Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Promised Land...for Campers

Aug. 8th Sunday. We were on the road by 9am and filled up the tank in the morning. Our milage has been about 17.4 kilometers/Liter which works out to right around 40mph. Not too shabby. We detoured about 55k to Agnes Waters and the Town of 1770 situated on Round Hill just East of Miriam Vale.

The Town of 1770 is the historical site of Captain Cooks second landing in Australia and his first ever landing in Queensland. Bustard Bay, so named because Cook shot and ate a Bustard Bird there and claimed it the best meal he had had since leaving England, is a maze of sand bars with a large tidal range. We found a concrete and stone monument to Cook on Round Hill with a plaque. My parents gave me a book before leaving for the Pacific called “Blue Lattitudes,"by Tony Horwitz in which the author, a self proclaimed, Cook aficionado travels to many of the places that Cook made landfall across the pacific including in Australia and fills his chapters with personal accounts as well as interesting journal excerpts from Cooks personal journal while painting a picture of what a bad ass Cook really was. It was very interesting following the book as we sailed across stopping in many of the same islands (Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and now Australia) and being in many of the same places where Cook made landfall for the first time, sometimes as the first European ever to visit! Very mind blowing.

A sign indicating beach access drew us to the water and after checking out the surf (there wasn't much) Will was keen on getting out the recently aquired boogy board and taking it for a spin. The water was pretty cold and I wasn’t much interested in donning the wetsuit for some small fry waves but Will was gung ho. We’re looking forward to some bigger waves on the Sunshine Coast in a few days however.

It was a bumpy road to Bundaberg and entering the town the first thing we saw was none other than an AVIATION MUSEUM! What are the odds. The museum, called the “Hinkler Hall of Aviation”, is dedicated to Bert Hinkler who grew up in Bundaberg and is famous in Australia for his solo nonstop flights back in the early days of aviation. The museum is actually a state of the art facility just opened in 2008 with all manner of flight simulators, interactive touch screens and theatres. That’s what the nice lady at the counter told us at least. It was 25 bucks a person and they were closing in a half hour so we asked about campsites in the area instead. Oh well.

We were told about a great free campsite called “Sharon Gorge” just outside of Bundaberg on the way to Gin Gin. We were surprised when she said it was free with bathrooms and water. Maybe we’re missing something here. Hmmm

On the way out of town we got our pictures with Bundaberg’s Giant Barrel and Bundaberg Rum Bottle at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery (too late in the day for a rum tour). We filled up on gas and found FREE WIFI! at a shell station which kept us until dark checking email and downloading more maps. We planned to return in the morning to update the blog. Traveling in a “Land Boat” does not solve the internet problem it seems. Wifi is still something we have to hunt out and we never know where our next “fix” will come from.

We made it to Shannon Nature park and low and behold a wonderful sign greeted us “Free 24 hour Camping”…”Overnight Stays ONLY” we had found the promised land!!! Were there other places like this we wondered?

Another cold night followed…BUT…. Having only two fleece blankets and a pillow to my name for sleeping, this time I went all out. Fleece pants, jeans, long sleeve fleece shirt, t-shirt, fleece jacket, socks and shoes ON. Fleece hat check. I had wetsuit booties with me but they were a little damp. But I did have my foulie pants and jacket. They were thick and WARM and I slept in them all night. I wrapped my feet in a blanket and used the other over top of me. Success, no cold feet and a warm night. Australia seems to have almost no atmosphere since as soon as the sun goes down the temperature plummets and in the morning at soon as it comes up it’s back to a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.

In the morning we rolled over to upload posts (like this one) and made a major leap in camping technology with the discovery of a website called OZcamp that has a downloadable GPS coordinate file of all the free campsites in Australia!!! We are now equipped with over 300 free campsites within our grasp. No more sketchy nights at highway pull offs for us we hope.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Hey Alan,
It's good to see that you're updating this site again.
in case you're interested - Those pink amphibious vehicles are LARC-Vs. They were the replacement for the famous Ducks from WW2. My Grandpa was the engineer in charge of the LARC-V project, and was the first person ever to have a license to drive one.