We have done it. Negotiated over 1400 km from Brisbane to Airlie Beach in the last 8 days, coping with roadworks, rain and gusty winds. All this to deliver a birthday card! With Australia Post cutting back on postal deliveries, we thought we should hand deliver the card for our friend Jane’s birthday. I have to advise that this is not a cost effective way of delivering mail, but is a lot of fun to do. We will probably stick to Australia Post in future – or maybe not says Anne.
Having dragged Anne away from Bargara we head north. Anne is happy as there is a new red dot on a Bargara coastal development plan. No commitment from us for a while yet but it does give us a placeholder in an area that we have both come to enjoy being in. The only slightly worrying event is that the sole of one of my motorcycle boots came off in a similar fashion to my hiking boot last year in Carnarvon Gorge, just before my eye problem, hopefully no more repeats!
We lunch at Tannum Sands, a coastal community outside Gladstone that I, Anthony, used to head to for a fish and chip lunch at when I visited Gladstone for business about 20 years ago. Most of my potential industrial customers for natural gas were in Yarwin to the north of Gladstone so we ride through there for old times’ sake. The three Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plants built over the last 10 years on Curtis Island are sadly not easily visible from the road. It has been interesting to see the huge expansion of an industry that I was in. Interestingly, the experimental plant looking to produce oil from shale is now repurposed as an environmental fuels plant and a site developing bio fuels has also been built. A sign of the times.
Rockhampton is where a friend Katie is expecting her first child. We had hoped our arrival would spur on the birth, but alas we do not have such powers, and will have to wait to meet the new arrival on our return journey. While exploring the town, we visit to the Rockhampton Railway station which is impressive with five platforms, reminding me of the stations in France which have more than the three trains a day scheduled.
While we like Bargara, we also wanted to see Yeppoon and the surrounding area which so we head to Emu park just 50kms from Rockhampton for a quick look and end up spending a night there! Beaches with rocky headlands and a campsite with beach access draw us in. The place is pretty full but we are lucky/unlucky? We get an unpowered site although the neighbours are noisey and a little messy.
We discover a beautiful ANZAC centennial memorial with a coastal walk highlighting not only the contributions of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force in WW1 but local individuals who served as well. A nice touch and fabulous location.
A leisurely lunch with the weekend papers and then back to our neighbourhood bats for a raucous early evening departures and an equally loud early morning return.
Given the thousands of bats roosting next to us, the clean of motorbikes and tent was surprisingly quick. We were told that it all depends on which direction they return from. I think that next time we will try to avoid such close proximity. The rain overnight confirmed our reconditioned tent is now a dry-weather only tent – the rain even came from the ground up so in addition to cleaning the bat poo, we had some drying to do also before we could move on.
A gentle Sunday morning ride up to Yeppoon gives us ocean views and a chance to think about this area as a possible place to live. It does seem busier than Bargarra and will be warmer in summer being that much further north. Yeppoon will also be in the Cyclone belt, something to consider when moving.
Here, as elsewhere in Australia, property prices have soared in the last 12 months. Low interest rates, negative gearing and the desire of many people to leave the large cities for a quieter rural life have supercharged the property market. We catch up with Brett and Yvonne for coffee, who followed a similar route to us from Vladivostok in 2018. It is always nice to catch with fellow travellers and exchange experiences, especially when we have covered the same ground although their trip was far more challenging with Yvonne having a major accident and still continuing – tougher than I am (Anne disagrees again and reminds me of having a heart attack while riding in Bhutan and carrying on for another week).
The name “Laguna Quays” in the 1990’s was synonymous with boundless tourism development in coastal Queensland. Laguna Quays in the Whitsundays was planned to have its own international airport to enable visitors from Japan primarily to fly direct to the Resort. The project floundered after some initial development and the runway is just a faded image on Goole Maps. Since Laguna Quays rise and fall was in the 1990’s, little can be found on the internet. Revised development plans are announced and then fade into nothing. No signage exists to say the development was ever there and at the abandoned security building at the entrance “Keep Out Residents only” signs abound. I was expecting to find an overgrown jungle out of an “Indiana Jones’ movie set, but no, well kept lawns and fairways on the golf course abound. We could only assume that those who purchased all those years ago are still on the hook for maintenance fees and rates.
Arriving at Airlie Beach we head for the campground where Anne has booked an en-suite campsite. A first for us and I have to say that we really enjoyed having our own shower and toilet a few steps away. Great for storage of the motorbikes’s gear as well as recharging phones, iPads, cameras, helmet intercoms etc. No more cramped tent at night with all our gear. Unlike our Streak and Storm based adventures with a three person tent, our Australian tent is definitely a two person only model.
It is great to catch up with Jane and Paul over a couple of days but any thoughts of sailing whisked away by strong winds forecast to last all week. We hand delivered our birthday card and had an early celebratory dinner with the best Roederer champagne!
We enjoy walking on the foreshore although entry into the inviting blue sea is tempered somewhat by the signs posted along the beach. Our glorious Queensland coastline come with a couple of unwelcome additions, just add water.
Our last night in the tent is taken up pouring over maps, which way next, North to Cairns, or inland and back south. We decide to sleep on it and see what tomorrow brings. Will the 40km/hr winds forecast for the coming days continue?