Ambassador Journey - Townsville to Melbourne
Our final installment of our big 2015 journey, from Townsville to Melbourne.
Leaving Townsville we travelled down to Mackay. To break up the trip we stopped in at Mr. Mango a mango farm that makes some very interesting Ice Cream flavours. In Mackay we booked into the Andergrove Tourist Park. We loved the amazing birdlife present, mainly Whistler Ducks who hung around all day. Just up the road from the park is the cable ski park, which despite the wet conditions was very popular.
We were finally able to do a tour of a sugar cane mill, which we found to be fascinating. The Mackay mill is very good at recycling, using every bit of the crushed cane. The cane residue, the byproduct of the crashing system, is used as fuel for the furnaces to generate steam and power for the plant. In fact they produce so much electricity from this process they supply 30% of the power for city Mackay.
The rain was persistent which once again curtailed what we were able to do in Mackay so we decided to move on to Rockhampton. We set up base at a friends place at Glendale about 15 km’s from Rocky. Having friends give us the low down on the interesting local sites was a big bonus. We also enjoyed some sunshine – yeah! We were beginning to think the weather gods were getting us ready for our return home to the colder climate in Victoria with the over night temperatures get down to 2 & 3 deg, which is not quite as low as Victoria was getting.
We visited another Military Museum, which had a very interesting display and especially a short movie presentation following one of the local residents WW1 service history. Just around the corner from the Military Museum is the Railway Museum, which has a fantastic display of the railway history in Rocky and a great insight into the early life and development of Rocky.
A visit to the historical village on the Northern side of Rocky is a must, where you will see many interesting displays of memorabilia, buildings, horse drawn carriages, agricultural equipment and vintage, veteran and classic cars. The volunteers are very enthusiastic and are more than willing to talk to you and show you around, we were given a tour of their vehicle restoration shed where they have many projects underway.
For the food lovers Rockhampton's catch phrase is where the Beef meets the Reef and they have numerous beef cattle statues around town and some great steak restaurants!
Be sure to visit the Rockhampton Caves, which have tours hourly of the cave system. The main cave is famous for its acoustics and hosts the occasional opera concerts.
We also so took a trip out to Yeppoon and saw the damage caused by Cyclone Marcia in February, there is still quite a lot of work to be done, but this should not deter you visiting this lovely town, the locals rely on tourism. In particular we can recommend visiting Emu Point they had a very interesting memorial which would best viewed at dawn or early morning. It is a picture of the Landing at Gallipoli with the islands in the background is quite brilliant.
Our time in Rocky came to an end and we continued on with our journey South, dropping into the town of 1770 and Agnes Waters. Unfortunately there were no sites available in any of the caravan parks or the campsites in these towns so we continued on and had an overnight stop at the Rosedale Hotel. This was a lovely little find, with powered sites for $5.00 per person and good well-priced meals in the Hotel.
We arrived in Bundaberg and stopped off at the information centre to gather info on the caravan parks and the sights to see. We choose to stay at the Bundaberg East Tourist Park, which is just between the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and the Bundy Barrel, the home to Bundaberg Ginger Beer.
The following day we went to visit Bundy Bear and undertook a tour of the Bundaberg Rum facility, followed by a tasting of their products, it would have been rude not too! The range is quite extensive with some products only available onsite. For a gift for someone special you can have bottles personally labeled, as well as purchase other products exclusive to the cellar door.
Just up the road from the Distillery is the cooperage that makes the vats and barrels for Bundaberg Rum and they have some interesting barrels and products available.
It was then off to the Bundy Barrel for a tour and tasting of their products which is also quite extensive and not just Ginger Beer.
The following day we did a tour of the Bert Hinkler Museum of Aviation, which is at the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens and we loved. Whilst I knew a little bit about Bert Hinkler, the Museum was real eye opener, obviously he was ahead of his time in relation to aviation. The flight simulators were our favourite part and were begging to be tried out. I can report that I crashed a Tiger Moth, a Cessna and a Fighter Jet, I don't think I’ll get a job offer as a pilot.
Whilst at the Botanical Gardens, you can also have meal in the cafe and take a ride an old steam sugar cane train, and find out a little more about the early history of Bundaberg with a tour through Fairymead House.
We visited the craft and farmers market at Shalom College to stock up with fresh fruit and vegies, it is held every Sunday. A Top Tip: If you are area between November to March then plan a trip out to Bargara to see the turtles hatching and making their journey to the sea.
Next stop on our journey southward was a call into Hervey Bay, Maroochydore. We had planned to stay for a couple of days but as there were no vacancies it was onto Brisbane where we booked into a van park at Aspley for an overnight stop. The downside of having no fixed plans is that you can sometimes caught out with availability. Whilst we had planned to proceed down the East Coast route from Brisbane to Melbourne, with the weather conditions and forecast, we decided that going inland. The upside of not having pre-booked plans – you can adjust schedules to suit the weather.
We headed off in the morning towards Toowoomba. Top marks should be given to the Brisbane Motorway planners, they have excellent motorway network, which we were able to negotiate with assistance of our GPS. From Toowoomba we travelled in the rain again and arrived at the Moree Show Grounds where we set up for the night, followed by a short stroll across to the RSL for dinner.
After Moree, we travelled down the Newell Hwy through Dubbo finishing up in Forbes at the Wheogo Park Campsite. Due to rain they had received the area was quite wet and muddy, we were not able to park as close to the Lake as we had in the past visits. A meal at the RSL in town took care of dinner.
We moved on the following morning and headed to Rutherglen and stayed at the Rutherglen Tourist Park for a couple of days. We indulged in a touch of wine tasting so we could stock up the supplies back at home. With final push towards home, with a minor detour to Brown Brothers at Milawa (more wine tasting required!) our adventure came to an end.
I have a passion for statistics and smart phone apps, so in my next installment I will post some interesting statistics on our trip.
Till next time safe travels everyone.
Russell & Rhonda