Days 221 – 229 (Jan 8th – Jan 16th) Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Bundaberg, the Tropic of Capricorn and Rockhampton

A 2 day trip from Brisbane to Rockhampton (Rocky), largely because we took the opportunity to visit our friends Sonya & Greg who live on Hope Island in the Gold Coast. We met them during our Alaskan trip and shared one or two raucous nights during our time together. Heading up to Rocky was a good opportunity to drop in and relive some of those memories. Hope Island was once a swamp but has been turned into a massive, mainly gated community. Mode of transport to the shops, visiting neighbours and going to the pub is by golf buggy. So, having dropped off our car, we were picked up by buggy and taken to the Boardwalk Tavern, a large restaurant and bar that had an incredible selection on the menu. We were joined by 2 of their 4 children and had a great afternoon catching up, playing trivia and relaxing. We were driven home by buggy and hope to meet again before leaving Australia.

The following day we headed north through the awful Brisbane traffic, finally stopping off at Maryborough, famous for being the birthplace of the creator of a childhood musical, Mary Poppins.

The town itself is quite old by Australian standards and has a few nice buildings

Next brief stop was supposed to be Childers but we got distracted by a brief sighting of a road name as we approached the town centre. Following this up we finally got a photo

Irrespective of the fact the family in question may have been related to those incarcerated in the Tasmanian penal colony (see previous blog for Hobart) it seems only correct to investigate a little further and a request has been sent to the local history society.

To keep you awake on the long drives, the Aussies have decided trivia will keep you vigilant, if only to see the answers to the questions on the roadside. I now know a baby echidna is called…a puggle and many more interesting facts!

Finally we arrived in Bundaberg, famous for it’s rum distillery and proximity to the southern-most islands of the Great Barrier Reef and Mon Repos, a beach which hosts the largest population of Loggerhead turtles on the east coast of Australia. The visitor centre is excellent, geared up to educate children and local people and the work of the staff there has ensured most turtle beaches are now protected by national park status. The centre offers tours to watch the turtles clambering ashore to lay their eggs (in Oct – Dec) and then to watch the eggs hatch (Nov – Feb) but these are so popular that booking ahead for months is vital, not the 2 days we hoped for. We might be able to drop in on our way back to Sydney. However, we checked out the beach

Oddly a feature of Bundaberg that doesn’t appear in the travel guides is the Baldwin Swamp Environment Park, situated in the middle of town, it retains some of the original swamp land prior to development of the area. An early morning walk was interesting, a few new bird species and a lot of roosting fruit bats. These animals are restless, forever scrabbling, even during the day, and calling incessantly. This is a great fruit farming area but it’s difficult to imagine the local fruit farmers are entirely welcoming..

The rum distillery is the a feature of the town and they have made distillery visits a smooth and slick part of their marketing. Arriving at the site a number of wittily written boards describe the history of the site and how rum came to be made there and then you have to walk past a huge “library” of all the products they have made.

This is followed by the tour proper and then the tasting

Doing her best to avoid driving back

It was fun but but despite her best efforts Helen still isn’t really converted to the rum cause

Leaving Bundaberg we stopped off at Seventeen Seventy, so named as this was Captain Cook’s first landing place in Queensland in May 1770. Together with Agnes Water this is a very pretty coastal area

Moving on we came across the Calliope River Historical Village which was just closing but is run by a very enthusiastic group of volunteers who were most likely older than the village itself

And finally we arrived in Rocky, passing over the Tropic of Capricorn into the tropics just as the monsoon season started…

The next few days were spent finalising Tali’s arrangements to move to Woorabinda and avoiding the wet, windy but warm weather. We did make two visits to the top of Mount Archer where there are 3 walkways to various parts of the summit, overlooking different parts of the region. The cloud didn’t assist with this!

Tali left on the Sunday and we moved on, in search of the sunshine…

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