Meaningful Mackay

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“Oh my gosh, that’s US on that sign!!” was the exclamation as we drove past The Leap Hotel towards Mackay. We’d heard that there was a sign advertising our visit, and it was strange but thrilling to see our event advertised for the following day.

We were on a high then for the rest of the day, and zoomed through set up at the Big 4 Mackay Marine holiday park. Ilona had given us a large corner site, and we even had a key to an ensuite! That was a fantastic surprise for us all. The kids noticed the waterslide and water park straightaway, and kept asking if it was Monday yet, so they could go and enjoy the free pancake breakfast in the camp kitchen!

Nerves were running high as we drove back out to The Leap on Sunday morning. Luna kept nudging Paul’s elbow and arm while he was driving, sensing that his anxiety was on the rise.

The Leap is named after an historical event which happened at the top of Mount Mandarana. “As legend has it, in 1867 settlers decided they’d had enough of local Aborigines spearing their cattle for food. One raid in particular caused so much consternation among the farmers that matters came to a head and police got involved. The troopers tracked the natives to the top of the mountain that looms where the hotel stands today,” says the history. “From high up near the clouds, a tribeswoman named Kowaha reportedly hurled herself from the sheer cliff face, rather than surrender to authorities. With her baby in her embrace, she leapt from Mt Mandarana and fell to her death far, far below. Incredible as it may seem, the baby girl survived her and was taken into care by the wife of a trooper. The Leap Baby, as she came to be known, remained in the district until her death in 1928. Since that fateful day of confrontation the area has become known simply as ‘The Leap’, a place where visitors come to learn of and ponder about the mysteries surrounding events in Mackay’s heart-rending past.”

The Leap Community Club, through their representative Kayleen, had been in contact with us for some time about doing some fundraising for us when we came to visit. It was wonderful to meet her in person! Her husband, Chris, manned the barbeque for the sausage sizzle, with Kayleen and Jenny on salads and raffles duty. It’s a busy place on a lovely sunny Sunday! Luna attracted the attention of a motorcyclist who’d stopped in at the hotel as part of a club ride. We chatted with Bryce for quite a while, as the kids made repeat visits to the bbq for more sausages. Bryce is extremely personable, and our conversation touched on many topics – animals, assistance dogs, mental health, peer support, management styles. He gave us his business card and offered to see if there was anything he could do to source a newer laptop to replace our old one whose battery has failed. Even better, Bryce then went a bought a sausage in bread before rejoining his club on the ride.

Kayleen presented us with a donation of $500 for our charities, achieved through raffles and the sausage sizzles. We were blown away by their generosity! It was a lovely couple of hours spent on the verandah of this historic building. If you are headed to Mackay, please drop in at The Leap Hotel and say hello from us!

We had become quite stressed by the creeping failure of our remaining laptop, now only functioning when plugged in to mains power. Repeated attempts to source a replacement had been fruitless and frustrating. Imagine our surprise when we answered a call on Monday morning from Bryce, who told us that he had organised a refurbished laptop from his workplace at the North Queensland Bulk Handling Ports Corporation (NQBP)! All before he’d finished his first coffee! After a quick catch up session with Kirstine’s aunt, we met with Bryce, or rather, Captain Bryce, at the NQBP. This lovely and modest man is responsible for bringing in cargo ships to the Port of Mackay, taking control of the navigation after flying out to the ships by helicopter. Our jaws dropped, but Bryce assured us it wasn’t so glamourous at 2 o’clock in the morning when called out!

Everyone at NQBP was so friendly and welcoming, and it was a lovely visit. Photos were taken, we admired the marina views from one of the conference rooms, looked at amazing aerial shots of the area, and the kids were given a stash of biscuits to take home. We still can’t believe that this happened after a chance meeting at the Leap Hotel at the fundraiser!

Out grocery shopping later, we had an email from Harvey Norman in Mackay, who had responded to a request Paul had sent before we arrived in town. The manager, Adam, had offered a substantial discount on a high end laptop capable of running the video editing software that Videocraft provided us. We had a limited budget, and the donation from the Rotary Club of Mount Isa, and were able to leave the store with a machine which Paul can now view and edit the 4K production quality footage that we have recorded but not been able to watch! Our sincere thanks to Adam, Emma and Cassie for their patience and support.

Our visit was topped off by Paul interviewing with ABC Tropical North radio as we packed up camp this morning. Meech was very interested in the book that we will be writing, and asked if Mackay will be getting a mention. We can guarantee it certainly will! Of course, now Paul can edit footage from the DJI Mavic Pro and our Videocraft equipment on his own laptop, while Kirstine takes care of the written work on hers from NQBP.

We feel incredibly blessed and grateful to our sponsors and supporters in Mackay. We had meaningful conversations with locals, who’ve all been touched in some way by mental illness, and our trip has resonated with them. Thank you Mackay!

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