Sunday, July 25, 2021

Gladstone

 We continued northeast towards Gladstone.



A common sight in Australia where you have to stop for road repairs. In the US roads have a thick layer of bitumen but it's much thinner in Oz. I read somewhere that it's a way to keep people employed in country areas. Just keep patching the roads.

The highway soon turned to dirt and we probably had 50 miles of uncomfortable driving. I had fun but M was less enthused.


We eventually arrived in Gladstone and the next morning we drove to a viewpoint overlooking the harbour. This was part of the view.

We didn't get to see much of Gladstone except for driving in and out and going to the downtown area for dinner. It's surprisingly hilly.





There are numerous docks in the area servicing different industries. The coal exporting terminal is one of Australia's largest, as well as a terminal for liquid natural gas. In addition, there is an aluminium plant. 

With all the industry, you would expect that the Labor Party would dominate, but since the area is dominated by the export of fossil fuels, the conservative LNP party won the last election because they refuse to recognize climate change.


Cafe to get your hit of coffee.




The aluminium plant in the distance.

Gladstone used to be a quiet, small country town. All of that changed with the opening of the huge coal fields to the west. Australia is one of the largest producers of coal in the world, with most of the exports going to Asia. It's an industry that will presumably die within the next 50 years but the conservative / business leaders don't want to kill off this goose that is laying golden eggs.

If I look in my crystal ball, I suspect in a hundred years, a new non-polluting use for coal will be found and people will say ' You know, they used to just burn this stuff. '




Saturday, July 24, 2021

Monto

For some months we have been planning a house exchange in Newcastle which is 170 km (120 miles) north of Sydney. The spread of the Delta version of the virus in Sydney has resulted in the border being closed between Queensland and New South Wales. It probably won't open until September at least, so the exchange will not go ahead.

We watch the ABC news every night at 7pm and it ends with the weather forecast. On the map, they show the town of Monto and it is such a lovely name to say. It would be a great name or a dog. Marianne requested that we visit the place so I proposed a circular trip to Monto, On to Gladstone and then back home with a side trip to the town intriguingly named 1770.


I picked a northerly route instead of heading south because Brisbane is on a virus alert and people are required to wear masks.


One of the fun parts about returning to Oz is being able to return to some old haunts. My father liked to take us for a Sunday afternoon drive when I was young and one of them was the little town of Isis Central which is a curious name. Its claim to fame is its sugar mill which was belching out a good deal of pollution. The local area has very fertile red soil and sugar cane farms are common.


Most of the houses in Isis look like this since they were built for workers at the mill.


We continued on to the slightly bigger town of Gin Gin.


It owes its existence to the main highway from Brisbane to Rockhampton and is a well-known stopping point.

There would be a fortune to be made here distilling alcohol for gin. Obviously, the product would be named Gin Gin Gin and the advertising slogan would be 'not by the hairs on my Ginny Gin Gin'. You can moan now.


Since my last name is Perry, I have always been interested in going to Mt Perry and I finally got there. My father would occasionally go there when inspecting the railway line between Bundaberg and Monto but I don't remember him taking us there.


We parked by an old Leopard tank that the Aussie Army used for many years. They were made in Germany. You can see that the camouflage paint job works pretty well against the colours of the Aussie bush.



The main street.


And of course, the Country Women's Association had a meeting hall.



Fortunately, the winter rains have been good so the grass is green. Usually, it would be brown.


The Post Office.



Residents would have to drive fifty miles or so to the nearest supermarket.


An old pub. I thought Mt Perry was an attractive place.


In the background, you can see the Mountain. There used to be a copper mine in the area and a train line was built to transport the copper to Bundaberg near the coast.



We headed on. The grass was drier here and the creeks were empty.


Lo and behold, the bitumen turned to dirt and Marianne groaned. I always enjoy a few miles on a dirt road. Back when I started riving, most roads in the area were like this.


We reached the outskirts of Monto which features quite number of murals.


Murals on silos are popular. Monto is the centre of a farming district, though in its early days, gold was found in the area. 'Monto' is similar to a First Nations People word meaning 'ridgy plain'.


One of the local pubs. XXXX is the name of the main Queensland beer.


Tourist office.



The footpaths outside shops are covered to protect from the hot sun as well as the rain.


Streets are wide.



Distinguished Post Office.


Shire Building. To the left, you may notice the entrance to the Hall used for functions.


Another mural. The green grass is probably where the pub used to stand.


Yet another pub. Going to the pub after work was common for many working men.


Marianne lives in hope.


This seemed exceptionally cheap. Other houses were over $200K.


The equivalent of Home Depot or Lowes in Australia is Bunnings but they are located in large towns or cities. Mitre 10 serves smaller towns. 


Another mural, this time a cow.



Another view of the cow.



The back of a substantial house. Many Queensland houses are built on stilts to help cool them. A coat of paint would be useful.


Kookaburra.


We had lunch at a cafe. Marianne ordered a sandwich.


I got Red Emporer and chips and they were delicious.


Marianne is turning into an Aussie and now eats the tinned red beetroot which you can see in one of the layers. I really missed beetroot on hamburgers when I lived in America.


We walked down to the old railway station. It now serves as a camping ground for the grey nomads trundling around the country. Travel overseas is not possible for ordinary people these days, so they are seeing Australia rather than the beaches of Bali and Thailand. 



The old station. The train no longer comes here and the tracks have been removed except for this short section. The line was closed in 1993.


However, I still remember my father announcing that he was going to Monto on one of his regular inspection trips.



The end of the line.


A fine old Queenslander house. Notice the stilts. I grew up in a house of the same design.


Note all the vehicles are SUVs strong enough for the rough dirt roads and strong enough to pull a caravan. In the background is and old railway goods shed now used by the local Mens Shed association.


A final view of the main street. Now when we see the weather map, we can visualize Monto.