A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Fraser Island? Not Quite!

sunny 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.

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The nearby Railway Hotel caught my eye as well, a fine old place:

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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

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which offered grand views back towards the coast

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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)

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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

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and nothing in particular I wanted to buy, except for something highly impractical

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There were a couple of places I liked looking at,

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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

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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.

Posted by NZBarry 05:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

To Noosa

sunny 25 °C

I had a car and all afternoon to get to Noosa, which was all of 140 kilometres away, and still I managed to be doing the last bit in the dark. This is mainly because I decided to take every little coastal road I could find to get there, rather than tramping up the main road. I did manage to go 37 km before a stop of any significance, but when I saw Redcliffe, it felt like somewhere I needed to stop. I later learnt that it has a reputation for being a bogan town, being in the top ten bogan suburbs in Australia - here is what one proud local has to say about the place:

Redcliffe, where the local shopping centre is an architectural marvel resembling giant boobs pointing skywards,” Strutt writes. “Redcliffe, where they once paved the main street of this paradise and put up a toilet block.Yes, there may now be some posh parts of the Peninsula, but I am proud to say “’The Cliffe’’ remains a haven to the true and faithful Boganista.

Some fellow has written a ballad to celebrate its bogan-ness and there is even a Faceboook app: "How Redliffe Bogan Are You"?

And here was me, thinking it was quite a nice place, so nice in fact that despite my coast crawl examining everything to see, when I returned from Noosa, I actually stayed in Redcliffe, in an old skool beach front motel. How is this for a beach scene?
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It has a decent looking jetty:
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Admittedly, the main street looks a bit average:
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but from a distance, you would never know:

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and it was a lot better than some of the solid concrete town centres of some of the beachfront communities I struck on my coast crawl. But I have to admit, Noosa was rather a lot nicer than Redcliffe, most particularly the beach:

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It had rivers and canals, and was evidently quite wealthy.

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I, not being wealthy, was staying in the YHA, and what an odd experience that was. When I checked in, I was told to go to the common room for a guest introduction and wine: all new arrivals had to introduce themselves. By the time it was my turn, people had stopped listening - not sure it was worth a wine. The hostel itself is a grand old house, with some less grand buildings out the back where they put me.

Apart from the beach, the other thing about Noosa is its food and shopping street, Hastings Street. Certainly, there were plenty of interesting looking cafes, and lots of places to buy stuff, but when I saw that the Sheraton was doing a seafood smorgasbord, none of that mattered: I paid my $70 or whatever, and gorged myself. The only thing I didn't really take to was the Moreton Bay bug, also known as a flathead lobster, but there was plenty of oysters, mussels, snapper... to be going on with.

Posted by NZBarry 05:05 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Brisbane

sunny 20 °C

I managed to spend quite a lot of 2010 in Australia: before I lose all memory of my three trips, here goes. The first was almost exactly this time last year - I took a quick break in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, largely because I could fly direct after work. Things didn't get off to a great start - there was a delay with the 'plane and we were all stuck in Dunedin airport. I occupied my time by chatting to a retired fellow who was on his way to see his grandkids. Even when we were finally allowed on the 'plane, it was not time to go quite yet - they were frantically downloading some software from Christchurch to regulate the temperature on the captain's seat or something equally ridiculous.

So, it was rather late by the time I hit Brisbane and got sorted out in my hostel. Oddly enough, despite having been there for less than an hour, I was being accosted by some passing motorists for directions. Even more odd, the fellow doing the accosting was the same fellow I'd been speaking to in Dunedin airport. More odd still, I could tell him roughly how to get where he wanted to go. I was on a hunt for some dinner - all of the regular places had closed, but I had vague memories of the pancake Manor and of it being open 24 hours. That, and the building it is in (the former St Lukes [temporary] Cathedral)

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are the best things about the place. The pancakes themselves were rather forgettable:

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On the way home, I tried some night shots with my wee travel camera, but they're all a bit unfortunate. This is the Customhouse in full colour:

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In the morning, I had a bit of time to kill before picking up my car, so walked down Fortitude Valley into New Farm (shares the title of having the best cafes with the West End) and stumbled upon a place that I'd been to before, in amongst the converted woolstores: still very good (just wish its name would come to me).

When I came back from my jaunt up north, I had a couple more nights back in the hostel. I wandered over to the State Library

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and, although I had a paper to write, spent most of my time in the cafe. Coming back across the bridge, I grabbed a few shots of Brisbane central:

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It was the release night of Sex in the City 2, which meant that the cinema near the hostel was chockablock with chicks dressed in fancy clothes sipping champagne. I was there for something slightly more gritty (and maybe even more tasteful): the brilliant Australian crime family movie, Animal Kingdom. When I came out, I was again a bit late for dinner, the place I had planned to eat in the wee mall had closed, so I set off down the hill and found a place I actually went to the very first time I was in Brisbane and have never been able to find since - the Char Grill at the Caxton Hotel. I signed up for a discounted steak and a couple of beers and went home a very happy man.

Posted by NZBarry 01:44 Archived in Australia Tagged brisbane Comments (0)

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