A Car Peloton

Monday 20th of August

Caloundra

Today was the day for a big bike ride for Keith and me. Linda decided not to do the ride as she wanted to keep Jean company and though the hills we had to climb would have been too much for her. Our planned ride was to the very picturesque town of Malaney in the mountains behind the coastal plains of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, that entailed a very difficult climb, not particularly long, but very steep for most of its way.

So after breakfast Keith and I dressed in the requisite Lycra set off for Malaney. The first part of our ride was through the commercial area of Caloundra with lots of slow traffic, so this was a rather slow part of our journey. From Caloundra we headed out the main road from there to the Pacific Motorway, about 7 Km west of Caloundra. This was a good ride as it was basically flat except for the initial climb out of Caloundra and along a good quality road with smooth and wide verges for bikes.

We crossed over the Pacific Motorway and took to what was once the main Bruce Highway to Brisbane, now superseded by the motorway. It was a gentle climb from the motorway to the town of Landsborough along the old highway so we made quite good time. Lots of traffic, but again a good smooth verge for bikes. At Landsborough we turned off the old highway for the climb up to Malaney in the hills. Immediately on leaving Landsborough the climb began. Initially it was not too steep and Keith and I maintained a good speed on our bikes, but soon we came to a sign warning of ‘steep climb’ for the next 2 Km, and was it steep! Our average speed dropped from around 15 Kph on the lower slopes, to 7 Kph.

After the very tough 2 Km we noticed, much to our relief, the road flattening out. But unfortunately for us, this was but a false flat. We took the opportunity to rest on this false flat before proceeding onward up another 3 Km of very steep road. The average speed on this section dropped to just over 6 Kph, but Keith and I battled on with one stop to recover about half way up. Finally after about 3/4 of an hour from leaving Landsborough, we reached the summit of the climb. At the summit we had beautiful views out over the coastal plains.

The Coastel Plains from the Summit

It was now an 8 Km undulating ride through very picturesque farming country to Malaney. The road to Malaney was basically along a ridge line of the mountain range, so the countryside dropped off dramatically into valleys each side of the road. To the east we could see the coastal region around Caloundra and Mooloolaba and the dense urban development there, and naturally we could see out into the South Pacific Ocean. To the south we could see the volcanic peaks of the Glasshouse Mountains; so named by our intrepid explorer Captain James Cook in 1770 because of their resemblance from the ocean to glasshouses back in England.

The Glasshouse Mountains

All of us, Linda and Jean, and Keith and I, had arranged to meet in Malaney for lunch, and about 2 Km before us reaching Malaney, Linda and Jean passed as in Jean’s car. And about 5 minutes later we all met up in the main street of the town. Due to the large amount of energy Keith and I had expended in climbing into the mountains from Landsborough, we wanted to eat immediately. As it was lunchtime, we found a cafe’ and ordered lunch.

Malaney is one of those picturesque towns nestled in the rain forest covered hills above the Sunshine Coast, so it is a popular place for tourists. Being about 600m above sea level it is always cooler than down on the nearby coast. Due to its climate and picturesque countryside it has lots of cafe’s, craft shops, and other attractions catering for the tourist visitors.

Having refuelled, Keith and I set off for the return journey to Caloundra. We were quite looking forward to the return journey as we would, this time, be descending the steep road down to Landsborough. Thus after about 8 Km of undulating road we came to the summit to which we had climbed some hour and a half previously. It took Keith and I 3/4 of an hour to ascend the hill from Landsbotough. It took 7 minutes to descend, our maximum speed reaching 70 Kph. At that speed we occupied the road for our own safety, so cars following formed a peloton behind us. This did not seem to upset the car drivers following as the maximum speed permitted for cars descending is 80 Kph.

From Landsborough we had an easy descent along the old highway to the Pacific Motorway, then the flat ride to near Caloundra. Our last effort for the day was a climb of the hill leading into Caloundra, and from there back to the apartment. In all, Keith and I had a good day of riding, with an average speed of 18 Kph that included our steep ascent of the mountain range.

A Lovely Aboriginal Name

Sunday 19th of August

Caloundra

Another cycling day for Linda and I with our friend Keith. After breakfast Linda did some washing of clothes; this time for zero cost in the apartment’s washing machine. Jean, Keith’s wife, who is a regular church goer, went off to church whilst Linda, Keith and I remained home at the apartment. Keith had arranged for Jean to follow us on to Mooloolaba, about 15 Km north of Caloundra, when church had finished, and meet us their for lunch.

With Jean off at church, the remaining three of us set off for our bicycle ride to Mooloolaba. The ride was initially over the hilly sections of Caloundra that were hard work as we had not had time to warm up our cycling muscles. But once over the hills we were on a long 12 kilometre run along a wide smooth road to Mooloolaba that was nice and fast riding. About a kilometre from our destination I spied a bicycle shop on our left and immediately stopped along with Linda and Keith. The reason I stopped was to see if Linda and I could get some new rear vision mirrors for our bikes. The shop had what we wanted and kindly fitted them to our bikes. Keith took the opportunity to buy a new saddle for his bike.

Having bought what we wanted at the bike shop, Keith contacted Jean by phone to find out where she was. Having done that we rode about 2 kilometres to meet up with Jean in the centre of Mooloolaba town. As it was now lunch time, and there was a pleasant looking bar just near where Jean was parked, we called in there for some lunch, spending about an hour thereon.

Lunch over, Jean headed back to Caloundra in her car whilst us three intrepid cyclists headed back to Caloundra by the way we had come, finally getting back to the apartment around 3 pm. Linda, Keith and I then rested for a while before having showers to clean and freshen ourselves before preparing to go out for dinner later this evening at the local Kings Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.

Re Comments: There are just too many for me to read and edit, so from now on I will erase all if there are more than 40 comments per day. If you really want to contact me regarding this blog, then go to my CONTACT tab, and email me as directed.

The Professor; Ray M

One Of Those Lovely Aboriginal Names

Comments: Sorry folks, but there are just too many comments for me to read and edit. Consequently I will erase all, so my apologies to those of you making serious comment. From now on I will erase all comments if the number of comments exceeds around 40 for the day. If you seriously want to contact me regarding this blog, please go to the CONTACT tab, and email me accordingly as directed there.

Ray M.

Sunday 19th of August

Caloundra

Another cycling day for Linda and I with our friend Keith. After breakfast Linda did some washing of clothes; this time for zero cost in the apartment’s washing machine. Jean, Keith’s wife, who is a regular church goer, went off to church whilst Linda, Keith and I remained home at the apartment. Keith had arranged for Jean to follow us on to Mooloolaba, about 15 Km north of Caloundra, when church had finished, and meet us their for lunch.

With Jean off at church, the remaining three of us set off for our bicycle ride to Mooloolaba. The ride was initially over the hilly sections of Caloundra that were hard work as we had not had time to warm up our cycling muscles. But once over the hills we were on a long 12 kilometre run along a wide smooth road to Mooloolaba that was nice and fast riding. About a kilometre from our destination I spied a bicycle shop on our left and immediately stopped along with Linda and Keith. The reason I stopped was to see if Linda and I could get some new rear vision mirrors for our bikes. The shop had what we wanted and kindly fitted them to our bikes. Keith took the opportunity to buy a new saddle for his bike.

Having bought what we wanted at the bike shop, Keith contacted Jean by phone to find out where she was. Having done that we rode about 2 kilometres to meet up with Jean in the centre of Mooloolaba town. As it was now lunch time, and there was a pleasant looking bar just near where Jean was parked, we called in there for some lunch, spending about an hour thereon.

Lunch over, Jean headed back to Caloundra in her car whilst us three intrepid cyclists headed back to Caloundra by the way we had come, finally getting back to the apartment around 3 pm. Linda, Keith and I then rested for a while before having showers to clean and freshen ourselves before preparing to go out for dinner later this evening at the local Kings Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.

Lawyers and Surgeons

Saturday 18th of August

Caloundra

After a reasonable night’s sleep and after breakfast, Linda, Keith and I prepared for a bike ride around Caloundra with Keith leading the ride as he knows the area. It was a bit hairy riding through the central shopping and beach areas, as Caloundra is both a holiday destination and a residential area for people working down near or even in, Brisbane, so lots of traffic. And naturally as it happens to be a weekend.

Having passed through the town centre Keith lead us out southward along a boulevard following the coastline. A very short distance off the coast, very short indeed, lies the shores of Bribie Island, a 50 Km long island that extends down to just north of Brisbane, wheret its southern end is a dense Brisbane residential area. Near Caloundra the island is so close to the shore that the channel between the coast and the island is really just like a shallow river.

Keith then lead us through one of the ‘Canal Estates’ that seem to spring up everywhere in southern Queensland, usually on what was once swampy land that has been built up to create residential islands with boating canals between, and then sold off by developers for lots of money. But one thing the estates provide is flat cycling circuits with not too much traffic. Keith lead us through the Pelican Waters Estate; lots of very modern homes (expensive) backing onto the canals where the owners park their large pleasure boats. Such estates usually also have manicured golf courses and Pelican Waters is no exception. I commented to Keith and Linda as we passed over a canal with lots of very large boats moored behind the houses that most of the properties are probably owned by either lawyers or surgeons, as these are the only people who can afford such places and all their accompanying water toys.

On leaving Pelican Waters and getting back to Caloundra we called into a bike shop to see if Linda and I could get rear view mirrors for our new and repaired bikes respectively as we both like a mirror for safety reasons. Unfortunately the shop did not have suitable mirrors for our bikes so we will have to wait until we return home in mid September. From the bike shop it was a careful ride back through the Caloundra shopping area and a return to the apartment where we are all staying.

Back at the apartment we sat around telling lies to each other about our cycling prowess, before having lunch, and then sitting around telling more cycling stories. You may gather dear reader that Linda, Keith, and I are keen cyclists ( Well! you already know that of Linda and I ). Keith and I have been cycling companions for many years, and if you have followed this blog in the past you will know it was Keith who did the Giro de Victoria with Linda and I a couple of years ago. Hence we have many stories to tell and relive.

The Hinterland from Caloundra
(Glasshouse Mountains in the rear)

Having sat around, it was time for a walk, this time with the inclusion of Keith’s wife Jean, around the Kings Beach area of Caloundra to a coffee spot in the next small bay to the north. I hadn’t mentioned it before, but today’s earlier ride was very windy, and now it was even more windy as we walked around the headland to the next beach. An interesting feature of this walk was that the pavement we were walking on had many small bronze memorial plaques set into the pavement every metre or so. Each of the plaques was dedicated to a serviceman from the district who had serves in the Australian armed forces since the Boer War of 1899 to the latest conflicts in which Australia has been active; Afghanistan etc.

Kings Beach, Caloundra

Further to the military history of the area there was a large memorial on the walk to the World War 2 hospital ship, the Centaur, that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off Caloundra in 1943 with the loss of all on board. The memorial was dedicated to not just the soldiers who perished, one of whom was Keith’s uncle, but to the doctors and nurses who also perished.

Finally after walking slowly for 3/4 of an hour, it was not a long way to the next beach cove, but we were reading nearly all the memorial plaques, we finally reached the cove and got ourselves coffee and cake, then sat on the foreshore for about half an hour enjoying our coffee. Having enjoyed our coffee and cake we then made our way back to the apartment. And that was it for today. Tomorrow the three of us cyclists intend riding to Mooloolaba with Jean following on in her car and joining us there for lunch.

Lots of Smoke and No Mirrors

Friday 17th of August

Bundaberg to Caloundra

No photos today as it was purely a day of travel. Linda and I awoke around 6.30am this morning, and after a leisurely breakfast we began to pack the camper ready to leave Bundaberg. We were not in a hurry as the camper was quite wet from the humidity in this area, so we really had to wait for the sun to rise fully and dry the tent part of the camper before we could pack it all away. Having packed a dry camper we finally left our tourist park on the outskirts of Bundaberg around 10.15, heading south to Childers where we joined the main Bruce Highway south.

The countryside south of Bundaberg is very fertile, and besides sugar cane, there was also many other farming enterprises such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and some crops we could not identify. The countryside towards and after Childers is undulating and sinuous, but being a, sorry, the, major highway in Queensland, it was a well made, wide, and fast road. South of Childers the countryside resembles that of the north east part of Victoria; eucalypt forests interspersed with mixed farming of various types.

Around 11.30am we passed by the major rural city of Maryborough where we pulled off the road into a rest area where we had a late morning tea and changed drivers. Continuing on through similar country we came to the next major town, Gympie, about 90 Km south of Maryborough. As it was now past our usual lunch time, we pulled into Gympie with the intention of finding some nice cafe’ for a light lunch. Unfortunately Gympie is perched on the side of some quite hilly country with lots of steep one way streets, and said streets all over the place like a bowl of spaghetti. We finally found ourselves at the wrong end of the town with nowhere to park in a maze of the one way streets. Decisions: Forget lunch at Gympie, drive on towards Caloundra.

A few kilometres south of Gympie the two lane highway changes to a brand new super motorway, so problems with slow caravans and huge trucks disappeared as we were able to speed southward on a duel lane carriageway. Since we had missed lunch at Gympie, we looked for the first opportunity available to have lunch somewhere off, but close to, the motorway. Thus around 2pm we left the motorway and headed to a small town about 6 Km off the motorway, Pomona, where we had a lovely lunch in a nice cafe’.

Having had a nice, but late lunch, we rejoined the high speed motorway and headed south towards our destination for the day of Caloundra. From Gympie onward we were into what is known as the ‘Sunshine Coast’, an urban area, once mainly a holiday destination, that is nearly a continuous urban connection with greater Brisbane, so on heading further south we will be in an urban areas for most of the way, despite the fact that Brisbane city is about 70 Km south of Caloundra.

As we approached the Caloundra turn-off along the motorway, perhaps 10 Km north of the turn-off, we noticed thick smoke south on the route of the motorway, and about 5 Km before the Caloundra turn-off the traffic on the motorway slowed to a crawl as it approached the heavy smoke. Luckily we turned off to Caloundra spending only about 15 minutes in the traffic jamb.

With the help of Mr., Google and his maps we found our way to an apartment in Caloundra where friends from Victoria, Keith and Jean Winduss, are staying for a few weeks. We will be staying with Keith and Jean for a couple of days before once again heading southward. As we had arrived at Caloundra at around 2.30pm, we had quite a time for the remainder of the day with Keith and Jean telling tails of our holiday so far, and enjoying some welcome drinks together.

As Linda and I are sitting in the apartment with Keith and Jean, news of the smoke we had seen whilst travelling towards Caloundra was a major item on the evening news. A planned burn-off by the local forestry authorities had got out of hand and was threatening nearby towns including Caloundra, with the fire now out of control, and the motorway we had been travelling on closed to traffic. Luckily, where we are staying is right on the beach and surrounded by urbanity, we are not in any danger. Reports in the future.

A Rum Time in Bundaberg

Thursday 17th of August

Bundaberg

Today after breakfast and some washing of clothes and our bed linens, Linda and I set off into Bundaberg town centre to go on a conducted tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. On the way there though we called into Blokeland, ie: Bunnings Hardware, and bought some canned gas for our stoves and the odd other hardware item before continuing on to the distillery for our tour thereof.

The distillery is not a charity, so we had to pay for the privilege of going through the place, but this did include some tasting of the products after the tour. Before going on the tour Linda and I, along with many others, walked through the distillery museum where we learned about the history of the place and rum in general. Rum is made from fermented molasses, a basically useless by-product of sugar production. Conveniently the distillery is located immediately next to Bundaberg’s sugar refinery, with the molasses from sugar refining piped directly to the distillery.

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Our tour group was conducted through the distillery in the natural order of rum production, ie: Molasses receiving and storage. The mixing of molasses and water plus yeast in the fermentation vessels. The first column distillation of the fermented liquor. Second distillation to a refined spirit, and finally the ageing of the raw rum in Americal Oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years before bottling. The ageing in oak gives the characteristic colour and taste to the rum.

Bundy Bear, the Bundaberg Rum Mascot
(On the right. Linda on the left)

Some of the rum so produced is then further aged in oak barrels that have previously been used to mature sherry, port, red wines, and bourbon. Each of these extended ageings giving more complexity to the resulting rum.

Since the distillery is a huge Bond Store for an alcoholic beverage, it is protected from those wishing to obtain the product free of charge, and to ensure the correct excise tax is paid, by a 12 Kv electric fence surrounding the whole distillery complex. Death to anyone silly enough to try and break into the distillery. Equally interesting is that because the atmosphere (air) around the distillery is saturated with alcohol, no naked flames, or anything that may produce an electric spark, is allowed in the distillery. Similarly, huge lightning rods protect the area from the thunder storms that are common in these regions during the wet season, November to March.

Having completed the tour of the distillery all were invited into the tasting room where we were permitted to try any two of the around 30 rum products made by Bundaberg Rum. We were issued 2 tasting tickets each at the start of the tour. Being a bit of an appreciator of spiritous liquors, I naturally went for the best (and most expensive) rum produced, and Linda likewise went for their best liqueur rum. These rums were so good that Linda and I spent $340 on just 4 bottles thereof. In all, I tried 2 different rums, and Linda the same.

The Museum’s Rum Collection

It was now around 1.30pm and time for lunch. We had originally wanted to spend our time in this area at Burnett Heads, the town at the mouth of the Burnett River, and about 10 Km north-east of Bundaberg, but were unable to secure a camping spot at the tourist park there. We thus made the decision to drive out to Burnett Heads for lunch and have a look at the tourist park where we had originally intended to stay. On arrival at Burnett Heads we immediately went into the local pub for a counter lunch, though avoiding any wines or beer with lunch as we were already ‘charged up’ after the distillery. Having had lunch we had a quick look at the intended tourist park before returning to Bundaberg town centre.

In Bundaberg we called in for a coffee at a cafe’ on the main street, and then went to various shops looking for replacement solar cells for one that had given up on us. In the end we didn’t get a replacement solar cell, but will wait until we are home; it was not urgent. From the town centre we returned to our tourist park 7 Km south of the town. As we are leaving tomorrow for Caloundra, about 250 Km south of Bundaberg, we will not be returning to the town.

Aeronautics

Wednesday 16th of August

Bundaberg

Linda and I had a bit of a disturbed sleep last night due to the unaccustomed traffic noises from the main highway outside our tourist park. The lack of noise late at night, then a loud passing truck, tended to wake us, but after about 5am when the traffic noise became a continuous background noise, we fall asleep until after 7am. I think this effect is rather like the noise of the surf in the background when you are camped near a beach, it tends to lull you to sleep, though I’d much rather the surf sounds rather than traffic.

Anyhow, back to our day. Linda and I intended today to be a cycling day, so after breakfast and then some clothes washing; dressed as usual in our showy Lycra, we set off for the 7 Km ride into Bundaberg. We had an adverse wind on riding into the city, and it was quite strong, c 20 Kph, so it was hard going. We stopped at a bicycle shop about 1 Km short of the town to buy me a spare tube for my bike, and then continued on. We didn’t go into the town centre, but diverted north over the Burnett River to the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens located on the northern bank of the river.

The gardens house, as well as plants and trees as for what Botanical Gardens are, a local history museum, and a separate museum dedicated to Bundaberg’s most famous person, Bert Hinkler, the aviator. The History Museum had displays of artifices from Bundaberg’s history since the late 19th century, up until the present; household items, persons of note, agricultural and manufacturing equipment etc., the usual stuff seen in such museums. Despite often seeing similar historic artefacts over and over again in these town museums, Linda and I still find it interesting to study such things and learn about the pioneers in a district. The Bundaberg History Museum was well set out and housed in a modern premise.

Having spent about an hour in the museum, Linda and I stopped at a nearby cafe for coffee and scones, before proceeding to the major historical attraction of Bundaberg; the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. Herbert Hinkler was born in Bundaberg in 1892, and from an early age showed great interest in the development of aviation in the world. In 1912 he built a home made glider and flew it at a nearby beach. At the commencement of World War 1 he went to England and joined the Fleet Air Arm ( Navy ) wanting to be a pilot. Early on during the war his inventive aeronautical genius was recognised and he was seconded to the A. V. Rowe Aircraft Company, AVRO, for aircraft research and development.

The Hinkler Hall of Aviation
(Roof is in the shape of a wing and its ribs)

After the war with many surplus RAF aircraft available, Hinkler began to look at challenging various long distance flight records. He flew from London to Bundaberg in numerous stages as was required in the 1920’s, and in doing so broke some long distance flight records for the time. He returned to England to work with AVRO on civil aircraft design, and made another historic flight in being the first aviator to cross the South Atlantic Ocean from South America to Africa. His aviation exploits became famous the world over. Unfortunately in 1932 whilst on a record breaking flight over Europe, he crashed and died in an accident in the Italian Alps. Hinkler was so well known in the world and Italy especially, that he was afforded an Italian State Funeral, and is buried in Italy.

The Hinkler museum was excellent, with displays of Hinkler’s life as a child, and then his WW1 War Service, then the various developments of aircraft he was responsible for. There are 3 life-sized replicas of aircraft in which  was Hinkler was intimately involved. The actual aeroplane he flew from England to Australia, an AVRO Baby, is fully preserved at the museum, but it is not airworthy.

Hinkler had a home in England built whilst working for many years at Southampton with AVRO, and in the 1990’s, the people of Bundaberg got together the funds to move his house from Southampton in England to the Botanical Gardens in Bundaberg, where it now forms part of the museum complex.

The Hinkler House

It was now well after lunch time, so Linda and I cycled back over the river and into the town centre to find a cafe for lunch. Having had lunch we decided to ride out to the 2nd most famous institution in Bundaberg, the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. More on this tomorrow as Linda and I are booked in for a tour of the distillery. Having found where the distillery was located, we cycled back to our tourist park for the end of today’s adventures, this time with a helping tail wind.

Bundaberg Town Centre

Below the Tropics

Tuesday 15th of August

Emu Park to Bundaberg

Linda and I had had our showers late yesterday afternoon after our 70 Km bike ride, so we though that we could probably miss one this morning provided the day didn’t get too hot as we were packing up to leave. It got too hot, so we had an extra shower after fully packing away the camper and ready to leave Emu Park. But before leaving we called in to see Cliff and Laraine to say goodbye and we will see them in November when we are down at Cowes on Phillip Island. After saying goodbye to them we briefly called in to see Phil and Dianne Dungan with the wish that it should be less than 25 years until we see them again, not like the 25 years since we saw them last time.

We drove to Rockhampton where we filled the ute with fuel then set off south. About 5 Km south of the town centre we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn to now be in temperate rather than tropical climes, not that one notices any immediate changes. Initially our drive south was along the coastal plains for perhaps 50 Km, so long stretches of straight flat roads. Despite this general state of the highway, there was a lot of roadworks going on, with lots of slow and stopped sections of road, so what should have taken us around half an hour, took an hour.

By the time we had reached Mount Larcom it was time for lunch, so we stopped here for half an hour and savoured the local home made meat pies from the general store; quite nice pies. I have mentioned before that Queensland has the most extensive electrified railway system in. Australia. But other than the isolated section of electrified line near Bowen, the main electrification behind at Rockhampton and continues all the way to Brisbane, and inland to the extensive Queensland coalfields. Thus we were following along the electrified line since leaving Rockhampton, and a very busy section of railway it is. Whilst sitting at Mt Larcom, we counted 3 huge coal trains pass by, and I mean huge. Each would have been 2 Km long, and because of their size and hence load, the railways put a pair of locomotives at the front, naturally, plus a pair remotely controlled in the middle, and one coal train had this arrangement plus a pair at the end of the train.

From Mt Larcom the main highway heads inland into the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, so from then on our journey was on curving and undulating highway, though high speed quality road, unlike ascending and descending the GDR near Cairns. I should have mentioned earlier that the sugar farming ceased a little after we left Greenhill 5 days ago, and the countryside was given over mainly to cattle farming. From Mt Larcom we were in forested country interspersed with cattle farming as far as Gin Gin where we turned off the main highway and headed to Bundaberg. At Gin Gin, cane farming again commences, and as up north, cane railways intersected our road leading to Bunderberg.

I had taken the liberty a few days ago to chose a Tourist Park in Bundaberg and I had booked us a camping spot in the park that was situated on the Burnett River that passes through Bundaberg. But on arriving at said park, we were highly disappointed with it. Firstly the camping spot we had been allocated was quite sloping despite me having requested a flat site. And secondly the park seemed quite ‘ordinary’, so we decided to try elsewhere. I phoned a few parks in the Bundaberg area, but most were totally booked out. Finally I found one on the southern side of the city about 7 Km out. As it was getting late, c 4.30pm, we had little choice for somewhere to stay save for a motel. Luckily the park we took on spec’ turned out to be quite nice. We have a flat grassed site, but unfortunately unpowered.

It was around 5.30pm, and just coming onto dusk when we completed our camp setup for the next three nights. As we had no food for tonight’s dinner, we drove back towards Bundaberg for about 4 Km, to a large shopping mall where we were able to get food for the next 3 days.

No photos as it was a travel day.

A Long Way Back for Such a Short Distance

Monday 14th of August

Emu Park

Today Linda and I did finally get to do the long bike ride as was originally planned for yesterday. Linda had taken an antihistamine tablet last night to combat the ravages of the sand flies, and it was one of those antihistamines that cause drowsiness, which was good, as she needed the sleep, finally arising from bed at about 7.45am. It took a while for the effects of the drowsy antihistamine to wear off, but she was ready to leave on our bicycle adventure for today at 10.30am. So dresses in our safety Lycra, we headed off on today’s ride. Safety Lycra as both our jerseys are fluorescent yellow.

Our planned journey for today was a ride of 35 Km to the small settlement of Keppel Sands that entailed a 20 Km ride through undulating country towards Rockhampton on a really good road with nice wide verges, and then a turnoff south for 14 Km to Keppel Sands. Lots of traffic on the Rockhampton road, but Queensland drivers are really good concerning cyclists, giving us a good clearance as they passed at high speed. The road to Keppel Sand was a good road, but a little narrow, but cars etc., still gave us a good clearance.

As we neared Keppel Sands we had dropped down to near sea level, so lots of swampy land, a feature of which was a veritable forest of palm trees in the boggy land. An hour and a half after leaving Emu Park we finally arrived at Keppel Sands. Keppel Sands is a very small village; lots of houses along the foreshore, but only three commercial premises; a Pub (naturally), a very small General Store, and a Cafe’ that was closed. Before trying to obtain sustenance Linda and I did a circuit of the town’s two main streets. The first street passes along the foreshore and has many very nice houses with lovely views out to sea. The second street has nice houses also, but they look inland.

The Perfect Spot for a House
Keppel Sands

We were hoping to get a meal at the pub to fuel our return journey to Emu Park, but the pub only did lunches on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The cafe’ was closed, so our only possible food source was the very small General Store. Here we obtained some fruit, some drinks, and some chocolate bars as fuel to enable us to return to Emu Park. We had our sparse lunch in the shade of a large fig tree at the foreshore with a pleasantly cooling breeze from off the ocean; usual raging surf, and then went for a short walk onto the usual shallow beach. In the distance to the north, 6 Km across an estuary, we could see the settlement of Zilzie where we had ridden to yesterday; a whole 7 Km from Emu Park. Had we been able to return via Zilzie, our return journey would have been 13 Km rather that 34.

The Short Way Back via Zilzie

Having had lunch and siting quietly under the shade of the fig tree for half an hour, we set off for the return journey to Emu Park via the way we had come. As we rode out of Keppel Sands we diverted to have a look at the Tourist Park there. Nice park with lots of EMPTY grassed sites. If we ever come this way again, we will stay at Keppel Sands. It took us about 2 hrs to return to Emu Park as we had an adverse wind all the way, not that we really complained of this, as the day was quite hot and the wind was cooling. Because of our limited lunch I thought that we may have possibly bonked on our return journey. Now before you readers go looking on porn websites for action photos of Linda and I in some form of sexual congress beside the road, I should point out that in cycling terms, bonking refers to an energy flat where the cyclist finds it difficult to go on. We did not experience an energy bonk.

The Town Beach
Keppel Sands

We got back to camp at Emu Park around 3.45pm and sat around for a while cooling off before having nice refreshing showers. We were quite tired after today’s cycling travels, so Linda made the executive decision to have dinner at the Emu Bay Pub. Thus at around 5.15pm we walked to the pub for a few pre dinner drinks before ordering our very generous meals. One thing one can say about pub meals in the country; they are generally very generous serves. And that was the end of today’s adventures. Tomorrow we head south out of the tropics to Bundaberg, around 350 Km south of Rockhampton.

A Stupid Place to Park a Car

Sunday 13th of August

Emu Park

There are lots of sand flies around Emu Park, and the little bastards bite, and Linda is particularly sensitive to their bite; red lumps where she was bitten and ferocious itching. Whereas I seem to be totally uneffected. Yes I get bitten, and I get red lumps where bitten, but no annoying itching, so Linda had a bad night last night, her sleep continually interrupted by the itching of the sand fly bites. OK, add sand flies to the nasties in tropical Queensland. The result of this was that Linda slept in to 8am trying to catch up on the sleep she lost last night from the itching.

We had a few really ripe bananas, so once out of bed, Linda cooked up banana pancakes for breakfast. Very nice served with maple syrup and Greek yoghurt. We had intended to ride to Kepple Sands, a resort about 30 Km south of Emu Park, have lunch at the pub there, and return home to Emu Park. But with Linda’s lack of sleep last night, she didn’t really feel like a long ride on the bikes. So instead, we did some washing; another of those continuous burdens of life and travel.

By now it was lunch time. Linda was still not feeling the best from lack of sleep, so a little reading and then a walk down to the beach for a paddle and swim. For whatever reason, sand fly bites stop itching if the effected part is cooled, so immersing Linda’s legs in cool water tends to lessen the itching. Thus a swim/paddle at the beach served two purposes; a pleasant frolic in the water, and a soothing of the sand fly bites. NB: Snd fly bites are not poisonous, only bloody annoying.

Emu Park from the Beach. Note the raging surf.

Having paddled and wet ourselves and soothed the bites, we had a pleasant walk along the beach to its northern end and then a walk back. Like Greenhill, the beach is very shallow, and again like Greenhill, the raging surf was about 30cm at maximum. The walk along the beach was very pleasant with a slight breeze cooling us, and with shady casuarina trees enclosing the land side of the beach. Looking out to the raging sea around 13 islands could be seen in close proximity, the largest being Great Keppel Island as mentioned yesterday. Great Keppel Island is a resort island with hotels and resorts thereon and anchorage for yachts and other water craft. A ferry service operates from Yeppoon to service the island.

Great Keppel Island

On returning from our beach walk we, and all others on the beach, could see a car sitting axel deep in the sand below high tide level. Obviously some idiot had tried to either drive on the beach or launch/retrieve a boat, but stuffed it up. $$$ to get the car out. Linda and I then walked up a little hill on the headland at the south end of the beach to look at the ‘Singing Ship’, a monument to the passing of Captain James Cook in 1770 in his ship Endeavour, who on passing this part of the coast named the bay in which Emu Park now resides as Keppel Bay, hence Great Keppel Island off the coast to the east. It is an interesting monument in that it represents in a modern stylish form, a sailing ship. The ‘singing’ bit comes from its rigging that is an Aeolian Harp.

How Not to Park Your Car on a Beach

From the Cook monument Linda and I walked back to our camper, everything within the town is within walking distance, where we had a cup of tea, then decided on a short bike ride to Zilzie, a small settlement about 8 Km to the south-west of Emu Park. As we were only going this short distance we did not, note that: ‘did not’, dress in the posing Lycra, but simply in ordinary clothing, ride the 8 Km to Zilzie. Not much to see at Zilzie except to say that it is a current housing development in what was a swamp, (It still is a swamp), and supposed to be a canal development for boat owners in the future. Currently it would be a haven for disease carrying mosquitos and sand flies.

The Captain Cook Monument

Disappointed in Zilzie, we returned to camp at Emu Park and had a shower. After our showers, and as it was approaching 5pm, Linda and I thought it would be a good time to visit the local pub for a few pre dinner drinks. On walking past cousin Larraine’s caravan we informed her of our intention to visit the pub, as her husband Cliff was not around she demurred to join us immediately. But as we were about half way to the pub, Larraine and Cliff pulled us beside us in their car, so we completed the journey (about 500m) to the pub with them. There at the pub we enjoyed some pre dinner drinks together discussing grand children, Hawaii, and the stupid American gun laws. We all then retired back to our respective abodes in the tourist park for dinner.