Dan and Justy Down Under


February 1, 2005

Dan or Justy

We investigated a mystery today. The "Mystery Craters" are a natural formation of holes in the ground that appear to have no explanation. Ochre mixed with the sandstone at some time in the distant past and the resultant coloring is pleasing. Water gathers in some, but not others.

The mystery is how this site has become such a hit with tourists. I mean no disrespect here, although I am being cheeky, of course. We spoke at length with the proprieter, a very nice man who is running it in his retirement. He was a talkative sort and we learned much about the area.

The fact is that, despite the large model T Rex and antique farm machinery exhibit (some really weird ones in that lot), or even the rather extensive mineral exhibit, the Mystery Craters aren't that interesting.

We continued on the road with Justy driving and me using various hats to try to shade from the sun. The hats weren't on my head.

The sun-kissed town of Rockhampton sits lightly astride the Tropic of Capricorn. It seems to thrive in the heat, which, blessedly, is not backed up by high humidity. The city centre is renovated, but not gentrified. Residents jog in the heat and appear for appointments in fine clothes. There is hustle, but not much bustle.

We had come to town to enjoy one Rocky's great steakhouses. Our target was the Criterion Hotel, right on the river. We found it without trying and snooped around while waiting for the restaurant to open. It was a charming old building, just refurbished enough to retain charm while still making guests comfortable.

The hotel had hosted an office for General Douglas MacArthur during the war. Around here, they mean WWII. Amongst many Australians, our mutual cooperation in WWII was the beginning of the great US-Aussie friendship. I believe Justine and I benefit from it every day.

While Justine was snapping away, I arranged for us to spend the night. We got the corner suite for a very inexpensive AUD$60. We had our own bathroom and TV w/DVD. Air conditioning (of course). We were deliriously happy, but then had a bit of water and felt better.

We had no sooner grabbed some gear from the van (across the street) when a couple guys approached us with "Are you Americans? Can we buy you a beer?" As a matter of fact, they could.

Bill and Mark have jobs here in Australia that could not exist in the US. Roughly, they facilitate getting citizens and public officials together to solve problems. This gives ordinary folks the hope of having the system work for them.

This is partly possible because of the parliamentary system. We don't use such rational dimensions as issues in our elections. Ours are referenda on personality. And so we get a bunch of characters instead of leaders.

We drank and bantered for hours, but did get our steak dinner. Very good. We exchanged opinions and observations about our countries. It was a most enjoyable evening.

Driving North! And what a great day to spend cooped up in a car that is airconditioned! I mean it! On the way through the sugar cane highway, we followed detours to the Mysterous Craters. They are believed to have been caused by a meteor shower millions of years ago, but some of the odd 'foot' shapes suggest some dinosour activity here.

The highway here is lined with sugar cane field. Similar to our corn fields in the states. THis road is supposed to be a bizarre sight to drive through after the harvest, as the farmers burn the remainders of the canes off to prepare for the next crop. Needless to say, even the imagination of wide burning fields is enough to evoke the creepy.

Steak dinner here we go! Planning a simple lunch drive through for a steak dinner at Queenslands beef capital, we got pulled into the charm. We are staying a second night at the Criterion Hotel. It sits on the Fitzroy river, and houses a great steak house. Im thinking of the T-bone for tonight.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

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