February 14th – February 16th
After leaving Bundaberg, we decided to actually plan the next couple of days, in order to do something that could be classed as enjoyable. We drove for around an hour and a half to Agnes Waters, and to the town of 1770. Agnes Waters itself is a lovely little town, although the options for entertainment are limited. Just up from there however, is a town built on the site of James Cook’s second landing in Australia, a brilliant piece of history that Paige and I failed to notice/care about until after we left. We’re not big on the history of small towns, or the history of anything really. 1770, otherwise known as Seventeen Seventy (depending on how lazy you’re feeling), is a lovely little town, with a large array of small beaches and boardwalks, and is the most northern part of Australia that you can surf in. Unless you like being attacked by a shark, in which case I advise you go head further up towards Cairns, where sharks run rampant and you can surf for as long as you like, before you get eaten. The tide was in and so Paige and I had a little photo shoot in one of the trees that was half underwater. Then we realised how many spiders were in those trees, at which point we promptly left the beach, got in the van and drove off at speeds that some would consider slightly excessive.
We stopped in a cafe called the 1770 Getaway, that the lovely old lady in the information centre recommended to us. We ate some lunch next to a pond, surrounded by a whole load of exotic plants that we didn’t bother looking at the names of. After that we drove/Paige drove to Rockhampton, as we quickly realised that there was nothing to see or do between there and Agnes Waters. The drive was a long one, and so the government have placed signs the whole way along Bruce Highway with random trivia questions on (all of which we got wrong), and although I’m not sure facts about national flowers would have kept me awake personally, I’m sure some keen botanists out there would have been most excited.
As it turns out we made it to Rockhampton without falling asleep and crashing, and visited another information centre as soon as we got there. These information centres are absolute gold mines, as they nearly always have a little old lady or two, who are willing to spend half an hour of their time telling you about all the hidden treasures in a particular area. This little old lady however, was very adamant that we didn’t leave our campsite after dark, because apparently “there’s all sorts of people out and about these days”. So, certain that we were going to die, we headed to our campsite next to the river (which is a very good place to dump a body) and settled in for the night.
We were up again at six the next morning, same as we are every morning, and took a short drive to the botanic gardens. A quick waterfall-photoshoot, and an even quicker glance at some plants later, we headed to the zoo next door. We’d heard bad things about this zoo, as it’s free, and so the cages for the animals are tiny, and we made it in for about five minutes, had a look at the saddest monkey/ape you’ll ever see, and left again very quickly. It’s sad that people are still happy to look at miserable animals, in cages that could never replicate what life should be like for them in the wild. I’d make a joke about it, but I don’t feel like I should be monkeying around with a topic like this (ha ha ha I’m never writing a blog ever again).
On a much lighter note, before leaving Rockhampton to visit the coast, we stopped at an art gallery, where they just so happened to have a Lego-exhibition going on at the time, what a tragedy. We proceeded to spend the next hour building a Lego house (Ed Sheeran eat your heart out), and I’m not sure Paige and I have ever been more easily pleased. The people supervising the exhibition, and therefore also the nineteen and twenty year old who were the only people in the whole gallery, were understandably more than a little confused at how much fun we seemed to be having. We finished off the day by driving through Yeppoon, booking a spontaneous trip to Great Keppel Island the next day, and running away from a wasp/hornet/devil-thing that was flying around us as we were in the chip shop next to our campsite.
Without drooling too much whilst writing this, I’ll try to explain how wonderful (I’ve started already) Great Keppel Island is. For $80 each, Paige and I got on a ferry to the island, had a glass-bottom boat tour around the coral reefs (the beginning of The Great Barrier Reef), and spent the afternoon on a nearly deserted white-sand beach, before getting on a return ferry in the evening. We saw our first shark, a turtle that was genuinely around a metre long, and several different rays of various types and sizes. We fed fish to some fish (how barbaric), and then had a delicious, although incredibly expensive lunch, overlooking the sea and the mountains on another island in The Keppel Island group. We hired two paddle boards (although the lovely paddle board man only charged us for one), and had a great time paddle boarding along the shoreline, with absolutely nobody else in sight. I can’t say that Paige, who has the strength of a four year old, managed to get very far, but the entertainment value of her falling off every thirty seconds was worth double, if not triple what we paid.
I’d try to explain to you how brilliant the day was, but I really wouldn’t be able to get across to you how fantastic it was; I’d go as far as to say it was my favourite day that we’ve had since leaving England. My only two complaints would be that: we had to leave, and I really, really, really don’t like sand.