, while we waited for the others, we strolled to the nearby service station where Majella and I bought coffee and Nick found a quick snack for the kids. By the time we were back at the museum the Bathams had arrived so we all went in and spent almost an hour learning about the history of the sugar industry. 

By then it was almost 1:00 pm and time for lunch. We headed for Etty Bay. Along the road into Etty Bay we spotted an adult cassowary by the side of the road. Majella slowed and I opened my window for a better look and possible photo. As the cassowary came closer it seemed wise to close the window. The bird stopped about 300 mm short of the glass and looked directly at me. In my haste I overexposed my photo but it may be the closest shot I’ll ever get of a bird that size. Emily and Sophie in the back seat said they managed to get a selfie with the bird.

The Gutkes were already at Etty Bay and eating lunch when we arrived. Soon after we arrived a large cassowary chick wandered by looking for tidbits. We walked on to buy fish and chips which we ate in front of the cafe and followed with ice creams. Then it was down to the beach where the Gutkes were already enjoying the water. We watched Claire enjoying the edge of the ocean for a bit. Nick and some of the kids decided to go in but it was not very inviting so we passed. By that time Gutkes were packing to go so we left Sophie with Nick and headed off toward Paronella Park which Emily was keen to see.

As we parked at Paronella Park a woman came out to greet us. She agreed that without at least an hour to spend there was no point in our going in but we could get a glimpse from the suspension bridge over Mena Creek Falls. The path to the bridge was bordered by a decaying concrete fence covered in bright green moss. Majella insisted on pausing for a photo of her and Emily by the fence. There was a fair view of the ruins from the suspension bridge and we found the Gutkes already there enjoying the view. after a few more photographs we headed off to our next destination.

Both Hannah and Majella were keen to visit Renee’s parents, Jenny and Ron Melazzini, who we knew while living in Innisfail. We headed off via a back road and arrived just behind Hannah and Matt. We were greeted warmly and enjoyed coffee or cold drinks with some of Jenny’s tasty treats. The highlight of our visit was Majella’s tour of Jenny’s sewing room complete with four sewing machines, mostly for embroidery, and an 8-thread overlocker. The top level machine is capable of digitizing images and creating embroidery patterns. Majella may have to upgrade sometime.

From there we drove back to Harvester Home where the younger Bathams had already arrived. Gutkes arrived a little later and we relaxed over drinks and nibbles while we waited for the older Bathams and the Albions to arrive.

Jane and Lea arrived after visiting Jane’s school friend, Despina, in Innisfail. By that time Majella, Matt, Sam, Emily and others had prepared dinner of pasta marinara using sauce provided by Renee’s husband, Callum, and the makings for tacos.

Those of us present enjoyed our dinner but concern about the whereabouts of Nick and his kids mounted. Jane, Hannah and I all tried to contact Nick and Sophie without success but left messages. Majella called Innisfail police to ask about accidents involving a Toyota Kluger but had no news and a check of Twitter and the traffic website confirmed no incidents between Cairns and Innisfail.

Eventually Nick called from Innisfail to say that they were just passing through there on their way to Cairns after visiting Paronella not once but twice. We presumed they had done both the day and night tours. There were sighs of relief all round. They arrived around 9:15 pm having had a full day of fun.