Bike Odyssey
Around Australia 2003

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Journal for 13-Jul-2003 : Mackay (Jess & Brook's place)

Firstly I'd like to publicly thank John and Nancy (Linda's uncle and aunt) for being such great hosts over the past couple of days. It was really great staying with you. Thanks again! Also thanks to Phil (Linda's cousin) and Nadine for a great BBQ dinner, and to Jess and Brook for keeping me entertained.

The Lonely Planet guides may have struggled to find nice things to say about Mackay, but I am here to tell you the national park at Eungella just 80km west(in a car :-)) settled at the top of the ranges hosts the lushest rainforest in Australia that are a sight to behold. The road up the Pioneer valley is pretty straight and flat till the end is reached, where suddenly twists and climbs at the ridiculous rate of 12% for 5k. A cycling challenge no doubt, and safely deferred till I'm 15kgs lighter or have developed Alzheimer's disease. Never the less, strolling through the forests we spotted our ever first wild platypus.

Yesterday we went down to Mackay's marina district. Live just about everywhere else in Queensland, Mackay is trying to establish a thriving tourist industry. Without the same natural beauty as other parts of the coast, they are finding it something of an uphill battle. However, an up-market marina has been developed behind a series of huge breakwaters near the town's main beach. The pontoons are specially designed to cope with Mackay's huge 6m tides (which is more than can be said for the beach!). The hope is to attract in the super rich in their super yachts away of the Whitsunday islands. Onshore there is a series of newly constructed restaurants, night spots, apartments and condos decorated with beautiful local grown palm trees. Everything is painted bright lively colours, and unlike some other insane coastal developments there is some consistency (if no beauty) in the architecture. With such an expanse of coast to choose from, I don't understand why they placed this development right next to the oil terminal.

Roadhouse at Bloomsbury very modern, but has a typically quirky roadhouse sideline: it deals in caged birds. The birds are treated at least as well as the patrons. The roadhouse picnic area is caged, just like the display birds.

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