Monday, July 16, 2012

Rockhampton and surrounding areas

10 -12 July

Rockhampton seems to be a similar size to Mackay but its accommodation options are much more limited. We had to phone 3 caravan parks to get a space. There is also no free camping allowed within cooee so everyone is forced to use the parks. We found a very nice park out of town at Gracemere.

Rockhampton calls itself the beef capital and has big bull statues at various locations around the town, most of them in spots where it’s impossible to photograph – like the middle of a roundabout or on a median strip on the main highway.
One of Rocky's big bulls

Instead of focussing on the city we decided to take the Scenic Loop Road to Yeppoon, about 30 kilometres from the city. When David found out that the Mercure Resort had not one, but two, world class golf courses that became our first port of call. Then he discovered it is only $55 to play in the competition, so now he is in golf withdrawal. The courses did look nice though. Well groomed, difficult bunkers and palm trees everywhere.
Capricorn Championship golf course
Golf clubhouse gardens

Next we visited the Rosslyn Marina just south of the town and ogled the fortunes sitting idle and growing barnacles. Some beautiful boats though. Cruises to Great Keppel Island also depart from here. Above the marina is The Bluff, where we did a short but very steep walk through rainforest to the top with a view of a fan shaped rock, and a blowhole. Right at the top was a wind-sculpted bush as well as a number of grass trees.   
Fan Rock
The walk on The Bluff
Wind sculpted plants

From Yeppoon we followed the road south along the coast through the village of Emu Park, where we collected some driftwood for a campfire sometime in the future when it stops drizzling. Emu Park has a monument, The Singing Ship, erected in memory of James Cook who named Keppel Bay in 1770. The statue “sings” in the wind.
The Singing Ship, in memory of James Cook, erected in 1970

Returning to Rockhampton we decided to have a look at the historic buildings along the main street and fronting the Fitzroy River. There are some beautiful old buildings built in the late 1800s, well maintained and restored.
Rockhampton Post Office
One of the main shopping streets
Heritage listed buildings
The old Rockhampton Club

As I took photos David started a conversation with a supposed local (a typical scenario) and discovered that the Prime Minister was in a meeting in the Old Bulletin Building, and she would be leaving in 10 minutes. So we hung around and met and had a photo taken with Julia. Up close she is very fair-skinned, attractive and personable, and impeccably groomed – made me feel quite under-dressed, David didn’t care. We were surprised how little security surrounded her and how modestly she was travelling – two ordinary sedans and a taxi bus for the hangers-on. 
The PM meets the people

The next day we took a short trip back into town to have a look at Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Zoo. As it was a bit drizzly we just focussed on the Zoo which has a small range of animals, as you would expect in a regional area. They have chimpanzees and macaws, but most of the other animals are native. Their range of birds is impressive. Suddenly, when feeding rime for the chimps arrived a horde of previously invisible children arrived; the Zoo has great appeal for families with young children.
Salt water crocodile
A young dingo
Rainbow lorikeets at feeding time

As the rain is forecast to persist along the coast we decided that we might avoid it if we headed inland, so tomorrow it’s off to Blackwater, about 200 kilometres west of here.

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