Four Hundred Kilometres to Agnes Water

We left Noosa this morning with its busy roads and multiple roundabouts. I tell you, it’s worse than Canberra! I had no idea where we were in this maze of circles. I just followed the GPS and assumed that it would take me to where I want to go.

We put the car through a car wash this morning  and gave it a good clean before stopping of at a Woolworths supermarket for a few things. Our drive to Maryborough began along a motorway, but near Gympie it turned back into a standard highway.  As we drove through Gympie (an old gold mining town), the road seemed to go on for kilometres without us finding anything that resembled the central part of a town. Maybe we just missed, or maybe it was somewhere else.

At Maryborough, we did a quick diversion off the highway into the main part of town.  This city has a large number of beautiful historic buildings. Today, Maryborough is a city driven by the surrounding sugar, grazing and timber industries and catering for the tourists who pass through on the journey north to Cairns. We saw our first sugar fields just south of Maryborough.

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One thing that I didn’t know until today was that the story of Mary Poppins was written by an Australian author. Located on the corner of Richmond Street and Kent Street in Maryborough is the impressive old Australian Joint Stock Bank which was built in 1882. Helen Lyndon Goff was the daughter of the bank manager. She was born upstairs in this building. and went on to become the famous author of the Mary Poppins books. Outside in the street,  her connection with Maryborough is celebrated in a statue of the famous nanny. It was erected in 2005.

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Just a few kilometres north of Maryborough, we had arranged to meet up with an old mate, Ray Power for lunch. Ray and I both served together in Vietnam. Unfortunaely Ray has a constant battle with PTSD and a very painfully sore back. I hope that he is well enough to get to our next unit reunion in Darwin in August 2024.

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Along the way, we pssed through the town of Childers. It came into existence as a service town for the surrounding sugar cane fields. It now has 23 buildings in its main street that are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. 


Childers was the scene of a terrible crime in 2000 when an itinerant fruit picker, Robert Long, who had a pathological hatred of backpackers,  started a fire in the downstairs recreation room at the Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel.  Fifteen backpackers – nine women and six men – most of whom came from England and Holland died in the fire. Long was captured and gaoled for life. To honour the dead backpackers, most of whom had been fruit picking around Childers, the town rebuilt the Palace Hotel and a Queensland artist constructed a large glass memorial.  

As we drove further north, we passed by extensive fields of sugar cane and dense plantations of macadamia nut trees. We bypassed the city of Bundaberg, famous for its rum and ginger beer. As we travelled around the town, we found a network of little narrow guage railway lines that are used to carry sugar cane to the mill. I assume that this area produces multiple crops of sugar each year as some fields were planted with tiny new plants while others had large stands that looked ready to cut.


We crossed the Burnett River on a narrow one-lane bridge and continued on to the town of Agnes Water where we are stopping for the night.


Today was a longer day for us. We aim to limit our travel to around 300 kilometres each day. This length of travel is easy and allows lots of time for stops. Today’s drive was almost 400 kilometres. With a stop to catch up with Ray for lunch and our normal travel routine, we didn’t reach our destination until about 5.00 pm. 

When we planned this trip, petrol prices were around $1.65 per litre. There has been a sudden jump in prices and at some petrol stations along the way, standard grade petrol is now selling for up to $2.27 per litre. We have been fortunate in that most of the fuel that we have bought is around $1.95 but I can’t see it being available at that price for long as we travel further north. 

Tomorrow, we head for Rockhampton and that is only a couple of hours drive. That will give us extra time to see some of the sights around Agnes Water and the nearby town of Seventeen Seventy. More about that tomorrow.

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