Tuesday 8 & Wednesday 9 May: Heading back to the coast

Author: Mrs A

Location: From Springsure to Mackay via Clermont, Queensland

Tuesday morning, Mr A woke enthusiastically at 6.30am and set about washing and cleaning the caravan and car – within an hour he had been offered several jobs doing the same for other travellers…I must take note for future – when in need of extra wine funds, send Mr A out to work. With gleaming luxury apartment and tug, we set off on our way.

Our first stop was the settlement of Emerald, no prizes for guessing what was mined there (or the nearby towns of Rubyvale or Sapphire). We visited the ‘award winning bakery’ to find a loaf of bread for lunch – the thick cut wholemeal bread may as well have been thin cut white bread – it tasted like it had come out of a bread maker. Very ordinary and not a shadow on our friend Andy’s awesome baking.

So on we drove, heading to the town of Clermont, for no other reason than it was half way to Mackay.

We set up on an unpowered site at the local caravan park – a pretty basic site in a dusty paddock at the back of the caravan park. The park was pretty busy, apparently mostly full of people there to try their hand at mining, panning for gold or working for the local mining companies. I now know where the term ‘Rough diamond’ comes from.

I made some Bliss Balls and we relaxed for the afternoon, making plans for the coming days and enjoying the local birdlife – wedge tailed eagles soaring overhead, often chased by crows and other smaller birds, as well as pale faced rosellas, musk and rainbow lorikeets and honeyeaters flitting around the trees.

Wednesday’s morning saw us pull away around 9am and begin heading for the coast, travelling through busy coal mining country, full of specifically built characterless towns, oversized machinery, many, many white utes, all driving with purpose, and long coal laden trains heading for the port.

Temperatures in their 30s dropped to the mid 20s as we neared the coastal breezes, and the settlement of Mackay. Neither of us had really visited this town before. We stayed in a nearby national park 16 years ago on our honeymoon, but otherwise had no expectations of this coastal town.

It’s clear that mining and the growing of sugarcane play a big part in the community and success of the town, with fields of sugar lining the roadsides as you enter. We dropped the caravan at a Big4 park so Tassie could get some rest while we ran around doing some tasks – first of all a replacement lid for our toilet at a caravan shop, then collecting parcels at the city centre post office (our latest Vinomofo wine supplies – yay!), and finally some bits and pieces at the supermarket.

We weren’t back long before it was time to shower and catch a taxi into town for our night out at the local Indian. Mr A had suggested I might be keen for a night off cooking, and I jumped at the chance for an evening away from the stove and an opportunity to smarten up and brush my hair!

The Indian restaurant we chose was #3 on TripAdvisor, but despite that we had low expectations given our previous experiences. Fortunately we were pleasantly surprised by a delicious menu and great wine – the wine list apparently influenced by Qantas’ choices! They all worked well with the predominantly North Indian flavours.We had a couple of delicious dishes – a Chilli Chicken and a Lamb Balti, accompanied by little pappadoms and some cumin and pea basmati rice. The wine we selected was an Italian Sangiovese from Tuscany. A great night. We decided to stay in Mackay tomorrow night too, feeling the need for a day off travelling.

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