The need to budget for health whilst travelling

Queensland Roadtrip Day 3: Byfield State Forest – Cape Hillsborough National Park (430km)

It was an emergency that stopped me exploring our camp spot by light. Everything got thrown into the car; pots and unwashed coffee cups shoved into ill suited gaps, L-man’s backseat den more cramped than cosy.

We drove in silence, mostly, and I gripped the door molding and D-man’s hand in the moments building up to near pass out. Tears flooded my eyes, painkillers and clove oil stopped working.

Onwards to Mackay, then. Destination: dentist.

On the road, again… on a bit, fat empty road again…

I’m dramatising, somewhat. It wasn’t a true emergency, I wasn’t about to die (even if I felt like I was about to die from the pain). And more importantly, I was on a road trip, a break: shut up, stop the whingeing and damn well have a good time!

During the drive away from Byfield State Forest I set up an appointment with my cousin’s friend’s dentist, dosed up on whatever would numb the headsplit and opened my eyes to the start of the mid-tropics, to swampy flatlands, fields and farmsteads, to sugarcane plantations, to grasses and reeds and hills covered in the start of a jungle. Everything felt moist yet it all looked faded, a light green soup lacking in chlorophyll.

Caneland openess

Half way – a teaser of a turquoise ocean some way off a flat, watered beach at Clairview – took a while to reach. The roadworks kept coming. Queensland, it would seem, was on some serious resurfacing mission; great for future road trippers, not so good for the three of us squished inside an overheating, retro car.

Roadside billboards declared

We caned, we sowed, we conquered


Watch out for slow vehicles hauling cane

Still further north we passed through Sarina. A harvester chomped on tall cane stalks and spat out a cloud of flaky dust, white birds following closely and diving into newly exposed earth. Another roadsign caught my eye, a big, full colour sign displaying

Good, safe, family friendly mining jobs

A two child family smiled out, a bundle of cuddles. An attempt to gloss the three weeks away story, or challenge the high spending, heavy drinking hedonist and the unfulfilled wife stereotypes?

We arrived into Mackay after nearly six hours of stop start. We’d just made time. Mackay seemed leafier than Rockhampton but rather than sightsee it was straight into the sterility of Caneland Dental. I was absolutely ready to meet my savior of the moment.

‘Just rip it out, if you have to’, I said.

‘We might have to’.


‘It’s an option’, said the dentist, a man who I guessed was in his late 30s and didn’t smile. At all.

It was going to be bad news. I knew it. Every living cell in my body knew it. The boys knew it. Hell, even Nerrell, the car, knew it. $1,000, he told me, to do a root canal. My chest tightened.

‘And about another $1,000 to put a crown on it.’

‘Another $1,000?’ I felt sick. ‘Really? Do I need it?’

‘I’d recommend it.’

Shit. When did dentists get so expensive? No wonder many Australian’s head to Thailand for their dental work.

‘Could we do a temporary fix?’ I asked, and with that out came the needle and in went a load of anesthetic.

‘Can you feel that?’ he asked.

‘Yep. Yeah, definitely.’

Another syringe full.

‘Now?’ He prodded a latex covered finger in my mouth, massaged my gums.

‘Uh huh’.

Once more. And finally: muted pain. Happiness.

I floated out of there $220 lighter and even the numb fat didn’t dampen my spirits as I splashed around in the pool  just across the road. Bluewater Lagoon.  Free to the public. Jellyfish-free.

Beach swimming wasn't an option

Beach swimming wasn’t an option

Playtime refresh

And so L-man, D-man and me were once again clean, healthy and ready for the road.

Except we weren’t  really. We had tasted holiday mode in the water park. We wanted a beach and an early set-up. We didn’t want to drive and drive and stop start anymore, not today.

One last push, then.

Back into nature

Back into nature

Nearly there

Nearly there

The ducks didn't quite persuade us to stay In Ball Bay

The ducks didn’t quite persuade us to stay In Ball Bay

Cape Hillsborough National Park calling us

Cape Hillsborough National Park calling us

A little further north of Mackay, a rough, car breaking track led us to Smalleys, to a spacious forest enclosure with its own access to a slither of sand and a sparkling, forbidden sea.

And not a sunset in sight.

The beauty of setting up camp in daylight…

...and discovering this gem at the end of a private forest pathway

…and discovering this gem at the end of a private forest pathway

Happy boys

Happy boys


Filed under activity & sport, australia, camping, cities, national parks, oceania, roadtrip

6 responses to “The need to budget for health whilst travelling

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