The scuba dive we did in the Great Barrier reef is right up there amongst my favourite days of our travels so far. The following morning saw Anzac day arrive, and although we weren’t up as early as those attending dawn services, we were up and out as soon as prime roo-time ended. We had planned a fairly massive driving day with multiple stops.Our first stop of the morning was in the harbour town of Bowen. We soon realised there was little there except the harbour, so Jade drove straight there and parked. Not in the public car-park that we walked past on the way to the end of the harbour road, she parked in the car-trailer section. We could not have looked more clueless and traveller like, but it ws still an attractive, if boring stop.
Once we left Bowen, we made our way to the famous Airlie Beach. Gateway to the renowned Whitsunday Islands, Jade’s Dad had told us it was a must-see. After finding free parking for a substantial time, we walked along the front and were initially disappointed by the actual beach. Once we found the lagoon, however, we put our stuff down and climbed in. The lagoons are getting better and better as we go, and are a really good idea. I wish it was warm enough to have them in the UK. While we let our costumes and towels dry off, I continued with 1984 with my legs in the water. Heaven.
After we left the lagoon, we headed up onto the main street and browsed the shops, before buying lunch at a small diner style place that had an offer on large pizzas. In true traveller style, we ate half and took the rest with us for another meal to make the most of the offer. We also got to watch a little AFL, live sport is always a good thing. The Whitsunday Islands name also carried a hefty pricetag that prevented us from visiting them, so we had to admire them from afar.
After leaving, we headed further South to Mackay. We knew absolutely nothing about the town, so once we arrived, we followed signs for the river and the lagoon. When we arrived at the lagoon, I was absolutely gutted that it ws too late and therefore too chilly to enjoy it; it had 3 pools and a slide! It also had proper hot showersm so we once again made use of the free facility, before heading off on our first big stint of night driving.
Once we left Mackay, there was next to nothing on the highway. No cars, lorries, and no get offs. It really was like entering nowhere, and was a little strange to drive through. After over 2 hours or roo-watching and night driving, we finally found a rest-stop to get off at. When we did, our eyes lit up as we had finally found a driver-reviver that was open (in Queensland, Aus, a driver-reviver will serve free tea or coffee and biscuits to motorists to promote resting and reviving during long stretches of driving.)
The local scout troup was running the stall, and were really fantastic. The lady who seemed to run the whole thing was lovely, and immediately began talking to us, feeding us biscuits, and kept the tea and coffee flowing. She was a fountain of information on the region, and gave us lots of places of interest to look into over the next few days of travels. It was really nice to stop and have a chat with some different people.
When we awoke the next morning, we opted to get a hot (and very cheap) breakfast from them as a break from the weetabix. While enjoying our drinks, she brought us over 6 free sausages that she said they were going to have to throw, so did we want them. We took them gladly, knowing that with our leftover pizza, we were sorted for food for the day at least. It was our first Spaceship free evening.
Our first stop on our second biggish driving day was the large town of Rockhampton. We had already heard of the botanical gardens which contained a free zoo and had decided we were going to go, but once Robyn had confirmed it was worth a visit, it was our second stop of the day. The first was at the spire that marked the crossing of the tropic of Capricorn, a bonus I wasn’t expecting. The zoo wasn’t bad considering it was free, although we were still yet to see a cassowary (I’m starting to really wonder if they are a legend) and was a really nice stop in the middle of the day.
Our second stop of the day was in Gladstone. We knew little about it, which is fast becoming a habit of our stops, but once we arrived, we found a nice harbour-side park with families running some kind of fayre. It was a shame we had to leave so soon for Agnes water as it would have been a nice pace to waste a couple of hours (and it had plug sockets in the car park). When we dived in Ayr, we asked for places we must visit as we go down the coast. One of them was Agnes Water, which neighboured the town of 1770 (yes that’s it’s name) that tourist information at Rockhampton had told us was a must-see.
When we finally made it there it was quite late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to go down. We sat on the beach and watched some surfers catching a few late waves, before heading round to 1770. We saw the camper van that helped us on our first night there as well. When we arrived at 1770, the sun was about to set. After reading the signs around the beach edge we discovered it was the only plce on the Eastern coast where the sun sets over water, so we settled ourselves down and and watched the sun go down over a very picturesque bay.
Then the drive from hell started. It was the second night drive, and I had drove both, which I didn’t mind. Until I realised what the roads were like from Agnes Water to Bundenburg at night. There were no road markings, crests and sharp corners, and then a gravel road. It was the some of the worst moments i have had at the wheel of a not-crashing car, I had never been so relieved to feel tarmac under the wheels.
We finally stopped just North of Bundenburg at a rest stop in Gin Gin. It was freezing and late when we arrived, and we were almost out of water, so it wasn’t the most ideal stop we’ve had. Still free though!