A thousand diamonds strewn across a blue plain

We arrived back in Mackay (our original starting point on this tour de Queensland) with a few days to spare. Mom & I decided to pass on the Reef/Whitsundays because the trips are very expensive, we both get seasick, it would be a rushed trip, and we were both a bit terrified of snorkeling in the open water of the Pacific Ocean. That night we enjoyed our usual favorite: Hawaiian pizza from Eagle Boys! We opted to rest in Mackay at a caravan park and be local beach bums the next day. Plus, I wanted to show Mom the marine life I'd previously found at Harbour Beach during low tide.

However, we awoke to gray clouds and raindrops. Determined to let my Mom actually swim in Australian water we got on the road for Townsville, hoping to encounter better weather. Like the majority of Queensland in the dry season a.k.a. their winter months we found abundant sunshine just an hour's drive north on The Bruce.

On the last leg of our road trip, sweating profusely from the sun beating through the windows, we chose to stop at Bowen and its big pineapple. Bowen is a quaint town whose claim to fame is that some of the movie "Australia" was filmed there.

Of Bowen's many lookouts and beaches, we only visited Horseshoe Bay, but that was by choice... it was so pristine we couldn't tear ourselves away from it! After being on the road the last two days, sitting in the warm sand & listening to the quiet lapping of waves was refreshing. The view was heavenly! I was a teenager when my family last traveled to Hawaii & the Carribbean but the water in Bowen seemed as azure. Mom & I passed the hours eating Subway, discussing further plans, and recounting past adventures, but mostly we just sat and admired the moment: the weather, the scenery, the company, the serenity.

The water seemed chilly at first, but we both waded up to our bellybuttons. Being the middle of winter it was too cold for either of us to want to submerge completely. Underwater, close to the shore, the ocean floor was very rocky and uncomfortable. Upon closer inspection I realized we were sauntering on small, broken pieces of coral. Out at the Reef you cannot walk on the coral for fear of damaging it, not to mention cutting up your feet. Though knobby, the coral in Horseshoe Bay was entirely smooth and off-white. I wondered if it originated from the only living organism from outer space? How long did the coral have to endure the ocean's tides and rocks to become so flush?As we relaxed in the water I noted a rock through the clear water. I continued walking toward deeper water & realized the rock had followed me! The harder I looked, the more the "rock" began to resemble a stingray. Distraught, I turned around to warn Mom & felt a sharp pinching pain on my left heel. I looked down & saw an irritated crab swimming. I was being ambushed by Poseidon's creatures!

Our day lollygagging drew to an end but Mom expressed her vacation was "complete" after experiencing Australia's wilderness, animals, cities, outback, and -- finally -- beaches.