The map

A journey to where Queensland began – Thursday 9 June

We had breakfast in a cute little café in Emerald, then went to visit the Info Centre that is built out of straw bales. In Morton Park beside it, there is a huge installation of the world’s biggest Van Gogh Sunflower painting. The superstructure is 25 metres high with approximately 13.6 tonnes of steel involved in its construction. It was finished in 1999 and is the creation of a guy called Cameron Cross. Emerald used to be the centre of Sunflower growing.

A little further along the Capricorn Highway, we passed through Blackwater, Bluff, then Dingo and Duaringa, all small towns that are not only on the highway but also on the train line that carries coal into Gladstone for use in power stations or for export. The coal trains are so long. The average train has 100 coal trucks and usually three engines. What is different on this line is that it is electric, rather than diesel driven. During our drive between Blackwater and Gladstone, we travelled alongside ten trains. I found it fascinating because of their lengths so I did some research as we drove. Each train has at least 100 trucks and three engines. Each coal truck is about 16.1 metres long, which means that, with the engines, each train is 1.7 km long. Each of those coal wagons carries approximately 97.8 tonnes of coal which means the average coal train carries 9,780 tonnes of coal. That’s a lot of coal being shifted around Queensland!

Because the whole rail system is run by the side of the highway, it is crowded with electricity poles and wires and, when we also drove towards an electricity substation, the whole sky was crowded with poles and wires and poles and wires and then some.

The other thing I registered again today was the interesting laser cut town signs. I don’t know whether it has been a government initiative, but whatever, they are clever and interesting. This one at Bluff was well done!

Because we discovered the cheapest fuel was actually right in the city of Gladstone, we took an unexpected drive into tow. We are glad we did, as we found the city to be an interesting one. Some people had told us that it was not worth visiting because it was so heavily industrial, but Peter and I found that aspect of it quite intriguing. It is a city we would like to revisit and explore more.

We drove on and arrived at our lovely big unit at Agnes Water by mid-afternoon. We unpacked and then drove to 1770 – Seventeen Seventy – the first landfall in Queensland for Captain James Cook in 1770. Even though it is on the East Coast, the sun sets across the water in Bustard Bay which faces west. Over the space of nearly an hour, the various stages of the sunset commandeered the attention of everyone that was there.

We had dinner at the local pub the best part of which was the GF chocolate lava pudding!

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