Travel News – Multiple States

Bushman’s Rest, Lake Cullulleraine – Weethalle Showground – Narrabri – Scarborough (South Australia – Queensland)

20161223  Saying goodbye to our camping buddies Charles and Joy at World’s End Reserve, we followed the Goyder Highway east through rolling hills, golden fields of wheat and endless sheep pastures. The Murray River soon appeared on our right, and from the top of the Golden Limestone Cliffs, we looked out on the swollen river. Flood waters had breached the banks and spread out through the river red gums on the broad floodplain to the far cliffs. It was wonderful to see the mighty Murray so full and replenished by recent rains. There was a downside to the flooding, though. The many scenic bush camps dotted along the river were under all that floodwater.

Consequently we motored on, following the meandering river east and crossing it just beyond Renmark via the Paringa Bridge. This heritage listed bridge has a single railway line in the centre (now disused), with a narrow road lane on each side of it. A lift span allows river traffic to pass underneath. The road lane felt very tight for the Kruiser and we were glad it wasn’t any wider.

A little way down the road, we crossed into Victoria, intending to stay at a bush camp on the border. The Landy, though, was showing an outside temperature of 38C and rising, and we opted instead for a powered site. We spent the night beside Lake Cullulleraine at the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park with the aircon keeping us cool and comfortable. The next morning was overcast with a forecast of rain. It was our wedding anniversary and we stayed on a second day beside the lake to celebrate.

img_3089Between the small towns of Goolgowi and Rankins Springs on the Mid Western Highway, we were happy to sit a long way back from a caravan that was travelling along at our pace. Suddenly, the van tilted and pulled over to the roadside, having lost a wheel. We stopped and gave them a hand to find the wandering wheel, got their details and went ahead to Rankins Springs to arrange a tow vehicle to get them into nearby Griffith where the broken wheel studs could be replaced. We were the first on hand to help them, and two other caravans pulled up to offer help as well. Aussies are a great bunch, quick to pitch in and do what they can when someone’s in trouble, especially for travellers on the side of the road.

That night, we camped in the showgrounds of the small town of Weethalle, among a group of rustic buildings facing a white-fenced trotting track sitting idle between infrequent race meetings. A local contact person was very helpful in opening up the facilities and making sure we were comfortable for the night.

From Lake Cullulleraine in upper Victoria, we had three big motoring days that took us home by Christmas Day, firstly 547kms to Weethalle in New South Wales, then 578kms to Narrabri where we stayed the night with Deb and Stu, and the final leg of 611kms to home. North of Narrabri, broad sheets of water lying in the paddocks and across the road at one point was evidence of recent rains. We’d crossed three State borders in four days to spend the festive day with family.

Since commencing in 2014, we’ve travelled 65,740kms with the van. Here are some facts about our overlanding to WA this year:

2016-overview

“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – The Landy 

The Landy

The Landy and Kruiser

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Northern Territory, Travel News - Queensland, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mundrabilla Roadhouse – Nullarbor Bush Camp (Western Australia)

8/12/16  Di and I left the bush camp at Woorlba East heading for our next overnight stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, about 90kms short of the South Australian border. We’d arranged to meet up again with Charles and Joy there.

There was just a barely noticeable lightness to the rig on the drive which I put down to a breeze that was blowing the grass around outside, but we didn’t realise just how windy it had become until pulling in at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse for fuel. A strong westerly tail wind had come up during the morning, giving us a push along. It was that kind of wind you had to lean into to walk against, and opening the car door was a feat of strength and determination.

img_2480While fuelling, we could see just ahead an immense column of smoke from a bushfire ignited by lightning strikes the day before. It looked to be a monster, fed by the strong wind conditions. And, strangely, sitting on top of the high column of heat and smoke was an immense cumulus cloud that boiled in on itself, looking very angry. Whether it was the cause of the bushfire or the effect of it was hard to tell. We finished fuelling and headed on, learning later at Mundrabilla that shortly after we’d gone through, the fire had changed direction causing the closure of the Eyre Highway for the rest of the day and night.

img_9821 It was certainly a day for avoiding Nature’s wrath. Firstly the bushfire and then, at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, we waited out a widespread warning of severe thunderstorm and damaging hail. The rig was still hitched up and the plan was to head under the servo awning if the hail hit. But, fortunately, the storm didn’t eventuate in our area – just the strong winds that rocked and shook the van all afternoon. Charles and Joy went further on to Eucla while we stayed the night at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.

On the way into WA in July, I’d played all the holes on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course, the world’s longest course, apart from two and had also missed getting my card stamped at a third hole. Now that we were going back again, I dusted off the versatile 5-iron, played the remaining holes at Eucla and Border Village at my usual level of golfing excellence, and had the missing stamp inserted at Mundrabilla. My scorecard was full and I’ll be collecting my certificate at Ceduna.

Unfortunately, the rain that prevented us from doing the Old Eyre Highway between Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village in June, again put paid to doing the stretch on the way back. Bummer! It’ll have to keep until next time.

We stopped for lunch at the 52km marker on the Nullarbor and decided to stay the night, tucked away beside a gravel heap a couple of hundred metres from the highway and near the ocean cliff. SA National Parks are serious about keeping vehicles away from the cliff edge. They not only install bollards to block vehicle access, but scarify rocks up on the tracks as well.

Crossing the WA/SA border took us into different time zones, and clocks were reset to SA time.

Don’t forget to turn your clock back. I’m going to turn mine back to when I was twenty.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mt Gambier (South Australia)

17/05/16  From Hamilton, we headed 134 kilometres west across the South Australian border to Mt Gambier and set up the van in the showgrounds. Two days extended to three to allow us to see the local attractions. We liked the town, its gardens and autumn leaves reminding us of Toowoomba, back in Queensland.

The Blue Lake and Valley Lake on the edge of town are quite spectacular crater remnants of volcanic activity believed to have occurred only 5,000 years ago. They are among the youngest volcanoes in Australia. It would have been an impressive sight for the locals when they blew their top. Both lakes are filled with ground water to the level of the surrounding water table, and Blue Lake supplies the town with very good quality drinking water.

Leaving the Kruiser at the showgrounds, we took a drive the second day to Nelson on the coast just across the border in Victoria, and looked around the Discovery Bay Coastal Park where Di had fun spotting lots of bird life. Following the coastline back into South Australia, we stopped off at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park and Ewens Ponds Conservation Park, both considered to be wetlands of international importance. The crystal clear waters of both ponds have been slowly filtering through the limestone over thousands of years, forming the ponds’ features and creating spectacular and deep underwater environments for diving and snorkelling. It was way too cold for us to consider getting in, but we could still appreciate the scenery from dry land.

Still following the coast road west, we went through the tiny coastal villages of Brown Beach and Riddoch Bay to picturesque Port MacDonnell where we had a great meal at Periwinkles Café on the foreshore. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area. The remainder of the afternoon’s sightseeing was cut short by a sudden thunderstorm that came across during lunch, and we headed back to Mt Gambier and the van.

The third day included a visit to the Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as the Sunken Garden, a short distance from our showgrounds camp. It was once an underground cave formed through dissolution of the limestone by rain and ground water, and the top of the chamber later collapsed downwards creating the sinkhole. The build-up of soil over time created a perfect environment for a garden at the bottom. A similar sinkhole is in the centre of town right beside the town hall, called the Cave Garden, and features a light show at night.

“A volcano may be considered as a cannon of immense size.” — Oliver Goldsmith, Goldsmith’s Miscellaneous Works (1841)

Categories: Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hay To Hamilton – Mallee Country (New South Wales – Victoria)

10/05/16  Heading west from Hay in NSW, we crossed the Murray River into Victoria at Tooleybuc via the quaint historic bridge that was designed to rise up to let paddle steamers through. Regrettably, none was to be seen, of course, but it wasn’t hard to picture one churning down the river, bellowing smoke from its stack and steam from the whistle.

With the scenery mostly unchanging and monotonous, podcasts and albums had copped a flogging on the drive. Before leaving home, I’d stocked up on a lot more “Conversations with Richard Fidler” podcasts from ABC Radio which we’d found great for passing the time while we tootle down the road.

Further south on the Sunraysia Highway (sounds like the road is sponsored by a dried fruit company, doesn’t it), we overnighted at a camping ground in the small Mallee country town of Lascelles. It was a pleasant spot, and very conveniently located beside the old Minapre Hotel. We were both knackered after the long drive and, up for a meal cooked by someone else, we tucked into a delicious home-made steak and roasted veg dinner, washed down with cold beer and good conversation from Wally, the publican. The population of the town was 44, Wally could name each one, and he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else because it’s a great lifestyle. Good on him.

South of Lascelles the following day, the country changed and we were soon passing through very picturesque sheep and cattle grazing country with the Grampian Mountains in the background. From dead flat and dry to green mountains, it’s amazing how the country quickly changes.

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want – Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Homeward Bound (Multiple States)

15/12/15  We’d intended returning home to Redcliffe in March for a month or so to catch up with everyone, but decided instead recently to be back for Christmas after almost eight months travelling.

From McLaren Vale, we drove north to Peterborough via the M2 Expressway that took us through the heart of Adelaide. It seemed to be the most direct route and I expected it to be like Brisbane where expressways from south, north or west take you quickly across the city. But the M2 soon changed IMG_0818from a fast multi-lane expressway to a clogged dual lane urban road with lots of traffic lights and lots of city traffic that slowed us to a stop-start crawl. I’d commented previously on the poor state of the country roads in South Australia, and we now found that the ones in Adelaide are very ordinary as well. I came to call them “Hallelujah Roads” because I kept saying “Jesus Christ!!” as I drove along. I’ve come to really appreciate the good roads we have in Queensland after spending time in South Australia.

From the overnight stop at Peterborough, we travelled the next morning 300kms north-east on the Barrier Highway to Silverton, just out from Broken Hill. I wanted to see the Mad Max Museum but, as things go, it was closed the afternoon we arrived. We had lunch at the rustic Silverton Pub and looked around the ruins and standing buildings of the old mining town before setting up for the night at Penrose Park on the edge of town. We’d driven all that day through light drizzly rain and the rig was mucky brown where the diesel exhaust had stuck to the wet van and car. So, after setting up camp, we got stuck in to washing them down to a squeaky clean result.

Another early start the following day had us heading to Broken Hill for fuel and then east, still on the Barrier Highway, through Wilcannia to a free camp at Meadow Glen Rest Area, 50kms west of Cobar. It was a large bush area set back from the highway with a shady cover of pine trees. We were the only ones there apart from a few goats and a young forlorn looking black mickey bull in need of company, who stayed nearby all night.

The country we’d come through in the last two days was low and flat, with very sparse vegetation and, apart from lots and lots of feral goats on the side of the road or family groups of emus crossing from one side to the other, there wasn’t much of interest, so we had the music and podcasts cranked up.

On the plus side, the roads in north-west New South Wales were now so much better than those we came across in South Australia, and travelling became much more relaxed and a little quicker.

Feral Goats (NSW)

Feral Goats (NSW)

Native Australian fauna doesn’t mix well with moving motor vehicles. Lots of kangaroo and emu roadkill needed to be avoided as we travelled along, but interestingly we didn’t see one instance of a run-in between a goat and a vehicle. Goats seem to have enough smarts to move a little away from the roadside as you approach and don’t try to cross in front of you, unlike those crazy suicidal emus and kangaroos that have no road sense at all. In fact, goats seemed quite indifferent to our presence in their domain.

At one stage, we pulled in to a rest area for a cuppa and were greeted by a group of wild goats that had taken over the shade shelter and were standing up on the seats and tables. They’d made themselves quite at home and had even worked out how to operate the push tap on the side of the water tank to get a drink for themselves. While not at all bothered by our presence, they showed great interest in the biscuits we were eating.

From Meadow Glen Rest Area, we turned north at the nearby town of Cobar and went on through Bourke to overnight at Barringun near the Queensland border and south of Cunnamulla. To describe Barringun as a town would be much too generous. It comprises a small pub on one side of the road and on the other side, the Bush Tucker Inn roadhouse that we camped beside for the night. While setting up, we were greeted by the local welcoming committee – a Shetland pony that followed us around nibbling at our clothes, a couple of sheep that came over to check out the van before wandering off looking for grass, the biggest feral pig I’ve ever seen, and a couple of ravenous emus that just freaked us out. There’s something evil about an emu. Power was available at the Bush Tucker Inn, which was the reason we pulled in there. It was very hot and humid and, while we set up, the air-con was cranked up to the max. We then beat a hasty path across the road to the pub which offered a limited range of drinks from an esky in the room out back. All that mattered was that they were nice and cold. We had a couple of drinks and a chat with the bloke behind the bar who was the brother of the licensee and helping out there on weekends. In response to our question, he advised that the population of Barringun was seven, after counting through the residents of his side of the road and the other. It’s great how in country towns they know everyone by name.

Cunnamulla - "The Cunnamulla Fella"

Cunnamulla – “The Cunnamulla Fella”

The following morning, just north of Barringun on the Mitchell Highway, we crossed back into the Land of the Proper Coloured Rego Plates and went on to Cunnamulla, made a right-hand turn east on the Balonne Highway and on through Bollon to St George. That night was spent at the Pelican Rest Tourist Park. It had become way too hot to consider free camping, and we were more than happy to genuflect once again to the God of Air-conditioning and to also cool off in the park’s swimming pool. It can be a tough life pioneering around the West and you’ve got to get it when you can.

From St George, we followed the Moonie Highway through to Dalby, then the Warrego Highway east to Jondaryan where we’d intended overnighting at the Woolshed complex. But now being so close to home, we decided to push on all the way.

Crossing The Toowoomba Range - Nearly Home!

Crossing The Toowoomba Range – Nearly Home!

During our spur-of-the-moment return trip home, we had travelled through three States (South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland) in four days, and through three time zones (6:00pm in SA is 6:30pm in NSW and 5:30pm in QLD). Which I guess means we got back the extra half hour that we aged when entering Northern Territory from Queensland back in July.…I don’t know, I’m starting to confuse myself now with the Maths but, still, would like to believe I’m feeling just that little bit younger. Anyway, the clocks have been reset, the jerry cans on the roof of the Land Rover are back to fading at their normal rate, and we’re home again…

“Travel does not exist without home….If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.” ― Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

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Colac Colac – Bright (Victoria) – Wagga Wagga (New South Wales)

1/02/2015  Australia Day was celebrated at Colac Colac with the caravan park managers, Melissa and Paul, putting on a BBQ, the proceeds of which would go to the local Rural Fire SIMG_5306ervice. The park was very crowded for the Australia Day long weekend, with many family groups arriving in vans and camper trailers on the Friday. The BBQ was followed later in the afternoon by a kids Boat Race along Corryong Creek at the back of the park using small toy sailboats provided by Paul. After many elimination heats, the winner was decided and earned a bag of lollies as the prize. Those eliminated also got a lolly bag. Everyone had a very enjoyable Australia Day.

Weeping WillowsCamping note: Don’t camp under a Weeping Willow tree. They do actually weep, small drops of sap from the leaves which is sticky and gets over absolutely everything. Fortunately, though, it is easy to wash off as I found when I washed both the Land Rover and the Kimberley Kruiser. We moved camp away from the willow for the final few days there.

On 29/01/2015, we headed back to Bright to see Ian, Leslie and Sue again, putting the van up once more behind the derelict cottage across from their house. It was great to spend time with them again and to share a couple of lovely meals, especially the very excellent local pizzas that we had on the last night. Pizza is good anytime but it’s especially great when cooked properly.

After two days in Bright, we were on our way again.

When planning our trip around Australia, Di and I had always intended to fly back home to Scarborough every few months or so from wherever we were so that we could catch up with family and friends. We had been looking into flights during February but airfares were so expensive that we decided it would be cheaper and far more enjoyable to take our time and drive back instead.

So, we put the morning sun on the driver’s side and headed northwards, in contrast to what so far had been a southerly journey. We took the Hume Highway to Wodonga and Albury, and then turned left onto the Olympic Highway to Wagga Wagga.

My trusty Aldi-brand computer table that I’ve had since 2013 as an in-car navigator using Hema 4WD maps in the Memory Maps app finally gave up the ghost, and unfortunately corrupting some of our log of the route travelled to date. In its place, I loaded the app and maps onto a Samsung Tab 4 that Rupert Murdoch kindly sent me recently in return for my annual subscription to his online “The Australian” newspaper. Very decent of him, I thought, particularly as the Samsung was worth more than the annual subscription. The timing was just right as well.

The short journey north from Bright to Wagga Wagga took us through quickly changing countryside, with the land becoming drier and flatter as the southern highlands receded in our mirrors. Wagga Wagga surprised us with its size, and it sported most of the stores that can be found inIMG_5348 just about every other reasonably large city. We spent two nights next to the Murrumbidgee River, flowing swiftly due to a release of water from storage in nearby Lake Burrinjuck. The river flats were very wide and we could only imagine how immense the river might be in flood. Enormous old river gums lining the banks would surely predate the arrival of the First Fleet many times over.

Categories: Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , ,

Corryong (Victoria) To Thredbo (New South Wales)

17/01/15

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From our camp at Colac Colac Caravan Park, a few minutes’ drive west of Corryong, we went on a day trip to Mount Kosciuszko which on the map looked to be just up the road a wee bit. We followed the Alpine Way to the small town of Khancoban that sits along the shores of Khancoban Pondage, a 3km long lake that forms part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. The town was built specifically to house the workers of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which commenced in 1949. Unlike the higher altitude lakes and impoundments of the Scheme, Khancoban, at only 298m altitude, is more dairy country than high country. The tourist material stated that this area is arguably the best cattle country in Australia, and we had to agree. The pastures were lush and the cattle very fat. With the awesome backdrop of Australia’s highest mountains, the scenery was stunningly beautiful, though unfortunately no snow at this time of year.

From Khancoban, the Alpine Way began to wind through tall mountain forests and steep narrow ravines. After a short distance, we came to Murray 1 Power Station, the second largest power station in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, with 10 turbines each capable of producing enough electricity to supply over 95,000 homes. We had a look around and a quick coffee, then continued up into the Snowy Mountains.

Adjacent to the Alpine Way, Geehi Flats Campground is sited on the banks of Swampy Plains River and surrounded by spectacular mountain forest. Before 1960, the flats at Geehi were used as a base before moving cattle into the high country during summer. Located in the campgrounds is Geehi Hut built by Ken Nankervis and his brother in 1952 for grazing and fishing. The hut is constructed from river rocks with three rooms, and the floor is a mixture of concrete and dirt. Beside Geehi Hut is Tyrell’s Hut, originally built for shepherds and now a standing skeletal ruin, having lost its vertical slab sides. 

Another 20km along the Alpine Way, we came to Tom Groggin Station, the property where Jack Riley (aka The Man From Snowy River) lived between 1884 and 1914. The property is an island of privately owned land within the national park, and unfortunately does not permit visitors, despite its historical significance. Just beyond the property, we drove into Tom Groggin Horse Camp, one of many such camps that provide overnight camping and corralling for riders in the national park. I was again struck by a bout of gold fever, however the narrow flowing waters of the Murray River would not yield up any glint beyond lots and lots of mica (Fool’s Gold). Tom Groggin Campground just a short distance further on is the last point of access to the Murray River before the Alpine Way changes direction and heads east and the Murray continues southward to its wellspring high in the mountains. That is the point where the squiggly border between New South Wales and Victoria changes to a straight line that shoots across to the east coast. The wellspring can be accessed on foot from the Alpine Way via the Cowombat Track, but we lacked the time and energy necessary to undertake this walk. It wasn’t until later that we learned that it could also be accessed on foot from the south via the MacFarlane Flat Track…that would have been prophetic as I’d probably have ended up flat on my back if I’d attempted it!

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Towong (Victoria) – Tooma – Tumbarumba – Jingellic (New South Wales) and Tintaldra (Victoria)

15/01/2015  We took a leisurely drive today from our camp at the Colac Colac Caravan Park, through nearby Corryong to Towong where we stopped in at the racecourse to see the historic century-old grandstand. The very picturesque racecourse and grandstand were used in the filming of the movie, Phar Lap.

Just beyond Towong, we crossed the Murray River into New South Wales. The scenery was spectacular, with rolling green pastures of very fat Black Angus cattle.

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On the banks of the Tumbarumba Creek, the small rural community of Tooma centres around the old Tooma Inn, established in 1879, and the adjacent General Store. Hoping for a cleansing ale, we had a look through the inn but encountered not a soul except for an angry dog out back. Minus the ale, we continued on to Tumbarumba, about 35kms north.

On the way, we stopped at the Southern Cloud Memorial Lookout on the Tooma Road, seven kilometres north. The crash of the Southern Cloud, on 21 March 1931, was Australia’s first commercial air disaster and the lookout is a permanent commemoration, at a spectacular site on Bald Hill, overlooking the Maragle and Tooma valleys. Far in the distance, we could see the north ridge of Mt Kosciuszko.

A short distance up the road, we had a look at some great bush camping spots at Paddy’s River Flats and Henry Angel, and drove the short distance in to Paddy’s River Falls, a gushing waterfall about fifteen metres high. A path descended from the upper lookouts at the top of the falls to the end of the track a short distance before the base of the falls, but it would have been a bit difficult for Di to manage so we contented ourselves with taking photos from the lookouts above.

IMG_4379A short stop for lunch at Tumbarumba, and we continued on through Mannus State Forest to Jingellic, located near a crossing on the upper Murray River. The Bridge Hotel was established in 1925 and below the hotel is a camping ground on the banks of the river.

After passing through Walwa, we viewed Pine Mountain which is argued to be the largest monolith in Australia at 1.5 times bigger than Uluru. The gigantic granite monolith was uplifted to its present height of 1062m more than 2 million years ago. Since then erosion has highlighted the steep eastern side, established several creeks, and in the upper area, created small rock pools which contain shrimps and tadpoles despite annual drying, and large granite ‘marbles’ 2-3.5m in diameter.

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Across the river and down the Murray River Road, we next came to the small town of Tintaldra, located on the upper reaches of the Murray. The village was first established in the early 1860s as a customs duty collection point for the colony of Victoria prior to Federation. We spread some wealth at the nicely renovated pub, but unfortunately the Tintaldra store, constructed in 1864 with rough-hewn River Red Gum beams and rafters and walls made from vertical slats of Stringybark timber, was closed.

It was then back to camp, down the road from Corryong. For much of the drive, the mountain and valley scenery was absolutely spectacular, and during the latter part, we’d followed along next to the Murray River and had driven in to a number of very picturesque riverside camping spots.

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Mallanganee to Wallangarra (New South Wales to Queensland)

 

IMG_784704/10/2014 (Peter): At Ballina, we had a change of travel plans. Normally, we’re not much into detailed planning for our travels and tend to make decisions about the next destination or stopover as we go or even the night before. However, we realised that we had left it too late to head up to the tropical north of Queensland and then across into Northern Territory as it would be much too hot by the time we got there at our leisurely pace. We’d also be running into the Wet Season up there. So we have now changed tack and are going to do the Big Lap in a clockwise direction instead. We now intend to head south to meet the Murray River as near to its source as we can and follow it through to its mouth in South Australia.

We left Ballina on Thursday 02/10 and overnighted on the sports oval at Mallanganee, which was conveniently located next to the town’s only pub. Despite the cook ringing in to quit her job that very evening, the publican managed to scare us up some huge hamburgers and chips which went down very well with a few cleansing beverages. Mallanganee is a small town of around 200 people, nestled against the side of a little green valley up in the mountains. There’s a very nice curio/gift store there that is well worth a visit. We stayed on for a second night as the place was so pleasant.

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The drive from Mallanganee to Tenterfield along the Bruxner Highway took us up the Great Dividing Range and onto the New England Tableland. It was slow and steep and twisty, but very scenic. We camped at the Seven Knights Caravan Park at Tenterfield only because it had drive-through sites (my reversing skills are still very much in development).

Caravanning 101 Lesson: If the 4 unlabelled 240V power switches on a power pole are all set in the same position, don’t necessarily assume that they are OFF. After setting up camp and plugging into power, it took me a full 15 minutes of frustration to track our no power problem back to the power outlet switch itself. Turns out all four switches on the pole had been left in the ON position (great health and safety practice) and I’d turned mine to OFF after plugging in! After setting up power, we visited the Tenterfield Railway Museum at the old railway station (very interesting and lovingly maintained by volunteers) and the Tenterfield Saddler shop, and had a drink and cheese platter at the recently renovated 1940s-era Commercial Hotel in the centre of town.

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Today, we left the van in Tenterfield and went to Thunderbolt’s Hideout, a short drive to the north-east. IMG_8004This would have been a great hideout for the bushranger, with huge granite boulders forming tight corridors and natural caves, one of which showed signs of soot black on the stone ceiling. How the guy found this place in the dense and hilly bush is beyond me. Occasional signs of insidious toilet paper in the bush nearby made me wonder whether that may have been Thunderbolt’s thunder box?

On the way back, we stopped at a bridge over a very scenic stretch of Tenterfield Creek and went for a walk along the creek. We are certain that we spotted a platypus but it was too fast to see fully or to photograph. I did some gold panning while Di played David Attenborough and attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to secure a photo of the elusive Ornithorhynchus. And, unfortunately, my panning was just as fruitless.

On to Wallangarra, where we came across a Sunday Market at the now-disused Railway Station where my father worked from 1949 to 1958. On the station I straddled the border. We viewed my old home, had a commemorative drink at the Jennings Hotel where Mum and Dad played piano and saxophone in a band, and headed back to camp at Tenterfield after visiting the hospital where I was born. It was disappointing to see that the statue in my honour hasn’t yet been erected, but there is still time for that. It was nice to come full circle and touch base with my roots over the past couple of days. 

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Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lake Wivenhoe (South East Queensland) to Wollongbar (New South Wales)

21/08/2014  After exploring the Bunyas we travelled to Lake Wivenhoe. What an absolutely gorgeous spot and so close to Brisbane. The birdlife was spectacular on the lake and we even had a pair of whistling kites nesting above the van. Andrew surprised us with a visit on his way back home from Toowoomba, which just made our day. We’re thoroughly enjoying the caravanning life but do miss the kids so much. I spent lots of time bird watching while Pete decided there weren’t any fish to be caught after checking out the other fishermen – no fresh fish for dinner yet!

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A nice way to start the day with bacon and eggs but not good for the waistline! This cheeky kookaburra arrived out of nowhere when the bacon packet was opened each morning, hoping to join in. But no such luck, it was always too yummy to share on a cold morning.

It was so kind of SEQ Water to provide us with our own personal sheltered table and chairs outside the door of our van and each day ended with a glorious sunset which was just too beautiful not to capture on film.

After leaving Lake Wivenhoe we drove to Wollongbar near Lismore to visit Janet and Fred Durham who live on their finger lime farm. We loved catching up with them both as we haven’t seen them for quite some time. Pete got to help Janet herd a neighbours’ goats out of the finger limes and back into their paddock and then repaired the break in the fence. We visited Nimbin for the day. What an interesting place but unfortunately we missed out on visiting the Nimbin Hemp Museum as it had burnt down the previous week. Pete was disappointed as he wasn’t even offered any jungle weed while we were in town. Maybe it was because of the sign he was standing next to! 

While on a drive, we came across the Tucki Tucki cemetery with a sign pointing out a bora ring in the cemetery grounds. In a gum tree next to the bora ring I saw the first on my Animal in the Wild (AITW) Bucket List for the trip – a koala. While we had koalas on our property at Silver Pinch, that was home to me and different for some unknown reason. I was really excited at ticking off my first AITW and the koala was even cuddling a baby – two for the price of one. My bucket list at this stage includes a koala, a platypus, a whale from the beach, a wombat, a sugar glider and a tree kangaroo.

We drove on to Evans Heads and the high lookout on the point which was beautiful but no whale unfortunately! I suppose that was wishful thinking – two animals on the bucket list in one day.

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Photo 3-09-2014 7 03 00 pm

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Queensland | Tags: , , , , , ,

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