24 minutes reading time (4709 words)

Life after Mallacoota

Day 1. 29/10/12

Well, its out of Mallacoota this morning and on the road again. First stop was at the little village of Cann River for a coffee and to pick up a loaf of bread. Cann River is situated at the junction of the Princes Highway and the Alpine Highway.

It is larger than Genoa, with several coffee shops, diner, bakery and pie shop, as well as a fuel outlet. The Cann River Cafe, boasts a sign saying that the original cafe was established in 1947. The town also has a shop displaying signs from the 1930s - 1950s, mostly for motorcycles.

We could have had a caravan club muster of our own this morning at Cann River, with the number of ACC vans stopped there for refreshments.

From there we moved along towards Orbost, through areas that had been involved in bushfires. CFA vehicles could be seen in the area, obviously mopping up after the fires. Signs warning of smoke over the road were still in place, however, we did no have any smoke problems.

There were a large number of motorcycles travelling East, obviously returning home after attending the motorcycle racing at Phillip Island.

We stopped in at Orbost, which is lovely country town in East Gippsland, on the banks of the Snowy River. Timber seems to be one of the main industries in the area.

While we were in Orbost the strangest thing happened. We were told at Mallacoota, that a couple had been looking for us. They were friends of Bevan & Margaret Guttormsen from our Club. We were out on that occasion. We were walking down the street in Orbost, when we were approached by a couple, who inquired if we were Ted and Cathy. When we replied that we were, they told us that they were the people had been looking for us at Mallacoota. They had seen our name on the back of our van, as we drove down the street. How about that for a coincidence. More on this topic later.

We did a little shopping before heading off to Lakes Entrance. We arrived at Lakes Entrance at about 1:30pm.

Now for the next chapter in the Orbost coincidence. When were booking in at the Eastern Beach Caravan Park, the lady looked at Cathy and said, "And you'd be Cathy" We were nonplussed for a while, as to how she would know Cathy's name, as I had not supplied it, while on the phone making our booking. She eventually told us that the people we met in Orbost had told her.

When we met up with Barry & Jeanette, they told us that at the eact time I called the caravan park, they were in the office booking in. When Jeanette heard the manager say that she would see us this afternoon, she asked if it was us one the phone. How amazing.

This a lovely park and there are at least another four Queensland vans from our Muster here as well.

The Park is well maintained and the amenities are clean and a pleasure to use.

We had Happy Hour with Barry & Jeanette and a couple of their friends.

We all went to the Lakes Entrance Bowls Club for Dinner. Meal and company was great. Pokies not so great.

Day 2. 30/10/12

Slept in for a change. The off to Bucan Caves, approx. 54 kms from Lakes Entrance (Turn off at Nowa Nowa). The caves may not be as extensive as the Jenolan Cavers, but nevertheless, they are well worth a visit. $13 per head (Seniors Concession) for a guided tour with a very informative guide.

On the way back we visited an historic trestle rail bridge near Nowa Nowa. The bridge is no longer in use, but what a feat of engineering to build it in the first place. Built in 1916 for steam trains, it was built from red Iron-bark and Grey Box timber. It is 247 metres long, and 20 metres high. The road in is a very narrow dirt forestry road and care is essential, due to logging trucks.


Back to the van park for Happy Hour with friends from yesterday as well as two other new couples. We are having a great time here.

Day 3 31/10/12

Lazy day. Washed and detailed truck. Spent the rest of the day doing laundry and relaxing.

Happy Hour with some new friends. The Group seems to be growing each day. We had a storm this afternoon, with very gusty winds and little rain, Fortunately it did not last very long.

Day 4 01/11/12

What a difference a day makes. Woke this morning to wind and showers. Major change from yesterday. Obviously I shouldn't have washed the car yesterday.

We decided to fold up the awning a bit early, in preparation for our departure tomorrow morning. This turned out to be a very wise decision.

Trip into the shopping area including lunch at the Lakes Entrance Communiy & Sporting Club. Fair lunch for $10.00, but not as good as our lunches in Ipswich. While were inside the weather blew up into gale force, gusty winds. Thank goodness the awning is packed up.

As the sun was shining, we decided to brave the winds for a small trip to the seaside village of  Metung.

Had to fight the winds all the way, as even without the van the truck was being buffeted.

Metung looks like a very nice little village. Lots of holiday accomodation and lake cruises.

The conditions there were less than ideal due to the weather.

No happy hour today. Weather too bad.

Day 5. 02/11/12

Thank goodness. The winds have abated considerably overnight. As planned, we began the process of breaking camp. We left Lakes Entrance about 7:45 am. This is early for us, lately.

Fairly pleasant drive along the Prices Highway. First major town was Bairnsdale, however we kept on moving as we wanted to make Springvale, before Peak Hour Traffic began.

We did, however,  stop at the small hamlet of Stratford on the River Avon, for coffee. We had that a quaint coffee shop called 'Herwegodutch Cafe". It appeared to be a very popular eatery.

The coffee shop had a large range of bric-a-brac, with a Netherlands influence. Strangely enough the serving staff were of Asian appearance. I believe the owner may have been of Dutch descent.

On again towards Melbourne, with a comfort stop in Trafalgar. Kept going and had lunch at a Service Centre and Longwarry, which, incidently, is the first Service Centre, we have seen since crossing into Victoria.

Victoria certainly could learn from NSW & Qld. about how to cater for the travelling public. The Rest Areas, we have seen so far, in Victoria, are deplorable with very basic or no facilities.

We have driven through some lovely farming country. Green paddocks everywhere, some with cattle and some with sheep.

After playing a little GPS tag we arrived at the Sundowner Caravan Park, at Springvale. Not a flash park, but in fairness the amenities have recently been renovated and are quite good. There is a coffee shop in the process of being fitted out at the entrance to the park.

Went for a walk to the nearby shops and had a coffee.

Day 6 03/11/12

This morning was mainly sunny, but still quite cool to us hot blooded Queenslanders. After Breakfast, it was off to Montmorency to visit our friends, Glen & Marg. Reigo. Followed the GPS without too much hassle. It was great to catch up with Glenn & Marg. again.

From Montmorency, it was on to North Melbourne to catch up with Cathy's daughter, Michelle.

Michelle took us to a park at North Fitzroy, where the annual Community Festival was in progress. This is an annual event and sometimes referred to as the Gypsy Festival. It was very colourful and seemed to be popular with the younger "Upwardly Mobile" residents of Fitzroy North.

The worms were biting, so it was off to lunch at the nearby Pinnacle Hotel. Nice meal, although a little pricey at $14.50 for bar snacks. Couldn't believe that Victoria still allows smoking in food consumption. Time to get with the program guys.

After being dropped back at our truck we headed back to the van, through the CBD of Melbourne, thanks to the GPS.

Day 7. 04/11/12

Sunday dawned a beautiful warm day. Explored Springvale a little and then it was over to Lower Plenty to see friends, Alan & Raelene Baker. The afternoon was very pleasant. BBQ lunch followed by a good old chin wag. We got home about 6:00pm. Scratch dinner and got ready to leave Melbourne tomorrow.

Day 8 05/11/12

Well its off to Ballarat. Got onto the M1 or Monash Freeway, after some difficulty. I love how Melbourne street signs are either well hidden or don't exist at all. Finally onto the M80, Western Freeway to take us to Ballarat. We made a detour into Baccus Marsh. Seems a nice little Town, but there is very little or no parking available for caravans, so no stop was made.

On to Ballarat. After lunch we made our way to the Eureka Stockade Caravan Park.

To our horror, when we went to unlock the van, the lock barrel had turned, and the key would not go into the lock, and consequently we were locked out. A locksmith had to be called, which cost us $50. After some phone calls, we are still not sure if this will be covered by Warranty. Thank goodness we can now get into the van again. Some shopping and sightseeing in Ballarat before dinner in the van. Hopefully tomorrow it will be a visit to Sovereign Hill tourist attraction.

Day 9 06/11/12

Out and about Ballarat this morning. First off a visit to Kryall Castle, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Then off to Mill Markets and in to the biggest antique and collectable stores, we have ever seen.

A quick look and the off to Sovereign Hill which is built on one of the richest gold mines discovered in Ballarat in the 1850s. We spent most of the day looking around the large site.

It was very interesting day and we took lots of photos. I still feel that it is a bit expensive as the entry fee does not include internal tours and rides etc., which Timberland at Wauchope does.

Meals also a little bit on the expensive side.

Further exploration of Ballarat and then home for the rest of the day and evening.

Day 10 07/11/12

We left Ballarat and finally got onto the right way to Shepparton, no thanks to the GPS.

We had a good run until we got to the small town of Guildford. We had a lunch and then needed to use the toilet in the van. Turned on the water pump, but only a trickle coming out of the taps. Huge amount of water being pumped out through the mains water connector.

A couple of phone calls to City Caravan Sales in Brisbane, where we bought our van, and arrangements were made to have the problem rectified at Shepparton, under Warranty. Took the van to Solar City Caravan Repairs, where a new two way valve was fitted at no cost to us. Craig Collins, the Proprietor, told us that it is very rare for one of these brass valves to malfunction.

Arrived at Lake Victoria Holiday Park in Shepparton . Very nice surroundings on the shore of the Lake. Unfortunately, the amenities let the park down. Although very clean, they are old and would be inadequate if the park was full.

Did a quick shop before an early night.

Day 11 08/11/12

Woke to a very nice day. Fuelled up and then went exploring. First stop was the Chocolate Apple Factory at Shepparton East. Absolutely fantastic deserts and juices. Owner by Vera Fleming and family. May be a relation of Cathy's but who knows. Sampled the wares and then purchased juice and a couple of chocolate apples.

From there it was over to Guthrie Street, Shepparton to see the house Cathy built when she lived in Shepparton. Bit of a disappointment as it has been neglected to a large degree.

After that we decided to head off to brown Brothers at Millawa 1.5hrs away. This took us through the bustling little town of Benalla and off to the side of Glenrowan (Ned Kelly's last stand). Both of us had been to the winery before (a long time ago), but we were disappointed this time with the set up. Previously cheese and bickies were offered at wine tastings, but not now. The attitude seems to be the same at most wineries, give us your money and get lost. We bought two bottles of wine, as they were delicious.

The afternoon turned out windy and cool. We headed home and then had dinner at Shepparton RSL. Very nice club.

Day 12 09/11/12

This morning it was off to Campbells Soup outlet and the SPC Ardmona. Bought up big. Did some other shopping and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Went for a walk around the lake. Very nice spot.

Day 13 10/11/12

Left Shepparton this morning for Wodonga. Decided to give Echuca a miss. Attempted to get a replacement massage cushion for Ted's seat from Homeart at Wodonga, as the old one is still under warranty and has given up the ghost. Homeart sold out. Going to be difficult to obtain one apparently. Onto Albury and tried there without success, so we continued on and decided to overnight at Mullegandra Rest Area about 30kms from Albury. Reasonable stop. 1 other van and a motor home shared the spot.

Day 14 11/11/12 Woke up this morning after a fitful night. Had Breakfast and then set off for Yass. We stopped at the historic town of Holbrook, mainly to use the public toilet dump point at the caravan park. Seems to be a very nice park. Put into the memory bank for future trips. Onwards with a stop at Gundagai at the dog on the tucker box monument. Lunch there and then on into Yass for fuel. Have been driving into wind all day. Fuelled up and tried to find ran overnight rest stop. Nothing suitable so onto Cowra, where we did find a lovely O/N stay.

Day 15 12/11/12

Had a good night's sleep. Breakfast and then found out No.1 gas bottle had run out. Also needed to sort out some banking problems at NAB. Unhitched the van and went into town. Got gas refilled, sorted out other problems. Collected the van and then headed off to Bathurst. Heavy Police presence between Cowra and Blayney. Arrived in Bathurst about 2:00 pm. set up camp at Bathurst Show Grounds, $25 per night . Basic but clean amenities, although typical of old time show grounds. Staying two nights.

Day 16 13/11/12

Bit of sightseeing and shopping in Bathurst itself. There are some beautiful old buildings in the town, and most of them are well maintained. Did not go to Mount Panorama (sorry Roberts boys).  Spent the rest of the day relaxing. Have decided to travel via Sofala to connect up with the Golden Highway to run into Muswellbrook and connect up with the New England Highway.

Day 17 14/11/12

Well. We left Bathurst at about 8:30 am this morning. We did, as planned, travel via Sofala.

There were some very steep inclines and declines on the way. We passed turn offs to a number of small villages, but did not venture in. Sofala has signs warning of very narrow streets and they urge people to drive very carefully. Since we are a fairly big rig, coupled with the fact that Sofala, is at the foot of a very steep climb. We opted to keep going. I neglected to mention that we nearly had a very large Wallaroo as a bonnet mascot, before Sofala. I braked fairly heavily and he got as big a fright as us and spun off the other way, thank goodness.

So it was on to Mudgee, which is a bustling country centre, with a vibrant shopping CBD. Many coffee shops. Had to make a U Turn in a side street due to Police directions following an accident and oil spill. Not the easiest, but managed, despite lack of assistance by Police Woman.

We travelled on towards Gulgong, turning off to Dunedoo, on the outskirts of the town. We are presently in a Rest Area for the night between Dunedoo and Denman. Nice  rest area.


Day 18 15/11/12

Leaving our campsite this morning, it was off towards Denman and Muswellbrook. First stop was the small town of Merriwa, as we needed to use the public dump point to empty the caravan toilet. We  moved further into town and had a coffee and then toured "The Hut" tourist welcoming centre. Very interesting spot.

We moved onto Denman and then into the bigger centre of Muswellbrook. The fact that Muswellbrook is in the heart of coal mining country was brought home to us by an oversize  load causing us to pull off the road and stop.

The load pictured was being moved by two Prime Movers, one pulling and one pushing.

We did not linger, but decided to push on towards Tamworth.

We free camped at the Burning Mountain Rest Area, about 100kms from Tamworth and 5kms from the little village of Wingen. Nice enough spot except for the fact that the ground was not level. Wildlife moved freely about, Kangaroos and Galahs. We pulled up about 12:30 pm for the night.

Day 19 16/11/12

Woke up early and decided to have breakfast on the road. Packed up and set off by 8:30am.

We by passed a sign at Wallabadah, advertising the best coffee outside of Italy and had breakfast at a truck stop on the outskirts of Tamworth.

We did not venture into the Tamworth City Centre as the Highway to Armidale, turned off before we reached the CBD.

It was on towards Armidale, with a stop at Uralla to view Captain Thunderbolts Grave.

Thunderbolt was a Bushranger named Fred Ward. It is worth putting Captain Thunderbolt into Google on a computer and reading his History. I am not going to detail it all here.

We arrived in Armidale at about 11:45am and booked into the  Pembroke Caravan Park, whic set in lovely manicured grounds. Amazingly, as we were heading off to do some shopping, we noticed Neville & Jo Meier, from our Caravan Club had also booked into the Park. Arrangements were made for Happy Hour at 5pm. Did our shopping and had a very enjoyable Happy Hour with Nev. and Jo.

After dinner we visited Ted's Niece, Kath Jarman, and spent a very enjoyable evening with Kath and her Daughter Emily. Kath's Son, Jock was not at home.

Back to the Van Park for the evening.

Day 20 17/11/12

Leisurely morning. Went to the  Tourist Information Centre, where we were given quite a bit of material.

We made a picnic lunch and drove back to Uralla and turned in towards Dangar Falls. We stopped at a quaint little chapel at Gostwyck. It is covered in Ivy, but still in use. We continued on, but took a wrong turn and missed the falls. The weather was very cool and rainy, so we decided to go home.

We experienced some heavy rain from thunderstorms during the night.

Day 21 18/11/12

Another leisurely day. Some shopping and a visit to a market. Didn't buy anything as it was all overpriced.

Lunch and then prepared things for our departure tomorrow.

Day 22 19/11/12

On the road again, through Guyra and on into Glen Innes, where we made our first stop. Coffee at McCafe and then into the Information Centre, where we had a very interesting conversation with a retired sapphire miner turned gem dealer.

On into the information centre proper, with a discussion about the Glen Innes Celtic Festival, which is due to be held over the Labour Day long weekend in May 2013.

Could be a bit expensive for us though, at $60 each, plus accommodation and travel expenses.

From the Information Centre, it was up to the Standing Stones area, where the Celtic Festivals are held annually. Interesting area, with lovely views of Glen Innes.

It was Lunch at Tenterfield, then off towards Casino, to hopefully catch up with Cathy's Sister Pattie and her Husband Bob.

We overnighted in a rest area called "West of the Ranges". No internet or phone coverage.

Day 23 20/11/12

Breakfast at "West of the Ranges" then off to Casino over some very windy  road with steep inclines and descents. One again the rig performed very well.

Attempted to contact Pattie and Bob, but no luck. Small amount of shopping and a walk around the town. Casino is a very busy town on the banks of the Richmond River.

We headed off on the Summerland Way, towards Grafton and dropped for lunch at Breamer Park Rest Area. We liked it so much, we decided to camp here. Good phone and I/Net coverage.

Day 24 21/11/12

Off on the road to Grafton. Some brief showers at the road works. No problems getting into the bustling centre that is Grafton. Jacarandas staring to bloom and looking good. Shopping in Grafton, then over the bridge with "S" Bends in the middle and on towards Ballina.

We have seen some evidence around Broadwater, of very wild weather, with many trees being broken and knocked over.

We are overnighting in the Wardell Rest Area, south of Ballina.

Day 25 22/11/12

Booked a site at Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park for three nights. Arrived at the Park this morning and believe it or not the people next door are a Sunshine Coast couple we met while overnighting at Cowra. One more coincidence on this trip.

This is a lovely park and would recommend it to anyone.

Some shopping in Ballina. Relaxed.

Day 26 23/11/12

Woke to a beautiful day in the lovely surroundings of this park.

The day was so good, we took the Kayak off the roof and went for a paddle around the lake.


Shopping and then lunch. Dinner at Ballina RSL, No luck on pokies.

Had a visit from a very fat rabbit tonight. He or she wasn't too concerned about us and was very near the annex pad on our site.

Day 27 24/11/12

Weather pretty good this morning. After Breakfast it was kayak time again. Wind was beginning to spring up.

Laundry time, wind was now very gusty. Great for clothes drying.

Lazy day. Spent a little time watching a Plover chick with it's Mum. Originally there were three chicks when we arrived on Thursday. Now down to one. Found another chick dead under a tree. We don't know if a bird killed it, or something else. What a shame.

Off tomorrow to Tweed Heads for the next week.

Day 28 25/11/12

Packed up and off to Tweed Heads. Arrived at Pyramid Holiday Village at about 10:30.

Difficult site, but eventually got in. Set up camp. Off to see Grand Kids tomorrow.

Day 29 26/11/12

Today's events seem a bit mundane after our adventures in other States, But here it is anyway.

We went out for Breakfast. Settled on  a little coffee shop in Bay Street,Tweed Heads. Scrambled Eggs for Cathy and Bacon and Eggs for Ted. plus two coffees for $21.80. Good value. Ted got a haircut for $9.00 across the road. Haven't had such a cheap one for years.

Didn't see the Grand Kids last night as one of them not well. Had lunch today with Cathy's Daughter Tanya. It was great to see her again. We will b e having the kids stay overnight later in the week.

Some shopping at Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, Broadbeach and then home for dinner etc.

Day 30 27/11/12

Breakfast and then off to Mudgeeraba School for our Grandson Jayden's Kindy graduation. The children put on a nice show.

Morning tea was provided, but we were unable to stay, as we had to go to City Caravan Centre to recover money spent on a locksmith at Ballarat, which was a warranty issue. No problems with reimbursement. They have been very good to deal with.

Back to Broadbeach, where we had lunch with Tanya. Some shopping then home.

Day 31 28/11/12

Lazy Day. Ted went to Bunnings for a new sullage hose for the van. Some other necessary shopping.

Out for dinner at Seagulls Leagues Club, in light rain. Nice meal. Pokies very tight.

Day 32 29/11/12

Lazy Day chasing beading supplies for Cathy. Dinner at Tanya and Marty's. Took our Grandson, Jayden, back to the van with us.Will collect Granddaughter, Jaime, tomorrow night, for a short stay with us.

Day 33 30/11/12

Quick trip to Loganholme and then shopping  for new shoes for Jayden. Had forgotten what it was like to shop with kids in tow. Quick lunch and then collected Jaime from school at Mudgeeraba.

The M1 was closed in the Southbound lanes at Tugun due to a fatal traffic accident near the Kennedy Drive off ramp. Almost two hours to get back to the van after trying to dodge the delays. The trip is normally 20 Minutes at the most.

Day 34 01/12/12

Took the kids to Broadwater Parklands at Southport. They had a great time in the zero level water park. Took lunch to save money, but ended up with a $50 parking fine. Ticket machine and sign obscured by tree branches.

Dinner at the Wallaby Hotel with Tanya and Marty. Early Birthday celebration for Tanya as we can't be there on 04/12/11. Reasonable meal. Delivered kids home at same time. We had trouble parking at the Hotel due to a large Police operation in progress at the car park. Dogs, Detectives and Uniform personnel involved. We are off to Kalbar tomorrow for our caravan club Christmas muster and AGM.

Day 35 02/12/12

Very early start this morning to pack up the annex, kayak and awning. Got away from Tweed Heads about 9:30 am (Pretend Time). We had brunch at Beaudesert and had intended to free camp tonight, however, we were so close we opted to book into Kalbar Show Grounds today instead of Tomorrow. Had to take a temporary site for tonight, as the Kookaburra Caravan Club were having a muster there.

Day 36 03/12/12

Took a walk up into the busy metropolis that is Kalbar township. Had a coffee at one of the three coffee shops. very nice. Spent some more money at the butcher and then a quick trip into Boonah for groceries, as Kalbar does not have a supermarket.

When we returned to the van, Anne & John & Anne Mathams had arrived and set up camp.Happy Hour for four.

Day 37 04/12/12

Decided to make a quick trip home and drop off the kayak, as well as tend to other business.

Very hot day. Fruit shopping at Aratula on the way back to the van. Max & Marilyn Watkins and peter and Sandra Beerens had arrived, so the happy hour increased dramatically.

Day 38 05/12/12

Not quite as hot today. Coffee at Kalbar and some shopping at Boonah. Numerous arrivals from our club. Very large happy hour, which will only get bigger over the next few days.

Day 39 06/12/12

Full day. Off to Beenleigh for Ted's Retired Police Association Branch Christmas Lunch. Great morning. Then  up to Mater Children's Hospital, to see our Grand Daughter, Savannah (2 yr old) who has an unidentified bone infection. Stayed with her Mum, Danielle, while bub was having a bone biopsy, in theatre.

Returned to Kalbar at about 9pm.

Day 40 to Day 43 07/12/12 to 10/12/12

Muster went ahead in full swing with AGM and Election of Office Bearers on Saturday afternoon. Ted is now Vice President of the Moreton Bay Drifters Caravan Club.

Christmas Dinner was a great night with Ted doing the Santa Claus gig.

Day 43 10/12/12

We packed up and after many farewells from the remaining club members we left Kalbar and returned home. Our journey to Mallacoota and back was over.

Caravan Choice
Ipswich to Mallacoota or bust.

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