Part 7 of our Big Things tour of Australia kicks off where we left off in the Queensland town of Richmond where we visited the Riversleigh Fossil Centre and saw a great collection of prehistoric fossils including some big bones. Queenslanders are particularly fond of their ‘big things’ so this part of the journey is a big things gold mine with only a short drive from one big thing to the next.
Day 29 – Richmond to Townsville (5 hours 30 minutes)
Roughly a third of the way from Richmond to Townsville brings us to the historic town of Hughenden, where the Americans once stored explosives during World War II. During a bushfire the explosives were accidentally detonated leaving huge 20 feet craters in the landscape that can still be seen today, but it’s not these craters that we are here to see, it’s the replica of a Big Muttaburrasaurus, a dinosaur whose fossil remains were discovered in the area in 1963. The Big Dinosaur proudly greets visitors to Hughenden, a town that is obviously proud of its Dinosaur history with even the garbage bins bearing dinosaur footprints. Townsville’s Big Brolga is the next stop. Located in the grounds of the local tourist information, the brolga is an Australia native bird common to the area and this one stands at around 4 metres tall, a worthy addition to the Big Things tour.
The Comfort Inn Roberts Town is only a 5 minute drive from the Big Brolga and features four star Townsville accommodation, an outdoor pool and restaurant.
Day 30 – Townsville to Mackay (4 hours 30 minutes)
This stretch of the Bruce Highway is where the ‘big things’ start coming thick and fast! Only an hour down the road from Townsville is the town of Ayr and its Big Snake. The enormous 60 metre carpet snake sculpture is located in Plantation Park and is the totem of the Juru people, the traditional aboriginal land owners of the area – definitely not recommended for anyone with a snake phobia! Next stop Bowen and the Big Mango, a giant 10 metre high Kensington Pride Mango which got its name from the variety of mango first grown in Australia on the Bowen property ‘Kensington’ from fruit brought to the area on ships from India. From giant mangos we move on to an enormous bowl and a twelve foot pen. Proserpine is the next stop on the tour and boasts two unique big things – the Big Bowl is over 2.5 metres in diameter and was made in 2002 out of wood using only standard woodturning tools. Originally built to promote the local Woodturner Group’s annual Turnout, the giant bowl is now on display at the Proserpine Museum. The Big Pen is another result of a project undertaken for the Woodturner’s annual Turnout. Built in response to the claim an American made of having the world’s largest pen at a length of six foot, the Woodturners fashioned this 12 foot 8 inch wooden pen from a single red cedar tree trunk. Like the Big Bowl, the Big Pen is now on display in the Proserpine Museum.
Mackay’s Big Hat resting on the roof of the Mackay RSL is the last stop for the day; the big slouch hat was erected in memory of all of Australia’s brave fallen soldiers.
Choice has four great hotels in Mackay to choose from:-
Comfort Inn the Rose – four star accommodation close to Mackay’s city centre.
Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina – luxury waterfront Mackay hotel.
Comfort Resort Blue Pacific – resort style Mackay hotel.
Day 31 – Mackay to Rockhampton (3 hours 30 minutes)
The lovely drive from Mackay to Rockhampton winds through kilometres of sugar cane and pineapple fields and takes in two more unique to Queensland big things. The Big Cane Toad in Sarina may not be the most attractive of big things but his relevance to the area’s sugar cane industry is significant. Nicknamed ‘Buffy’, short for the cane toad’s scientific name ‘Bufo Marinus’, he was originally made in paper mache for a float in the Apex Sugar Festival Parade in 1983 and was eventually fibre glassed to become the permanent fixture he is today. Heading further down the Bruce Highway we reach the Big XXXX Beer Can (you don’t get much more Queensland than that) and this one stands at roughly 3.5 metres tall out the front of the local pub at Koumala beckoning passersby to stop and sample a cold one for themselves. After a refreshing break, the next stop and last on this leg of the journey is Rockhampton – a Mecca for big things – although six of them are all the same – I guess you could say that Rockhampton is full of Bull(s)! The six Big Bulls are all representative of the region’s prized cattle industry and are one of Rockhampton’s best known attractions. The bulls are located throughout the town on rooftops, roundabouts, as a welcome to town and on the side of roads. The other big attraction in Rockhampton is the Big Dugong – one of the coolest big things you’re likely to see on your travels. He’s roughly 22 metres long and is resting in the grounds of the Dreamtime Cultural Centre. You have to pay the admission fee to the centre to see the dugong but his size and uniqueness make it worth the money.
Choice has two great properties in Rockhampton to stay at. Comfort Inn Rockhampton has a range of room types, an outdoor pool, exercise room and restaurant and offers comfortable and affordable Rockhampton accommodation. The luxury Denison Boutique Hotel boasts lavish furnishings and is close to Rockhampton attractions.
The Choice Big Things Tour of Australia continues on next month down the east coast of Queensland. Stay tuned!