Travel News – New South Wales

Canberra (ACT) – Doolans Bend (Victoria)

23/10/18  We were fortunate to get a caravan site in Canberra. Schools in ACT and NSW were back from holidays, Canberra’s Floriade festival had finished, and there were no big events on in town, so there should have been sites aplenty. I wasn’t going to ring ahead and book but the Chair of the Board insisted. And we learned that, for some inexplicable reason, all caravan parks were chockers. Charm won the day and we scraped in a spot at the showground, Exhibition Park. We were in Canberra for an impromptu catch up with our niece, Heather, and Andrew and their two boys, Nicholas and Alexander. We had a lovely time with them. It was just a shame that Andrew was away on business. So we drank his wine.

This was our second visit to the national capital and, as before, I could not get my head around the layout and the annoying number of roundabouts. Canberrans used to be called ‘Roundabout-abouters’ for good reason. As also noted on our previous visit, the lack of attention to grass cutting in Canberra. Puzzling. Just about every lawn, footpath and nature strip looked neglected and overgrown. Certainly a shaggy look that our capital is presenting to visitors. I didn’t think it could due to the current drought – it was the same when we were there four years ago. It must a Canberra thing.

Leaving Canberra after a couple of days, we headed to Yass where we had a leg stretch down the main street, picked up some local wine and a couple of really nice looking rib eye fillets that went on the Weber a couple of nights later…mmm. At Yass, we got onto the Hume Highway that runs inland, carrying loads of traffic between Sydney to Melbourne. It probably serves a good purpose but I reckon it has to be the dead set most boring bit of road ever, without a doubt. The highway manages to not only bypass just about every town but absolutely everything of interest worth looking at. It’s like a committee got together and mapped out all the interesting spots, then made the highway go everywhere else. So you just motor along it in a sort of lobotomised stupor.

Further west of Yass, I roused myself from the road trance in time to turn off to the small town of Jugiong, and our overnight camp in the showground. The field is bordered on one side by the Murrumbidgee River and we pulled the van in along the edge of the high riverbank, giving us a great view out over the water.

Back on the Hume Highway the next morning, we’d been tootling along for a little while – starting to feel like a long, long while – so it was good to turn off at Gundagai onto a pleasant backroad that took us through rolling pasture country to Sandy Beach Reserve, again on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. What a magic spot – alongside the clear river, in amongst ancient river red gums. Di braved the cold waters for a very invigorating dip. I wimped out, preferring warm and smelly. We stayed for a couple of days before continuing on our way south.

Back on the Hume Highway again (sigh), at Albury, NSW, we crossed the Murray River to Wodonga, VIC, on the other side and exited onto a backroad to Doolans Bend, one of the many bush camps dotted along the Murray. Camp was set up on a nice open grassy patch not three metres from the water’s edge, with a few very fat Hereford cattle for company. What a spot. I got out the rod, but the Murray Cod obviously hadn’t gotten the memo. There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the bank looking like an idiot, so the rod went away and I settled into a book instead. Di went for a quick dip in the river, coaxing me in as well this time. Man, was it cold. Quite literally, numbing – and yet, refreshing in a somewhat sadomasochistic kind of way.

The days have been pleasant and the nights cold. It’s lovely in the chilly mornings to see a mist hanging low over the water. All we need is the paddle steamer, PS Philadelphia, to come chuffing around the bend with Sigrid Thornton up in the wheelhouse pashing John Waters and we’d have a scene straight out of All the Rivers Run.

And in closing, the family haven’t had a Dad Joke from me for a while, so…

Did you hear about the camper who broke his left arm and left leg? He’s all right now.

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

Wallabadah – Canowindra (New South Wales)

15/10/18  From Armidale, we continued south on the New England Highway through Tamworth to spend the night at a pleasant free-camp oddly called First Fleet Memorial Gardens outside the town of Wallabadah. Could someone explain why NSW town names sound so strange?

The next morning, we headed west from Wallabadah, through nearby Quirindi and then south along the Black Stump Way to Coolah. Our laundry pile had taken on the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, and we headed to the Coolah Caravan Park to deal with it in a washer. While there, I took the opportunity to do some minor repairs to the Kruiser to rectify a job I’d only recently paid an RV shop to do…annoying…they’re supposed to be the experts. Man, did that town have a fly problem! Step outside and hordes of annoying little bush flies would be in your eyes, mouth, up your nose. A couple of twitches cut from a tree kept them off while we took a walk into the main street. On the subject of flies, the term for Aussie slang and pronunciation is strine, and the story goes that the habit of shortening words and phrases developed from speaking through clenched teeth to avoid swallowing flies. I can believe it.

Following a slow start in the morning, we went on through Dunedoo (love that name) to Wellington for lunch, then Molong for a refuel and unintentionally took the long way round to Canowndra. We much prefer to travel the backroads – less traffic, slower pace and more time to see the countryside going by. Most times these backroads are chosen by design…but sometimes by mistake, like the wrong turn I took leaving Molong that added almost an hour to the journey. On narrow roads in hilly country, it’s impossible to safely turn around, so we resigned ourselves to heading on and seeing what we would see. There was no hurry; the countryside was certainly worth the detour.

Along the way, quite a few examples of early settler homesteads could be seen in the paddocks, some still loved and lived in, some abandoned to slowly decay, and some collapsed under the weight of their high-pitched roofs.

At Canowindra, we pulled in to a small free-camp area only a short way out of town – just us beside the narrow Belubula River. This flowing stream feeds into the Lachlan River and then the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers before finally emptying into Lake Alexandrina and the Southern Ocean south of Adelaide in South Australia. We stayed two nights at this nice spot, and walked into town to have a look around – just about all the businesses were closed though which we thought was strange for a weekday afternoon. Must have been siesta time. The main street had a bygone feel with the many old original brick buildings and commercial facades.

As we headed off through town the next morning, Di insisted we pull over at Coco Harvest, a beautiful old shopfront in the main street offering boutique chocolates. I made the mistake of leaving her alone with the two owners while I went off in search of some fuses. Awaiting payment on the shop counter when I returned was a suitcase of goodies. I thought I’d recognised the withered remains of Di’s self-control lying on the footpath outside.

Canowindra – Coco Harvest Chocolates (NSW)

 

 

 

“Chocolate is to women what duct tape is to men. It fixes everything.”

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Scarborough (Queensland) – Armidale (New South Wales)

11/10/18  Following a spell at home, it takes time to get back into the swing of towing a van. When you give the Landy a spurt, it usually reacts like a determined sperm but with the addition of a 3 tonne cottage attached to the rear, what immediately becomes apparent is the corresponding lack of oomph. Both acceleration and braking require a little more deliberation, and climbing hills has all the get-up-and-go of Jabba the Hut. Still, the old girl does her best. Even the champion racehorse Winx would be handicapped pulling a horsefloat carrying Black Caviar.

Nonetheless, we’re very happy to be back on the road, and grinning like kids at McDonalds. Nothing comes close to this…nothing.

Things get dialled back on the road,. In a rig weighing around 6.0 tonnes, you cannot, nor should not, go swiftly. The driver behind you will always want to go five kilometres per hour faster no matter what speed you are doing, so I find it’s best to ignore what’s behind, pop on some tunes, settle back, keep it down to a respectable and safe speed and let the train through when it’s safe to do so.

The Vibe is Back…

Cunninghams Gap (Qld)

From Scarborough, we headed up and over Cunningham’s Gap on the Great Dividing Range to our overnight camp at the old Maryvale Hotel. Great food – give it a go. The freshly-baked Godmother pie and mash is a food group all its own. Next overnight camp was south at the border town of Wallangarra where I lived up to the age of starting primary school. Each time we go back, the town seems smaller, with unfortunately fewer services.

Up to now in our travels around the country, the shortest hop between camp spots had been 22kms from the very small community of Alford to the even smaller Wallaroo on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula. That’s now been smashed by our hop from Wallangarra on the QLD border to Tenterfield in NSW, a distance of 20kms. In just that short distance, though, the scenery and vegetation changed markedly, becoming a hillier and much greener. Tenterfield is a very pleasant little town, with many examples of early architecture to be seen. Still no monument in my honour outside the maternity wing of the local hospital, though. I thought it would be up by now.

A couple of hours south on the New England Highway at Armidale, we called in on Warren, a fellow Kimberley owner we’d met up at West Leichhardt Station near Mt Isa back in 2015. We got on well then and seeing him again the gap was just like yesterday. We camped the night at his property just out of town, and had a great time catching up and rekindling our friendship. Sometimes lasting friendships come from a brief crossing of paths. Travel is a unifying bond that turns strangers into lifelong friends.

Armidale – Hail Storm (NSW)

Each day since setting off from home, we’ve played tag with thunderstorms and hail. The process starts with a warning text alert, followed by an anxious check of the weather radar, and a tense watchful eye on the advancing storm clouds. So far, and mostly due to luck, we’ve managed to dodge the worst of the storms.

“Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me” – Galileo

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

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

23/12/16  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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hay (New South Wales)

8/05/16  The drive from Billabourie to Hay was a rather miserable affair. We woke to rain and drove all morning through rain, through the towns of Hillston and Goolgowi on the Kidman Way, then onto the Mid Western Highway to Hay in the western Riverina region of south western NSW. Not only was the weather dreary, the landscape was even drearier. Out this way, the country is as flat as a table and stretches on in every direction. Oncoming vehicles could be seen three days away. Fruitlessly, we spent our time seeking out a semblance of a hill. And there are only four trees in that part of the Riverina. I know because I counted them. There was almost a fifth, but it turned out to be a fence post. Even the sheep looked dismal which I could sympathise with because, after all, who takes pleasure from wearing a woollen jumper in the rain. Still, the cattle seemed happy in their leather gear.

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It’s been raining on and off in the Riverina for about a week, which is good for those about to sow, and not good for those about to pick, yet good for those growing meat, but not good for those travellers who might drop a wheel off the edge of the hard stuff and onto the soft shoulder of the road. It didn’t happen to us but we saw many signs of where it had happened to others on the rather narrow Mid Western Highway. That plus the rain plus lots of water lying on the road made for a not very relaxing or enjoyable trip.

So, rather than the showgrounds as planned, we overnighted in Hay at the Big4 caravan park. Both of us had had enough of sploshing around in mud, and quite looked forward to pampering ourselves with paved pathways.

Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may be a burning issue tomorrow. – Anon

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , ,

Billabourie – New South Wales

7/05/16  Once in a while you come across a camp that ticks all the boxes. Billabourie was one of those camps. It’s a working farm that also operates a great little camp ground in a stand of old timber beside the Lachlan River, north east of Hillston. A few powered spots were available but we chose to stay on solar and located a bit further away for privacy. We set up a few metres from the river’s edge and had a magic view of the water and the surrounding park-like grounds shaded by huge old River Red Gums. Best not to camp under these majestic trees as they self-prune their very large branches which would make a mess of anything underneath. The two awnings and the groundsheet went out, and we made ourselves comfortable in this very picturesque spot. What a magic place.

We had our first camp fire this trip and couldn’t have found a better location for it. A breakfast of bacon and eggs on the fire kicked off the next day and we sat around the remains of the fire enjoying the scenery and silence, the morning birds our only companions. Two other vans were there when we pulled in but they left early the following morning. From then on, we had the place to ourselves. Di whipped up a damper/scone combo in the camp oven that went down very nicely with a dollop of butter and Tony A’s yummy homemade rosella jam. And I did a camp oven lamb roast that had to be my best yet, hands down.

The nights were cold, the mornings crisp and the days beautiful. The Kruiser is well suited for cold weather living, the diesel heater keeping us snug-as-a-bug inside first thing in the morning until the sun came up enough to bring some warmth.

I did a bit of lure fishing, which is my term for extricating lures snagged on tree roots, overhead branches and hidden underwater obstacles. You could almost hear the fish scoffing between my colourful outbursts. They certainly need not tremble at the sound of my name. No worries; they’ll be that much bigger next time I go snagging lures.

Enjoying a morning cuppa overlooking the river each day, it was just too easy to go with “Maybe we’ll stay another night”, and our planned one-day stopover at Billabourie stIMG_2890retched out to three.

Unfortunately, the final day turned grey and overnight rain softened the bush track for our departure. Nevertheless, the Landy was up for some mud puddling, and when we eventually reached the sealed road the front of the van was wearing a red mud face mask.

 

There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot! – Anon

Categories: Cooking - Photos, Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , ,

Bourke – Cobar (NSW)

4/05/16  Travelling south from Cunnamulla, we crossed into New South Wales and spent two days in Bourke. The grey rain clouds cleared on the second day leaving sunny blue skies, and we dried the canvas awnings after the previous few days’ rain. Di took the opportunity to do a cook-up, producing a large curried stew that’ll give us a few meals, and a yummy roast in the Weber. That used most of our vegies which would otherwise have to be thrown out when we get to the quarantine area a little further south.

Packing up camp for the next move was a particularly slow process, largely from a general lack of motivation aided by lots of coffees, and it wasn’t until 10:00am that we were on the Kidman Way again heading south to Cobar, a short hop of 160kms.

Many caravans and motorhomes were on the road at this time of year, migrating from Victoria to flock in their warmer northern nesting grounds. My index finger was wearing out from offering up the obligatory “single digit wave” to oncoming travellers. I also like to intersperse this with the “four digit wave” to those who appear more worthy. Motorhomes can be quite responsive to “the wave”, particularly where the female passenger gives back an enthusiastic two-handed wave. It’s like “Hey, caravaners hardly ever wave at us in our motorhome, and that guy just gave us the “four digit wave”, and I’m going to let him know I really appreciate it!”

Against the trend, we were among the crazy few heading south, enjoying the pleasant days and cool nights after a run of very high temperatures starting in September last year in NT through to when we left home ten days ago. The wet weather brought a drop in temperatures, and welcomed relief from the very hot days. We’d been looking forward to a cool change and wintering in the van.

On the outskirts of Cobar, we free-camped on the bank of Newey Reservoir, among the shady pepperina trees. The waterfront view from inside the van was priceless. We watched ducks feeding in the shallows, a majestic white egret patiently stalking fish and a rather regal pelican cruising lazily past our camp.

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“Tourists went on holidays, while travellers did something else. They travelled.” – Alex Garland, The Beach

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Arrawarra (New South Wales)

11/02/2015  The drive today from Hallidays Point to Arrawarra seemed long, our pace slowed a number of times because of roadworks to widen sections of the old single-lane Pacific Highway to double-lane. Just north of Kempsey, we turned off the highway and followed the Macleay River to the quiet coastal town of South West Rocks. We wanted to see the Trial Bay Gaol that sits on the point above the old breakwater.

The stone gaol is a picturesque ruin built in the 1880s to house prisoners who constructed the breakwater, and was also used as a World War I internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers. The gaol is surrounded by rocky foreshores and sandy beaches, and immediately around it are picnic areas and facilities for caravan camping. We thought we’d check out the camping sites as a possibility for the night, but the rates were very high for what was provided.

So we travelled on a further two hours to our next option, Darlington Beach Holiday Park, on Corindi Beach and near the small town of Arrawarra. We stayed for three very relaxing days, and felt totally spoilt with access to a lovely pool, golf course, restaurant and bar, surf beach right behind us and kangaroos and wood ducks wandering around right next to the van. Hardly like camping at all. While we were looking forward to getting back to Scarborough to see the kids and granddaughters, this was also tinged with a degree of reluctance as it would mean a break from our travelling lifestyle. We could see that after not too long back at home, we’d be itching to get moving again.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , , ,

Hallidays Point (New South Wales)

9/02/2015

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Heading further northward, we camped for the night on a powered site at Beachfront Holiday Resort at Hallidays Point. A two-minute walk from our van took us through the vegetation at the top of the beach and down onto the sand of Black Head Beach. We had a swim in the surf and went back to the pool for a rinse off and laze about. Later, while cooking our snags and lamb chops on the BBQ near the van, we met a couple from the Netherlands who were travelling around Australia for 6 weeks in a hire car and camping in a very small tent. They were having a ball and absolutely loved our country, the scenery, the people and the wildlife. I agreed wholeheartedly with them. Why travel overseas when there is more to see of our own country than could possibly fit into one lifetime!

We were tempted to stay another day but packed up. In the process, a sudden sun-shower hit and I left rather soaked. I think the rig wanted to stay as well, because the first two times we had to brake to a stop, the ABS kicked in and Di and I gave concerned looks to each other. The brakes were fine after that, though. I think the Land Rover was just acting up like an old horse that wanted us to know it wasn’t happy moving again so soon. Fair enough too, I guess. It plays a big part in our travel adventures so it should be able to have a say in things as well.

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Categories: Travel News, Travel News - New South Wales | Tags: , , , ,

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