Bundaberg

First, an extremely belated ‘Happy New Year’ to all.  This is actually the third post I’ve written this year, but I seem to be particularly prone to technical gremlins in 2015, so it’s the first one to make it up the pipe to the internet.  Hope that improves as the year goes on…

Now.  On to a slow-moving tale of sweat, rain, witches and cartoon statues.  Pretty much business as usual, then.

You may remember (it was a while ago) that I got stuck in Brisbane for longer than planned due to the weather.  That’s the trouble with heading towards the tropics during the wet season.  It rains a bit, and the rain can be quite heavy (for those from outside the UK, that’s a fair example of British understatement).  And when it’s not raining, the sun comes out, making it phenomenally swampy when combined with 70-plus percent humidity.

New Year’s Eve found me on the receiving end of the heat and humidity, which had been building ever since Brisbane.  I scraped into Maryborough, gasping for refreshment and looking forward to welcoming in the New Year.  About an hour later, there was a light shower:

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The storm took out the electricity to the whole town, as well as others up to 20 miles away.  For about four hours.  It took its toll on the NYE celebrations too, as it becomes incredibly difficult to buy anything when the cash registers don’t work.

I’ve been running very slowly, dodging perpetual showers ever since I left Maryborough.  Having ducked and dived a few paltry kilometres further north, I’ve been stranded in Bundaberg for the last couple of days.  But I have high expectations of escape tomorrow (Wednesday).  The fact that I’m still here is down partly to the consistent streams of drenching showers rushing in off the ocean.  And partly down to the witches.

I thought they were witches the first time I clapped eyes on them: three local old crones cackling around steaming cups of coffee.  All very Macbeth (though I think that was on a blasted heath, rather than on Bundaberg’s main street).  But then, they seemed so nice when I started talking to them, and I quickly concluded that they must just be very noisy old ladies.

I’d already packed up the Beast, and was ready to roll this morning, but had been temporarily halted by yet anther monstrous shower.  The witches saw the bike, and pointed out that there were inky black clouds and columns of rain as far as the eye could see.  Then they brainwashed me into staying another night, as it was bound to rain all day.  Needless to say, it dried up by about eleven, and was bright and breezy until dark.  I assume they enchanted the elements to wind me up.

The moral of the story is that you should probably get weather advice from the local weatherman  (‘showers clearing later’), rather than a bunch of random octogenarian sorceresses.

They did suggest the (tiny, but free) local zoo as a distraction, though.  So I got to see a sleeping dog in a cage:

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Bundaberg’s charms don’t end with sleepy dingos, though.  It’s sugar cane country around here, and something has to be done with all that sweet stuff.  The city is famous for rum and ginger beer (both separately and mixed into a refreshing cocktail).  The rum is really nice, but I’ve been addicted to Bundy ginger beer for a long time, and it’s likely to remain my rehydration solution of choice, as long as I can find it in shops.

Sugary treats aside, Bundaberg should also be famous as the birthplace of Bert Hinkler.  I must confess that I’d never heard of Bert before arriving in town.  But after seeing everything from shopping centres to streets named after him, I looked him up.  It’s no wonder the town is so proud of the first person to fly solo from the UK to Australia (as well as making several other long flights, fighting in WW1, and piloting a plane in the inter-war Schneider Trophy seaplane races).  Which makes it all the more surprising that Bert’s statue looks like a cartoon man.  With a giant chin:

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Much though I’d like to spend a few days pondering the possible links between Bundy rum and the city’s intriguing artistic rendering of its favourite son, I really need to move on.  I’m running behind, and need to push on up the coast towards Rockhampton, and before that, the Tropic of Capricorn.

Providing the witches haven’t spooked the weather, it shouldn’t take too long.  And I’ll try to get the next update in a little quicker…

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6 comments

  1. A belated happy new year to you old fruit – glad to read that you are continuing to encounter the weird and wacky on your journey. I thought the statue had a look of Dan Dare about it and suspected some artistic licence may have been used to idealise the local hero – but having just swiftly googled an image of old Bert, he does actually look like a comic book hero and his life story is similarly phantasmagorical! Great find!

    1. Thanks, mate. HNY to you too! Had a look at a picture of Bert too; he does look a bit cartoony, but nothing like as much as the statue. Great life story, though…

  2. Hi Tim belated Happy New Year to you. We still have some Bunderberg Rum in the cupboard from Neil’s trip to Aus. I will try to find some of your preferred ginger mixer for a celebratory drink on your return. Cheers and love from Aunty Ev x

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