Yeppoon

Well, after an informative albeit frustrating trawl north along the Queensland coast, we eventually arrived at Yeppoon. To my mind, this town marks the northern limit of sub-tropical living - any further north, would place us around Mackay whose climate can be very similar to Darwin's.

I, of course, had visited this town 12 months ago with Harry Stapleton, and at that time was most impressed with its potential as a possible site for relocation.  My first challenge was to see if Maria would share my enthusiasm for the place after being given an opportunity to independently evaluate the town's potential.  Fortuitously, she quickly shared my 'vision splendid' and so we decided that it warranted - a better look.

So what does this town have to offer a middle-aged reasonably active couple who long ago forsook the lure of city life and who were looking for a simple sea change from the deprivations of too much northern exposure. 

Well for starters, it is an unpretentious town of approximately 12 000 persons which contains a good demographic mix of inhabitants being neither exclusively populated by itinerant holiday makers nor retirees - it is what I would describe as a general working town with very active trades and business sectors - maybe its similar to a small Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) town from the 1970s.

Being situated on the Tropic of Capricorn (hence the region's name of The Capricorn Coast - Pop 28 000) there is a guarantee of no winter weather and only a sight chance of cyclonic conditions: Temps rage over the 20s while the annual average rainfall is only  2/3rds that of Darwin's.  Humidity levels are also significantly less than Darwin's.

A hilly rather than flat topography makes it amenable for for catching seabreazes but challenging for bicycling.

Lammamoor Beach & Cooee Bay (adjacent to Central Yeppoon) from Rossyln Bay Marina

Central Yeppoon from Rosslyn Bay some 5 kms across the water (alot of camera zoom)

A good mix of 80+year old houses situated alongside quite contemporary  newer styles of housing makes for an interesting lack of architectural homogeneity - very few high rise developments in town and a Council which actively discourages them in the CBD

CentralYeppoon looking across to Rosslyn Bay and marina (NB sole high rise development on esplanade)

Looking along the main retail street (James Street)

Hill Street (what glorious Qld imaginaion) - this road is frightening to negotiate even with a 4x4 - my sister would be terrified

Incongruity of the old standing defiantly against the new

Some ***** Self-contained apartments imperiously sited on a hill above town

Workingmens cottages across the way from those swish apartments

The town boasts most basic amenities including small supermarket, retail & wholesale fresh fish market, weekly produce market, small hospital, medical, dental and physiotherapy services, library but no cinema, comprehensive light industrial area, good sporting/social clubs eg sailing, golf, bowls, SLSC, racecourse and a selection of public and private schools plus a local TAFE presence (Central Qld University is up the road at Rockhampton).  The local repertory company is, I notice, currently performing Dimboola.  Oh yes and it also has a Green Grocer in the main street but alas, cane toads in the gardens.

Of particular concern to myself was the fact that access to the Internet via the public library was restricted to Rate Payers.  However, on further investigation I found the local community/adult education centre would allow me to plug my laptop into one of their landlines for a mere $3/hour cf local internet cafe rates of $3/half hour.  The Sailing Club also offers internet access for members at the latter rate but I find this quite an acceptable mode for checking our email while having a drink in air-conditioned comfort.

There are half a dozen cafes in town which serve coffee and light snacks - you know the stuff -  toasted sandwiches even on foccacia.  However, none of them  have the pretensions of those in Byron or even Noosa - they serve coffee and so far its not been bad!  The telephone book lists about ten restaurants with Chinese being the most popular genre.  Apart from the sailing club's kitchen, which wasn't bad, we have yet to dine out.  No doubt we will slowly get around the most reputable looking ones.

Yeppoon also ha 20+ kilometres of beautiful golden beaches with only very occasional appearances of sea wasps and/or crocodiles - the latter are however, in the Fitzroy River.  Mike Keenan will be interested to learn that Land Sailing is practiced on some of these beaches and the other day I noticed someone hiring  Blokarts on one of the beaches.

City Beach looking north along the esplanade from Sailing Club to SLSC (high tide) - NB the eco friendly aluminium stairs to access the beach

Town Beach from SLSC looking south to our new club - the Keppel Bay Sailing Club

SLSC activities on Town Beach

Town Beach

Yeppoon SLSC

Keppel Bay Sailing Club (gaming sans TAB, bistro & bar)

Sailing Club on Town Beach (competitive sailing, sailing school, bars and restaraunt) - the two Club facilities are across the road from each other

Farnborough Beach adjacent to and to the north of Town Beach (low tide)

Kemp Beach 8kms from town and around the corner from Rossyln Bay

Great Keppel Island and the Great Barrier Reef are only 9nm offshore which tends to diminish the surf potential of the beaches, but makes for a fantastic tropical backdrop for the town.

Sunrise (0445hours) over Great Keppel Island

Great Keppel Island with the last of the November full moon coral spawn still lying (and smelling) on the water's surface

A little over 8km away from the CBD is Rosslyn Bay where there is comprehensive boat harbour and marina facilities complete with chandlery. The Marina also acts as a terminal for the fast ferries which take people over to Great Keppel Island.  The Coast Guard, who monitor marine VHF radio, is also there along with the water police.  Once again this appears to be a pretty low key facility with none of the blazer and white shoe types much in evidence.....Terry, Russell and Bretty would all feel  quite at home here.

Rosslyn Bay Marina and Boat Harbour includes $1.4m condos, marina berths, general berths, fuel access, chandlery, hard stand storage and boat ramps

Marina viewed from Double Head lookout with Central Yeppoon in background

There are 4 public boat ramps at the boat harbour . With tides rarely exceeding 3m of movement they can be used at any time - no need for a lock

General moorings

A tidal estuary with concrete boat ramp right in front of town is a great natural asset, especially for those boaties without the coin to fund a berth in the aforementioned marina.  I have also heard that it is not a bad spot to hide the odd crab pot overnight!

Estuary mouth of Fig Tree and Ross Creeks (low tide) - needs a tide of at least 2m to navigate out

Appears to be used by a good many local 'salts' in preference to the marina facilities

The town estuary even has a small concrete boat launching ramp for the public

There are other aspects which will need closer investigation:

  • good fishing potential - yet to be verified

  • proximity to a large regional city - Rockhampton (Pop 65 000) is only 36kms away which in turn is less than an hour away from Brisbane by plane ($69 one way in today's paper).

  • interesting hinterland  to explore eg Carnarvon Gorge, Emerald, Longreach etc

  • probably only a 3-4 day easy drive back to Darwin

Our task is to find a suitable and affordable house or some land on which to build same.  Not a big ask, but a tiring one!  We had forgotten the amount of work involved in buying real estate, especially in a foreign state - quite apart from the scrum of agents one must negotiate, there is also the developers and their own elitist building covenants eg 70%> brick construction and fully enclosed ground floors and garages, the local Council to tackle over planning instruments, plumbing and electrical certification, then the State Government for building regulations for cyclonic winds, vegetation and bushfire covenants as well as title  searches - just the challenge for a frustrated retired bureaucrat.

The CBD of the town is currently hosting a flock of Red Tail Black Cockatoos who are messily gorging themselves on the nuts of the Norfolk Island Pines which have been planted along the Esplanade - Council workers do not appear overly appreciative of the resultant mess.  Further down the road, the  estuary mangroves are hosting 1000s of  fruit bats who presumably raid the hinterland pineapple and mangrove orchards at night.

With the Livingstone Shire Council having invoked Stage 2 Water Restrictions down here, most home gardens look quite dry, especially those who, foolishly, decided to feature lawns.  Hand watering only is permitted between 1600 and 0900 hours.  Not enough people have installed water tanks and yet quite a  number of house blocks on or near the coast have put down bores to assist watering their gardens. An important point to remember.

Like most towns along the east coast, Yeppoon's real estate is on the cusp of boom and therefore one must act sooner rather than later.

In between forays into the real estate market we have been exploring this town's nooks and crannies and thankfully, it has lots of them.  We have only just discovered their fresh seafood market today (wow! fresh fish on ice) as well as discovering another beautiful discreet beach.  The locals all seem friendly enough once you can engage them in a little harmless conversation...my initial topics are the current smell coming from the coral spawn as well as fishing and boating trivia.  Responses so far have been a little patchy.

We have wondered down the Capricorn Coast as far south as Emu Park, Zilzie and the currently being developed golf course canal development - some 30 kms away.  The pretentious title of this resort:  Great Barrier Reef International Resort, says it all - the place is designed for  fools with more money than sense.  The resort's roads are currently lined with wilting Cuban Royal palms and the development blocks sparsely populated by double story brick monoliths with multiple lock up garages, surrounded by vast expanses of water-hungry dead lawn and forlorn motorised golf buggies waiting in the driveways for the promised golf course to be built. The promised golf course has, in fact, been designed by some notable Australian pro ?Appleby, Grady or was it by the Great White Shark himself - I forget.

Emu Park on the other hand seems to be a poor relation to Yeppoon even though both towns are of similar age.  Emu Park lacks any commercial boating facility  either estuary or marina.  At any rate it also has a flourishing real estate market handling the overflow from Yeppoon.  It boasts a bowling club, one pub, small shopping sector but a rather unique 200th year commemorative memorial to Capt James Cook's discovery of Keppel Bay in May 1770 - its a futuristic sculpture titled The Singing Ship and it does actually sing in the wind through a series of stainless steel wind chimes.

 

I will end this chapter with news that we are hopeful of securing a suitable building block here in Yeppoon before the New Year. 

It is our intention after New Year to resume our travels, touring selected regions of NSW, Victoria and SA in Summer before  heading across to Tasmania in April.  Then it will be time to return to Yeppoon and build the house. 

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