After our trip to Cape York*, we’d booked five nights relaxation at Palm Cove, about 25 km north of Cairns. Unlike most visitors, we approached from the north having departed our tagalong group at the Daintree River Ferry. In G’Day Bruce we identified the fact that the major highway in Queensland isn’t a picturesque coastal road. The Captain Cook Highway heading towards Cairns from the north really makes up for it. If you want to drive along the ocean in Queensland, this is where we’d recommend you go – some stunning views which certainly rival The Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
It was told in the Targ-alung runes that the twice nine would conquer the Pajinka and so it came to be. At their head strove, Johndalf the Khaki. Most knew him only as a trickster who could conjure fire, but his wisdom spanned aeons and he knew the differential magic from before the syncromesh.
You may be wondering what a 70s / 80s ska and two-tone band from the industrial heart of England has to do with a road trip in North Queensland. You’ll have to carry on reading if you want to find out, it is worth it, honest. If you really can’t be bothered you can entertain yourself by listening to ‘Ghost Town’, one of their most famous hits.
You’re going to have to carry on reading if you want to find out the answer to that question, let’s talk about Airlie Beach. We were pleasantly surprised by Airlie. After spending a few days in the solitude of Cape Hillsborough, we were a bit nervous about visiting somewhere that is a major draw on the tourist trail. We’d previously visited Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road and didn’t like it all. Airlie, however, had a different feel. It’s obviously commercial and there are plenty of tour operators trying to get you to part with your money. Nonetheless, it had a friendly feel and the views out towards the Whitsundays across the marina were beautiful. Dare we say it, we also preferred Airlie Beach to Byron Bay.
We stopped for four nights at Cape Hillsborough National Park about 40 km north of Mackay. It’s not somewhere that’s on everyone’s must see list for Australia but we’d been recommended to visit so thought we would give it a try. It was also an opportunity for a trial run of our camp set-up before we joined our tagalong trip in Cairns to travel to the tip of Cape York over 18 days, camping every night.
Cape Hillsborough formed around thirty million years ago as a product of volcanic lava flows. The Pennant Rock is a volcanic plug remaining from that time. The first human inhabitants were the Juipera Aboriginal people and the current name was given by James Cook in honour of the Earl of Hillsborough. Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park was first developed in the 1950s and this was to be our home for the next four nights.
The Bruce Highway is the main road route spanning the length of Queensland, named after Harry Bruce, Minister of Works in the 1930s. It starts in Brisbane and finishes in Cairns, a total of approximately 1,670 km. Bundaberg is about 50 km east of the Bruce but we had to join it to travel to Brisbane so knew that southern 350 km section well. Andy’s work took him to Rockhampton often, so that section was also well travelled. However, we’d never driven further north on the Bruce until this trip when we will be following the road to its northern conclusion.
It seems that visitors to Queensland have a bit of a romantic preconception of driving from Brisbane to Cairns and imagine that the road trip might be similar to the Great Ocean Road. Unfortunately, and with the greatest respect, we don’t think that the Bruce lives up to that. If you imagine you’re going to be driving along the ocean, you’ll be disappointed as the majority of the road is a fair way inland from the coast. There are places where you travel through some spectacular scenery but on the whole, it’s a fairly monotonous drive. Also, dual carriageway only extends to Gympie, about 200 km north of Brisbane, so you can end up stuck behind a lot of slow moving traffic. Having said all of that, The Bruce did provide our means of reaching the first destinations on our road trip, Tannum Sands, Gladstone and Mackay.
Before we leave Bargara to begin our travels, we thought we should give you a little bit more information about the Bundaberg region. It is a fantastic part of Australia, often overlooked by visitors who flock instead to well known Queensland destinations such as Brisbane, Cairns, and The Gold Coast. Many aspects of the area are quintessentially representative of regional Australia, hence the title of the post which we’ll explain further later on.
Writing this caused me to rewatch the video for the song in the title of the post. It’s definitely a classic but I don’t remember being confused by the story being told when I saw it back in the day. It could be age, but I struggled this time round, to work out what was going on. I eventually came to the conclusion that the Gibb brothers were multi-tasking and combining a video shoot with viewing a potential property to renovate. It was obviously a bit pricey as later on they downgrade to an old train. We’re going to be staying in a renovated train carriage when we visit Undara Volcanic park later in the year, so I know its a possibility. If anyone’s got a more convincing explanation, please do comment below. Anyway, I digress, back to Moreton Bay, more of the Bee Gees later.
If you’ve read a few posts on this site you might be forgiven for thinking my music tastes are fixed firmly in the seventies. That isn’t the case, honest. In fact I get into arguments with friends who haven’t moved on since the 70s and 80s. I love new music, I even like hiphop. Why then, you may legitimately ask does the post begin with another reference from nearly forty years ago. Well its all to do with Hot Rods – you’ll find out why later in the post. Deciding on my post titles is always a toss up between a bad joke and a music reference. Unfortunately when you start exploring the humour associated with Hot Rods you’re into dangerous territory. So to keep things above board, I went with the music ref. If you’d rather think of a joke for yourself – what can I say other than ‘Do anything you wanna do’.
For some time we’d been wanting to splurge on a stay at The Palazzo Versace Hotel. We’d first come across it as the start and end point of the very naff UK TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. Z list celebrities are dumped in the ‘jungle’ for a few weeks – really the Gold Coast Hinterland, and required to debase themselves whilst progressively being voted off until only the King or Queen of the Jungle are left. Its one of those programs that you don’t want to admit you watch but get dragged in – the cheeky wit of the hosts Ant and Dec always made us laugh as well. Since we’ve been in Australia, the show has made its way over here, with Z list Aussies being dumped in the African jungle – no doubt in a place just as ‘remote’ as the location used in Australia.