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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Monday, 29 April 2002
Tunnam Sands --> Rockhampton, Capricorn Coast, Australia

I woke up at 8 am this morning and after a shower Sandra Wilson shared me a cereal breakfast. Alex had already gone to work at the aluminium smelter, but I had said goodbye to him last night already. Sandra had to go off to a meeting this morning and offered to drop me back on the Highway again. She even made me a small lunchpackage with some sandwiches in it and on the road I thanked her for letting me stay for a day and started hitchhiking again.
I was off again, to the next place where I am invited, 150 kilometres up north. As usual (strangely enough every Australian is wrong about the easiness of hitchhiking) I found a driver who was heading halfway, as he had to climb some telephone communication tower on some mountain to repair something.

The second half of the trip I joined in the car with a real early-life Elvis fan. He loves Elvis from the time he was born and regretted all the bad things that had happened with Elvy when he became world-famous. The man drove all the way to Rocky (Australians love to shorten long names) and dropped me off at the bus terminal in town.

Rockhampton is just 40 kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean and lays right on the Tropic of Capricorn. The Tropic of Capricorn is the extreme southern position of the sun in its apparent annual journey. Rockhampton is called Queensland's favourite tropical city as it is enclosed by the magnificent Berserker Ranges and Mount Archer (just 607 metres high) that provide an imposing backdrop to a busy, growing city that seemed to be both friendly and vibrant to me, at first sight.

At the bus terminal I contacted my hosts in Rockhampton and within ten minutes, Patricia (Trish) and Merv Smith picked me up! They had just done some shopping and were in the neighbourhood. Once at home, just along the outskirts of Rocky, I was given a tour through their home and given the guestroom for the night.

Merv was just sacked for his job at a local Internet Service Provider because he didnt want to do impolite hard-sells for the company and is currently looking for a job. Trish is expecting her first baby within three months! Next to her upcoming role as mother, Trish is also working at a travel agency... HEY! Hold on! They have their own website!

Their website tells you much more about them and about the special way they met (in an Internet chat box!), their wedding, their home, etcetera. Including enough photographs. They put this page together to keep their spreaded family and friends all over the world up-to-date with everything that's happening with them, and to introduce themselve to anyone new they meet. That saved me some time typing - thank you!

With Trish working as a mobile travel agent, inviting me was not only out of simple hospitality (after reading about me in the local Bulletin Newspaper shortly after I arrived in Australia), but of course also to promote this area.

Trish and Merv had not only invited me to their home, but they had also arranged that I could stay on the Great Keppel Island for a couple of days!

Can you believe that? They just made some phone calls earlier this week, made other people enthusiastic about my project and before I realized it I WAS DOING SOME FREE SHOPPING at the local supermarket.

The managing lady of the Foodmarket supermarket, Gwen was overwhelmed with my venture and had offered to do some shopping for the necessary groceries before Id head to Great Keppel Island tomorrow!

And that felt strange. I mean, I had not shopped by myself in a long time and suddenly I walk those lanes with a basket and everything I need will be offered by the store! So I had orange juice, milk, bread, eggs, butter, some fried vegetables mix with chicken, etcetera.

Next to this food, Trish had found a pizzeria (the only restaurant on the island) who would love to help me out with a pizza while I was there.

Today my eyes were wide open by astonishment. This was just too incredible!

For tonight Merv and Trish had invited some friends to join a barbecue and what is the main ingredient for an Aussie barbie? Indeed, beer! So, Merv and I headed to the local pub (as they called the drive-in bottle shop) Merv even let me drive the car!

During this barbie-dinner I met up with their friends Steff and Jenny and their children (with whom I played handball with in the garage), as Merv was the king of the barbecue.

I should have watched him more carefully, because tomorrow I had to cook for myself (long time ago!) on that island! But I think the beer ruined those chances, haha.

Good night Rockhampton!

Ramon.