East Coast of Australia from Mackay up to Hervey Bay
We are on the trip from Cairns to Sydney. On the long way alongside the east coast in southern direction there are a lot of small cities that are worthwhile for an intermediate stop, depending on the way one planned his time schedule. In the following I will describe the places I visited during my long trip, partly only for a few hours. But those who cover a long distance by bus likes to have a stop in between for a little sightseeing.
Mackay - Sugar Capital of Australia
Mackay is actually considered as a typical tourist city at the east coast. It is a small city of approximately 80.000 inhabitants and is located at 900 km northern of Brisbane, the capital of the federal state Queensland. Mackay is also called the "Sugar Capital" of Australia, as there, more than a third of the sugar of the country is produced.
By traveling the famous east coast from Cairns to Sydney and/or from Sydney to Cairns, Mackay is quasi on the way. Those who do not have such a tight travel schedule and love the arquitectural and cultural diversity are perfectly right in Mackay. Mackay is a rather calmed small city and has a nice bar and coffee bar scene at the streets full of palms. The city is considered as the starting point to the Eungella National Park with its famous duckbill platypus as also as a place of access to several tropical islands.
The blue Pioneer River flows through Mackay. The city centre is located at the southern shore of the river; At the main road Victoria St. in Mackay, also the long-distance buses as the famous greyhound stop for the hop on - hop off at the bus terminal on the Macallistar St.
During our trip we had only a few hours stay in Mackay until the departure of the next bus further to the south. Personally, I did not find Mackay to be a city where one should spend long time. For a coffee stop and for having a walk through the streets, it is very nice and relaxing, but the city is surely not the highlight of the east coast.
Rockhampton - Beef Capital of Australia
Rockhampton is considered as the beef capital of Australia and is therewith also called "Rocky"; Within 250 km, more than 2 million neats live. Of course, the best steak is served in Rockhampton. Rockhampton is a bit city and a major part country. Rockhampton describes itself as typical Australian, but the variety of the American country music, pig dogs and the famous Bundaberg rum cannot be missed.
The mighty Fitzroy River that flows across the city is considered as the biggest river of Queensland and provides the city a certain touch. But during the night, the area around the river is to be avoided. We had a bad experience there that nearly cost us all our belongings we were carrying with us. Close to the river , there are many aborigines, especially in the night time. According to the statements of the local people, they are very keen on the tourists' money. Our bus arrived to Rockhampton in the middle of the night, and as during our booking something went wrong, we did not have any accommodation.
After we walked for more than one hour across the city and still did not find a suitable outdoor sleeping place and the Fitzroy river was visible to me, we decided to lay down at the river with all our stuff for some hours until it gets light again. As we also were on the way for 18 hours we just wanted to lay down and sleep. Suddenly, two joung Australians called us from a balcony and asked us what we were doing there at that time. First I wondered what they want and only answered that we need a place to sleep. The boys screamed at us saying that in any case, we should not continue our way there as we were actually in the most dangerous area and that there were a lot of nasty people that would blag us.
First I thought they have probably seen too many criminal movies as the city was deadly silent. We continued walking a few metres and lo and behold, all of a sudden, about 10 aborigines only wearing knickers and holding beer bottles in their hands were running towards us screaming "Backpackers, money, money..." Oh my god I thought, now it's over, what shall I do now? We were taking all our luggage with us, escaping was out of question and now? Then the two boys from the balcony we calling us again and piloted us to the hotel's entrance that was opened from inside so that we could get in.
We could barely close the door behind us in time, it was like a nightmare. The aborigines jumped and screamed around in front of the hotel. I think I was petrified with shock. The two nice Australians made us then understand again that it is very dangerous what we were doing. They offered us the second bed of their hotel room for the night and gave us something to drink. By this situation, again the readiness to help and friendliness of the Australians was noticeable, simply nice. And what did we learn of that? To walk never again around at night in a strange district.
In former times, around the year 1850, the gold and copper findings in the region were the things that provided significance to the city, but meanwhile, the ores are exploited, so that now the livestock farming is what provides prosperity to the city.
Many tourists come to Rockhampton in order to get to the ship to the holiday island Great Keppel Island or because they want to explore the hinterland of Rockhampton. At approximately 23 km from Rockhampton in the Berseker Range, the Capricorn Caves are located. They are limestone caves that are spectacular during the whole year, but specially during the time of midsummer (December 1st - January 14th), when the sunrays fall vertically through the ceiling of the Belfry Cave. Ourselves, we made the tour which is very recommendable; the tour takes approximately one hour. In the cave, there is a limestone cathedral where even wedding ceremonies are held. The caves are surrounded by forrests and nature, there, a lot of kangaroos already jump freely around in the parking place.
A further recomendable excursion within the area of Rockhampton is the famous Myella Farm in the close outback. The farm is a livestock business of 1040 hectares that is located at 120 km south-west from Rockhampton. A stay at this farm can be of one of several days, as one likes. Due to the reason that it has been always a dream to me to be in a typical farm and get introduced into its way of life, as it is shown in certain movies, we decided to go for one day to the Myella farm. Unfortunately, it was not possible for us to spend more time there, but one day was better than nothing.
After having booked such a trip, depending where one has his accommodation in Rockhampton, one is picked up with the shuttle in the morning and taken back to the accommodation in the evening. First, we drove for 1,5 hours on stony hinterland roads, and the sun already fully radiated in the early morning. Only the drive to the isolated farm was an indescribable feeling, I was in a complete different world surrounded by nothing. Once arrived at the farm we were friendly welcomed and could at first go to the guest house where we changed our clothes for farm clothes.
In fact, at a clothes stand, old clothes were hanging appearing to be from 50 years ago, well ok, after each of us found something suitable and old, we were guided to the place where we could have breakfast. Phantastic, of course at open air, the fried eggs were done in an old pan at the open fire, everything really according to the old habits but really exciting. The farm was in an excellent condition, wooden houses with a veranda like in the movies. Animals as kangaroos, horses, neats, small saurians, dragons etc. were in the farm, it was a wonderful feeling.
But the heat was nearly unbearable, as subtropical 40 degrees in the shadow are not unusual, as it was the case that day. After breakfast, we got a horse assigned, and each of us was first busy with saddling etc. After a short time we went then to the livestock business of the neats. This is really not the right thing for people with a sensitive bottom and few riding experience; it was a good thing that I had some riding experience.
I felt like a cowboy and rode enthusiastically through the outback with the partly flame red earth and driving the cattle from one pasture to the next. It as an indescribable and beautiful experience, but it was also very exhausting in the heat. Unfortunately, one also sees death kangaroos or cattle lying on the meadows. But if one watched the kangaroos jumping around, one rapidly forgot the sad images. One either heard the snakes fizzling as also the lorikeets chirping.
After the cattle drive and the two hours ride afterwards in the outback and everybody attended properly his horse, we first had barbecue lunch and a small break.
In the afternoon, we had the possibility to do a motocross tour through the outback. And what if one does not have a license? No problem, in the Australian outback people are not so fussy. We got a training of half an hour and practiced in a small parcour, after that we started for 2 hours in to the outback. We drove over hill and dale, the flame red earth - a dream!
Unfortunately, the day ended much too fast. Thus, those who have enough time should in any case visit such a farm. The people there were very nice and helpfully. We were very lucky, as when we were there, a baby kangaroo was raised in the farm that lost its mother and thus, I could take the baby kangaroo in my arms, lovely...
Bundaberg - Fruitpicking City for Restocking the Travel Budget
Bundaberg is a small city that is known by the backpackers as the fruitpicking city. Many backpackers come here to restock their travel budget. They work for hours in the surrounding farms in the fruitpicking, a bone-work that is not everyone's cup of tea, but the earnings are not bad so that one has to balance reasons.
The coast of Bundaberg is surrounded by corals, and around the city many fields are cultivated with sugar cane. The area of Bundaberg is rather very flat, the only small mountain of this area is the Hummock, from which one has an enchanting view to the sugar cane fields up to the coast that is surrounded by corals, as far as the eye can reach. The source of the famous bundy rum is, of course, sugar cane. Bundaberg is famous for its rum. Those who want to see the barrels where the gold of sugar cane for the rum matures should do a side trip to the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, and those who are already 18 years old can try the rum.
But one, Bundaberg was also known by bad articles in the newspapers , as quite recently, a female British backpacker was murdered; but anyhow, many travellers are attracted to this idyllic city.
The main reason why we were in Bundaberg was the breeding season of the turtles that takes place from November up to end of March. Close to Mon Repos at a sand beach 15 north-east from Bundaberg, together with a tour guide of the EPA Visitor Centre it is possible to watch the ocean turtles laying eggs. These tours start in the evening round 08.00 p.m. First, there is an information seminar in the Visitor Center that informs one about the breeding attitude of the animals as also about safety measures. The tourists are then divided into groups, so that not too many people get to the beach at once, so that the animals are not disturbed.
Those who want to do this tour should be very patient, as the time when an ocean turtle will come out of the water even the tour guides do not know. But we were lucky and only had to wit an hour until the first ocean turtle came out of the water. It was an impressive experience, specially how hard it is for the animals to make the long way from the water to the end of the beach, to lay the eggs (approximately 150 Stück) and by dint of great exertion creep back to the sea.
What is sad is, that only few of the eclosed animals will survive, as on their way to the sea, many will be caught by snakes, birds or crocodiles. It is in any case a recommendable excursion and those who think that they could lay on the lookout on their on are wrong, as the beach at which the animals come to breed is widely barricaded.
Hervey Bay - Dream Beach of 10 km Length
In order to understand why the place is regularly visited by dozens of tourists, oneself should get there, as the 10 km long idyllic sand beach of Hervey Bay that is so wide as a motor way of four trails; this is beautiful. Outside of Hervey Bay there is the industrial area of the city, but the concrete blocks get soon out of question by walking alongside the sand beach of several kilometres at the boardwalk of Hervey Bay. It is a very calmed and marked suburb area with faultless coast.
Here, people are very friendly and those who want to relax a little from the journey are here at the right place. Due to its distinctive infrstructure, Hervey Bay is additionally a suitable starting point to Fraser Island, the apparently biggest sand beach of the world.
At the harbour of Harvey Bay there is a ferry to Fraser Island departing several times a day, the transfer takes approximately 40 minutes. Hervey Bay also attracts a lot of tourists who come for the whale watching; Every year between July and October, provided the weather is fine, some tours are offered on a daily basis for the whale watching. From August 1st to November 1st, there is a guarantee to see some whales. Fraser Island is absolutely worthwhile seeing and so fascinating that I dedicated an own page to the island.
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Author: Simone Palm; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz