17.11.2015 - 22.11.2015
Having met Barry in August before I carried on my travels north, we had become good friends and were both Bikers. Barry has a Kawasaki Nomad1800, and had recently purchased a Honda Shadow 750
with the suggestion of doing a road trip together - an offer I couldn't refuse!
So I head back to Airlie and we set off south, stopping first at Mackay to fit a two way radio in the helmets. It was the first time I'd communicated on a bike and made navigating around towns much easier! Though on the downside, I couldn't sing and Barry couldn't swear, as you hear everything!
We explored the area, passed Greenmount Sugar Mill
and out to Knichant Dam for a 'coldy' and a milkshake
I met both his daughters Sheree and Tanya and we
stayed the night in Mackay before heading on through Sarina
to stop for an ice cream at Clairview.
From Clariview we headed south to Rockhampton
and up a windy mountain road to the top of Mount Archer
with great views down over the city
and cooled off in the shade
before heading down the mountain to look around the Botanic Gardens
and FREE Zoo!
This imposing structure is the bird aviary
It was amazing to have the chance to see a Cassowary sitting on eggs
and wild Ibis
nesting high up in the trees
of course there were Koalas - who spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping!
We saw Wombats enjoying the sunshine
Salt Water Crocodile - who's numbers have dropped due to ingesting the poisonous Cane Toad, unlike 'salties' which are immune to the Cane Toad.
Chimps being given afternoon tea of ice cream and orange juice
Lace Monitors - a familiar sight around national park picnic areas scavenging for leftovers
Perentile - the largest lizard or goanna in Australia, and the fourth largest lizard in the wolrd!
and sadly some areas that are ready for renovating with a little more funding
It was a great stop
but time to hit the road again
on towards the coast and to Yeppoon
Yeppoon is a quite beach town
with great fish and chips!
After an early start to watch the sunrise,
we headed along to the Marina
with this imposing Gorilla rock
and up a hill to the Singing Ship - built to honour James Cook, who discovered and named Keppel Bay
with great views out to sea
Moving on we headed south to Gladstone
Heading east to a town called 1770 - built on the site of the second landing by James Cook and the crew of HM Bark Endeavour in May 1770 (Cook's first landing in what is now the state of Queensland).
where we stopped for lunch and to cool off with a couple of coldies (apparently there's no such thing as non-alcoholic beer!)
Having rested our bottoms, we moved on to our final stop for the day in Bundaberg - famous for Bundaberg rum
where I met Barry's niece and after a meal out with the family we stayed the night.
The following morning we head north and rode east up to a town in the mountains called Mount Morgan - was founded as a gold mining town in 1882, and over time the Mount Morgan Mine has produced gold, silver and copper.
The railway link between Mount Morgan and Rockhampton was not built until 1898. Until that time, everything was transported by horse teams.
The mine was separatd from Rockhampton, the nearest port, by the Razorback Range, a formidable barrier.
Here, Barry used to work as a Station Master
So it was very interesting to look around what is now a museu, and learn all about the old ways of railway management
including this huge key
The razorback was finally conquered by the Rack Railway in 1898. The Rack incline ran a little distance over 1.5miles. The steepest gradient was 1 in 16.5 where as the original road was in parts as steep as 1 in 5. This was still too steep for a standard locomotive.
There was a cinema set up in one of the old carriages
describing the original rack and pinion track
A Renecker-Abt rack locomotive was brought from Switzerland to help out. On decent it was attached to the front of the standard locomotive to slow it down. On ascents it was attached to the rear.
The Abt rack locomotive was very powerful. It had adhesive wheels and an independently-powered engine beneath the boiler which drove pinions - toothed wheels - set between the adhesive wheels.
the pinions meshed with a toothed rack-rail attached to the sleepers, midway between the normal running rails. This gave the driving power to the rack engine and prevented slippage even under heavy loads.
There were eight engines here in total and they operated right up until 1952 when a less steep gradient deviation line was built around the mountain.
There was also a set up for the Fettlers camp, as it would have been for the men that built the railway
The Fettlers would spend a week to a fortnight away at work repairing and maintaining the railway lines. Thery were tought crew who lived in rough conditions braving all the elements. When they returned home it was often to more camping in the tent city. Showere were a tin with holes in the base strung up in a tree.
Following the closure of the railway in 1987, the station became the head-quarters of the Golden Mount Rail Presevation Society whose forsight and diligence ensured that this building would once again play an important part in the life of Mount Morgan, as the focal point for the town's tourist industry.
Moving on towards Wowan and a place called Dingo
we stopped for traditional Pie & Peas - a pie with mushy peas in the top!
and we headed out west to a town called Emerald, part of the 'Gem Fields'.
After a good meal and a night's sleep we headed a little further west to a town called Sapphire
Where we hoped to find our fortune fossicking for gem stones!
The first task is to fill your bucket with 'wash' - or dirt from a pile delivered from the mine
Then, one shovel full at a time, put it into a sieve and shake out the dust and smaller rocks
After this, there is a technique to wash off all the dirt
and shake it in such a way that all the larger stone go to the outside and the smaller ones go to the middle and the gem stones go to the bottom! so that when you tip it out onto the hessian on the sorting table, the gem stones should magically appear on top!
If not... it's then time to sift through with tweezers!
and pick out anything that might remotely look like a sapphire, or other gem stone
Before the nice lady will check through and throw out the rocks that you have mistakenly hoped to be gems!
It doesn't look much, but it's our winnings! The large red stone is a red Zircon - it has great brilliance due to its strong dispersion and high refractive index, but is brittle and likely to chip if treated roughly. The collection of smaller stones are all colours of Sapphire.
It was a fun experience and I think if I lived there I would get quite addicted - just like the stories of the local men who are very rich, but only have half a nose or ear due to skin cancer from being out in the sun!
so, with that in mind, we started to head back East
through a town called Rubyvale
and on to Clermont
It was the hottest part of the ride - nearly 40 degrees and not a lot of shade
added to the fun was the constant danger of dodging 'roos, deer and cows that grazed at the side of the road as this is where the best grass is from any rain they do get running off the road
Hot going and a lot of concentration, but amazingly beautiful in it's own way, not like anywhere I've ever been.
By the time we arrived in Clermont it was time for a well earned coldy, and the perfect place was the Grand Hotel - which used to be owned by my friend Jude in Mackay.
There was a still a long way to go in the semi arid desert before we saw green grass again.
Well, Australia is apparently the second driest continent on the planet!
This mountain near Nebo was quite eye catching
and another stop, another cold drink was welcome when we got there
As we continued east, the view changed, with water in the creeks
until we were back in sugar cane country, passing several sugar cane trains
and on further to Proserpine, and back to Airlie Beach as it got dark.
A great adventure, to meet some lovely people and see some sights of Australia not accessible on a tourist bus!
But out road trip north was only a couple of days away.....