We rolled out of the Sunshine coast for what we thought would be the last time and into Gympie, land of the gold rush, the unplanned towns, the deep valleys and steep roads, and great history of building this region.
We happened upon the markets at the Gold Mining Museum, and went to both on the same day. Woah – big day! The markets helped us stock up on books and some spices for the road. And farmed red claw for lunch. They were located at the Lake Alford Reserve, picturesque parklands where we spotted four fountains in the lake, and lots of duck feeding going on! They’re right near the information centre too, so it’s tourist heaven right there.
Then the gold museum we could have spent hours more in. Such an eclectic collection of history, from school houses to fire trucks, mining machinery and everything associated with traditional mining of gold in the region. We successfully panned heaps of gold dust, but when it came to removing them from the pan there was no way we could get them out! Doh! There goes our fortune, eh?!
I was excited to meet a woman whose photography I’d been following closely since doing my 365 project, taking a photo a day while on maternity leave with Charlie, and the year before Mia went to school. Leigh has a daughter just a bit younger than Mia too, so it was great to meet her and get to hang out with kids and cameras in real life after 4 and a half years of photos only.
We were also fortunate to meet a great family in the park we were at who had been travelling for 18 months with two young kids. They were from a small town in SA, and uncannily, we discovered that we’d both been to Tetepare and they were friends with the patrons of the island. Small world alert! Their and our kids quickly became friends and we spent some really lovely dinners with them plus watching Tawni at gymnastics and ANZAC day in the park at Gympie. They had stopped for work, but shared so many of their experiences, stories and tips. Such serendipity at the start of our trip; making friends with like-minded travellers is a wonderful thing!
From Gympie we were able to explore the coastal parts of the peninsula below Fraser Island – Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay; both such exquisite parts of the country! Rainbow Beach is a spectacularly wide and flat beach, famous for being able to 4WD up it, park where you like, pull out fishing rod, chairs and beers, and sit. For as long as you want. The back of the beach is made up of coloured sands, which, according to the Kabi people whose land it is, are a result of Yiningie the rainbow spirit plunging into the cliffs. There’s a multitude of minerals in them there cliffs however.
Jez and the kids frolicked in the surf while I went photographing and enjoying the wide open space, and pandanus, and the sea air.
We ventured into Tin Can Bay with the kids to check out humpback dolphins that come into the bay to be fed each day. How could we resist? No crowds, a couple of dolphins, low key centre, passionate retired volunteers…..
Between the dolphins, fishing off the pier, pelicans, soldier crabs, mud flats and the park and library, we all agreed that Tin Can Bay was a place we could spend a bit of time in. It’s so relaxing! Apparently it has a large retired population too. No kidding – I’d see my days out there too!
Life on the road is good.