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ReportsSunday, 28 April 2002
Bundaberg --> Tannum Sands, Australia After a day of relaxation it was time to get going again.
After a cereal breakfast, next door neighbour Kathryn helped out by dropping me on the way out of Bundaberg, towards the Pacific Highway again. Bundaberg is known as a sugarcane city and the tidiest town of Queensland and is the place where the Bundaberg Rum is distilled. The cane fields are to be seen around the entire vicinity, it's all high and very green.
Just to let me see it we passed the rum distillery, but it wasn't even worth a snap with the camera. Katherine also showed me her pride, the highest mountain in the area. In the first place I joked with her about where this mountain is, because to European standards this mountain was only hill-high. "I come from Gympie, for me Bundaberg is a big city," she said. While standing on this mountain I couldn't really find the city anymore, it was very small to me.
One man took me along from the Central Queensland University department in Bundaberg towards the motorway, for him just down the road, for me a half an hour day. We chatted about travelling the country. The man lost his wife 10 months ago, when she died of cancer and to start a new life he was about to sell all his possessions, buy a caravan and travel through Australia.
When I told him that I simply stay with people who invite me through my internet web site, he got quiet. "You are… You are not that guy I've seen on TV, hey?" There we go again, I thought with a smile. This man's day was made totally perfect as he was so honoured to be my driver today.
The Pacific Highway was just a two-lane road with cane fields on both sides and small gas statios along the road here and there. I caught another ride by a guy who was going all the way to Gladstone. I had to go to Tannum Sands, a small coastal town south of Gladstone.
From the car I enjoyed the scenery of dry bush and dried up terrains. This place has not had any good rain in three years and the locals just got used to the lack of any humidity.
It took me one more lift from the motorway to arrive into Tunnam Sands, just 8km. It was about 5.30 in the afternoon already. At a little shopping centre I called my next hosts Alex and Sandra Wilson, who picked me up within five minutes.
This couple had invited me after seeing me on Australian TV and they loved the idea of travelling while depending on hospitality. And they have been following on the web for a long time; they even have a special folder in their email program on their PC for my mailing list updates!
Alex Wilson works at the local aluminium smelter, the main employment facility in Tunnam Sands. Sandra works part-time at the local pub. They both have two children, but one of them is in uni in Townsville up north and the other one teaches English in Korea.
Alex originate from Scotland, but the couple has both lived in New Zealand before, where Sandra comes from. Alex used to work on a smelter in New Zealand, until he was transferred to the local one in Tunnam Sands.
At their house almost along the beach, I felt home immediately. Alex gave me a beer and Sandra showed me around. I got to stay in one of their girls' rooms, which walls were covered with rock- and boy-band posters. They even had a swimming pool!
But it was already dark outside and Alex lit the gas of the real Australian barbeque. I had a good dinner with them, with some enormous steaks for my settings. We just finished desert when some New Zealander friends of Alex and Sandra hopped into the covered part in the back garden, where we were sitting. And ten minutes later another Kiwi couple arrived, all with a bottle of wine.
They had heard about my way of travelling and were fascinated by some of the stories I told them as the night slowly started. "We are basicly all Homer Simpsons," one of the friends said. "We sit in this cabin and push buttons in the factory," they laughed.
At eleven in the evening I settled behind my laptop and reported about some days ago. Things are going good and I feel good too. Maybe it is because I'll be meeting Irene again, however that will still be in a few months...
Good night Tannum Sands!