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Monday, November 28, 2011

Yet more about our recent road trip...

The last installment was about the journey from Rockhampton towards the south and west. The last larger centre before we reached Wandoan, was Taroom. When I was in Grade 5, we studied Australian explorers and one with whom I was fascinated, was Ludwig Leichhardt. A feature of the town of Taroom is the 'Leichhardt Tree'. The tree is believed to be over 300 years old and bears the carved initials of that explorer and the numerals '44' which meant 1844, when Leichhardt and his party passed through the area on their way north to Port Essington. (over the years the bark grew back over the carving)

The Leichhardt tree

The Leichhardt tree

The quaint courthouse in Taroom
Later in the afternoon we reached Wandoan where DH's eldest daughter is teaching. Meg took us on a tour of the town which took about 10 minutes as she had predicted. It is outside the town where all the action is...mining. I had mentioned in a previous post that the old mining town of Mt Morgan no longer has mining industry and this has happened to a number of former mining towns. But in the central part of Qld, there are huge coal and gas deposits and China is a big (no make that 'huge market') market for our coal. There is a downside though...suddenly rental houses and caravan/cabin sites have been priced so high as to out of reach of non mining families. The motel where DH and I stayed was mostly booked out by the mining companies for their workers' accomodation. So tourists are finding it hard to get accomodation.

The old railway station

And many of these towns  are concerned with the trend of Fly In, Fly Out workers and I guess there are many arguments for and against. It would be unfair of me not to mention the fact that the mining  companies (in Wandoan's case, Xstrata) put money back into the community, including facilities for the school.

Any way getting back to talking about Wandoan. We visited Meg in her Dept of Education accomodation which was very nice. DH and I also accompanied Meg on a tour of the school. Like most other Australian schools they had received federal funding for school facilities. being a teacher, I peered in windows to see classroom displays etc. The school is a Prep-10 campus.

When we had booked into the motel weeks earlier, on Meg's advice, we booked a table for 3 in the motel's restaurant. When we checked in after our tour of the town, the manager informed us that a) she was having 'chef problems' and b) the restaurant didn't open on Sunday nights (which it was). I bridled at this but DH didn't want any fuss. I wanted to know why the person who took the booking didn't say that the restaurant wouldn't be open...but for DH I kept silent...but I was fuming as it's this attitude that kills tourism. But the hospitality industry in these towns don't care about tourism...they get plenty of business from the big mining companies...complacency is becoming rife in my opinion.

So groceries left from our stock...we were at the mercy of the  cafes in town. We were so lucky that the cafes were open on a Sunday night! We took our food (hamburgers and chips) back to the motel and spent the evening catching up with Meg (which was good of course).

1 comment:

Naturally Carol said...

There is so much debate about this type of commuting to the mines isn't there. Mr W works in Gladstone and the same thing is happening there with house prices and unavailability and price hikes. I am glad you got to spend good time with Meg though, that makes it all worth it.