Seda: Time for a drive up the east coast of Australia. Stop where we like and drive on quiet country roads for mile after mile. Our road trip of 12 days was off to a good start because our lovely host John invited us to go back and stay with him before heading further north.
It was absolutely great to catch up and have a good old chat with John over some wine again and a cheese board this time (yes!). Seeing those gorgeous peppers and eggplants (?!) take their place in a lovely salad, seeing the chooks all happy and Tina totally over Andy!
Andy: When we arrived at John’s after our 2 hour drive from Brisbane Tina – his lovely dog – was all over me, for about 10 seconds. As it was already dark and she realised we wouldn’t be going for a walk, she soon flopped down onto her bed and gave me the cold shoulder. Hero one minute, villain the next I guess!
Seda: Our second day took us towards Hervey Bay which was a little less exciting than we thought. It’s a great jumping point for Fraser Island but due to lack of rain, we were told that the conditions were not ideal to go there. We either had to have a 4×4 or use an expensive travel agent which we weren’t interested in doing either. Instead we enjoyed a nice little seaside town feel, walked on the long pier and ate fish and chips.
The pier was 868 metres long at the end of which Andy met some young fishermen casting for shark. While they talked about feeding that very big fish as a bate to sharks, I made friends with red legged sea gulls lined up all symmetrically.
Andy: These 2 guys must have only been around 18 and they were talking so nonchalant about catching a 3 metre shark! I’d have been so scared as all the fish I catch back home in England don’t have teeth! The innocence of youth huh?
Seda: We have -totally by coincidence – stayed in an English couple’s house via Airbnb. Taking their advice, we went to a local event and watched the residents of Hervey Bay get into the jolly Christmas spirit since we can’t. There was a band playing on stage who were defined as “cheesy” by the expert I was travelling with. The event was called “Food and Groove Fridays”. How lovely it is to have a weekly event outdoors without the worry of rain.
Andy: Cheesy does not even begin to describe this band. I felt like I’d quantum leaped into 1984 with their catalogue of “hits” and the keyboard player even had his token crazy shiny shirt on.
We continued our journey the next morning heading north up the coast of Queensland in our little car. When I say little, I really do mean little! Meet Zach…
Seda: Childers was the next town along where in 2000 a nutter set fire to Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel and caused the deaths of 15 young people inside. This is a popular fruit picking destination for backpackers and the building is now rebuilt and serving as a memorial. 7 were British, 3 were Australian, 2 were from Netherlands and one each was from Ireland, Japan and South Korea. Imagine it’s millennium, everyone is excited about the future and these kids lost their lives in a hostel so far from home! All very sad!
We drove on to Bundaberg where we needed to make a decision about staying or chancing a roadside motel further along the way. Whilst driving through the town, Andy was drawn to people playing cricket and to his luck, there were not 1 but 3 games were going on. Andy chose his age group to watch whilst I sat there documenting our journey.
Andy: We pulled off the road and took our seats in the “grandstand” watching the game with the more senior players shall we say! It was all looking to be a decent game with the chasing team only needing 180 from their 45 overs. But, with a few early wickets the chasing team were starting to look a bit wobbly. That’s when lightening stopped play! Not something that can be said very often in England!
Seda: We ended up feeling tired and picking an expensive room in a pub/bar/events venue. Now, please imagine a nice cosy pub room in England, then take away the nice and the cosy and there you have an Australian pub room. 1 shared bathroom for the floor and 1 shower for gents and a shared one for ladies. Rooms were above the bar and your feet were vibrating from the beat of the speakers. We had to drink to forget which was the only way to make through the night. So we joined the English backpackers, dancing to songs that were in the charts before they were born. What a joy to watch tanned English girls wearing next to nothing dancing to Christmas songs! (Seda’s words, not mine!)
Botanical gardens are free in Australia and we love it! We often joke about having a botanical garden crawl instead of a pub crawl! We of course enjoyed a nice iced coffee in the cafe there and the lovely staff kindly filled our water bottles with icy water which is another nice thing they do here!
We had a longer drive that day really taking in the countryside and enjoying this wonderful experience. As we arrived at Miriam Vale, we got a good price from this local hotel and was pleased with having the local restaurant downstairs as well. “Isn’t it strange” I said to Andy, “here we are in the east coast of Australia, so far from home yet eating lasagne with salad in exactly the same way we would back home”. I had some cheap but lovely wine while Andy stuck to beer, and we headed off to sleep.
Now, remember the rooms without nice and without cosy, well this one was so bad that we were greeted by a cockroach and some other types of insects on the carpet (luckily dead ones). I swear I had something crawling in my bed during the night. I couldn’t have asked for help from Andy as he was sleeping in his bed over the other side of the room. You see, we sold our love in return for an a/c unit as the only air conditioned room had twin beds!
It was a very old timber building with everything squeaking as you walk so everyone getting up to use the shared toilet at night woke everyone else on the floor up as well! Not the best night! I had cocooned myself in sheets with the hope of having no other living thing in my bed but it was a looooong night! Andy’s first words the next morning were “aaarrggg! This bed was too short for me!”
Andy: We left the place pretty quickly in the morning, but we did manage a quick coffee at the local cafe. Whilst sitting in their garden we noticed quite a lot of commotion from the local bird life. It was a lorikeet and a blue-faced honey eater squabbling over some food and water. Both beautiful birds.
To be continued…