A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: greynomadm

Week 13 - the End - Moruya

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Sunday 25 Oct

Sunday 18 Oct - our last day with Melissa and Les. Washed the Patrol, picked some mandarins and generally prepared the van for the last week of the journey.

Monday 19 Oct
- a trouble-free run to Newcastle and specifically the Belmont Pines Caravan Park on the shores of Lake Macquarie, very nice park but sites are very tight. Took a few attempts to get the van into position. Stocked up on provisions at Aldi's and cooked up another batch of pasta sauce.

Tuesday 20 Oct
- drove around the lake (claimed to be four times the size of Sydney Harbour ??) and spent some time in Warners Bay, Toronto, Morisset, Dora Creek and Murrays Beach. Some very beautiful beaches and water-front properties. We were taken to dinner by jenny's niece Dianne. The club has spectacular views.

Wednesday 21 Oct
- found our way to the caravan dealer that originally sold our van. We were hoping to pick up some replacement parts but they don't carry too much in stock and it would take some time to order and receive them. Given our location it was suggested we deal directly with the caravan builder. Had a most enjoyable dinner with the Kiehnes and the Fayles. Found our way back to the caravan park and determined that we didn't like driving in a strange city after dark !!

Thursday 22 Oct
- broke camp early (0630) and headed for Exhibition Park In Canberra (EPIC). The free-way to Hornsby was fine but from there to the start of the M7 was a nightmare. The M7 is great even though it takes you way out West before delivering you down South in Liverpool. A comfort stop at Pheasant's Nest and arrived in Canberra just after 1230. Made one of those silly mistakes that turn out to be expensive. I had the van on ramps to level it side to side. I applied the handbrake but when we disconnected the ball hitch the van lurched backwards and bent the lifting jack. $400 for a new jack and some chocks for next time.

Friday 23 Oct - drove to Queanbeyan to have my eyes checked and order a new pair of spectacles. Tried a number of optometrists but it was a bit hard to find one that was free at short notice. Across town to visit Bert Hagel whose rose garden is spectacular.

Saturday 24 Oct
- purchased some produce at the Farmer's Market. Good range of fresh produce and specialty breads. Had lunch with Natalie and the family in Gungahlin then back to the van to tidy up before visiting with a dear friend whom we visit far too infrequently. Enjoyed a very pleasant visit catching up and reminiscing.

Sunday 25 Oct
- left at 0645 to head down to the coast. The Clyde proved to be as unpredictable as always, quite a lot of traffic coming up the mountain and a heavy fog along the way. Busy unpacking the van and the patrol and going though the accumulated mail in the form of magazines and promotions.

- we were away for 90 days, stayed in 26 caravan parks, drove just over 12,000 Km of which about 8,000 were towing the caravan. We had a great time, saw lots of new sights and would happily do it all over again. For those who tracked our travels with a map of Australia, you'll have noticed that there are still vast areas we haven't touched on, there's always next year :-)

Thanks for sticking with me, I hope you found it interesting.

Posted by greynomadm 19:38 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

Week 12 - Scone

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This report is from the back yard of Melissa's place in Scone. We'll be here until Monday and then off to Newcastle.

Sunday 11 Oct
- bleak, wet and windy in Stanthorpe. Visited the local fortnightly markets which are sensibly held in the Town Hall. Very impressive range of produce and hand-crafts. Drove North to visit a local cheese factory where we tasted and bought some of their delicious cheeses. At $50 per Kg the price was a bit rich but it is about what you have to expect. Stopped off at two or three other local attractions and headed back to prepare for tomorrow's drive to Armidale.

Monday 12 Oct
- drove South across the border and set our clocks forward an hour. The weather wasn't too foul and we were set up in Armidale by lunch time. The caravan park is located on the Eastern edge of the city and very relaxed and quiet. The afternoon degenerated into a significant storm with a good shower of rain.

Tuesday 13 Oct
- made our way into the Information Centre and joined the free heritage tour. The bus is provided by the local council and the driver and guide are volunteers. The took us around the significant features and gave a great general history and overview of Armidale. Stand-out features are education and dramatic buildings. The Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals are both magnificent.

Wednesday 14 Oct
- wandered through the streets of Armidale and photographed the historic buildings described in the Heritage Walk brochure. The weather turned ordinary again with strong winds and dust and just enough moisture to form mud all over the Patrol.

Thursday 15 Oct
- drove the 86 Km 'scenic drive' to Dangar's Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. A very impressive gorge but not enough water to create a waterfall. The countryside showed a hint of green and is certainly very picturesque, a particularly pretty spot was the small chapel at the entrance to Gostwyck Station on the way to Uralla. Back on the highway, Uralla was also quite impressive and once again we felt that it was a place that deserved more time to appreciate it fully. The, by now customary, winds blew up again during the afternoon and we decided to leave early tomorrow to try and beat the head winds.

Friday 16 Oct
- Jenny's birthday but she didn't get breakfast in bed !! We were hooked up and on the road by 0615. Arrived in Scone around 1000 and spent most of the afternoon catching up on family news. Les and Melissa drove us to Muswellbrook for a very elegant dinner to celebrate Jen's birthday. Jenny was most pleased that the threatened birthday cake and associated embarrassment did not eventuate. We had her worried though.

Saturday 17 Oct - greeted by the most pleasant morning we've experienced for some time. Sun shining, no clouds, no dust, no wind, birds chirping and the temperature a pleasant 20 degrees. Sat around, did next to nothing and buried my nose in a book. Great !!

Sunday 18 Oct - another one of those exceptional mornings. Seems a shame to be doing anything to disrupt it. Today will be our last day in Scone so will take the opportunity to wash the Patrol and get ready for the final week. One 'feature' of this outing has been the lack of water, not only in the inland where it is expected but also along the coast where population growth has rapidly outstripped the water storage capacity. It certainly looks grim for the summer.

Next week's update will be from home so may be a little late arriving. Stay well, travel safely and we hope to catch up with some of you as we traverse this dry and dusty land.

Posted by greynomadm 19:37 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

Week 11 - Stanthorpe

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This report finds us in Stanthorpe where the temperatures are lucky to reach half of what we experienced just over a week ago. Yes the 'Winter Woollies' have been dragged out from under the bed.

Sunday 4 Oct - Cania Gorge and the Queensland School Holidays are drawing to a close. Almost 50% of the campers have moved out. Less humans but an abundance of birds. Much more relaxed.

Monday 5 Oct
- spent most of the morning exploring some of the bush walks. Weather is a bit overcast and the temperature has come down to the high 20s. Relaxed and read books and watched the birds.

Tuesday 6 Oct
- I've been invited to help cook damper for the 'Billy Tea and Damper' event at 10:00. Rick the acting manager didn't need me but let me prepare one of the loaves. Surprised myself at how well the loaf turned out. Almost as good as his and he cooks them twice a week. More relaxing with still fewer 'ankle biters' and the birds are less timid. A few of the King Parrots have delighted us by perching on our table, chair backs and Jenny's arm. Identified no less than 15 species of birds with quite a few we couldn't positively put a name to. One of the more notable was the red-winged parrot.

Wednesday 7 Oct
- packed up early and headed South on the Burnett Highway and after receiving advice from the Oasis Roadhouse we pushed on to Dalby. Checked into the caravan park located less than 5 minutes walk from the centre of town. Shopped for fruit and vege, fuelled the Patrol and removed the grime from the Patrol at the local car-wash. As with almost every place we've stayed there are severe water restrictions, in Dalby there's an immediate $150 fine for inappropriate use. Had to dig out the heavier doona to ward off the 4 degree overnight temperature.

Thursday 8 Oct
- walked the town with the camera and Jenny found a quilt show due to open on Friday, the shop keeper let her in for a private conducted tour. Jenny was most impressed with the quality of the quilts. I found Dalby to be a very tidy town with almost all shops occupied and seeming vibrant and affluent, all in all quite impressive.

Friday 9 Oct - broke camp early and headed for Stanthorpe. The highway to Toowoomba was crowded with trucks and an incredible number of utes heading West, fortunately there wasn't too much traffic in our direction. The route through Toowoomba was a bit of a challenge but the SatNav and some judicious road signs saw us through to Warwick without the need of a U-turn !! Arrived in Stanthorpe and booked into the Top of Town park. Very friendly staff and well presented park. Slipped into town for some vital shopping.

Saturday 10 Oct
- visited the local Gardening Club Trade Fair. Many beautiful flowers and also handicrafts for sale. The local climate appears to suit roses and many interesting examples were on display. Next stop was the biannual Quilt Show, once again there was an extensive range of beautiful quilts on display. It must have been pretty good, we spent over an hour there. Travelled South to visit some of the 'tourist attractions' and visited a chocolate outlet, a jam enterprise and an Ugg-Boot shop. General impression of Stanthorpe is very positive, if a bit too obsessed with the 54 wineries in the area.

Sunday 11 Oct
- church and markets are planned for this morning. After lunch some of the 'attractions' North of the town. Back into NSW on Monday. It is raining !!!

Not long to go now, we'll be home in just over 2 weeks. We continue to be in good health and hope this finds you likewise.

Posted by greynomadm 19:35 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

Week 10 - Cania Gorge

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This report is sent from the Big 4 Resort at Cania Gorge.

Sunday 27 Sept
we spent the morning wandering through Mackay's Botanical Garden which was obviously very popular with the the locals as a walking and exercise venue. Topped off with fuel and relaxed before packing up the gear for Monday's departure.

Monday 28 Sept
left Mackay and the lingering dust/smoke haze and arrived in Rockhampton by lunch time. Busy city and impressive tropical caravan park. The groundsman offered to back the van into place - he squeezed the van into place without hesitation and Jenny immediately wanted to hire him for the rest of the trip. Drove into the CBD to collect the mail and call into the Tourist Information Office.

Tuesday 29 Sept
went into the CBD and walked up and down many streets to photograph the many historic buildings. There appears to have been some effort to preserve or restore many exceptional old structures. There must have been serious money around in the early days. Drove out to the Sale Yards to look at what is claimed to be the biggest livestock sales facility in Australia. Certainly very impressive but I think the Wagga Wagga facility would give it a run. Spent half an hour in the car wash to remove half a ton of dust and grime from the Patrol.

Wednesday 30 Sept
drove up to the Mt Archer for a spectacular view over the city. Smoke from bushfires in the area unfortunately cut down the viability. Travelled on to Yappoon and looped back via Rosslyn Bay and Emu Park. There are new resorts and sub-divisions all along the coast line. Again I was less than impressed by the beaches but must admit that the balmy weather - at this time of the year - is very seductive.

Thursday 1 Oct left the caravan park quite late for us. Also managed to wreck one of the power supply bollards - I forgot to unplug the 240 Volt power lead. I was greatly embarrassed and quite surprised that the park didn't present me with a bill for the repair. As we only had a short pull to Gladstone we stopped for a while at the Kershaw Gardens and admired the waterfalls there. Arrived in Gladstone just after 1000. We were very impressed with the scale and activity of the place. After setting up we found the Tourist Information office and visited one of the city lookouts. The size and scale of the port facilities is quite remarkable and they are being expanded.

Friday 2 Oct late start with a tour of the Rio Tinto Alumina refinery and the Boyne Smelter. These are FREE tours organised by the respective companies. Not quite a 'hands-on' experience by we were driven around in a coach for about three hours. There are five different tours on each of the week days. Some more look-outs and different angles of the city and its surrounds. There are signs of expansion and new development in all directions.

Saturday 3 Oct
left Gladstone for Cania Gorge. Quite a climb up from the coast under an overcast sky and even some rain on our way to Biloela. A combination of gentle undulation and some steep hills and we arrived at the caravan park about 1000. School holidays finish this weekend and about 400 of the little darlings are trying to get the most out of the last few days. A very child friendly park and lots of tents and camping trailers add to that a large flock of rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and sulphur-crested cockatoos and there's bedlam. Bird feeding at 1700 followed by wine tasting at 1730 and an outdoor movie at 1900.

Sunday 4 Oct
the 'bird-alarm' went off about 0500 so we got up and went for a walk. Will visit the dam today and may stay here for a few more days after the feral ankle-biters have vacated the place.

Until next week, we hope this finds you as it leaves us, in good health and remember, if the thought of reading this boring stuff for the next 3 weeks isn't to your taste, just let me know and I'll drop you from "the list".

Posted by greynomadm 19:33 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

Week 9 - Mackay

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We're still North of the tropic of Capricorn just West of the Whitsunday Islands in beautiful Mackay.

Sunday 20 Sep spent some time at Townsville's waterfront area and found it very busy as there had been a triathlon competition and there were hundreds of competitors and their support teams. Drove to the top of Castle Hill which provided an excellent vantage point with 360 degree views of the city. Back to the van in preparation for departure.

Monday 21 Sep we left early and travelled to Bowen for 3 days. Passed through Ayr on the way and were well impressed. Bowen is very dry and dusty and looks like it could use a coat of paint. The streets are very wide and have a variety of layouts; central parking, central garden, no central divide and traffic on the left and parking on the right. Cross roads with strange entrances and exits. Many expensive yachts in the marina.

Tuesday 22 Sep we drove to Collinsville and visited Darby Munro - 55 AESS/EWPS Vietnam Veteran. His 'camp' in Scottville is interesting and comprises a random collection of all his treasures occupying almost the whole area. Darby introduced us to his watering holes, the Top Pub, then the Mineworkers Club and then the Bowen River Hotel about 30 Km out of town on a tooth-jarring dirt road. Here we're made most welcome and have to work hard to resist staying for dinner. Finally dropped Darby off at another pub in Collinsville and got back to the caravan about 1930.

Wednesday 23 Sep spent most of the morning photographing the many murals and visiting the tourist beaches on Queens Bay. Some very impressive resorts and caravan parks. Back to camp and get things ready for departure.

Thursday 24 Sep we headed South with headlights on !! The dust which hit Sydney and Brisbane yesterday, has found its way up here. We called into Airlie Beach and marvelled at the boats and resort buildings. Sadly the dust wiped all of the sparkle off the place. On to Mackay and the Andergrove Van Park on the Northern approaches. Very large park but with the school holidays we were lucky to get a spot. Set up camp and visited a shopping centre to restock essentials. The dust is effecting Jenny's breathing but she says she's OK.

Friday 25 Sep drove out to the Northern beaches, they're quite impressive but the dust continuous to rob the impressive scenery of any colour. Visited the marina which is a very impressive set-up handling bulk grain and sugar as well as an extensive marina for leisure boats and charter operators. The luxury apartments and restaurants looked very underutilised. Found our way into the CBD and strolled up and down the central streets. Very relaxed, tropical and picturesque.

Saturday 26 Sep decided to hit the road along the Pioneer Valley. It follows the Pioneer River for about 84 Km and climbs the escarpment to Eungella and the National Park. Sugar cane almost the whole way and three sugar mills along the way. Views should have been spectacular but the dust was still hanging around. Drove out to Finch Hatton Gorge and stopped for lunch at the Pinnacle Pub for one of their famous pie and chips - very tasty !!

Sunday 27 Sep our last day here, we're off to walk the botanical gardens and then plan to relax and get ready to leave for Rockhampton on Monday.

Tyre Puncture. The slow leak proved elusive, the tyre bloke in Bowen wasn't able to find it. We left the wheel there at 1100 and agreed to pick it up at 1500. We were back there on time and asked what the outcome had been. Red face behind the counter, what job ?? what name ?? Oooops, THAT wheel was picked up by someone else. Give us 10 minutes and we'll get it back. We strolled around the town for 15 minutes then sat in their waiting room, staff was coming and going and the Patrol was still on the jack. Finally the 'boss' explained that they were unable to find a leak, apologised for wasting our time and wouldn't accept payment. Sometimes things just don't go the way you plan.

Until next week, we hope this finds you as it leaves us, in good health and remember, if the thought of reading this boring stuff for the next 4 weeks isn't to your taste, just let me know and I'll drop you from "the list".

Posted by greynomadm 22:31 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors

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