• Day65

    Bundaberg, Queensland

    July 24, 2015 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    PROSERPINE to BUNDABERG 8/7/2015 - 24/7/2015

    H.W. From Proserpine we drove south along the Bruce Highway, headed for Mackay and found a caravan park near the city centre. Soon after our arrival the couple in the next van had us organised to join them and two other couples for dinner at the local Bowling Club. We have met so many really nice people on our travels and these were no exception. One point of interest at this van park was the enormous amenities block with no less than 18 showers and toilets (and very few people using them). The next day we took a drive around Mackay which we found nice but not a lot different to any other city. After stocking up on groceries we spotted some smoke near the city so decided to go and have a look if it was a cane fire. Sure enough there was a cane field being burnt but it was hardly the spectacular sight we’d hoped for. Later back at camp our new friends told us they’d been to see a cane fire on a friend’s farm and from the vision on their iPad it made ours look absolutely pathetic! Missed out again…… Mostly these days the cane isn’t burnt before it’s harvested. On our long drives down the Bruce Highway we’ve seen many kilometres with nothing but sugar cane plantations beside the road. All the cane is ready for harvest at the moment so there are lots of cane trains moving along the narrow gauge rail lines everywhere and most towns have a sugar mill which can be seen from quite a distance with the plumes of steam from the huge chimneys.

    We continued south and free-camped near St. Lawrence in a good paved area. This one wasn’t quite as noisy as the last free stop where we not only had to contend with the noise of the trucks on the highway at night but the train line as well. From there we travelled on to Yeppoon where our friends from Melbourne, Gordon and Judy Dobie were staying in their motorhome for a couple of months as they do each winter. Also other friends, Alan and Gayle Gissing were due to arrive a couple of days later as they were on their way north towards the Cape. We spent a week in Yeppoon relaxing, socialising and looking around the area. Frank had a couple of games of golf and we enjoyed lunches and dinners etc. as well as driving in to Rockhampton to have a look there as well. The highlight while we were there was the day we spent at Paradise Lagoons Camp Draft which we’d heard about from the people at Mackay Van Park. It was a huge event for horses and riders where riders compete to cut out a cow or steer from a small herd and control it for a certain time before it can return to the herd. All in all there were about five or six arenas where events were happening simultaneously and there were about 700 competitors. In one event the rider drops the reins after cutting out the steer and the horse does all the work itself. They were just amazing.

    After saying our goodbyes to the Gissings we headed off in opposite directions leaving the Dobies to enjoy the rest of their stay in Yeppoon. We had a look at the beach towns of Tannum Sands, Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy on our way down to Bundaberg. Agnes Water was the first beach where there were surfers riding waves as all the beaches to the north are protected by the reef. The town of 1770 was named because of James Cook landing there back in the day. It had lovely views along the coast from a small lookout.

    We camped near the centre of Bundaberg alongside the river which was very picturesque especially at night as the riverfront is illuminated. The following day we went to visit my cousin in the Base Hospital where she is in rehab recovering from a stroke which happened nine weeks ago. She is working hard with the physios and is hoping to be home in about a week. Later we went on a tour of the Bundy Ginger Beer Factory (the Barrel) with tastings of all the drinks they produce before a late drive around the botanic gardens.

    FW Back in about 1970, I did some work aboard a ship carrying frozen meat for export and we stopped to pick up meat in Rockhampton. It turns out the place was actually Port Alma which is just up the road. The interesting thing about the trip for me was the U turn the captain of the ship had to do in the river using only his anchors and rear propeller. (no bow thrusters or tugs in those days). The manoeuvre took about an hour and was very impressive. I thought it would be nice to show Heather and see the place again myself. Well the place is harder to get into than Fort Knox and the paperwork required could take 2-3 hours to complete as it is now controlled by Queensland Port Authority and Australian Quarantine Inspection Services due to most of the explosives for the mines entering through this port. After a short conversation with the Port Manager, he arranged for one of his Inspectors to smuggle us onto the wharf and show us around. The whole thing was a bit of an anticlimax.
    There were two incidents that Heather hasn’t mentioned, the first was before Yeppoon when a truck deliberately tried to force us off the road and into a bridge. It was only due to extremely skilful driving that I managed to avoid hitting the bridge or the truck. We wrote his number down and reported it to the Police.
    The other was when we got the two finger salute from a Toyota Landcruiser driver in Rockhampton. Not unexpected from the owners of that particular make of vehicle.
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