Sarah has recently bought a new car, and when one buys a new car, one naturally wants to take it out on a roadtrip…so when I was in Hervey Bat last week, that’s exactly what my daughter and I did – a girls only mini roadtrip.
The plan was simple – we’d each take Friday off work and spend the weekend away. Because we’d left it until (almost) the last minute to book though, the execution of our plan wasn’t quite as simple with very little accommodation to be found.
Not to be deterred, accomodation was sourced, and off we went.
Hervey Bay to Bundaberg
After breakfast at our local fave, Hervey Bay General Store, we hit the road bound for Bundaberg – or Bundy, as it’s known locally – just ninety minutes up the highway.
Originally a timber town, Bundaberg today is known for sugar and rum – and is the gateway to the southern islands of the Great Barrier Reef.
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
Another thing Bundaberg is known for is ginger and, specifically, ginger beer – and our first stop was at Bundaberg Brewed drinks where the famous Bundaberg Ginger Beer is made. They do make other flavours as well – Grant and Sarah love their blood orange, guava, pink grapefruit and lemon, lime and bitters.
Last time Grant and I were here we did a tasting – although given I drink soft drinks rarely it was wasted on me. You can, though, really taste the fruit in their range – mostly because they use fresh fruit to brew the drinks. Yes, the soft drinks are brewed – just like beer is. At the end of the process though, the alcohol is heated off so you’re left with just the taste. Cool, hey?
It is, though, all abut the ginger beer – which is made using (mostly) locall grown ginger. Since our last visit the visitor centre has undergone a massive renovation and now have a fabulous interactive area where you get a sneak peek into the brewing process and the factory floor.
I use their ginger been and lemon lime and bitters to make my Beginners Scones. Their website has a heap more recipes you can make using their drinks. I think they should turn it into a cookbook they can sell rather than burying deep within the pages of their website, but hey, that’s just me.
Bundaberg Rum is what Bundy is really known for – to the extent that the term Bundy is often used as a substitute for the word rum. I dread to think how many people around the country right now (okay, maybe not right now, I am, after all, writing this at 7am on a Monday morning…) are requesting a Bundy and coke from their bartender.
I don’t get the hype. Other than in the occasional cocktail somewhere exotic, I’m not a fan. I don’t like the smell – I especially don’t like the smell of stale rum or stale rum on people who have drunk rather a lot of it. There. I said it. There are, however, plenty of people who do – like rum, that is – and the distillery gift shop was packed full of people purchasing Bundy rum merchandising. With trolleys. No exaggeration.
As for the Bundy Rum Bear? He came into life via a series of TV ads, the intention of which was to sway the brand image from that of a shearer’s drink to a younger more matey and blokey demographic. It worked and the Bundy Bear is now synonymous with the brand.
You can do (pre-booked) tours of the distillery, but we couldn’t be faffed.
Grunskses By The River
Overlooking the mighty Burnett River, on a recommendation from one of Sarah’s colleagues, this was our lunch stop.
A seafood market, Grunskses is also a casual restaurant – but it gets so busy, it’s essential to book. We ordered a seafood platter to share and wow, there was some eating in it!
Don’t expect anything more than plastic topped tables and disposable cutlery, but you can buy wine and beer and it’s lovely sitting by the river with the breeze bringing through the faint scent of molasses wafting through from the distillery.
Kelly’s Beach Resort, Bargara
From here we drove the 15 or so kilometres to the coast and Bargara.
This area is richly agricultural – sugar, ginger, sweet potatoes, strawberries, chillies and so much more. Beyond one field of sugar we saw another filled with sunflowers. (Sadly) we couldn’t stop for a photo.
Located just a couple of minutes walk from Bargara’s main beach, Kelly’s Beach Resort was to be our accommodation for the next couple of nights.
A family-style resort, each self-contained villa is basic but has all you need. The second bedroom is up a ladder in the loft (Sarah was not impressed, but kids would love it). Being the first weekend of school holidays, accommodation was, however, scarce so we took what we could get.
Because it is such great value for money, unfortunately, this meant that it’s also popular with big family groups and sports teams. Each time we attempted to use the pool it was to find it full of teenage boys from a visiting football team being loud and generally teenage footballing boy obnoxious. The beach was, however, blessedly free of them.
We ate both nights at the on-site restaurant which was not only (surprisingly) good, but also good value.
Bargara to 1770 and Agnes Water
After a good brekky at Rick’s at Bargara, we headed up the road to Agnes Water and The Town of 1770.
I’ve told you a bit about both of these places before (the link is here) but the first thing you need to know is that the road between Bundy and Agnes is possibly the most boring drive on the east coast of Australia – and the hour and a half in the car felt like twice that. The second thing you need to know is that it’s absolutely worth it.
The Town of 1770, or Seventeen Seventy, was the second place in Australia that Captain Cook set foot on back in, you guessed it, 1770. There’s even a monument to mark the spot.
There’s a hotel and cafe, and day tours leave from here for Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Last time I was here with Grant we did a bushwalk around the headland, this time we couldn’t get a car park in town (it was soooooo busy) so drove up to the headland.
Just a few kilometres back down the road is Agnes Water.
Think of the coastal town of your childhood: quiet streets, friendly locals, holiday homes, beachfront van park, a fabulous beach that stretches for miles, a cool surfing vibe… Imagine that and you have Agnes Water.
Taking its name from a pastoral holding which had, in turn, been named after the coastal schooner Agnes, which was lost at sea in the area, the town of Agnes Water is relatively new.
The Mango Tree Motel was, in 1982, the first commercial building in town. There were six rooms and a shop and the owner had to travel twice a week (down a mostly dirt road) to Bundaberg to pick up supplies. According to the Discovery Trail spiel he also had to bring back tonnes of ice as the town didn’t have power connected until 1987.
Until the telephones were connected in 1986 guests wanting to make a booking at the motel would need to ring the post office in 1770 and have the message relayed. True story.
In any case, it wasn’t until the 1990’s when the roads were sealed that the town took off. Even now, being about 80kms off the Bruce Highway, it’s still a bit off the beaten track – and that’s part of it’s charm. The “grey nomads” have known about this place for ages though, with the result that the caravan park is very often full during the winter months.
Lunch was at Codie’s Place, just off the beach. Each of us chose the calamari, chips and salad – although we both left most of the chips on our plates.
After lunch it was time for the beach and a swim. It’s still early in the season so the water is still what we’d euphemistically term “refreshing”. At about 22C though, it’s still very swimmable.
The beach stretches about 6kms, all the way to the headland at 1770, and is the last surf beach before the Great Barrier Reef. From here on the Great Barrier Reef provides shelter from the surf. While there are signs up for marine stingers, it’s okay to swim here – much further north, however, it is more of a risk between November and May.
Sunday morning we were up bright and early to head back to Hervey Bay – this time via Childers, a lovely town full of heritage listed buildings. We were, though, there for the bakery and the obligatory roadtrip breakfast sausage roll.
We’d heard good things about the country bakery in Childers and weren’t disappointed. Thankfully we had room still for a late lunch back in Hervey Bay before I had to get home to the Sunshine Coast – finishing the weekend with quesadillas just as we’d begun it. This time, though, at Tres Salsas in Torquay.
We might only have been away for 2 nights, but, as they say, a change can be as good as a holiday – especially when holidays are not to be had.