Noosa (Day 84): Queensland Road Trip Day 2

May 23, 2016

Today we had another long drive ahead of us. We didn’t end up waking up at 5am to drive back to Cape Hillsborough to watch the sunrise and see kangaroos on the beach. As we were snoozing our alarms, we said we’d come back and do this drive over a week or more in the future. We could camp there and walk to the beach instead of driving 45 minutes from Mackay to Cape Hillsborough. The bed at Ibis was extremely comfortable (probably one of the best beds we’ve slept on so far) so it made it even harder to get up.

We went to McDonald’s (again) for breakfast. I ordered a spinach, egg and feta wrap trying to be healthy. Tim, however, found the most unhealthy choice. He ordered the “Aussie BBQ Brekkie Roll”, which had double sausage patties, eggs, bacon, and BBQ sauces on a sesame bun, two hash browns, and a flat white coffee! Our breakfast was basically our only meal for the day so it was good Tim had a huge breakfast.

Our McDonald's breakfast feast. $15 AUD = $14.13 CAD
Our McDonald’s breakfast feast. $15 AUD = $14.13 CAD
Tim's messy Aussie BBQ Brekkie Roll
Tim’s messy Aussie BBQ Brekkie Roll. It was a really heavy breakfast.
My spinach and feta wrap.
My spinach and feta wrap.
See you later, Mackay!
See you later, Mackay!

Our drive today was from Mackay to Noosa, which is about 850km away. Tim had another ~9 hour drive to do today. I don’t know how he drives so long and is still okay. Tim’s done a lot of road trips on his own while working in Columbus, so long drives like this are nothing to him. I’m just used to driving max 6 hours a day (to get to Portland).  The weather was better than our first day on the road but the scenery was pretty boring and repetitive. In my mind, I had pictured the drive from Cairns down to Brisbane to be scenic and beautiful. Since we were driving a more direct route we weren’t seeing anything interesting.

Halfway through our drive we got pulled over for a speeding ticket, which is really unlucky. I was thinking we hadn’t seen a police car at all on both our road trips in Queensland and while we were in Victoria. Tim thought we were still in a 110 zone but it became a 100 zone and he was going 119. We got pulled over and they gave us a ticket for $235 AUD. From that point on we were pretty paranoid with the speed limit changes. On the bright side, the police officers were really nice and friendly.

That put a bit of a damper on our day since $235 AUD is more than our car rental for 3 days. We were still really full from lunch and there wasn’t much food selection in the small towns we passed by. After two meals in a row at McDonald’s, nothing I saw at gas stations or any fast food was appetizing.

The sun set really early in Queensland. Around 5:30pm it was already pitch black out. This made me feel a bit uneasy while we were driving because the highway was only one lane each way with no median, the roads were winding, there were no street lights, and there were so many semi trucks going the opposite direction. As much as I trust Tim’s driving skills, I don’t really trust others. Considering there were so many warning signs about driver fatigue and a lot of road side memorials, it made me a bit paranoid.

When we arrived in Noosa at 9:30pm, I went from being thankful we made it there safely to feeling physically exhausted (and I wasn’t even the one who was driving). The long hauls of our road trip are finally over. I’m looking forward to seeing Noosa during the day and finally seeing the Sunshine Coast.

The motel we booked for the night was called Noosa Sun Motel. It was the nicest motel we’d stayed in so far. The room was huge and was more like an apartment than a motel room. It had a kitchen, dining table, sofa, an extra bed, and our bed was in a separate room. The room was $125 AUD/night.

Our bedroom at Noosa Sun Motel. I forgot to take a picture of the rest of the unit.
Our bedroom at Noosa Sun Motel. I forgot to take a picture of the rest of the unit.
Extra bed and couch in the living area. I didn't get to take a picture of the kitchen/dining area
Extra bed and couch in the living area. I didn’t get to take a picture of the kitchen/dining area

Steps today: 1,000

Kilometres today: 850km

Mackay (Day 83): Queensland Road Trip

May 22, 2016

This morning we woke up and packed up. Our relaxing days in Cairns have come to an end. Like yesterday, the rain was coming down and it was another gloomy looking day. We’re lucky we got two nice days before the rain started to come in. We went downstairs for a leisurely breakfast before checking out. We walked to Hertz to pick up the rental car, picked up our luggage from the hotel, and were on our way heading south towards Brisbane.

Cairns to Brisbane is approximately 1,680km and we’re going to drive there in three days. Ideally, we should have allotted more time for this drive since there’s a lot of very nice beaches (Whitsunday Islands) along the east coast but unfortunately we don’t have enough time. Lonely Planet recommends two weeks for this “road trip” and we’re doing it in three. For the first two days, Tim will be driving about 8-9 hours each day (which he says he doesn’t mind at all) and then the last day we’ll only drive a couple of hours so we could spend more time in Brisbane before flying to Sydney. We’ve been winging most of our planning but in hindsight I probably should have tried to plan out Australia a bit better so we didn’t feel so rushed during this portion. If we come again in the future, I’d like to go to Whitsunday Islands and spend a good chunk of time there. The pictures look so beautiful!

More tropical rainstorms
More tropical rainstorms
Then it cleared up and the roads were dry
Then it cleared up and the roads were dry

The rain was coming down quite hard as we drove for the first couple of hours. The area south of Cairns reminded us of Hawaii’s landscape – lush greenery with tropical crops on either side of the highway. Instead of pineapples, there were a lot of sugar cane and bananas. Our first pit stop was in Ayr, which was about a 5 hour drive (436km). We had a late lunch at McDonald’s – there aren’t many options for food on Sundays in small towns (most things are closed).

Finally some sun as we moved further south
Finally some sun as we moved further south
Ayr seems like a cute quaint town with a main street but it’s a ghost town on Sundays. Nothing is open and the streets are fairly deserted.
McDonald's road trip meal. $20 AUD = $18.93 CAD. McDonald's isn't cheap in Australia
McDonald’s road trip meal. $20 AUD = $18.93 CAD. McDonald’s isn’t cheap in Australia

Ayr to Mackay (which is where we’re staying for the night) was another 3.5 hour drive. There wasn’t much (at all) in between these two places unless you are going to Airlie Beach or The Whitsundays. The sun began to set and we had to be more careful while driving because kangaroo like to hop around at dusk. We didn’t see any hopping around but we did notice a lot more (and larger) kangaroo road kill during this road trip than on the Great Ocean Road.

Full moon tonight. It was bright while we were driving. Would've been even brighter if there were no clouds.
Full moon tonight. It was bright while we were driving. Would’ve been even brighter if there were no clouds.

At around 8:30pm, we finally got to Mackay, which is a small city that has its own airport. We’re staying at the Ibis Hotel at the airport for the night. At first when we got to the parking lot, we saw that parking was $35 a night. But luckily when we checked in they said that it’s validated for hotel guests. It’s our first time staying in an Ibis hotel and it’s quite nice and comfortable. I’ve seen the chain around but never stayed in one before. If they’re all like this one, I’d stay in one again (Tim: we’ll find out soon enough as we’re staying at another Ibis hotel in Brisbane).

Pretty comfortable bed ($90 CAD per night)
Pretty comfortable bed ($90 CAD per night)

Steps today: 2,000

Kilometers driven: 734 kms