Always keep to the left! This mantra must be repeated constantly by each European motorists during the first hours of driving on Australian roads. For it is easy to turn in the wrong side of the road at an intersection or coming out of a driveway. Fortunately, Steffen had the chance to practice diligently with the car of our host Noel, so that the start of our road trip in the new van “Kifaru” went smoothly. Even India found it really great, as she was now allowed to sit with the “big ones” in the front and witness the street action close up.
Our first destination was the city of Bowen, situated about 200 kilometers south of Townsville. Known for his eponymous delicious mangoes the town is also a landscape gem. Especially the Horseshoe Bay was a delight and India did not have to be asked twice to jump into the cool waters. Unfortunately overnight stays on the beach parking was officially banned, so we ended our first day of travel on a gravel place at the roadside. Here we enjoyed a deep red sunset as well as our first dinner cooked in the van (couscous with vegetables).
Next on the program were Airlie Beach and the adjoining Conway National Park. While the small coastal town serves primarily as a starting point for the famous cruises to the stunning Whitsunday Islands for many backpackers, the national park could score with turquoise water and white shell beaches. After a half-hour walk in the 35-degree midday heat the above combination looked tantalizing. But unfortunately local saltwater crocodiles destroyed any bathing dreams. So India and dad had to stay out of the water with a longing look.
Pleasantly cool, however, were the Capricorn Caves north of Rockhampton. Only visitable in the course of guided visits, India could make acquaintance with the stalagmites (from the bottom) and stalactites (from the top) for the first time. Particularly impressive was a classical concert piece in the “Chapel Cave” in complete darkness. At a beautiful campsite right on the sea, we were able to enjoy the next day in Agnes Waters. For only seven AU$ a day we got toilets, cold showers and a dream beach. In neighboring 1770, the world’s only town whose name consists only of numbers and not letters, we made the first time use of an Australian national icon: the public BBQ. We had sausages with fried onions and bread.
A little insight into another cultural asset, the Australian colonial architecture, offered the town Maryborough at the Mary River. The well-preserved streets from the period between 1880 and 1920 had a nostalgic feel and you could easily imagine how a hundred years ago horse carriages and the first cars drove through the streets.
After this town trip, it was again time for some nature. Good thing the Kondalilla waterfalls were just around the corner. While the main waterfall was rather unspectacular due to the lack of water, the higher rock pools with a smaller waterfall provided a beautiful, albeit cold, bathing possibility for the Weltengugger.
Once in the mountains, we stayed on the ridge road, which led us to the two beautiful villages Montville and Maleny. In Montville we enjoyed a relaxing evening and morning in a beautiful park and in Maleny we visited again waterfalls. Here we splashed diligently. But India’s most memorable moment was the discovery of a pink plush piglet, which we identified later as “Peppa Pig“. As Peppa was apparently exposed a long time ago, we decided to take this poor little fellow as a new member of our carpool. After a proper bath, of course.
Here there are all photos of the beginning of our road trip: From Townsville to Brisbane
After these first nine eventful days on the road we were filled with the feeling of freedom, which had accompanied us already during our first trip to Australia 14 (Franka) or twelve (Steffen) years ago. Nevertheless, we were looking forward to our first stop at our friend Kim in the metropolis Brisbane. But more about that in the next blog …