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Rocky Road Trip Stops 4 & 5: Gin Gin & Miriam Vale

We pulled off the Bruce Highway at Gin Gin, approximately 51 kilometres (32 mi) west of Bundaberg and halfway between Brisbane and Rockhampton.

Our stop was fairly short and uneventful, except for our chance meeting with some intriguing fellow road-trippers. This was their mode of travel.

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With a a population of approximately 1,190 people, the town name has sometimes been said to derive from a local Aboriginal word indicating “red soil thick scrub”. It is also possible the name comes from the Western Australian locality of Gingin. 

British occupation of the region began in 1848 when Gregory Blaxland Jnr (son of the explorer Gregory Blaxland) together with William Forster brought their flocks of sheep up from their squatting leases on the Clarence River. The area they selected extended all the way to the coast and they called it Tirroan. Strong resistance from the local Aboriginal people was encountered resulting in the death of several shepherds and the killing of Blaxland in August 1850. Two large massacres of Aboriginals were conducted by local squatters and their stockmen as punitive measures to these deaths.

The Gin Gin district is nicknamed Wild Scotsman Country due to the capture of one of Queensland’s few bushrangers, James Alpin McPherson, in the area on 30 March 1866. McPherson, who went by the same nickname, was captured at Monduran Station, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of town.

We left the Bundaberg Region behind and entered the Gladstone Region, and the population plummeted as we entered Miriam Vale, rural town of approximately 512 people.

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Historical Queenslander style house now home to Lifeline charity store

 

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Rainbow captured above Miriam Vale

Miriam Vale is renowned as a traditional cattle growing area, and also supports timber, beef and dairy cattle. Tourism is an emerging industry within the shire and the town is a gateway to the tourist resorts of Agnes Water and Town of 1770. Miram Vale is on the North Coast railway line and is serviced by the Miriam Vale railway station.

In the 1970s signs at the entry to town proudly proclaimed “Welcome to Miriam Vale – Cattle, Tobacco, Timber and Dairy”. The tobacco industry faded in the late 1970s followed by the dairy industry in the 1990s.

A car rally passed through Miriam Vale in 1924; the stretch of road between Miriam Vale and Gin Gin was said to the roughest of the rally.

Across House Creek there is also evidence of an old speed way ground (circa 1970s) and if you look around the district you can find history in old horse race tracks.

Miriam Vale has a nine-hole golf course with small greens and mature gum trees. At times in its history the course was stretched to twelve holes but the members and district could not sustain the extra work needed to keep these holes open.

We’re nearly there! Next stop- YEPPOON!

 

 

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Rocky Road Trip Stop 2: Tiaro

♪ Gotta make a move to a town that’s right for me
Town to keep me movin’
Keep me groovin’ with some energy ♪

For a population of approximately 758 people, Tiaro is one funky little town.

Located in the Fraser Coast Region of Queensland, the town takes its name from the pastoral run name in the 1840s. It is believed to be a corruption of the Kabi word (Dauwabra dialect) meaning dead trees.

The town is on the Mary River, situated 27 kilometres (17 mi) south of Maryborough and 227 kilometres (141 mi) north of the state capital, Brisbane.

We started out by paying a visit to Mr T, a bronze sculpture of a Mary River Turtle, an endangered short-necked that is native to the Mary River.

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Mr. T,  Mary River Turtle structure at the Tiaro Interpretive Centre

 

When passing through Tiaro, you cannot miss Hippie Garage. And I mean it- you literally cannot miss it. You could probably see it from space.

The multi-coloured weatherboard house, with its tie-dye scarves strung through the shady courtyard trees, is positioned on Mayne Street which leads right through the centre of town.

I first glimpsed Hippie Garage when I was traveling through the township on my way to Hervey Bay in 2018. This time I was determined to stop and have a look. Hippie Garage stocks clothing, homewares and makes an awesome cup of coffee.

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And the funk doesn’t stop with Hippie Garage. Just a two minute walk down the street is Retro Espresso Coffee Co. Retro Espresso Tiaro combines the best Espresso Coffee with a retail store selling Retro themed items.
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Found a new pushbike at Retro Espresso!
The funky town of Tiaro is bursting with personality and colour, and a must-do in the Fraser Coast Region. Next stop on my Rocky Road Trip is Childers– I hope to see you there!
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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.

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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.

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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.