Friday 17 July 2015


I don't love Mackay. 

In fact I don't even like it.

There I said it. 

My reasons why? hmm... I am not sure, but the place just had a boring 'feel' about it. The beaches weren't lovely, there was really nothing much to do in town. The caravan park was average, there was no walking paths anywhere and it was overcast weather most of the time we were there.  Maybe I am spoilt, but there are so many lovely places we have seen on our holiday. So many beautiful beaches, touristy places with little cafes, walking paths along the beach, big playgrounds for the kids. So many interesting and exciting towns. And poor old bloody Mackay? well it wasn't one of them. 

Here is a pic I took of the beach when I went on a morning walk. It kind of shows how dreary the place is. 

Our most exciting day in Mackay was when we actually left the town and drove 40km to the small nearby town of Serina to do a tour of 'the Sugar Shed'. 

Serina is home to a large sugar mill owned by CSR. The Mackay region actually produces 95 percent of sugar grown in Australia and of that sugar 80 percent is exported overseas. There are around 1,400 individual sugar cane farms in the area and we learned about the process of sugar cane to the sugar we consume. 

Here is my recount of what we learnt. 

First of all the cane is grown in a cane farm. It looks like this.......

Machines like the one below then cut the cane into small 'billets'. The leaves are left on the ground as mulch for next years crop. 

One type of machine used for harvesting sugar cane

A 'billet' of cane 

The cane is then sent in bins to the mill. The bins are transported via little mini trains that look like this...

And the cane is taken to the mill which crushes and squeezes the cane to extract the molasses. the machines are huge but here is a small version of one, it is used to show tourists the process. 

Hot water is used in the process and it ends up as steam that comes out huge big chimneys. 

After much processing the sugar cane ends up looking like this.

Which we consume in the form of this

Anyway that was a really bad recount of the process but it gives you the general gist! 

The kids really loved the whole tour  at Serina Sugar Shed and our guide for the morning was so informative. 

I met a lovely old man on our tour who was travelling with his son. Craig always says I attract people who want to chat and that day was no exception! He struck up a conversation asking where we were from then proceeded to tell me about every day since he and his son left Sydney. I got the feeling he needed to chat. He got out his little notebook and read me all the kilometres they had done, all the stops, how much money they spent on each meal and at exactly what time he tested his blood sugar. His notebook was his memory and he studied it like the bible proudly recounting information to me as he read each page of writing, his pages full of bullet points in old man cursive with a time and date beside each event. After telling me all that his voice changed and his face looked saddened. He said that he had wanted to do this trip with his wife. But she is now in a nursing home back in Sydney with dementia. He found out early this year that he had asbestos cancer and only has about 12 more months to live. His life insurance paid him out once he found he was terminal and he made the brave decision to use the money to buy a winnebago and, with his son for company, travel around Australia for a few months before he ended up too sick. He said every day he was on the road was a blessing and it was very hard being away from his wife. But he knew she would have wanted him to do the trip they had always talked about. He said he was happy for me that I was making time to do this with my family while we are young and healthy. His eyes were full of tears and I was glad I had given him my time for 20 minutes so he could tell me his story.

It reminded me that we all have a story. A history and past tense that has made us who we are today. Memories of events and feelings and time. Time is slipping by and we must do what we want to do. Today. Not wait till tomorrow or the next day. If we want to build a house or if we want to paint a picture or if we want to learn another language or, like in our case, if we want to travel. We must do it. Without delay. We must chose what is important to us and we must do it. 

1 comment:

  1. You are a good person shantelle
    everyone has a story to tell, and sometimes they just need someone to tell it too.