Rocky Road Trip Stop no. 1- Gympie

Our cars loaded to the brim with my stuff, Mum and I departed Mount Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, driving for an hour before reconvening in Gympie, our first planned respite stop.

Located in the Wide Bay- Burnett district, Gympie (pronounced gimpy) is about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of the Queensland state capital, Brisbane. The city lies on the Mary River, which floods the town periodically. At the 2016 Census, Gympie had a population of 20,966 people.

Mum and I stretched our legs at Lake Alford Recreational Park, where we were met by an abundance of bird life including hungry ducks, cranky geese and elegant swans. We crossed the lake and made our way up to the cafe located next to the Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum, where we ordered Devonshire Tea and scones with jam and cream. The heat was pushing 30 degrees Celcius and the humidity hung heavily on the air, not ideal for drinking hot tea, but I imagine this experience was similar to what the early European settlers endured.

Swans and turtles at Lake Alford Recreational Park


Gympie’s name derives from the Kabi, the language of a tribe of Indigenous Australians that historically lived in the region. The word gimpi-gimpi, which means “stinging tree”, referred to Dendrocnide moroides. The tree has large, round leaves that have similar properties to stinging nettles. The town was previously named Nashville, after James Nash, who discovered gold in the area in 1867. The name was later changed to Gympie in 1868.

Graziers were the original European settlers. Subsequently, James Nash reported the discovery of ‘payable’ alluvial gold on 16 October 1867. At the time of Nash’s discovery, Queensland was suffering from a severe economic depression. Nash probably saved Queensland from bankruptcy. A memorial fountain in Lake Alford Park honours Nash’s discovery.

Gold mining still plays a role in the area’s fortunes, along with agriculture (dairy predominantly), timber and tourism. The gold rush’s rapid development led to streets that are set in an irregular fashion.

Mining shaft at the Gympie Gold Mining Museum

The railway from Maryborough was completed in 1881, and the North Coast Railyway linked Gympie to Brisbane in 1891. The state declared Gympie a town in 1903. 

The first recorded flood in Gympie was in 1870, and significant floods along the Mary River have caused inundations of the town between 1893 and 2013. Most of the floods occur between December and April and are typically caused by heavy rainfall in the headwaters to the south.

Flood gauge shows the water level during the 2011 Brisbane Floods

The highest flood ever recorded in Gympie occurred on 2 February 1893 when the river peaked at 25.45 m. Gympie was declared a natural disaster area during the 1999 floods, when the river peaked at 21.9 m then. Numerous highways and roads in and around the town which were destroyed or damaged during floods in 2011 was repaired under Operation Queenslander, the name given to post-flood reconstruction efforts in Queensland.

Many attractions are in and around Gympie, including the Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum, the WoodWorks Museum, the Valley Rattler steam train, and Mothar Mountain Speedway.

Gympie also hosts two festivals: The Gympie Gold Rush Festival and the Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival. The Gold Rush Festival holds 10 days of cultural events in October. The Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival is a five-day event held in March, and highlights include short films from all corners of the globe, special features and documentaries, parties, seminars, intimate Q & A sessions with filmmakers, and an award ceremony.

Author and oceanographer Professor John Church was born and raised in Gympie. Church has led a number of programs, including the CSIRO Division of Oceanography and the CSIRO Division of Marine and atmospheric Research, Polar Waters Program, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.

Gympie’s own Tiarn Florence is a successful Australian writer and poet, as well as an acclaimed illustrator, educator and visual artist.

After an hour exploring Lake Alford Park and the grounds of the museum, Mum and I were back in the car and on our way to Tiaro, stop no. 3 on the Rocky Road Trip.


The Rocky Road Trip: The First Leg- Mount Coolum

After leaving the Gold Coast, I stopped in Mount Coolum on the northern end of the Sunshine Coast for a day to spend time with family before embarking on the Rocky Road Trip. I was joined there by my Mum, who had been living in Yeppoon for several months prior to my own relocation there, and who was helping me with the big move from the Gold Coast.


11 km north of Maroochydore, Mount Coolum is a residential suburb whose boundaries enclose the Mount Coolum National Park (north section) and the topographical mountain (207 m). The name is thought to derive from an Aboriginal word describing the blunt or cut-off summit of Mount Coolum. The craggy mount contrasts dramatically with the lowland heaths and wetlands.

Land selection around Mount Coolum began in 1871, including the future adjoining suburbs of Marcoola, Yaroomba and Coolum Beach. All had swampy parts, but drainage schemes during the 1910s-30s produced land for cane farms and dairying. A cane tramway from Nambour and Bli Bli included a passenger service, bringing visitors to the area. Among various beach-subdivision proposals there was the idea of tobogganing on Mount Coolum.

Coolum Beach’s surfing and fishing were more realistic attractions, and the beachfront population came to a few thousand by the mid 1980s. Developers turned their eyes to the mountain’s subdivisional potential, but a successful preservation campaign instead brought about the national park. Land south of the national park had already been acquired for a golf course (1976), to which Mount Coolum is a stunning backdrop.

Mount Coolum has a stretch of beach further east.

Mount Coolum beach from Point Arkwright


IMG_20181226_071457_630 (1)
Sunrise at Mount Coolum beach


Well-known authors from the Sunshine Coast include Emily Bulcock, Kathleen McArthur and Nancy Cato.

Emily Bulcock became a well-known poet and was awarded an OBE for her services to literature. Emily was a foundation member of the Queensland Country Women’s Association and a member of the Queensland Authors’ and Artists/ Association.

Kathleen McArthur was a gifted wildflower artist and author and, in 1962, co-founded the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. Kathleen’s home in Midyim, near Kings Beach, was named after the native sandberry, and was the first native garden in Caloundra. In 1967, the first Wildflower Show was held in Midyim and continued there until 1971, when it outgrew the space and was moved to Coolum.

A friend and associate of Kathleen’s was the acclaimed Noosa author Nancy Cato. Nancy was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to literature and the environment and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 1991. She wrote for more than 50 years, producing a vast amount of work includign an accalimed environmental book titled The Noosa Story first published in 1989.

In 2017, local author Jess Townsend was dubbed the next J. K. Rowling with her first novel Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow touted to be the next generation’s Harry Potter.

Join me next at Gympie- the first stop on my Rocky Road Blog Tour!



Books By The Beach: Paid To Dance at Currumbin Beach

Welcome to Currumbin Beach, stop no.11 on my Books By The Beach tour!

Stretching from Currumbin Creek in the north to Wyberba Street in the south the area is easily identified because of its headlands that project into the beach. At the beach front, Elephant Rock and Currumbin Rock enclose a discrete surf beach. Currumbin Alley is a popular surfing site formed on the bar of Currumbin Creek, particularly for longboards.

Currumbin me

Samuel William Grey wa the first European to acquire land in the area. The first hotel in 1910 overlooking the mouth of Currumbin Creek. During this period tourism and industry significantly increased in the beach side and valley areas of Currumbin, and many of the houses at Currumbin date from the period of later subdivisions in the 1920s. The area also contains a number of ‘fibro’ beach houses.

Generally the area contains more natural vegetation than other areas of the coast due in part to the difficulty of building on the steep hillsides and in part to the presence of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- a long-standing icon and landmark at the Gold Coast. The Sanctuary comprises a substantial area of land on both sides of the highway adjacent to Flat Rock Creek.

In 2013, Currumbin was named Australia’s cleanest beach. At an award ceremony at Coogee Beach in western australia, the national organisation Keep Australian Beautiful crowned Currumbin with the prestigious title.

In this post I’m sharing with you about the Paid To Dance series.

Spanning three books, the Paid To Dance series provides a comprehensive insight into the stripping industry, from its origins to its modern day evolution.

The first installment, Stripping Past & Present, is a collection of stories from women who have worked as exotic dancers in Australia and overseas.

The second and third installments, Asha’s Story Part One and Part Two, focuses in on one young woman’s experience working as an exotic dancer in Brisbane and Melbourne.

The series was published between 2016-2018, after many years of ongoing research and writing.

PLEASE NOTE: At the end of this video there is information about purchasing the Paid To Dance books on Amazon/Kindle. My books are not currently available on Amazon/Kindle. Instead you can download FREE PDF Excerpts in the coming posts.

I hope you have enjoyed your time here with me at Currumbin  Beach. Next stop, Tugun Beach!