Where to begin?! Firstly we celebrated Winnie's electrical problem being solved by biking to the local Hotel to watch the State of Origin decider (a bit like the Ashes only interstate Rugby League!). We have no lights on our bikes so to do this we had 2 LED lanterns hanging from our handlebars - hmmm, but we were only on cycle paths, well, for most of the way! We then headed up the coast, stopping to see the Captain Cook Memorial Cairn at 1770, so named 'cos thats when he landed there!! And I just have to mention the Butterfly Walk along the headland. Bob and I set out along the track, knowing it wasn't the right time of day to see butterflies. However, the scenery was stunning so no problem. Suddenly a dead branch dropped from a palm and butterflies were everywhere. We then looked closely and there were thousands just clinging to the palms and occasionally they would fly. Apparently at dusk it is an awesome sight but what we saw was pretty special too!
And then to our next site which I found by chance on an app. We had to negotiate a steep hill but were met by Gary at the top holding a baby Joey in a blanket. He rescues orphaned kangaroos and raises them at his home. They are free to come and go as they please, and the males actually leave at a certain age to go and join another mob of kangaroos. So we parked our van in his 'garden' along with some others, and then went to feed the kangaroos with sweet potato. We could stroke them and walk amongst them as they were practically tame. Some had joeys in their pouches that would poke their heads out. But then they would bound off down the hill, reminding you that they were actually wild animals. Saying goodbye to the 'roos in the morning was hard but at least we had contributed something to their upkeep. Good work Gary!!
The next steep hill we met was at a site near Emu Park. Unfortunately this time Winnie couldn't make it to the top, despite two attempts. We parked at a lower level and walked up to sample the views instead. It was STEEP! From there we boarded the boat to Great Keppel Island - a 30 minute catamaran journey, followed by a 1hr glass-bottom boat trip across the coral. Wow! I forgot all about being seasick - there was so much to see and marvel at including manta rays, giant clams and all sorts of weirdly coloured fish. We had free time on the amazing beach so we hired snorkel equipment. This was a big thing for me as I am not confident in water and hate putting my head under but I had been practising for this moment in the pools of Bali and KL. Well, the first time I saw a fish I opened my mouth to tell Bob and nearly drowned myself! He thought it was hilarious, me not so, but I persevered and was actually so enjoying it by the end that I was following the fish around and not thinking about breathing or whether the water was in my ears or not. I can't wait to snorkel again!
That evening we walked into Rockhampton as it was their River Festival and firework display. Their map didn't seem quite in sync with what was actually there though and we couldn't find the food stalls. We ended up in Headricks ( a play on Hendricks methinks?!) and had the most amazing barramundi and steak, at an exorbitant price, but a brill end to a fantastic day!
However, the next day or two were not so good. On the advice of a guy at a previous caravan site we decided to head for a caravan repair place to replace the hose to our gas cylinder. What a good job we did! Not only did the hose need replacing, but the low gas pressure reading led them to do more investigating and it turns out that the gas certificate we had been given when we purchased the van was not worth the paper it had been written on! Our fridge didn't have a flue to the outside, and there was no bottom to it meaning all the fumes could enter the van. When he mentioned Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and did we have a monitor, the penny dropped! One day the previous week it had rained and I had cooked in the van for the first, and only, time (as opposed to cooking outside, not eating out!). We had also shut down the roof vents because of the rain. The next morning Bob and I both had a headache, nothing major but unusual for both of us to remark on it, and I had no energy that day - I just wanted to relax and do nothing. We now think it was mild CO poisoning - how lucky were we that we went to get the pipe changed! It's actually very sobering as Bob and I bought the van from a dealer thinking we were doing the right thing as they have to provide a gas safety certificate. Anyway, it is all sorted now and we are fine, the dealer is reimbursing us and once they have they will be getting an email!!!
While waiting for the van to be sorted we visited Capricorn Caves. Oh my word, we went into one chamber called the Cathedral. They started playing music and the acoustics were amazing - apparently better than the Sydney Opera House - but then the lights went out. It was CAVE black, I have never seen such blackness if that makes sense. Bob was next to me and I couldn't even see him, not an outline or shadow. It was quite eerie and scary at the same time. We also biked to Archer Park Railway Museum which, to be honest, had the van been ok we would probably have given a miss. However, with time to kill, we gave it a go and were so pleased we did. The sound effects of the old steam train arriving along the platform were awesome and I got to change the signal!
Today, with a healthy Winnie (and CO monitor!), we undertook the long drive from Rockhampton to Sarina. A social media post I had read said there was nothing to see or do - it's so funny how people's perceptions are so different. We loved the scenery, which changed from cows to sugar cane, and we loved waving to the fellow motorhome drivers. We spotted different mail boxes, ranging from normal to milk churns, to hollow trees to microwaves! And we loved Flaggy Rock Rest Area where they served delicious homemade icecreams - I had Malteser and Bob had Jaffa Orange. On arriving at Sarina we then headed off to the lookout point to see Port Hay, which is a massive coal distribution plant. The jetties stretch for 3.5 km offshore but look so close. It was only when we looked through the free telescope provided that we realised how huge these jetties were. The trains bringing in the coal are 2km long and the machinery is just gigantic. We took photos but you just can't see the enormity of it all.
Well, we are now over halfway to Cairns, a little behind schedule but that couldn't be helped. At least we are on our way again!