From the Gold Coast to Rockhampton…

For us, we would much prefer the vast empty spaces, the eternal silence and the endless golden country and blue skies, but over the next few weeks we will travel over 2,500-kilometres of tarmac along and the Pacific Coast Way, a highway that connects Coolangatta and Cairns.

The Pacific Coast Way runs the length of one of the 7-natural wonders of the world… the Great Barrier Reef, throw in some National Parks, some more beaches and a sprinkle of the unknown and this journey will soon turn into another amazing adventure I would love to share with you!

Leaving the Gold Coast our first stop after bypassing Brisbane was the fabulous ‘Glass House Mountains’ to visit friends we had met on our last road trip – welcome to our blog Marlene and Barry… and of course what started out as a coffee soon turned into an overnight stay with us parking Harry Hilux on their front lawn and pitching our rooftop tent. Thank you both for making us feel so welcome!

Brisbane was a pretty impressive city when we were there a few years back but this time we were heading straight for the Sunshine Coast and hopefully some sunshine and a camp at Noosa North Shore Campground… and so our east coast odyssey began with swapping the busy Gold Coast coastal charm for ancient volcanic peaks, lush rainforests, ocean-front campsites, roadside rest stops and National Parks.

Bypassing the many beautiful beaches stretching through the coastal towns of Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, Coolum Beach and Noosa we travelled away from the beaches until we found ourselves in lush country that made us feel as if we were in a different world.

I have written a more detailed guide of our previous east coast travels at https://tassiesnowbirds.com/2018/06/01/queensland-part-1-the-gold-coast-to-rocky-beyond-come-travel-with-us/

At Noosa North Shore we were hoping of finding a camp for the night, but unfortunately the campground was closed for maintenance, which meant our journey would continue on.

To get to the North Shore means crossing the Noosa River at Tewantin via ferry, a 5 minute trip at a cost of $5 one way per vehicle.

The area around the Noosa North Shore Campground is surrounded by river, beach and National Park and is quite an amazing place to play… it is also the start of the Great Beach Drive along Rainbow Beach, a 40-kilometre stretch of white sand, which begins at the northern side of the mouth of the Noosa River and ends at Double Island Point, the stepping off point for Fraser Island.

This drive was definitely on our list to do again but due to inclement weather and the tides it would have to wait until our return journey later in the year.

Stretching over 120 kilometres, Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand.

With its beautiful beaches, towering old growth forests, pristine freshwater lakes, and abundance of wild life including its most famous resident, the dingo (it is home to the purest dingo in Australia), it is certainly worth the detour, but you do need right permits to drive here as it is a World Heritage site!

Heading on, we passed through Gympie then Maryborough then Hervey Bay and Bundaberg. Having visited these little towns previously we only stopped at Gympie for a lunch break before moving on again!

You can read of our visits to these interesting towns at… https://tassiesnowbirds.com/2018/06/01/queensland-part-1-the-gold-coast-to-rocky-beyond-come-travel-with-us/

Gympie is where the famous Gympie Music Muster is held each year. Australia’s favourite outdoor country music and camping festival is held in Amamoor Creek State Forest Park and this iconic Aussie music festival brings music and mateship together under one big open roof, apparently offering an experience like no other.

After a visit to ARB and a late lunch in the Alford Park on the outskirts of the lovely town we headed for the first free camp we could find on ‘CamperMate’, which was only about 29 kilometres up the road from Gympie.

Gunalda Rest Area just off the Bruce Highway was a great one-night stop with only a few campers and very clean amenities.

There were plenty of roadworks happening along the Bruce Highway as we continued on the next day, consequently causing lots of delays, but we weren’t complaining as we had plenty of time… it only slowed the traffic for a bit but in the interest of road safety it was probably a good thing because it gave us a chance to contemplate the signage along the highway, and interestingly enough a great road safety campaign made its first appearance about half an hour north of Gympie with the aim of keeping the mind active to help avoid fatigue.

The road signs, which started with a sign that read ‘FATIGUE ZONE – TRIVIA GAMES HELP YOU STAY ALERT’ were situated at intervals along the highway and asked trivia questions such as – ‘Queenslands floral emblem’ or ‘Rockhampton is famous for’? Of course, they gave us some time to think about it and decide on our answer and then 3 or 4 kilometres down the road the answer was displayed on the next sign and for that period of time we certainly didn’t feel quite so fatigued.

For the the Rockhampton question the correct answer should have read – beef cattle, however someone with a sense of humour thought they would alter the sign to read  ‘beer cattle’, which bought a smile to our faces and from then on we were constantly looking for the next sign!

Next along the road was Hervey Bay. It had been a couple of years since we had visited Hervey Bay and it really hadn’t changed very much. This cosy little coastal city has earned the reputation as the whale watching capital of the world.

Heading on we passed through beautiful sugar cane country and a few small towns including the historic town of Maryborough, and the sugarcane towns of Childers and Gin Gin… and it was then on to Bundaberg.

Bundaberg is the largest town in the Fraser Coast region and is known across the land more for its rum and it’s ‘Aussie Big Things’. It is famous for the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and it’s also the gateway to the beginning of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

This company was started in 1888 by a group of sugar millers, led by Frederick Buss who had huge amounts of molasses from the sugar refining process, and no market for it.

One of the mills, the Millaquin Sugar Mill, sits right next to the distillery and although Bundaberg is no longer owned by the group of sugar millers, it still has a strong relationship with this one. Steam from the mill is used in the distilling process and, of course, all the molasses comes from the mill.

Continuing on and approximately 1½ hours later we came to the beautiful Town of 1770 and Agnes Water.

1770 is Australia’s only town named after a number and is in fact the largest number that a town is named for in the world. Google tells me that Kentucky USA has a town named Eighty-Eight.

Aside from this 1770 or Seventeen Seventy (whichever way you want to write it), is a sleepy little town situated on Round Hill Creek, which is now a protected area where amazingly building has ceased.

This area is saturated in Australian history and as its natural state has been relatively unchanged for thousands of years it is almost in the same pristine condition as it was when Captain Cook first sailed past Round Hill Headland in his ship the Endeavour and went ashore on his second landing in Australia. Originally called Round Hill the town had its name changed in 1936 to 1770 in honour of the year of James Cook’s landing.

Sir Joseph Banks also collected plant species from this area, which were noted in his journals and I could only imagine the awe as he came across hundreds of species of plants he’d never seen before: pandanus palms, banksias, Eucalypts, hibiscus flowers, and small forested valleys filled with beautiful blue butterflies.

Agnes Water, about 8 kilometres south of 1770 is a beautiful part of the world also. With only one road leading in and out of town, it is one of those places that the longer you stay, the longer we want to stay, and if you are looking for a great campground, Workman’s Beach Campground is the perfect place to pitch a tent (when it’s not school holidays that is)! It has a great beach, a great walk and a beautiful sunset over the water… a rare treat in Queensland thanks to a headland that faces west. This is also Queensland’s most northerly surf beach and supposedly safe from crocs!

It was getting late in the day when we pulled in at Boyne River Rest Area for the night. Situated on the banks of the Boyne River this is an interesting roadside stop just off the Bruce Highway and only 23-kilometres south of Gladstone.

Next day we passed through the industrial port of Gladstone. It’s industry could not be missed with all its power station infrastructure and refineries.

With its major industries Queensland Alumina, the NRG Power Station, Boyne Smelters, the Gladstone Ports Corporation, Rio Tinto Aluminium Yarwun and Cement Australia, it appeared the majority of the population were employed at these workplaces… with the dead giveaway – everyone seemed to be wearing high vis jackets and work boots!

This small industrial town is also the gateway to Heron Island, which lies approximately 72 kilometres north east off the coast.

108 kilometres further on we came to Rockhampton, or Rocky, as it is referred to by the locals. We had been here before, a couple of times actually to have our car serviced and we always find the staff at Ian Weigh Toyota friendly and welcoming. Welcome to our blog guys and I have to give a special mention to Jay for looking after us so well!

Thanks to the guys at ARB Gympie we were able to pick up our very comfortable, apparently hard to get, ‘Ol Man Emu’ chairs from ARB Rockhampton, and we also had a new set of BF Goodrich tyres fitted to ‘Harry Hilux’ at Bob Jane Tmart – all in a day’s work!

Thank you to Ian Weigh Toyota Rockhampton and Bob Jane Tmart for fitting us in so quickly.

Rockhampton is really a lovely city with beautiful heritage buildings, wide streets, a nice little shopping strip, a lovely walk along the waterfront, a great free zoo to wander round… and not to be missed –  the 100 kilometre round trip to the lovely seaside escapes of Yeppoon, a bustling little town with plenty of shops and cafés, and Emu Park  a much smaller stopover that has gorgeous views over the Keppel Island group, which are only 20-kilometres off shore and quite accessible!

Rockhampton is known as the beef capital of Australia, which was quite obvious as we drove in, and we were out and about.  

A large model steer greeted us as the ‘Welcome to Rockhampton’ sign, there were cattle transportation trucks, the local removal company had a cow statue on the roof labeled ‘remove-a-bull’ and people wore cowboy hats and boots.

We had booked into the ‘Discovery Park Rockhampton’ this trip instead of the ‘Riverside Caravan Park’ where we had previously stayed and it will certainly be a park we will return to when we are back this way.

The staff were very friendly and welcoming… thank you Megan at reception – https://www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au/ … and of course there is always the camp kitchen where we always seem to meet lots of like minded adventurous souls – welcome to our blog Tanya (Janet) from Taroom!

With our friends from a previous trip down in Brisbane, we only stayed in town a couple of days. Welcome to our blog again Barb and Nev and hopefully we can organise to meet up with you both on the road soon.

The east coast of Australia is an exciting and interesting part of our country to explore so come travel with us as we continue our journey north…

there is always somewhere on our beautiful island continent where the weather is just perfect for camping – white sand, the crystal clear blue sea, gorgeous coconut palms, and the fresh sea breeze! 

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