My trusty Lonely Planet book, which now looks battered and worn, suggested we check out the Capricorn Caves whilst in Rockhampton.
Known as the beef capital of Australia we also expected to chow down on some rather good steak that evening.
As with all travel plans, they don’t always tend to run as smoothly as you would like. Just as we left the campsite back in the Town of 1770 the car made an almighty purr, like a disgruntled cat, a judder and a ca-poof…and that was the sound of the back seats air-conditioning dying.
After three hours of travel we made it to a mechanics and spent the afternoon sitting in their staff room, on oiled up office chairs, charging our electrical equipment and eating pic-n-mix sweets from a huge box we found on the side. Luckily the room was air-conditioned because the humidity and heat was insane!
With no time left to go and see the caves we decided to camp on the Capricorn Caves campsite and visit them in the morning.
Luckily we were able to go and find ourselves some steak for dinner. We headed to the Ginger Mule (as noted in the Lonely Planet Guide), a run down bar with only high stools and tables to sit at, always an annoyance for anyone of my height and green walls. It didn’t hold much promise.
However the steak was tasty and the chips were even better. Australia just needs to work on its creamy peppercorn sauce!
Once the meat sweats had subsided we got up to leave and just as we did so the heavens opened and a progressively louder grumbling noise began. It was almost as though we were inside the belly of a hungry giant.
We dashed to the car and buckled up and just as I switched on he engine, that is when I saw my first bolt of lightning light up the sky. It looked powerful.
Following the sat-navs instructions I slowly made my way along the streets of Rockhampton saying small prayers along the lines of, please don’t let the lightning hit us, in my mind. England doesn’t have lightning like what I was witnessing so I have never felt the need to learn the protocol for how to deal with a situation like this. I just knew that camping under the tall tress that evening was not a good idea.
As we were driving, what appeared to be further into the storm, I was pleading with the others for us to find a hotel to stay in. Finally, after a huge strike lit up the entire sky, they agreed to find an alternative place to stay.
We ended up in a rather nice motel, the four of us piled into the one clean room they had left.
I had a shower, climbed into bed and thanked whoever it is up their for listening to my prayers. I was certain that the lightning was going to hit us. It felt so close and incredibly dangerous. Frightening experience which resulted in a real bed and a clean shower!
The next day the sun greeted us as we stepped out of our safe haven. We headed back to the Capricorn Caves and actually managed to get our money back for not using the camping facilities that night.
A small and dumpy woman then proceeded to take us on our tour of the caves, talking passionately about their history and the bats that reside within.
We got to see the 33,000 bent wing bats all huddled together, talking avidly to one another whilst clinging from the roof of the cave. Smelt pretty gross and I hoped none of them would fly into my face. The beautiful song Hallelujah was also played to us in the church inside the cave. Near perfect acoustics apparently.
During the song the guide switched all the lights off and we were left to sit in pure darkness for a number of seconds. Your eyes didn’t adjust to this type of darkness and having consumed lots of carrots over the years I can safely say that they do not make you see in the dark!