FRIDAY 15 MAY ROCKHAMPTON TO MACKAY 354kms
We left the park just after 8am. It does make departing in the morning much easier, when we can stay attached.
We stopped briefly to take a picture of the rig in front of the big marker that indicates the Tropic of Capricorn. One side has a sign saying temperate zone and the other side says tropical zone. So, we are now officially in the tropics!
Then we crossed the Fitzroy River bridge – that is one big river! It seemed to be very full, swift, and brown. I am not sure if that is normal or whether they have had rains upstream. The road bridge, and the rail one alongside it, are pretty high up.
Bought diesel in Rockhampton – 67 cpl.
Again, we drove through mostly grazing country; the cattle now are predominantly the grey, humpy backed Brahman types. Sugar cane appeared as we got closer to Mackay. It was growing almost right to the road sides and was not fenced off. It is about 8 feet high now, so we were driving through corridors through the cane.
In Mackay, we booked into the Big 4 Beach Caravan Park. It took considerable navigation through the town, to get there, but I wanted seafront. It cost $16.20, and again we were able to leave the rig hitched up.
I saw an unusual bird flitting around and sitting on the fence wire. It was brilliantly coloured, very shiny. and with a couple of narrow long feathers sticking down from its tail – not a very big bird. I identified it afterwards as a Rainbow Bee Eater. The rainbow part is apt.
We took the bikes off and cycled off to find some shops for some bits and pieces, but found we were not near any major centre. The parts of town we cycled through were rather run down and uninspiring. We rode 8kms looking, before giving up on the shops idea.
Back at the van, we walked through the dunes to the beach and were surprised that there was no sea! It was about 1500 metres out – it was low tide. So we walked along where high tide would be. In the distance was another surprise – the lights of the 3km long Hay Point pier. It loads coal from the mines west of here, and has to be that long to get far enough out to reach water deep enough for ships. It is pretty at night.
In the absence of shops, there was also an absence of our Friday fish and chips. So our tea was a gourmet meal from tins – baked beans and creamed corn, on toast.
Whilst eating tea we were considerably startled by some very loud thumps and bangs and much gunfire! Eventually worked out that it was the army playing war games, and they may have “attacked” the nearby airport. Well, we hoped that was what it was! The “battle” went on for half an hour. The defence forces are a very obvious presence up north.
We have been conscious, over the past two days, that we are bypassing any number of interesting places along the coast. We will come back to these, at a later date – probably in a later year! For now, if we are to achieve our next big goal for the year – Cape York – we must press on northwards.