The beach at Joseph Banks National ParkWoke up with the intent of going for a swim at the 1770 beach. Wolf Creek man who camped beside me had already left around 5am so I gave up on the idea of being murdered. Of course, the rain from Burrum Heads had followed me here but it was hard enough to come in through my open windows while I was sleeping and wet the mattress a little. The 4 germans behind me had left all their chairs out overnight and had to sit in their britz van instead for breakfast. I fumbled with the gas cooker in the camp kitchen until one of the guys pointed out a second switch that I’d missed. Around 8.30 I was all packed up and headed up to Joseph Banks National park to see if it was possible to swim. Although it didn’t look too bad there wasn’t anyone else there and with a long hilly walk to the bottom I didn’t want to risk it. Instead I walked around the headland to the “lighthouse” and got scared by at least two large lizards. Decided I was hot enough to go for a swim at Agnes Waters where yesterday I’d seen lifeguards.

So glad I decided to go to Agnes Waters beach for the swim. When I arrived there was a guy and a kid swimming while the hot lifeguard chick set up but within 10 minutes the beach was all mine except for some surfers a way away and the lifeguard. The swell was sedate enough that there were a few white caps but mainly I was able to lie on the boogie board and just bob on the waves in one position. I was there at least an hour by my guess, not feeling the usual I want to get out. I was truly happy – no anxiousness, no annoying people, no place better to go. It was fantastic and what I rate as my best beach experience ever. I thought about how Pauline and I could make a life there, work in Bundaberg maybe, while living in the swim up resort apartments that are being built right next to the beach. I liked Agnes Waters better than 1770 even, but I’m not sure how I feel about living in a place called Agnes – it’s such a horrible word. I thought it might have been named after a woman, but it was actually named after a ship that may have sunk nearby. Most likely the ship was named after a woman called Agnes anyway but a ship makes it a little more bearable.

Eventually I got out, not really wanting to but my mouth was starting to be too salty and my fingers had become prunes. Shockingly I had not been burned, especially since I didn’t wear sunscreen but I think that has to do with it being overcast. I put my wet clothes in the van, something that normally prevents me from swimming in places but I was determined this time and headed off towards Gladstone. Got some petrol at fingersmith on the turn off to Miriam Vale. At Miriam Vale I realised I’d been there before for the inaugural Golden Girls trip. Auntie Sue, Mum, Pauline and I had stopped at the lovely park one street over from the highway and had a cup of tea and biscuits. My lack of planning an urn meant that I couldn’t replicate the experience so instead I visited the information centre and picked up some brochures. I’m crazy about info centres, I just love visiting them for some strange reason.

My camp site at Gladstone Caravan parkDriving onwards I finally arrived in Gladstone – a town I’ve never visited because the highway doesn’t really go through it. Followed the signs to the city centre and was rudely disappointed by what it had to offer. With the refinery on the horizon and lack of good beaches it reminded my of Wolloongong, another industrial town I wasn’t impressed with. Feeling a little tired (either from the swim or nuts I’d been consuming from Childers) I decided I’d stay here anyway and see if first impressions changed. Found the Barney Beach Big 4 caravan park which I was intrigued to stay at simply because they called it a “boutique” caravan park. So what is boutique in a caravan park? A lot cleaner, better grass, marked car spots, pink lady toilets, great camp kitchen and clean pool. Plus it’s a lock up so only the campers can really get in. Oh, and the bin smells like dead fish which kept wafting in my direction. Gross.

I backed in to my spot which the lady personally guided me to, then went across the road for some ice and lunch. Charged up all my electrical goods while I ate, then read and rested and hid from the people in the camp kitchen and who later came back and swam. Finally around 3.30pm they left the pool and I went in. Didn’t really want to go any earlier anyway since it was too hot. Had the pool to myself which was great as well. Can’t remember the last time I did that. I floated around listening to my breathing which I guess is some form of meditation but I wasn’t trying to meditate! Got out and sat in the sun in my wet clothes then read and charged things again.

Alumina Refinery at GladstoneDecided I was going to give Gladstone a second chance and went for a drive to see what I could find. First stop was the viewing platform on a hill that gave me a grand eye view of the Refinery. Not very pleasant you may think, but the process of making Aluminum turns the buildings a sort of reddy pinkish colour. I’m kind of ashamed but I do find industrial buildings like that interesting even while they are polluting up the world. Although, according to the viewing platform propoganda, the refinery meets ISO blah blah standards for the environment. Yeah and I’m sure they are set real high.

After smelling rotten fish all day I felt like a bit of fish and chips for dinner and thought the marina might be the best place to go. Although I found a fish market and an expensive restaurant, I didn’t find a corner store that I was looking for. I also found a university at the marina which was rather unexpected. Next time you are thinking of uni, go here and live on a yacht – 5 minutes walk to class! Thought I’d drive back to the caravan park to see if there were shops closer and found Fordy’s on Tank St Fish and Chips. The menu had prices updated with paper all over it and it didn’t look too promising but I tell you what, they make some fantastic fish and chips there! I took my battered snapper and chicken flavoured chips up to Friend park at Barney Beach and me an my no friends drank Bundabeg Burgandee (oh pink creaming soda where have you been all my life) and ate the great food. Back to the park and I’m here charging my gear again and writing this blog while hoping the cane toad near my feet doesn’t go in to my van – I don’t want to sleep with it tonight. People in the camp kitchen are watching tv which is the first time I’ve heard it for days. I’ve been trying to avoid tv, but at least I can say I haven’t seen it yet.

More Day 4 photos.

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