No matter how long you’ve lived away from your hometown, the minute you’re back in the vicinity it always seems like you’ve come home. I moved away from Yeppoon the minute I finished high school. A friend and I threw everything we had into a bunch of bags, caught the tilt train and moved to Brisbane ready for Uni. I returned to live in Rockhampton for a few years to finish Uni after my mum got sick but once completed and given the chance to head for the city again, I was off.
When the date for my 20 year high school reunion was decided, we hadn’t yet made the decision to do our trip, so I probably would have just flown up for the weekend. However once we decided to do it and started our planning, we simply factored in the reunion dates and ensured that we got there in time, making somewhat of an unorthodox ‘lap’ but one that has ultimately allowed us to fit in key dates and do the things we wanted to do.
In so many ways, Yeppoon has changed significantly. I noticed these changes when I went home for my Nana’s and then my Dad’s funeral a few years ago and the progress hasn’t stopped since. There is now a big shopping complex (which was always rumoured to happen but never seemed to eventuate when I lived there), the much longed for Maccas finally arrived, the Bowls Club which was central to my grandparent’s social life has been knocked down and replaced by a Toyota dealership and most recently the beach front had undergone a massive redevelopment including more retail space with cafes and shops and a water play area for the kids.
But many things have stayed exactly the same… that moment when you crest the hill coming into town and see the water glimmering in the sunshine with the Keppel Islands on the horizon still evokes the same breathtaking awe, the fruit bats hanging in the mangroves not far from the main beach are still there as too is the the screech of lorikeets at dusk and the smell of that salty coastal air mixed with marshy mangrove odour… it’s all still the same.
And in many ways our 20 year high school reunion was similar. Aside from the friends that you’ve kept in touch with over the years, of the 50 or so students that returned, there were some there I just picked up from where I left off when we last saw each other in the school yard, and some that I said nothing more than a polite hi. Whilst it is still somewhat trippy to think that 20 years have passed since we graduated, on the whole most people were exactly the same and surprisingly we had a really good night. Which given I was hanging with this crew of awesome chicks, would have been enough in itself without the reunion!
After the reunion it was good to catch up with friends and we were lucky enough to stay with friends who lived a street back from the beach, so we spent a lot of time at the beach and in their pool (well, I didn’t… it was way too cold for me!)
We head over to Emu Park for a few hours to check out the singing ship and I was really glad to have been able to look over the new tribute for the ANZAC centenary. The boardwalk from the ship, historic feature hut and new courtyard area was a really lovely way to pay our respect to the diggers from the local area.
But the most moving wartime tribute I think I’ve ever seen was this one over looking the bay depicting the landing at Gallipoli using the coast line to add realism and the Keppel Islands to simulate warships. So well done, and a very poignant reminder of the challenges of that battle.
After a week beachside, it was time to hang out with my sister so we swapped the coast for a more rural setting and headed to inland to a small pocket between Yeppoon and Rockhampton. Here the cousins were able to run riot and get to know each other. Chickens seem to be featuring a bit on our trip. Since staying at Mone’s prior to our trip, Miss B has been quite enamoured by chickens and we’re just about convinced that we need to get some when we return home. Both our friends in Yeppoon and my sister had chickens and the girls loved seeing and talking to them and collecting the eggs each day!
We also checked out the free Zoo at the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens. The zoo has been there ever since I was a kid, but I thought the girls might like to see the chimpanzees. There’s been a lot more refurbishment done since I was last there and the girls had a ball checking out the animals and trying to find the chimps.
When my sister offered to babysit, Corey and I headed off to the Rodeo. He was a bit gutted he didn’t have his Akubra, feeling somewhat out of place with all the cow cockies, but I assured him it was for the best. We were able to have dinner and a few drinks, and watch a few bulls… even get ice-cream on the way home… all whilst the kids had a sleep over in the lounge room. It was hard to get any good shots given how dark it was, but this grey brahman bull was very impressive!
The next day we took the girls into Yeppoon’s annual Pineapple Festival, an event I hadn’t been to in over 15 years (kind of fits into the some things still stay the same category!) but the girls loved it and Miss B was thrilled to get a free pineapple!!!
After the festivities, we headed home where I cooked up our last dinner before we headed off the next day – including a choc ripple cake, which is not such a common occurrence in Queensland. I hadn’t ever seen one until I met my hubby and so when I mentioned it to my sister and I received a blank stare in return, I knew I had to make it for her.
And then it was time to go. On to the next adventure!
Does it still feel like ‘home’ to you when you return to your hometown? Have you ever heard of choc ripple cake?