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.
In Australia, its often suggested that Melbourne is the centre of all that is hipster. We now know this to be false and the movement was in fact launched in the New England area across the towns of Glenn Innes and Armidale way back in the mid 19th Century. How do we know this you may ask? Well, two of the original settlers in the area who assisted other squatters to lay title to land were John Duval and William Chandler. They weren’t referred to by their true names. No, because of the impressiveness of their beards they were simply referred to as The Beardies. This name lives on in the main drag of Armidale and the History Museum in Glen Innes dedicated to The Land of the beardies. Apparently, after founding Armidale, the first thing they did was to open a Barista coffee shop, another Australian first. (I may have made that last bit up but the rest is all true).
For those of you looking for something a little bit racy, you’re going to have to read to the end of the post. Anticipation is half the fun after all.
Following an impressive breakfast on the veranda outside our room at Vacy Hall, our second day in Toowoomba was spent mostly nosing around other people’s back yards, as you do. Fortunately, it was entirely above board, and part of the Carnival of Flowers. A number of private gardens are opened as exhibition gardens during the length of the festival and you can pay a nominal fee to have a look round. There’s a number of ways to do this including a hop on hop off bus but we chose to drive around ourselves. The gardens were beautiful but did make us feel a bit inferior given the current state of our lawn. Nonetheless it was really interesting to see how amateur gardeners planned their spaces and put a lot of love and effort into creating a beautiful display for them to enjoy all year round and for visitors to enjoy during the Festival.