July 18, 2008

The Capricorn Coast as seen by a Capricorn.

Born in January, I am a true Capricorn. So I was intrigued to check out the Capricorn Coast which incorporates the areas of Bundaberg (known for its fruits and vegetable production), Rockhampton (the beef capital of Australia) and MacKay (famous for its sugar cane). We didn't care too much for these towns as they were pretty basic and bland, but venture a little bit further away and we found some great spots to visit.

We had a week to kill before getting to Airlie Beach and our planned three day boat tour of the Whitsunday Islands, so we took our time driving the short distance north. Our first stop was the town of Agnes Water with its little hamlet, the Town of 1770, so named for the date Captain Cook disembarked on its shores while discovering Australia.

Agnes Water and 1770 were hyped up for us well before we even got to Australia. We had met some Swedish girls in Fiji who raved about the place as their favorite, and even the Lonely Planet guidebook mentioned it as the next Byron Bay. I hope it doesn't become like Byron Bay, but it's a long way away even if it is heading in that direction. Sure, there are some big building developments going on, but aside from this, it was one of the smallest beach towns we have visited.

The town is the last official surfing spot when heading north. It is the start of the Great Barrier Reef, and so the waves virtually stop a little further north. It was my last chance to surf and so we set up camp at the nearby council-run site called Workman's Beach, and chilled out for four days. The first two days had great waves, but the last two were mellow and we just laid out and I finally got to play some frisbee with a Hungarian traveller we met. I'm still not sure why I didn't bring a disc (frisbee) while traveling as it's one of my favorite things, but the last two days filled a void not met since we played with our friends Kareem and Noah in Buenos Aires.

A little sad, I sold my surfboard to a happy local, and we headed north yet again. We sped through Rockhampton, but made a stop to visit the Capricorn Caves about 20 Km north of town. It's a privately run attraction with a labyrinth of caves, one that includes a makeshift cathedral where you can actually get married. They even set up pews and played us some beautiful music timed with lights. If the place was run by the parks department you would never have an experience like this.

Our next major stop was the Finch Hatton Gorge, and Eungella National Park, just west of MacKay in sugar cane country. We did a nice quick hike in the Finch Hatton Gorge to a waterfall and swimming area, and then rushed to get Eungella to try and see a platypus. Found only in Australia, we had been trying to see one for the last month. We had seen kangaroos, emus, dingos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, and the last on the list was the famous platypus. We were lucky to see them both at sunset and the next day at sunrise from the lookout at Broken River. I assumed these things would be as big as a beaver, but they were tiny. Almost like watching a mutated beaver/duck offspring the size of a swimming squirrel. If that makes any sense. But both of us were ecstatic and stood in the rain watching them dive around for about an hour. Unfortunately we couldn't get any photos. I'll never drink from my Platypus water bottle again without thinking of the little critters.

From Eungella we made our way back to the coast, and spent a night camping at the secluded Smalley's Beach, part of Cape Hillsborough National Park to the north of MacKay. With only ten campsites, it was a treat to have the place to ourselves so to speak. Then we drove up to Airlie Beach where we are now, heading on a much anticipated three day boat tour of the Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef.

1 comment:

Nomadic Matt said...

I never made it to the town of 1770. But your seeing so much of the east coast, i really hope you get to see the beauty of the west. hwoever, i didn't see a lot of these places when i was there so it will be nice to see what they are like!