It seems as if much of the east coast of Australia is divided into named segments: the Sapphire Coast; the Gold Coast; the Sunshine Coast; the Sandy Coast; we think we’ve reached the Coral Coast, and we may be on the Coral Sea. The nomenclature is fluid and moved with the tides and the whims of the person speaking.
All we know is that the weather is warmer, there’s less rain, and we’re heading north.
We left Hervey Bay and headed to the town of Childers. Like many smallish towns across Australia, Childers is caught in a time warp. The actual buildings lining the main street in town – in this case, Main Street is also the Bruce Highway – are the original buildings from the late 1800s. Hotels, shops, the apothecary, pubs, etc. are all still there, in exactly the same spot they were 120 or so years ago. But now there are cars, and electric lights, and big signs advertising televisions or lattes or what have you. Definitely a Twilight Zone time warp kind of feeling.
But Childers is a delightful town, with beautiful mosaics along the sidewalk, featuring the history of the region as well as the produce and local flora/fauna. I loved the parrots shown here – the colors were just wonderful! This is also the center of beef country as well as sugar cane country, so those agricultural aspects were portrayed.
If you ever get to Childers, definitely eat at Kapé Centro – it’s a wonderful café along the main part of the Bruce Highway, right in town, with delicious food – I’d include their website but they don’t have one at the moment. I had the chicken and mushroom pie in puff pastry – most Aussie or Kiwi pies have a lot of gravy, and I’m not a fan of gravy – this pie was light airy puff pastry holding tender chunks of chicken and morsels of mushrooms and not a bit of gravy! It was fantastic! I also had day-old carrot cake that was moist and delicious. And I loved the polka-dot teapot – tea is such a wonderful ritual, and having a special signature teapot is just part of the ambience of this café. I had a lovely meal there! (Richard enjoyed sausage rolls and doughnuts from the bakery across the road, which smelled wonderful, but I wanted a relaxing meal sitting inside. It was rainy.)
Okay, the rain let up, we headed north and then to the coast along the Isis Highway, following the Isis River. Came to the Mon-repos Beach, where there is a huge turtle rookery. Some 300 or so loggerhead turtles come every year to lay their eggs on this beach, and tens of thousands of baby loggerhead hatchlings climb out of their nests and race to the sea right here. There’s a large information center that we visited, and we talked with one of the staff, a man who has been working with the Australian Department of Wildlife and Conservation for a long time.
Mon-repos gets something like six of the seven species of sea turtles in the world, and most of the turtles who come here are the loggerheads. During nesting season (about October through February) and hatching season (about January through April), the facility gives talks and night tours of the beach, so people can view the turtles digging the nest, laying the eggs, covering it up, or the baby turtles hatching out of the nest. They used to have a mad rush of people all trying to cram onto the beach, until they started selling tickets – now, things are much more controlled and orderly, and a nesting turtle isn’t surrounded by 100 people trying to get close or take a photo. Much better for the turtles!
So, being the turtle lovers that we are, we had a good time looking at the beach, exploring the information center, and talking with this man and some other visitors who had a lot of questions. And, of course, there weren’t any turtles to be seen, this is the wrong time of year. Everyone is out to sea somewhere, living their turtley lives.
And tomorrow? Well, we’ll head north, and see how far we get. If something looks or sounds good along the way, we’ll stop. Otherwise, we’ll drive northward until we’re tired, or it’s getting dark. That’s kind of our criteria – either it looks/sounds fun or interesting or good, or we’re tired and it’s late and let’s just stop here.
So we’ll just see what tomorrow brings.