Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chapter 3 - Orange to gold

Sunday morning was again foggy, and little of the scenery could be seen as we drove north out of Gayndah. It had cleared by Mundubbera, where I stopped at the Giant Mandarin. A lot of Australian towns have built giant icons such as an enormous pineapple, mango or crayfish, and Mundubbera has celebrated its local citrus industry the same way. I can't decide whether they're tacky, or sad, or brilliant.

Misty morning

Munduberra and the giant mandarin

I stopped in Eidsvold for morning tea (and a mandarin), before pushing north to Monto. I passed through Monto a month ago after camping at Cania Gorge, and stopped for an early lunch. When I finished a local, Ron Jamieson, came over and had a yarn about old cars - he has a '79 Corvette, currently in the workshop, and an rip-snorting XU-1 Torana before that. He remembered his father's old Wolseley, and an MG rally that passed through a few years back. Couldn't remember a Triumph in Monto, though! I'll look in next time I'm passing through, and see how the Corvette's coming along.

North from Monto, we passed over the Coominglah Range. Ron had told how road trains at night could be seen climbing the range by the glow of their turbochargers, but Gerald kept his cool. No turbos! From there to Biloela the road wound down through a valley and past Mt Scoria, an extinct volcano. Biloela's information centre makes good coffee, and after a reviving espresso and wander around the farming display ("eat Beef!"), we headed north to Mt Morgan, the final destination for the day.

Mt Morgan was slightly off the direct route, but was the last place to find a decent motel between Biloela and Moranbah. Mt Morgan's an old gold mining town tucked in a valley inland of Rockhampton. It survives partly on tourism, but with gold over US $1000/ounce, mining companies are looking again at the old tailings, and fresh, unmined deposits deeper under the hills. The place has a buzz, and I'll go back and camp there sometime. The motel, also a caravan park, had an old motorbike mounted on its sign - typical Queensland quirkiness. Apparently the owner collects old bikes...

Later in the evening, while waiting for my pizza, I filled up Gerald - 29.1L and 240 miles for the day equalled 7.8L/100km, or 36.2mpg. Not bad! The local RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) mechanic was there, and had seen my car earlier in the day. I joined the RACQ prior to the trip, but was glad I hadn't needed them. We discussed Triumphs (there used to be some locally many years ago), the foibles of SU carbs, and other local auto-antiques, until the pizza was ready. Along the whole trip I met people who knew what Heralds were, or had had similar British cars, and the stories and characters added greatly to the trip.

470 miles into the trip, we slept in a mining town full of ghosts and stories from the past, but with a bright, golden future. Like a lot of Queensland, really.

Stop 2 - Mt Morgan


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