Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ball Bay Beach 25 - 28 July 2013

Said a hasty goodbye to Mackay and headed north looking for a place to stay near the beach. Drove off the highway about 30km north of Mackay and headed east about 10km and found a little village called Ball Bay Beach. This is like the village that time forgot, no shops or amenities and full of old deserted holiday houses. We camped on the beachfront with 2 other couples. This is a beautiful spot with a wide expanse of beach, surrounded by thick jungle. The bay is very shallow and at low tide the water goes out about 700m. We were so impressed we decided to stay for a week and enjoy the natural environment. On Friday we drove about 10km around the point to Seaforth, a small town with an even larger expanse of beach and fringed with coconut trees. This also had a camping reserve, but it was very crowded as there a lot more amenities. Again this was a beautiful setting with a large park separating the houses from the beach. There were a few houses for sale right near the beach and we wondered what it would be like to live there. We figured out that it would be great in winter, but in summer when you would want to go for a swim the stingers are out and you can't go in the water!
SEAFORTH Om Saturday we drove to Halliday Beach, a small town next to Ball Bay Beach. It was about the same size as where we are staying and has a small golf course. The beach was smaller but just as pretty with a golden crescent of sand arching around the bay. We both thought that we would have to come back again for another holiday.
BALL BAY Went back to Seaforth for a small local market and bought up some supplies. Heather even found an op shop that was open and found a few more retro items to buy. We spent most of the time going for walks and exploring the local countryside. We then drove over to Cape Hillsborough NP, a beautiful reserve on the end of a peninsula. As it was low tide the beaches were even larger than Ball Bay and the cliffs stretched right to the sand, covered in large pine trees.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mackay 23 – 24 July 2013

While Mackay is slightly colder than Rockhampton, it felt warmer because of the proliferation of tropical plants. Like any large town, it is very hard to find a reasonable camping spot, so we looked for a caravan park, which were all expensive and of a poor quality – ah the joys of running a monopoly! We eventually squeezed in between other campers and itinerate miners who all seemed to start their shift at 4:30am! While the older parts of the town are attractive with 'Queenslander' houses and tropical plants, the town has an air of a frontier town. Since we last visited about 7 years ago Mackay has continued its rapid growth (thanks to the coal mining) – it is like Port Kembla on steroids. New housing estates and factory complexes have sprung up amongst the sugar cane fields, as well as an enormous shopping centre (full of the usual bling) on the outskirts of town. Heather has developed an interest in vintage kitchen ware and had a great time exploring all of the op shops.
Peter had a funny experience when he was walking around town taking photos. Usually when we visit country towns, we can find the Commonwealth Bank very easily; it will be an ugly 60's or 70's edifice painted in yellow or black and totally out of character with the rest of the traditional public buildings. However this time he spied a handsome colonial building across the street that had retained its heritage colours and took some photos. He was then approached by a woman from the bank who wanted to know why he was taking photos and said it was illegal to take photos and he had to delete them! Fortunately through his previous work, Peter was aware of the law and told her that no such legislation existed, but you could imagine how many photos would have to be deleted across Australia if it had been true!
While we had a look at the rest of the town and admired the handful of beautiful Art Deco buildings that remain, we found it hard to warm to Mackay. Perhaps it was the frenetic pace of the town – the influx of new miners, the confusion of new roads being built and old roads being blocked off, old buildings being torn down or new soulless apartments being constructed - but it felt like a town hurrying to cash in on the mining boom at the expense of what makes a town liveable.

Bakers Creek 22 July 2013

Set off in the morning and reached Sarina by lunchtime, a small non-descript town and took the Suzuki out to Armstrong Beach. We had a vague idea of finding somewhere to camp, but there were 'no camping' signs everywhere, so we hitched up again and headed north. After a false stop, we found a great location at the Bakers Creek Tavern, where we had a meal and a drink over tea. It was strange being in 'civilization' after so many days at St Lawrence and we longed for just one more moondance.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

St Lawrence 16 – 21 July 2013

Said goodbye to Rockhampton and drove up to a free camp at St Lawrence. This is situated at a showground and we picked a lovely spot looking into the bush. While we enjoyed the sunset last night, there was a spectacular sunset tonight with the sky lit up with hues of yellow and pink reflected on the clouds, topped up with a brilliant moon.
On Wednesday we went into the village and had a look around. The village was an old port that has shrunk down to about a dozen houses, a pub and a general store. We had a look at the small cemetery and were saddened by the number of old headstones that mentioned the death of babies and young children – times were tough for everyone then. Visited a lagoon next to the camp that was home to a variety of wetland birds – a beautiful spot. That night we wandered up to the top of the reserve for a barbeque and to watch the state of origin. The crowd was a good-natured mixture of blue and maroon, however the final score did not reflect the superior performance of NSW – has to be right for next year!!
On Thursday morning we got up very early and watched the sun come up over the wetland. We surprised a mob of kangaroos quietly grazing on the rushes; however they didn't seem too perturbed and after a long stare, went back to their chores. Saw a great variety of birds waking up and flying off to feed – especially wonderful were the Magpie Geese and White Egrets. That night we lit a fire, cooked our dinner over the fire and watched the sunset – not as spectacular as the last one but still breath taking.
Went for a drive near the mouth of the river and saw the most amazing sight. It was low tide and the river had dropped about 15m to reveal walls and a bottom of thick fine mud. Peter could just imagine jumping in and have a great mud bath, but was restrained by Heather! Afterwards we found another lagoon, even more scenic than the last one. There were masses of plant life and water birds and we got some great photos. Had another beautiful night watching the stars and dancing under a full moon. For our tea, Heather made a lovely raisin damper in the coals of our fire. We have been camped down the end of the paddock and have not been disturbed by neighbours. The only noise has come from conveys of Australian army trucks involved in a joint exercise with US troops. They bivouac in tents overnight on the way to the war games, but are gone early in the morning. Have just got news about the Nauru riots. Thankfully Laura was safe in her accommodation at the time, however she was very upset about all the damage and the impact it will have on the men who were not involved in the riots. At first she thought she would stay there to help clean up, but we have just heard that she is being evacuated and will be in Sydney tomorrow (thank goodness).

Rockhampton d

Rockhampton c

Rockhampton b

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rockhampton a

On Wednesday we drove out to the coast and visited villages along the beaches. Keppel Sands is a quiet and isolated spot and reminded us of the south coast in the 1960's. The whole area is still very pretty, however there has been lots of development in the past few years and except for Keppel Sands, it has made it difficult to find a place to camp. Yeppoon and Emu Park in particular are developing into mini Surfers Paradise, with lots of housing developments springing up however there is an ambivalent attitude towards "southerners" that makes you think you are a fatted cow waiting to be milked. We finally found a caravan park on the beach at Yeppoon, but it is very tight, so we will have to think about where we want to stay.