It is quite sad to be leaving this place but we want to go back up to Blackwater where John hopes to get on a tour of the coal mines in the area. To start with we have to backtrack to Rolleston but then we take a short cut along a back road that is partly unsealed and isn't even an option on Maps.me but it doesn't prove to be too bad and takes a lot of kms out of our journey.
The terrain has changed yet again and we can see into the distance but the area is mostly scrub hosting a few cattle here and there but the tarmac'd road looks new along most of the 100+ dead straight kms.
We get to Blackwater and check in to the Motel Site that also has power sites for motorhomes and is situated across the road from where the mine tours start. Unfortunately we have discovered that they don't have enough people for tomorrow's tour [John was the only one!] so he's booked in on Wednesday's tour which means we will be here for two nights. This site is $25 with power, Wi-Fi, has great showers, free washing machines and driers and even provides free washing powder. There is also a canteen on site as a lot of cabins and permanent caravans are occupied by coal miners so during the day, the place is either empty of day workers or the night shift workers are sleeping.
Tuesday 9th May
Another beautifully hot sunny day so we set off to see the lookout that the manager at our campsite told us was worth seeing. Having driven 30 kms to the turnoff for Blackdown Tableland National Park, we found the road closed for maintenance so had no alternative other than to return. We stopped off to buy food and a cooked chicken for just $7.90 will do us for two days.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading.
Wednesday 10th May
Having stayed here an extra day so John could join the mine tour we get another disappointment with a phone call telling him the tour has had to be cancelled due to the overnight rain making the roads for the tour bus too dangerous.
We pack up and head off to Rockhampton and to the camp site at Kershaw Gardens where we stayed before. We spotted 4 kangaroos just beyond the roadside on our journey at different locations. They all looked miserable in the rain.
The place is filling up fast with lots more caravans, huge motorhomes with slideouts and a few campervans too. By late afternoon the rain has stopped and blue sky starts to push the clouds away. The forecast tomorrow is hot and sunny again so I'm starting to trust that will be the case.
Thursday 11th May
We set off towards Yeppoon and after visiting the Info Centre have decided to think about taking a boat trip out to Keppell Island tomorrow and then a glass bottomed boat trip which sounds exciting. Whales start their migration from June so I'm hoping we may see an early one although they are probably a lot further out than we will be able to see.
We take a walk around the town itself with a path that takes us past yet another enormous bat colony. There are many millions of them spread over a large acreage of waste ground covered in trees that the bats cling to. The smell is horrible and we have learned this is from sweat glands the exude to recognise each other by and not their droppings which you would assume. I can certainly recgnise them by their smell now!! I can't imagine how black the sky will be here at dusk when they all fly off to feed.
We then move on to Bluff Cove to book our trip for Friday. We walk up loads of steps to a lookout which was a lot easier coming down than going up but the view was jaw dropping!! We can see Keppell Island from here easily and hope the weather is as good tomorrow as it has been today.
Next stop was Emu Park along the coast. There is a monument here called the Singing ship and basically it looks like a huge sail but has strings attached from he ground to the tip that hum in the wind, hence the singing ship name. We walk along the Anzac boardwalk to a memorial and a fantastic see through painting showing soldiers landing on the beaches but the horizon in the picture lines up with the actual horizon through the top see- through bit. Difficult to explain but brilliant to see in reality. The artist is British of course!
Friday 12th May
We wild camped last night at Bluff Cove and this is the view at dawn from just in front of our van.
We left here to drive the short distance to Rosslyn Harbour from where we are catching the Seacat ferry across to Great Keppel Island. The boat leaves at 9.15 am and the sea is quite choppy but the sun is shining so we are hopeful of a good day ahead. Once on GKI we follow our map on a walking path up to a lookout which gives spectacular views of the island. We spot a beautiful Sea Eagle soaring above us and meet up with another couple from Brisbane who are doing a tour of Australia, house sitting along the way as it fits in with their journey.
Back down on the sandy beach we eat our packed lunch and wait the arrival of our glass bottomed boat for a tour of the coral reefs. The sand here is fine and white and smooth and is suprisngly cool to walk on barefoot cosidering the temperature is close to 30 degrees. We walk along the sand while we wait and imagine we are on our own desert island. There are only about three other couples along the whole stretch, it's unreal and feels as though we could be on a movie set.
Eventually our boat arrives and eight adults plus two small children are taken out to the reefs where we peer into the water through the plate glass windows and see the corals below. We see a samll shark, a turtle and a sting ray plus many different types of coral with an enthusiatic commentary from our young skipper. Back on the shore we are soon joining the Seacat for our return trip across a much calmer sea.
When we arrive at the car park we notice a tall pylon with a huge nest on the top and the head of the Sea Eagle peering at us from the top. I'm not sure why exactly but I was underwhelmed by the coral trip and more excited about seeing the big bird!!
We drive back to our spot at Kershaw Gardens in Rockhampton in the late afternoon and plan the next part of our journey. As John missed out on the coal mine trip we are aiming for Biloela again and hopefully to go to the Callide Mine lookout.
Saturday 13th May
We arrive at the campsite to find there is a rally here this weekend so nearly all places are taken and at first we are told they can't take us but we've talked them into a non-powered site for just $10.00. The showers here are fantastic and the powerpoint in the shower room is fine for me to use the hairdrier so that will do us fine for tonight.
We drive up to the scenic view and John plus three other men spent 10 - 15 minutes staring at this dirty great hole in the ground which for some reason seems to hold a fascination though what, I can't imagine? It's a man thing!!!
It's still very warm here but cloudy today although the weekend looks promising.
We drive out to the local RSL Club for a meal tonight having discovered there will be a three course meal available for $23, however once we get there, the lady politely enquires if we are 'seniors'. I explain that although I am I cannot offer Australian Senior card as we are British. She decides that doesn't matter and gives us both the senior rate - just $15 each. This is truly an excellent deal with soup to start, a choice of 4/5 meat dishes with veggies, potatoes, rice or salad and a chocolate mousse to finish. A great meal washed down with a glass of Merlot.
Sunday 14th May
We leave Biloela [the name means white cockatoo in Aborigini] and set off toward Gladstone although we've decided to give the town centre a miss as it's Sunday so it'll be pretty much closed. We divert to Boyne Island and Tannum Sands on the coast. There is a lively family atmosphere here with all the picnic tables taken up by people enjoying Sunday Lunch in the sunshine. We take a walk along the almost deserted beach then head of to Bororen and our chosen camp site for tonight. We need to catch up with some washing
We can't believe we only have two weeks left, it seems to be going quickly now.