|Ok, so a change to our plans. We had picked up a brochure on the Fraser Coast and found just what we wanted. A little island where turtles laid their eggs and manta ray might be seen, so decided to forgo Fraser Island and we booked three nights at Lady Elliot Island.
We set off for the Fraser Coast, up the Bruce Highway but turned off to visit Tin Can Bay, just because! We drove through mile after mile of coniferous plantations, boring, boring, boring. The planters did have the grace to leave the odd stretch of native forest, but after a while, they were just more trees. In one area there was a sign to be careful of koalas, so we turned into a side road and stopped to look for them. It was a very hot day with only a gentle, very warm breeze so we expected the koalas to be asleep but we found one, about 30 feet up a tree chewing away at the leaves. On and into Tin Can Bay, it was an odd place, quite small though stretched out along the road. It did have great views across the very shallow beaches to Rainbow Beach on the other side of the inlet.
On, towards Maryborough (pronounced Marribburra!), again through miles and miles of coniferous plantations but again we broke the journey and called in at Poona for lunch. Poona was on the opposite shore to Fraser Island, the tide was out and there were vast expanses of beach with just a few curlews poking around. The breeze had got stronger but it was still a beautiful place to sit and eat lunch. Poona was very quiet, but it was the middle of the day and very hot.
Back on the road to Maryborough through the boring plantations, the trouble with Australia is that there is an awful lot of scenery and towns are few and far between. Maryborough was a lovely town with many buildings dating from the turn of the 19th century and all in good shape. It was a railhead and in the middle of the sugar cane growing area. It looked quite prosperous.
The road out to Hervey Bay was good and wound past sugar cane fields and some woodland, a bit of a relief from the pine plantations, though it was vast tracts of monoculture. The town took us by surprise, all along the approach road were several miles of malls, car showrooms, fast food outlets and all sorts of services, much as we might have expected on the outskirts of large American towns. We had not seen this elsewhere in Australia.
The town itself sprawled over a vast area, not at all what we expected, but anyway we headed for Torquay to find our campsite. It was a good site, right on the beach, and with good, very clean facilities. I managed to get our parking completely wrong; I parked with our rear to the ocean (for a good view from our bed), and on the concrete slab. This despite notices to the contrary, on both counts, we found in the office when we checked in. The lovely lady in the office forgave us our errors and even gave us a discount on the overnight fee! A British accent and a few grey hairs can work wonders, sometimes.
Laundry duties called, so that done and with everything drying in the breeze, we headed for the ocean. It was almost flat calm, and warm, absolutely wonderful and it was great to laze around in the water in the late afternoon sun. Dinner was cooked and eaten in the camp kitchen overlooking the beach and ocean as the sun went down, it was beautiful - and it was warm. As dusk fell we saw fruit bats (known locally as flying foxes) flying around and the red-golden sky as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon. The trouble was, it was only just after 7pm, so what to do now? Well some ice cream in our freezer was begging to be eaten, and there was blog writing to catch up on.....and so to bed.
And then the stars came out........with little light pollution they were brilliant.
The next morning we were, yet again, woken by the birds, singing away, but at least there were no cockatoos. It was disappointingly grey, but there was blue sky on the horizon and as the sun rose the clouds dissipated. It was lovely and warm and soon became hot. So, a quick dip in the ocean, breakfast, waste water chores and we were ready to go. Not far today, just up the road to Hervey Bay Airport, check the camper into a secure car park and check in for our flight to Lady Elliot Island.