Sunday, 30 September 2007

Kialla Lakes

Well we’re home! We arrived back home on Friday morning after a quicker than expected trip home from Canberra. Instead of two nights on the road we only needed one spending a very pleasant evening in Rutherglen.
It was with mixed feelings we backed the van up the drive but its true there is no place like home and we were anxious to see Kate and Waz before they went to Queensland for a few days on Saturday.
We’ve had a wonderful time and went through our photos this afternoon and marvelled at all the things we have seen, and started planning our next trip at the same time.
For those who are interested we’ve been keeping spreadsheets of our trip statistics and thought you might be interested to hear some of them.
Our fuel was 2,798 litres and the total cost for fuel was $3,471.
We travelled a total of 15,300 kilometres and visited forty-two sites so we really have setting up and packing up down to a fine art!
When we arrived home Ian took the van to the weighbridge to see how much we had been dragging around with us and fully loaded with the water tanks full and quite a few extras on board (like the ten coconuts I brought home for Kate so she could have coconut cocktails!), the van weighed 2,480kg which Ian was quite happy with as it is within the legal limit for the Prado to tow.
So there you are that’s about all from us for this holiday, we will put on further blogs when we go away again, but it will be a while before we have an adventure as long as this one!
Thanks to everyone who has contacted us to say you have enjoyed the blogs, its been fun doing them and has become a great record of our trip.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


We found our accommodation in Canberra at the home of the Summer Car Nats otherwise known as Exhibition Park (EPIC). It’s very close to the centre of Canberra, so handy for sightseeing which was the plan for our three nights. We arrived late in the day so after setting up called it a day.
On Tuesday we set out for Floriade and had a great time looking at the beautiful displays. There was a theme of iconic Australian inventions such as the Victa Lawnmowers, Hills Hoists, black box flight recorder and also recognition that 2007 has been declared the Year of the Lifesaver by the Federal Government.
The Hills Hoist was developed by a returned serviceman after the second World War who was ‘requested’ by his wife to make a better line for her washing! The display of flowers was magnificent and on a beautiful day made for a very enjoyable start to our stay.
Afterwards we went to Old Parliament House where a very interesting exhibition entitled Scarred and Strengthened – Australians in the Great Depression was well worth the visit.
On Wednesday we spent an inspiring day at the War Memorial. One of the special displays for me was the Changi Quilts which I had read so much about. The whole day was just awe inspiring and it will take us a few days talking as we travel to really appreciate all that we saw. We arrived at 10.30am and left at 4.30pm so it was a very busy day.
On Thursday morning we head off for home, planning two nights on the road and hopefully arriving home in time to see some of the AFL Grand Final!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


We arrived back safely at the caravan park and set ourselves up for three nights. We had great days with Pete and Dawn, although Dawn had to work on Saturday and Sunday we had the whole of Friday together. Pete had promised to take us down to Sydney on Friday morning to stand in front of the Sunrise show and watch. You can see Pete and I waving on cue (we hope you saw our two seconds of fame on the TV!). It was great fun and made up for the early departure from Gosford at 6.30am.
After we had spent enough time at the show we had to have some retail therapy including some bridal magazines just to get the ball rolling. Did we mention Pete and Dawn are now engaged and we’re all very excited!
We then went to Penrith to the NSW Fire Brigade Museum which only seemed fair to Pete and Ian after Dawn and I discussed weddings for the rest of the time. It was actually very interesting.
We spent our evenings hearing of their trip and looking at their photos which were terrific.
All too soon our visit with Pete and Dawn was over and we packed up and moved on to Canberra

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Hervey Bay to Gosford

After we left Hervey Bay we travelled towards Gosford and used the Camps book to plot our course. It’s not always great but when you only need somewhere to sleep we figure we can put up with nearly anything and it’s a bit different.
Well our first night on the road was certainly different. We ended up at a roadside stop with about ten other campers and truckies! There was a little (!) bit of road noise as we were only just off the highway and perhaps the trucks rumbling thru right beside the van to stop for the night made it a little difficult to sleep but we managed to grab a little shut eye before starting out again (early!) and promising not to do that trick unless we were really desperate.
For the second night we travelled down to Crowdy Bay National Park which is on the coast between Port Macquarie and Taree, 9kms south of Laurieton. What a contrast to our previous evening. We travelled along an unmade road for 5kms and arrived at the Park to be greeted by kangaroos happily feeding all around us. Once again it was a ‘pick where you like’ camp with no power but toilets and cold (!) showers. Thank goodness for our own toilet and hot shower. We didn’t even need to take the van off the car and just picked a pleasant spot, got out the chairs and sat down to enjoy the show around us. Kangaroos were everywhere and it was very entertaining watching the groups feeding and joeys jumping in and out of the pouches. How they fit we can’t understand but they do although some have legs hanging out and heads poking out grazing and just looking at us. No need to look for further entertainment here. We also walked down to the beach which was only about 50metres from the car. It was a pity we arrived later in the day and we would really like to come back and stay for a couple of nights so we can explore the walking tracks and the beach. It was certainly harder to leave this camp than the previous nights accommodation but we were eager to get on the road and avoid arriving in Gosford late as we remembered how difficult it was on the way up to set up in the dark.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Hervey Bay

After our stay at Woodgate we moved down to Hervey Bay for three nights, only about 40km’s if you go directly however we had been told of a patchwork shop not to be missed in Howard so a short diversion was required and a very successful one it was too.
We went to a different park at Hervey Bay this time staying right on the beach. We were only twenty steps from the sand and it was great to be swimming again after our not so good experience in Hervey Bay at the beginning of our trip.
As we were settling in we met our ‘neighbours’ and enjoyed beer o’clock with them. Ian and Coral have had family near Shepparton and now live in Maryborough and enjoy coming down to Hervey Bay for the beach. It is great to meet people in the parks and camps and we have made new friends who we hope to see again.
Our joy was short lived as on the first morning the wind again came up and the day was not very pleasant at all. However we had already arranged to go whale watching in the afternoon so we were committed, wind or not! When we arrived at the marina we were greeted by the crew and asked if we suffered from wobbly legs. Ian certainly does so that was not a great start. However we were offered ginger tablets and Ian feels it was the best $1.00 we spent on the trip so far. I don’t know if they were effective or just a really good placebo, who cares we felt fine despite the waves crashing over the windows and drowning most of us on the way out to see the whales. We even ate lunch, although not a lot as it was a perilous task to keep your plate on your knees.
They were certainly worth the trip. Just magnificent creatures and we were fortunate to see a number of groups including mums with calves and adult groups too.
We were also able to catch up with David and Annie and the boys and enjoyed entertaining them at our place this time.Now we’re really on the way home and off to see Pete and Dawn

Sunday, 16 September 2007


When we were in Emerald we went to a hairdresser and the young lady who cut my hair suggested we go to Woodgate as the beach was lovely. Woodgate is only 30kms down the coast from Bargarra but 100kms by road.
We travelled via Childers and visited the backpacker hotel where the terrible fire took place. There is now a wonderful memorial to all the backpackers on the first floor of the hotel and a gallery. Childers is a lovely town and we enjoyed morning tea before going on to Woodgate.
As you can see from the photos the beach is just perfect here and we swam and relaxed on the beach over the two full days we spent at Woodgate. We also were able to enjoy some lovely walks along the foreshore which like Bargarra is well paved and marked with the 10,000 steps. Woodgate also has a national park and there are plenty of kangaroos along the walk in the main street not in the slightest bit concerned by us going past.
This is certainly somewhere to return next year, even better than Bargarra. We seem to be finding great places even on the way home. Of course it helps that the weather has really improved too!

On to Hervey Bay where we hope the weather will be warm unlike our earlier visit.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Bargarra and News ........

Back to Bargarra Beach for three nights as we amble homeward. I needed to do some serious washing and also cleaning without the assistance of dirt returning as fast as I clean it out. We have the same site as we had on the way up but not with the excitement of thinking of the journey ahead! Our first night back at Bargara marked 100 nights on the road. We have covered over 12,000kms which is quite a distance but we have barely touched the surface and can see many trips to come.
Of course we went back to the Rum Distillery, and the Ginger non-alcoholic beverages have also been restocked. There is a great fish place here and we really enjoy fresh fish with real flavour and will have some in our freezer for the trip home. We did lots of walking as the weather is pretty good, although not up to the usual temperatures for this time of year, wish we had a dollar for every time we have been told that!
We also drove out to Mon Ripo turtle rookery and down to the port. We will come back at turtle time as it looks very interesting. There were two bus loads of school kids there so we didn’t stay long!
Now for the news of other kinds, in strict chronological order lest I be criticised for showing favour. Whilst in London, Pete and Dawn travelled to Paris and visited the Eiffel tower and you guessed, he proposed and we are delighted to say Dawn accepted! Pete was very well prepared and had a lovely (well we are told it is lovely, no photo has been forthcoming!) ring at the ready. No details are available yet beyond the engagement, but we are all thrilled and very excited about seeing them in a week or so. Just prior to leaving for England, Pete was successful in obtaining a new position at Gosford Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit so he certainly has plenty to look forward to.
Now for Kate’s news. Kate has accepted a position with Legal Aid in Shepparton as a senior solicitor. We are thrilled (again!) for her and sure she will be very happy.
It seems our family manage very well without us!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Eidsvold to Wallum Reserve

We’ve become rather taken with our camps book as you can tell and so we took a different route to Bundaberg following the stops in the book.
The country we have driven though these past couple of days has ranged from bare, scrubby ground to the beautiful ‘green drought’ we are hearing about on the radio as we drive. In fact we stopped on the side of the road after Biloela to consider our next move as a cattle producer was taking hay from one part of his property to the other side of the road and he stopped his tractor (as you do!) for a chat for fifteen minutes or so. A really friendly man who offered to swap his tractor for our van – we’ve had quite a few offers like that. The man who has the Lenards Chicken franchise in Rockhampton put the keys to the cash register in front of us and offered to swap too! Anyway, the beef farmer was saying how tough times have been for the past five years or so but that his bulls were looking pretty good and we could see how much he really enjoyed his life, drought and all.
We meandered onto Monto which has a sensational coffee and gift shop. The coffee was great and the browsing through the gifts even better! Ian gets this rather forlorn look which clearly indicates we have looked enough so we moved on, hardly damaging the budget allocation at all.
We drove on through to Eidsvold where we camped for the night at the Ceratodus Rest Area and met some other campers. Ian and Bob were in charge of setting the mood with a cosy fire whilst Karen and I enjoyed some liquid refreshment. However it was a dismal task (and fire!) due to the rain which had been fairly consistent throughout the day. The best thing about the rain was that it washed all the mud of the van from the Station which was considerable. We enjoyed their company and learnt a few new tricks from them as they are old hands at this bush camping business and very friendly. Ceratodus is a relocated train station and very interesting and well maintained.
We shopped for food in Eidsvold at a real country butcher and admired their beautifully maintained buildings, gardens and amusing sign in the main street, (apparently no vandalism here – we suspect because everyone knows everyone and would dob big time!) we drove on to Mundubbera and stopped at Binjour Range Rest Area where there was the most spectacular 180 degree view – it just took our breath away. There are no photos as we just couldn’t do it justice. All for free and you can stay there for a night! It was too early to stop for the night so onwards we went through to Ban Ban Springs for lunch where we again caught up with Bob and Karen who were also stopping for lunch. From there we went on to Wallum Reserve which is just out of Bundaberg for the night.

Kroombit Park and Lockenbar Station

We spent two nights at Kroombit Park and Lochenbar Station which is 35km east of Biloela. Kroombit was set up on Lochenbar Station because of the ongoing drought which has forced many landholders to be creative in order to provide some ongoing funds for their properties, whilst waiting for better times. There was a group of school children from Year 8 and 9 enjoying a school camp and also several bus groups of young international visitors. The camp is really well set up, much tidier and cleaner than many caravan parks we visited. On the first night Ian tried his hand at whip cracking and was very successful too. I put it down to his early practice as a parent gently disciplining his children. Yes, please also note his particularly fetching protective eye gear! This comment was greeted with much amusement by the international visitors who asked the ages of our children, I suspect to see if they survived! Later those who have no fear tried their hand at bull riding, we watched and decided not to participate, a very wise decision we think.
When we awoke on the first morning we were greeted by horses trotting past on their way to take the visitors out on a muster. Chooks wander throughout the camp in company with many peacocks. Just when we thought we had seen it all two donkeys amble past!
On our second night we enjoyed a campfire dinner of soup, damper and corned silverside. All delicious and cooked in the coals in camp ovens. The whole park looks like a stockmans bush camp and the tables and seats are cut from timber from the property.
It was certainly a different experience from all the other parks we’ve been to and well worth the visit.


We stayed in Yeppoon enjoying the warmth and sunshine for a week. There are also two patchwork shops which can’t be a bad thing. Two days of weather warm enough to swim were very enjoyable and four days not very warm but still good passed quickly as we come to the last weeks of our holiday.
A highlight (!!) at Yeppoon was a 6ft green carpet snake which was sitting up directly above Ian’s head for some time as we enjoyed drinks with other campers. I can attest to our athletic agility when we looked up and saw it. A snake catcher from a nearby property was summoned and quickly removed the poor snake to live at his property. The heart tablets work too.
On the last day in Yeppoon we awoke to pelting rain and wind so it was definitely time to move on.

Friday, 31 August 2007


After Conways Beach we travelled south to Seaforth which is another unpowered site not unlike Bramston Beach and very enjoyable. We met some great campers and as usual learnt heaps from those folk who have been on the road for much longer than us. Next door we had the one of the biggest Winnibaggo set ups I have seen. Stuart and Pam have been on the road full time for 10 years now and don’t look like stopping. We had a very funny night at the BBQ area with several groups and really enjoyed our stay of three nights. It’s very handy being able to choose your own site we’ve found.
I took some sunrise photos and also photos of some ducks which came to visit every day. Any clues on the name of the white ones would be appreciated!
After Seaforth we went on to Clairview Caravan park to recharge the battery as we thought we might go to St. Lawrence which is unpowered. Fortunately Pam suggested that we fill the water tanks before we left Seaforth as when we arrived at Clairview the water was unpotable and so salty that when you showered you felt like you had just been for a swim in the ocean! The ocean was very rocky, littered with sharp corals and the tide retreats so far out you would need a cut lunch and a compass to find water deep enough to swim anyway. Places like Clairview and Winton and a few others along the way have given a whole new appreciation to our water! We were at Clairview for the eclipse and although it was cloudy we were able to see enough to appreciate the event.
After we left Seaforth we drove to St. Lawrence taking the alternative route due to a fatal truck accident which was very sobering. After the highway was reopened we were quickly overtaken by a long stream of trucks eager to make up for lost time so on a number of occasions Ian pulled over to let them pass. When we arrived at St. Lawrence it was disappointing as it was very dry and dusty. As it was only very early in the morning we drove on to Yeppoon which is nearby to Kinka Beach where we stayed earlier. We thought it would be good to have a look at this part of the coast as we cruised through earlier in our trip. The weather here is now better although all the locals are still saying it’s the coldest winter they can remember. For us it’s quite comfortable although still not warm enough to run with gay abandon into the sea to cool off!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Conways Beach

We spent four nights at Conways Beach doing very little. The weather was beautiful and the beach lovely. Our drive to Conways was spectacular, framed by the canefields where harvesting is now in full swing. The harvesting is all done mechanically now and without the burning we saw when we first travelled to Queensland with the kids some twenty years ago. Cane trains hum along the many narrow railway lines some seeming to run through front gardens and up the main streets like trams in Melbourne carrying their loads in open baskets to the mills. There is one in Proserpine close to Conways where we called in on our way to do the shopping. As we left after our four nights we came across the Variety Bash competitors which certainly added a different flavour to the journey. Some of the cars were very cleverly adapted for the event, like the ‘police’ car complete with flashing lights. They hardly needed an official police escort but there was one anyway.
On to Seaforth as our path winds down to Mackay. There is a huge bikkie gathering in Mackay with a couple of rival gangs so we’ll stay out for the weekend!

Pete and Dawn are in England now enjoying an 'English Summer" holiday. I wonder if their weather is as good as ours!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Funny Dunny Park

You heard it right --- Funny Dunny Park is where we spent a memorable night on Saturday night. Once again, referring to our new best friend “Australia Wide Camps 4” we ventured off to Funny Dunny Park after spending a night in Townsville to recharge the batteries in the van. Well ……. If you have watched any ‘spagetti westerns’ with Clint Eastwood or John Wayne remember the Mexican towns they rode into which were windswept, desolate, dry and had four poles supporting something to provide shade and seats beside a forlorn fireplace and people sitting around looking like they had been there forever. Check out the pictures! That’s pretty much Funny Dunny! We decided to stay anyway just so we could say we had. As you can see it does indeed have a funny dunny which made me very grateful to have one in the van, however Ian said it was very clean.
After we settled in which didn’t take long as we decided not to unhitch the van (or wagon, to keep us in the western theme) we met the fellow travellers. Yes, there were others who made the same decision as us. In fact there were five other groups. Some have chosen to stay for ten days or more and one young man who had a quad bike for transport appears to be a permanent resident. Everyone was very friendly and seemed to be quite content battling the mozzies (in army numbers) and sandflies (in battalions). We were warned by two groups not to leave our shoes outside the van as the DINGOES would visit during the night and take them away, no kidding – so we didn’t!
We had an early tea after investigating the beach which was not very good and expected to retire early when there was a knock at our door and an invitation to join the others around a large and cheery campfire which we accepted. The news was comforting – the sandflies and mozzies would be deterred by the smoke! Ahh - what a great idea. However we had a great night and our hostess cooked a magnificent cake in the camp oven which was delicious and a testament to a true bushie. Even though our surroundings were a little disappointing the warmth and friendship more than compensated and in some ways we were sorry to leave and our neighbours were genuinely disappointed. The cost ---- a three dollar donation in the post box to help pay for water and improvements!
This trip is full of surprises and we are learning not to judge a book by its cover – the flashest parks haven’t been as friendly as Funny Dunny Park.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Bramston Beach

We bought a new book called Australia Wide Camps 4 after feeling somewhat frustrated at always finding the free camps and low cost parks after we had booked into one of the larger more commercial parks. After Wonga Beach we wanted to find more coastal parks and found Bramston Beach in the book. It was the best park we have stayed in yet and very casual. Run by the council the only draw back was we didn’t have any power or phone coverage so it was to be a bit of a test run to see how long we could manage without. We booked in initially for two nights and the caretaker told us to ‘go wherever you like’ so we helped ourselves to a beach front site on grass about 40 yards from the beach, if you don’t mind! There were only a few others there so we spread out a bit and decided we needed more time, extending to five nights. When we arrived the sun was shining and it pretty much couldn’t have been better. We sat out on the grass reading and I sewed for the afternoon. We also went for a long walk along the beach and saw some of the trees uprooted during Cyclone Larry. The park was closed for six weeks after the cyclone as it was very difficult to get man power to clear the area.
On Tuesday we awoke to less than perfect weather and decided to go into Innisfail and visit Paronella Park which had been recommended to us. It is really hard to describe but perhaps the best description is that it was the first theme park in Australia I think, having been opened to the public by Jose Paronella in 1935. It is a Spanish themed castle which had a ballroom, tennis courts, refreshment rooms swimming pools, waterfalls, tortoise and fish ponds and so much more. Check it out on . It was a great experience and something we might not have done if we hadn’t met a lovely family at Undara and chatted to them about where they had been.
Wednesday was not particularly sunny but lovely nonetheless and we relaxed for the day only interrupting our reading and sewing to go for another walk.
On Thursday the sun was back and so we took advantage of the opportunity to wash off the red dust and dirt from the van and car which had caked itself on after the last wash in Mt. Isa. We started at about 9 o’clock and by the time we had finished the car and van nearly everyone else in the park was doing the same thing. We started a trend, then sat back for the rest of the day and watched everyone else!
Bramston Beach is about 20 minutes from Innisfail and one place we will return to for at least the same amount of time and we managed really well without power too!
Friday morning off to Townsville and picking up mail, thanks to our very efficient secretary Katie.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Wonga Beach

First to see the sea and say it! Now back on the coast we had the sounds of the ocean instead of the bush. We arrived at Wonga Beach on Tuesday for a three night stay close to the Daintree area. This time instead of a kangaroos we have three male and three female peacocks who stroll in an out of the caravan areas, never a dull moment!
On Wednesday we went for a walk through a forest up in the Daintree which was recommended by the caravan park operator. We drove from Wonga beach up to the Daintree village and then drove onto a private property called River Home. From there armed with our maps for which we paid $10 each as entry to the property, camera and water (unfortunately, we forgot the Aerogard, oh dear!) we set off. Our trek took us through grazing country with droughtmaster cattle for company and suddenly into the forest. It was absolutely magnificent and we took our time enjoying all the attractions indicated on the map. At the end of the forest we came to a beautiful waterfall complete with fish and tortoises. We had been told we could take bread to feed the fish and they were certainly waiting for us. As soon as Ian threw the crusts in they were jumping out of the water to grab them. The tortoises were a little reticent or frightened of the voracious habits of the fish and waited until they had had their fill before coming out for their share. It was a lovely experience and we reluctantly returned to the car nearly three hours later, again forging (well stumbling across, or in my case falling in!) three little creeks. We could have taken our shoes and socks off but what the heck they dried out later back at the van.
On our return we stopped at the end of the street from the caravan park and watched the harvesting of fish from a large fish farm. We had ordered fresh barramundi at the caravan park and figured that this was where it was coming from. We were fascinated by the process of coaxing the fish with nets attached at each side of the pond by quad bikes which slowly travelled down the length of the ponds. At the end of the pond the nets were anchored across the front and the staff in wet suits scooped the fish into boxes. On Thursday we enjoyed the best fish we have ever tasted!
On Thursday we went up further, crossing over the river by barge and took another self paced tour at The Discovery Centre. This was great too and we took advantage of the personal audio guides which you carry and press to listen to information relevant to the particular place you are standing at. We even remembered the Aerogard which was probably a bit late because all our best bits are covered with mossie bites already! The audio guides also had an indigenous interpretation of each station which was fascinating and we learnt a lot about traditional tucker and medicines and also agricultural practice. We were looking for the cassowary bird but the closest we came was this sign warning us to be careful and to ensure we were “chilled out. not flat out” to preserve this endangered species. Very clever local interpretations of a speed hump sign!
Onward now for a couple of lazy days at Mareeba doing very little as the weather is not expected to be very favourable.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


We arrived in Atherton on Friday from Undara. On the way we drove through Ravenshoe and saw the wind farm. The wind powered generators are huge but silent even as they are rotating.
We then drove on to Atherton to a caravan park with a very pretty outlook onto bush. We were actually on a camping site rather than a van site so therefore were located down the bottom of the park which was lucky as the camping sites are larger, all grass and very private. We even had a resident brush wallaby family. There is one male and four females in the group. The male lives on his own and meets with the ladies occasionally. He popped in for a visit and seemed unpurturbed by our attention.
On Saturday we drove down to Millaa Millaa and visited three falls which were all spectacular, one has change rooms to allow for swimming. It would need to be a very warm day – the water is very cold. We also visited a biodynamic dairy and felt compelled to sample some of the produce purely from a research point of view. We thoroughly enjoyed a piece of orange and chocolate cheesecake and can vouch for the taste and flavour - 12 out of 10! I actually gave the cheesecake 10 out of 10 because I don’t see how you can give more than that, but Ian amended it!
On Sunday we found a market and also a coffee mill which has the most superb range of coffees and also chocolates. We only had coffee and felt very proud of ourselves because we were sorely tempted.
On Monday we went to Yungaburra and Milanda and toured a Dairy Farmers dairy and museum which was really interesting. We learnt a lot about the pioneering families and also the impact the visiting Australian and American troops had on the area during WW2. In Milanda they have a series of mosaics which are really clever and detail the history of the area and the wildlife. The seat was one to admire not to sit in! As the afternoon progressed we meandered back to Atherton and surprise surprise found ourselves in Millaa Millaa again and needing to buy some milk decided to visit the organic dairy again. It seemed unfair to only purchase milk so we had a piece of the cheesecake again (between us of course!)
We really enjoyed the lush green rolling hills and waterfalls. Now back to the coast and the Daintree.

Friday, 3 August 2007


Please check the old posts, I've been able to add the photos now!

We arrived at Undara National Park on Tuesday around 12pm after an interesting (?) road trip. When a map says ‘development road’ what they really mean is a sealed skinny lumpy road with rough edges and wider lumpier bits to escape to when the road trains from the mines, some up to 50 metres long come thundering towards you. Believe me you leave the road completely because they have no intention of either slowing down or moving off the skinny bitumen. It’s their territory although they mostly give you a wave as you sit meekly on the side waiting. It is particularly interesting as you come to a peak if you’re unsure of the road ahead. It’s fairly slow progress but just a part of life out here and all the locals do exactly the same. No-one we have talked to has taken on the road trains (and won!).
Undara is without a doubt a highlight of our trip so far. We booked in for three nights and were busy the whole time. You can book in for activities, take the suggested hikes or just sit back and relax. On Tuesday afternoon we went for an easy hike of 5.5 km and saw some wallabies and clambered up some hills for the most magnificent 360 degree views. In the evening we had booked the sunset tour which took us out spotting for wildlife and watching the sunset whilst we drank champagne after climbing up a peak. We also visited a lava tube for the exit of the bats at sunset.
Each evening they have entertainment around a campfire. Last night there was a sing song which was just great. As we walked to the campfire we could see in the distance a big Aussie flag shining brightly. When we arrived, there was a huge campfire to great us. We had a great night singing lots of Aussie favourites. There was a group of students from Loretto College in Sydney staying in the teepees and they entertained us with a rendition of their school song. They were lovely girls and actually spoke to us ‘oldies’ and enjoy conversation!
Wednesday morning we had booked in for camp breakfast so we set off for the short walk to the campsite which is situated about 500 metres from the centre of Undara and enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast of billy tea, cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, baked beans, toast and more tea sitting on logs with tables made from posts set up right so we each have our own table. It’s a tough life for us here!
Wednesday afternoon we went for a two hour tour of the lava tubes which are large underground tunnels created by the lava flow from a volcano 50kms away. They are truly awesome and really defy description. We have taken heaps of photos but it really is too hard to describe.
After the tour Ian put together a very tasty dinner cooked in his camp oven over the hot coals at our campfire. Lamb hotpot was delicious followed by star spotting as the evening activity. We returned to our campfire and enjoyed coffee with a young family who are also travelling on long service leave. We seem to meet lovely people at every stop which is great.
On Thursday we went for a lovely walk out to the Settlers Hut and back which was enough activity to justify doing nothing much for the rest of the day and justified us eating at the restaurant for our last night. We were very sad to leave and will definitely return.
Check for yourself at
Thanks everyone for your posts, its great to hear from you!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


Just an overnight stop on Monday in Greenvale which is a small town 203 km north of Charters Towers on the dusty Gregory Development Road. The park is a “go anywhere you like mate” park. This town was built to house 220 mine workers by Queensland Nickel Ltd. in 1972 The town thrived for 20 years and the Greenvale Nickel Mine yielded 40 million tonnes of ore. When the mine was exhausted, the little town declined to 16 residents by 1993. In 1994 Melbourne millionaire businessman Chris Delios passed through the town and the next day offered to buy it all from the mining company, thus saving it from potential demolition. Several new mining interests have opened up since then. The picture is at the entrance to the park and is a huge nickel reclaimer.
There is also a monument to Stan Costa outside the Three Rivers Hotel whose famous song of the same name records his time working on the Greenvale Line. Stan wrote 67 songs for Slim Dusty and below the plaque is a tribute to Stan from Slim.
Greenvale also has the distinction of having a sausage tree (Kigelia Pinnata) which is native to South Africa. There are two trees in Townsville at the Botanical Gardens and one in Adelaide Botanical Gardens. The two in Greenvale are the only two others in Australia.
See we cater for all interests on this trip, mining, botany and country music in one day!

Will publish photos later, still poor connection.

Charters Towers

Three nights in Charters Towers - Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a very spacious park – a bit of luxury for this stop. We walked around town on Saturday morning and couldn’t help but notice the similarities with Armidale where Kate and Pete went to uni. Charters has a couple of boarding schools and on Saturday morning the students were in town in school uniforms just as they did in Armidale. Charters also has a lot of lovely old buildings including the stock exchange building which has an open walk thru arcade with a tiled floor not unlike the arcades in the city of Melbourne.
On Sunday we went to the local Argricultural show which was a bit of a disappointment except for the magnificent braham bulls and horses. We had expected, as it was a three day show commencing on Sunday to see some crafts, cooking and all the things we have at home, however it seems the show only really winds up on Monday and Tuesday. Sorry kids no show bags, they don’t start until Monday either.
Every cloud has a silver lining however and while Ian was busy reading (yes reading for pleasure!) I was off exploring the caravan park and decided the camp kitchen looked pretty clean and the benches where the BBQ’s are situated …….. can you see where this is leading? The perfect place to bring out from under the bed one of the boxes of fabric I had brought with me and some I had collected along the way and make a start on Kate’s new quilt! Over the two days I had a very profitable time and cut out about 200 pieces – only about 800 to go on this one. What beautiful surroundings to work in – I even had a little bird perched beside me for a while until he worked out I wasn’t cutting up food.
I'll publish the photos later - very poor connection here.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Back to Cloncurry and on to Richmond and Pentland

After Mt. Isa we returned to Cloncurry for another night to start the journey to the coast. Our next stop was Richmond for one night and then last night to the lovely little (very little!) settlement of Pentland which was a real surprise.
On the way to Pentland we stopped at the pub at Prairie to see if the pictures in the brochure on country pubs were accurate. The photos you see attest to this! The beer and lemon squash were pretty good too! Great publican, a young family man who had run night clubs in Brisbane until coming to Prairie 14 years ago and loving every minute of it. When I returned after getting the camera I remarked that I was unsure if I had locked the car and he replied I would be the only person in town who took the keys out of the ignition! Aaahh life in the bush!
The caravan park was fairly casual, just as we like it. When Ian went in to ask if there was a vacancy he was told yes and pick wherever you like! There were only a few other patrons so we picked out a very nice spot and settled in for the night. The amenities were great and once you’ve been to 19 parks believe me you become an expert.
Whilst we were in Pentland Ian struck up a conversation with our neighbour who proceeded to bring out the display boxes of gems, opals and gold he has collected along his way. He told us he has been on the road for some years and although he doesn’t need the money, fossicking has become his preferred lifestyle. He certainly has some very pretty pieces of ‘bling’ and put our scratchings to shame.
Along the way we have met some interesting vehicles. We have found that as soon as you see the first pilot car looking for somewhere to pull off the road is a good idea. However yesterday we didn’t anticipate a road train coming towards us to be moving quite so fast and have a lovely big stone chip on the front windscreen!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Mt. Isa

What an amazing journey it was to drive here. The country is absolutely breathtaking and all we can say is if you haven’t been here you have to put it on your list of “things to do before I die”. It is “eye candy” nearly all the way. Constantly we are amazed at the tenacity of the settlers who came out here and settled the land. Even now we are struck by the contrast of grazing numbers. At home you can see the cattle and sheep all through the paddocks whereas here cattle pop up in groups of ten or so and then you might go miles and miles without seeing any more, obviously the land supports a lot less per hectare, its very stony and mountainous in parts looking to be more suitable to goats than sheep and cattle. Most of the cattle are Brahman varieties which are so unique in appearance.
We knew we were getting closer to Mt. Isa when a vehicle displaying lights and long wide load signs forced us off the road. The police car was definitely ensuring we stayed on the side of the road until the mining truck on a trailer passed us travelling right down the middle of the road with not too much space to spare. They are so enormous.
After we arrived at the caravan park we went off for our usual visit to the Tourist Information centre which are usually very helpful but this one not so enthusiastic but we came out after helping ourselves to the guides with enough to fill in our day and a half.
On Monday we went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitors centre which was very interesting and also to the Underground Hospital at the Mt. Isa Base Hospital. The hospital was tunnelled out of a hill during the second world war when it was feared the Japanese would bomb Mt. Isa. It was initially excavated with the help of dynamite and then finished with good old hard work. It is in an “E” shape and contained a full theatre set up and was ready to take maternity, surgical and acute patients should the need arise. Many evacuation drills took place, some patients taking the drills so seriously that they insisted on taking all their possessions with them to the underground hospital!
Interestingly the hospital was not formally occupied, except by nurses after the war looking for a quiet cool place to rest after a long shift and was seemingly forgotten. Now it has been restored and is fascinating to see.
The rest of the day we spent relaxing and enjoying the sun which was very pleasant.
Today we had a brake issue with the car resolved and visited the School of Distance Education then returned to Cloncurry for a night. After that we’re heading for the coast after a change in plans (or the “no plan”) after we discovered the Winnebago group of 30 are still following or chasing us and making haphazard bookings difficult. We’ve found out where they’re going so we’re heading off the other way! Makes sense to us.

Monday, 23 July 2007


We arrived in Cloncurry on Saturday for a two night stay. Ian is getting quite used to the road trains which are huge and seem to overtake us with ease. We had the luxury of a drive thru site at the caravan park which is stress free although we’re getting pretty good at this game and the check list we use each stay is getting less use as our confidence grows.
We stocked up on groceries here as Winton was not particularly good for that. Today we went to the John Flynn museum which tied together lots of things we had learnt at Qantas and other places. We also went to a dam here and sat and admired the huge pelicans, heaps of wedge tail eagles and cormorants. It was a welcome oasis from the dry dusty country which is also beautiful at the same time. We are attaching a couple of photos this time including the dam and also one of the termite nests which appear along the road and also far back into the surrounding land in clumps.
Next stop Mt. Isa. So far we’ve covered nearly 7,000 kilometres and for those who are interested our fuel consumption has been just under 18 litres per 100 kilometres

Saturday, 21 July 2007


We’re really in the outback now! Dusty but beautiful terracotta earth and patches of green in all shades surround us. Our caravan park was interesting, brolgas greeted us in the park and the invitation to a campfire dinner and two poets made us feel right at home. Campfire dinners are a great way to meet people and Ian claims ‘he’s cooking dinner’!
After dinner and the poets which are an art form in themselves and each one different but all champion the challenges and victories of the bush with typical Aussie humour.
The water here is from artesian bores and is super charged with sulphur --- walking past the showers and laundry attest to this! We also had no water pressure in the van so we used the facilities here for the first time since South West Rocks. They were quick showers and I decided against doing the washing. Interestingly once the water is boiled it loses the sulphur taste and we were told it is very good for you. We’ll take their word for it.
The housing around Winton is in contrast to the Waltzing Matilda Museum which we walked to from the caravan park feeling in need of some work on the 10,000 steps again. The museum was so impressive we stayed until late and had lunch and tea together. We heard many versions of Waltzing Matilda and learnt a lot about swaggies and even the rules their union adopted!
In the many buildings which comprised the museum we again saw a plug and cord switchboard which we have seen at every museum we’ve visited so far, which I am finding a little disconcerting as I used these at a number of positions over the years – I am now feeling somewhat of a relic too! In fact we are familiar with a number of items in the museums! No comment required from Kate or Pete!
They also had a great textile exhibition here – how fortunate that in the absence of a quilt shop I was able to enjoy quilts on walls instead – I’m not sure how fortunate Ian thought he was though.
As a break from museums we drove out over the clay pans into a National Park seeing billabongs surrounded by dry sparse trees and bushes. To think that people actually worked here is unbelievable. In the museums you see photos of the English women who had to make their homes here and raise their children. Some of the letters they write give us an insight of how hard it was.
On to Cloncurry.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


We arrived in Longreach on Sunday afternoon and found out that our caravan park was offering pickled pork, corned beef and veges for tea and a bush poet to entertain us so of course we booked in, paid our money and settled in on our site. You can tell the country is dry up here, not a blade of grass on the van sites so it’s lucky we could roll out our matting to keep the dust at bay.
Monday morning we went off to the Qantas Founders Museum which was terrific and the tour was very worthwhile. Just to show you I was paying attention I learnt some important facts about the black box. Its orange, located at the back of the plane because that part doesn’t back into mountains and lands last! Its orange not only because it stands out but because that is the international colour for distress. Orange also has a high resistance to fire ---- true dinks that’s what our tour leader told us so think carefully when you choose your seats next time you travel ---- I’m the one at the back!
It was a great place to visit and we watched some really interesting videos about the restoration of the 707 now located at the museum.
Today we started out at the school of distance education which was fascinating and we watched and listened to a year seven class doing their mathematics ---- smart kids, so glad they didn’t ask us for the answers! After the class we toured the school which has residential facilities for 50 students and families for the occasions when the students come in to the school for special occasions such as swimming sports and graduations and classes usually once or twice a year. They have a great library for the students who are allowed forty items each for six weeks at a time and there was plenty of variety for them to choose from including games and construction sets. Each family is given a computer for $250 which is reimbursed by the state government so is really at no cost to the family. Most students go to boarding school when they go on to secondary education and achieve very good results. Nowadays most of the responsibility for supervising the education of the children rests on the mums as governesses are rare because of the poor economy and the drought. When the students come to Longreach for cluster sessions the mums are also in sessions learning too so they can help the children.
Then we went to the Stockman's Hall of Fame and spent the whole day there being amazed by Australians from the early settlers right through to icons of a more recent ilk such as RM Williams. A great display and another really busy day – I’m sure we’ve walked our 10000 steps every day!
Beer o’clock sitting outside the van on our return each day is very welcome. Which brings me to the subject of weather ----- poor you all because we’re wearing shorts and T shirts.
Tomorrow off to Winton for two nights with plenty to see there.

PS Stocky, I bet Christine didn't see your comment about the bra shop, you're in for it now! No we haven't been looking, we've been far too busy checking out the Masonic Halls for you!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Dinner with Dawn Fraser!

What a surprise Barcaldine (Barky to those who know) has turned out to be. We arrived here yesterday after a leisurely drive from Emerald passing through a town called Jericho which has the most fantastic drive-in still in operation with about thirty outdoor speakers and a great covered area with hammocks to lounge in to enjoy the show .If only we could have stayed for the show. They also have a great museum in the back of the post office – free of charge but a donation would be great and across the road sculptures to depict the 40 year treck of the Israelites to Jericho. Absolutely fantastic and no vandalism or graffiti to be seen.
Barcaldine is so friendly, you feel like you have stepped back in time in the best possible way. On Friday night at the caravan park there is free billy tea and damper (the best we’ve tasted), supplied by Tom Lockie who runs Artesian Country Tours and talks about his tour, telling ripper yarns and bush poetry. He says even his lies are true and we believe him. Then there is musical entertainment from Graham Rodger who is well renowned as a country singer and has won many awards at Tamworth. It was a great night.
Today we explored Barcaldine and went to a museum which opens at 7am every morning except Christmas Day and Good Friday. We’ve never seen anything like it and they even had an iron lung! I can’t begin to describe what they had in this place you’ll hear about it when we come home. Admittance via an honesty tin of $3.00 each. Nearly two hours later we emerged thinking we could spend another two hours and hardly notice the time.
We had a steak in one of the local pubs. There are plenty – some rebuilt after a number of fires – one in 1909 destroyed 6 pubs, after that they formed a local fire brigade – good move! Considering the quality of the transport to the fires it comes as no surprise to find out that there were many other equally catastrophic fires over the years to follow!
Whilst we were sitting on the veranda enjoying our lunch some local lads about 13 years old rode past and said “g’day, how you going! as they rode past to play league footy. The pub is directly opposite the present site of the tree of knowledge where folklore says the Labor Party was formed – well next week THEY’RE MOVING IT TO BRISBANE to put it in a glass cabinet – beurocracy strikes again!
Everyone in this town is on for a chat – the butchers were in a hurry to go home ‘cos they only get Saturday arvo and Sunday off, but they were still up for a chat as we bought some meat for tomorrow night. The lady in the patchwork shop was chatty too (probably ‘cos I helped the local economy quite a lot – well she was having a 25% off sale).
After lunch we went to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre – fantastic as well and the rest of the afternoon was gone.
Our park is the stop for a huge group of Winnebago travellers and the park turned on the same entertainment as last night and a sausage sizzle. Dawn Fraser is travelling with this group so yes we did have dinner with her. She has the biggest German Shepard I have ever seen so she is a very safe traveller – great lady, most unassuming. The mayor also came to dinner and spoke to us all, we were in very good company tonight all round.
If you can come to Barky allow plenty of time, there is so much to see, we’ll be back!
Off to Longreach tomorrow.

We love hearing from you as you read our blog ---- great to hear from Glen and Brenda -- you have to do this too!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Emerald at Fairbairn Dam

We arrived here on Saturday morning and have stayed at the caravan park situated on the area immediately surrounding the dam. This place is the perfect staging point for fisherman – every second vehicle has not only a caravan but also a tinny on the roof. We have enjoyed watching the process of hitching the tinnies on the roof with a variety of pulleys both hand and electric, and disassembling the trailers used to take them down to the water, some hand made others very sophisticated ---- we won’t be getting one any time soon however.
We discovered the sapphire fields on Sunday at Sapphire and failed to make our fortune although it was an interesting process of sifting, sifting, washing and hoping a huge sapphire would jump out and say ‘take me home’. The areas around the fields look rather like craters where many have tried, some very successful others not to make their fortunes.
Monday was a lazy day (we need those sometimes!) and enjoyed the sunshine which has now been very kind to us overall.
After talking to fellow campers we decided to try our hand at Rubyvale in pursuit of ‘bling’. We took a mine tour there and learnt how hard it is to go underground searching for the elusive gems and decided against new careers. Areas of Rubyvale have tunnels everywhere which plays havoc with roads and even electricity poles which have a tendency to lean at a dangerous angle with monotonous regularity and interrupt the power supply frequently. However we tried again and ……….. failed but it was all good fun.
Wednesday was car service day in Emerald which seems to show that the pace is different here – it was finished at 4pm after being left at 9am, however I found a patchwork shop to amuse myself. They had some lovely fabrics which did say ’take me home’ so to avoid disappointment I obliged. We also both had hair cuts which really shows how long we’ve been away.
Today we went to the Agquip show and it was fascinating. We spent ages watching dogs rounding up cattle with only a short command or whistle to guide them. We also watched bull sales and horse events and before we knew it we had been there all day.
We’ve had a great stay here and now we’re ready to tackle Barcaldine and Longreach.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Kinka Beach and Crocodiles

We’ve settled into a really nice caravan park at Kinka Beach being really fortunate to find a spot at all along this part of the coast as school holidays are making vacancies difficult to find. Our theory and desire not to plan are being tested and we have even booked our next stop in Emerald partly because we need to have the car serviced. We will then go on to Longreach after doing some prospecting for sapphires at Emerald and Rubyvale.
However on to what we have been doing here first. We arrived on Monday and had a temporary site until yesterday so we spent some time settling in to our new site. In the afternoon we went for our 10,000 steps along the beach even with our bathers on hoping for a swim only to discover that with the tide out we would spend our 10,000 steps just trying to reach the water and then only knee deep! We abandoned that effort and walked along the beach watching the hundreds of crabs scuttling along the sands.
Today we went to the Crocodile Farm and as you can see we both held a baby croc long enough to be photographed. The tour was terrific and we learnt heaps. The crocs we saw today came with names to describe their character such as Wally (Wally Lewis). We were amazed at how soft the
belly of the croc was compared to the hard almost armour like feel of the back and head.
Tomorrow we’re off to discover Rockhampton.

Sorry no topless photos - I'm in charge of the blog! - Sue

For those who are following the comments - Kate found her phone!

Saturday, 30 June 2007


As promised news from Bargara. We arrived here after a really easy cruise from Hervey Bay, passing through Childers on the way. The caravan park is just great and by far the friendliest we have come across but perhaps part of that is due to the improvement in the weather. On the first day we settled in and went for a long walk. There is a lovely walk along the shore here and you are encouraged by the markers along the way to attain 10,000 steps which we have done each day. There are lots of interesting historical things to see as you walk and the ocean is of course ever changing.
We have visited the Bundaberg brewed drink factory where we sampled all the lovely drinks (non alcoholic!) and made some purchases.
We hit the hard stuff at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery (purely for education purposes of course!) and made some purchases for those members of our family who enjoy the products.
On our last day here we went to watch the coopers in action and marvelled at the expertise it takes to make these barrels.
As we promised ourselves we spent each afternoon enjoying the sun and we are really feeling as though this is the start of our holiday.
Tomorrow …. Well we’re not too sure where we’ll end up perhaps somewhere near Gladstone. It’s a tough life and we’re not big on decisions!

Thanks to everyone who has posted -----

Kate, we didn't feel it necessary to announce our return to home sweet home ---- unlike you we were able to recognise we were already there!

Dave --- good luck for the new position --- I'm sure you will consult on a wide range of issues!

David and Annie --- glad to hear you shared our pain --- we'll be recovered enough to do it again on the way back!

and last but not least APC --- isn't it amazing how the Martin's leave home just when there is some serious CFA stuff to do, we're masters at it now!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Hervey Bay

Hi everyone,
It’s been quite a long time in between blogs but the weather has been so bad we haven’t been able to do very much. However we had a great stay in Hervey Bay although not on the beach, we still went on to see and do some things we would not do at home and some we would --- I found two huge patchwork shops and walked out empty handed – I really need to find something for Ian to do ! We enjoyed one walk along the coast and sat on the boardwalk for an afternoon and admired the good work of the City.
We had a great dinner with Annie and David King and their boys. David used to work with Ian ‘back in the good old days’ at the Shire and City so it was a great night of reminiscing for them and Annie and I gossiped too. The two boys were very tolerant of us, great company and our evening was most enjoyable. There was plenty of wine consumed especially when David told us of the great service available at Hervey Bay. All you do is ring and a car arrives with two drivers – one drives your vehicle home and then collects the driver. All for $20.00! What a bargain!! A couple of Panadol and plenty of water and Ian and I woke up just fine to the sound of ……. more rain.
We admitted defeat and went to the movies and saw Oceans 13. It was great and we need to hire the other Oceans to see them too.
We’ve moved on to Bargara which is about ten minutes out of Bundaberg to the best caravan park yet and the best weather so we’ll talk about all of that in the next blog.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Cruisin' around .......

Well we’ve given up waiting for good weather so we’re making our own fun. Today we went on a canal cruise and saw where all the rich and famous live including Grant and Lisa Kenny and also saw the vessel Steve Irwin was travelling on when he had his unfortunate meeting with a stingray. It was moored outside the house purchased to provide mooring for the vessels used for research and filming by Steve Irwin and now being carried on by the rest of his team. Tomorrow is the launch of the new whale spotting vessel which was also moored at the same spot today. It is very impressive, as is the home which is used as a guest house, as Steve and his family preferred to stay at their own home. As part of the cruise today some very eager pelicans arrived on cue for their first of three feeds for the day and left immediately our host turned the bucket containing the fish upside down indicating the feeding was over for the time being.
Tomorrow is our last day and …….. we will swim!!!!!!!!!
PS Please stop praying for rain here!

PPS Thanks for the comments ..... no we're not awake at 3.30am ---- must work that out --- thanks Dave trust an IT man to be so picky!!!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


Hi everyone from Maroochydore,
We’re in a well located park here and plan to explore all the old haunts we used to go to when the kids were small(er) and some new ones as well. Tomorrow we’re going to the market at Eumundi because I love to shop and it hasn’t happened yet!
We’re also going to have a swim in the ocean really soon even if it’s cold ‘cos we’ve come all this way for the beach and we will defy the weather which still is not terrific, but better than home - and do it. We may well walk on water to do this but it’s happened before so we can do it too.
We’ve taken (well Ian has) some sunset pics one from South West Rocks which we are putting on today - no sunrises (we’re not usually conscious that early!).
Thanks for all your comments – its great to hear from you.

Saturday, 16 June 2007


The weather had been too cold to stay at the van so we took off for a drive and another first, picked up a young hitchhiker just outside Stuarts Point. After discussing the Rugby (always a good opening line in NSW especially when Qld. won!), he suggested that we should take the scenic road to Yarrahapinni Mountain Lookout. At the mention of the steep incline to achieve this and the unmade road with some water to travel through Ian’s eyes glazed over with joy and off we went! He has been dying to do some off road stuff. That’s why we didn’t get an off road van!
It was however a wonderful drive and we discovered that the view was just as our young traveller had described and we also found the wonderful ceramic monument created by members of the two aboriginal clans who have ties to the area. All the parks we have been to have been very well maintained by the Parks and Wildlife Department and very informative.