Day 32, May 18: Agnes Water to Rockhampton
In the morning, we still had some things to wrap up with our website clients so we ran around town tying up loose ends. We edited images for the hostel, got a down payment from the cafe, and tweaked the surf shop site until Grom was satisfied. He smiled widely and said, “Thanks for bringing me into the 21st century guys,” and gave us a surf shirt and towel in addition to our payment. We also took advantage of our last hour of fast WiFi and downloaded books and episodes and applied to a few travel internship opportunities.
Finally, it was time to hit the road and scoot up to Gladstone Transport Department before they closed. It was the last day before the bike rego expired, and it was a Friday so this was our one shot to get it done. We made it there by 2pm, handed in our organized folder and prayed we had everything we needed. Amazingly, we were served by the loveliest woman and were out of there with a fresh plate half an hour later. I absolutely love the Australian DMV.
We kept heading north along the A1 past small towns and farmland as the sinking sun reflected blindingly off the paved road. We pulled into Rockhampton, the Beef Capital of Australia, at 4:30pm, right on schedule. The woman at the YHA slide two room keys across the counter without even a hint of a smile and we claimed our bunk beds.
A lot of times in hostels, older people have a bad reputation of being weirdos. Now, I’ve met some lovely older travelers with some of the richest stories and life experience. However, tonight we had one of the weirdos who was unshaven and had been slurping beers for hours by the look of it. Perfectly friendly guy, but every few minutes he’d burp at a foghorn like decibel and then just carry on as if nothing happen, my eyes wide in horror.
We avoided the room and headed out on a walk to the rodeo at the Great Western Hotel. It’s been on my bucket list (link) to go to a rodeo for years, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We walked across the river toward the shimmering lights of downtown and stumbled upon a lovely bingo hall.
Attending a town bingo is ALSO on my bucket list, leaving me with a bit of a decision to make. The rodeo won and we carried on until we entered the warehouse like arena with a bar and restaurant at the front.
They were signing the national anthem as we entered, prompting Byron to sing loudly and proudly as we found a table right in front of the arena fence. The event started with horse “barrel runs” where the rider guides the horse around a barrel course in the fasted time possible. Next was the junior bull rides, when kids about 7-10 years old ride a baby bull until it knocks them off. They looked like miniature cowboys with their shimmery fringed pants and bigger than life cowboy hats.
We figured we had to try the steak in Rockhampton, it being the beef capital and all. The restaurant was slammed apparently, but we finally got our steaks in time for the last rodeo class. It felt pretty country to be drinking beer, eating steak and fries, listening to Kenny Chesney, and watching a rodeo at the same time. The last run had the most skilled riders and they hung on for dear life as the bull bucked like wild.
After the event, there was a mechanical bull that all the kids were riding on. This just so happens to also be on my bucket list, so Byron nudged me to get in line with the kids. We both had a go at it and even though the operator went easy on us, we were lying on the foam mats less than a minute later. The courtesy hotel shuttle took us back home to the hostel. The woman driving us was the sweetest small town lady who went to Sydney once “and hated every second of the madness”, and took a wrong turn st least three times because she got distracted chatting to us. She was a peach—I think I’d name her Dottie or Beverly if I had to guess.
May 18, 2018
Accommodation: Rockhampton YHA, $23
Rodeo dinner: $23
Lunch: leftover spaghetti
Dinner: steak, fries and beer at the rodeo
Distance covered: 233 km