It's a Gem of a Town
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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Wednesday 10th November 2010
No hangover in the morning which was a good thing as we were back on the road today, but not without doing a few chores first and visiting another beer factory. I needed to find an internet cafe to do some scanning and the Bundaberg Ginger Beer Factory was just down the road, so we popped in there afterwards to do their interactive tour. Bundaberg Ginger Beer is non-alcoholic and comes in fifteen different flavours. Their biggest seller is Ginger Beer and Diet Ginger Beer which is less sugar but more Ginger. Their entire range is naturally brewed according to the tour. With a hand held tour guide to walk us round every step of the way the tour was lots of fun, there were buttons to press and leavers to pull and even a 3D hologram presentation, which was aimed more for kids but still we enjoyed it. At the end of the tour there was a tasting, which involved a small glass of all fifteen different varieties, they all tasted good, well except for the sarsaparilla one. We bought a take away box of six different flavours and got back in the van full of fizz and in need of a pee.
Weather Sunny - 30 degrees
Our next destination is a town called 1770, yep that's the name of it. Captain Cook very rarely stepped of the Endeavour but when he did they usually name a town after the event. So when he paid a short visit to a small bay on 24th May 1770 without any real imagination they name the town 1770. We stayed in Captain Cooks Caravan Park which was a lovely place right in the woods and not too crammed in. We had a drive round town, which didn’t take long. This is where surf meets reef, as it is the last surf beach on the eastern coast and the start of the Great Barrier Reef. So much of the town is set around learning to ride the boards or snorkelling trips out to the reef. The Oz Experience tour bus stops here so the town has a number of backpacker hostels and backpackers. The Oz Experience is a backpacker’s tour bus that takes you to all the cool towns, you can buy a hop on hop off ticket or individual one way tickets. We used them fourteen years ago to go from Sydney to Melbourne.
Thursday 11th November 2010
With the sounds of wild life around us we slept deeply and woke up at 7am later than we normally do. We had a long journey ahead of us today so made a big effort to get straight up, shower and be on the road by just after 8am. We drove down narrow country lanes, with nothing to see for miles and not another car in sight. As we got nearer to Rockhampton, the next big town, the roads got busier and more houses appeared. We pulled in a McDonalds to use their wifi, sat for two hours with a coke between us. We are really struggling to get free wifi in Queensland, not many of the campsites do it and when they do it’s really expensive....thank goodness for McWifi.
We had a bit of shopping to do so we pulled into a big retail park to have a look round. We needed an Esky, (cool box) as our fruit and veg won’t last for more than a day in the van because of the heat and there is no room to store it in the tiny fridge. So we are investing in a small solid Esky to sit behind Gary’s seat that we can fill with Ice packs to work as a chiller. We found the perfect one in the Reject Shop....yes they still have the Kitchen Reject Shop out here....it’s very cool....and cheap.
Weather Some Sun- 28 degrees
We carried on out of Rockhampton, to the coastal town of Emu Park. We arrived after 5pm so had enough time to quickly set up before dusk. The campsite was very basic and had a few backpacker’s tents around, Gary got chatting to a couple of German lads at the BBQ. We had our dinner and then settled down for the night to watch some DVD’s.... tonight the Tarantino classic From Dusk till Dawn.......!!!
Friday 12th November 2010
Back on the road again and another long drive this time inland to the gem stone town of Emerald (nothing to do with being in Oz a visiting the Emerald City ok). We couldn’t leave Emu Park without first visiting the Singing Ship, a soaring white sculpture dedicated to.... yes you guess it Captain Cook. It has been placed on the top of a windy cliff which lets the wind travel through the tubular structure making an eerie moaning sound. Back in the van we took the scenic route round the coastal towns, past more deserted beaches and beautiful shore lines. There are also about twenty seven small islands dotted off this coast, some are just off shore.
Weather Overcast 28 degrees
As we drive into central Australia we are noticing differences, firstly we are driving over the Tropic of Capricorn, so the humidity level is increasing, in fact we are actually following the line all the way until the town of Emerald. It is thought that the reason this area is so rich in coal and precious gems is because of the drastic climate changes on the Tropic of Capricorn line the over thousands of years. Another thing you notice is how incredibly straight the roads are, you can see for miles in both directions, but the most fascinating of all is the train line that ran alongside the road. We passed a freight train, hauling over a hundred wagons behind it each one brimming with tons of coal, but it wasn’t just one train, we must have past twenty of the same type of trains all towing up to a hundred fully loaded wagons behind them, it took us up to five minutes to overtake the whole length of train. We wondered where all the coal was coming from, but then a huge black mountain appeared in front of us and our questions were answered. The pile of coal was so big it had a full size digger half way up it and it looked like a kids Tonka toy.
It was an amazing drive, long stretches of empty roads, nothing but vast acres of grazing land all round us and the Great Divide Mountains far off on the horizon. We arrive in Emerald, which was much bigger than we had imagined and booked into the campsite. It was a tatty horrible little site that looked more like a pikey village than a holiday camp. The static caravan in front of us had about forty old bicycles stacked up alongside it and the air smelled of fried food. It turned out it was mostly occupied by fruit pickers, who seemed to be largely Asian although the ladies next to us where from Fiji. They were really sweet and asked to come and have a look in the van. There were here for the fruit picking season and were picking grapes. Gary read an article in the paper about a lad who made $1000 in two weeks of fruit picking, you have to have a work permit and it is no longer cash in hand so you need a local address and Australian bank account but there are obviously way round this as we heard one guy on the campsite got paid double as he was working with a friend who didn’t have a permit.
It had been a long drive and Gary was knackered, we cooked dinner and then chilled for a bit reading our books.
Saturday 13th October 2010
Up bright and early, before we left Emerald we drove into town to visit a Big Thing, this one is the Largest Painting on an Easel. The 25metre high Van Gogh Sunflowers was one of the best Big Things we have found so far...well apart from the Big Banana obviously. The strange thing was that this fantast painting was just stuck in the middle of a sports field....very odd. We left after taking a few pictures and headed for a town called Sapphire and then on to Rubyvale. We stopped in Rubyvale for a slap up breakfast before heading off and doing the walk in mine tour. All round this area are little while posts with number on, these are people’s claims and for a fee of $9.05 a month the whole family can mine that area. Sapphires are the main money makers and are what all the prospectors are looking for. There have been a few finds here where the sapphire has been the size of your fist making the miner instantly rich.... $50,000 the last one sold for uncut. But most of the sapphires and ruby’s are size of your thumb nail and are only worth any real money once they have been cut and polished. We weren’t tempted to buy tools and start digging, firstly you have to dig an opening 25 metres deep, Sapphires grow at a certain depth, then you’re digging in a space that is only waist height, so it’s back breaking work and after all that you may only get a hand full of gems and to make them worth anything you have to find and pay someone to cut and polish them. No not for me, but the tour of a working mine we did was really interesting and well presented....but no free testers at the end....shame!!
We left Rubyvale and headed back towards the coast, stopping overnight in a town called Clermont. The road to Clermont was a tiny back road, used mainly by the locals. We saw very little traffic on it but we did see a very large brown snake slither across it in front of us. Probably one of the most deadly snakes in Australia, we didn’t stop for photos. We also had a family of Kangaroos, bound across not too far in front of us, this made Gary slow his driving down for a bit and keep a keen look out. However the best find of the day was the emu running alongside the van at breakneck speed. Sadly, much to my annoyance, I didn’t manage to photograph any of these sightings because before each one appeared I had my head in a book either reading the map or finding a campsite and although I saw them I couldn’t respond quick enough with the camera. So you will just have to take my word for it.
After all our exciting sightings the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, but the countryside was so beautiful that it didn’t matter. Green is the best way to describe miles of trees and fields, every shade of green imaginable is laid out on both sides of the road like one long fantastic painting. The only things breaking it up this prefect image are the scorched trees making black lines in the green. Following us all the way through NSW and into Queensland is the sight of blacked trees from bush fires, a constantly reminding us that this country is frequently at peril from the elements, even the most built up areas.
Weather Rain 28 degrees
We arrived in Clermont a small town that really is in the middle of nowhere. We set up the van, put the awning out as it was raining but very humid so sitting in the van with the door shut wasn’t an option. We read our books until dinner time then made a quiche and ate outside, we stayed out drinking until the bugs started targeting us and the frogs got so loud we could hear ourselves speak. The van had cooled off so we set up the bed and watched some TV.