Rod & Mary - Fulltimers 2014 travel blog

Gold mining rig

Ginger Factory

Finally - a shorter drive. Only 108 miles today, but several stops along the way. All of our roads in Australia have been pretty straight and level. Frequent passing (overtaking) lanes and often even divided highway.

On our way out of Hervey Bay we drove along the esplanade (the 'espy') and saw the long pier and the boat harbor. Then it was an hours drive to our first stop, Harry's Opals. Harry apparently does a pretty deep discount for Fantasy Tours, and he did a brisk business today. He also provided a very nice spread of crepes, cakes and cookies that was enjoyed by all.

On to our next stop, the Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum. The discovery of gold in this area is credited with saving the government of Queensland in the 1860's, which was a time of severe depression. It is said that when news of the discovery reached Brisbane some 300 kilometers to the south, 90% of the adult males left town for the gold strike within three days! In addition to gold mining equipment and information, the museum has another dozen buildings housing collections of all sorts that have been donated - minerals, machinery, household goods, shells, military artifacts and weapons, a one-room schoolhouse and a history of scouting in Australia. A real "something for everyone" place - you just had to find it!

Eventually, even I was ready to move on. After a small picnic in the next door park, we continued down Highway 1 to find the Ginger Factory.

The only commercial ginger factory in Australia, it is also the only automated factory in the world. Computerized scanners and sorters, laser measurements and density testing. The factory was moved to its current location 20 years ago, automated and more than doubled employment - because it increased production tenfold! It's also a bit of an amusement park with rides and activities for young kids. The guided tour provided a look at the equipment and aging barrels, many of the more than 100 species of ginger (of which only 5 are edible), and a chance to try some ginger products. The ginger harvest occurs in February and March, and the ginger legume must be in the factory within 24 hours. So, much of the crop is stored in a saltwater solution for as long as ten months before being processed. After cleaning, sorting and grading, the ginger is then kept in giant vats for 12 days in a sugar water solution. The ginger is then ready for commercial customers around the world, including Starbucks and soda bottlers. The sugar water solution is drained off, bottled and sold as a cordial!

As we were leaving, we spotted the Macadamia Nut Company across the street. The factory and viewing areas were closed by this time, but the gift store was still open with samples and lots of candy options. Needless to say, we won't be out of dessert for a while.

We arrived at out campground as the sun was setting and halfway through the travel meeting for the next leg. So much for our "short travel day"!

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