05.06.2010 - 06.06.2010 25 °C
Fraser Island is a big deal in Queensland tourism - its a world heritage site, almost entirely made of sand (123 km long and 22 km wide) but with lots of freshwater lakes and even some rainforest. Since I was about two hours down the road, it seemed a good idea to pop up and check it out. I did leave in fairly good time, but things went awry on the way. I blame Gympie - I was there by lunch time, and thought I'd eat. Its not a particularly special town, a fairly standard rural Australian town, population about 10,000, a town which was mostly shut even. But still, it took more than a couple of hours to wander the streets (since I was just getting lunch, I left the camera in the car). According to its Wikipedia page, there was a gold rush there in the 1850's, which saved the new colony from ruin and left a legacy in terms of buildings rather more grand than you might expect.
And there's a train, a steam train even, the Valley Rattler. I may have ridden on if I wasn't going to Fraser Island (and it didn't cost quite a lot for a fairly short trip). But wandering around the grand old Gympie station and ogling the train was another time soak.
The nearby Railway Hotel caught my eye as well, a fine old place:
So, all of this put pressure on getting to Fraser Island. And then there was Maryborough - this is a town I would like to come back and stay in - it has loads of heritage buildings in very good condition (and a statue of Mary Poppins, as this is where her creator comes from). All in all, it was about an hour before dark and I still hadn't made it to the coast and was to be back in Noosa. I thought I should make the effort to at least see Fraser Island, but you can't make much out from the mainland, have to actually go on to it to see it for yourself. That, I had no time to do. So, it was back to Noosa for me - my examination of the various tourist type maps revealed the possibility of a shortcut rather than going back down the Bruce Highway - past the evocatively named Tincan Bay and through the Toolara State Forest. Sounds nice, right? Hah! The road was not great, turned to gravel for a while, there was a definite shortage of road signs and did I mention there was just an hour of light? So most of it was a fairly spooky drive, trundling through the forest in the dark. I think it would be nice to come back and explore this region with a bit more light and time.
Next day, it was time to head back to Brisbane. I'd done the coastal route, so I thought I'd take the inland route, through the hinterland and check out Montville in particular. It has a reputation for being an arty-farty bohemian town up in the clouds. I have to say, the road in is a bit crazy, as I became convinced I was going completely the wrong way, had to stop and ask four dear old ladies tripping about for confirmation.
On the way I came across a place called Mapleton. It had a wonderful looking old pub
which offered grand views back towards the coast
I couldn't really just sit on the verandah and drink, as I was driving. Luckily, I found the next best thing - coffee shops. There were three or four of them - this place looked good (and is now for sale, $75,000)
but there was another which offered better food (and, to be honest, another factor was that its staff looked rather more easy on the eye). So, I hung out there and had lunch, then wandered around taking photos (but not of the place I ate at, so I don't remember its name).
As for Montville, lets just say its not my kind of place - loads of people, very commercial
and nothing in particular I wanted to buy, except for something highly impractical
There were a couple of places I liked looking at,
but after a walk up one side of the main street and down the other, and a pie, I was ready to move on. And now google maps and the road conspired to confound me - I had a plan to go a bit further inland, just on a bit of an explore. I followed the google map directions I'd written down to the letter, and found myself at the end of a dead end road and no idea how to get back into the roads I had noted down. All of the road signs pointed to little towns I'd never heard of and so it was more by good luck than good management I managed to extricate myself from the web of wee country roads and end up in Brisbane.
One thing I did particularly enjoy about the late afternoon driving was seeing the Glass House Mountains catching the fading light
And so, it was off to the quaint wee motel in Redcliffe then a flight back home the next day. I have two more Australian trips to post, but first I have something a bit more recent and exotic.