At 8.10 am on the 11th August 2004 I departed from
Martin street, Ballina, New South Wales and headed out along the
coast road towards Lennox Heads and north into Byron Bay. I’d
packed simply - an old two man tent, which was the old
triangular type made from thin synthetic material. Inside the
tent I had a 6 foot by 4 foot soft foam mattress about 2 inches
thick. This allowed me to roll the tent up with the mattress
inside. Also included were a few pair of shorts a pair of khaki
trousers, a pair of jeans, six tee shirts, two shirts, two pair
of shoes and a pair of sandals. All of which could fit in a
small to medium carry bag. Included in the camping gear was an
old fold up table (on loan) and a camp chair I’d purchased from
a bargain store for $8 a few days previously. Also, I had a gas
stove, some cooking utensils, cutlery and a thermos. My biggest
piece of bulk was my desktop computer. You’re probably thinking
why not just go and buy a laptop for the trip. Problem is that
all my work and software are on the desktop which I’ve been
using for the last 3 years since I bought it. It also had two
hard disks. Transferring it all over to a laptop was a big job,
plus the added expense of a new laptop – I just put the desktop
in the boot with an old 14 inch monitor. I removed the back seat
and this gave me a lot more room to store the bulky tent with
the foam mattress inside.
I’d planned to stop in
and say goodbye to some friends in Byron Bay which is only 40
kilometres north of Ballina but I was anxious to get somewhere
different from my own backyard. Feeling guilty I snuck through
town and gave them a call later.
Byron Bay was once an
industrial town. A large butter
factory, meatworks and later a
whaling station employed all the locals. The whaling station was
the first to go in the early sixties. The locals were probably
glad to see the end of the stench that emanates from boiling
down whale blubber. The other industry was dairy farming. During
the early 70’s the government told the dairy farmers to “get big
or get out of the industry.” Most got out and the butter factory
closed soon afterwards. The last to go was the meat works and
that came to an end in the 80’s. An influx of tourists began in
the early to mid sixties when surfing became popular. Surfers
came to town to ride the point break at the northern end of the
beach. Some surfers decided that surfing was a better and more
rewarding career path than a job in Sydney or Melbourne and
stayed. This was the start of the influx of city people to the
area. In earlier days houses and land were cheap in Byron Bay.
It was still an industrial town, where workers lived. Most of
the population of the area lived in the city of Lismore 40
kilometres to the west or just up the track in Mullumbimby 10
kilometres north of Byron Bay. Now that has changed, and Byron
Bay is the address to have. It’s also the place to visit whether
you’re an Australian or an overseas visitor. So, what was once a
sleepy little town is now a tourist drawcard for 12 months of
the year. Two years ago I was in North America and some people
asked me where I lived in Australia. When I told them Ballina,
they looked at me with a vacant stare.
“Where?” they asked
it’s near Brisbane” I told them.
I was just about to say
“The state of Queensland” and out of my mouth came “Byron Bay”
know, I’ve heard of Byron Bay. Nice place?”
I headed west a few kilometres out of town to the Pacific
highway. Here I turned right and headed north onto a new 4 lane
highway which took me through to the Gold Coast in the state of
Queensland. I kept going on the same National Highway One and
headed towards Brisbane. About 20 kilometres south of Brisbane I
turned off at Loganholm and headed west to the city of Ipswich,
which is the western extremity of Brisbane’s western suburbs.
Like Byron Bay, Ipswich was also an industrial city, once the
scene of the largest railway workshops in Queensland. The other
industry was coal mining which helped supply much of the coal
that steamed the locos that ran Brisbane’s suburban passenger
trains. This all finished in the mid 60’s when diesel
locomotives took over from steam. Ipswich went through a “well,
what do we do now?” period. Time sorted this out and now Ipswich
is residential suburb.
But, not like any other suburb of Brisbane.
Ipswich is the home of Pauline Hanson who rose to fame when she
got up in the Australian parliament and publicly stated that she
thought Australia was allowing too many Asians to enter
Australia. She was immediately accused of being a racist. Her
comments stirred the whole country up, especially the media who
lapped up every word she said. She in turn lapped up all the
attention and ran with it. She eventually formed her own party
calling it the One Nation party. She had a lot of opposition and
a lot of followers. Rarely did a day go past without her being
on the news. She rallied her followers telling them she was just
an ordinary, honest, hard working Australian who didn’t like the
massive influx of non European looking foreigners. She portrayed
herself as a small business woman, who owned a fish and chip
shop in her home town of Ipswich. Before Pauline came along many
Australians had never even heard of Ipswich let alone know where
it was. It soon became a small tourist destination. A visit to
the city of Brisbane wasn’t worth it unless you drove out to
Ipswich and visited Pauline’s fish and chip shop, maybe even do
lunch or dinner there. I visited it a few years back when
Pauline was at the height of her political career. I drove into
the centre of the city and pulled over next to someone who I
thought looked like a local. An elderly man, dressed in neatly
pressed trousers, polished brown shoes, starched white shirt and
a Herringbone coat.
“Excuse me mate, can you tell me where
Pauline’s fish and chip shop is?
“Where are you from?” he asked
“Ballina. Why do you ask that?”
“For Christ’s sake mate, you come all the way
up here just to see Pauline Hanson’s bloody fish and chip shop?
Don’t you know we’ve got some interesting historical museums and
architecture here in Ipswich? You’re just like everyone else who
comes here. All they want to do is visit a bloody fish and chip
shop. I hope you don’t vote for the witch?”
I couldn’t help but grin at his reply. Before
I could say anything he calmed down and gave me directions.
On this occasion, I
stopped by in Ipswich not to visit Pauline but for lunch with an
old friend John Coyle. Similar to myself, John is a fellow
railway enthusiast. We sat in the kitchen chewing down
sandwiches and drinking mugs of tea while we rave on about
trains for an hour or so. John is also a bus and timetable
enthusiast. In the middle of his living room floor were three
large boxes full of railway and bus timetables from throughout
Australia and the United States.
boxes are for sale, they go back to the 70’s when I first
started collecting. I want around $300 for all three boxes”
“Why are you
selling them John? These are your hobby.” I said.
know, but we’ve just moved into this new house and I don’t have
room for them.”
I picked up a copy of
the Queensland country rail timetable dated 1972. I flipped
through it looking at timetables for trains heading out onto
country branch lines that I never even knew they existed, let
alone there were passenger trains running on them.
about my planned trip as John put the kettle on again. I told
him how I’d planned that my first major stop will be Mount
Morgan where I planned to spend a few days. I’d decided to head
there via the inland route along the Burnett Highway. The road
is sealed but not as smooth, wide and busy as the main coastal
highway. The best part is that there is a lot less traffic. My
planned speed of 40 mph while everyone else wants to do the
maximum speed of 100 km/h causes other drivers incredible
frustration on the main roads. On a dual lane road other drivers
often try to run me off the road, or try to overtake on the
left. It’s a frightening experience to have another car fly past
in the dust overtaking you on the left. It surprises me how many
drivers do it. I think that a lot of drivers don’t think that it
going that way can you stop by at a town called Thangool. Stop
and take a few pictures of the town, the pub, local café,
railway station and the railway yards. That’s if there is
anything there. Trains stopped running through there some years
ago. Maybe the old station is still there. About 30 years ago I
went for a train ride up through there. I had to change trains
at Thangool. The next train didn’t leave until the following
morning. It was after dark, so I went over to the pub and asked
for a room. They said that they had no rooms left, so I had to
go and sleep on the station. But they seemed a weird mob at the
pub. Maybe they didn’t like the look of me or something. Anyway,
no way would they let me stay there. I went down to the café for
a steak sandwich and a cup of tea. They didn’t seem very
friendly either.” he said.
certainly stop at the town and get some pics with my digital
camera and email them back to you. A part of the problem back
then out in that part of the country was that there were no
tourists. The only people passing through were probably locals,
farmers and railwaymen. You obviously didn’t know it but you
walked in there dressed like a city boy. You were different.
They didn’t know you so they were probably in some way scared of
you. I remember back in those days, the 70’s, your hair only had
to be just a slight bit longer than everyone else’s and you were
labelled a communist. You were probably one of the first
tourists to ever go to the town. Let’s face it, how many
tourists would have passed through towns like Thangool in the
early 70’s. Maybe a few railway enthusiasts and that’s about
all. The world is a smaller place now. The area is now probably
full of tourists.”
my cup of tea and bid John farewell. He came out to check out
Hewie, but he’s not really a classic car enthusiast. But, if
Hewie was an old Rio bus, or in fact any other type of old bus,
it would have been different story.
I drove to the end of
the street that John lives in. On the corner just before I
turned onto the main road out of Ipswich there is an old shed.
Either it had never been painted or it was 50 years ago since
the last coat. Inside was a hoist and on the hoist was a Moggy
ute. I stopped by and spoke with the mechanics who were working
on the back suspension.
corner I stopped at a garage, filled up with fuel and checked
the oil. Hewie hadn’t used a drop since leaving Ballina,
a distance 150 kilometres. As I stood there looking at the dip
stick a Queensland Rail train driver came over to have a look at
Hewie. We stood there talking about Moggies before we got
on to the subject of trains. After a half hour rave about
classic cars and trains, I finally said goodbye. He was the
first person to approach me to have a look and talk about Hewie
and classic cars since I started the trip. The first of hundreds
I’d stop to talk with throughout the length of the trip.
I headed out
onto the Brisbane Valley Highway and north up through the small
towns of Esk, Moore and Blackbutt. The engine sang as Hewie made
his way along this quiet country back road. With buzz of the
new engine and the freedom of finally breaking free of the
crowded coastal roads I settled back to enjoy the drive and the
cool freshness of the afternoon. At dusk I pulled into a service
station at Yarraman and topped up the tank and checked the oil.
Hewie still hadn’t used a drop since leaving Ballina.
Dusk was turning into night as I drove out of the station. I
pulled the light switch on. The engine started to feel a little
sluggish. Furthermore the headlights didn’t seem as bright as
they usually were. But, I continued on, and decided that I’d
find a room in a pub at the next major town.
I drove into
Nanango around 7.30 pm and came to a halt out front the of
town’s only take-away café. A group of teenagers sat on a bench
seat out front eating their hamburgers and drinking Coke. The
surrounding street lights gave off a minimal amount of light but
a strong fluorescent light shone out of the shop. If there is a
problem this’ll be a good place to look under the bonnet, I
thought to myself. But it’s just habit that as soon as I stop I
reach over and turn off the ignition. As the engine stopped, I
thought to myself. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done that before
checking under the bonnet.” I pulled on the starter again. Sure
enough the battery was dead as a door nail.
I opened the
bonnet and checked the battery cables and the cable leading to
the starter motor. The light wasn’t the best, but I pulled out a
blown fuse and replaced it. I asked the teenagers for a push and
Hewie kicked over but there was little to no light
beaming from the headlights. I pulled into the service station
on the opposite side of the street where I was parked. Searching
under the bonnet in a little more light than what I was getting
on the opposite side of the street I found the problem. The two
wires leading from the generator to the voltage regulator were
so old they were appeared to be original form the day Hewie
rolled off the production line in England 53 years ago. The
wires were chaffing on each other, worn through, and causing a
the wires and put some tape around the affected areas, closed
the bonnet and pushed Hewie over to a parking area on the side
of the service station.
I headed up
town, stopping in at the first pub and asked for a room.
we’re full for the night”
full?????” I asked, thinking to myself what’s, a pub in a
small country town like this doing to be full this time of the
year? It’s not school holidays or anything like that.
“Yeah, there’s a large power station just
out of town. They’ve had some major break-downs, all the
accommodation in town is full of sub-contractors.”
I thought back to recent articles I’d read in newspapers about
power outages in Queensland. He was right.
“You can try
the other hotels but I don’t think you’ll have much luck around
I walked out
of the pub and crossed the main street and walked into the main
bar of another hotel. The bar was full of drinkers. The place
went quite as I stepped in the door and all the drinkers turned
and looked at me.
said to them all. I could hear a few grunts and murmurs of G’day
come from the crowd as the woman working behind the bar beckoned
for a room for the night”
we’re full. Full of sub-contractors from the power station”
suggestions?” I asked.
One of the drinkers
stepped forward and introduced himself as Garry, a thin middle
aged guy with mop of ginger hair and New Zealand accent.
“I run a
caravan park 3 kms out of town on the right. We’re full but we
do have an old van that you could have. It’s $28 for the night.
Just let me finish my drink and I’ll give you a lift down there”
I’ve got a car, but I’m having a few problems with it at the
moment. I’ll try and head down there now. If you see me on the
side of the road, stop and give me a lift. It’s an old Morris
those things, I’m from New Zealand”
I walked back to
Hewie and opened the door and was about to get in when a
voice came from behind.
can you give us a push, my battery is flat and I can’t get my
lights working” I looked up at a tall skinny bloke in a cowboy
I’m having exactly the same problem, how about we get your car
going first and you stop and help me push mine”
I called out to a new
group of teenagers who were hanging out in front of the
take-away food store. They were glad to assist and came over and
we got the cowboy’s van running. He stopped and came back and we
all got together and pushed Hewie. He started with a little
splutter. They all looked on with big smiles on their faces and
cheered me on as they all stood in the street.
guys” I yelled back at them and continued on out of town to
Garry’s caravan park. Garry swung in just after I arrived and
took me down to see the van. It looked rough from the outside,
but when he opened the door and turned on the lights and we
looked inside it looked like a bomb had hit the place. Doors on
the cupboards were missing and the paint and varnish looked as
if it had never been replaced since the day the van was built
sometime back in the mid 60’s. I climbed in and stuck my head
around the entrance to the bedroom.
supply blankets or linen”
On the bed was a grubby
old piece of foam mattress, with a 100 cm hole in the middle.
“Is this all
you’ve got?” I asked.
head on over to the office, I’ll pay you.”
Over at the office Garry
introduced me to his wife who was obviously the office manager.
“One night is it.?”
“That’ll be $30 then, thank you” I handed her
my Visa card.
“Sorry, it’s cash only. We don’t have an
EFTPOS machine because the bank fees are too high.”
I settled in cash, not
bothering to query the extra two dollars.
I went back out to the parking lot where I’d
left Hewie with the lights off but with the motor still running
to charge the battery. I drove over to the van and made up a bed
with my own linen, and a couple of blankets. Making myself
comfortable on the side of the bed to best avoid the hole in the
middle I tuned my small radio to the Australian Broadcasting
Commissions local service. The news came on. It finished with
“Tomorrow will be warm
and sunny, with a high of 28C and an overnight low of minus
three in the Kingaroy and Nanango districts”
Great! I thought to
myself as I lay inside the thin aluminium caravan with only a
thin strip of plywood as insulation and wall covering.
As I expected, I awoke
about 4 am and re-adjusted the blankets, pulled on my jeans and
sweater and leather jacket and tried to go back to sleep. I
awoke again just on sunrise, jumped out of the bed and headed
over for a hot shower to warm up. Back at the van I made a cup
of tea and was sitting on the step of the van drinking it and
appreciating the clear and dry morning when Garry came over.
“Where are you headed?”
I opened the bonnet for
him to inspect the motor.
“I had one of these when I was a kid in New
Zealand, but it had the overhead valve engine in it.”
“How long’ve you been in Australia?” I asked
“Not long. We recently just bought the
caravan park. You should’ve seen the place when we first took
over. What a hell hole! It was mainly full of permanents. Most
of them were druggies on the dole. I got rid of al those
“How’d you do that, without causing a public
outcry” I asked.
“It was simple, they’d all light up their
marijuana pipes each morning, some were doing heroine. As soon
as I could smell it, I just called the police. They’d come down
and search the van find some drugs and drag the druggies out of
“These people weren’t hurting anyone and they
have to live somewhere” I said.
“Yeah, but they’re not livin’ ere!”
I finished my tea and
packed my belongings into Hewie and took down the top. I
jumped in and pulled the starter but the battery was dead flat.
I called over a few of the residents who gave me a push start. I
bid everyone farewell as I headed out of the gate and onto the
road to Kingaroy.
Known for the fact that it’s the peanut
capital of Australia and also home of one of Australia’s most
controversial and longest standing state premiers,
Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson.
Sir Johs’ most remembered bill was banning the right to
demonstrate, as it blocked traffic. Illegal demonstrations were
then organised to demonstrate against the lack of freedom in not
being able to demonstrate. Sir Joh went down in history as one
of the most conservative state premiers. Likewise his wife
Florence, or Flo, will always be remembered for her recipe for
The run up from Nanango
to Kingaroy took about 25 minutes. Kingaroy is a larger town
than Nanango. I stopped by a roadside caravan selling roasted
peanuts. I purchased some peanuts and a postcard with Flo’s
scone recipe and a picture of Flo on it and headed into the
tourist office in town to pick up some maps of the area. It had
been about 30 years since I last visited Kingaroy. That last
time was by train. I’d travelled by express train from Brisbane
to Gympie along the main coastal railway. This took about 8
hours. At Gympie I’d changed for a goods train with passenger
accommodation, a passenger carriage hooked onto the end of a
freight train. This train travelled through the night, stopping
off at small towns whereby it’d shunt freight cars on and off
the train. I’d be sound asleep in the middle of the night. Then
would come an almighty crashhhhh as a freight car was pounded
into the back of the passenger car I was in. This happened at
almost every stop which happened about every hour and half to
two hours. It was little wonder that only I and one other person
were the only passengers.
When the sun came up I
could see that other person sitting at the end of the carriage,
(no lights in the carriage) so I wandered down to say hello. I
introduced myself, the first question I asked him was.
“Is this your first time
on this train, or do you travel often?”
“Sure do travel on it
often, probably once or twice a month” he said.
“Sounds painful” I
“Believe me it is. Once
leaving Gympie it takes over 10 hours to travel a little over
100 miles. That averages out around 10 miles an hour. The
drivers waste so much time at each town. They take ages to do
their shunting and when they finish they just seem to hang
around talking and drinking tea.”
“Then why do you travel
on it” I asked.
“I travel to Brisbane
for medical treatment, I have a free pass”
“Ahhh, that explains
train arrived into Kingaroy about two hours late, we shook
hands, and he went home while I went to visit an uncle and aunt.
After a couple of days on their cattle farm I caught a bus back
to Brisbane. It took about five hours and cost about a third of
the train fare.
Trains carrying passengers stopped running to Kingaroy back in
the late 70’s. But I could still remember the old station with
the peanut silos in the background. I drove into town to where I
could see the railway line. Something had changed. The line was
there but I couldn’t at first see the station. I parked Hewie
and got out, the station was still there but had been turned
around at an angle of 90 degrees to the railway line, a new coat
of paint added and converted into the Kingaroy Tourist Office.
I wandered in and was confronted with a wide range
of wineries and art galleries while I was visiting the area that
is now known as the South Burnett region. Last time I was, here
peanuts and cattle were the mainstay, but now tourism was
proving more fun and probably just as profitable.
The main highway through the area is the number 17
or Burnett Highway which follows a north south direction but
misses Kingaroy which is on the back road (sealed) and connects
with the Burnett highway at Goomeri. I headed on to the next
small town of Murgon where I arrived about midday. Again what
was once a peanut and cattle town was now the host to art
galleries, small restaurants and coffee shops.
From Wondai, we (Hewie
and I) headed further west passing through the small village of
Hivesville and then into Proston. About 35 kilometres off the
beaten track Proston is off the tourist trail. The railway and a
butter factory once stood at the end of town. The station still
stands but the butter factory sits in ruins. I stopped for a
look over the old railway and butter factory. There was a pub,
service station and a few shops.
I continued on via a quiet sealed back road to for
two hours to reach the fruit growing town of Mundubbera. A few
kilometres from the centre of town the earth turned from brown
grass to the brilliant green of citrus orchards. The town is a
service centre for the surrounding area. I pulled up outside the
Mundubbera Hotel and got a room with nice clean linen, plenty of
blankets and a comfortable mattress for $25. If those luxuries
weren’t enough the walls were built with solid four inch thick
bricks and an electric heater was fixed to the wall. I lay on
the bed and the thought of last nights caravan came to my mind
before drifting off to sleep. I awoke just before 7pm and dived
downstairs to the dining room for a giant T-bone steak, chips
and salad for twelve dollars. This was all a big improvement on
last nights stay at Nanango!
Next morning on my way out I stopped by the dining
room for a cup of tea, toast and cereal which is included in the
cost of the room. It’s on a prepare-it-yourself deal which is
included in the cost of most pub rooms in Australia.
It was a cool misty morning and the temperature
probably got down to the minus something overnight. Great
weather for citrus country and Hewie, I turned on the ignition,
let the fuel pump up, then pulled the choke half way out and
pulled the starter. He kicked over first hit. The battery was
fully charged again. I headed through the town and north again
towards the town of Biloela. As I drove through town, a big
mandarin appeared on my left. I pulled over to the side of the
road. Next to the mandarin was a caravan and camping park. I got
out of Hewie and stood back to take a picture of Hewie with the
mandarin in the background. As I was shooting away the owner of
the mandarin, camp ground, caravan park and tourist office came
out to have a closer look at Hewie.
“You’ll make it!” he told me when I told him I’m off
on a tour around Australia.
He introduced himself as John and asked me in for
breakfast. I thought breakfast would just be a cup of tea and a
slice of toast but inside he cooked up eggs, bacon, tomatoes,
baked beans and enough toast to feed an army. While we munched
away he told me stories of the people who stay in the caravan
park and camping ground.
“Most of the people are fruit pickers. They come
here for the season then move on and we generally see them back
here again next year. We get a lot of backpackers, there’s
plenty of work. Do you want a job?”
“What do you do back in Ballina” he asked. Rather
than be specific, I just said..
“I’ve got a guy camped over in the camp ground. He’s
been here for a few months picking fruit. Originally from
Melbourne, he was also in the computer business. He told me he
was sick of it. And the guy is only in his thirties! Just
couldn’t stand sitting in front of a cathode ray tube all day in
an air-conditioned office. He said he thought there’s got to be
something more to life than this. So he just got up and left and
ended up here picking mandarins for a living”
I sat there thinking of myself and the real reason
why I’m also doing this trip around Australia.
“Well, I suppose I’m much the same as him. I don’t like to admit
it, but sitting in front of a PC bores me too. Sometimes I’ve
just got to get up and do something creative with my hands.
Sometimes I go out and clean the spark plugs on Hewie,
that’s the Morris, or do some weeding in the garden. Then I feel
better and can sit a bit longer in front of the screen. But, in
the end I’m like the computer guy come fruit picker. There’s so
much you can take. Right now I kind of see myself as living in
cyberspace. I manage a web site. It makes enough to keep the
wolves from the door. But it isn’t going to make me a
millionaire. It’s not a new Google or eBay or anything like
that. Much of my time is trying new ways to get people to spend
their money through the site. But in the last year or so, I just
couldn’t find any success. I just couldn’t move forward.
“Ever felt like that?” I asked.
all at times?” he replied.
your friend I just put the PC into the back of the car, threw in
a few changes of clothes, some camping gear and headed off. That
piece of shit will never make it around Oz they told me. Whether
it does or doesn’t anything has to be better than sitting in
front of that screen all day. Don’t think I’ve chucked computers
in completely, no way, I’ll have to stop off at a motel a couple
of nights a week so that I can sep up a temporary office and
connect to the internet, answer emails and make any updates that
are needed to the site.
you do when you get back home” John asked.
book about it, I suppose”
“In front of
a computer?” he asked as I put down my knife and fork, picked up
my tea cup and sipped the last mouthful of tea from it.
I tried to think of an answer.
I thanked John for his
hospitality and headed back out onto the Burnett Highway and
again headed north, this time towards the next major town of
Monto. The run through to Monto took about two hours. As I drove
into town an old 4 ton Thames Trader pulled out of a side lane
fully loaded with bales of hay. I was actually travelling faster
than him so I overtook and gave him a wave and toot of the horn.
I arrived in Monto about lunch time and headed into a local
sandwich shop for a sandwich. As I walked out I noticed the
Thames Trader make a turn into the railway freight yards. I
found a park and sat in the shade and ate my sandwich and
afterwards went down to railway yards to find the old Trader.
They were parked beside a covered rail wagon and man handling
the hay into the wagon. I came alongside in Hewie and mentioned
that the year was 2004. Loading bales of hay by human muscle
power into railway wagons was something that I thought went out
of fashion back in the 60’s.
bale loader broke down. It’s tough yakka but we’ve got to do it
as the train is leaving tonight” he said
“Why are you
sending it off by train? I thought trains only carried
containers, coal, wheat and cattle around here. Where are you
sending it too?”
That’s a long way to send hay? What’s wrong with the stuff they
have up there.”
“This is the
best hay in the state of Queensland. We send it all over the
The scene appeared from something out of the 1950’s.
wearing wide brimmed hats, loading bales of hay onto a train
from an old truck. I got my camera out and took some pictures.
From Monto I
spent the rest of the afternoon driving through to the coal
mining and power station town of Biloela. Biloela is a modern,
with wide streets and new buildings. Major food and take-away
chains bid for my attention on the main corners as I drove in.
There is the feel of wealth that comes from not only coal and
electricity but from the cattle, meat works, cotton production,
dairying, wheat, sorghum, lucerne and other grains and cereals
produced in the area.
I set up
camp at the Boomerang Caravan Park about one kilometre from the
center of town. But it wasn’t a good idea. Like in Nanango I
woke up in the early hours of the morning frozen. I promised
myself not to set up camp again until I got further north where
it’ll be warmer or I would have to buy a sleeping bag. The two
blankets I had weren’t sufficient. Further north, just a sheet
will be enough, and that’s just a few days away. Until then I
decided to just stay in pubs, or freeze.
side of camping is that you have your own mattress. There’s
nothing like your own bed with your own linen and familiar old
blanket for a sound nights sleep. Camping also has soul. It is
also the place to meet the most interesting people. Pubs come
second, although they’re not as popular as they were before
motels became popular. But they’re generally good value,
generally less then half the price of a motel room. Motels are
the most soulless; everyone locks themselves into their own
little room with the TV switched on and the air-conditioner
pumping away. At least at a camp ground you tend to strike up a
conversation with the campers next to you.
into town and found an internet café. I parked Hewie next to a
faded red series II Morris Minor.
Her name was Agnes, painted in
small letters on the drivers side door. While tapping away on
emails in the internet café I kept one eye out the window hoping
that the owner would come along. But Agnes’ owner failed to
I managed to
condense a day of work at the office
down to an hour at the
local internet café and was soon on the road again and this time made
it through to Mount Morgan, arriving there just after midday.