Day 4 – Marlborough to Bundaberg

Marlborough to Bundaberg
The day started off with a couple of small blunders, but anxious moments soon turned into plain sailing.

First, the van battery was flat in the morning. I was , however, surrounded by campervans. So the first person who greeted me got his opportunity to do his good deed for the day – jump-start the van.

Ron was an affable northern Englishman who’d been in Australia 50 years – “the last of the 10-pound Poms“, he told me. He was an engineer, retired now, wandering Australia with his wife.

When I got to the main road, I shunned the first petrol station with gas at $1.66 / litre. I soon cursed that decision on noticing the fuel gauge , and the next big town, Rockhampton, was a long way south.

The road ahead, and the map, showed almost nothing in between. I slowed down to pensioner’s pace, and started coasting the downhills. On re-checking, I was relieved to find I had plenty of water as I pondered hitch-hiking to Rockampton.

Then out of nowhere, the oasis of Yaamba appeared. Nothing but a house or two, a pub, and a gas station, run by the fella at left. Perfect.

Rockhampton

I stopped for the morning coffee at Rockhampton. The coffee was perfect,and again the river-side is well appointed for public enjoyment.

Calliope

Back into a dry and barren landscape, I hit Calliope, which seemed to be some sort of holiday pop-up town to separate tourists from their dollars.

Gladstone

A quick detour to Gladstone – it didn’t help that the tide was out – to check out the beach was a disappointment.

Past there the landscape opened up – large flat plains, full of greenery, mostly corn. For example, at South Kolan, below.

Bundaberg

And finally to Bundaberg, where I arrived late afternoon. A pretty little town, with an appealing main street, and some classic old architecture. Home of Bundaberg rum.

At this stage of life, I had still not reliably hot-spotted my phone as an internet connection for my laptop. So I went on a wild wifi chase before giving up and tapping out the required work in a quiet industrial part of town.

Too quiet for the night, I decided. I shifted to a public area where more cars were around, and parked up near the river for the night.

10 p.m.

After 10 pm, and it seemed I’d picked the local teens’ party spot as my crash-pad. Twenty feet away, a carfull arrived with the beers and the reggae.

“It could be worse,” I’m telling myself as I pull down the shades.

I’m spotted doing this, and seconds later a young girl, maybe 17, is tapping at my window.

“What’s the van about?”

Not sure how to answer this, I blunder something about it being a rental,and that I’m driving from Cairns to Brisbane. I’m sleeping innit, I tell her, trying to smile.

Pleased with herself for gleaning all this, she saunters off.

Seconds later, the music fades, the car starts up, and they drive off.

Aaah.

Day 3 – Airlie Beach to Marlborough

Days 3 started very well, and got more bedgraggled as I did.

I stuttered back from my hillside perch to the waterfront to find that the Carnies had come to town. Yes, a Saturday morning market.

Among those selling their wares was Carl, an English chap who’d been here for years. His wife is a journalist, producing an independent local rag in competition with the MordorMurdoch empire.

Airlie Beach is a definite candidate for a return visit – great beach, a smalltown feel, a thriving market, and a parkrun.

Fuelled with a coffee and a full tank, I set off early for Rockhampton.

A couple of detours to Sarina Beach, and Armstrong Beach were disappointments.

Afternoon scramble

With an online afternoon appointment looming, I found myself in a barren wilderness called Clairview. No civilization to be seen here. Except dire signs warning against overnight parking, and a huge dusty campground like something out of Mad Max. No room at the inn there either.

The next stop was a travellers’ rest near St. Laurence, where I parked up and tried in vain to sort an internet connection good enough for Zoom.

After that failed, I consoled myself with a bucketful of chocolate, and decided to push on for Rockhampton.

But late afternoon was upon me, and I went down a sideroad to the township of Marlborough, population 149, altitude 90 metres, apparently.

I meandered around the township, and eventually hit upon a small and likely-looking gathering of campervans in a dusty compound. At $5 for the night, including toilets , showers, and a pub , it was an easy sell.

After again failing to get an internet connection for my laptop, and being laughed at in the pub when I asked about Wifi, I ate a well-rounded evening meal of sardines, tomatoes, and peanut butter, and turned in for the night.