Today we woke before dawn and watched the sun rise over the sea in front of our motel room. After breakfast we had to drive back into the centre of Sarina for fuel and to see the Cane Toad statue in the middle of town. Back home, Moffat has a sheep and Rockhampton where we stayed the previous night, has several statues of bulls.
Cane Toads are native to Central and South America. They were introduced in 1935 to control insects which were detrimental to sugar cane production and to reduce the use of pesticides. They did not control the insects however and proliferated beyond Queensland where they were introduced. They exude poison from glands on their shoulders and can be fatal to domestic pets which eat them, although some birds have mastered the art of catching and eating them without triggering the poison. There have been debates about how and whether they should be eliminated but not all methods utilised have been successful. The Cane Toad has been listed by the National Trust of Queensland as a state icon of Queensland, along with the Great Barrier Reef, and past icons, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the backyard mango tree (also an introduced species). Local school children gave this toad the name Buffy.
Continuing north on Highway 1 towards Mackay, I noticed on the map that a range of mountains southwest of the city are called The Blue Mountains. I am familiar with the Blue Mountains in New South Wales but did not know there were others elsewhere. Coffs Harbour has a big banana, but Bowen has a big mango, illustrating one particular variety introduced and grown here.
Bowen also has a number of murals in the town centre, reminiscent of some American towns we have driven through. However, they are not in such vibrant colours as some of the American ones but they do illustrate the history of the town.
A must in Bowen is a drive to the top of Flagstaff Hill which gives 360 degree views. The interpretive centre is closed having been damaged in the most recent cyclone to hit the area.
There were a number of birds hanging around, this magpie obviously regularly perches on this street light.
After Bowen the surrounding area is much drier. At 1pm the temperature got up to 30 degrees. After lunch at a rest area we continued towards Townsville and again entered sugarcane territory.
We had to stop at a level crossing for a cane train to pass and counted 216 trucks.
In Townsville it was pretty windy on the strand and the beach was quiet with the lifeguards hanging around with not much to do.
Walking along the strand I spotted this sculpture: Bazza and Shazza by Jan Hynes in 2004.
A large number of helicopters kept passing over during late afternoon and early evening. A couple of them were obviously military but there were several others. I hope they stop before we need to sleep. 280 miles today brings the trip total to date to 1957 miles.