A Travellerspoint blog

Plans were meant to be changed!

Short break in Sydney became not so short

sunny 12 °C

After a wonderfully relaxing time at Ellis Beach, kicking back in the hammock, enjoying the waves and warmth, here we are in Sydney looking after Will, Ruby and little Poppy. Oliver and Amelia are holidaying in Bali and are now stranded because of the volcanic ash in the air, which won't allow planes to fly. So here we are, doing our best to keep the little ones happy and occupied. Luckily they sleep all night which gives us time to recharge our batteries ready for the next day. We are constantly amazed at how they grow and develop between our visits, and spending time with them certainly lets us get to know them so well.

Ellis Beach oceanfront site 7 was, as always, just perfect. We reunited with several couples who we met 2 years ago, had lots to catch up on, and had a ball. I taught all the ladies to knit, and they're now all decked out with beautiful soft cowls for the winter in Victoria. Good fun, sharing happy hours which run into several hours, swimming and bobbing in the ocean a couple of times a day, lunch at the Cairns RSL after Rusty's Market on Fridays and $1 oysters at Ellis Beach Bar and Grill on Sundays. We've booked again, but not till 2017!

We had planned to be in Tassie by now, for Simon and Dora's wedding, family get together with the girls and kids, Hawks/Freo match at Aurora, precious time with Paul and Ros, and several appointments. All cancelled while we stay and look after the children for as long as we're needed. We've left the van and the car at Ellis Beach and are anxious to know that it's OK. When we get back, we'll stick around for a few days while we get our washing machine fixed (yes, another breakdown in the van) then we'll head south a bit and across to Uluru. We haven't been there yet, and hope to find some beautiful places to free camp along the way, hopefully taking a route that we haven't already travelled. Lawn Hill National Park is definitely on our list, so many people have told us how beautiful it is. We're keen to go to Longreach and Winton again, spend some more time there while it's not so hot.

Who knows, we could end up anywhere!

Posted by Crazy Poupes 19:53 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

From The Sunshine Coast to Tully, Queensland

Surrounded by Bananas and Sugar Cane - nearly ready for harvesting!

sunny 25 °C

What a lovely time we had in Noosa. The usual stand up paddling for Joe, walking the beaches, streets and woods, watching faces of tourists visiting for the first time and loving the perfect weather. The only hitch we had was when there was a huge downpour of rain, and again our van roof leaked - another fight with Crusader, but Ben from Giant RV came to our rescue, sealing all the hatches and windows as they should have been sealed when the van was built. Crusader have really let us down with this van, we have had numerous warranty claims and are very disappointed. We just wonder what will go wrong next.

We were lucky to have Chris join us for a day in Noosa, when he drove up from Brisbane and had lunch and a paddle. We had a hilarious few days when Lou and Scotty and Katie Jo and Webby escaped from their busy lives in Tassie and joined us. They hadn't been to Noosa before so we tried to show them the highlights, and sampled the best restaurants. We were all exhausted when they left, but so happy. I think we've spoilt them now for Noosa - they're all booking to come back.

Time to leave, and we're heading north towards Ellis Beach. We've got a couple of weeks to get there so no rush - we've found some beautiful freedom camps along the way and met some great people. One of the best spots was Flaggy Rock, green and grassy, huge spaces for the vans, great caretakers, John and Christine and lots of fun campers to join for happy hour. All for just $7 a night. We had to set the satellite dish up to watch Hawthorn play Sydney - so we put the TV outside and all the campers brought their chairs and drinks, someone bought party pies and little savs, and we watched Hawks get beaten by 4 points. Bugger! But we had a fun night.

So now we're at Tully Heads, parked on a block belonging to Glenda and Peter, a couple of friends of Joe's family from Ceduna. We're lucky enough to be plugged into water and Ernie next door has connected us to his power. Unfortunately it's been so windy we haven't had much beach time, but we've had a good look around the area, the coast and the hinterland. We haven't spotted a cassowary yet, in spite of the numerous signs stating that there has been a recent sighting. There are also signs everywhere warning of crocodile presence, and stinger nets are out. The ocean is warm, and these nasties love the warm water.

Tully's a small town in Queensland, between Cairns and Townsville, in the Cassowary Coast region. The sugar cane grown at the many farms in the area is processed locally at the Tully Sugar Mill to give raw sugar which is shipped elsewhere for refinement. In March this year a banana farm at Tully tested positive for Panama Disease - luckily harvesting has been able to continue with strict protocols in place and the farm has been able to continue operating. Everywhere we see huge bunches of bananas on the trees. There is a transient population in the town, many backpackers and lots of Koreans come to the area to pick bananas and work the sugar cane harvest.

Tully is reported to be the wettest town in Australia, and in 2011 Tully and surrounding areas were badly damaged by Cyclone Yasi, becoming a scene of mass devastation. Many homes were completely destroyed as 300 kmh winds battered the area. Somehow the town has been rebuilt and is an interesting and likeable town. It has the BEST kitchen shop in the main street, Kitchen Essentials - I could spend a whole day in there, but there's only so much I can fit in my caravan kitchen! Cyclone damage is still evident in surrounding areas with some buildings not having been repaired, roofs still off and palm trees blown up on the verandahs.

On Sunday we're going to Paronella Park at Mena Creek. It's a castle, built in the 1930's by José Paronella, with tennis courts and a cinema, to provide entertainment for the public. In recent years it has been badly damaged by fire, cyclone and floods but has been rebuilt. It has a caravan park so we'll go and have a look. Then to Ellis Beach to find some friends we met a couple of years ago. We're loving the climate, and every day we look at Tassie's winter temperatures, and realise we don't want any more winters.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 15:09 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

On the road again - Round Three!

Back on The Sunshine Coast, at beautiful Noosa

sunny 28 °C

How did we find ourselves here? Somehow we just can't go past The Sunshine Coast, one of our absolutely favourite spots in this country. It's relaxing, it's fun, there's such a varied population, waterways for the SUP board, beaches and forests, great for people watching, perfect climate etc etc.

What a superb time we've had in our home state. We tried to have a couple of weeks free camping in Tas but got as far as Campbelltown and found we had flat batteries in the van. No lights, no TV, no nothing. So back to town to try and diagnose the problem and plug into power. We have solar panels and 3 big house batteries, but for some reason the batteries are not holding power. Longford caravan park provided a comfortable river side stay while we tried in vain to sort it out. Back to Westbury to plug in, knowing we were off to Coles Bay for Easter with the Scotts.

We tried to catch up with as many friends as we could while we were at home, but didn't see them all. We'll be home again next Christmas for a few weeks so will make it up then. Just can't do everything. But it was great to see friends and family happy and prospering. Vicki's doing a marvellous job managing the salon and staff, and we are eternally grateful to her and to the hairdressers.

Fishing at Coles Bay!! Joe went on the boat with the boys and Hannah and Yas, caught lots of flathead and vomited over the side. He was always a bit precious on the high seas! Over the next few days there was lots more fishing, catching flatties, cray, abalone and scallops, leaving Joe on dry land! All so delicious cooked on the barbie. We had a lovely relaxing time with the family at Coles Bay, van parked on a spare block just up the road from their shack. On our last night at Westbury the family all met for dinner, and Angus and Yas made us a beautiful farewell dessert - brought us undone a little!

12th April, after sad farewells with our family we headed to Christmas Hills to lunch at the Raspberry Farm with our dear friends, Ros and Paul. Somehow the time has gone so fast we've hardly seen them - they've been busy with renovations and we've been busy working etc. Time has flown and suddenly it's time to leave. Sad saying goodbye, but it won't be long till we see them again. Off to Latrobe to park behind the main street and watch the Hawks play on TV. Unfortunately the van batteries went flat again at three quarter time - not looking good! So off to Devonport to wait in the line for our night time cruise - an unremarkable voyage across the Bass Strait (painless apart from the $1280 one way fare!) and off the boat at 6am. We set our GPS to take us to Seymour. First right, second left, up Bay Rd and left into Montague St. All was going well until we spotted the low bridge up ahead, 3m, and our van's 3.2!! Temperatures rising in the car, left turn and find another route. Oh dear, hope this doesn't happen too often.

So off to Seymour to deliver Simon's folding boat to its' new owner, and we headed to Yackandandah. A great welcome from Shirley and Trevor, the managers of the caravan park, and we shared dinner with them in front of the open fire in the camp kitchen. Great to catch up and hear their news. Yack is chilly and damp, but absolutely beautiful with the Autumn colours. We booked the van into an auto electrician in Wodonga to get these bloody batteries fixed once and for all. $900 and 4 hours later, we have a diagnosis, a new battery and are confident that it will be all right.

So goodbye to Yack and we're off up the Olympic Highway, a route we haven't taken before. Passing through the typically Aussie towns of Junee, Cootamundra and Wellington we're headed for Dubbo Zoo. Wellington's a picturesque town, having benefited by the development of the gold mining in the district, it's the centre of rich agricultural land, growing vegetables, wheat, wool, lambs and wheat. We were lucky to find some great free camps along the way, Ponto Falls and Hickey Falls both scenic and lots of room for us. The zoo was ok.....there did seem to be a lot of construction happening, and some animals were absent. It was busy, being school holidays. The whole experience didn't really meet our expectations, and we were a bit disappointed. Even though we drove around in our own car, it wasn't possible to get up close and personal with the animals.

So back on the road, now on the Newell highway, and up through Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, and Narrabri. All are small country towns, surviving with the passing tourist business. They've had more than their share of floods and fires, and somehow they survive. Now headed for Moree, passing through extensive wheat and cotton fields, past numerous pecan nut trees, and into the home of artesian hot spring baths. The Gwydir caravan park is $34 a night, and for that you can stay in the lovely hot baths for as long as you like. In 1895 the Great Artesian Basin which sits under Moree was tapped and yields over 13 megalitres of water every day. Unfortunately the water's not suitable for agricultural use, but it's certainly good for the bones and beautifully relaxing for us.

Following the Newell and Gore Highways, and some small roads, we're off to Maleny. We've had lots of rain, and towing the van on the winding hills is slow and tiring. We passed an unfortunate scene, a 4WD and caravan on their side, obviously lost control on a corner. This really makes us stop and think! Looked like nobody was hurt, thank goodness. We checked into Maleny showgrounds and headed to the local IGA to do our shopping - local produce and great service. We love Maleny. Beautiful and sunny when we woke in the morning so Joe washed the van and I spring cleaned the inside before hitching up and heading for Noosa.

So here we are, settled into this beautiful climate on Site 82. they've had lots of rain up here and its lovely and green. The caravan park has been tidied up considerably, and we have a pink flowering gum, full of rosella parrots, right outside our bedroom window. We're happy to be here and not in NSW which has experienced dreadful storms and floods. This morning we went to the Anzac Day dawn service on Main Beach - up at 3.15am, walked to the beach along with many thousands of others. It was a little disappointing, lacking emotion, I couldn't see a thing - maybe we expect too much. Then back for brekky, a swim, sit in the sun and read our books. We've put the TV outside for the Anzac Day game, but unfortunately the Hawks match isn't televised in Queensland tonight - disappointing, but we'll work something out.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 22:03 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Where have we been? The Island Down Under!

What have we been doing the last couple of months? Good question

overcast 12 °C

Well, to continue where I left off in the middle of January.....we had a horrid day sailing from Melbourne to Devonport, so rough that most passengers were sick. Luckily we were able to book into a cabin and believe me it was the best $100 we have ever spent.......to climb between the crisp white sheets and put our heads on those pathetic pillows was the best feeling, when all around us was mayhem. To top it all off we were made to tip our 20 litres of diesel out into a drum at Station Pier - not what should have happened and it left a nasty taste, however the staff at the pier are like the gestapo and not to be argued with. We arrived into Devonport about an hour late and after a magnificent drive through luscious countryside to Westbury, we were welcomed home with a fanfare, with children jumping off walls, flags flying and plenty of wet cheeks. SO NICE to be here, to feel the family around us, and to enjoy a delicious ambience and a home cooked meal at Lou and Scotty's.

We are parked in the walnut orchard at Lou and Scotty's, and have named it "Walnut Grove". It's one of the most special spots we've ever parked in, plugged into power and water, a lovely shady spot. We have the bonus of the kids popping in after school, and we often have happy hour (or 2!!) with the Scotts in the evening. Millsie and Angus come and go, friends in tow, sometimes home sometimes not. Will and Hannah have graduated to middle school at Scotch, and have plenty still to learn. I have settled into work at Masonic Homes, and have had loads of shifts. We've caught up with lots of friends and still have lots to see. Joe sees that his daughters' gardens are all tickety boo, their knives are sharpened, everyones' hair trimmed and we've been rewarded with lovely meals and company. When I work an evening shift, Joe is invited to Emma's house, she spoils him with her wonderful cooking and he catches up with Sunny and Tilly's news. Last weekend we were in Hobart with Katie Jo and Webby, Ella and Georga.......where has the time gone since they were little girls, they're now coming home from a night shift as a paramedic in the ambulance or heading off to a shift as RN on the medical ward.

We had a couple of days in Hobart to see friends and family, but apart from that we haven't moved. Next weekend we're off to Legana(!!)! to park the van at Jo and Stu's and enjoy a long overdue catch up with them. No driving, just drink, eat, talk, laugh. Joe will fix the garden at our place and we'll no doubt have a bottle or two with Paul and Patricia.

We've seen dentists, banks, optometrist, doctors, pathologists, hairdressers, mammograms, caravan repairers, car repairers etc, and I think it's just about all done, we're ready for another trip around the big island. We leave on April 12th, and will head to Noosa for a month, via Yackandandah of course. From there we'll find ourselves back at Ellis Beach in June, finding ourselves with our friends, Mark and Max, then after a week of babysitting the littlies in Sydney will be flying back to Tas for a wedding mid July. We're hoping to be heading towards WA towards the end of July, and will spend quite a few months seeing things we missed last time.

At the moment we can't see an end to this wonderful life! Long may it last.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 23:48 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Happy New Year to you all

Christmas over for another year, and more happy travels for us!

rain 19 °C

Christmas was just as we planned.....roast pork and turkey on the Weber with all the trimmings, delicious fresh berries, with wine and cheese as desired through the day. What a lovely place to spend Christmas Day, and any day for that matter! We set the table on the side of the creek, and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day together.

New Year's Eve is another matter altogether.....we were joined by David and Gary, our dear friends from Albert Park and Talbot, and their little doggies, Max and Alfie. So we had them for dinner at our place (our patch on the riverbank!) along with Trevor and Shirley who own the park. First time for ages we have actually stayed up until the bewitching hour and talked and laughed and drank and watched fireworks on TV while opening yet another bottle of bubbles at midnight. Good fun, and so lovely to be with friends. We first met David and Gary at Yack a couple of years ago so we all have a bit of an affinity with the place. We enjoyed a few days with them, till they had to leave to sample the gourmet delights of Milawa.

We've had lots of rain, a few trips into Albury, short trips around the area, a day at Rutherglen enjoying wine and sightseeing, and Joe has been cutting the grass for Trevor while he and Shirley had a few days away. Each time we take a walk up into Yack we see something we haven't spotted before. The shops are so quirky, so messy, so old fashioned. The galleries never change. The second hand shops are fifth or sixth hand, full of retro kitchen stuff, old tupperware, gorgeous old glassware and china. No room in the van for all that, unfortunately.

We've met lots of new acquaintances in the park, all who have now gone their various ways. Some we'll see again, some we won't. We can't believe we are still at Yackandandah.......it's school holidays so parks are full up, we are safe and happy, the creek is flowing, it's quiet and beautiful.....so why would we leave? So many awful things happening in the big wide world. Today it's piddling with rain so we've come to The Milawa Gourmet region to experience the food and wine epicentre. Just finished a casual bistro lunch at Brown Brothers restaurant, accompanied by a very nice Pinot Grigio. Each place we stop offers an extensive range of local, seasonal produce from nearby farm gates. Now we have parked on the banks of the beautiful Ovens River to do this blog,; it's still bucketing down, and we're about to take the back roads back to the van, light the fire in the camp kitchen, settle down with a bottle of red and watch a movie.

On Sunday we have a day sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania to Devonport. A whole new experience for us, and of course we're hoping that we have a calm crossing. So many travellers ask us what the trip is like, and we boldly tell them it's fine and calm. That is, when you're head's on the pillow after a few glasses of red. I'm sure it will be fine, we'll have plenty to keep us occupied, and the time will fly. Three months in Tassie is something that is coveted by caravanners, and we are very much looking forward to seeing friends and families again, me joining the workforce for a while, and feeling at home. So we look forward to seeing you all very soon and enjoying some fine company.

Posted by Crazy Poupes 20:27 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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