11th July 2012


After strangely dreaming I was an X factor judge (sign of things to come?), I woke up and hesitantly opened the curtain blocking my view through the condensation of the window….you may remember in the last 2 days that I’ve done nothing but shriekingly complain of the rainy weather that truly pissed on me. Big time. Even resulting in a fine at Airlie Beach.


But success! It was still overcast but the rain was no more. As I pulled on my jeans and popped on my hearing aids, no longer I could hear the taunt of the teasing pitter patter of the truly evil rain upon the metal roof of my beloved campervan. I did a Snoopy dance outside and did not care what my campervan neighbours thought.


Brewing a teapot of Daintree tea (rather noisily – sorry Smera!), I took in the bracing air as I surveyed the land around me. It was pretty cool to be in normal woods again but my peaceful illusions was shattered when I spent the best of the next hour chasing off the brush turkeys from the back of the van.


However, I was kept amused by Smera who slowly arose from her dark pit of horrors with a glowering expression and I greeted enthusiastically with a ‘did you sleep alright last night?‘ and answered gruffly ‘I suppose but I got woken up at 7am by someone!’. She got out of the van, looked bleary-eyed at the world around her, stood around and then accepted fate to crawl back into her sleeping bag and threw the hood round her face. Throughout, I could’t stop laughing silently into my cuppa. I nearly snorted loudly into it when an utterance came out from the darkness of the campervan as she shut the curtains..’I don’t do mornings…


Leaving her be, I signed myself up for a tour of the Capricorn Caves where we were staying at. It’s only significance that it lies very close to the tropic of Capricorn latitude and I suppose having a Cathedral Cave where real weddings could take place.


A wide variety of people assembled for the tour and led by an enthusiastic tour guide called Will, who was soon to be beaten into traumatisation by the children who were in my group. He showed us through several caves, gave lots of facts and figures and I continued to be astounded by the landforms made by the limestone within the caves.


Finally we entered the Cathedral Cave and there were actual pews within. With a light show controlled by Will, he told us to take a pew and listen to the acoustics of the cave by playing ‘Hallelujah’ off a CD Player. It was pretty impressive. As the song finished, he turned out all the lights and after a long minute, I could hear movement. Did I miss something he said to move out of the cave when he turns the lights off. It was pitch black…I was to be left alone. But luckily, he jumped out at one of the children shouting boo! As he turned the lights back on. The child didn’t jump but carried on staring at Will.


Will then showed us a pathway to follow that would lead outside back to the entrance. As everyone looked at me, a brave handsome fella, to lead the way, I became aware that the cave walls closed on me as I moved on. Having to breathe in a few times to get through the cracks, I made it out alive…just.


Finishing the one hour tour, I headed back to the campsite wondering why the hell Smera wasn’t in the car park with the van as we needed to have checked out by 10am, but luckily, she roared round the corner on time.

Leaving the Caves, we headed straight into Rockhampton, famous for its beef industry…we just missed the Beef Expo, and you can’t really miss signs for it as everywhere there’s bulls, real or fake, upon fields, roofs and attractions.


But we weren’t there for the meat, oh no, we were about to undertake a significant step in travelling. Just a few kilometres south of Rockhampton, we were about to cross the Tropic of Capricorn. So it would be goodbye Tropic Zone and hello to Temperate Zone. It means it was about to get colder. By gum! But we took a few pics and of course, being in Rockhampton, there’s a bull on it.


For the rest of the morning and the best part of the afternoon, I drove down the Bruce Highway for 250km and turned off at Miriam Vale towards Agnes Water. This is where the Aussie Surf comes to play. This is as far north you can get on the East Coast for surfing. We did quite a few surfers in the water already.


From there, just 7km down the road, there is the beautiful town of 1770. It’s where Captain James Cook first landed in Queensland. It’s rather charming and for some reason it instantly reminded me of Buxton from back home even though it doesn’t have a beach…


Having a spot of lunch with lemon drizzle cake and custard overlooking the Bay, Smera took the helm of the wheel and took us on a drive to Bundaberg. The journey whizzed by with the sun and as we particularly wanted to get to Hervey Bay the next morning, we forgoed Bundaberg and carried on driving in the dark. It was pretty foggy on the Isis Highway to try and get back on the Bruce Highway so we could find a rest stop to I’ll up for the night.


But we were constantly frustrated by Australians attempting to tailgate and blind us with their lights to have an easy drive. Finally getting on the Bruce Highway, we travelled a good 10km or so before ending up in Childers and finding a rest stop.


We weren’t sure about this rest stop at first due to the state of the public toilets but as we’ve driven 500km today, both of us were too tired to find another rest stop. But it suddenly became clear why we would feel uneasy as I cooked the dinner outside, I noticed staring eyes on my face. As I looked up from my smokey pan of burnt sausages, I saw an eager man staring curiously at me. Not used to this, especially in the dark, my hand reached out for the sharp knife…Smera was in the toilet and here I was on my own. He took slow steps towards the van and seemed to notice my unwelcome expression, he looked around again and saw a hand waving at him from another vehicle parked not too far from him.

Thinking he must have been looking for his friend from the public toilets in the dark at first, I grew suspicious when after long he got into the vehicle, the car didn’t move and both of them sat in the dark from what I could see.

Later on after half an hour, finishing the cooking, I took the rubbish bag to the bin on the other side of the car and I saw them kissing. ‘Oh!’ the word loudly tumbled out of my mouth and they jumped apart in the vehicle. Ed, welcome to Dogging. In a car park. And you’ve just made yourself and Smera possible participants in said car park. And you have a vehicle. In said car park. Hurriedly binning the rubbish and telling Smera, we ended up laughing and before long, the vehicle crept out, possibly embarrassed at them being discovered. But before we turned the lights out, we tested the locks of each door and promised each other to keep quiet if we heard a knock on the door.