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.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Rockhampton 26 June – 12 July 2015

Stopped overnight near Rocky and the next morning drove up to Rockyview to meet Steve and Wendy, our hosts for the next 2 weeks. They are going away for a holiday and we are minding their house (and 2 dogs) while they are away. Their house is on a new estate, with all the houses on acreage, so it gives a roomy feel to the area. So far we have had a great time – drove out to Emu Park and looked around there and renewed our acquaintance with Rocky. This is a small city of about 80,000 and known for the fine beef cattle it grows. It is the main commercial and administrative centre for the region, rather than a tourist destination, but we always find enough activities to enjoy our visits. Like many country towns, there is an enormous shopping centre built a few kilometres out of town and this has had the effect of killing off many of the shops in the CBD. While disastrous for the centre, it has meant that most of the lovely heritage buildings have been retained and the local council is trying to revive the area by putting on festivals and events along the river. One store that has managed to remain is Stewarts, a large department store that reminded us of the old stores like David Jones that used to be such an integral part of every matrons shopping trip to ‘Town'.
We started our stay by attending a concert to hear Brian Cadd and Glenn Shorrock at the Pilbeam Theatre. This was a very slick and professional production and they played many of the hits from our youth. While Glenn was very entertaining and sang many songs from Little River Band, for us the star of the show was Brian. As well as being a great singer with his distinctive gravelly voice, he was also an outstanding songwriter and he took us back over the past four decades with a smorgasbord of ageless hits such as Little Ray of Sunshine, Reminiscing, Ginger Man, Arkansas Grass, Cool Change, Help is on its Way and Don’t You Know its Magic. After solo sets of hits from each performer, there was an extraordinary finale with both singers sharing the stage – an unforgettable night!
We also enjoyed visiting the Rockhampton Art Gallery. There were some poignant marble sculptures by Alex Seaton as well as a collaborative exhibition by artist couple Peter and Susan O’Doherty called Moving House, which evoked memories of earlier homes that we had lived in. However the hit of the exhibitions for us was discovering how Shaun Tan’s intriguing picture book, The Lost Thing was transformed into an Oscar winning short film. The book tells the story of a boy living in a soulless city smothered by insipid bureaucracy, who befriends a bizarre creature that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere. It has shades of 1984 about it, which are dramatically fleshed out in the film and to me the film was even more evocative then the book – try and see it if you can.
Rockhampton and Yeppoon suffered from a cyclone earlier in the year and Kershaw Gardens is still closed while they restore it, so we drove down to the Botanical Gardens at the edge of town. Even though it is a small city, Rocky has an amazing number of parks and gardens and even has a small zoo! The gardens were beautiful and fully recovered from the cyclone. We especially enjoyed the cactus gardens and had a relaxing walk around Murray Lagoon. As well as the variety of plants, the gardens also had an abundance of wildlife, including a bale of tortoises that kept us amused.
On Friday we went out to Yeppoon for NAIDOC Week celebrations. Yeppoon has really grown in the last few years, with new apartment blocks and shops springing up along the foreshore – the price of progress! The low tides at Yeppoon still make for some interesting photos.
We finally caught up with a film we had been meaning to see called Charlie’s Country. This was directed by Rolf de Heer and starred David Gulpilil and told the harrowing story of an Aboriginal elder who is struggling to understand how he fits into modern Australia while still living a more traditional life in an Aboriginal community. It pulled no punches, gave no answers and provided little hope for his future – a depressing but honest portrayal of how many Aboriginals are living – and dying.
Had to do a bit of maintenance on the RV and went into Rocky. Walking around the CBD we estimated that there was about 50% of the shops were vacant – sad to see a CBD slowly dying. One shop had been vacant for so long that it even had trees growing up inside it!
On Friday we went into Rocky for the start of their first river festival and had some delicious food accompanied by some great jazz. There were 4 stages playing different types of music and plenty of entertainment for the kids. The festival even had fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. The next day we went back for some more great food and music.
They had turned an old alley into an outdoor market, with music and dance in the middle. Unfortunately there was a storm early in the evening that dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd and sent them scurrying for shelter. 5gKE/s1600/Rockhampton%2B11%2B7%2B15%2B133.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">
On Sunday the party continued with more music and a great hit with Heather - Melissa the Mermaid swam in a giant tank of water. It had the kids (and some adults) fascinated with large crowds around the tank. We also went to a great market at the Heritage Village. This is a large complex on the edge of town that has moved lots of original structures to represent a village from over 100 years ago. As well as an assortment of old houses, there was a farm, church, fire station, timber mill, shearing shed, hospital, church and a school. It gave you a real feeling of how tough life was in bygone eras and how hard people had to work to produce the basic goods and services that we take for granted.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely to meet the two of you today at the Yeppoon showing of Charlie's Country. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in Rocky. I'll be interested to watch your travels, doing what we MAY end up doing when my husband retires next year.

4:12 pm

Blogger Peter said...

Keep in touch and let us know what you end up getting. It sounds like you have already done lots of travelling, so should come easy to you.

11:43 am


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