Mackay was a town we had decided to stop in to visit a friend from the UK. Carl had moved out here a while back and having the ease of social networks to stay in touch, after a quick message, we were welcome to join him for a beer that night.
After our lack of planning and sat-nav-free travel style had us brimming with exploratory confidence, we arrived in Mackay town centre with time to spare. And immediately got lost. Following the sparse visitor information signs, we ended up going in circles. We need an excursion on foot to help, possibly enlisting the hep of locals. Still not understanding parking signs, we found a bay we thought we could park in and left our little camper to wander.
Alas, we found the information centre in the old refurbished town hall. The old, now closed, information centre. It had moved to a street just outside of town. Not to be discouraged, we swiftly decided that we should just have a look about instead and find out our town info later.
As with our previous travelling fate, we stumbled on an event unfolding. At the river side there was a charity bike ride, boat race and market afoot. I’m starting to think that these are not all coincidences and most town enjoy a varied range of events on a regular basis to keep their inhabitants occupied. As our spirits were lifted by the buzz around the crowds, we watched an awards ceremony for god-knows-what and two winners jumped in the river, the rest of the crowd looking on un-phased.
A trip to the mall would prove to be a mistake. For me, that is.
Holly decided to get her hair dyed which me free time to wander about the mall and it’s shops. The shops seemed different to those at home. Almost uninteresting. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for window shopping and boredom very quickly set in. After the tedious and slow hours passed, I found myself walking in circles, not even caring where I was going. Relief was found in a small bakery offering cheap pizza style pastry where I could relax and gorge on the tasty treats.
Giving up our newly found old fashioned campsite hunting we resorted to sat nav, finding a place not too far from the town, conveniently near the newly relocated town information centre.
Confirming our suspicions that Aussies are the friendliest people in the world, the chap at the information centre went above and beyond, calling in a favour of a friend, to hook us up with some internet access for a Face Time call that evening.
After a quick SS&S, we wandered into town, drinking our Goon on route to get the night started early. We popped to the venue for our facetime call, a hotel that the tourist guy had kindly organized, to confirm that everything was in order. With no problems there, we headed off to enjoy our night. Catching up with Carl was great, despite his morphed Geordie Aussie accent. We chatted over a few beers and he agreed to come with us for the call and then finish our night after.
We headed for our appointment at the hotel giddy and tipsy. As we announced our arrival the lady behind the desk recognised us.
“Oh I remember you, sorry there’s been a mistake, you can’t use our internet. Try Maccas”
Are you fucking joking woman? That’s why we came earlier to avoid having five fucking minutes to find another place.
Trying not to focus on the bitch that ruined our evening, we tried Maccas with no luck. Fuck it; let’s get more beer. Holly and I had stupidly forgotten our ID’s and even though we are on the wrong side of 25, our darling young good looks would have us turned away from a few bars. We settled for an Irish bar to spend the night. An onslaught of drinking unfolded, sampling the delights of Bundaberg rum, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and and beer. This was all before the main event, a shot dreamt up by one of the bartenders. The liquor cocktail was set on fire as we nervously watched before drinking the dangerous concoction. We were both proud to have kept it down and it only added fuel to our party fire.
From then on, my memory lapses. Besides some dodgy evidence on our camera the next day, I could tell you very little about the night. It was good we had the pictures and videos of the night to jog our memory. Pictorial evidence of Holly doing something she shouldn’t have in the street, and video evidence of my outrageously good dancing.
After two hours on the road the following day, I started to sober up. Don’t try this at home kids, although it did help slice a big chunk of time off the journey.
Our next stop was Yeppoon, upon the advice from a fellow camper to avoid Rockhampton, which was it’s close neighbour.
Stocked up with crisps, jellies and chocolate, I conquered the rest of the drive while simultaneously expelling my hangover.
With campsite found, we headed into Yeppoon in our van, too lazy to walk, for a good old fish and chips on the beach. With a bluster blowing we walked the beach, collecting sea shells after an attempted nap was culled by the breeze.
After the mishap last night not allowing for contact with home, we headed off after a lethargic afternoon to find wifi, and ended up being directed to McDonalds. As we headed into a car park close by, we both heard a bang as I went over the first speed bump, then a low grumbling noise. “What was that?” as we slowly moved forward. The noise became clearer, it was loud eerie scrape. Frantically checking my mirrors I couldn’t see what I was scraping up against. Then it dawned on us.
Looking back after parking up, the height restrictions in the car park were enforced by a low hanging sign which was now bent to a slight angle, with a metal bar on chains in front of the sign, rocking with a slow melancholy pace. Peering from a high vantage point, a large yellow and blue scrape traversed the full length of the roof extension. Bollocks. Hey, that’s what insurance is for right?
Back to the campsite with grins on our faces, forged by my shitty awareness of the vehicles height and inability to see a ginormous blue sign, all we wanted was to relax with our spaghetti on toast. In the dark I peered for the right road to take, unknowingly mounting a grass island, not designed for cars. Jesus what else will go wrong today!
We had paid and checked in earlier, but returned to someone taking up our camp space, and another camper using our power cable. Their set up was not like our little van, and not easily moved. A tent that eclipsed our humble abode, attached to a car with a man inside finishing blowing up his inflatable bed. As we confronted him he ever so kindly suggested going to another spot just over the way. He had arranged his nights stay over the phone and arrived when there was no one here taking a space he assumed to be free. Fucking tosser. Being slightly miffed and Holly not wanting to go and stay in the free spots, engulfed in the darkness, we squeezed in next to them and settled for the night.
The following morning I complained as soon as I woke up with the site not offering a shred of reasoning. As I was venting my frustrations, the chap came in wanting to settle his bill, making the situation a bit awkward.And just like that we left Yeppoon with the next stop in our sights. Hervey bay, here we come!