Yeppoon is a coastal resort town located on the Queensland coast just above the Tropic of Capricorn and about 40km from Rockhampton. It is also known as the gateway to the Great Keppel Island, for which ferries and tours depart from Rosslyn Bay, a few miles down the coast between Emu Park and Yeppoon proper.
Our host family live on the outskirts of Yeppoon, pretty much on Lammermoor Beach (which is one of a whole sequence of beaches running down the coast here all the way from Byfield to Zilzie).
Australians have a rather dismissive attitude to non-surf beaches, and as the Yeppoon ones are already sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef which starts somewhere in this region of the coast (albeit being quite far away from the shore this far south), the Big Waves are not present. But the beaches are delightful by all other standards, wide, sandy, occasionally edged by mangrove plants which add the true tropical colour with their strange silhouettes and extensive air roots: we have never seen a forest growing in the sea. On the edge of the sea, a lone fisherman stands with his rod. Further on, two people sea kayaking, but apart from that the beach is lovely and empty.
The beaches are separated by rocky promontories, apparently volcanic outcrops reddish earth covered by native bush. Our host takes us to one of such promontories (Bluff Point) for a little walk and after a short climb through the usual eucalyptus and vine forest and then more open grassland, we arrive at couple of lookouts. The views of the Keppel Bay are lovely, with the Great Keppel and other islands visible on the horizon. Inland, a plain dotted with regular post-volcanic hills. But the most interesting sight awaits us when we lower our eyes. As we look down towards the sea, we spot one, and then many sea turtles, swimming and presumably feeding in the waves below us. My nine year old is ecstatic, as she loves sea turtles and has not ever seen any in the wild. They look small from the top, but are clearly visible and we are assured they are Green Sea Turtles.
One evening we go to Yeppoon village proper, where the estuary mangroves host thousands of fruit bats (also known as black flying foxes). As the darkness falls, the bats start to move around, get agitated and then some of them take off, presumably in the direction of inland pineapple and mango orchards. We wait patiently for another ten or fifteen minutes, and in the twilight, hundreds, and then what seems like thousands of bats take off: not quietly, but with a squeaky clamour, the set off, literally into the sunset. There is a controversy about such a large bat colony so near human habitation, as they can smell, eat fruit and can, occasionally, transmit the Hendra virus to horses, from which people can catch it if directly in contact with an infected animal (but not, as it seems, directly from bats). This is, however, of concern to horse-owning locals while we spend a rather amazing forty minutes or so observing the nightly spectacle of the flying foxes taking off on their huge, black, velvety wings. The bats are the only placental mammals indigenous to Australia (all other mammals here were either marsupial or monotreme) and we have seen them in many locations, but nowhere else in such great numbers and with such an impressive evening take-off as in Yeppoon.
We leave Yeppoon the next day, set on our way further up the tropical coast and with Magnetic Island in our sight.