The drive from Clermont to Mackay marked a change from western environments to coastal. The tropics were immediately evident by the many palm trees. Add to that the sugar cane fields, then more sugar, then even more - you were definitely on the coast.
On the trip along the Peak Downs Highway we passed the Peak Downs Range, seen only in the distance here, and massive coal mines. The town of Moranbah is just off the highway, a town of about 7000 I had never heard of until recently. It was purpose built for the mines in the 1970s and is still very much a mine town.
|The police escort in front of this load of mine machinery nearly ran us off the road|
We stopped for lunch at Nebo, a small town with a large colony of bats in the local park. There is also a distinctive old hotel which was graced by a couple of very smart Harleys out the front.
|Some of the Nebo bat colony|
|Nebo Hotel. David deciding which Harley should be his.|
Mackay itself is a large sprawling town with several suburbs. I went shopping at Caneland, one of its major retail centres, and it felt just like Castle Towers. As I'm not ready to be back home yet the need to escape was strong. The surrounding areas are quite beautiful, as the pictures show.
|Cane train engine|
|Typical Mackay scene. Blue hills and sugar cane|
|The view from Slade Point, north of the city|
|Mackay marina. The breakwall has been designed for vehicles to drive on.|
In Mackay we stayed with Rob and Shoney, and as it turned out the whole Langfield clan - except for the dynamic Penny - was there, so it was a lively time. We didn't camp around Mackay, except in the front yard, partly due to the State of Origin rearing its ugly head again.
However, we did a number of day trips around the district instead to Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour, Cape Hillsborough, Seaforth and areas north and west of Mackay
|Sculpture - Dugong and calf|
|Unusual pedestrian sign at Airlie Beach|
|David testing the water at Airlie Beach Lagoon|
|View from the Lookout at Shute Harbour|
We also had a small detour from Mackay to Sydney then to North Haven for Tracey's 40th birthday party. We had a very pleasant weekend with the family. The weather was fine and warm and no-one told the kids that the water was too cold to swim in in July. After an extended weekend we returned to Sydney then flew back to Mackay to resume our trip.
|A Barbie cake requested by a 40 year old!|
|Happy 40th Birthday Tracey|