As I sit here at my computer table staring out at the backyard, Red and I would like to let you in on a little secret we have been holding for a while.
The secret that we wish to share with you is….. We conquered Rocky!
It all started a few months ago, we were planning how we were going to celebrate our 28th Wedding Anniversary, while Red was doing a short term work contract in the Wildness… called the Outback and I had gone to keep him company.
As I sat in our camper trailer looking out amongst the wilds of Cowboy Town, where you expect horses to be tied up outside the local brew hall; hearing the swish of long gowns sweeping across the dirt road. The women wearing these gowns went about their business of buying ingredients for their homemade dinner. Sounds of clip clop from horse hooves as you expect the coach to come bounding in from the Wild West containing news of the latest Apache Massacre.
I laid my eyes across the wild tussock gently moving with the light breeze, watching the heat shimmering across the surface of the land. It was then the thought that came to mind was, I would rather be near the sea than the hot inland interior of Australia.
Beginning to formulate the plan as I watched my work weary Husband collect together his needs for another long and incredibly tiring 12 hour night shift. It was in that moment, I knew once his work commitment came to an end that the both of us deserved to enjoy a little holiday.
Where we would dip our toes into the shallow blue coolness of the ocean, lie back amongst the floating devices we had brought to admire the endless light breeze stroking against our skin. As we watched the end of the day and the beginning of the night start, with our feet up all the while indulging in a delicious but incredibly naughty, white wine.
The image of my Husband smiling his cheeky little smile at me as I strolled around caught my attention before he planted a kiss on my lips and said, “I Love You!”.
It was just like any heart stopping moment, that he took me back those 28 years as I stood at the altar in my glorious white cream puff of a meringue dress, holding his hand, stunned into silence as I listened to the Minister marry my Husband
But Dearest Reader, that is for another story altogether.
When I waved my Husband off to his job for the evening and I sat back in the burning depths of blackness after setting alight my accommodation accidentally, I couldn’t help but ask the fundamental question that seemed to be plaguing me.
Where would Red and I go or skip off to in the distance?
For many years, Red and I have traveled up and down the east coast of Australia, venturing inland for work and pleasure. Where we got to see some amazing sights of our beloved country. One thing about Australia is that it is not only diverse in its interior and coast but it is bloody huge.
In some respects could take an entire life span to see it all.
We have covered thousands of kilometres and one thing that does come to mind on this latest journey undertaken by us is…. alot of the interior looks the same!
The harshness of living on the land is concurrent where ever you go. Drought conditions are clearly written in the soil where numerous creek beds flowing with water, now resemble dried up dusty beds that hold weeds. It was sad to see in some circumstances, what would have been flowing with abundance of life now lay desolated with death.
The only thing that seemed to grow with glee is the disturbing image of weeds growing here, there and everywhere.
Where I could picture farmers bringing their cattle or livestock down to the banks of the flowing river to greedily gulp up the much needed water; there are no longer the huge herds of cattle spread widely across the plains of the river bank. Rather, small allotments of irrigated green grass in pockets that are brought to feed the beasts as they laze in the shade of the endless heat beating down upon their backs.
We talked long and hard about what we wanted to enjoy, achieve and see. Would it be a leisurely journey? A quickie? Or would it be somewhere both Red and I have previously gone, seen and done that, on our ever growing list of ‘places to see and conquer’.
Red and I both discovered we didn’t want to recap on places we had already been and done that because what was the point? The gleam of something new and exciting was no longer there so in this case, we decided to get on board with the idea of somewhere new on our little list of desired places.
It occurred to me as I packed yet another dinner into my Man’s bag along with biscuits, fruit, water and sent him off with a long leisurely kiss. With a promise of tonight I would ‘try’ to get some sleep, I wanted to go to go somewhere we had never been before and with a little side excursion to the one place that had become a little family joke.
The only way to get to the family joke was to conquer Rocky first.
It all began 5 years previously, when we had been traveling from where we lived inland to the coast for a weekend away. A weekend spent taking time out to drink in the merriment, laugh amongst the jokes and stories told and the incredible rush of driving along the beach in our four wheel Drive with my man beside me. Before setting up camp for the evening and feasting from the BBQ of deliciousness.
I had seen a road sign with various names of towns ahead that would take hundreds or thousands of kilometres to travel too. But the enticement on offer of being able to explore this vast land put into action my itchy feet, the belief of ‘one day’ and the desire to pack an over night bag.
It would be the names on a metal board as Red and I hurtled down the highway at 100 kilometres an hour (or more) that a particular town jumped out at me. This sign was telling me that it was only 564 kilometres to this weird little town.
As I have a rather quirky sense of humour, the name sent me into hysterics and that sense of ‘W.T.F.’ overcame me. Instantly I knew one day, I would travel there. I grabbed my phone and set about finding out where it was, how to get there and what could I actually do there in this fantastic and remote little weird town.
I casually turned to Red and said the infamous words. These words would cause endless laughter for years to come and the kids wondering if Mummy might need a little visit to the padded cell.
“Honey, one day will you take me to Dululu. Its in the BANANA Shire ?”
The Husband of course gave me that look…. you know the one that clearly states, ‘Ok, it is official she has to go on medication!’ Not mention I got the other look that follows in its path of, ‘Its official, she has lost her mind! Bat shit crazy is her game and name!’
After 5 years of constantly bringing up the joke of going for a ‘little drive ‘up the coast and then backtracking a further 92 kilometres into the wilderness of Queensland and with my Husband beside me; yesterday I finally got my wish!
About bloody time if you ask me personally.
Dululu is located inland from the city of Rockhampton, otherwise known affectionately as “Rocky” by Australians; pulled out the red carpet and the welcome sign for us.
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a red carpet but rather was more along the lines of a weed lined and dirt encrusted carpet. But then as you can tell and see, I was more excited about the welcome sign than the carpet.
Dululu can be found in the Banana Shire, located in Queensland, Australia and has a whopping population of 139.
Mind you when Red and I were walking the dusty streets of Dululu, I can honestly say I only saw two people there. Who just so happened to be walking out the toilet amenities and like Red and I, were wearing matching expressions of ‘there are people! PEOPLE!’.
Should probably also inform you that they clearly don’t like visitors because I never saw a local native walking down the once cowboy driven and ridden roads. However, I did see the offices for the local accountant, the post office and rural stock agent which was all in one house.
Clearly, they must have been busy people at all hours of the day.
With that, I enjoyed my short and relatively eye opening experience of Dululu as Red and I hopped back into the car and left the town approximately 2 minutes after arriving.
After heading south after leaving the ‘soft’ place as the Aboriginal people once called Dululu, we began the journey of ‘where shall we go?’. As Agent Smith, our GPS system, screamed in the background “Wrong Way…. Recalculating”, Red and I decided to turn the dumb thing off and head out onto the open road while being our own GPS system.
Complete with no ‘recalculating’ or ‘please turn back when you can’.
We decided that Saturday morning before conquering Rocky and Dululu like champions, I’d originally been doing some chores when Red uttered, “Want to go for a drive?”
It was in that second after my heart stopped and than picked up at a fast gallop, I spun around and said, “Fuck yeah!”. 30 minutes later with our bags packed, we hopped into our 4.W.D which is fondly known as The Beast and we set off for our destination after waving goodbye to the kids.
We decided to set off north to the city of sparkling lights, waves of incredibly heat, beaches so blue you can see dolphins playing in their pods of Rocky…. Rockhampton!
As we headed up the Bruce Highway, we bypassed the towns of Childers, Bundaberg and having decided to forgo the welcoming cool drink of a G’n’T (Gin & Tonic) in the township of Gin Gin, we finally arrived.
After traveling for 6+ hours, 470 kilometres and Agent Smith telling us that he was recalculating and we were going in the wrong direction, we finally arrived at Rockhampton,
We booked into our accommodation and went exploring.
We landed in Rocky on the edge of a storm, tired, hungry and wondering if we should just bypass the place. It maybe be known to hold the longest river in Queensland (The Fitzroy) and be the biggest producer of cattle but Rockhampton, otherwise known as ‘Beef Capital of Australia’ caused a fizzle to run down my spine.
At first we were like any tourist freshly arrived in a new place to see. WHERE can we quench our hunger and thirst? Off we set finding various well known fast food outlets, little fish and chip shops and the odd Indian and Thai. Numerous hotels/pubs beckoned us and before we knew it, we had traveled out the other side of the city and on our way northwards heading to the next town of MacKay…. Oops!
So with Agent Smith by now giving us the wrong directions back into the city, we ended up on the outskirts in another pointless direction!
By this stage, I was busily eyeing up my Husband’s arm for sustenance and a way to hold off starvation, we came across a Pizza Place. He was saved.
We headed back to the cabin we had rented for the night, which will be forever known as ‘The Death Trap of Antarctica’. We threw off the travel clothing and finally got the air conditioner working, as the cabin was like a hot furnace, before settling in for the night.
All went well until bed time.
The Husband gathered up his pillow and promptly set about serenading me with his cacophony of various night sounds. As I laid there for the next seven hours, listening to my husband serenade me with his delightful and loud romantic song of snores, at all levels and pitches; I realised something.
There should have been a warning sign in that cabin that said this: ‘Unless you are so tired; a natural disaster could happen and you wouldn’t wake for it…. YOU WILL BE kept awake by the air conditioner!’
The air conditioner was located directly above us, within inches of our heads.
Like anything that can be described or stated to be a terror that goes bump at night, the air conditioner’s mission was to blast arctic cold air directly onto our feet. Completely bypassing our head and body as we lay there dying of the extreme heat while our feet and toes started to resemble ice cubes with frostbite.
Before sweeping out of the room to Lord only know’s where.
In addition to the added bonus of blasting arctic cold air onto our feet for a whole 27 minutes (which I timed), it then decided to die…..and not quietly. But rather with a loud, earth shaking clonk as it turned itself off for the next 23.5 minutes.
The air conditioner ensured all occupants were now lathered with layer of sweat, dust particles all the while nearly expiring from the intense heatwave. Before turning back on with another loud and earth shaking clonk as it continued to blast Arctic air onto our cubed toes for another 27 minutes.
All night, I lay there listening to Red snoring loudly and the wall shaking beneath the air conditioner and I wondered was the 93.00 dollars we paid for The Death Trap of Antarctica worth it?
I think not comes to mind as we paid the sum for the non-existent pleasure of being kept awake, dying of a menopausal flush and the overwhelming heatwave. All the while, Red slept peacefully next to me as I eyed the ceiling wondering if it would ever stop before slipping into an uncomfortable sleep.
Only to be woken with the thought of, ‘Shit! I better get ready as we need to leave’.
With the Morning now blasting an intense heat outside and arctic conditions inside our cabin, we packed up and left without a backward glance to head to the coastal town of Yeppoon.
Unlike the hell hole we had just left without a second glance over our shoulders, Yeppoon was utterly divine!
We saw the blue waters of the Pacific where frolicking children jumped in the small waves. Dogs could be heard barking with glee as they chased a ball into the water and parents galore casting both eyes over their collective interests. Red and I sat upon a outlook overlooking the Sunday fun, enjoying ourselves and the silence that seemed to enter our bones.
It felt like the peace and quiet we had been dreaming of and looking for over the last few months was finally delivered on a silver platter. The silver platter in the form of a 4.W.D, a holiday destination and the ambiance of escaping for a few moments to simply be: Lois and Red.
Now this felt like the place we had been looking for!
However before we left Yeppoon, we took a few moments and came up with a whole new plan for our next adventure together.
We decided a lovely beach side Caravan park, offering unlimited views of the crystal blue ocean water and vast amounts of fishing could be done outside your camp site seemed to attract us. The thought of throwing out a line, catching a snag or five and celebrating the evening with simply relaxing to the sound of waves crashing and a drink or two had both of us signing up.
Not to mention the endless thought of kicking back and relaxing for a whole 2-4 weeks….. away from the kids had us foaming at the mouth at the image! It was our idea of bliss!
Before we knew it, the ocean was merely a thought and once again the open vastness of farming land took over our sights.
We were soon greeted with hours of endless tussock, rugged bush land, rocks tumbling down to who knows where and endless rows of mountains to set one’s imagination off.
Mount Morgan was one of those old mining towns that still had remnants of beautiful architecture, the locals taking life at a slower pace and offering up the little touches of pleasure that made you think…’Thank God, I’m an Australian’. Both of us took a lot of pictures and admired the beauty of the town with glee.
However, there was one place that utterly made us stop and go… ‘Oh My God, did you see that place!’
There is is only this phrase I can use to describe it… Old World Charm.
This lovely old theatre, now converted into residential apartments epitomized the elegance of a by gone era of architecture. Both of us were literally mesmerized and spent a lot of time merely sitting in our car looking at the colours of the paintwork, the fretwork on the veranda and beauty of the workmanship. Exquisite.
Agent Smith, was by this stage having a rather horrible reaction to being constantly taken off the route he had devised for us, so was given the night off….permanently. Red and I meandered through back roads leading to no where and inadvertently took a wrong turn and ended up traveling some 95 kilometres out of our way via a dirt track.
Did we freak out? Hell no, we were in our four wheel driving element! Bring it on!!!
As we drove we encountered loose cattle, the farmer riding horseback in search of his wandering cattle, overflowing creeks and had an absolute ball together!
The hairy angle of the road
In the following hours of endless driving towards home, we talked and laughed. In some cases, were quiet while contemplating the view and simply enjoying being able to see it together. We were doing exactly what we had always wanted to do all those years when we were newlyweds and beginning to formulate a life together. We wanted to be together, explore, learn, educate, experience and simply enjoy those tender moments as a couple….
Red and Lois……cheers with a Beer!
The Travellers, Red and Lois