On our last big trip we came back via Bundaberg, we didn’t really have time for an extended stop, more just passing through. Places can have a weird effect on you and sometimes a place from your past can feel uncomfortable, I spent several years of my childhood in the region and I had not been back since leaving in my early teens. I will refrain from boring people with the details, suffice to say it was not an entirely happy time and I have not been any further north than Hervey Bay since leaving.
So anyhow, as we were driving back we passed one of the many brown road signs highlighting a place of interest, this one flashed up saying: Mystery Craters, so quickly had G follow the detour to the so-called Mystery Craters, a long forgotten childhood memory had flashed up. Now I remember coming here once as a child and I remember it being a vaguely sinister experience, a bit Twilight Zone, G wasn’t keen but my argument was this could be fun. So the mystery craters are this slightly odd rock formation, essentially a collection of 35 holes in the ground, sandstone with ochre. When I remember visiting back in the 70s there was no safety fence around the craters, as there is now, and the craters were filled with water with the emphasis on mystery and sensation: ‘No-one knows how the craters were formed, was it a meteor, was it aliens, is it a sink hole, or the result of volcanic action?’, I seem to recall feeling like there was an implication that the depth was unknown, if you fell in, who knew what would happen to you, I was a very impressionable child. I have this memory of wandering amongst the craters, waiting for lava to erupt or something of that nature. The craters were filled with brown water, so you had no way to judge depth.
This visit, it all felt a bit anti-climatic, after paying out $7.50 each, for the privilege of seeing the craters we walked in to find them fenced off, but with a viewing platform you could climb. Note the rather daggy fiberglass dinosaur. The craters were largely dry, not surprising given the current drought. And with no danger of falling into unknown doom, they failed to have that genuinely mysterious and sinister quality.
The crater themselves were a bit sad really, as a tourist experience, a curiosity yes, but not sure if they are really worth the stop. But that was not all you got for your money, there was also the rather odd machinery collection; lawnmowers, chain saws and bed pans, which in itself seems a bit of an oddity, and there is also a small rock and fossil display. Oh, don’t forget the Fairy Dell.
All in all, the experience of paying for this rather odd, and kind of dated experience did feel like a bit of fun, with the quaint mural out the front depicting flying saucers and volcanoes. Would I recommend it, probably not, but it amused me.
We spent the night at Bargara Beach caravan park, now that was an experience; absolutely packed with grey nomads in Hiltons on wheels, felt like we were spending the night in a mobile retirement village, packed in like sardines, with our immediate neighbour, essentially invading what was the space allocated to us with their massive van, 4WD and collection of satellite dishes. We had been warned that the coast would be packed with the grey nomad tribe escaping the cold down south but I had not expected it to be like that, it did not feel like a relaxing environment and we were glad to get back on the road and head home the next day. There is something quite dystopian about how these van parks feel, like geriatric ghettos, full of retirees, living the so called dream. They feel really cut off from the very environments they are travelling through, artificial and claustrophobic. A’Tuin, (the pod), looked comically small and it just didn’t feel like our kind of space, maybe if we had been staying longer and got to know people it might have been different.