Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cape Hillsborough National Park

We set out to another national park for more bushwalking. Along the way, we had an overdose of the same scenery...

Yes, you guessed it, sugarcane plantations.

And more sugarcane plantations.

Cape Hillsborough National Park is located 837km northwest of Brisbane, about 50km north-west of Mackay and is open 24 hours a day. The Yuibera people lived in this area for thousands of years and signs of their special connection to the area are still present. Explorer James Cook named Cape Hillsborough during his voyage up the Queensland coast in 1770.

While at the park, we walked two tracks. The first we did was the Diversity Boardwalk, which is graded easy. The 1.2km return walk took about 40 minutes to complete.

This track meanders through melaleuca woodland, a mangrove community, open eucalypt forest and vine thicket. The first 300m of the walk is accessible to wheelchairs.

The second track was chosen because we have not done a beach walk before. Therefore, the moderate-graded Beachcomber Cove Track was ventured. It took us about 1.5 hours to complete the 2.2km return track, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

This track starts from the northern end of the Cape Hillsborough picnic area, and then passes through open eucalypt forest and remnant rainforest with hoop pines, ferns and vines.

The upward climb was a little tiring but when we arrived at the end of the track in Beachcomber Cove, we were rewarded with pleasant views from a lookout on top of the ridge.

As it was low tide, we returned to Cape Hillsborough picnic area along the beach.

On the broad beach, sand bubbler crabs leave intricate patterns at low tide, and many sea creatures shelter in tidal rock pools. Surrounding waters are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The park is a peninsula of volcanic origin, covered largely by rainforest with a maximum elevation of 267m. Large rhyolite boulders scattered over the headlands and beaches are a reminder of volcanic activity millions of years ago, as are volcanic plugs and other striking rock formations found in the park.

After a quick lunch at the picnic area, we then continued our journey northward. Next stop, Townsville.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Mackay is a city on the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia, about 970 kilometres north of Brisbane, on the Pioneer River. Mackay is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia because its region produces more than a third of Australia's cane sugar. To me, the whole part of Queensland northwards from Brisbane is entirely planted with sugar cane.

The industry in Mackay has its roots back in the 19th century. Historically, plantations were small and had their own mills to crush the cane during harvest. Over the years as the industry grew and developed, co-operatives were formed to consolidate the harvesting, crushing and distribution of the sugar in selected zones. Throughout the 20th century, the privately owned mills in the Mackay district closed one by one until only four remained – Marian, Racecourse, Farleigh and Pleystowe. Today, Pleystowe is the oldest surviving mill in the district.

Compared to many of its neighbouring cities and regions in Queensland, Mackays tourism industry is small and still developing. This is despite being close to notable attractions including Eungella National Park, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Whitsunday Islands.

For the night in Mackay, we chose to stay at Marco Polo Motel Mackay, which is a family owned and operated 38-roomed motel on Nebo Road.

All rooms have wireless broadband access and Austar.

It comes with the usual drinks and snacks.

The complex also includes a swimming pool, spa, sauna and laundry facility.

But to us, the best part of this place was the bathroom.

Why? Just look at how wide that mirror is!

Marco Polo Motel Mackay
46-50 Nebo Road, Mackay, QLD 4740, Australia
Tel: +61 7 4951 2900

For dinner, we decided to give (where we normally would not) an Asian takeaway a try.

Noodle Paradise had easy parking, perhaps due to how everyone was enjoying their Christmas break. They had a steady stream of customers while we were there so we thought, they should not be too bad. From the lady's accent and the content of the menu, we deduced: Yup, they are Malaysian. And since we have entered a paradise for noodles, we all ordered a different type of noodle dish. Are you able to tell the difference?

Noodle Paradise
1/143 Victoria Street, Mackay, QLD 4740, Australia
Tel: +61 7 4957 3688
Mon - Thurs, Sun 10:30am - 9:30pm; Fri - Sat 10:30am - 10:30pm
*Cash only

Thursday, December 29, 2011


It was late evening when we arrived in Rockhampton. We quickly checked into Southside Holiday Village, situated on the other side of the super busy main road.

Tonight, we had home-made vegetarian pasta, cooked in the self-contained unit. It was a comfortable size but we pitied Shriya, who took one of the bunk beds.

I thought those beds were a little narrow and they were situated right at the door of the bathroom!

Southside Holiday Village
Lower Dawson Road, Rockhampton, QLD 4700, Australia
Tel: +617 4927 3013, Fax: +617 4927 7750, Freecall 1800 075 911 (Reservations only)

The next morning, we visited the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, located on Spencer Street in South Rockhampton, established in 1869. It was a bonus that there was the Jim Hindman Memorial Flight Aviary where we parked our car.

The most interesting bird that had our attention was the Southern Cassowary.

It reminded me of how we learnt that ostrich in Malay is burung kasawari. So, when I read the sign, I was expecting to see an ostrich, not this handsome fella!

There was also another one on the other side of the fence, with a little one tagging along. Look harder. It is there, camouflaged by the brown background.

Then, it was off into the gardens! There were many excellent specimens of palms, cycads and ferns throughout the manicured grounds, including these plants from the ginger family:

We stopped under the canopy of this tree, as we found the 'fruits' quite peculiar. Long and looked like giant chillis. Could even pass off as candles.

Well, well, Edible Candle, eh?

While looking for the little girls' room, we stumbled upon the newly refurbished Gardens Tearoom, which is located under Giant Banyan Figs. The imposing trees have large aerial roots, which help support their massive spreading branches. Beyond the Gardens Tearoom, picnic tables and free barbeque facilities are set up under other figs. Contactable at +61 7 4922 4347, they are open daily from 8:00am - 5:00pm, 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day). Light refreshments and souvenirs are available, and private functions are also catered for.

Rockhamptons Botanical Gardens
The Range, QLD 4700, Australia
Tel: +61 7 4922 1654, 1300 22 55 77
Open every day from 6:00am to 6:00pm

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


You must be thinking: Is that not what that rum with a polar bear on it's labels is called? Well, yes, it is. This is where all that rum you are drinking comes from, actually.

Before we headed over to the factory, we stopped at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens from a cuppa and a little morning exercise. We were not sure where to find their in-garden café but thank goodness for Shriya looking for the washrooms because we 'found' Café 1928 situated just a stone's throw away!

Just below the hill from the café was the Australian Sugarcane Railway. It was quite cool to see a functioning coal-powered train, I mean, this old.

As we made our way up to the other parts of the garden, we found this little fella on the ground...

Aw, poor little thing, must have fell out of one of the nests in the trees above. After deciding not to touch it, we made our up to the Japanese garden.

We also walked around to where the Chinese garden was.

It was when we were nearer that we realised that it also served as the Nanjing-Bundaberg Friendship Memorial.

To arrive at the garden, go to Bundaberg North and enter from one of three entrances at Mt. Perry Road, Young Street and Thornhill Street.

From the serene surroundings of nature, we were in the environments of a factory next. A distillery, to be exact. That of Bundaberg Distilling Co., home to the world-famous Bundaberg Rum.

We each paid $25 to join the Distillery Tour, where we got to see where and how the molasses were stored and turned into the rum sold in stores.

The $25 also included two complimentary drinks at the store, which we were really happy with. Because I managed to finish my drink, I had to help the other two with theirs and I ended up looking like a tomato in the car!

We headed into town in search of food for lunch. We decided to give Spicy Tonight Authentic Thai and Indian Restaurant a try, tempted by $7.50 pricing of everything on the lunch menu.

For entree, we ordered something from the entree menu, the onion bhaji pakhora ($5.95). With four serves, this plate of sliced onion and spinach fritter dipped in fried chickpea batter and spices was delicious.

I ordered the chu chee fish, which I was really happy with.

Xin Wen had the green curry chicken, which was not too spicy.

Kashmiri kofta was good for Shriya, who compared it her mum's.

Due to the alcohol I consumed, I was trying really hard to stay awake so that I could finish lunch. I slept throughout the journey to Rockhampton. Well, I woke up after two hours and asked if I missed anything. Both of them replied: "Nah..."

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