Thursday, 13 June 2019

Rockhampton Area

When we have visited Rockhampton previously we have mainly been visiting with our friends, but this time we got to play the tourist, which was great fun.

As we drove south we had noticed some signs for "Capricorn Caves".  We'd never heard of them, so thought we may as well go and have a look.

We have a couple of cave systems not too far from where we live.  Jenolan Caves is just the other side of Oberon and is rather famous and spectacular.  It was one of my first school excursions and whenever we had family visit from Queensland it seemed to be the standard family outing.  I was over caves.  One of my school friends came from out there, so I'd walk up the hill to visit her rather than have to visit the Lucas Cave again.

About two hours to our west are the Wellington Caves. They are quite different, being a dry cave system, so not as spectacular as the wet Jenolan Caves.  We've been there a few times and there is a great camp ground and Japanese Garden adjoining the caves complex.

Capricorn Caves are more like Wellington Caves, as they are a dry system.  The other unusual thing about them is that they are privately owned.

Apparently, Mr Olsen, a Norwegian early settler in the region stumbled upon the caves while out searching for a horse that had wandered off.  He kept them a secret until he was in a position to purchase the land they were on.  Over time he explored them and started taking tourists through.  Initially this was by candle light and traipsing through knee deep guano (bat poo).  Yuck!  I think I would have been very happy to stay outside.  Guano was mined for quite a while, so now we walk on rock and some compacted guano, so much easier.

Our guide was a hoot.  She reckons this tree root frames her nicely.  The tree roots find their way through cracks in the stone and eventually cause them to break.  Fortunately, this is a very slow process. 

There is a section that is wheel chair friendly to enable access to the cathedral cave.

The cathedral cave is a popular wedding venue.  The way we entered is quite steep and has very uneven ground.  Brides entering in their stilettos sometimes had accidents, so now they general wear flatties until they arrive at the cave.

It is rather lovely with the candlelit effect.  The venue also hosts opera concerts twice a year.  There was to be a couple on the weekend after we visited.  While we were there they played some opera, which set the scene nicely.

The wheelchair friendly access was added after a bride's grandmother was not able to attend her wedding, so the cave owners thought they had better address that for the future.

To exit the caves we had two options - take the easy one or take one that was a little more difficult.  We nearly all took the second option.  The passages were quite narrow, but it was fun.  The whole cave system was definitely not the easiest, with uneven ground and quite steep steps etc.  It kept it all a bit real.

One our way out we crossed the above swing bridge.  A nice way to end the tour.

After an event like that it was time for a yummy pub lunch at the nearby village "The Caves".  No photos, as we were too busy tucking in.

In the afternoon we went to the zoo.  Yes, Rockhampton has a zoo within the botanic gardens.


Meet "The Colonel".

I don't think I'd like to meet him out of his enclosure.

This is Sean.  He has a genetic condition which has left him blind in one eye and with very little sight in the other.

This little fellow is quite young and has grown up in captivity after his mother was killed.  Therefore, he will not be released into the wild.

It was feeding time for the koalas, so they were quite active while we were there.

There was a good variety of animals and birds, but not many were easy to get a photo of.  We really enjoyed having a wander around the little zoo.  Surprisingly, entry was free, as part of the botanic gardens.

Next we visited the actual botanic gardens.  They are huge and with a wide variety of plantings.  This was the most formal.

This banyan fig was planted in 1895.  It is a truly amazing plant with all the different roots coming from the branches.

"Wamin Bamboo" is the name of this one.  The stems are huge.

I know it is graffiti, but I was intrigued by all the names carved into the stems.  Some are about 10 years old.

Now, just to back track a little.....

We were told that a small plant was kapok when we were at Mount Isa.  I forgot to blog about it at the time.

This is an example that was growing near Richmond.  We were told it was introduced by the Afghan cameleers to make the pack saddles for their camels.

There was a large tree at the botanic gardens with these pods that looked like cobs of corn with fluffy stuff in them.  The sign tells us it is the kapok tree from South America.  It makes more sense, when you look at the fibres.  They look much more like what was in mattresses and pillows.  Here is a bit about the tree.  I'm not sure what the smaller plant is really called, but it is interesting learning these funny little facts.

This was a rather strange looking tree. It is the Sausage Tree.  Funny that.  We have seen one before in a park at Maryborough.

After our wander around it was time for coffee and cake.  We were joined by a rather tame blue faced honey eater.  It was waiting patiently for a tit bit.

Speaking of birds.  While in the area we were introduced to "Chuckles".  He comes in late every afternoon for his snack of mince.  He is so very quiet, gently taking the mince from your fingers.  He even let us stroke his chest.  He isn't quite tame enough to sit on your hand, but not far off.  It was a real treat to feed him.

Of course, no visit to the area is complete without a walk along the beach at Yeppoon.

I had to have a look for some shells, as you do.

We had heard that you can occasionally find a sand dollar on this beach.  We didn't even know what they were, so had to ask Mr Google. We have never found one until this time, when Mick spied two.  I had thought they were bigger, but there are many varieties.

There were heaps of little sand balls all over parts of the beach.

This little chap is the culprit.

Other parts of the beach were just a mass of tiny shells.

We really enjoyed having a leisurely stroll with no time limits.

To finish off the day we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the weird hills between Yeppoon and Rockhampton.

Then, it was time to get back on the road for the next section of our trip.  More soon.


Fiona said...

Fantastic in the cave ….. I always find them fascinating and a wonderful walk on the beach. I was excited to see the sausage tree... we had them in Zim and a chemist used extraction from them for benign skin cancer lesions with good results...

kiwikid said...

Those caves are spectacular...a sausage tree?? That is a strange one!! Love the big banyon tree, we saw some huge ones in Hawaii. So nice to see the birds, we had kookas that came to visit us in Gisborne. I could get to about 4 ft from them and then throw little balls of mince and they would catch them!! Very exciting for me!! The crabs little piles of sand are fascinating. Am really enjoying your travels .

Raewyn said...

Our son lived at Rockhampton (Yeppon actually) for a while so it's nice to see your blogpost on it - we visited the zoo and we may even have a group photo with the same Koala! Lovely interesting posts Janice :-)

Anita said...

We’ve just come back from Yeppoon (and Harvey Bay)...loved it there! Saw the Capricorn caves advertised but we weren’t able to fit it in...but we will definitely be going back there!