Driving south continued ... Day 2.

24 January 2014

After that little interlude last week where I introduced you to our new abode, it's time to complete our journey south.  We can't leave our journey part way through, so I'll take you through to the Gold Coast with us.

Day 1 finished with a glass of wine, a delicious meal and a comfy bed in Rockhampton, the beef cattle capital of Queensland. 

Day 2 began stunningly. The sun twinkling on the Fitzroy which, this time last year, was preparing itself for its worst flood in many years. 

But there was little evidence of past flooding in the city heart. The historic buildings were pristine and magnificent. An architecture from by-gone days, shaded by palms, perched high above the river. Stately and serene in the early morning. 

And, like Ayr, Rockhampton had its Christmas dress on show.

We have discerned from our travels that the best way to judge a coffee shop is by the number of paramedics ordering their morning hit.  Rockhampton was no exception.

We had a sumptuous breakfast where we found the Ambos waiting patiently.

What appears to have been the old Post Office is now home to coffee and cake and breakfast ... in the sunshine ... on the verandah. Lovely.

Across the street is my favourite shop in this city, My Sister's House, a home-wares store suited to any city, but, unfortunately, this morning it was closed ... opening at 10am. We needed to leave, to head south via a western route. Probably for the best. I might have been tempted.

As we cruised out of town, we passed the symbol of the city. Beef cattle. A number of HUGE beef cattle statues grace the central traffic islands of the city. The one on the southern entry roundabout is a celebrity after making many cameo appearances on TV news broadcasts for being just above the flood waters last year. One lone bull in a sea of brown rising water. The others must have been sooo jealous.

These bull statues also gain fame when vital pairs of their male anatomy are regularly pillaged as trophies for ... pool rooms ... bars ... who knows where. Can't you just hear the drunken slurring, "Theesse are going ssstraight to the pooool room!" And the resultant guffaws.

MLP decided the western route south from Rocky would be best. Less holiday traffic. Different scenery from the coastal route we had driven many times before. And he was right ... again. 

So, at this celebrity bull, we started west.  

Soon, we encountered coal trains stretching beyond view. Engines at the front AND in the middle to haul the hundreds and hundreds of carriages loaded with coal to the coast.

And goats grazing on land which looked so inhospitable you would wonder what they could possibly scrounge.

And, then, the elusive emus.  This time I was fast enough to snap them ... running ... on the most barren, rocky land that seems to be their realm.

Then, we entered the land of irrigation and flourishing crops in arrow straight rows.

And, soon, the town where I spent my formative teaching terms, Biloela. I remember the tears in Queen Street as I said goodbye to Brisbane, my closest friends and those illuminating University days to venture to my first teaching post ... in the bush. 

But, I should have held back the tears. I was about to meet many young, inexperienced teachers like me who loved to champagne-breakfast and party and, most importantly, loved children and teaching. Good memories.

It looked no different. It held fond memories. But unfortunately, it was off limits ... asbestos was being removed. No one allowed on site. Again, probably for the best.

So, after circling the town in a vain attempt to uncover my old shared flat, we cruised on.

Telegraph poles leaned erratically. It didn't seem to affect the power supply.

Anyone with any sense hid from the heat.

And, even in the middle of nowhere, Christmas decorations adorned the farm gates, and yards, and trees.

There were other photos but they were even more blurred!

Signs tempted us to add to our load, but, sadly, we had no space. I did ask! But MLP said no.

We passed remnants of farm life long gone.

Buildings with stories to tell of life when farms were smaller and life was hard and work was done the old way.

New farm sheds gleamed in contrast. Sadly, they may not gain the patina of age. Galvanising promises to rob future generations of the beauty of rust and ruin.

The odd Bottle tree stood alone in the paddocks. Their trunks swollen with water.

And, then we seemed to be in the land of Don Quixote ...

with glimpses of seemingly misspelled French.

The beauty of distant mountains lined the horizon ...

until we reached towns with unusual names: Gayndah, famous for citrus growing and the obligatory "big" tourist icon.

And Goomeri, famous for pumpkin rolling. Yep, pumpkin rolling! Down the steeply inclined main street during the May festival. 

Now, for me, that's a must-do one year soon.

And, at the bottom of the pumpkin roll, Cheese World, for some cheesy delights. I love cheese, blue in particular, and I know our host for the night does too. So, we stocked up.

We were now close to the end of our day's journey. We passed bush fire battered land ...

and ... camels??? Why camels??? Who is to know?

We neared our resting spot.

Famous for cattle sales at the yards,

and, the pink house ... I don't think it's pink but apparently some locals do.

It has hospitality and a long time friend and four legged lawn mowers that answer to name and visiting spoonbills and water hen and water lilies. Where else could we want to spend the night? 

Oh, and, I forgot, champagne and Goomeri-bought cheese. Perfect for our night's rest.

Our next day was short. We edged the Bjelke-Petersen Dam, a reminder of a time in Queensland politics when money changed hands in brown paper bags and the separation of powers was blurred. 

Who would know if things are ever any different?

And soon we reached our Christmas destination. Across the lake from home, our home, that we will return to one day. To relax and catch up with friends and family. And just be home ... for a short while.

Oh, and, I forgot,

 champagne and cheese

 ... and the most amazing Christmas lunch with friends.

Our most intriguing sight from this part of our journey?

This ...

Great name for a Psych clinic!

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