Page 25

Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Woodgate, Bundaburg, Childers and 1770.

Just A Little More On Hervey Bay

While staying at Hervey Bay we discovered the Boat Club, and what a find! We caught a free courtesy bus from our caravan park to the club where we enjoyed a delicious three course dinner for just $15.50 per head. It was an all-you-can-eat arrangement and we were able to select from a huge range of delicious food and eat until we burst. The price of beer and wine was also very reasonable. We were so impressed that we returned another day, this time for lunch.

We were amazed to find that the charge was only $8.90 and we could still eat as much as we wanted of whatever we liked. The range of dishes was smaller than for the dinner menu but we still ate a delicious three course meal and would have returned for more had the previous evening's over-indulgence not been so fresh in our minds.

Gradually we noticed that the large room was full of older people. In fact, on entering I had actually lowered the average age. Yes, me! I know it's difficult to believe, but it's true. There were some people with oxygen tubes leading from complicated apparatus by their sides and terminating up their nostrils. There were wheel chairs, walking sticks, Zimmer frames, hearing aids and doubtless, pacemakers. Blue rinses abounded. Young Pam was but a child amongst this crowd. I thought we'd walked into God's waiting room. It was slightly depressing; we were looking at ourselves not too far down the track.

Anyway, if you are ever in Hervey Bay and want an excellent meal for peanuts with free transport to and from the venue, then the Boat Club is the place for you.

Mary Heritage

The day before we left Hervey Bay we visited the nearby town of Maryborough. Let me tell you, Dear Reader, Maryborough is one really nice town. It is steeped in history and tradition.

We arrived at nine o'clock, just in time to join the free town tour. Our guide introduced herself as Mary Heritage and she was beautifully dressed in the period costume of an early settler. Her knowledge of Maryborough and its history was absolutely phenomenal. Mary's real name is Carmel Murdoch. There had previously been several 'Mary Heritages' but our Mary had been in the job for the last eight years.

Mary Heritage, our wonderful, charismatic tour guide.

Mary began by showing us around the town hall. Boring, you may think, but not a bit of it. The building was designed and built with funds donated by a man who sold everything he owned to raise the money. All he asked in return was enough to live on for his few remaining years. The town hall is a credit to its benefactor and to the town - it is truly beautiful. The fascinating stories Mary told to us of heroism and tragedy held the whole group spellbound. One story in particular moved me . . .

In 1905 The Black Death, pneumonic plague (as opposed to bubonic plague), struck for only the third time in history - and it struck in Maryborough. It was misdiagnosed and began to spread. After a series of medical blunders the correct diagnosis was reached, but already some were dead and others dying.

Two young nurses, Rose Adelaide Wiles aged twenty eight and Cecilia Elizabeth Bauer aged twenty two were called in to the hospital to care for the victims who had been placed in isolation. They went, knowing they faced almost certain death. They sealed themselves inside the sickroom of their patients to prevent further spread of this highly infectious disease. A team of medics was dispatched from Brisbane to tackle this scourge but the two nurses refused their aid. They remained locked up with their patients who, one by one, died. Both nurses contracted the disease and they also died. Cecilia Bauer was due to be married in a few weeks. By their bravery in confining the infection they prevented what would certainly have been a devastating plague. In the town hall gardens is a fountain to honour the memory of Nurses Bauer and Wiles who gave their lives nursing the victims of pneumonic plague.

Nurses Fountain

The fountain honouring the memory of two incredibly brave and devoted nurses.

At night it is illuminated by special lights which make the water appear coloured. If that is a sad story, and it undoubtedly is, it is in direct contrast to the town of Maryborough which is a very happy place. On what do I base that? Well, for one thing, a leading national study by Deakin University found the area to have the nation's highest levels of personal wellbeing. You don't have much confidence in such surveys? Well, try this. We spent a whole day wandering around the centre of the town. How much graffiti did we see? None. Not one defaced wall. It hadn't been cleaned off - it just hadn't happened.

Look (as our politicians begin every response in an interview), I don't know whether you give credit to 'feelings' about a place, but Maryborough felt friendly. It has beautiful buildings which are cared for, it has really beautiful parks, the Mary River flows through the town, there are trees and grass. We watched the town crier in traditional dress, fire the 'one o'clock gun', aided by our new friend, Mary Heritage.

There was Mary Ann, an 1873 steam engine, pulling a two-carriage train through the town. Mary Ann is the sort that had a vertical boiler, remember? No, 'course you don't. But you've seen them in books, haven't you? And OK, perhaps it is a replica, but it's an exact replica, the literature says so.

Cannon and Steam Train

      Left: The Town Crier fires the one o'clock gun.                Right: The Mary Ann steaming through Maryborough

Garden and Ross

Left: One of Maryborough's beautiful gardens.                     Right: Ross and Mary Poppins.       

Yes, that's my good mate, Ross, in the last picture with a bronze statue of Mary Poppins. Why is a statue of Mary Poppins in Maryborough? Well, because the author of the Mary Poppins books, P.L.Travers, was born in - you guessed it - Maryborough.

By now you'll realise that we liked Maryborough very much. I haven't covered a quarter of what we saw in that one day - I took about seventy photos and I'd love to reproduce them all here - but I suspect you've got the message loud and clear so I'll change the subject. But I warn you, Dear Reader, Maryborough is on our lists of 'musts' to visit again, and for longer. Before we leave, however, here's one last picture taken by my very good friend, the same Ross Taylor that is pictured above.

Me with Mary Poppins and Town Crier

Mary Heritage, my own self and the Town Crier pictured after the firing of the one o'clock gun.


Our next port of call was Woodgate, only about 35 km. up the coast as the pelican flies but 116 km. by road. Alice played us up again, trying to make us drag the caravan along a dirt track called Lambs Road. It was actually a good short cut, had the road been suitable. Alice was chastised and told to work out a sensible route, which she did. Ross and Jan had gone on ahead and had found a good spot in Woodgate's one and only caravan park. We were again close enough to the ocean to hear the breakers on the beach at night and surrounded by trees. In the evening kangaroos were all around us and one even came for breakfast with her 'joey' in her pouch.

Kangaroos and Joey

Unexpected breakfast guests.

Woodgate is a tiny, isolated community right on the coast. It is situated on a strip of land between the ocean and a national park so space for development is limited. Never-the-less, there is quite a lot of building going on. The people at the general store used to have the Australia Post concession but because Woodgate is growing, a new post office had been opened next door. Conversely, the same store had applied to the Lotteries Commission to become an agent but had been refused on the grounds that the town is too small. Sometimes you just can't win.

'Roos by the Sea

Early morning peace and quiet at Woodgate.


While based in Woodgate we visited Bundaberg, a medium sized sugar town with a large rum distillery. Every Aussie over the age of ten must have heard of Bundaberg Rum. Well, we toured the plant from which it comes. Unfortunately, pictures I have none; before entering we were relieved of our cameras, pocket contents, even our watches. I won't bore you with details of the tour. Excuse me, did I hear someone say, Why not? You always have before. How rude.

There is, however, an interesting history you might like to hear. In the early 1900s, at a time when the distillery was in serious financial trouble, an 'unfortunate' fire destroyed the place. Then in 1936 a huge vat of 78% proof alcohol was struck by lightning. It immediately caught fire and the blazing liquid ran throughout the plant, down local streets, and into the nearby Burnett River. For days, it is said, locals were fishing out marinated, ready-cooked fish. The vats were rebuilt but this time within a bund so that, should a fire or leak occur, the liquid would be contained.

The tour finished with free rum sampling in the distillery's bar. My favourite was a rum liqueur which is so hard to make that it is only available to visitors in that bar - it isn't sold anywhere else. Shame.

The area surrounding Bundaberg abounds with cane fields. Today the sugar is harvested by huge machines and narrow gauge railways transport it to the mills. 'Twas not always so, of course, and many workers were required to cut and transport the cane. Labour was so short that, between 1863 and 1904, ships were sent to the South Sea Islands to 'persuade' the natives to come and work in the cane fields. Some came of their own volition but many didn't. The islanders were forced to work long hours at exhausting manual work for little or no wage. Their accommodation was atrocious and their death rate high. It is said they were treated 'like' slaves. Australia is not renowned for slavery, but what else was this?

To add insult to injury, between 1906 and 1908, those same South Sea Islanders were deported under the White Australia Policy. By then many didn't want to go. Those that remained continued to suffer racial discrimination at the hands of the government, the unions and the population in general. What had these people done to deserve this treatment? They had played a major role in the economic development of Queensland, and of the sugar industry in particular. They also served in the armed forced in peacetime and in war.

The facts outlined above were taken from a Queensland Government Recognition Statement signed by the Queensland Premier, the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. The statement, dated 7 September 2000, acknowledges the wrongs done to these people and expresses regret. It recognises that discrimination continues to this day and commits the Government to ensuring equality for all present and future generations of Australian South Sea Islanders.

Well, let's all hope so.

Cane Fire

Left: Rich, brown soil, new crops and beyond, sugar cane.             Right: Cane fields burning prior to harvesting.        

The fire in the picture (above right) used to be a common sight. The crop was burned to eliminate rats and snakes before the cane was manually cut. Provided the cane reached the mill fairly quickly the burning did not affect the sugar quality. In these days of mechanised harvesting fire is used much less frequently.

So that was Bundaberg. We liked the town and Pam covers other aspects of it in her journal. While camped at Woodgate we also visited the town of ...

This town will be remembered as the place where the Palace backpackers' hostel burned down killing fifteen young people. The fire was deliberately lit and the culprit rests in gaol where he will remain for a very long time, convicted of murder.

Childers Palace

The rebuilt Palace, now an information centre, art gallery and memorial to the fifteen who died there.

As can be seen from the picture, an excellent job has been made of rebuilding the Palace. There is a very tasteful memorial to the dead in the art gallery on the upper floor but photography is not allowed.

Childers is smaller than Bundaberg but very busy. Around the town a lot has been done to emphasise Queensland's debt to the South Sea Islanders with sculptures and poems in public places.
A Town Called Seventeen Seventy

Leaving Woodgate we travelled on north to a little place called 1770. On the way we received a text message from Cindy Bell who used to be the CEO's personal assistant during my employment days. Cindy and husband David are also travelling with a caravan. We'd kept in touch but were always in different places. Cindy's message read, Where are you and where are you going next?
On our way to 1770, we replied.
So are we, said Cindy, See you there.
This looked like becoming one big Happy Hour!

But back to 1770. Calling it a town is an exaggeration as it consisted of a number of houses, a sort of pub and two caravan parks. There were no shops. 1770 must rank amongst the most beautiful places we've seen, being right on the beach and having hilly, green country behind. However, even here a developer was planning to construct a large, flashy apartment block on a site which will see the demolition of the popular little pub-cum-café. However, it's important that some tycoon gets even richer, despite the fact that he'll spoil the charm of this little place for ever.

By now you're probably intrigued to learn why a place should be named 1770. Go on, admit it, you are. The answer is that Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook, R.N. anchored his ship Endeavour in Bustard Bay and came ashore on 24th May 1770. Bustard Bay was named when Jim's crew caught a bustard bird and ate it for lunch. This whole coast is known as the Discovery Coast.

beach Scenes

Left: Two young fellas on the beach.                                               Right: A sheltered cove.          

The caravan park in which we stayed was reputedly the better of the two. If so, heaven help the residents of the other park. We were packed in like sardines. The power supply was fine but we were supposed to share the available water taps and the pressure was poor. There was no sullage or sewage disposal for the caravans - toilets had to be emptied a few kilometres up the road. The park roads were narrow and mainly dirt. There were two ablution blocks but one was kept locked despite the park being full. The shower did its best not to wet me. What soapy water I achieved swirled around my feet before heading for the drain which it ignored, turning right and flowing under the partition to the next stall. What my neighbour thought about standing in my waste water I didn't ask. When I used the WC the enormous toilet roll fell off the damaged holder, bounced off my foot and rolled quickly towards the gap below the door. I managed to grab it just before it disappeared from sight. Needless to say there was no soap provided. When visiting the urinal one day later a chap having a pee commented, This is the best part of this whole park.

View and Gang Left: Queensland; glorious one day, perfect the next.

Right: Ross, Pam and the only view of Jan I can take on pain of death.

Cindy and David joined us for Happy Hour for the two nights that they stayed and we had a very merry time.

We have redefined Happy Hour. The new rules were approved unanimously by the Committee and are as follows, effective immediately:
  1. There shall be 180 Happy Minutes in each Happy Hour.
  2. Prior to commencement of each Happy Hour there shall be a Pre Happy Hour when alcohol may be consumed to adjust the state of mind for Happy Hour.
  3. Following Happy Hour there shall be a Post Happy Hour for winding down. This period may also be used for extending Happy Hour and shall be open ended.
  4. Alcohol imbibition during other periods (eg. lunch time) shall be at the drinkers pleasure and shall in no way affect the restrictions in Rules 1-3.
While in 1770 we visited the adjacent town of Agnes Water. It, too, we found very picturesque. If the name sounds familiar it could be because Agnes Water is famous for having caught the worlds largest cockroach in 1986. It measured 79 mm in length and appears in the Guinness Book of Records. Yippee!

Okay then, who was Agnes? The Agnes was a 66 ton topsail schooner that ran into rough weather and took shelter in nearby Pancake Creek in 1873. She was last seen leaving the creek bound for Brisbane on 15th June and was never seen again. All aboard presumably perished. This was not entirely surprising; in a 28 year period from 1891 there were 201 steamers and 187 sailing vessels wrecked on the Queensland coast. Imagine the cost of insuring a ship today with a record like that.

And that concludes Page 25. On Page 26 we go to Gladstone for a week then hightail it to warmer climes.

Footnote: This re-working of Page 25 was completed on 3 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.