Travel Blogs

These are travel blogs submitted by our members.


Hi All, Over the last couple of years Margaret and I have had a blog of our travels on another site. I am not sure that we will start up another one here but am sure we will put important events in from time to time. 
We have been members for about the last 6 months but have only just logged into this site 
Blog site   Everybody is welcome to have a look.

Cheers    marg & john.

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SW Queensland

Left home in Mackay early July this year and had a good trip south on the old Sarina/Marlborough Road, a lot less traffic and NO trucks.  Had a week at Bargara and then headed south inland.  Stayed at Lake Broadwater just south of Dalby - magnificant site, very large, hot showers and plenty of wildlife.  Then off to Cunnamulla where we stayed on Bowra Station - a bird lovers delight!  Well over 300 species of birds frequent this property! Continued west stopping at Lake Bindigolly (?) a huge expanse of water both sides of the road.  Great spot and camping on the southern side of the highway.  Next stop Thargomindah, a wonderful caravan park there, did washing etc. Enjoyed our time there - plenty to see.  Next stop was Noccundra where  we camped on the banks of the Wilson River and watched the hundreds of pelicans feeding etc.  From there did a loop around to Quilpie, first night at the Lake and then stayed at the rest area.  Fascinating place - everyone should check out the opal altar in the catholic church.  Has to be seen to believe it! On to Charleville and visited the Cosmos centre at night - freezing cold but a great experience. From there north to Longreach and then onto Lake Dunn - the most wonderful lake we have ever seen.  Cannot wait to get back there!  The sun rises and sets over the lake and there is also good birdlife there.  Watched the pelicans feeding while we having breakfast!.  Wonderful trip.

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Travels in 2012

My major trip for 2012 was up to Alice Springs and back in. A mixture of free camping and caravan parks. Great trip.  Can't seem to upload photos to this blog so will have to leave the "stunning photos" till another time.

A couple of injuries one after the other have kept me tethered to home for the latter part of the year. 

I have several trips planned for next year including the Stone the Crows Festival. Anyone else going? Sounds like a lot of fun.


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Caravan Choice

My wife & I have just ordered an OPTION RV Destinction model for Dec delivery & was wondering if any members had such a van & what were there thoughts about this particular van, it's 20'6" centre door.

                Cheers, Trevor

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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.

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very enjoyable read.
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 16:29
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Ipswich to Mallacoota or bust.

Day 1. - 11/09/12. Finally on the road. Making our way slowly down the Coast to catch up with our Tag a Long at Blacksmiths, after visiting numerous rellies on the way down.

Only a short leg today. Staying overnight at Pyramid Holiday Park at Tweed Heads.

Dinner with Cathy's Daughter and Son in Law to say goodbye to them and the Grandkids.

Day 2. 12/09/12. Left Tweed heads at about 9:30 am. Very nice park. Would stay again.

Made a short detour into Brunswick Heads for a recce., then back on the main drag.

Had morning tea at Sleepy Hollow Rest area with the chooks. Yes that's right, CHOOKS. We couldn't believe our eyes. Six to eight chooks of various persuasions, bumming food from weary travellers, without a house in sight.


Going along nicely and then received a call from the Real Estate Agent with whom we have listed our house. She has a couple viewing the property and feels they are keen. If they buy, Ted and Cathy will have to do a quick U turn to clear our our gear.

With that in mind, we are staying at Calypso Van Park at Yamba for a few days, to see what eventuates. Will know more tomorrow, hopefully.


Day 3. 13/09/12

Got in some practice for the Fishing Comp. at Mallacoota. Nothing caught as yet.

Breakfast and some shopping up town and then went exploring Yamba and Maclean. Lovely area.

Park is very nice, but long way to the single dump point when you are at the end of the park. Not sure if the amenities would cope in peak season.

After speaking with our Real Estate Agent, we have decided to continue on our way South.

We are intending to pull out of Yamba tomorrow morning. A storm has just hit Yamba at 8:10pm. Nothing too severe at this stage.

Photos below:- Us at Turners Beach, Yamba.



Day 4. 14/09/12

Left Yamba about 09:15. Off south towards Grafton with Morning Tea at McPhillips  Rest Stop. Very popular with R.Vs. Had intended to stop at Coffs Harbour, to visit Ted's Niece, but as we were unable to contact her after a number of phone calls, the plan was revised and we had lunch at The Big Banana instead. We felt the Big Banana has shrivelled from it was the last time we visited some years ago. Approx. 2002.

Took a detour into Nambucca Heads, (lovely spot), before travelling to Macksville and staying with Cathy's Cousin Barry Kerr and his wife Gaye, on their farm on the Taylors Arm (Slim Dusty's Pub With No Beer) road. Barry and Gaye took us on a cook's tour of the the numerous residential and industrial sub-divisions that Barry has and is actively engaged in developing.

Then off to the R.S.L. Club in Macksville, for dinner with Barry, Gaye and their Son, Lindsay and Daughter in Law Carmen, and their 6 Month old Granddaughter, Ellie Lindsay and his family had only just returned from visiting Carmen's Parents in Canada and were understandably jet lagged. Didn't seem to worry the bub much though.

Day 5. 15/9/12

A quick Breakfast, before heading off for a tour of Taylor's Arm, Frederickton and back to Barry & Gaye's house. Cathy met some distant cousins she had not met, also shown the ancestral home of both Parents.

After a cuppa, we headed off again and made a stop at South West Rocks and toured Trial Bay Gaol. Big changes since our last visit, which in Ted's case was 1976.



We had intended to overnight in a Rest Area, but since the only one left open was not available, we continued the 18km to Port Macquarie and decided to stay in the area for a week. Booked into the Leisure Tourist Park (Top Tourist) $179 for the week. Not a new park, but the amenities are freshly painted and clean. The Manager, Ivan,  could not have more helpful. He came down to the site and helped us back in and then fine tuned the position of the van with his tractor. He even gave directions for the easiest way to exit the site, when we leave, given that it is a little tight. I asked about dining establishments, as tomorrow 16/09/12 is Cathy's and my 12the Wedding Anniversary. Ivan then produced a couple of discount vouchers for the All You Can Eat Buffet at the Port Bowls Club, which was a sea food buffet tonight.

As it was after 6pm by the time  the van was set up, we decided to wait until the 16th for our dinner out.

Day 6. 16/09/12

Spend the morning immediately after Breakfast, setting up the full annex and catching up with the Laundry. Then some grocery shopping, followed by a bit of a look around at Tacking Point Light House, Lighthouse Beach and Lake Cathie.


We decided to use the dinner vouchers and had a very nice buffet as mentioned above. No wins at the pokies, however.

Day 7. 17/09/12

Went exploring on foot near the C.P. Spoke to an 82 year old bloke who gave us an interesting talk about when Port Macquarie had a population of 1000.

Breakfast at a coffee shop and then continued on. Bought a couple of Herb pots to take with us.

Back to the van and then went to Wauchope  for a visit to Timbertown which is a working Pioneer type Museum. Fantastic place, especially for any one with children. (Take note Tanya Marty, Stuart and Danielle.)

One entry includes Steam Train Rides, Whip cracking lessons, Horse and Carriage ride, and Bullock Team displays. Unfortunately the Bullock Team demo had to be cancelled due to thunder storm. It was too dangerous as the metal bows on the bullock yokes would be like a lightning conductor and as the bullocks would be linked together with chains, he could lose tall of them.

Went back to the van ahead of thunderstorms. Nice rain for the rest of the evening.

Day 8 18/09/12

Woke to a sunny day after last night's rain.

We decided to christen the Kayak and so off to Lake Cathie for the inaugural launch .

After a little bit of trepidation on the part of the Navigator, who had not been in a Kayak before, we set off. The Navigator is ready to go again, after having a great time.

Found a better launching pad for next time and then decided to have a coffee at Settlement City Shopping Centre. Finished up being an expensive coffee, as I bought a new and improved lens for my Canon camera. No longer need the twin lenses that came with it. Now takes much better quality  photos.

Had to make a quick trip back to the van as, once again storms were imminent. Steady rain for the rest of the Afternoon.

Day 9. 19/09/12.

Weather fantastic this morning. Extended our stay here by 2 more days. School Holidays on Friday and I didn't feel like coping with the mad holiday traffic on Saturday.

Lazy day today. Shopping , laundry etc. Cathy bought  Macro and Portrait lenses for her camera.

Day 10. 20/09/12

Another lazy day. Beautiful weather. Unfortunately Ted had to go to Centrelink as his Pension Card has still not arrived and the temporary card was about to expire.

Went out to Bonny Hills, Camden Haven and Laurieton. This area really is very picturesque.

Dinner at Port Macquarie Panthers League club. Not to bad.

Day 11. 21/09/12.

Noticed Yesterday that Ford was very close to 60,000 Service. Contacted Midecke Ford, who managed to fit us in. Fixed Priced Service still way dearer than at home.  They do, however, have a Courtesy Bus on all day, which will pick you up and drop you off from various places around Town. Unfortunately, during the Service, it was found that there was too much play in the front Pinion. This needs to be fixed and will take about 3 days. Thank goodness its all under Warranty. So, this means another week here. Of course, at a higher tariff, due to the School Holidays. Still, we could be stuck in worse places.



Decided to give the fishing another go, but no luck. Can only improve from here on in.

While we were at Settlement Point, a young Koala came out of the bush onto the roadway. He headed towards the river and climbed into a Mangrove tree. We have no idea what set him off on his little journey.


Day 12. 22/09/12

Another lazy day with some food shopping. Dinner at Panthers Sports Club, across the street from the C.P. Nice meals.

Day 13. 23/09/12.

Relaxing day once again. Nice to sit and do nothing.

Day 14. 24/09/12

Paid up here until 30/09/12 due to vehicle repairs. Ted visited the Barber finally. Had to go to buy new sunnies as Ted's broke. Did a bit of other shopping and banking.

Day 15. 25/09/12

Vehicle in for repairs at 7:30 am. On foot for next three days. Decided to walk into the Westport Club in the main city area, Will check, but about 7 - 10 klms each way.

En-route we stopped and went Ten Pin Bowling. Ted lost by one point. Not real cheap at $10 each per game.

Had lunch at the Golden Arches and then went to the Club, which was apparently voted best Club in NSW. Pokies pretty well screwed down. Not much in the way of pay outs. Walked back to home with a stop at the Ford dealer to enquire about the Ranger. Not able to find out much, but did drool over a genuine mint condition 1970 XW Falcon GT HO, which is owned by Andrew Midecke, the owner of the dealership. Brought back memories for Ted, who owned GT Falcon of the same model, which he brought brand new in 1970.

Day 16. 26/09/12

Phone call from Midecke Ford. Our car was ready to pick up. Problem was incorrect pre tension on the pinion bearing. Good news. Returned to Wauchope and had a good look around and lunched on the river bank. Nice little town.

Day 17. 27/09/12

Not a good night. Cathy was ill and vomiting. Decided to wait before seeing Doctor. Seems to be O.K. now. We have no idea what caused it. Slow day. Anxious  wait for mail, which has not arrived when it should have.

Day 18. 28/09/12

Nothing startling today, except our mail from home has finally arrived. It was sent Express Post on Tuesday, by my Daughter in Law and arrived today, Friday. Would have been quicker by normal mail. Good on Ya, Australia Post.

Shopping today, stocking up for our departure on 30/09/12.

Day 19. 29/09/12

Started packing up for our departure tomorrow. Took a break for coffee in town and decided to go out for dinner. Consequently dined at the Port Macquarie Bowls Club.

Day 20. 30/09/12

Time to leave Port Macquarie. Battery decided it wasn't going to start the car so we could hook up. Thanks to next door van for a jump start.Looks like a new battery before Mallacoota. Overnighting at Newmans Road Rest Area south of Taree, after a few stops and rude words, trying to stop the wind noise/ vibration from the kayak on the roof racks.

A couple of other vans here as well.

Day 21. 01/10/09.

Had a great night's sleep here. Woke up to find a few more vans and a couple of trucks had pulled in during the night.

We met a great couple, Graham & Ann, who were towing a brand new Jayco van with their 1934 Chevrolet. 6 litre V8. Beautiful car. Our battery decided to play up again, so we had to prevail upon Graham for a jump start. It was trouble to him  to unhitch his van and back the Chev up to us, as his battery was in the boot.

So it was off again to Thornton, to locate Cathy's cousin, who unfortunately was not home.

On to Newcastle, which was extremely busy, with some sort of fair on the beach front. We decided to stay in the area to hunt up a new battery tomorrow, as today is a Public Holiday.

Eventually managed to get a site for two nights in the Bellhaven Caravan Park at Raymond Terrace. Not a flash park, but the amenities, although dated, were very clean and tidy. $30 per night.

Went out to Woodrising to locate where Cathy's niece is living. Will go to see them tomorrow as it was a bit late today. Also found Blacksmiths Beach, where we have to meet up for the start of our Tag a Long.

Southbound Traffic on the Pacific Highway was bumper to bumper as the Long Weekend was drawing to a close. Thank goodness we didn't have to be in that.

Day 22. 02/10/12

Tracked down a battery for the car at Battery Kingdom near the C.P.  Fitted battery for $195.00.

Took a look at Newcastle again. Still not impressed. Drove out to Thornton and bought some wine, before visiting Cathy's Cousin Margaret Writer and her Husband Terry. Had a very enjoyable evening and will be staying there tomorrow night.

Day 23. 03/10/12.

Left Raymond Terrace and parked the van at Margaret and Terry's. They took us to Nelson and Salamander Bays. Terrific lunch at the Marina. Seafood Basket for two for $24.50.

Fantastic outlook over Port Stephens.

From there to Historic Morpeth for coffee etc., before returning to Margaret & Terry's.

We had a terrific time. It was so good to catch up.

Day 24. 04/10/12

Breakfast and hit the road to Blacksmiths about 10:30. Arrived there about 11:30. Very nice park. Set up and then went to Belmont for some shopping. Temperature was 29+ degrees. Bright sunshine made it a lovely day. This is a beautiful area on the shores of Lake Macquarie.

Day 25. 05/10/12

Went out to Cathy's niece at Woodrising this morning. About 20 mins.  from Blacksmiths.

Had a nice time. Had a quick look at Swansea. Returned to the van for lunch and domestic chores. Neville & Jo from our club arrived and set up near us. Off to dinner at Pelican RSL. Fantastic Chinese food. Ted had a win on the pokies.

Day 26. 06/10/12

Drove out to the Hunter Valley and visited a couple of wineries, Briar Ridge, McWilliams - Mount Pleasant and McGuigan's. Also visited the Hunter Barn, where they have the lolly kangaroo. Too expensive to eat at the wineries, so lunch was a pie from Darby's Fast Bake. Bought a couple of wines at Briar Ridge and McGuigan's. Also visited the cheese factory at McGuigan's. Bought a couple of nice cheeses. Some shopping at Green Hills and then back to the van, Happy, Happy hour with Max & Mal, Glen & Di and Jo and Neville.

Set watches and clocks forward by 1 hour for the ridiculous Eastern Daylight Saving Time.

Day 27. 07/10/12

Domestic chores this morning. Welcomed some more tag a Long members. Some shopping and then back to the van for lunch. More arrivals, including one member's Land Rover Discovery on a tilt tray (again).

Happy hour with a much expanded group, now that all participants have arrived, Freezing weather.

Day 28. 08/10/12

Last day at Blacksmiths Beach. Last minute sightseeing at Caves Beach to look at the sea caves. Could only find one, due to tides. Lunch at Swansea RSL. Fuelled up for tomorrow and then to happy hour, followed by Reef & Beef Night. See photos.

Did some preliminary packing up for tomorrow.

Day 29 09/10/12

Left Blacksmiths at about 9:30 in drizzly rain and cold air.

Onto Kiama, bypassing most of Sydney. Google directions were useless and the GPS decided to have a spasm at Wollongong, emitting loud beeps and noting else.

We arrived safely at Kiama and have a completely concrete site. No levelling required. This is a beautiful area. Photos will follow.

Happy Hour until Cathy & I got too cold.

Day 30 10/10/12

Visit to the Blow Hole at Kiama. Unfortunately the wind was not right for the best effect.

From there to Saddleback Mountain. Disappointed with the lookout as any view is blocked by trees. From there we went to the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk above the rainforest. Well worth the trip. Ted climbed "Knight's Tower", with its 106 steps, towering over the rainforest.

Kiama is a beautiful place.  See next photo.

Out to dinner at Kiama Leagues Club, as a group. Meal was ordinary, but the pokies were more hospitable.

Few spots of rain. Supposed to very cold tomorrow.

Day 30. 11/10/12.

Rainy morning, so we slept in for a while.

Later we went down town and toured the historic Terrace Houses and shops.

Just wandering around and enjoying the beautiful afternoon that evolved.

Happy Hour at 5pm. Then home, just before a storm.

More photos of Kiama below.


Off to Lake Conjola, tomorrow.

Day 31 12/10/12

Heavy Rain, vicious winds and some hail, overnight at Kiama. We left there at about 10:am, after getting drenched while hooking up the Van. Very stressful drive in heavy winds and driving rain. Stopped for coffee at Berry. Then a bit of sightseeing via GPS, arriving at Lake Conjola about 1:30pm.

Lovely Park. We are surrounded by Kangaroos, Ducks and Lorrikeets. Set up camp and had a snooze, then Happy Hour.

Day 32 13/10/12

Woke up to a beautiful sunny day. Slight cool breeze.

Off exploring to Milton. Quaint little village, with lots of coffee shops, antique shops and restaurants.  Bought a couple of Chrissie pressies.


Then on to Ulladulla, which is a much larger centre, lunched at Fisherman's Wharf, coffee was terrible. Shopping and fuel.

Returned to Lake Conjola vis Mollymook. Happy Hour and the off to dinner at the Lake Conjola Bowls Club. Meal was great and pokies not too bad. Off to Kioloa tomorrow (50 Klms).

N.B. Apologies for the delay in updating the Blog. We have been without I/Net Access for three days.

Day 33. 14/10/12.

Short drive to Merry Beach, Kioloa. Cathy not well. Lovely park, but no mains water to sites, so we have to work off van tanks.

Park abuts a National Park and Kangaroos and Rabbits abound.

Very windy and cold. No rain but water constantly running from the hills due to heavy rain previously. Park showers were pay to use (20c for approx. 3 minutes). This is of course, on top of the tariff paid per night. Bit rude really. No mobile or internet coverage. Happy Hour was a blowy affair. Two vehicles had to be parked at right angles to each other for a wind break.

Off to Nelligen, near Batemans Bay, tomorrow.

Day 34 15/10/12.

We left windy Merry Beach at about 9:30 and travelled the 55 kms to Nelligen. Lovely park again on the banks of the Clyde River. However. no phone or internet again. Dropped the van and then into Batemans Bay. This a larger centre with a population of approx. 16,000 people.

Shopping and some sight seeing, before returning to Nelligen to finish setting up the van.

Happy Hour was a humorous affair as usual. The highlight of the Happy Hours, has been the awarding of a Rudolph Christmas Cap, complete with antlers to, usually the first to arrive at the next park. Yesterday, however, the cap was awarded to the last to arrive. So far we have managed to avoid the coveted cap.

Nelligen Big4 is a lovely park, but inflation has obviously hit, as their showers are 40c for approx. 3 Minutes.  Another blatant rip off.

After Happy Hour, dinner consisted of a communal Bar B Cue . Much laughter and good spirits.

Two nights here at Nelligen and now in the morning, its off to Tuross Heads. We have decided to be different to everyone else and travel via Mogo, which is slightly inland, before turning off to Tuross Heads south of Moruya.

Day 36 17/1012.

We left Nelligen about 9:00 am and headed off towards Mogo. We visited the Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of Mogo. Free entry to a well laid out attraction. We saw a large black snake after leaving the entrance hall.

The Gardens have a children's play area, where they are building a cubby house from mud bricks, which are made by children from the various schools in the area. Each school attends on a different day and make their supply of bricks.

From there it was onto the village of Mogo, which reminded us a lot of Mount Tamborine in Queensland, with its main street lined with shops. We easily spent several hours there, browsing through the shops. We did not have time for the Zoo or the Gold Rush Colony. Maybe another trip will allow this.

There is a magnifcent carved pole outside the Mogo Trading Post (See Photo). The detail is outstanding.

After Lunch it was a short drive to Tuross Heads. We arrived at about 2:30 pm. Still did not win the hat.

Once again, this is a stunning park. We are right on the beach front. The next Photo is from just outside our van.

At Happy Hour where we joined by a journalist and photographer, from Caravan and Motorhome  Magazine. They will be accompanying us the rest of the way to Mallacoota, and doing some articles on our Tag a Long.

After Happy Hour it was off to the Tuross Heads Country Club for dinner. We were collected and returned by the Club's Courtesy Bus. Great meal and Ted won $60 on the pokies. Top night.

Off to Wallaga Lake tomorrow.

Day 37 18/10/12

Set sail for Wallaga Lake at about 9:00 am. Stopped at Bodalla for Breakfast. Had that at the Bodalla dairy Barn, along with Noel and Dawn Hawes from our group, who had also pulled in. Bought some lovely cheese and after browsing through the hippy Shop and a few others we set sail again.

We did not stop at Moruya, but did detour via Mystery Beach. Once again the scenery is outstanding. We sailed through Narooma without stopping, as parking was a bit tight due a number of other vans parked near the Information Centre.

We arrived at Wallaga Lake at about 2:30pm. We could pick any site we liked in this park. This meant we could drive forward into our site. So easy. We were fourth to arrive, so avoided the funny hat again.

Happy Hour was around a camp fire, with tons of frivolity. Handouts were received from the Caravan and Motorhome  magazine guys. We drove into Narooma for some urgent shopping, but only Woolworths were open. We returned to the campfire for a few drinks and more jokes.


Day 38 19/10/12

Bit of a sleep in and then kayaking on the lake. Beautiful. From there we went into Bega via Cobargo. Bega is a fair size town with good shops. We had lunch at Gloria Jeans and then browsed and explored. Cathy bought a top and a harmonica, while Ted's purchases were more mundane (hose fittings and a hose). Unable to find a Woolworths petrol, so we fuelled up at out caravan park. cheapest in area. Ron & Sylvia McGrice pulled in after being stranded at Blacksmiths beach with transmission  problems.

Happy Hour was quite humorous, after Ron and Sylvia's arrival.

Off to Merimbula tomorrow.

Day 39 20/10/12

Left Wallaga Lake at about 9:40. Good run across to Cobargo and then down the Highway to Bega. From there we turned off to Tathra. Nice little place. We had intended to visit the historic wharf, but the road was signed as unsuitable to caravans.

We left Tathra and turned off to Tura Beach and we reached Merimbula, at about 11:30, after negotiating the steepest hill yet encountered. The trusty Ranger was down to 2nd gear for about 1.5 klms to get over it. No bends at all, just straight up.

We set up camp at Sapphire Coast Caravan Park. This is a beautiful park, within walking distance of the business centre. After lunch we ventured to Eden. Magnificent scenery. We were surprised to see a Brisbane tug tied up at the wharf. We toured the Whaling Museum, before returning to the van for Happy Hour. Whale watching tomorrow.


Day 40 21/10/12

Well the last day of our Tag a Long, before Mallacoota has arrived to overcast and windy conditions. The whale watching outing has been brought forward by an hour by the operators, due to the weather.

Small amount of shopping then down to the wharf. Onto the whale boat "Tru Blue".

Fantastic voyage, plenty of whales, including one breach almost within touching distance of the boat. However, it was very cold and windy, which made photography very difficult.

Happy Hour at the usual time and then out to Merimbula Bowls Club for dinner. Lovely meal and later Ted won on the pokies again.

The Caravan Park Owner is putting on pikelets with jam and cream for us tomorrow at 10:00 prior to us leaving. How good is that?

Day 42 22/10/12

Woke to a cold, drizzly and windy day. We decided to head off to Mallacoota and forego the pancakes.

We set sail and after a stop at Eden we arrived at our destination of Mallacoota Inlet.

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Pet insurance

anyone needing pet insurance, stear clear of 1300petinsurance, after paying in for over a year, we put in a claim for $350 odd for our poodle for a small operation, after months of back and forth requests for information by them we have finally given up in discust, we could see it is there intend to make it impossible to make a claim, requesting all sorts of information not readily available while travelling and the final straw was to tell us that they don't believe our 4 year old poodle didn't need to see a vet for 2 years except to have her vacinations! enough was enough. looking elsewhere now.


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Hi, I know your post is an old one but just had to comment pet insurance an absolute waste of time and I'd recommend people not ge... Read More
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Sundowners Tagalong Mildura to Broken hill 12-18 Jun

Tuesday 12th June    -    Day 13
We had to do a bit of food shopping before heading off for Broken Hill.  By 10;15am all the vans were ready so we departed the CP , me in the lead, trusting our Navman to take us to the Buronga Bridge and the turnoff for Wentworth.  Well, we only had gone about 2kms and I took us up a closed street which was under repair, so we all had to turn around and find the detour to get us back on track.  Finally we were on the Silver City Highway and settled down to a short drive to just outside Wentworth for morning tea.  By 11:30 we were again on the road and we arrived at the Popiltah  Lakes rest area around 1:30pm where we set up camp for the night.  


It was very busy at the rest area and we thought we may be fighting for a bit of space, but most of the vans there left a short time later having only stopped for lunch.  Someone had left a fire going so after setting up the vans for the night we all sat around the campfire for the afternoon.  We had a bbq dinner around the campfire and then stayed there till bedtime.  
Popiltah Lakes
Wednesday  13th June    -    Day 14
We all slept very well apart for the occasional semi going past.  We were ready to depart by 9:45am . It was a 137km run to Broken Hill with no rest stops in between.  The road was undulating  and bare with only a few scrub  patches.  Mainly cattle and sheep country.  There were lots of feral goats and emus about.   As we approached Broken Hill there was a sign on the road stating that we were entering Central Standard Time(same as Adelaide) .  We had to put our clocks back 30 minutes.  Because of the extra time now we pulled over for a coffee break about 15kms from the 'Hill'.  Afterwards it was an easy run into the Lakeview Caravan Park where we booked in for 4 nights.  We drove into town for some lunch after setting up and then found where the shopping centres are.   Then it was back to the van park for a rest and quiet afternoon.  Tonight we are watching the 2nd State of Origin game.  Go Maroons!


Thursday 14th June     -    Day 15
Well not much luck with the Origin game last night.  Maroons lost by 4.  :-(
Today we were planning to go looking at the touristy things in town but when I went to start the car, nothing!  The battery was flat so on the phone to call the RAA/NRMA.   About 20 minutes later the RAA van turns up and the mechanic checks the battery and the alternator and reckoned the alternator was shot because of a leak from the power steering connection right above it.  I had a similar problem with the battery whilst we were in Cobdogla in November and at the time the guy said the steering pipe had a small leak and could damage the alternator.  Karma?  Well, I was going to get it fixed as soon as we got home but now it looks like we are getting the car repaired here in Broken Hill.   The car was put on the tray and taken away to the repair shop.  Luckily, all the parts were obtainable here in town so it should be repaired today.  Meanwhile we headed off in Sue's Prado to the Lode line Memorial on a mullock hill that overlooks the city.   We spent an hour there looking at the memorial to all the miners that lost their life in the mines here over the years.  Then it was into town for some lunch.  After lunch we drove to the Pro Hart Gallery  and spent some time there looking at all the paintings that were there.  A very impressive collection.  Pro Hart died in 2006.

Pro Hart painting
Back to the van park and await the call from the repairer which came around 4pm.    The car was all fixed and should get us back to Adelaide!!  
Lode line Memorial
Friday 15th June    -    Day 16
We went for a drive out to Silverton today stopping off at the Day Dream Mine for a tour of the above ground and underground mine shafts. Mining was the reason that Silverton sprang up in the first place, and its still possible to experience what life was like for men working in its heyday. The Day Dream Mine is located northwest of Silverton and about 20 kilometers outside of Broken Hill.  Established in 1882, the mine attracted a sizable settlement which, while short-lived, boasted 500-odd residents at its peak, as well as the district's first smelters.  While the settlement gave ground to Silverton and then Broken Hill, mining continued up until 1983.   A miner's life consisted of twelve hour days, six days a week. Miners worked by Candle light which were held in holders known as spiders. Miners bought their own candles, picks and shovels. Mining method was mostly by hammer and tapping holes, then firing them. Miners did not leave the workings for firings. Pickey boys (Boys of 14-15 years old) would hand pick the ore after a firing, and bag it. Waste rock was carried back into the opening for back-fill. A miners living conditions were poor with the average life span only 40 years. Most miners suffered failing eyesight and respiratory diseases.
After and hour and a bit underground crawling along the mine shafts being shown where the ore came from and the uncomfortable working conditions that the miner  had to endure I takes my hat off to them.  It was bloody hard work.

Underground mine
We drove to Silverton after our mine adventure to have lunch.  Even people who have never been there will recognise it, as Silverton has starred in countless films, television shows and commercials in all mediums.  Nestled in the Far West outback of New South Wales, Silverton was built by miners in search of fortune.  Once a bustling home to 3,000 people, residents began to leave in the 1880s when the nearby mines of Broken Hill surfaced. Many took their houses with them.  These days less than 50 people call Silverton home and only a handful of buildings dot the landscape.   Most of the original buildings have now vanished or lie in ruins, but there are some interesting buildings that remain, including the Silverton Hotel and the Silverton Gaol. Silverton has been the scene for more than 140 films and commercials thanks to the light, the character-filled colonial buildings and its scenic desert surrounds.  The hotel is regularly featured in these productions, and its inside walls are covered with memorabilia.  A replica car, the Pursuit Special from Mad Max and Mad Max 2, is usually parked outside the hotel. Other well known productions filmed in and around Silverton include The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Flying Doctors, and Dirty Deeds.

Saturday  16th June    -    Day 17
Someone in the park suggested that we should go and take a look at a 50s style milk bar in Patton street.  So at morning tea time we all got in our vehicles and drove the 6kms to Bell's Milk Bar. First impression, it wasn't what we expected.  We had a coffee and then left disappointed.    
"Bells Milk Bar is an in tact 1950’s milk bar in South Broken Hill (thanks to Les and Mavis Bell’s 1956 renovation).  It is famous for its quirky décor and the ‘out of this world’ old fashioned milkshakes and soda spiders served here.  During Broken Hill’s mining hey days of the 1950s and 1960s Bells was regularly packed out and people were known to line up halfway down the street on a Sunday afternoon for a cool drink.  Despite the huge demand for the Bells drinks over the years, they have only recently been bottled for retail sale."    Attendance has somehow slipped over the years and appears to be now more of a tourist attraction..  
Next we went to the Railway Museum , which included the Migrant Museum as well.  The Railway Museum building was erected in 1905, from sandstone quarried from the Block 114 Mine Lease, replacing the original timber and iron station built in 1888.
The Silverton Tramway Company operated a private narrow gauge railway system between Broken Hill and Cockburn (on the South Australian border) from 1888 to 1970.   In 1970, following the introduction by the Commonwealth Government of the standard gauge system, the Silverton Tramway Company's Railway services were discontinued. The museum also houses the hospital museum, the migration museum and has an extensive mineral collection.  The Broken Hill Migrant Museum was set up by the Broken Hill Migrant Heritage Committee Inc.   Broken Hill is more than a landscape and old buildings - it is the people that make it special and the Broken Hill exhibition gives the local people a voice and tells their stories.

Jack Absalom is a legend with his many DVDs and TV shows back in the 80s about various places around Australia and survival in the bush.  I'll never forget the episode where he used a couple of lantern batteries to start a Sigma and drive it for 100kms to get out of trouble.  Also, there was a segment once about using a couple of AA batteries to help start a diesel engine.  These gems stick in my mind.  He also is a great painter of the bush.  I love his paintings and every time we have been to Broken Hill we go visit his Art Gallery.  On this trip Jack happened to be home and we met him and had our photos taken with him.  A great Australian!
Jack Absaloms Gallery

Jack Absalom with Gary, Geraldine and Sue.

Sunday  17th June    -    Day 18
Today was pack-up and  head home day for Allan, Helen, Gary, Sue, Geraldine and myself.  We three couples were ready to move by 9am, a record, and after saying our farewells to Dennis and Therese (who were staying an extra day) we drove of in single column through Broken Hill to the  Barrier Highway and settled down to  a long  uneventful drive to Peterborough.  We had morning tea at a road side stop about 10kms north of Olary.  Lunch was at Yunta where we bought a pie and coffee at the BP station.  Then it was on to Oodla Wirra where the Quarantine station is situated.  No fruit and veges south of here as there is a bin provided  for disposal of the offending items. The Quarantine Station wasn't open (probably because it was Sunday)  but the signs said big penalties for bringing prohibited fruit and veges.  On the Peterborough road just past the turn-off there was a semi  refrigerator trailer parked on the roadside, completely burnt out with a load of potatoes  still onboard.

Bob the Dog

 As we entered the township, Sue was pulled over by the Police for a random breath test.  We continued on to the Caravan Park and booked in for the night.  We also booked for the Sound and Light Show at the Steamtown  Rail Heritage Centre  for 6:30pm.   We decided to have tea out tonight so that we could make it to the show on time.  We found a cafe that was putting on a pork roast  for $10 so we booked a seat there for dinner.   "After dark, visitors can watch South Australia's first and only Sound & Light Show, from a historic Transcontinental carriage, now transformed into a viewing car and placed on the 85 foot long turntable. This magic light and sound spectacle tells the story of Steamtown and the creation of Peterborough, about Railways in South Australia and the history and personal stories associated with it. You relive the famous visit of General MacArthur in 1942 when he delivered the famous phrase: "I shall return",from the platform in Terowie. You learn about the first terrorist attack on Australian soil and the tragic accident of Walloway. Through this awesome sound and light spectacle you will actually experience parts of the last two centuries and become part of it."

Sound&Light show

Tomorrow we finish off the current trip and head for home.



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Great trip report Alby.
Friday, 24 August 2012 16:07
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Sundowners meet Gipsland Gypsies for Mildura Muster 8-11 Jun.

Thursday 7th June    -    Day 8
Cold again this morning. We were ready to depart by 10am.  Some of the group went straight to the Palms CP to set up for the weekend.  A few of us did a small detour back down the Calder Highway to look at and take photos of 'Big Lizzy' a large tractor and trailer unit built in 1915 to replace the camel trains used to cart wool and heavy loads through the sandy plains of the region around Broken Hill.  However, because of its size  and weight there were difficulties crossing rivers and bridges to get to Broken Hill so eventually the tractor found its way to the Red Cliff region and went to work clearing land  for settlements there.
We all eventually managed to arrive at the Palms CP  and set up camp for the long weekend.  
In the afternoon we did some shopping at the large Centro Shopping Centre  before having a Happy Hour  at Derek's van.  

Friday 8th June    -    Day 9
Again a cold morning to wake up to.  Geraldine slept in till 9am.  The ladies wanted to go to town for a shopping spree at Spotlight, so whilst they were there we went to BCF and Ray's Outdoors.  Afterwards we headed to Centro for lunch and then went looking for a Canine Hairstylist so that Holly's facial hair could be trimmed.  We then went for a quick visit to one of Sue's friends in Mildura light industrial area.  Mid afternoon saw us back at the CP for a cuppa and rest before the GGs 'Happy Hour' at 4pm. A few more GGs  and Sundowners arrived for the muster whilst we were at the shops so that when we came back the empty sites were all filling.  Dinner tonight was a communal soup night where each couple brings a soup.  We had soup coming out of our ears.   As the cold descended we gradually broke up  and went our seperate ways back inside our vans.  We had a power failure during the night as all the heaters, blankets and kettles came on.  The GGs and the Sundowners are getting on like a house on fire.  This muster will be a good one.   Everyone is so friendly and there is fantastic fellowship.
Soup night
Saturday 9th June     -    Day 10
Today we went on a tag along to Wentworth for the day.   There were 5 vehicles in all and the first stop was the Rose Garden in the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens just outside Mildura on the NSW side of the river..  We had a quick walk around of the gardens and  after waiting for a GG couple to catchup with us, we drove to the Wentworth  ski reserve  where we walked the 900 mts along the itmus between the Murray and Darling Rivers to the place where the two rivers converge..  The pathway led us through heavy scrub and reeds over some boggy ground until we could walk no further.  A small platform  has been built at the point so that a clear view can be had of the two rivers.  You can also see Lock 10  from this point.   After our walk back to the carpark we drove to the picnic park adjacent to Lock 10 and had a bbq lunch.   After lunch we drove back into town and stopped in at Rodney Hobbs Model Paddlesteamer display in a small shop in the main street.  Riverboat Rod, as he is known locally, has made models of all the paddle steamers that have operated on the two rivers over the years.  The old fella  explained that the models are made from balsa wood, cardboard and paddle sticks, the design from old photos and measurements obtained from records.  There were no design drawings to work from in those days, but he makes them as  close as possible to the original design.  One thing of note is the fact that some of the paddlesteamers have had different super structures over the years depending on their particular use at the time.   An example is the PS Marion which started life as an open barge for carrying  wool and grain.  Then it had several changes made to its upper decks  to what we have today.

Afterwards we drove out to the Perry Sandhills and had a look around and took some photos.  The Perry Sandhills are on the edge of the flood plain that includes Thegoa Lagoon. They are ancient and include Aboriginal cultural heritage areas.  According to geologists, the Perry Sandhills originated after an ice age (40,000 years ago) and are formed by wind erosion over thousands of years. The dunes are located six kilometres outside of Wentworth and are a unique land formation of 400 acres of continuously shifting sand dunes.   Skeleton remains of giant mega-fauna (kangaroos, lions, emus and wombats) have been found there. Replicas of these animals are now on show at the Pioneer Museum in Wentworth. Aboriginal tribes used this area to camp and hunt. Evidence of this is still being uncovered as the sands drift.
We then made our way back to Mildura and the caravan park.  A short 'happy hour' was followed by a dinner at the Mildura Workers Club tonight.
Perry Sandhills
Sunday 10th June    -    Day 11.
The GGs put on an egg & bacon breakfast this morning for all the members.  The rest of the morning was free time.  Mo and Des left this morning to head back to Adelaide.  After lunch we made our way to the Mildura Wharf precinct where we boarded the PS Melbourne for an afternoon cruise down the river. The P.S. Melbourne is licensed to carry 300 passengers, and is 98 feet long, 21 feet wide at the waterline and 40 feet across the top of the paddles. Like all other Paddlesteamers, she has almost a flat bottom and therefore a very shallow draught. The bow only draws 2 feet, 6 inches whilst the stern 3 feet. So the Melbourne could safely float and operate fully laden in less than 4 feet of water. The Melbourne has a composite hull, which means she has a redgum hull with iron topsides.  The old steam engine was originally built by the Marshall Engineering Company in England. The boiler is referred to as a Loco type with a maximum steam pressure of 150lbs and still fired by wood. This in turn drives a twin cylinder compound engine, which at normal cruising speed turns at about 60 turns per minute. At her maximum speed of 11 miles per hour, 130 rpm.  Passengers can see the fireman fire the boiler and enjoy the magic of the old engine as it drives the massive gears of the paddlewheels, resounding the times of the "Old Paddlesteamer Days".
PS Melbourne
A unique feature of most cruises is travelling downstream through Lock 11, which was built to bypass the weir across the river. Passengers can experience the workings of a lock as the Melbourne is lowered to the downstream level and raised again on the return journey. We finished the day with a 'Happy Hour' and a steak bbq for dinner.  

Monday 11th June    -    Day 12
This morning the GGs put on a pancake breakfast for a gold coin donation.  This was well attended by ACC members. Afterwards several couples departed today as the end of the long weekend was looming.  Those who remained had a casual free day to catch up with washing, shopping and refueling before departure tomorrow to places north and west.  Four vans will be heading north to Broken hill and another four GG vans are heading west to Burra and Lake Eyre.   Geraldine, Sue, Gary and I headed to Hudak's Bakery in the CBD for morning tea and some food shopping.   After refueling the car we drove to Woodsies Gem shop at Nichol's Point to look at the different gems available.  Woodsies Gem shop showcases some of Australia’s most valuable jewellery, with over 6,000 pieces of gemstones.  Then it was back to the CP for lunch and a rest  before packing up ready for departure in the morning.Happy Hour tonight was at Derek's van again.  We met some new people who had arrived today.  One couple were ACC members who had seen the flag flying and had come over to introduce themselves.  We had dinner with Sue and Gary in their van again. Tonight Geraldine and I did the cooking.  We had pork steaks with apple sauce .  Yummie!!!!
Pancake Morning
The Sundowners members wish to thank the Gipsland Gypsies for inviting us for the weekend to their Mildura Muster and for making us feel so very welcome.


Alby & Geraldine

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Sundowners Muster Lameroo and Tagalong tour To Mildura 1-7 Jun.

For those Sundowner members who were unable to come to the muster or who are sunning themselves up North  or cruising overseas over winter here is a summary of daily events. :-)

 Thursday 31st May    -    Day 1
We're heading off to Lameroo today to join other ACC members  for a weekend muster and then a tag along to Mildura and Broken Hill.  Lameroo is a small rural township on the Mallee Highway  proclaimed in 1884, but, which didn't  really take-off until the railway passed through in 1906.  We had arranged to meet up with friends in Tailem Bend for an early lunch at the Bakery before embarking on the rest of the journey to Lameroo.   We arrived in Lameroo around 2pm and after some time sorting out which site was where and having paid our fees at the Lameroo Hotel  we  set up camp and congregated with other ACC members who had arrived earlier.  Present  were Therese, Dennis, Mo , Des, Allan, Helen, Gary , Sue, Geraldine and myself .  We were joined by Derek, Gwen, Neil, Kay, Phillipa & Alan, from the Gipsland Gypsies  for the tag along to Mildura.  Derek and Gwen  attended one of our musters last year at Port Broughton whilst on their way to WA.  After introductions and greetings  we were introduced to a new  Finnish game called Klop ,which  turned out to be a lot of fun.   The usual Happy Hour was followed by a delicious dinner cooked by Sue and Geraldine.  After dinner it got quite cold outside so most stayed indoors, whereas the more hardy of us sat around a nice little choofer fire and spun ditties and discussed  the mulsing of sheep and other farmyard antics. After a long tiring day of travel we called it a night and headed off back to the van for some Internet therapy and then bed.
Camp fire
Friday 1st June     -    Day 2
It was not as cold this morning as we determined it would be the night before, due mainly to some drizzle arriving early in the morning around sunrise. The clouds kept the frost away.  Apart from a few trucks passing during the night it was otherwise peaceful.   We had our breakfast and sat around till mid morning when we all went for a walk into town to the local museum.  Entry was a gold coin donation.  The displays were interesting as always.  Most of these small town museums are operated by volunteers who rely on the passing tourist traffic for support.  After about an hour of perusing the displays and bric a brac we walked to the town cafe for morning tea.   We were joined by the final couple for the Muster, Ray and Joan who arrived just before lunch.  After lunch we headed off to  Gumvale homestead to look at how a local farmer operates. We were shown  heavy farming equipment and given an explanation of the workings of the farm including the size of the acreage and yields of the crops. Parilla is renowned for potato farming so we looked over one of the potato circles that was leased on the farm.  The potatoes are grown through irrigation, whereas the other crops are reliant on rainfall only.  Everyone enjoyed the visit to Gumvale  and we thanked  the owners, Les and Heather Maynard ,for allowing us to take a look. All very interesting for a city slicker, especially the cost of producing crops and amount of monies involved in the operation of the farm.   Then it was back to the van park for a game of Klop before happy hour, this time a match between the couples playing as a team.  This was followed by a pizza dinner around an open fire.   Geraldine looks like coming down with a  cold so she went to bed early.   Tomorrow we pack up and move to a free camp at Parilla for 2 nights.

Muster photo

Saturday 2nd June    -    Day 3
We left Lameroo in small groups and arrived in Parilla rest area about 15 minutes later.  Parilla is only a short distance from Lameroo but the point of the exercise was to free camp for a couple of nights without a power cord attached and relying on house batteries and  gas.  Most of the vans had 3 way fridges so it was only a matter of switching over to gas.  The lighting was through the 12v systems.     After lunch we were invited to the 'Gregory  Block'  a property owned by Therese and Dennis' son Leon and wife Linda.  This property is only small but still had cattle and sheep grazing.  We were shown a Mallee fowl nest in the scrub before being taken to the 'Love Shack' a small cottage that Leon built for their private get aways.  Leon showed us some working sheep dogs in action and the large shed he had built for the vehicles and equipment.   We had afternoon tea at the shack and then after thanking Leon and Linda  we headed back to the rest area for a game of Klop and happy hour. The Sundowners are quickly picking the game up as we won a game or two.  In the evening we all went to the Parilla Pub, which just happened to be across the road from the camp.  We dined on schnitzels and watched the  Crows beat the Dockers on the TV.  By the time we finished dinner it was getting cold so it was time to go indoors.

Sunday 3rd June    -    Day 4
This morning most of us slept in and then had a big breakfast before  taking a walk through Parilla  township being shown various historic locations by Gordon Hancock the  Mayor of the Murray Mallee District Council who had anecdotal stories of his younger years, as well as commentary by both Therese and Dennis who grew up in the area.   The rest of the day was taken up with a Klop rematch and happy hour sitting around a camp fire.  We said farewell to Ray and Joan who had to return to Adelaide for work commitments.  In the evening the Kramers, Ormsbys and Thompsons  had a bbq dinner.   It started to rain later in the evening so we all retreated to the vans.

Monday 4th June    -    Day 5
It rained most of the night and we woke up to a misty day.  We packed up to move  to our next location.  On the way to Pinnaroo we stopped at the Parilla Premium Potato Processing Factory where we were given a tour of the facilities.  This was followed by  morning tea at a roadside stop before continuing on to Pinnaroo for lunch and a tour of the Heritage Centre.  It was then a short journey to Murrayville just over the Victorian border where we set up for the night in the local caravan park. Happy hour was at the Murrayville football club where Lance Perkins a town elder, and uncle to the V8 driver Larry Perkins, kept the group entertained with stories of the history of Murrayville and the early days of the Redex Trials.   The weather deteriorated a bit and it rained most of the night.  We were snug in the van with the heater on watching the TV for the rest of the evening before bed time.
Farm equipment
Tuesday  5th June    -    Day 6
This morning the wind was up but it stayed dry.  After breakfast small groups walked into the village to look around and take a few photos.   Gary and Sue stayed in Murrayville for an extra day as they had a funeral to attend in Pinnaroo.  Mid morning the rest of the group departed for Cowangie and  the Kow Plains Homestead , part of the Kow Plains Station complex.  This historical homestead has been restored by volunteers and is now on the Historic Building Register.  One of the volunteers Joslin Lidner showed us around the complex which included the homestead, a barn, a well and a cookhouse.  The station was first settled in 1859.  The homestead is dated to 1860.   After the tour we had morning tea in the cookhouse and enjoyed small cakes and scones put on by the volunteers.  Then it was back into Cowangie to look at the Bush Nurse's Cottage and the Baker's oven.   We continued on to Underbool for lunch and to look at the Memorial Wall built to commemorate the pioneers and early settlers of the area.  We stopped at Walpeup for the night.  Our arrival filled the small van park but we all managed to get  a powered site. Late afternoon saw the Sundowners playing Klop  whilst the GGs went for a walk into the town.  The day was rounded off with another ubiquous 'happy hour' before the colder temperatures sent members indoors.

Wednesday   6th June     -    Day 7
Crikey, it was cold this morning when we woke up, temperature was around 1c.  Departure from Walpeup was at 9:15am.  I elected to wait till Gary & Sue caught up.  They had been at a funeral in Pinnaroo and were  overnighting at Murrayville.  By 10:15am  Sue drove into Walpeup and we travelled together to Ouyen  arriving there  about 30 minutes later.   By this time  the others had looked around Ouyen, refueled, had a coffee and were on their way to Hattah for lunch.  We decided to stay in Ouyen for lunch and then catch up at Hattah.  We tried the Bakery at Ouyen for brunch  and then had a quick look around the CBD before heading off to Hattah.  We arrived there just as the convoy was leaving so we formed up behind and travelled to Red Cliffs where we parked the vans at the caravan park for the night.  We needed to do a little food shopping  here .  Happy Hour was at the usual time and by the end of the day-light it got so cold we all headed back to our vans.  Tomorrow we finish this section of the Tagalong at Mildura and settle in for the GGs Muster over the long weekend at the Palms Caravan Park.

More Photos of the Muster and Tag here.


Alby & Geraldine

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Doug and Jane to North Queensland

Hi All
We have now retired. The Roma Elegance van is almost ready to travel with our favourite tug, a Pajero TD Exceed. Modifications have been made to both van and tug including suspension, 12 volt power and a diesel heater in the van.

Our first big trip starts around 16 June when we head up the NSW coast free camping all the way to Tweed Heads. From there we plan to cut inland to Lake Wivenhoe, Kilcoy, Glasshouse Mtns, St Lawrence, Camp Kanga near Prosperpine, Townsville, Daintree then back inland. The plan is to return to Canberra about mid October or November.

We will update this blog as we travel this great land, girthed by sea.

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Wood Expo - Maleny Qld.

If you yearn  freedom camping, new experiences, great friendly people & worthwhile souveniers then we found it all & more at the above on Labour Day Weekend.

"How!!?"    do I hear you say.

The  organisers, Barung Landcarers Assn Inc advertised on their website for volunteers, that only required downloading their form, filling in your options, returning & Bob's you uncle, easy as campessi.

There are many organisations requiring volunteers to assist with the setup, operation & cleanup of their events. Nominate & in return you will be amazed at the self satisfaction you will develop as well as making many new friends.

Consider Blaze Aid. Not only do they provide free camping, but, would you believe 3 hearty meals a day. Yep for a few hours of work similar to what you  pay Jenny Craig & your are  in the clean invigorating fresh air.

Rvers you dont know what your missing. And the money you save, plus get fit & those evening happy hours around the campfire of new stories of the loggers, timbermillers, turners not just a new lesson but a great experience.

Sorry can't get the photos accross. Still learning


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Jack n Jo

Just returned from trip to the Centre, what an amazing place The Rock, Olgas, Kings Canyon, Simpson Gap, totally awesome. Will return at the earliest opportunity, or sooner.

A trip to Whyalla we found a free camp at Point Lowly, where you can stay for 14 days, no facilities other than toilet and cold shower, but if self contained not a problem, there is a dump point, good fishing as it is at a boat ramp. 

There is a free camp area 7klm east of Minnipa S.A. called Tcharkuldu Rock fairly flat, toilet facility (long drop), shelter and table. Very good spot for a night stay.

Shelly Beach Caravan Park in Ceduna very good, close to beach and town, quiet reasonably flat, good hosts.

Unfortunately we have had to return home, Jo have been struck down with the dreaded  shingles. She has been in a lot of pain and the trip home was extremely uncomfortable for the poor girl. So I cant tell when we shall be on the road again, but hopefully in the not to distant future.

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Easter at Tyabb 2012 - free camping test

Well it is Easter timer and everyone else is going away...not us though, well so I thought, you see Pete has work committments (he owns and runs Stumpy Gully Antiques in Tyabb)  and the store is open 7 days a week we made the decision to camp in the yard at the shop. But all is not lost we decided to camp at his shop!!

We were well set up there and it is where we store our van so we thought why not give it a go, what a perfect opportunity to see how we fare free camping. So I arrived Thursday 5th April for our Easter break to do our yard camp!!

Day 1 -  5/4/2012 Set up camp and decided even though we have 240 electricity available we would try free camping (after all it is 5 minutes to go home or we can change our mind and connect to the mains) Pete lights the fridge on gas....well tries to!! After 10 or so attempts I am suggesting we use 240, no he gives it another go and on it goes. Wonderful we are self sufficient!! We have prepared ourselves with a battery pack as the van does not have a house battery. We also have a Coleman rechargeable lantern and some torches etc....all well set up. We have our Weber Baby Q which we do pretty much all of our cooking in. Our first night was lovely, I go a camp-fire going in the cut down gas bottle and it was all warm and toasty. I cooked roast beef in the cast iron dutch oven and we had that for tea. Very nice if not a touch burnt.


Day 2 Good Friday 6.4.2012  e have so far been blessed with lovely weather. No need for heaters when we have such a great camp fire going.  We start the day with some nice hot showers from our new Coleman Hot water service with shower attachment. This is a great little device as it gives us instant hot water. We have also bought a shower tent but with the privacy of the yard we decide to shower in the great out doors.

As today is Good Friday Pete has the shop shut so we do a bit of work on the van then relax in the sun with a few glasses of red and a game of scrabble. Beautiful weather for our little trip away. Everything is going well fridge works well on gas, 12 volt lights are great and cooking is ideal on camp fire and gas BBQ.

Later on we have some guests arrive for happy hour. How lovely we have Mavis & Ed and Sharon & Geoff, then my brother and  his girl arrive. We have a fun happy hour and share some home cooked damper.

We all enjoyed fish and chips for tea as it was Good Friday!! What a wonderful time we are having at Tyabb.

The weather however has changed dramatically, thunder lightning and lashings of rain, but we sure are warm and cosy in the van. The only concern is our shower tent blew away!!! Of dear well at least we weren't in there...

Day 3 Saturday 7.4.2012 I am off home today to do some cooking for a family function on Easter Sunday. We stay home in Hastings tonight,

Day 4 Sunday 8.4.2012 Easter Sunday and we are out today but return later in the day to our camp. This is a very flexible and enjoyable Eater break. Tonight we had another lovely camp fire and roasted chestnuts on the old plough disc.

Day 5 Monday 9.4.2012 weather has settled down and it is another nice day. I spend my time relaxing in the van pottering around and reading my book. Pete is in the shop today. We sure didnt go without luscious breakfasts were the main meal of the day at Tyabb.

Day 5 Tuesday 10.4.2012  Today will be our last day as it is time to go home. We have thoroughly enjoyed our little Easter escape. Some may think it is silly to camp so close to home, but for us it was just another camping adventure that we made the most of until we have the freedom of retirement to go where we please when we please.

All set  up ready to camp!

Pete coming home from work to our camp. I have a glass of red already poured for him.

Our new home made camp fire pot.

Happy Hour with Shaz and Mavis!!

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Our trip to Nug Nug with Bayside Wanderers muster April 2012

Wow what a wonderful muster. We had the best time we have ever had on a muster. It was a relatively small group and we spent a lot of time socialising and getting to know people better. We came away from this muster with more friends than e started with!!

We left Hastings Friday morning around 8.30am, stopped for brekky at  the golden arches on Dandenong Hastings road (this has become a bit of a tradition for us) . Stopped at Grass Trees roadside stop for morning tea. We have decided next time to leave home the night before and stay in this roadside stop over night, that way we will get through Melbourne and start fresh on our way north. Grass Tree is in the Camps book and I think it is #250. There is a lovely walk, good toilet block, good BBQ's and it is well off the road.

Arrived at Nug Nug around 1.30pm, plenty of time to set up and have a coldy with those already there.

The scenery in this part of the world is delightful, especially in Autumn, the leaves were all colours of the rainbow and the days were sunny and bright. We were really feeling blessed to be here, and so close to home has to be a bonus.

Nug Nug is a basic camping ground, with toilets, cold showers, free electric BBQ's, tennis court, basketball/netball courts, river running along side the camp ground, sites cost $5-00 pp per night + $5-00 per site if you want power. We chose power as the nights got pretty cold so it as a grand total of $15-00 per night for the 2 of us. Great value when you think what it cost to stay in a caravan park and we had all the facilities we needed. There are plenty of trees and grassy areas and the camp ground goes right down to the rivers edge. It really is a lovely spot.

Once we were set up went up to socialise around the campfire, this was to be the pattern for the next 3 days. The other folks that were already here were Geoff & Sharon McLean, Tony & Mary Angelone, Bruce Watt, Kerry & Gary Moreland and Val Jenkin. Later arrivals were Ray & Hilda  and Lionel Mussel. I hope I captured all of our names, if not I am sorry if I forgot to add you.

Day one Friday 27/4/2012 has been a fabulous day, a pleasant drive to get here, easy set up in nice camp, wonderful people already here. We were welcomed with a slice of Geoff's damper for afternoon tea  and then had a yummy BBQ dinner and a bottle or 2 of red around a most welcome camp fire. 

Day 2 Saturday 28/4/2012 - had a great sleep and warmed up in the morning with our little fan heater, very glad we chose a power site and didn't choose to just use 12 volt and gas this time.  Started our day with brekky cooked on our Baby Q BBQ, all too easy. Espresso coffee on the gas stove in our caffettiera (just as good as an expensive electric one). Took a drive into Myrtleford and went to the local produce market and bought some just picked local walnuts, finger eggplants and pumpkin. Others members went to Wandilagong to the Nut Festival. 

In the arvo I cooked pumpkin damper on our Weber: Recipe for Caron's Pumpkin Damper/Scone

1 cup warm mashed pumpkin
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsn sugar
1 egg 
2 Cups Self Raising Flour 
extra water if needed

Add butter & sugar to warm mashed pumpkin, allow to cool  Add egg to pumpkin mix, then add flour until wettish scone like consistency is achieved.  You now have a choice to flatten the dough and cut into scones or cook as a whole damper. I cooked mine as a damper and put it into a greased pan and cooked it for 45 minutes on low in my Weber Baby Q. Enjoy warm with lashings of butter.

Tonight we all had a shared dinner, everyone cooked something like a salad or vegies and we had our own meat. I took roasted pumpkin and spuds to share. Our evening was once again spent round the campfire and tonight we roasted chestnuts....ahh this is the life.

We had fun playing celebrity head around the campfire and also had a great raffle with some very good prizes, thanks to Sharon & Kerry for sourcing donations from local businesses. Lionel was lucky enough to win a meat tray, Pete won a lovely selection of cookbooks, pasta and pasta sauce and Val won a gift pack of goodies for her doggies, all up a great fund rasing event.

Day 3 Sunday 29/4/2012 - Another great sleep and a slow start to the day. We were pleasantly surprised that our little van stayed warm and toasty throughout the night.  We had a new game today, Sharon & Kerry had created a car rally on foot. We had a list of questions that all the answers could be found in the camp ground. I happened to be the winner and won some lovely biscuit cutters in a very odd shape. All will be revealed next time when I bake something using these cutters!!! Very phallic indeed!!

A nice walk around the camp ground and along the river to check out the fishing.  Pete and Bruce Watt went off for a spot of fishing whilst I spent time socialising and relaxing. No fish were caught this time. Looks like chicken for dinner tonight.

Pete and Tony went out foraging for wood and came back with a large load of nice dry wood for another roaring fire tonight and the next few days. Oh to be a hunter gatherer and provide for the clan!!

Pete decided to try out our new Coleman hot-water service and shower tent. He had a lovely hot shower. I chose to stick with hot washes from the bucket till we got home. He tells me it was a wonderful experience, especially with the girls hovering around to take photos of him!!

Dinner tonight was a one pot wonder of chicken mushrooms and packet pasta carbonara. I also cooked some of the lovely eggplants I bought at the local market with olive oil and garlic.  What a yummy and easy meal we had. Tonight is our last night before we go home. Silly moments of celebrity head and some interesting sing alongs with Kerry, Sharon and Carom ...... Another night spent by the camp fire with good friends and a few bottles of red................ We have had a wonderful time at Nug Nug.

Day 4 Monday 30/4/2012 Well yet another great sleep in Scenic Sal....we have been very comfortable in the van this time and feel that we finally have it set up just right!! Another slow start to our day, bacon and eggs on the BBQ and a lovely walk around the camp and along the river. We are sad to pack up but know it wont be too long till we are off again. We have a trip to Gladstone planned in August to see our children.

We pack up and head for home around 10am. We took our time and got home around 2.30pm. Unpacked and had van away by 4pm.

We have had an awesome time this muster, thanks to everyone who attended and made it so good. We did very little really except socialise, laughed and relaxed....couldn't have been any better!


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ACC Sundowners Berri Muster 27-29 April 2012

We had made previous arrangements to meet up with the Ormsbys at Truro on Thursday 26th for lunch before proceeding on to Berri in the Riverland.   We had our lunch at the Truro Bakery before continuing on to the Berri Riverside Caravan Park.  We arrived around 2:30pm and noted that Chris & Rhonda Acton were already set up.   Sue and Gary arrived a little later in the afternoon so by night time there were 4 vans parked up.  The weather was surprisingly mild compared to the wet weather in Adelaide.   This was to remain the case thoughout the weekend with mild sunny skies and temps in the low 20s.   The Berri Caravan Park is a Top Tourist franchise and dogs are allowed on payment of a $10 deposit.  Facilities are modern and well looked after.  A very tidy van park.

Allan and Helen arriving Berri.

Allan & Helen arrive on site.

The swimming pool


Rhonda preparing the vehicle

Thursday night was a do your own dinner night so we all ended up making beans or spagetti on toast.   Friday morning we got news that Ron and Bev weren't able to make it due to a back injury so we hope it all gets better soon Ron.  Greg and Judy  also had to pull out because they got their weekends mixed up.  Later in the morning, Tom and Nell  arrived so that was the group total, 5 vans.
Chris the Vice Pres, organised an afternoon tea happy hour for the group.  Later in the evening the group went to the Berri Resort Hotel and had a wonderful meal in the Bistro before wandering back to the Caravan Park.  Thanks to Rhonda for organising the dinner and making the booking.

Saturday morning a few of the more fitter ones went for a walk at the Martins Bend Reserve  free camping area, before breakfast.  However, due to the Murray being so high at the moment we found that the walking track was flooded about halfway along so we had to retrace our steps and walk back to the carpark.   

Dinner night Berri Hotel

Dinner at the Berri Resort Hotel.

Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee

We then had a bacon and egg breakfast to replace the calories we had just burnt off!!   Later in the day the Ormsbys, Kramers and Thompsons went to Renmark for a look around but found the town shutdown for the weekend.  The local coffe shop was still open so we went and had a coffee before a walk along the riverfront.    The Actons and Lilfords did their own thing visiting the Berri Township or staying at the Van Park..   We were all back in time for Happy Hour where we discussed the upcoming Lameroo  and Tagalong Muster to Milduraand Broken Hill.   
Saturday night we decided on a pizza night.  Again thanks to Rhonda for organising and picking up the pizzas from Eagle Boys.  
Sunday morning the Actons were up early because they had to get home for the Crows/Power football game in the afternoon.  They are Club members and like to attend all the games when in Adelaide.    The Ormsbys left after morning coffee as they had babysitting duties on Monday.  That left the Thompsons, Lilfords and Kramers to see out the weekend.  At the beginning of the weekend I was dissappointed at the small turn out but later on we all commented that small groups are more easier to cater for and it gave us all a chance to get to know each other better.   We all commented that the weekend was great and those of us that are going,are looking forward to the Lameroo Muster and Tagalong.  Unfortunately the Actons will not be available for that muster as they will be cruising off the coast of Mexico on the Love Boat and touring America for their 50th Anniversary in June.

Murray River at Berri

Murray River near Berri.

Group Photo

Group Photo

Tuesday morning saw the last of the intrepid Sundowners head for home.  Alby, Geraldine , Gary and Sue  returned home via Swan Reach  and Sedan.  At Swan Reach we had a lunch break  and we were lucky to see both the Murray Princess and the Proud Mary pass by at the Len White Reserve.  Proud Mary had just dropped off a group of passengers who were heading back home by bus and the Murray Princess was on her way back to Waikerie or Renmark.  Very impressive paddle steamers. 

PS. Proud Mary

PS. Proud Mary

PS Murray Princess

PS. Murray Princess

After lunch we continued on to Sedan where we parted company with Sue and Gary who were heading towards Mt Torrens whilst we negotiated the hill climb into Angaston and  then home to Munno Para.




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Dry White for Wet Feet

Recent floodwaters hit us harder than previous inundations. In what seems like this years ‘annual flood,’ the vineyard was totally flooded with 0.5m of water running past the sandbagged buildings. Up to 3m of water covered the vines in the far blocks while the cellar and coldroom copped ankle deep water for the first time in the vineyards history.

For three days pumps, manpower and a few sips of liqueur muscat kept the water levels down inside the cold room, cellar and office thanks to lots of help from loyal friends John & Cate Travers, staff such as Trevor Forbes, Dana Gluzde and Julieanne Gray. “Thanks to the help of friends and staff, we were able to get in and restore the cellar and garden to visitor-ready status in less than a week,” said David Blacket, vineyard owner.

The biggest job lies in cleaning up the paddock. “We need to quickly resume our vine nourishment program and to do that, we have a lot of debris down rows and fences to clear first. Anyone want to volunteer?” he asks. Trellis infrastructure is still intact and older vines will survive. Some of our 3,000 baby Midnight Beauty vines we planted in August appear to have drowned, but only time will tell.  WINE SUPPLY IN THE CELLAR
Now that our cellar has reopened and no stock was damaged during the flood we still have wine available. Some of the white wine grapes we harvested before the flood should be bottled mid year to minimize any gaps in supply.
“Visiting us at the vineyard or purchasing a few bottles online is one of the greatest ways people can help our flood recovery,” David concludes.

Easter in the Vines – TIME TO VISIT!

David Blacket says, “Riversands is a great place to bring friends, family and visitors to relax and get away for a few hours, especially at Easter. Thanks to everyone working quickly after the flood, the lawn and garden have bounced back in no time.”

“Besides a free wine tasting, we serve mud cake, scones and cheese platters in our grassy garden cafe along with a hot cup of tea or coffee… or wine!” he says.  Easter also sees the addition of gourmet BBQ packs and live entertainment over two days. There will also be an official flood thankyou at 3pm on Sunday.

LINKS - Easter in the Vines - Special Deals Available

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   - book your Easter group!

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Our blog address

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Copeton Dam 27/1/12-29/1/12

Went to Copeton Dam, Nthern NSW for  the muster to start a branch in  New England and NW Slopes and Plains We had a great time and thanks to all the Qld people who came to support us. It looks like we are up and running, so we will enjoy attending as many musters as we can.

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2012 Tassie Trip

We're now down in Tassie where we'll spend the next few months having a look around. Rough plan is after a first 2 weeks following speedway Latrobe/Hobart/Carrick we plan to go anti  clockwise around the island, finishing with a week on Flinders island.   

For those who may like to see a bit about our trip the links below will/should take you to the trip route/notes & photos

2012 Tassie Route and trip notes

2012 Tassie trip Picasa Photos link

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