Thursday, February 29, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

A Family Holiday to Remember (Memories from Don Dinnie)

The end of 1939 saw our first real holiday. Arrangements were made with Ken MacPherson to take our family and the Jenkins family to Nellie’s Beach. When Ken arrived with the seven Jenkins, Colin Hinschen (Doris Jenkins’ brother), his friend Bill Hewson and the five in our family, it made a total of 14, plus Ken the driver. Ken’s truck was a one ton four-cylinder Chev with a tray body.  

We had borrowed two tents and used our empty 100-gallon tank to store clothes and food. So much had to be thought of - for instance, an axe to cut tent poles, a hurricane lantern, kerosene frying pan, billy cans, enamel plates, cutlery, pannikins etc. Being the first camping trip for both families meant a lot of sorting out so we did not double up, when everything plus people had to fit on a fairly small tray.  

We set off with the smallest kids in the middle perched on whatever was available and the men at the back getting covered with dust. There were countless gullies with the crossings virtually straight up and down. The women were scared of the creek crossings with high banks and would get out and walk.


We arrived mid afternoon and unloaded. The men cut tent poles, set up camp, then went on the truck with the tank, filling it about half full from the water hole. They slid it off on skids and that was our week’s water supply for drinking and cooking.

During the day, the grownups would go fishing at Nellie’s Point. Only having three fishing lines that they borrowed with a piece of rock or coral for a sinker, they would take turns to fish.  To get bait, Dad set me up with a grass tree rod, a cork and a perch line.  He would smash a periwinkle for bait and I would soon catch a parrot fish which would then be chopped up and proved to supplement the larder of schnapper, bream and cod. In those days, we always scaled but never filleted.

It was a real adventure, sleeping on the ground, eating off a camp fire. Most of the children had never seen the ocean.  It was a great time for everybody mixing together, sharing the work, we kids running around in the pools when the tide was out, swimming twice a day, probably the cleanest we ever were.

On Sunday, our neighbours, the Daffaras, arrived in their dickey seat Chrysler bearing fresh bread which was most welcome.

One evening, just on dark, there was a real scare. Our three-year-old sister was missing so we all scattered, calling her. Fortunately, while there was just enough light to see, Mum found her wandering between the beach and the scrub.

A chap, Len May, was camped a little further along. He and his mate, were going around to the gully at the end of Dingo Beach and Dad and I joined them. Len had a cast net and caught lots of small herring, whiting and mullet. Amongst them were small black eel tailed fish with a white stripe. Of course, I would have to pick one up! Talk about sting! Apparently, it was a type of cat fish. Len chewed up some tobacco and put it on my finger. It eased the pain somewhat but made me worry about picking up unknown fish in the future.

Eventually, the trip ended but this was to set a pattern for holiday trips to Dingo Beach for many years to come.


Text and photo courtesy of Proserpine Museum.

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