Monthly Archives: May 2017
Is it Rocky or is it Rockie?
We are now in Rockhampton and do you know I have seen it referred to, in a tourist brochure, as Rockie. Well what can you say about that except that I always believed it was Rocky!
We are in a van park just across the Fitzroy River from the Rocky CBD. It is near the end of Wholly Cow Month here in town and one senses the need to call off the Fish n Chips comparison exercise and focus on beef. Rockhampton is the home of the Queensland beef industry. Cattle welcome you into the town and cattle farewell you from the town. As well as special dinners and long table lunches, restaurants and butchers shops have been promoting various beef specials on menus and special wholly cow recipe cards. We had some rump one night at the Giddy Goat establishment, not bad at all.
One of the reasons for coming up here (apart from the beef) was to go to the ‘Opera in the Caves’ night at Olsen’s Caves, about 20 km north of the city just off the Bruce Highway. Before the show we had an early dinner at the Caves Hotel. This is one of those new old looking sorts of Hotels, everything in it looks old except for the bar maids! At the show were 4 singers (tenor, baritone and 2 sopranos) on the bill plus the pianist. The event takes place in the Cathedral Cave, holds about 100 people sitting on old pews and lit by lots of little candles on the floor and up the walls of the cave. Sang lots of well-known pieces, including some from Sound Of Music and Carmen. Highlight though was Nessun dorma, it just reverberated around the cave. Amazing. Little bats flitted around during the show as well. A great night out!
There is a fair bit of activity going on around the CBD and Riverfront rejuvenating the old streetscapes and buildings, many of which date from the 1800s. Trying to attract back into the CBD area much of the life and business that has disappeared into the shopping centres around the outskirts of the city.
Our last day in Rocky involved a wander around the Caravan etc show that was in town for the end of the Wholly Cow Month. One of the features here was the The Smokin Yak mob, who very slow cook the humps of Brahman cattle. This has only been done over the last couple of years, previously these humps were sent off as pet food….thought to be one of those undesirable secondary cuts. It was pretty tasty, particularly with their special BBQ sauce. Not unlike slow cooked beef cheeks but not quite as rich………
Enough of beef we are now off to Yeppoon for a few days beside the seaside and some Fish n Chips!
Gladi or is it Glady?
That is what the locals seem to call this place. We are in Gladstone (or we were, currently siting at Rockhampton writing this epistle). It’s like chalk and cheese here in Glady compared to Noosa, not a Greenie to be seen.
The big industrial scene seems to overwhelm what one sees here. There is a slightly off smell to the air when the wind blows across from the alumina refinery. Tourism certainly plays second fiddle to heavy industry, although boats head out from here to the southern barrier reef islands. A lot of the city’s early buildings appear to have been lost and those that remain are much changed. Overall it looks a bit like part of the Brisbane urban sprawl.
We stayed at Tannum Sands about 20 km south of the city and just across from Boyne Island where the aluminium smelter is. All of the production from the alumina refinery up at Gladstone comes down here by conveyor to the smelter and thence is exported from the terminal here or trucked out around Australia. Tannum is a peaceful place with not a lot to do. We are beside a creek not far from the mouth. Allthego had a short fish one late afternoon and was eaten by midges…..still itching from them……….and no fish…….
Took a tour out on Glady Harbour, not to see pristine waterways, turtles etc but to check out all the material handling terminals along the waterfront. As well as a close up look at the new LNG processing plants and loading docks on Curtis Island ( which is actually the second largest island off the Qld coast after Fraser Island). The processing plants occupy less than 1 Percent of its total area, but certainly make a visual impact across the channel. We were lucky to see 2 LNG cargo vessels coming up the bay for loading, impressive ships, with 4 tugs attached.
The food scene here is a little bare, no festivals on. Enjoyed some fish n chips overlooking the harbour. Rated these superior to the ones we had at Noosa, which were a little pasty. 4/5 for these ones 3.5/5 for the Noosa ones. Ambience of Noosa though was superior, although that doesn’t effect the fish n chips.
Short visit to the local museum and art gallery to see the statue of Gladstone, the 4 times Prime Minister of England (he finally retired as PM at the age of 85). Glady is named after Gladstone who was largely responsible for initiating the settlement of the area in the 1840s. Glady was to be the capital of a ‘Northern NSW’, a new colony, Brisbane would remain in the New South Wales colony. It was not to be though with Queensland being carved out instead with Brisbane as its centre piece. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT COULD HAVE MADE TO NRL STATE OF ORIGIN GAMES!
We have now left Glady and have gone a little further north to Rockhampton, Rocky to most. Maybe those Glady people are just competing with Rocky?
It’s Wholly Cow month in Rocky, back to the food and culture it seems.
Heading North ………first stop Noosa
It is going to be a slow trip to Rockhampton and just as slow coming back to Brisbane, all up about 5 weeks. We are setting off to see some of the towns to our near north, we just seem to skip past these on the more lengthy journeys. By sheer coincidence the timing of this trip coincides with several food festivals…….
In Noosa it’s the ‘Noosa Food and Wine Festival’, in Maryborough it’s the ‘Relish Festival’ and in Rockhampton it’s the ‘Wholy Cow Festival’. What luck!
So we have made Noosa our first stop to focus on the food. Now we have been to Noosa a fair bit over the years but not in a van. 30 odd years ago we tented in what is now known as Noosa Woods, out on the spit at the end of Hastings Street, near the river mouth. It’s been many years since camping was eliminated from this area and much of it has been reclaimed by the bush. So we are staying in the van park along the river at Noosaville, great little spot looking across the river with the sun sinking over the hinterland.
We have been here 3 days, the first was a wash out, rained all day Friday and most of the night. So our Friday ticket to the Noosa Woods was made good for Saturday when the sun came out. Usual festival sort of thing, lots of tents with wine sellers, a range of food vendors and music. Open all day, you could spend a fortune here without really trying. We didn’t. After not a bad pulled pork burger and a plate of cheese, washed down with a couple of glasses of red, we were heading back to the van. Some interesting characters wandering around the festival grounds made for interesting people watching….
Back in Hastings Street the Long Table Lunch was in full swing down the middle of the road. Looked pretty good setup. Allthego had a chat with some patrons, confirmed it was good and offered him a seat at the table. Someone hadn’t shown up. Tempting. But, there was no seat for Homealone. Allthego politely declined.
That night it was off to El Capitano for what was billed as a night of Pizza and ‘natural wines’ (read that as organic). A well-known chef from a Melbourne restaurant (400 Gradi) was up preparing the food. As well as a couple of fancy pizzas there was salamis to kick the night off, a plate of venison carpaccio, and braised octopus (twas very tender and tasty). A Nutella calzone for desert was a bit average Allthego thought, as were the wines. But it was a bit of fun and we had a good table of folk to share it with.
Today has been ‘quiet time’ beside the river. After a quick visit to the Sunday Noosa Farmer’s Markets for supplies we had a plate of fish n chips for lunch at the Noosa Marina overlooking the river. Rather good fish n chips, but will have to see how they compare with the competition further north.
Tomorrow we head off to Gladstone. Just got to see the old aluminium smelter, the new gas works and the coal loaders……………..