A Travellerspoint blog

Victorian Alps - so beautiful!

Nice to be home!

sunny 22 °C

We’re back on the road after a great week with Joe’s sisters, Marion and Trixie and their families in Adelaide. The girls took us to an amazing Moroccan restaurant, Marakesh, in North Adelaide - absolutely delicious and very different food. We stayed in Marion’s comfy little room and made ourselves very much at home.

While we were there, Marion’s elderly neighbour, Dawn, came over to tell us that she’d been woken in the night by her dogs barking - she heard a snuffling in her bedroom and turned the light on to find a koala in her bedroom. He apparently came in through the doggie door and was about to hop up on her bed. Dawn called 000 and Wildlife Rescue came and got him and relocated him on Anstey Hill.

The week flew, and all too soon it was time to say goodbye. Sunday morning Marion took us to the airport at 5am for our flight to Melbourne. No delays for a change, so soon we were in Melbourne collecting our car and van from storage. All was well, dirty but no damage done.

We spent the day stocking from Uncle Dan and Woolies, washing the rig and driving around looking for a Rebel Sport shop. Eventually we found one at Northlands shopping centre , took ages to find a park, struggled through the Christmas crowds, only to be told they had just sold the last of what I wanted for Joe for Christmas…..see why people shop online! Joe’s shopping attention span is normally 18 minutes, so 2 hours was really testing him.

After a night at Coburg CP we were up early again and off to Craigieburn for the last couple of warranty jobs to be done on the van. In no time we were on the road, heading through the Alpine National Park to Victoria Falls Campground, near Omeo, about a 6 hour drive.

What an amazing trip…..making our way to the top of Mt Hotham and back down again. A couple of times we weren't sure if we would make it, towing a 3.5 tonne van, but our faithful black Cruiser didn’t let us down. The scenery was stunning, travelling through charming little towns, amazing countryside, a cliff on one side of the road and a sheer drop on the other. The trees at the top of the mountain are amazing, Eucalyptus Delegatensis or Mountain Ash - they are so hardy, although there is still evidence of the terrible bush fires in 2003.

Somewhere along the way we had a message from Oliver, in Sydney,telling us about the terrorist siege that was happening in Martin Place, just minutes from his office, and that he was ensconced in his office until it was safe to leave. We managed to get some radio reception to let us know what was going on, before we lost all contact. Arriving at Victoria Falls Campground, the first thing we did was to set up the satellite dish to get some news. Times like this we feel quite isolated - while it’s nice to not have to think about the outside world, it’s worrying to not be able to contact family. We walked to the top of a hill and did get a text message from Amelia to say that Ollie was home safely, but we were unable to reply. Such a relief to know that at least our son was OK. And it's good news that our Chris is doing very well in Brisbane, too.

We feel very fortunate to be in this safe place in the wilderness, while such dreadful things are happening in the world - and in our very own country, in beautiful Sydney.

This spot is lovely, just 500m off the road, down a gravel road to a secluded grassy spot right by the Cobungra River. It’s a historic site, an old gold mine. And it’s free. A few minutes after arriving we had an amazing storm, bright lightning and heavy rain, thunder echoing around the valley, so we settled down in the van to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey, Series 5. There will have to be a series 6!

It’s so dark here at night - no lights in the van, no moon or stars, just black sky - we slept non stop for 9 hours. We have no phone, internet or radio so will spend today reading, walking, fishing (???), catching up with odd jobs and enjoying the remoteness. We have our gas and water tanks full, solar panels charging the batteries, satellite dish working, and have just started the generator for a Nespresso coffee. There are huge mushrooms growing all around us which we will make good use of. The Parks Vic ranger has just arrived to clean the long drop toilets, whipper snip the edges, cut the grass and cut some firewood, so we’ll probably spend another night here before moving to another bush camp north of Omeo. Funny though, no kangaroos, possums, rabbits, wombats - and not even a koala. We haven't seen any wildlife at all, only birds.

A funny thing happened this morning…..I cooked breakfast, bacon and eggs, tomato and local mushrooms (high protein, low carb). Joe sat on the wooden bench to eat, and when I sat next to him the whole table and chairs fell backwards, breakfast flying through the air, us on our backs with legs in the air like a pair of dead canaries. It would have been a very funny sight! Using the 5 second rule we managed to salvage the breakfast before the flies carried it away.

So this morning we’re moving on, into Omeo to fill up with water, send emails, make some calls and stock up with vegies, then on to a new home for a couple of nights.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 16:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Been there, done that!

Back in Adelaide, almost ready to hit the road again

semi-overcast 20 °C

Well, time has certainly flown! Our month of flying around the country has almost come to an end. We had an excellent time in Sydney with the Heskeths, and were lucky to be invited to Ruby's 4th birthday party, a butterfly party, and to meet her girlfriends, and spend time with the little ones.

We seem to have wasted a lot of time at airports, waiting for delayed flights, standing in queues etc. Give us caravan travel every time!

Anyway it was all worth it.....we spent 3 weeks getting our home in Legana ready to re-rent. Joe put in many hard days in the garden, returning it to its' usual immaculate condition. We painted, tidied, washed, trimmed, mowed, clipped and mulched.....and have now successfully rented to our new tenants who will be moving in before Christmas. Our neighbours, Paul and Patricia have been looking after the chooks and have decided they'd like to adopt them.

We had a busy social time, catching up with friends - I think we were out 16 evenings out of 21. We did spend the first 3 days in isolation with gastro, which we don't want to repeat for a very long time. I had a job interview and will be working at Masonic Peace Haven for a few weeks while we're home next year.

We're in Adelaide now, having a lovely time with Joe's family. The weather's not great, windy and wet at times, but it doesn't matter, we're having a relaxing time. On Sunday we have a very early flight to Melbourne to pick up our car and van - we have a couple of warranty jobs still to be done on the van on Monday, then we'll have a 6 hour drive up into the Snowy Mountains to spend a few days in a beautiful bush camp by a river. Hopefully the crowds will still be doing their Christmas shopping and won't have headed off on their camping trips, and we'll find a nice quiet spot at Victoria Falls Campground. Then to Yackandandah to enjoy a quiet Christmas by the river, and we'll be joined by our friends Dave and Gary to drink bubbles while welcoming the new year. All good fun!

Posted by Crazy Poupes 12:55 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Tewantin and all the way back to Melbourne!

Adventures and some disappointments.....all in a days' work!

sunny 21 °C

Since my last blog, not much has really happened but we have travelled such a long way - from Tewantin all the way back to Yackandandah, one of our special little spots. So special, in fact, that we've booked in here for Christmas and New Year.

Noosa was wonderful, and we thought we’d go back there for a few months next year - so I went to the nursing home, got a job, started work - and after 2 days I resigned. For several reasons, it was not the place for me! Seemed like the perfect place, 300 m walk to work from the caravan park, just so easy. However, not so. That is the shortest time I have ever spent in a job, and believe me, it was the most stressful thing that's happened so far.

So we left the beautiful Sunshine Coast, and found a little gem just north of Brisbane called Dayboro. The Showgrounds welcome travellers, for $15 a night, to stay up to 3 weeks. Set amidst beautiful hills and breathtaking scenery, it is so much nicer than staying in Brisbane, and only a 60km drive to the city if you must. Chris came for dinner and stayed the night under the awning in his swag, which made us very happy.

Then down to the Goldie to see Bill and Annie - to check out their beautiful new house and have a delicious meal and a wonderful catch up with them. Tallebudgera Creek, as usual, offered Joe the opportunity to get his board out and hit the waves - Perfect!

Now a 9 hour drive to Myall River Camp, another favourite spot. The paddle board off the van again, water quite cool, but the river is great for paddling, with no crocs or sharks. We did have regular visits from a dingo, which Reece described as "all ribs and dick". He didn't pose a threat, just visiting us campers. Penny and Reece stayed with us for a few days, and we caught up with all their news, lots of laughs, and a few drinks etc etc. We have met some fun (and funny!!!) people in our travels, and it’s just great to see these friends again, share stories and talk about best camp spots.

It's just a few hours drive to Sydney, so we thought we'd surprise the Heskeths and just turn up at the door. Parked at beautiful Lane Cove Caravan Park, we very excitedly made our way to their house, just 10 minutes away. We were met at the door by Amelia, shocked and horrified as she was all packed and dressed and ready to leave for a weekend in NZ, and some very excited children. Ollie came home to find us drinking wine in the kitchen, Amelia left for the airport so we had dinner together and headed off for an early night. So good to see them all, and we will see them again in just a few days.

So then a long drive, all the way from Sydney to Yackandandah. We parked on the side of the little river, and we have two perfect trees picked out, between which we will hang the hammock. The grass is green, the weather is perfect, the nights are cool, and we will just be happy to stay here for a couple of weeks over Christmas. Trevor and Shirley, the owners, are planning a barbecue for when we are back.

Prior to that of course, we have a few things to attend to - now we are in Melbourne to have a few warranty jobs done on the van. Then on Thursday we put the horse and buggy into storage for a month to fly to Sydney for a weekend, then to Launceston for 3 weeks, then to Adelaide for a few days. It will be so good to see everyone, family and friends, and to see our house at Legana which is empty at the moment. Our tenants have moved out and we are desperately seeking some new ones. However, it will give us a chance to see what needs doing and to tidy up the garden etc.

And more news - on January 18th we have a day sailing on The Spirit from Melbourne to Devonport. We thought that, as everyone keeps telling us what a great place Tassie is to travel in a van, we had better check it out. So onto the boat at 9am on January 18th, landing at Lou’s at Westbury to park the van for the night. We are very excited about this, and will love being back in Tassie, where hopefully it will be quite warm. We really have become acclimatised to the warmer weather. I'll get some nursing work while we're home and Joe will busy himself with gardens, etc. And of course, on days off, we'll travel around Tasmania for a couple of months.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 22:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Outback Queensland

From Prairie to Emerald, and all the towns in between!

overcast 28 °C

Finally, we've been "out west". A flying visit, because it was so hot and dry - 38 degrees every day. But we will return, in the winter. There is so much to see and do, and we love the outback. Such a different way of life.

The Prairie Hotel

The Prairie Hotel

From Prairie we headed west to Hughenden. Further back than we could imagine, dinosaurs thrived in a lush environment alongside a vast pre historic inland sea. Today, Hughenden honours the memory of those creatures - there are replicas in the street, in the museum and works of art through the town. We followed "the dinosaur trail" to Winton, which is known as the Dinosaur Capital of Australia, and houses the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils. Winton is the birthplace of QANTAS, which was first registered as a company in 1920 and is the home of Queensland's Boulder Opal, It's where Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda - at a property just out of town.....it was first sung in one of the pubs at Winton in 1895.

We passed through a tiny town called Corfield, Population 3, and had to stop for a photo. it's known for its' annual race meeting, The Corfield Cup, when the population explodes with people visiting from near and far - a real outback race experience!

Corfield Cup!

Corfield Cup!

Driving through the grassy plains, starkly beautiful red earth and spinifex, and Channel Country, with undulating plains as far as the eye can see, there's a myriad of dry channels, waiting for the wet season. Some parts haven't had rain for 8 years, they didn't have a wet season last year.

Next stop, Longreach, a thriving town in the Central West. You need to allow loads of time to visit these places, preferably in the winter months when it's not so hot. Longreach is not just a town, it's a way of life - there is so much to see and do, and it would be nice o get to know the locals. We started at the Powerhouse Museum, which houses huge generators used to provide power to Longreach from 1948 to 1985, when the area was linked to the local grid. A wonderful museum, with a house which is set up to depict family living conditions way back then.......you can almost smell dinner cooking in the old wood stove!

We visited the Longreach School of Distance Education (LSODE) which used to be called The School of The Air. Technology has overcome the power of distance in the most amazing way, and a rich education is delivered to kids thousands of kilometres away. We observed an on-air maths lesson, with the teacher sitting at her computer, camera attached, delivering a lesson to kids somewhere on an outback station. The school, although there are no kids in the classrooms, is full of their artwork, projects and school work. It has a bright friendly atmosphere and it was truly an eye opener. Kids come to the school once or twice a year for lessons and social interaction, and there is a tutor who will visit them at home once a year. Secondary education is usually in boarding schools in the towns, but the drought has meant that this is no longer affordable, so more grade 6 to 12's are staying at home. The government allows about $3.40 per pupil per year more than a regular state school. LSODE is very reliant on donations from people like us.

Now for the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame - the unique architecture making it a landmark in the town. It is a spectacular tribute to the people of outback Australia. It was created from the vision of Hugh Sawrey in 1974, who wanted to create a memorial to the pioneers of the outback and preserve the rich cultural heritage. The exhibits comprise an eclectic mix of objects, images, touch screens, open displays and short movies. My favourite was the royal flying Doctor Display and Joe loved the whole lot! The landscaped gardens surrounding the building house sculptures, windmills and water features. And theres a replica homestead in the grounds, built by RM Williams. In the evening there's an Outback Show, telling the story of real life stockmen and women who work on the land - along with a horse, a cattle dog with saddle and rider, a pig dressed as the mother in law and a huge Brahman bull, also with saddle and rider! All followed by a yummy steak on the barbie with salad and chips. Next time we visit we'll finish off what we missed this time.

Stockman's Hall of Fame

Stockman's Hall of Fame

The Outback Show

The Outback Show

P1000992.jpg

We stayed at the Longreach tourist Park, a huge park, dry and dusty, tiny little pool, no shade and no grass - although there was a sign saying "keep off the grass". We were able to watch the lunar eclipse, in The Big Sky that the outback is famous for. We were parked nest to 3 other Crusader caravans - that's never happened before. Driving around the town you notice that all the streets are named after birds. The streets that run east-west are named after waterbirds, and those that run north-south are named for land birds. The caravan park was in Thrush Road and the closest intersection was Wompoo Road!

Next time we will visit the Qantas Founders Museum, and maybe do an evening cruise on The Thomson River.

Next stop Emerald, we found a bush camp about 16 km out, called Higher Ground Homestay. Owned by Kathy, this is a great place to stay, $15 with power and water, peaceful and lovely in the bush. Kathy has an eccentric house and garden, with a huge array of chooks, an amazing veggie garden, several guinea fowl, horses and dogs, a bookcase on the verandah for travellers, and about 300 solar powered butterflies which all light up at night! We spent a couple of nights there, as we needed a wheel alignment and they were able to do that at Emerald on Saturday morning. We found a great Irish Pub where we had a pint of Guinness, and realised that the Emerald Races were on. Damn, I didn't have my fascinator!!

On the road again, through Ilfracombe which has a gorgeous quirky pub which wasn't open, Barcaldine, where the locals were playing croquet on the nature strip, Jericho on the Jordan River. to arrive here at Calliope for a couple of nights. It's so lovely to have soft green grass under our feet. We're camped on the side of a pond full of ducks, cormorants and herons. We have a resident turtle and her baby which bask on a log just near our van, providing our entertainment.

Thomasina Turtle

Thomasina Turtle

Last night we had a thunderstorm and loads of rain. We filled our big bucket a couple of times with rainwater off the awning, tipping it into the tank to replenish our supply. We're slowly making our way back down south, heading back to the coast for some very desirable ocean. Joe's keen to get his paddle board out, knowing that there won't be a man-eating croc lurking under the waves.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 18:49 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

From the Coral Coast to the Great Australian Outback

What a contrast!

sunny 38 °C

Footy's over, Hawks won and we had a great day - one very excited Joe!

Since then we've had a whole week at Palm Cove - a bustling beach resort, full of "beautiful" people, rich and famous, and lots of travellers like us just enjoying the coast and the wonderful tropical weather. It was sad to say goodbye to Ellis Beach, and the few people we met there, but we must move on. We've had a few great evenings with Mark and Max, culminating in a meal at the Greko Taverna right in the middle of town. A delicious meal and lots of fun had by all. Far North Queensland seems like a great place to be......its getting very hot though, and very humid! Nice when you can just go for a dip in the ocean which we did at least twice a day.

Now we're heading towards Longreach, Winton, Emerald and all those outback towns we've read about. The area is vast, remote, hot and arid. The roads are generally good, sealed in most places - but often only one lane wide.....so when a road train comes towards us we have to move over onto the gravel cos he's not going to move over. Lots of dead cows, pigs and kangaroos on the sides of the road, with crows, hawks and eagles feasting on the carcasses. Time to shut down the air entry - the stench is revolting!

We spent the last two nights at a campsite beside Fletcher Creek, 40 km north of Charters Towers. We were surrounded by Brahmans, and a couple of roosters woke us at 4am each day. We found Susie and Digby parked up on the hill, a couple we befriended a few months ago at Little Yabba - lots to talk about and stories to exchange.

This morning we said goodbye and have only driven for 4 hours, through Charters Towers, to spend the night at Prairie. Charters Towers is a beautiful old gold mining town, with wide streets and huge verandahs. It is the centre of gold mining for the area, also beef cattle and it has private boarding schools for the outback kids.

Prairie, with a population of 100 people, consists of a café/post office, a police station, the Prairie State School and the Prairie Hotel. The township has a history as an old Cobb and Co depot. We're camped at the back of the hotel in a dusty paddock. The pub is a welcoming place for meals and a cold beer, and displays a collection of stockmen's hats, saddles and other memorabilia. We're booked in for dinner tonight - crumbed steak, gravy, chips and veggies - the camping is free so we thought we'd patronise the pub. We're surrounded by dry plains, it's very hot, and we have the generator running and the washing machine on - lots of water available from the Great Artesian Basin, so we've filled our tanks. The washing's flapping in the wind and will take about 30 minutes to be bone dry! We have great Telstra access, so we're catching up on emails etc.

More of the same tomorrow, headed for Winton, home of Qantas and Waltzing Matilda. We're loving this outback experience, the red dirt, the pink sunsets, the people - the whole thing!

Posted by Crazy Poupes 23:28 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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