When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Coast and South

We left Carnarvon Gorge back through the construction and cattle to the main road. There we turned west and headed towards Mt. Morgan, an old gold/silver mining town. Along the way we saw our first camel. Supposedly some of them run wild in Australia but this is our first and he looks to be in a pasture and owned by someone. But maybe he just likes the food and water here, who knows?





Mt. Morgan is an abandoned gold/silver/lead mine that was the richest in the world in the early 1900’s. There were thousands of tons of gold and silver taken out of it as well as a lot of lead. But like all mines it ran out and has been abandoned. A fire destroyed many of the buildings and rust has taken over. The only way to see it is to take the guided tour. We signed up for it and rode in a small bus with 3 others. The driver/tour guide was interesting and showed us the town and took us to the mine headquarters, now a museum. Then we were driven up a rough road to the rim of the open pit. In the mid 1900’s this was the largest open pit in the world. We stood on the rim and learned about the ongoing and costly environmental recovery program and issues. It will be a long time in transition. The water in the pit has to be treated to be allowed out of the pit. The local rivers are just beginning to have a return of fish and frogs. The smokestack in the center is the same one in both pictures but shown from opposite directions.











The guidebook we had read, printed several years ago, had said that a dinosaur footprint cave was part of the tour. The footprints are in the ceiling of the cave and stick down rather than being in the floor and recessed like the dinosaur stampede we saw. The “cave” was actually the firebrick clay mine where the gold mine got its raw material for all the brickwork in the smelter. The footprints are part of the clay layer that settled on top of the recessed footprints that were made in the mud. The miners removed the clay leaving the ceiling footprints. But because of a rock fall a couple years ago the cave was closed until further notice. The town is trying to get federal or grant money to open it but none has arrived yet. We did get to see one footprint that was in the museum. It is about the size of  an adult human hand.

When we got back to the coast we were again in sugar cane country. And the mills that turn it into sugar to satisfy our human sweet tooth. We went to the Bundaberg distillery and Kathy tried to take this with us but I couldn’t find room in the van for it so it is still there.






Sugar mills preceded distilleries by quite a few years. A waste byproduct of sugar mills is molasses. This mill (right behind the distillery) had so much waste molasses in the early 1900’s that it was running down the streets of town. They didn’t know what to do with it until a gentleman built the first distillery next door. Now it is a big producer of Australia’s (self described) best rum.




Some of the old vats were turned into a very nice display hall/museum in 2014. We toured it and skipped the distillery tour (and saved $10 each) because we have toured several distilleries in several countries. The process is the same, only the original product is different. The result in every case is a flavored alcoholic drink.





Now for a little digression. Some comments about Aussies’ and others’ camping styles. We like to camp. One gets to meet a lot more people than one does sitting in a motel/hotel room. We have camped in 38 different countries throughout North America (NA) and Europe, as well as this trip. In NA the campers are big, as big as a tour bus, as a common size. In Europe they are small, around 4-6 meters (15-24’) and easily towed by a small car. In Australia they are a little bigger than Europe but almost always have a poptop which reduces drag when being towed. In Europe we seldom saw a pickup or SUV, in Australia they are the most common vehicle, but the smaller size like a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Pathfinder.

Campgrounds (professional, private not forest or government owned) in NA have neatly aligned spaces each with its own power, water and sewer. In Europe and Australia a few may be like that but most are a grassy area with central power stations and water faucets. (Maybe there will be some concrete slabs for patios, maybe not.) Everyone has at least 30 meters  (100’) of power cord. (The orange cord going left is ours.) Very seldom are there sewer hookups. NA campers have holding tanks for gray and black water but are usually attached to a sewer when parked so that it all flows right through. Europeans have a cartridge holding tank for both gray and black water that can be removed and wheeled over (like an airport suitcase) to a common dump station. In Australia most of the gray water is run out into a dry well or just onto the grass but the black water is in a removable cartridge to be dumped in the common station.

Toilet blocks come in all qualities in all countries depending on the owners’ ambitions and the money available. We had one campground a couple weeks ago that had an individual building at each campsite with a toilet, sink and shower in it. That is a first for us, normally it is a bit of a hike to the toilet. In Casablanca, Morocco we stayed in a campground that I didn’t want to even stand in the toilet building much less sit down. I felt sorry for Kathy and we left early the next morning for the nearest petrol station.

Enough digression, we are now headed south to a beach resort campground (with individual patio slabs but common power/water). We wandered on the beach, Kathy looking for more pretty rocks, and I found these interesting lines in the sand. In the center is a hole that something lives in and brings out these balls of sand and puts them in lines. (Those are my dark glasses for scale.) They were hundreds of them, all just below the high tide line. Imagine living in a flood zone where you had to clean out the flood debris every 12 hours or so. I never saw one of the owners so I don’t know what makes them.

We stayed here two days, did some maintenance, and just relaxed.

The countryside around here is hilly with flat areas that were probably the bottom of the sea at one time. The flats are agricultural (mostly sugar cane) and the hills are residential. We followed labeled “tourist trails” over several routes.

Near by was a Woodworks Museum that I just had to go to. As a retired forester I can’t pass up a chance to see how others do the same job as I did.









There were lots of pictures of the old ways of logging and reforestation. Interestingly enough the Australians were using methods that we in the US didn’t implement for 30-50 years. Containerized seedlings and vegetation management with herbicides. I have no idea what these 1950’s foresters are spraying to kill the brush. The sign didn’t tell us but in that day the herbicides were much more dangerous to animals (including humans) than today’s herbicides are. These guys are not wearing any protective gear like gloves, waterproof suits, masks. Another picture showed a guy in shorts, hat and shoes with a backpack sprayer, and wearing nothing else.


The museum had cut samples of the common trees used for wood products in the area. I enjoyed looking at the grain, rings and color of the various woods.

And then there was this Kauri Pine slice with famous historical dates marked on the appropriate ring, like when Columbus discovered America.





As we wandered over the hills and dales of this area we made a point of being in Eumundi for the Wednesday morning market. This small town has been holding a craft/food fair twice a week since 1979. There are hundreds of stalls with fine crafts to imported-by-the-container-load junk.





We wandered for three hours, listened to the music and watched the “statue”. We have seen these “statue” persons in several cities in several countries. I sure wouldn’t want to make my living that way!







Back on the road over more hills we see lots of these Jacaranda trees. The purple flowers, and the lack of leaves makes them stand out spectacularly. (The green in the center is another type of tree growing close by.) The recent winter was very good for them and they are blooming more wildly than usual.






We are headed to the Glass House Mountains. They were named in 1770 by Captain Cook because, from the sea, they looked like the smoke stacks of the glass furnaces in his hometown in Yorkshire. They are the remains of volcanoes, the central core of rock after the softer sides have eroded away. We have several examples of these back home in Washington and Oregon. Beacon Rock, named by Lewis and Clark in the Columbia River Gorge is one.




This is a 12% grade we went down near those mountains. This would be a great area to ride by motorcycle! Not high speed but just fun.


We will soon be in the Brisbane Area.