Monday, June 27, 2005
Farmborough Music Festival (Yeppoon) 24 to 26 June 2005
It is Heather’s birthday today and we visited the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens. They are beautiful gardens, with lots of amazing tropical plants. The gardens also had a small zoo and we saw crocodiles, emus, cassowaries, koalas, parrots and dingoes. We drove 30 kms to the coast to have late lunch at a very pretty beach village called Emu Park. We then followed the coast road north, right along the edge until we came to Yeppoon, which is bigger, and an obvious big go-ahead holiday destination. Great Keppel Island is very close and can be seen all along the drive. We camped at the Farmborough Music Festival –much like the Jamberoo Festival, only smaller, with lots of music and art events. We had a great time and listened to a variety of good music – funk, rock, jazz, blues and folk. Heather finally admitted defeat and was reduced to basket weaving using coconut palms. The basket was very successful and the neighbouring basket maker was a young social worker. Everyone had a laugh and enjoyed sitting in the sun to make them. The festival finished off with a closing ceremony that would have made the Olympics proud. Our biggest shock was how cold it was on Friday night. Everyone including the locals nearly froze. It went down to five deg. However, it warmed up to 24 deg days and warmer each night. The stars are unbelievable. We saw a special event tonight, with the three brightest planets (Venus, Saturn and Mercury) very close together. This occurred just after sunset for an hour during the closing ceremony. This formation was last seen in 1848!!! Tomorrow all three will appear as one.
Rockhampton 23 June 2005
Rockhampton has a number of beautiful heritage buildings, stretching along the riverfront, which was once the business centre of the town. Now the CBD is fairly dead, as shoppers have deserted the area for suburban shopping centres. Still this is the largest town in central Queensland, with lots of government departments having their regional offices there. Found a lovely camp spot next to the extremely wide Fitzroy River, with some anglers for neighbours.
St Lawrence 22 June 2005
Had a walk around Mackay in the morning and enjoyed looking at the art deco buildings. We really enjoy the history and were impressed with a men’s wear shop that seemed unchanged for the last 100 years. Lots of stock all stacked to the ceiling and counters displaying what are available. There were old wooden ladders to get it down, with very attentive attendants pulling out possible options. It really was special. The ceilings were like an old wooden church full of cedar beams and lining. We were pleased to find out it is heritage listed. Then off for a long drive to a lovely free camp spot at St. Lawrence. This small village has gone to a lot of trouble to provide a great camp spot with lots of facilities. We looked across to kangaroos grazing and a lagoon full of wonderful water birds. There were many big white birds that we took to be some sort of spoonbill egrets. However, the one very special one was like a white flamingo so is probably a brolga. We will work it out. The binoculars that dad gave us some time ago are so good in those times. We sat around in the evening on sunset with about 12 people who turned out to all have a Winnebago and had lots of advice. After that on way back to Jimmy, Heather saw a familiar face shutting the toilet door beside me. So she called “out are you Lou?" which could have been a funny thing if it wasn’t as who ever she was she was on the LOO!!!!! It went on and of course, it was Lou! Len and Lou live behind us near the cottage in Kiama. They left Kiama with their caravan the day after us, and have been everywhere we have at approx. the same times and are on their way home for 10th July. That would have to be a big coincidence!!!!! We had a lovely chat and said we would really enjoy the catch up at home to compare notes photos etc.
Mackay 21 June 2005
We left Airlie Beach after a night of good rain - skies still very grey. Went back to Proserpine and had a good look around. We enjoyed our drive to MacKay. It was very busy due to the Agricultural Show which is surprisingly on Tues, Wed, Thurs. Heather was speaking to some local girls and asked about the show. They urged her to go as it was only $8 for pensioners!! The town is a lot bigger than we thought and surrounded on three sides by mangrove swamps. Went down a busy secondary road over an old bridge and came to 3.3 m height restriction at the last moment. No drama but a reminder to be careful. No warnings before we got to it, mind you.
Airlie Brach 20 June 2005
Drove onto Proserpine, which has an enormous sugar cane mill on the outskirts. Then onto Airlie Beach, which has grown tremendously since we visited it 10 years ago. There were lots of backpackers around and very touristy. Still it was very pretty and we rode the motorbike all around town, took some wine and snacks, sat on the beach and watched the sunset with the yachts coming in. This was the first time for a cardigan in a long while. We think it is cooling off as we come down the coast.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Bowen 16 to 19. 6. 05
When we left Wunjunga in the morning, Heather was keen to go back to the great beach spots we had visited. We visited Giru and checked out a good free camp spot, but we decided not to stay. It was an active sugar cane mill with workers busy, trains chugging about, fields being harvested, trucks moving cut cane and steam pouring out of the chimneys. The town had an old feel and one empty shop had a sign to the effect of “any offers considered”. Heather read all the info about the next area and got a good feel about Bowen, as it was said to be one of only a few places you can snorkel from straight off the beach. We stayed at Horseshoe Bay for 4 nights at the caravan park overlooking Greys Bay and a minutes walk to Horseshoe Bay, which is a delightful little beach. Went for many swims- water was warm and there was a coral reef to snorkel on. It was wonderful and we saw lots of fish and pretty coral. Heather saw a few stingrays dash out of the sand when we first went out and this made her a bit wary about putting our feet down so we swam like beached whales right to the edge of the beach to get in and out. They were about 1 metre long, including their tail. Considering the length of time it takes to get to the outer reef and the seasickness, the local reef was great- just straight off the beach. It is a fantastic little corner of Bowen that will probably be resort development in a few years, as we think it was perfect. Then back for a sauna! Peter took off early on his bike to check out some garage sales on Saturday am. We also had a few bike rides around Bowen. Heather has got over her anxiety as long as Peter rides carefully - which he does. It has been very convenient to have the freedom of the bike in the towns. It is not as touristy as other towns such as Port Douglas which is more what we enjoy. It is a lot drier than we imagined and all the streets are WIDE and spread out. It was even a little bit like Charters Towers, full of old country town houses. On Sunday, we had lunch at the sailing club and more fish –salmon mackerel – really good. Then up to the lookout – you could see out to the Whitsunday islands. It was also low tide and we were surprised how much mud flat there was in the harbour – luckily our campsite has a more or less normal beach. We went to a small market by the beach and bought a bag of frozen mango with eight big cheeks for $3 and ate a few there and then and the rest when we got back to Jimmy. It was such a surprise that it was that good.
Wunjunga Beach (Home Hill) 15 6 05
Drove to Ayr, which is a very prosperous sugar town. Walked the shops looking at a few old wares. Ayr has very nice parks where we had both morning tea and lunch. It even got too hot for a bit until we got into the shade. Bought fresh barramundi for tea. Went to Home Hill - a cute little town on the Burdekin River. Very friendly tourist centre that suggested the next camp spot. Camped at Wunjunga, which turned out to be a pretty ordinary campsite and at the end of a bone-shattering dirt road of about 15 kms. We probably should have turned back but we did enjoy the desolate empty space. The road wandered through a saltpan, which was the first time we encountered that sort of country. We thought that it was probably a little taste of what we will see in central Australia, so it was special.
The little village was at the end of the road on top of a rocky outcrop and consisted of a dozen small vacant houses (no shops), all made of besser blocks. The houses seemed to be built all over the place (including metres from the sea), and reminded us of an abandoned Greek village. While a fantastic place to visit, you wonder what people could do there except to fish – between the sharks, crocodiles, cyclones, sandflies and stingers.
Alligator Creek 14 6 05
We set off to Townsville in the morning, to get a few things for the motorhome. The main purchase was to buy new home batteries, which means we now have 260 amps of battery power. Had a lovely lunch break on the beach at Townsville. Stayed at Caltex roadhouse for the night and we had lots of power. The facilities were great. Lovely hot showers etc, not too noisy surprisingly and very friendly people/proprietors who are happy to have you there. Good shop plus a separate fruit and veg shop.
Toomulla 13 6 05
Left the national park late in the afternoon and free camped at Toomulla, a small village on the coast. Nice park space with about eight other vans. Crocodile warning signs everywhere, which meant no swimming! It rained overnight so our pot plants had a bath. The sound of rain on Jimmy is always lovely and so close to nature. Have to get up and shut top vents if it gets too heavy though.
Big Crystal Creek 12 6 05
Stopped at Ingham and picked up some lovely cheese at a delicatessen. It was very much an Italian migrant area so the deli was heaven to the chef, Heather! She got carried away buying sausages, pasta and cheese. Didn’t even wait for tea and we cooked at the next rest spot for lunch.
We then went onto the Big Crystal Pool National Park campsite ($8). It was a very bumpy bit of road for a while, but worth it. This was an amazing national park with a clear pool for swimming, consisting of smooth rolled stones. The water was crystal clear due to the quartz sand with no mud. We both had a fantastic swim amongst the fish. Surprisingly it was quite warm in the water so we went in a few times, once we were sure there were no eels.