I continued my leisurely drive down the eastern
coast the next morning and late that afternoon pulled into Rockhampton, a
pleasant inland city with a population of 50,000, referred to by the locals as
"Rocky." After getting a room at the very nice Dreamtime Motel on the
outskirts of town, I headed into Rocky to get some groceries. I quickly learned,
though, that since this was Easter Sunday,
all the grocery stores were closed. In fact, just about everything was
closed in Rocky -- and just about everywhere else in Australia -- except motels
and gas stations. As the gas station attendant told me, things would
remain closed through Tuesday morning, so I stocked up on his "scrumptious"
selection of pretzels, Pepsi, and
beef jerky. It wasn't exactly gourmet food, but it was enough to tide me over for a few
day, I headed down the coast to the city of Hervey
Bay. The first thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that it's pronounced
"Harvey," like that 1950s Jimmy Stewart movie about the invisible
rabbit. The second thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that, for better or
worse -- mostly worse -- the city is a continuous strip of restaurants and
motels, reminiscent of so many bland American cities. During the past four
months, I guess I'd gotten spoiled by the pleasantly compact and pedestrian-friendly
layout of Australian and New Zealand cities. Hervey Bay was an
unpleasant reminder of what I could expect in a few weeks when I returned to the
reason I was in Hervey Bay, though, wasn't to see Hervey Bay. Instead, I
wanted to visit Fraser Island,
which is just offshore and about an hour-long ferry
ride away. I'd heard lots of good things about Fraser Island and it's a
very popular vacation destination. At 75 miles in length, Fraser is the
world's largest sand island and there are no roads on it. You absolutely
have to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around Fraser Island, but if you don't
happen to have one,
you can rent one for about $50 a day or go on a 4WD bus day-trip tour, which is what I did.
every thing I'd heard about Fraser Island, I had really high hopes. Maybe it was
because it was Easter weekend and it was crowded, maybe it was because I was on a bus tour with 50
strangers... I don't know what it was, but I really wasn't that impressed with Fraser
Island. Frankly, there are lots of places in the U.S., like Cumberland
Island in Georgia, that are more interesting. Still, it's worth a visit if
you're heading down the coast.
Above left: Lawn bowling is big in the
Land of Oz. White attire required, of course.
Above center: Here's a typical 4WD truck in Australia. Note the
"roo bar" on the front end and the snorkel.
Above right: Hervey Bay is one of the few
American-style, strip development-type cities that I've seen in Australia... and
Above left: It's also the jumping-off point for Fraser Island, the
world's largest sand island. I took a day-tour over to Fraser to get a
taste of it.
Above center: Freshwater lake on Fraser Island.
Above right: Heading out to the beach on Fraser Island.
Above left: Cruising on the beach at 50 miles an hour. Nope,
Above center: You can walk upstream in this
freshwater creek and then float all the way
down to the beach.
Above right: A lagoon and beach on Fraser Island. Fraser Island is
like Cumberland Island in Georgia but larger and with lots of cars, and lots of
people. I thought it was just "o.k."
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