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August 23, 2001
How not to see the Great Barrier Reef (Russell)

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A few of Queensland's constant (and many) roadside brushfires -- the locals suspect an arsonist

As you know, our entire Australian adventure consists of making it up as we go along.  Russell was all for staying at the Hervey Bay luxury apartment for a third night and just hanging around the beach, but Gail wanted to push onward.  It turns out that we have had a general misunderstanding: Russell thought that Gail ultimately wanted to reach Cairns (1700 km from Brisbane), while Gail thought that was Russell's goal.  It turns out we can see the Great Barrier Reef from much closer than that, just a little ways north of Hervey Bay.

So we set off again along the Bruce Highway 1, thumbing furiously through our two bags of literature as we went.  There is a wonderful Coral Reef at Lady Musgrave Island, and it can be reached by a day cruise from either Bundaberg or 1770 (yes, that's the name of the city).  1770 has the advantage of being much closer to the island (and thus a much shorter cruise), but is farther to drive to.  We stopped in at the Tourist Information Centre in Gin Gin for advice, and Mervyn was extremely helpful.  Unfortunately, he told us that there was no cruise from 1770 the next day (they only run four days a week).  Even more unfortunately, he also told us that there was no cruise from Bundaberg either.

No worries, as the Ozzies say.  Rather than wait, we would just keep heading northward.  There is another coral reef at Heron Island, which can be reached from the city of Gladstone.  So onward we went to the Gladstone TI.  Unfortunately, the nice lady there informed us that there are no day cruises from Gladstone to Heron Island -- ever.  We would have to stay overnight on the island, and at a price more expensive than our budget would allow.

By now it was getting pretty late in the afternoon.  So we pushed on to Rockhampton (our original one-day goal from Brisbane), and settled there.  The caravan park advertised cabin villas in a tropical setting with an adventure playland for the kids.  Needless to say, it looked more like a caravan park.  But we were too tired to do anything about it, so we called it a day and had frozen pizzas for dinner.

Tomorrow we head inland and west to explore some of the gemfields in Queensland.  We still hope to see the Great Barrier Reef at some point... we're just not sure when.

 

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