Just as expected, our time with Jacob was short and sweet. Thursday morning consisted of repacking our bags and getting Jacob to the airport on time. The whole thing was very surreal. It seemed as though I hadn't quite yet fully realized the fact that he was actually here with us, in Australia and yet he was already leaving. I felt like an emotional goodbye was in order, but it was all so quick that it almost seemed...casual.
By eleven o'clock Matthew, Patricia and I were on Bruce Highway heading down the coast. This was our main driving day with the longest stretch of road with nothing exciting in between. Matthew and I had flashbacks of our outback excursion. This was similar in the lack of stops yet the scenery was much more engaging. Everything was green and there were green mountains to gaze at.
I will say that Queensland is very creative in their driver safety precautions. In the outback we commonly saw signs that would bluntly read, “DROWSY DRIVERS DIE.” The Bruce Highway had a softer approach. Every several kilometers we were presented with a trivia question followed by the correct answer several k's later. This was quite fun for all of us.
The longest stretch of nothing lasted for three hours. Our total road time was around six hours. By the end of the day we were in a familiar place—a city we had spent nearly twenty four combined hours in, yet somehow knew nothing about—Rockhampton. Matthew and I shared a twelve hour layover in the Rocky airport on our way to Emerald. We also flew out of this same airport just six days earlier. Needless to say we didn't have a good taste in our mouths towards Rocky, however we kept an open mind and made the most of it.
The hostel we stayed in was very quite and friendly. The man at the front desk pointed us towards the downtown district for a steak special. Being a big player in the beef industry, Rockhampton is known for it's steaks so this was a must-do. What we found was a five dollar steak special at a groovy place called, The Giddy Goat. Steaks were five dollars and each side was one dollar. This was a great bargain that we all took advantage of. The steaks were decent and the price was delightful.
Afterwards we took a stroll down the dimly lit streets. The shops were all closed, (which was fortunate because we wouldn't have been able to afford anything in them anyways.)
The next morning we found more reasons to change our attitude towards Rockhampton. The city had a free zoo and botanical garden, both of which we took advantage of. The Zoo was one of the nicest I've seen. It was clean and well kept. The paths for walking were well groomed and the animal displays were unique.
We enjoyed looking at parrots, ducks and swans in the bird exhibit. Afterwards, Patricia got to see her first Aussie kangaroo and I saw a first too. One of the kangaroos had a baby joey in their pouch! This was a great thing to see!
I also got a close up view of a wombat, something Maggie and I didn't get a good glimpse of at the sanctuary on Kangaroo Island.
Aside from the monkeys and otters and koalas, I was also very impressed to see a dingo for the first time. This was another good addition to our list of Australian animals we'd seen.
After the zoo we strolled on towards the botanical gardens. I was glad I had spent so much time learning about plants and vegetation with Chris, because I felt as though I respected the gardens much more. We each enjoyed looking at the fascinating different types of trees, bushes and flowers. There was even a wonderful Japanese section, complete with a waterfall.
Before leaving Rocky we had a familiar tuna sandwich lunch on the bay to enjoy the view. Our drive from Rockhampton led us to Hervey Bay, the gateway to Fraser Island.