A Diary Of Two Grey Nomads As They Travel Around Australia On Their Big Adventure

We recorded this Online Diary of our trip around Australia in 2013, as a way of keeping in touch with our family back home. It was our way of letting them know where we were and what we were up to. We left Rockhampton, Central Queensland in July 2013. Because it was winter, we decided to travel anti-clockwise around 'The Block' to avoid the southern chill. Little did we know what we were in for!   It's reproduced here, in case other travellers (especially the Grey Nomadic Kind) can benefit from our experiences.

Day 1 - We left Rockhampton, Qld., under cool, cloudy skies at 7.30am. Travelling North, our first planned overnight stop was supposed to be the Free Camp at Guthalungra Rest Area, half way between Bowen and Home Hill.


We knew from research on Caravan Forums, that you should arrive at Free Camps no later than 4pm, to ensure a spot. We arrived at 3pm and the place was chockers! Quite a few more travellers could have stayed, except for a few selfish pr*#^s fellow travellers spreading themselves out.

A couple told us about an inexpensive spot at the Home Hill Showgrounds, so we headed off the extra 40ks and stayed the night there. Nothing flash... a bit dry and dusty, but $10 for the night, got you power, toilets and hot showers. I didn't do a head count, but I'd estimate there would have been around 20 or so caravans and motorhomes here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 24th, sees us heading north and west to Charters Towers and probably an overnighter at Hughenden. We've never travelled the Flinders Highway before, so not really sure what's to see or how long we should stay at each stop, so we'll wing it and see what eventuates on our way to Darwin.

Day 2 - Hughenden  We left the Home Hill showgrounds this morning (Wed) around 7.30. Heading north, we travelled through Ayr and took the Woodstock/Giru Road shortcut to the Flinders Hwy., bypassing Townsville. We fuelled up at Charters Towers and headed off to Hughenden, (252ks) arriving around 3pm. 

We had planned on "Free Camping" ($6) at Hughenden RV Parking Area, but the local powers have changed the rules. All rigs must be totally self sufficient, meaning not only your own water and toilet, but also a "grey water" tank to hold sink and shower discharge. While most motorhomes have grey water tanks, very few caravans do because of space and weight restrictions.

So, we are settled in at the Hughenden Caravan Park, one of three in town. The Drifters are playing at the RSL tonight, but we are both too tired to venture out.  Getting old is tough!

Day 3 - Julia Creek

Hughenden to Julia Creek   Hughenden in winter is COLD! The wind cuts through ya like a Canberra Breeze! We turned on the reverse-cycle aircon around 4am which kept the van toasty warm, 'till we turned it off around 8.30.

We filled up before we left Hughenden and headed off for Julia Creek. I could only find 2 service stations in town and could only drive into one with the van on. Turns out to be the dearest one in town... $1.799 for diesel!! Drove 1k out of town and there were 2 more and only $1.529 a litre. Sucked in!

Thankfully, fuel economy on this leg was excellent, because we had a strong tail wind. I wasn't really aware of this until we stopped for lunch at a rest area about 100ks east of Julia Creek. It was so cold and windy, we had to sit in the van and eat.

There is NOTHING to see out here except flat, dry, dusty, barren countryside and l-o-n-g straight roads that bounce you like a ball in places. I'd swear we were going to lose the van on some of the bouncy spots!

Once we got to Julia Creek, we went to the Information Centre to get a Permit to freecamp beside the billabong (in our Billabong!) at a camp spot 1k east of town. 

We arrived around 2pm and had no trouble finding a spot. More travellers are trickling in as the day goes on. I haven't unhitched the van as it's pretty level and we're ready for a quick getaway in the morning.

Tomorrow, Friday, we're off to Mount Isa, where we'll probably spend a couple of days exploring.

Day 4 & 5 - Mount Isa

It was a cold Friday morning when we left the freecamp beside the billabong at Julia Creek and headed off to Mount Isa, via Cloncurry (didn't stop). Mile after mile of dry, desolate, barren, flat landscape must have taken its toll on Bev, as she moaned, "We paid $76,000 for this??" As I always do, I try to calm her down with soothing, reassuring words that everything is good! All will be ok!

She did calm down and we arrived at the Mount around lunch time. We were expecting to stay at the Big 4 Park, but they had no powered sites available. We needed power this stop, to recharge the laptop. So we went in search of the Top Tourist Park, but Petal (the Navman) took us to an address unknown! Backtracking, we pulled into the Mt Isa Caravan Park and got a powered site for $35 a night. I paid for 2 nights and we settled in.

We headed into town to visit the Information Centre, which is a huge complex. They had underground mine tours on offer for $49 each (old-farts-rates) so we booked for 9am tour Saturday morning. After a visit to Woolies for a few essentials, We just chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

We all met at the Information Centre at 9am and the Guide took us to an adjoining area, where we were issued with disposable plastic overalls, a hard hat, a battery pack and miners light all finished off with a big, heavy pair of gumboots.

The entrance to the underground mine is right there on the huge Info Centre Complex and we were taken down in the cage to the mine floor, some 20 metres below the surface.

The tour lasted just over 2 hours and was VERY interesting. After explaining all the ins and outs of the main Mt Isa mine, the guide asked what we thought they mined in this mine. The answer is "DOLLARS!" The entire underground mine, fashioned on what the main mine was like in the 70s and 80s, was made specifically for the tourists!

It was HUGE! Several kilometres of tunnels, snaking underground, complete with old machinery (some working) and paraphernalia from that era. It's a tour well worth taking, complete with $10 mandatory souvenir pic of course! These photos are of the photo we bought as they don't allow cameras underground.

Apart from that, we just drove around taking in the sights of Mt Isa.

Tomorrow morning, we're getting an early start as we've got a 450 kilometre journey to cover. First to Camooweal (190ks) our last stop in Qld before the NT border then onto Barkley Homestead where we'll probably spend the night. I'm told the road from Mt Isa to Camooweal is bad with a lot of single lane bitumen and 53m long Road Trains to contend with. It will probably be a very slow 190ks.

Don't know how much Internet we'll have for the next few nights, but I'll post here as often as I can.

Day 6 - Mt Isa to Frewena Rest Area

Well, the warning we received about the poor state of the road from the Isa to Camooweal (190ks) turned out to be false. Thankfully, it was one of the better roads we've travelled in these parts.

We refuelled at the BP at Camooweal and were slugged $1.979 a litre! Thankfully (?) it only took 42 litres. We didn't look around Camooweal, but was there long enough to learn that a cup of hot chips at the servo, was $6.50. Want gravy with that? Sure... make it $7.50. Needless to say, we passed on the chips! I ate Bev's tomato and vegemite sandwich later on, down the road.

Northern Territory >>


Our solution to this dilemma was to install a Satellite TV System. My research had narrowed the choices down to 2 companies:

Both companies offer a full Satellite Caravan Kit at great prices. I was ready to order a full kit from Access Antennas, when an email changed everything.

I'm a subscriber to the popular Caravan & Motorhome on Tour Magazine, which I enjoy very much. In November 2014 they sent out an email to entice new subscribers and get current subscribers to extend. To sweeten the deal, they were offering a Satellite Dish Kit with a 15 month subscription, for $149!

I used to buy the Magazine each month from the Newsagent and 15 issues @ $9.95 comes to $149.25. Just so happens, the Kit they were offering is the Access Antennas kit, selling on their website for $339. This is the full kit, without the Decoder Box.

I had to buy the VAST Decoder Box separately, which cost $235 postpaid. So I got the full kit, worth $584 including the Bag, plus 15 issues of the magazine ($149.25 across the counter) for only $384!
Now that's a deal !   


Caravan Improvement Projects
I love working on new projects that will improve our quality of life on the road. Here's one project I just completed recently. See if it will suit your setup... you may want to do it for your van. 
                 Water Purification Project


But it doesn't have to be this way! Stop the frustration! My New Guide will lead you step-by-step towards a successful set-up every time.

Read More Here


Simply enter your current location in the box and hit enter. It's preset for the Optus C1/D3 Satellite.

The only drawback is, you need Internet to use it. They also have an iPhone app as well. (Android too!)


Usually, we don't stay in a Free Camp location longer than 2 days. We like to share our Free Camping experiences with Caravan Park stays. Therefore, we don't need a lot of Solar. Even so, our setup includes 2x 130w Panels fixed  on the roof (above), powering 2 110AH Batteries. We also have a second battery in the tug.

As a supplement, we also have a 120w Folding Panel.  We have never come close to running out of power, thanks to our van's highly efficient LED lighting and low power draw appliances.

We lumped a generator around Australia, but in two years, have never used it !

Anyone want to buy a genny?

Read the full Article Here

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