Thank goodness for Emu Park! Not the place to come if you want to party, but if you've been travelling for 3 weeks non-stop from Sydney (2-3 days in each location) you'll appreciate the relative tranquillity here. This was the first place we found that we could really chill, catch up on ourselves and relax. We stayed 6 nights. By now we had soaked up enough of the East Coast to reflect on our experiences, and inevitably compared Australia to our previous 6 months in Asia.
We arrived late into Rockhampton on the Greyhound bus service from Hervey Bay after an awesome whale-watching experience. The Emu Beach Resort mini-van was waiting for us and we transferred to the best and cheapest accommodation we have stayed in so far. This was the first time we decided to gamble on the place being quiet and try to save money by sharing dorm beds. We got lucky with this one, and were assigned a dorm room of four beds all to ourselves for the whole duration. The fairly new motel-style building gave us a sun-facing balcony overlooking the heated pool and a flat-screen TV. We felt very comfortable in almost 4-star quality.
Singing Ship, Emu Park, AustraliaJust across the road was another unspoilt beach, which we followed up the coast and then cut back into town. A few visitors come and go, stopping at the 'Singing Ship' monument on the hill, but otherwise the place had a very quiet ambiance with locals going about their business. We had definitely stepped off the East Coast Merry-go-round and escaped from the theme park for a little while at least. We visited the public library most days which is one of the few havens of free internet access in Australia, and tried to visit during off-peak periods to maximise our time there, researching and booking our next move.
Apart from the occasional wander into town and some sunbathing by the pool, (our first real chance to sunbathe with the right weather since arriving) we took it nice and easy. We decided not to visit Great Keppel Island, and although I'm sure it's absolutely beautiful, we had no desire to spend more money visiting more remote beaches as we have done before.
When our time came to an end, we got dropped back at Rockhampton bus station and headed up to Airlie Beach, and the Whitsunday Coast.