Thursday morning I got out of my tent in a short break of the rain. The night before I had about 50 mm rain fall, but my gear kept more or less dry, and the tent started only dripping at a seam near a velcro. I jumped on my bike and started a short ride along the coast next to the cliff, the view wasn’t that spectacular, and after a few minutes it started again to rain. So I searched for some shelter in a nearby cafe, which had definitely a nice garden, which I could look to while the rain was ongoing for additional two hours or so. After the coffee I wanted to do a walk through paper bark trees, but the complete track was flooded at least as deep as the knees due to all the rain of the last days. Well actually it’s rainy season here in Queensland.
So, I went back to my tent, get a small snack for lunch, and pitched down my tent after the rain stopped. Then I cycled to the town centre to return my bicycle. The way back to Miriam Vale was a bit of a problem, as the shuttle was pretty expensive with 75$. So I started hitchhiking, and apparently a lot of cars passed, but nobody was willing or couldn’t give me a lift. After less than 30 minutes I got a lift from Stefano back to Miriam Vale. We had a nice chat during the next 40 min. He’s originally from Italy but has an Australian wife and it’s own small business in Agnes Vale. He told me that a shuttle from Gladstone would cost 300$, which is ridiculous high. In the end I catched the train from Miriam Vale to Gladstone, where Clarke picked me up from the railway station and gave me a lift to his house, where his wife Aileen was already waiting for us. He’s also an electrician tradesman (as was Bob in Bundaberg) and is working in the largest coal fired power plant of Queensland, which consists of 6 steam turbines with a rated power of 280MW each, which makes a total power output of 1.68 GW.
Wednesday afternoon, after a pretty rainy night in my tent, I rented a bicycle in Agnes Water. I took a bike ride to the town of Seventeen Seventy, which is just a few kilometres north to Agnes Water. The weather wasn’t the best throughout the day. I stopped at a cairn marking the first landfall of James Cook, in what is now known as Queensland, 250 years ago in May 1770. I rode on to an anchor of a wrecked ship, and then walked to the lookout of the headland. Several thunderstorms and showers passed by, but luckily a bit more to the West and didn’t directly hit me. So I was able to sneak around the showers for most of the time. After enjoying the view to the rain over Bustard Bay for a while I headed back to my bike and eventually pushed it over a track along the coastline for about 20 min, as I wanted to walk the track, but I didn’t want to walk back. The ride back to Agnes Water was not a big deal, as there is a bike path next to the road, but I needed to hurry up as it got dark and the bike was not equipped with lights, but police is patrolling during the night, even in that small community. As backup I had my headlight with me, which I used for the last few hundred metres from Agnes Water to my campsite at Workmans beach.
Tuesday morning I got the bicycle from Bob and went for a short tour around Bundaberg. First I stopped at the Swamp land, where I was apparently the only one at this day. A lot of different birds, bats, and other animals are living there. I sat down for a while under the shade of a large tree nex to a pond. Then I headed on to the bank of the Burnett River to the two old bridges. First came the old street bridge, followed by the railway bridge. In 2013 the Burnett river had a devastating flooding, where the northern part of Bundaberg was completely under water. I drove along the main street before I headed back to Bob’s house along several small streets in the suburbs.
In the afternoon Bob gave me a lift back to the railway station, where we said goodbye to each other. I was very grateful to be hosted by him (I guess I was number 267 on his list), as he’s definitely a very nice person, with a lots of experiences he made in his life. The train was delayed, as always, in Bundaberg by about 25 min, so I had some time to wait at the platform. I had a short chat with an old man there, as he was very curious where I’m from and where I’m heading to. The train ride to Miriam Vale was only about 1 hour. Miriam Vale is only a small village, with one shop, one cafe, one fuel station. Everything what you need, if you wait for 4 hours for the bus. The greyhound bus was only 20$ for the trip to Agnes Water, whereas a shuttle service would have been 75$. So the decision was made very fast, to wait 4 hours and save the money. The bus ride itself was just about 40 min. I arrived pretty late in the evening, and walked to my campsite. I found a site and pitched up my tent in the night. I was just laying down before the rain started, and in essence there was more rain than I expected to be during that night.
Monday morning Bob drove me to the harbour at Burnett Heads. There I embarked the ship to Lady Musgrave island, which is the second southernmost island of the Great Barrier reef. I was supposed to do a scuba dive inside the lagoon, and have a walk around the island. But after we left the mainland I was asked, if I want to upgrade my diving experience to the outer reef. And I agreed to do that, because this gives me again some more diving experiences. During the first dive we saw some white-tip reef sharks and some reef fish, but apparently no turtles, or manta rays. During the second dive, which was a drift dive, we passed several coral gardens. Unfortunately, the reef was not that “Wow” for me, and also the condition of it didn’t look so good. I talked to another more experienced diver, which did almost 400 dives, and also for him it was just average. He recommended to go to Heron island, a bit further up in the north, off the coast of Gladstone, as there the reef is still good protected and rich in sealife. After the diving I went for some snorkeling inside the lagoon. I saw three turtles, I guess it was hawksbill turtles. But the colours of the corals and also the lagoon itself weren’t really fascinating. If you want to have a stunning snorkelling, with colourful coral, sting rays, sharks and in a lagoon surrounded by deep blue water, my favourite spot is still Bora Bora, even if the island itself is pretty dirty.
Saturday evening a week ago I joined Smokey and his partner Debbie, two friends of Bob I met the day before, for the football club to have a drink, watching people, and listen to a Rock’n’Roll band. The day before Bob and I went to Smokey. He has a fully equipped sound studio at home, and he along with his friends Wes and Paul did a jam session, which took fairly long in the night. So, Bob decided not to go out the evening after.
One week ago Bob took me to a town tour around Bundaberg. Bob’s profession was an electrician tradesman, but he was also a (working &) traveller for 14 years. As he visited the same places as I, but 46 years earlier. It was definitely very interesting to listen to all his stories, and get a glimpse to how South-East Asia looked like 50 years ago, and how it looks nowadays. His wild adventures in Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia seemed to be very exciting. Back in Bundaberg he showed me first the botanical gardens, where a steam locomotive is operated at weekends. In the gardens there’re three museums, but as we didn’t want to pay entrance fees, we just had a quick look from outside. One museum was dedicated to Bert Hinkler, a local citizen which emerged to a hero as he did the first solo flight from London to Australia, back in the 1920’s and crossed the South Atlantic as first person on a plane, which was just the second crossing of the Atlantic ocean at all. Some of his planes, are on exhibit in that museum. Afterwards we headed to the Sugar mill, one of his last working places, and a big business in Bundaberg, at least some decades earlier. Now the sugar cane can produced much cheaper in South-East Asia. Next to the large sugar mill is the famous rum factory, which utilise the melasse from the sugar cane to produce the popular, but also quite expensive, alcohol. Further on we went to the only hill in Bundaberg, the hummock, a dormant vulcano (for some million years, so be careful, it’s not yet extinct 😉). That’s also the reason why the soil around Bundaberg is so fertile and a lot of different crops are grown around here. After a short stop at the seaside we headed back. Bob is not only a decent traveller, but also a long time amateur radio operator, as this was the only cheap solution for overseas communication back in the days, before something which is called Internet existed. In the evening the blokes from the local amateur radio group had a small chat about various things over the UHF channel.