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Community Spirit

After leaving Maryborough we headed to Bundaberg for a few days where we did mostly regular tourist stuff: we visited the Botanic Gardens, the Bert Hinkler Museum and Hinkler House, the Bundaberg Barrel (home to Bundaberg Ginger Beer) and Bundy Kegs (the cooperage that makes and maintains the vats for the Bundaberg Distillery) and of course we did a tour – and a bit of tasting and buying – at the Bundaberg Distillery!

One of the things that really has struck us as we have travelled through regional Australia is the way in which local communities come together to support each other and to honour the achievements and sacrifices of the members of their community.

Hinkler House is a case in point … Bert Hinkler, who in 1928 was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia, was a Bundaberg local who lived for a time in the UK in a home he named ‘Mon Repos’ after the beach near Bundaberg where he first started flying. In late 1982, it was learned that ‘Mon Repos’ was to be demolished to make way for a block of old age units and with only weeks to spare a group of Bundaberg residents formed a committee and put together a proposal to relocate ‘Mon Repos’ to Bundaberg – the result was that the demolition was deferred until 30 June 1983. The necessary funds were raised and with the help of British Aerospace (Bert’s former employer), the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Navy, the Royal Dutch Navy, Qantas, Woolworths, Wide Bay Capricorn Building Society, Mathers, Westpac, Rotary and many other people ‘Mon Repos’ was dismantled in May/June 1983, shipped to Bundaberg, painstakingly reconstructed and officially opened to the public in June 1984. What a wonderful achievement in such a short space of time!

From Bundaberg we continued on to Agnes Water/1770 – we had originally intended only to be there for a couple of days but as those days coincided exactly with the arrival of a major storm system (which subsequently wreaked havoc and caused major damage from Hervey Bay all the way down the east coast of the Australia mainland and north-east Tasmania) we decided two things: the first was that we would stay in ‘hard’ accommodation (eg, a motel, cabin, B&B, etc); and the second was that we would stay in Agnes Water/1770 for an extra couple of days in case the impending storm meant we had to stay indoors for a day or two. (As it turned out Agnes Water/1770 was just on the edge of the storm and apart from receiving about 50mm of rain in a torrential downpour that woke us at 3AM on our first night there we had fine weather the rest of the time.)

Ron found a most wonderful place for us to stay – the LaLa Land Eco Holiday Retreat in Agnes Water. It’s a lovely place with four self-contained cabins and is owned and managed by Kent, a local artist, and his wife Lisa. Kent’s lovely artworks are displayed in an outdoor gallery and in the cabins and he has also created a delightful tourist map of the Agnes Water/1770 area (what a great way to support and promote local tourism!). Apart from enjoying the peaceful and quiet surroundings – and having a larger space to live in for a few days – we also had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a freshwater turtle that lives in one of the ponds and a Tawny Frogmouth that spent a whole day perched on one of Ken’s artworks (I was able to get very close to it to photograph it and occasionally it would strike up the classic ‘I am really a dead branch’ Tawny Frogmouth pose while very so slightly opening its eye to check if I was still there).

We did most of the walks in the region including the ‘Coastal Paperbark Forest Walk’ – the land where this walk is based was donated by local property owners and, along with some of the other walks we did, is maintained by residents of the ‘Sunrise at 1770’ community. We also did a one hour 1770 LARC (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) tour which was fantastic and exceeded our expectations. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do the LARC tour that visits the Bustard Head Lighthouse which was only re-opened a few years ago after a local community group, lead by a former lighthouse keeper and his wife, raised almost $500,000 to restore this heritage listed building to it’s former glory. Next time …

We also explored the 4WD trails and beaches of the Eurimbula and Deepwater National Parks (where we found lots of pieces of pumice on the beach – some were as large as rockmelons/cantaloupes!), visited Baffle Creek and watched the lovely sunsets over the 1770 marina and Bustard Bay (I even worked out how to set my little camera up to take time lapse photos which I used to create a short video of the sunset on our last day there – enjoy!)

After spending almost five lovely days in Agnes Water/1770 we packed up and headed for Rockhampton …

 

The car and the camper …

Prior to leaving Maryborough we got a wheel alignment done on the FJ Cruiser as the steering wheel was off-centre to the right. Annoyingly after the wheel alignment was done the steering wheel was then off-centre to the left and we were told this is how it should be so that it will be straight when we drive on roads with a steep camber. First time either of us had ever heard this in our combined 80 years of driving so we asked them to redo it and set it so that the steering wheel was straight. Unfortunately it’s still not quite straight and the FJ pulls a bit to the right but as we used a franchised national business that offers a service warranty we’ll take it to another franchisee to get it sorted.

Not much happening with the camper except that when we refitted the safari roof after repairing the velcro strap we apparently didn’t get it lined up exactly as it was beforehand. We had some light but persistent rain in Bundaberg and ended up with a pool of water – and a wet roof – directly over our bed. Obviously we needed to get this sorted before the next time we *had* to camp in the rain and it was one of the reasons we chose to stay in a cabin at Agnes Water – the other being that a super storm was expected to descend on Agnes Water the day after we arrived bringing up to 200mm of rain. We opened up the camper prior to leaving Agnes Water and realigned the safari roof making sure the edge of the roof lined up with the edge seam – hopefully we’ve got it right! The only other thing we’ve done is purchase a piggy-back extension cord so that when we’re on 240v we can also have power in the spare room (we plug the fridge plug in the battery box into the extension cord) – handy for blogging!

 

Photos


 

Timelapse video of sunset over 1770 marina and Bustard Bay


 

YouTube video taken by other passengers on our LARC tour