The Long Long Road
Trip Start Dec 25, 2006
26Trip End Jan 30, 2007
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Getting up before 08:00 hours was ummm entertaining as I had been drinking the previous evening and was rather tired. Plus the sleep had been light and disturbed as I kept thinking someone was trying to break into my room from the balcony. You could gain access really easily, as I was on the first floor with a large balcony. Someone could have easily climbed onto the cars parked below the balcony then jumped up and using a little scrambling, heaving could have easily access the room. Consequently I didn't sleep with the windows open and didn't sleep that well either. As I had discovered early on that the window catches where extremely fragile and hopeless. They are simply small metal loops that hook over the frame not impressed was definitely the order of the day/
Checking out early as I wanted to get to Airlea beach asap in case I couldn't find anywhere to stay
Driving exorable northwards, I saw lots more sugar plantations and their railway lines. At first I thought no trains ran along them as they where full of weeds and plants. But then you would come access a sign that would say, 'danger sugar plantation trains run from so and so to so and so'. Ummm, Good thing that they don't harvest in the depths of my winter, or the Aussie summer really/
Passing through Rockhampton, I have to say its way prettier that Gladstone, it was lovely, the houses where nicer and the town centre was also a lot prettier as well. But one major thing that was a little annoying was the fact the Bruce Highway runs directly through the centre of it. Lots of stop, start for lights and the occasionally roundabout. If I lived on this road I would get fed up with trucks etc etc driving through weird times in the morning and night. Crashing through their gears and their engines making those grinding noises, breaks going pppfftttt and sssshhhhsss. Terrible, not a symphony to my ears but a horror story, a cacophony
The road up to Childers (check on map) was busyish, but from then on I barely saw anyone. I was lucky to see another car for 30 minutes or so. Where did all the traffic suddenly disappear to, it wasn't even that late. The suddenly a queue of traffic appear. What on the earth was going on, no traffic queues since Sydney even those where short. Then crawling past a sign that said burning off, why on the earth would they be burning off vegetation when the fire risk is so high. Driving past any fire station or into most national parks, bar the ones on the journey up and down from Armidale where the car was having a wonderful power shower on the outside, the fire risk states it is very high all at level three. There are five levels rather like the avalanche risk scale with five being the worst and one the least. Certainly everything is tinder dry down here. The only reason I could see was this strip of land being adjacent to the railway line and was under some telegraph or low power cabling. The smoke was incredible dense, rather like the rain I had crept through up around Armidale. After inching my way along the round I came out of the smoke and saw the gentleman responsible for creating the smoke. He was pouring something from a can, a flammable liquid that's for certain and the fire it produced was bright orange and red, seeing the dancing flames flicker brightly and feeling the heat was unnerving so close to the car. What would happen of the wind changed direction. There was no fire engine available.
Eventually at the head of the queue of traffic was someone operating a stop and go board. Both these people were woman, and their uniform was long trousers, long sleeved shirts with the collar turned up, hats the best being a huge floppy straw thing which was tied under her chin. The obligatory safety books and they also wore gloves. Nothing was on show; the sun is so dam fierce that they were desperately trying to stay out of it. Also everyone working on this burning off carried in a waist belt a large bottle of water. You needed it, as I busily guzzerling it inside the car where it was undoubtedly cooler.
Rockhampton is known as the beef capital of Aus according to the guide book. So where are all the cattle then, plus the whole area looked so dry. Until now I had driven through lots of lush fertile looking areas. This place looked like a desert (photo) it was so dusty compared to what I had been through even earlier that day.
Lunch consisted of a lovely ice-cream - unhealthy as it was made with cream flavoured with coffee and it melted as if the ice-cream had a death sentence and by melting the ice-cream would avoid this death sentence. It melted quicker than I could eat it, down my fingers, hand, splodging all over the table and magazine I was attempting to read. Gawd dam it. Also drinking a smoothie this being the vaguely healthy part of my lunch. This café was in the middle of nowhere, well everything by this time was in the middle of nowhere for Australia even if it is adjacent to the Bruce Highway. Anyway I was bored with driving by then as I had covered 350 km's in around four'ish hours. NO end of changing the music helped either. Coffee with Walnut ice-cream, plus a bottle of Coke to keep me awake for the next 400 km's or there abouts. The Bruce Highway was a little dull by then as I didn't even have anything to overtake and there are only so many trees, bush I can look at after a period of time. Just needed a break. Reasoning behind my lunch choices, I needed water and the further north I was going this day the hotter and sticker I got. Finally the weather was warming up. Thank goodness for that.
By now the Corolla was used to the speeds I was asking it to undertake as I needed to get to Airlea beach before the various shops and more importantly the tourist office would be shut. By 16:15, I was wondering if I would hear from them, my map holder and I where getting a tad worried. 16:30, with the radio blaring whatever music that was appearing out of my ipod, I picked up on a sound that hadn't been their before. I shut the window going oh dear, what's wrong. But it was nothing other than my Aussie phone telling me that I was trying to be contacted. A rather protracted conversation then occurred with the tourist office. Earlier in the day I had stated my budget and requirements for the next couple of night. In the end I repeated myself over 5 times trying to get across I didn't want to stay in a backpackers place. Too old and frankly I didn't want to share. At first they found me a place for $55 per night. I gulped and went err does it have this, this and this. Not certain, left me alone for another 10 minutes. No was the answer, great but eventually they found me a two bed apartment for $200. A little more expensive, but it fitted all my requirements of secure parking, not on the ground floor and having broadband access. Brilliant. Turning up, I drove up and down airlea beach's high street three times before giving up. I couldn't see it. So eventually stopped and hunted for the tourist office and asked for some help. They told me where to find it and I still couldn't, in the end I literally stood outside the Laundry, having parked the car behind it and looked for the sign that said downtown Airlea. Then I went, yes found the bugger, it wasn't that obvious by the signage as it didn't stand out at all. Checking in, I was pleasantly surprise how nice it was (photo). Ok the bricks hadn't been rendered, only painted with white paint but everything was clean, neat and tidy. Plus the motel not only had air-con but also ceiling fans. Brilliant as it meant I didn't have to use air-con, I really hate it in bedrooms as air-con is far too noisy