Rested up after our stay at delightful Carmila beach, the Bruce highway took us further south and on to wonderful Woodgate beach, just south of Bundaberg.. There were of course a few very worthy pit stops between the two which made for a busy and, in the end, a very enjoyable 10 days or so.

With 100% success ( to date ) pub camping, historic Marlborough ( and the Marlborough Hotel ) seemed like a logical overnight break en route south. Great food ( again ), great company and an excellent old pub with great facilities – what’s not to like ? The pubs have become one of our favourite places to park up.

Historic Marlborough Hotel.
Another very popular “pub” park up – the Marlborough Hotel, Marlborough.

Rockhampton was the next major centre southbound – lots of history and character in its downtown and and every kind of big box store you could imagine. Nearby Yeppoon is the getaway coastal ( beach ) stop for all Rockhamptonites so we made a point to add it to our itinerary. Nothing especially famous there but a nice lookout and beautiful beach – Yeppoon is one of those places that folks from the cooler southern parts of Australia love to holiday/retire in; warm enough year round, yet lacking the brutal summer humidity that afflicts the cities further north. We could see the appeal !

Historic ( and tropical ) Rockhampton.
Beautiful Kershaw Gardens, downtown Rockhampton- The council provides free camping right beside this this park in what is one of the most sought-after park ups on the Queensland coast.
Kershaw Gardens free-camping, downtown Rockhampton. Full, always, and usually by noon.
Beautiful Blue-Faced Honey Eater, Rockhampton
View of Rockhampton from Mt Archer NP
Selfie, Yeppoon.
Beach, Yeppoon.
Waterfront Esplanade, Yeppoon.

While back in Rockhampton there was a moment of sheer panic when I had somehow lost the vehicle keys while we were shopping in the Stocklands mall. Running back to the mall and retracing the steps of our various store visits initially yielded no keys. I then went to the front desk of the last store we had shopped in ( Coles ) to show the Customer Service lady a picture of my keys ( I had it on my phone for reasons I can’t recall ). She smiled, turned to a drawer behind her desk, then looked at me and said, “ Do you mean these ?”. Mercifully a kind shopper had seen them on the floor and handed them in 15 minutes before . Sadly, he’d not left a name or number so I could not reward, nor even thank, him. One of those things I’ll just have to pay forward I suppose! We are certainly crossing paths with some very kind strangers.

Our keys, recovered !!!
Nereda, the lady in Coles who saved me !

Leaving “Rocky” ( as it’s affectionately known ) we noticed an Aldi store. Needing a few supplies ( and loving their selection of discount European chocolates ) we popped in. Parked up, literally beside us, was a very European-looking overland rig ( a 4×4 Iveco Daily with custom “box” on the back). Upon closer scrutiny the rig was indeed sporting German plates and a large “D” ( for “Deutschland” ) emblazoned on the back. We’d by now been in Oz for over 6 months and had yet to spot a single other foreign vehicle (much to our surprise) especially since we had done a pretty well travelled “tourist” route. If there had been more out there, you’d think we might have seen some ! There just obviously are not as many people doing this as I had expected.

Uwe and Silke’s Iveco Daily 4×4, Rockhampton

Turns out we had more in common with Uwe and Silke ( the owners ) than the fact we were both travelling in foreign rigs in Australia – we had both previously done the Pan American highway, both come in to Australia on car carriers, we had both used the same shipping line ( Wallenius ) and both had taken exactly the same route, via the US East coast, Panama and NZ. We got off in Melbourne, they in Brisbane. While we waited almost 6 weeks for ours to unload/clear quarantine they waited only 3 ( they’d only been in the country 4 weeks – perhaps it was a sign that shipping delays were improving ? We hope so ! ). We enjoyed a long chat, swapped personal details and traded tips – always a very enjoyable part of meeting others on the overland trail.

Inside. Very spacious !.
Uwe borrowed my extending ladder to paste the required “Caution, Left Hand Drive” decal on the rear of his van

Bundaberg ( and more specifically, nearby Woodgate beach ) were places we’d been excited to revisit. The requisite “Bundy” rum tasting at the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery complete, followed by a tour of the town we headed straight out of town for a couple of days R and R at nearby Woodgate. Still as picturesque as ever but like so many places, especially post-Covid, formerly tranquil Woodgate is seeing an influx of residents drawn to its great weather, long, golden beach and quiet surf, shielded as it is by its proximity to northern Fraser Island not too far offshore.

Lois, sampling some “Bundy” rum.

As we closed off this blog we’d made it to well known Agnes Water and the town of 1770. We’d been a bit underwhelmed by both places after our previous visit ( perhaps because they both get so much hype ! ) so decided to stop in again. Agnes has a fantastic beach ( and quaint town ) and 1770 a beautiful lookout but beyond that, unless you are a keen fisherman, or flying out to Lady Elliot island ( the most southerly extremity of the Great Barrier Reef ), there’s not a great deal to do. Despite enjoying a pretty cool eco-camp spot this time around, our second visit probably didn’t much change our first impression – definitely “nice” but plenty of spots in Queensland we liked better.

View from 1770 coastline.

With popular Hervey Bay literally just down the coast, we are pretty confident that next week’s sights and activities will offer more things to our liking. I’m promised a surprise by Lois – who knows what awaits ???

Till next week….

Postscript : Some Lucky Breaks

Occasionally you look back and think how lucky you were ( or were not ) to be at a certain place at a certain time, and two such instances recently came to light.

The Gibb River Road would normally not be closed in June but this year unseasonal heavy flooding caused the road to be cut making for extraordinarily long detours for those caught up in it ( news alert below): very glad we got through ahead of the closure – it’s a looooong way to go to have to turn back !

Lucky we travelled the famous Gibb River Road in May/June. Last week we heard that unseasonal rains had closed the road in the middle of high season. The road was just destroyed – shows how difficult it is to maintain these outback roads.

In the second, a saltwater crocodile ( yes, those are the nasty ones ) was recently spotted in the Bitter Springs thermal pools at Mataranka ( NT) forcing their temporary closure. It’s a place that’s normally full of tourists and school kids, some of whom were there at the time. We’d been there ourselves just a month or so ago so the news of the sighting and immediate closure struck pretty close to home. We’d always wondered how officials knew that “salties” were in some places and not others – clearly there’s a bit of guesswork in that. See story below ( we actually pulled up our GPS tracker to confirm we’d swum in those pools and not the other Mataranka hot pool – indeed we had !).

Saltwater crocodile sighting in popular tourist thermal pools.

Yep, it was the one we’d been swimming in !