Sunday, November 29, 2009
After our night in the holiday park, we were on our way back to the beach at Noosa Heads to get in one more surf session before hitting the road. Unfortunately, the swell had come down a little bit over the night, but was still surf-able. To help us get some more waves, we rented a 7'6" board similar to the one back in San Diego and traded off between that and the Flyer. The longer board clearly was more fun and much easier to get waves, but on either board we enjoyed the warm azure waters and the sunny skies. After our couple hours of rental time was over, we dried out on the beach before walking into the little town just a block over from the water.
It happened to be our 3-year anniversary (at least in Australian time, in San Diego it was one day short) and since we had no idea where we would be that evening, decided to celebrate with a nice lunch. We sat outside at a cute euro-inspired sidewalk cafe and watched the tourists, surfers and the trendy elite walk past. Erich was happy with the fish and chips and I loved the snapper saffron risotto. We could have sat there all afternoon, but after awhile we had to motivate to keep moving north.
Australia is really big. I mean really really big. All of the European countries can fit within the island, with plenty of extra room to spare. We have to cover 1650km by Thursday of next week to make our flight, while trying to enjoy ourselves and see some sights at the same time. Noosa was just barely north of Brisbane, so we had to make up some distance for the last few days.
We drove and drove for the afternoon, but at one point passed a seriously bad accident. It was terrible and we heard later that at least one person dies every week on this roadway. The guy said it's because people get comfortable on the straight and easy road and they just fall asleep. This may also be partially due to the fact that is is light at 4:45 every morning and nobody can get any rest, or Erich's theory is that they purposely throw themselves and the car off embankments to escape the desolate and boring scenery. Either way, we were daunted by the accident and since it was dark after around 6:15, we pulled into a rest stop / picnic area for the night. It didn't seem that close to the highway, but the trucks kept moving all night and were really loud. I survived with earplugs, eye-mask and tylenol pm, while poor Erich was awake the entire night and was subsequently exhausted by morning.
Trying to bring him back to life with sips of my coffee, we managed to get back on the road and continue. We kept wanting to stop for the day at a nice beach or National Park, but every time we looked at the map we had barely even budged on the massive continent. Our one stop was to pick up some food at the Woolworth's grocery store, which for some weird reason they put inside a massive shopping center. With the temperatures outside, the place was packed with people walking around window shopping to get into the air conditioning. For some reason you can't buy beer in the grocery stores here, so we booked it (with the shopping cart) through the entire mall to the liquor shop on the other side, barely missing the entire Singapore navy who seems to be in port, just to grab a six-pack.
We also had to get some lunch and Erich was overjoyed that Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia. They had giant size bulls at various points around town, just in case you missed that part in your guide book. We got a recommendation from the local i-site and went to the happening "Hog's Breath" near the mall with the grocery store. The place started out dead, but filled up quickly and had a biker bar theme but with the ever-present American 80's music playing. Erich got the Aussie burger, which kind of wasn't even a burger at all. It was a thick piece of steak between the bun, which he ended up eating with a fork and knife claiming it was one of the best pieces of steak he'd ever had. I struggled to find even one item on the menu with no beef, and out of the two choices, chose a wrap.
After our lunch break, we pushed on through the staggering heat (thankfully we have good ac) and lifeless landscape to reach Cape Hillsborough National Park. We had considered going way out of the way to Eungella National Park, where the platypus live and you have a chance to see them in the wild (if you are lucky), but decided this park would be a better spot for the late afternoon and evening.
The campsites are right on the beach and it is quiet except for some of the strangest and loudest bird (?) noises we have ever heard. They say there are crocs here so we are keeping an eye out for them. The van is still 100 degrees, but does cool off with the night air fairly quickly.