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2015 Trip Report

We have a lot planned for this year, kicking off in March. My recent bypass surgery really threw a spanner in the works, but the cardiologist assures me I'll be ok to hook up the van and hit the road then.

After a 4 week trip to the Sunshine and Gold Coasts in March, June will see us in Cairns.

Following the Cairns trip, we plan on a 2 month trip west from Rockhampton, down through the Centre, into South Australia, across into western New South Wales and back into Queensland the inland route.

As usual, I'll record our travels here, in case other travellers (especially the Grey Nomadic Kind) can benefit from our experiences.

 


Thursday March 5

We kicked off our first trip for 2015 today, heading out for 2 weeks to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. We left Rockhampton around 7.15am heading south, stopping for breakfast and a refuel (as we usually do) at BP Gin Gin.

After all 'tanks' filled, it was off to Hervey Bay, where we have a 2 night booking at Happy Wanderer Village, then it's off to the Gold Coast.

The Park is very quiet at this time of year, far removed from the crowds that invade this area in winter. The Grey Nomads flock north from the southern sates to escape the cold southern winters.

Friday March 6

Had a good look around this coastal playground today, including a visit to The Boat Club at the Marina. The highlight of our day was winning their $250 cash draw!

Tomorrow morning, we pack up and head south. Not quite sure how far we'll go, as it's 388ks from here to Burleigh Heads. We were going to Free Camp just outside Gympie, but it's only 123ks south of here, which would still leave us a big trip Sunday morning. We'll just wing it and see where the road takes us.

Saturday March 7 - 10

Well, the road took us all the way to the Gold Coast. I rang ahead and booked another night at Burleigh Beach Tourist Park. This is home for the next 4 nights.

There's always plenty to see and do here and we love Burleigh Heads.

On Monday morning, we took the caravan over to Hinterland Caravans for an overdue service and headed off to the Casino until they called us.

The van came through with flying colours... all good and ready for our next big trip in July. As we were hooking up to leave, I mentioned one of our gas bottles was almost empty. Although I was happy to pay, they didn't hesitate to fill it for free.

Wednesday March 11

This morning, we packed up and headed north to Mooloolaba. We have booked a week here at Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park.

There are actually 2 Parks under the Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park banner... the one we are in opposite Underwater World at the Wharf and the other (smaller one) is further down the Esplanade, right on the beach front. We tried to get into that Park, but couldn't get the full week there, even though we booked 3 months ahead!

The Park we are in, is closer to everything, so it's very convenient. Just a very short walk to the Beach, the Surf Club and the famous Esplanade.

The Surf Club is a 'Must Visit' spot at Mooloolaba and can thoroughly recommend the Boathouse Restaurant. I'm not a big fan of Club food, but the Boathouse Restaurant is a step above most Club food I've experienced. Good food and a great view!

We met a retired Kiwi couple there, who were telling us that all Kiwi retirees receive a government 'handout' (their pension) of $500 a WEEK... regardless of their means (not means tested!). Incredible!

March 18 - 19

From Mooloolaba we headed north back towards Rockhampton. Rather than driving the 552 ks in one go, we decided to stay a couple of nights again at Happy Wanderer Caravan Park at Hervey Bay. It is a very nice Park... neat as a pin and handy to everything.

From Hervey Bay, we headed home to Rockhampton. I have a couple of projects to work on before our trip to Cairns in June and our next Gold Coast holiday in early July... just before we head off for a 2 month trip down through the Centre (NT), through SA, western NSW and back to QLD.
 

June 10 - 17

Decided not to take the van to Cairns this trip, so we flew instead. QantasLink have a city hopper service to Cairns, but it's cheaper to fly Virgin to Brisbane, then a direct flight to Cairns. So we did. The trip coincided with an Ironman Event up there, in which our son-in-law was competing, so it was good to catch up with him and our daughter.

The weather was unusually bad for this time of year (rain) but we still had a good 7 day stay. As is usually the case, the weather fined up the day we left! Typical...

July 4-10

We can't sit still for long, that's for sure. Tomorrow morning (July5) we're off to the Gold Coast for a week. The van is staying home... this time we're sleeping under the Stars... 5 Stars! We've booked into Jupiters' Hotel & Casino for the week.

When we come home, we'll stay put for a week, getting everything ready for our next big with the van, as alluded to above. 

July 11

Our week away at the Gold Coast is over and we're back home for a week and a half, before heading off on our two month trip.

 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Departure day.  Everything is packed, the van hitched and the check-list gone over three times. Let the fun begin!

I'm writing this just before we leave and at this stage, our first overnight stop is unknown. It was going to be Emerald, but that's only 280ks from Rocky, so we'll press on. Maybe it will be Alpha or even a Free Camp at a Rest Area along the way. I like to cover around 350 to 400 clicks a day. More soon...

Back again...

Our trip today, took us through Emerald to Alpha, where we stayed at the Alpha Caravan & Villa Park. Sounds flash, but very basic. However, at $30 for the night, it was a place to rest our heads. The positive was, we met a nice couple from Perth, whom we spend a very pleasant Happy 2  Hours with!

I'm actually writing this Friday night at the Mount Isa Caravan Park, because we had no internet or mobile phone access at Alpha. As a matter of fact, we've had no service at all, until we were in Mt Isa.

Thursday, July 23

Our next stop after Alpha, was a Free Camp at a dry dusty Rest Area, about 46ks east of Winton. Nothing flash, but 'home' for the night.

Nothing else to report, except for the leg between Longreach and Barcaldine. I'm fully aware of the Kangaroo population in this part of Australia, which numbers plague proportions, but we were amazed by the number of dead roos we saw by the roadside.

I'll never forget reading some time ago, a report by some dead head 'Animal Activist' who suggested that the growing numbers of Grey Nomads travelling Australia, were responsible for the massive death toll of roos on the roads. This crazy idiot didn't realize that the absolute majority of Grey Nomads never travel at night (when almost all roos meet their end) but rather, it was the trucks, semis and road trains that do the damage.

Friday & Saturday, July 24-25

Just a short 46k trip into Winton this morning, where we re-fuelled and headed of on the next leg to Cloncurry, 348ks away.

The Capricorn Highway meets the Flinders Highway not far from "The Curry". We are not staying and sightseeing at any of these towns along the way, as we have another trip planned for later in the year, where we'll spend a day, sometimes two, in each town, soaking up the history.

From Cloncurry it was only 120ks to Mt Isa. We arrived around 3pm and wanted to stay at the Discovery Caravan Park, but unfortunately, there were no available powered sites. The same thing happened on our 2013 trip and we again had to book into the dry, dusty Mount Isa Caravan Park. We booked 2 nights.

Mount Isa was the first place on our western trip, that we have mobile service. The coverage between Rocky and the Isa is terrible. Had we had service, a phone call would have secured a powered site at the more inviting Argylla Discovery Holiday Park.

Once we settled in, we made contact with our daughter Wendy and her fiancé Richard, who have recently moved to The Isa. They were the perfect hosts and we had an enjoyable time in their company for 2 days, eating, drinking and taking in the area. So much so, that I didn't find time to update this blog while we had internet access!

Sunday, July 26

It's Sunday night now and we are Free Camping again, this time at a Rest Area in the Northern Territory, 325ks west of Mt Isa. There's only about 7 or 8 vanners here tonight, which is surprising, as these places are usually chockers. Tomorrow, we head off towards Three Ways at the junction of the Barkley and Stuart Highways. From there, we were going to go north and visit the iconic Daly Waters Hotel. We've now decided to skip that and head south as originally planned, towards Tennant Creek. The Outback Caravan Park gets good reviews on the Caravan Forum, so we might make that our stop-over Monday night.

If we have Internet service at Tennant Creek, I'll upload all this and add some photos, to update the Blog.

Monday, July 27

Well, we drove through Tennant Creek around lunch time and decided to drive on further before we stopped for the night. We are now at the Devil's Marbles Campground for the night. It's cold here, due mainly to strong cold winds.

The 'Marbles' are an incredible natural wonder and we had a good look around.

   
 

SATELLITE TV

Television and Mobile Phone reception while travelling through the remote, outback regions of Australia, is pretty much a hit and miss affair.

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 !   

 


Stop the frustration! My New Guide will lead you step-by-step towards a successful set-up every time.

Read More Here

 

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

 

   Easy Fuel Transfer Project
Here's another project I just completed recently. See if it will suit your setup...  
Top Up Your Tank Without Lifting Heavy Jerry Cans

Fuel Transfer Project

 

DishPointer.com makes it easy to get your Elevation, Azimuth and Skew settings. Simply enter your current location in the box, choose Optus C1 at 156° East, and click GO. Internet connection required. Visit

Tuesday, July 28

The wind blew hard all night, so we didn't sleep well at all. Today we drove from Devil's Marbles to Alice Springs, a long boring drive, just miles and miles of straight road through the bush.

 

 

We are now booked into the G'day Mate Tourist Park. True... that's the name! It's a nice Park, just through town on the Southern approach. We're all settled in and ready for a cold morning Wednesday... Minus 1°. I'll upload this now and post more tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, July 29

The Weather Bureau was wrong. The temp this morning wasn't Minus 1... it was Minus 3! We didn't get out of bed 'till about 8.30. Even then, we weren't in a hurry to start the day. (Minus 2 tomorrow)

We did a bit of 'touristing' today, visiting an old historic Aviation Museum (Flying Doctor) and a Road Transport Museum, which for Bev was as exciting as watching grass grow. When we finished, she actually quoted Scott Hanrahan... "Well that was a fun day!"

The highlight was a visit first up to Lasseters' Casino. We were both quite impressed. It was early and only a few "locals" there but they say the place kicks in around lunch time. We're here for 4 nights, so we'll definitely be back for a few more visits. 

As part of our "Casino Crawl of Australia" we only have Canberra to go on the mainland, (which I didn't even know existed 'till recently), which  we will probably visit on the way north through western NSW. That will leave Hobart and Launceston for a later date.

Well, starting to get cold now. It's 9.53, Bev's asleep and I'm hitting it too. Good night!

Thursday, July 30

Today started off like others... COLD! However, we got out and about, taking in the sights. There really isn't much here of interest to us. You can only look at so much Aboriginal art, sunburnt hills, dry creek and river beds, old trucks, planes and machinery. Heck, you can see most of that at the Rocky Heritage Village! Once is enough...we won't come back.

Probably the hi-lite of the day, was Bev having to pay 50c to have a pee at the Shopping Centre!

After a bit of grocery shopping at Woolies and a bite to eat in the van, we headed off to the Casino. It must get busy at the weekends, because there weren't enough people there today to generate any sort of income. We both played roulette... and lost! Maybe tomorrow?

Tomorrow is our last day and we head off towards Ayers Rock on Saturday morning.

Friday, July 31

Not much to report today. Did a bit of grocery shopping at Coles... had another look around... lost a few bucks at the Casino... pre-packed as much as we could, ready to hit the road in the morning.

The first leg is 199ks south from Alice Springs to the turnoff at Erldunda, then a further 264ks into Yulara where the Campground is located.

Google Maps tells me that the 463k trip to Ayers Rock is estimated (by car) at just over 6 hours. Pulling a van, that would probably translate to 7 hours, so we're going to take our time and stop overnight somewhere in the wilderness. There are several Free Camp options along the way.

We have booked a powered site at Ayers Rock Campground at Ayers Rock Resort for Sunday and Monday night. They sting you $48 a night, but it's a one-off thing, we'll never be back.

We won't have Internet service until we get there Sunday, so I'll post more then. Still can't get the camera to talk to the computer... can't figure it out!

Saturday, August 1

We left Alice Springs this morning and headed south. It's 199ks to the Ayers Rock turnoff at the intersection of the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. The Desert Palms Roadhouse right on the corner, was an option to stay the night, but I wanted to press on, to a spot I'd read about in the Caravan Forum. Another 150ks down the road, is Curtin Springs Roadhouse, where a site with power is $40 and unpowered is free!

That's where we stayed and camped free.  As I was setting up the satellite dish, our "neighbour" came over for a yarn. Turned out to be a nice couple from Nowra (NSW), Robert and Joan, so we had Happy Hour with them. They too are heading for Ayers Rock.

Sunday, August 2

With only a short drive to Ayers Rock Campground, we took our time this morning, arriving about 10.30am. We checked in for our 2 nights and set up camp. The Campground is really quite large and includes many types of accommodation options, ranging from unpowered sites, to luxury rooms and villas costing several hundreds of dollars a night. There is a small 'Township' here with many shops, a newsagency, an IGA, restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. It has a free shuttle bus to get around 'town' which makes it easy.

Ayers Rock Campground is the only place you can stay in this area. It's here or nowhere! Unless you stay at Curtin Springs and drive the 113ks or so both ways each day. (Some do)

Ayers Rock Campground is close to the Rock, but it's still a 15k drive to the Rock itself. We took a drive out to the entrance to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock/Olgas National Park in english!) The entrance is controlled by a boom gate and you don't get in until you buy a Pass. The minimum is a 3 Day Pass for $25 per person. It's still a bit of a drive from there to the Rock itself. I always pictured the Campground in the shadow of the Rock, but that's not the case.

We bought our Pass and drove to the base of the Rock for a look around. It is MASSIVE! You know it is from descriptions and photos, but until you get up close and personal, you don't realise just how huge this big stone is!

Seeing we have a 3 day pass, we decided to stay longer at the Campground and took advantage of their 'Stay 4 Pay 3' deal. We now leave Thursday morning.

 

Monday, August 3

Today we took the 50k drive out to The Olgas (aboriginal: Kata Tjuta [silent T]). Another impressive lump of rocks, totally different in appearance to Ayers Rock. Glad we saw them, but wouldn't visit twice.

We also took another visit to the Rock, sussing out the sunset viewing area, where we plan to watch the sunset tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 4

Very cold mornings every day, don't make for early rising! It's 8am before the sun is up properly, so by the time we have breakfast and a shower, most of the morning has gone! Even so, we still have time to do the things retired tourists do... browsing the shops, chatting with the neighbours, tinkering with things around camp, etc.

Our only solid plan for today, was to take in sunset over the Rock. We headed out to the viewing area around 4.30 and got a good parking spot. Sunset was at 6.20. The cold wind kept us in the car, shooting photos through the windscreen... photos no one will ever see (or ever want to see!) if I can't get this camera to communicate with the laptop. Regardless, the experience was worthwhile and we're glad we did it. The HUGE carpark viewing area was packed and I couldn't count the number of cars in the convoy heading back to the Resort.

Tomorrow is our last day here and there's still several things around the resort we haven't seen yet. It's been good to settle down for a few days to break the monotony of travel in the remote Outback.

Thursday we head back to the Stuart highway, chuck a right and head south. We'll probably spend the night Free Camping at a Rest Area at the NT/SA Border, 341ks away. From there it will be another 323ks to Coober Pedy where we might spend 2 nights. From there, 375ks to Woomera then through Port Augusta where our southern leg finishes. It's then a swing east to who knows where? I haven't decided yet.

Wednesday, August 5

A lazy day for our last day at Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort Campground). Took the Shuttle Bus trip around the Resort, seeing a few of the shops, hotels and restaurants we hadn't yet seen. Back to the van for lunch and catch up on the Blog. I'll start packing a few things away this arvo, ready for our departure in the morning. It's been an enjoyable stopover on our trip... a good break from the road.


Thurs
day, August 6

As alluded to above, we are now at the Rest Area at the NT/SA Border, sharing it with 10 or 12 other travellers. There's no TV or mobile reception here, so I set up the satellite dish to keep up with the latest news and weather reports.

Talking to others here, we learned that there are border restrictions relating to fruit and vegetables. We weren't aware of any restrictions, so rather than dump them in the bin provided, Bev spent the afternoon cooking our veges, onions and tomatoes. Cooked and/or frozen food is ok.

Tomorrow it's off to Coober Pedy. I'm looking forward to visiting the underground 'city'. Not everything is underground of course, but there are houses, pubs, churches, restaurants, etc., underground.

We should have internet service there, so I'll upload this then.

Friday, August 7

Coober Pedy - No Internet

In 2013 we passed up on a cup of hot chips from the servo at Camooweal 'cause it was $6.50. This trip, we were going to get some chips from a roadhouse around here and they wanted $9.50!! Makes the $6.50 lot look cheap by comparison! (No, we didn't!)

The drive from the SA border to Coober Pedy was more of the same... mile after mile of straight roads through mostly flat country. Although, the terrain had far more vegetation and colour than we've experienced so far.

Then, about 35ks from Coober Pedy, the 'mounds' started to appear. Just a few here and there, then as we got closer, they numbered thousands. They looked like white tents scattered in the bush. I guess they're called Mulloch Heaps or Tailings. Whatever they call them, there are thousands of holes in the bush, where the search for Opals took place. There was even abandoned rusting machinery and trucks at some of the 'mines' but we never saw a single human at any of the mines. Maybe they were old abandoned mines... maybe they were underground.

We arrived in town about 1.30 and sought out the Big 4 Park. It's a big Park and it's pretty crowded. Out here, there's no water connection for your van.  Water is heavily rationed. There is power and sewerage at each site, but no water. If you need to refill your van water tanks, there's a coin-op point near Reception to do so, at 20c for 40 litres.

As well as that, a hot shower costs 20c for 2 minutes.  There is a coin box in each shower cubicle and as you drop your coin in, the water starts flowing. (You lose several seconds waiting for the hot water to come through) As soon as time's up, the water stops! I put in 40c and the water stopped just before my final rinse. In goes another 20c and had a good soak 'till it stopped. (It's cold here and a hot shower is heaven!) We didn't use our van shower, to conserve water for later.

On the Plus side, the Amenities Block is Ultra Modern and spotless.

We're here for 2 nights and tomorrow afternoon we are going to take a bus tour around the area. It's about a 4.5 hour tour and we'll see far more than we would doing our own thing.

I've booked us in to a Caravan Park in Woomera for Sunday night, but I doubt there'll be Internet service there. May have to wait 'till we get to Port Augusta to upload this mess! We'll see.

Saturday, August 8

The Bus Tour was good. It was $68 each and went for almost 5 hours. It covered everything: the mines, underground houses, the history, the Dingo Fence, underground church, hotel, shops, etc.

One highlight was a visit to the cemetery where the driver showed us a grave that has a beer keg as a headstone, surrounded by beer bottles and glasses. The inscription reads "Have A Beer On Me!"

The story goes, the guy, who had no family, was diagnosed with a terminal condition and had very little time to live. So he took his credit card and bought a plot at the cemetery. He then paid the undertaker for his funeral, with instructions on how to set up his headstone. Then he invited the town to come to the pub and "Have a Beer On Me". He threw a giant party and maxed out his credit card. He died before the repayment came due.

Sunday, August 9

We awoke this morning to a very windy day. The good news is, it's a Northerly wind and of course, a Northerly wind blows South! As we headed south to our next destination (Woomera) we were being pushed, giving us excellent fuel economy.

The bad news is, it's so windy here in the Caravan Park, it's almost unbearable! Also, there is nothing here. Woomera may have been a giant buzz back in the 70's but its almost a ghost town now. There are hundreds and hundreds of vacant Homes and Units, all built by the Dept of Defence, and hardly a soul in sight. If it weren't for the Grey Nomads, it would be totally dead!

But it is home for the night and only $25 for a powered site with water and sullage. It beats fighting the dust in a Rest Area in the sticks.

Ok... the time is now 7pm and the wind has dropped! Yahoo! And it's only going to be 6° in the morning... positively hot compared to what we've been having lately.

Spoke too soon. It's 8.45pm and the wind is back!

Monday, August 10

The wind dropped somewhat this morning, but what there was, was bitterly cold. We filled up at Spud's Roadhouse at the turn-off to Woomera (which is 7ks off the Stuart Highway) and headed off to Peterborough 311ks away. The northerly wind still helped with fuel consumption and we only needed a top up at Port Augusta. From Port Augusta we turned east and took the road less travelled, toward Peterborough (historically named Petersburg).

We're now at Peterborough Caravan Park for the night, our last stop in South Australia. No Internet connection on my Vodafone Pocket WiFi.

We took a drive around this historic Railway Maintenance Town, which consists of one main street, full of old buildings.

It's cold here.

Tuesday, August 11

Arrived at Broken Hill and booked into the Broken Hill Top Tourist Park for 2 nights. We have Internet Service!! I'll upload the past several days now and continue the report later.

Wednesday, August 12

Back now: We took the 25k drive out to Silverton (population less than 50) this morning. Some folks we met at the NT/SA Border Free Camp said it was a must see. We don't agree, but it was interesting to see the old buildings and a couple of modified cars used in the Mad Max 2 movie.

According to their website, Silverton and surrounds has been used in lots of movies, including:

Dirty Deeds - 2001
Mission Impossible II - 1999
The Missing - 1998
Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - 1993
Reckless Kelly - 1991
Royal Flying Doctor Service (TV) - 1991
The Water Trolly - 1989
As Time Goes By - 1987
Dirtwater Dynasty (Mini-Series) - 1987
A Place to Call Home (TV) - 1986
The Blue Lightning (TV) - 1986
Alice to Nowhere (TV) - 1985
Comrades - 1985
The Long Way Home - 1984
Razorback - 1983
The Camel Boy -1983
The Slim Dusty Movie - 1983
Hostage - 1982
A Town Like Alice (Mini-Series) 1981
Max Max II - 1981
The Golden Soak - 1978
The Battle of Broken Hill (Mini-Series) - 1971
Girl in Australia - 1970
Wake in Fright - 1970

Returning to Broken Hill, the other must-see attraction was The Big Picture at Silver City Mint & Art Centre. It's the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist. Way too much to write about, so follow the link if you are interested in learning more. It was a must-see!

Off tomorrow towards Dubbo, a 2 day trip. Possibly going as far as Cobar

Thursday, August 13 - No Internet

We did the 400+ ks to Cobar and are now at the Cobar Caravan Park. Cobar is home to about 7000 souls and has a Shire area about the size of Tasmania. I know that because the caravan park brochure says so!

Our understanding is, that Cobar is a Gold Mining town. There is a huge open cut 'hole' in the ground, at the edge of town and at the bottom, a tunnel goes underground. From the top, it looks as though huge mining trucks could drive into the tunnel.

Not much else of interest here and we're off to Dubbo tomorrow, where we'll spend 3 nights.


Friday
, August 14

A lot of the road between Cobar and Dubbo was rough as guts! Especially the last section on the Mitchell Highway. It was like travelling on a gravel road... without the dust! Up 'till now, with a couple of exceptions, the roads have been pretty good. Sure hope they improve as we work our way north through the west.

We were going to stay at the Big4 Park here in Dubbo, but at the suggestion of a fellow member of the Caravan Forum, we booked into the Westview Tourist Park on the outskirts of town. It's quiet and ok, but the Big4 would have been nicer.

Saturday, August 15

Today we visited the Taronga Western Plains Zoo that Dubbo is 'famous' for. It's a huge complex and we drove around on the 6k road through the park. There are parking areas at each section, where you get out and visit the animals. It was $72 for the 2 of us, but worth it.

Tomorrow, we're off the the races at Narromine, a small country town 37ks away. It has a population around 4000. It's their Gold Cup Day.

Sunday, August 16

Had a good day at the Narromine Races today. Bev lost, I won... but only $38, so nothing to brag about.

Our last night tonight, off tomorrow heading 'northish' but have no idea where we'll stay the night. Going to Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Gunnedah, Tamworth. Could be any of those... maybe none! Doesn't matter much when we have a self contained Motel Room on wheels rolling along behind the Tug.

Let's see where the road takes us.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, August 17, 18, 19

Well, the road took us to Tamworth, Country Music Capital of Australia. We booked into Paradise Caravan Park, the Big4 Park here. We took 3 nights, but after learning that the Tamworth Races are on, on Thursday, we extended another night.

We did all the tourist things yesterday and today (Wed) taking in the sights of Tamworth. Bit of a lazy day today though. Bev did the floor of the van, while I vacuumed the mats and cleaned the car, followed by a bit of shopping. It was -1° this morning, so we didn't surface 'till after 8! Tomorrow it's off the the Races... I'll let you know the outcome.

Thursday, August 20

The outcome was not as planned... we both lost! Apart from that, it was a good day. It's just a shame that we extended and paid for an extra night specifically to attends the races. Usually one of us wins!

The facilities at the Tamworth Racecourse are very nice.

From here we are changing our planned trip route. When we were at Devil's Marbles, the wind was so strong, it ripped the door from my hand as I opened it and slammed it against the side of the van, breaking one of the 3 hinges. To make matters worse, just a kilometre or so after we left in the morning, I spotted (in the rearview mirror) the bedroom window flapping in the strong breeze. The metal window stays had broken. Bev hadn't fully latched the window.

Maybe there is a 'demon' at Devil's Marbles, because another vanner told us about their mishap there. They lifted the bed to access storage underneath and all 3 hinges broke!

So, rather than continue north via the inland roads, we've decided to cut across to the coast and get things fixed at Hinterland Caravans, Burleigh Heads, where we bought the van. Besides, it gives us an excuse to visit the Gold Coast again.

So tomorrow morning it's off to Grafton, where we'll spend 2 nights. From there, a short trip to Ballina for another 2 nights, then Burleigh Heads. From there we'll decide whether to come home along the coast road, or head back inland again.

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 21

I thought I had it all worked out. Head north out of Tamworth to Armidale, chuck a right and take a leisurely drive to Grafton.

Big mistake!

The road is one of the worst we've travelled on... even worse than the road between Cobar and Dubbo. Almost constant narrow mountain road in very poor condition. Rough as guts x2! I rarely got over 80kph. Over 5 hours to travel 308ks. The only upside was the good fuel consumption, because of the slow speed.

We arrived at the Glenwood Tourist Park and booked in for 2 nights. I told the couple at Reception about our rough trip from Tamworth and the first thing they said was, "Did you turn off at Armidale? You should have gone on to Glen Innes and turned off there. A little bit longer trip but the road is much wider and smoother!"

Anyway, the Glenwood Tourist Park is only $27 a night for seniors and we have a large drive through site. I particularly liked their "Grey Nomads Welcome" sign on their website and was definitely attracted by that.

We're booked in to Ballina Big4 Caravan Park Sunday and Monday nights and it's only a short 133k drive for us on Sunday.

Saturday, August 22

A chill-out day today, with a visit to the local Shopping Centre for a bit of Retail Therapy. Bev found a nice warm top at Noni B and I found a couple of nicknacks at the Dollar Store. Back to the Park and goofed off for the rest of the day. 

Sunday, August 23

It was just a short trip this morning to Ballina and we're at the Big4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park for 2 nights. It's a little out of town, just north on the Coast, but central to everything.

When we arrived, we realized we'd stayed here before, except it was a Top Tourist Park then. It's a lovely Park with tons of palm trees and green grass everywhere! A big contrast to some of the Parks we've visited lately. We set up camp and off to the Shopping Centre for some groceries to keep the body going.

Ballina is right on the coast and the scenery is nice. Queensland's better, but...


Monday
, August 24

Today we took a drive to the countryside surrounding Ballina, visiting little Villages along the way, complete with lovely rolling hills and green valleys with running creeks. It reminded me of a picture postcard.

Surprisingly, we came across a tiny service station in a little Village called Alstonville with the cheapest diesel we've seen so far. The beast was half full, so filled up at $1.35 litre.

Back at the Park, the thunder was rolling and a storm was heading our way. I logged on and checked the weather radar and a large cell was heading our way. It rained quite a bit, but thankfully not too severe. 

Tuesday, August 25

This morning we woke to lovely blue skies and headed off on the short 103k trip to Burleigh Heads. We're now at one of our favourite spots... Burleigh Beach Tourist Park. We've booked in for 3 nights. It's not the nicest Park in the world, but the location is fantastic, especially seeing we have to hook up again in the morning and take the van to the Repair Shop at Burleigh Heads. Unfortunately the Park doesn't have any drive-through sites, where we could have left the van hooked up for an easy get-a-way in the morning.

Of course, once we settled in this morning, we headed off to the Casino for lunch and a flutter.

Wednesday, August 26

Took the van over to Hinterland Caravans this morning and left it with them, with a list of repairs that needed doing. We then headed off and visited the RSL and Boys Town Prize Homes, as we always do when at the Gold Coast. (It's about time we won one of these homes, as we've been on their automatic order system for years and years.) From there, we went to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre for lunch and a look around. During the look around, we got the call that the van was ready, so we headed back to Burleigh Heads.

From the list of things to do, I wouldn't have been surprised to get a bill for $250-$300. We were very pleasantly surprised to get a bill for $145!! I estimated $150 for one of the  items on the list. Also, as I did last time we had the van down to them, I bludged a 9kg gas refill from them for nix!

Back to the Park and set up again, I went to the office and extended our stay another night. We now leave Saturday morning, unless we start winning at the Casino...?

Tomorrow, Thursday, it's a lay day to get the washing done, plus a few odd jobs around camp.

Thursday, August 27

The weather took a turn for the worse today and its been showering and drizzling on and off all day. However, Bev still got the washing done and hung it up on the lines under the awning.

As above, plus we went to the Casino for dinner. Every month they put on a different dish at a reduced price for Rewards Members at Spinners Restaurant. This month it was a Steak and Bug dish. We've had some really nice dishes there, but this one barely made the grade.

After dinner it was into the Casino for a flutter. This trip, Bev's winning but sadly, Lady Luck has deserted me.

Friday, August 28

The weather cleared this morning and we were greeted with a lovely sunny day. We took advantage of that and went for a walk around Burleigh Heads "township". The majority of shops here are either clothing shops or eating joints and both were very well patronized. Especially today, as it's 'People's Day' for the Gold Coast Show.

We're actually enjoying the rest so much, that we extended our stay here another 4 nights. We now leave Burleigh Heads Wednesday, September 2nd.

I'm at three minds as to which way to go from here. My original thoughts were to head back west and work our way north through Warwick, Dalby, Goondiwindi, Moonie, Condamine, Miles, Wandoan, Taroom, Theodore, Banana, Wowan, Dululu, Westwood, Rocky.

OR...

St George, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Augathella, Tambo, Blackall, Barcaldine, Emerald, Rockhampton

OR...

????  Still trying to decide which way to go.

Wednesday, September 2

Well, the time has come to leave the Gold Coast and head North. After much consideration, we decided the shortest trip home was via the coast. We're leaving South Western Queensland for another trip. (Any excuse. )

Even though the coast is the shortest way home, we're in no hurry. Our first stop was Chatsworth Park Rest Area,  a free camp, just north of Gympie. It's a nice little spot and we've used it a number of times in the past. Sadly, the council workers arrived early next morning with their whipper snippers and mowers, determined to beautify the place before we were all awake!

Thursday, September 3

With all the racket going on, we had a quick breakfast and hit the road.  We hadn't been to the Bundaberg/Bargara area for quite some time, so we decided that would be our next stop. It was only a short 200k drive to Bargara, via Maryborough and Childers and we arrived early at Bargara Beach Caravan Park. We got a nice spot and booked in for 3 nights.

We spent the next 2 days taking in the sights of the area, with a special emphasis on Bundaberg, as we hadn't been here for quite a few years.

A 'must visit' was the Bert Hinkler Museum, officially known as Hinkler Hall of Aviation. Admission to the complex was $12 each (for oldies) and worth the money.

Without boring you with the details, suffice to say he was best known for his pioneering solo flight from England to Australia in 1928 and the world’s first solo flight across the South Atlantic in 1931.

Not being Rum drinkers, we skipped the tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and their $18 Admission Fee. Had it been the Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey Distillery, that would have been another matter! Instead, we headed back to the coast and settled for lunch on the veranda at the Bargara Beach Hotel. I recall staying there on a Golfing Bus Trip to Bargara back in the 1990's and early 2000's. Fond memories!

Sunday, September 6

This morning we pulled up stumps and headed off on the short 135k trip to Agnes Water.

The Agnes Water Caravan Park is a very popular spot, right on the beach. We wanted 3 nights there, but as we hadn't booked, they could only give us 2 nights on the one site. Two is better than none, so we had a very relaxing, short stay at this lovely part of Queensland.

If you're not a fisherman, then there's not a whole lot to do here, which suited us fine!

We took in the sights, visiting the nearby village of Seventeen Seventy, built on the site of the second landing by James Cook and the crew of Endeavour in May 1770. Story goes, it was originally known as Round Hill (after the creek it sits on) and the name was changed in 1970 to commemorate the bicentennial of Cook's visit. The community of Seventeen Seventy hold the re-enactment of this historic landing in May each year as part of the 1770 Festival.

Back at Agnes, the Shopping Village is an easy walk from the Caravan Park and has everything you could need. If you're looking for a feed, the meals at the Agnes Water Tavern are delicious and we can recommend them. It's a bit too far to walk, so take the car. 

Tuesday, September 8

We have lived in the Central Queensland area all our lives, but we had never been to Tannum Sands, even though it's only 134k from home. So we made that our last stop on this Rockhampton to Rockhampton trip.

It was a short 106k trip from Agnes Water to Tannum Sands, so we took our time and arrived just before lunch and booked 2 nights at the Tannum Sands Discovery Holiday Park, which is also a Top Tourist Park.

Every Tuesday night, the 2 owners, Andy Forsyth and Geoff Batchelor, entertain the guests with a sausage sizzle and a sing along. 

By their own admission, they are "... a couple of bloody old poofs, so get over it!"

Geoff is the entertainer who plays guitar and sings and Andy supports where necessary.

Cost of admission is a donation to Angel Flight and they have raised tens of thousands over the years.

Thursday, September 10

We said goodbye to Tannum this morning and headed north on our last leg to Rockhampton.

It has been a very enjoyable 7 week trip. We travelled over 8900 ks and saw a lot of Australia we hadn't seen in the past.

The tow vehicle, a Mazda BT50, didn't miss a beat and averaged 16.83 litres per 100ks which is acceptable. Except for a broken door hinge and window stay in the strong winds at Devils' Marbles, the Billabong Caravan performed admirably. We are very happy with the van.
 


Our next trip is a week in Agnes Water in late November, followed by a week over Christmas at Lake Tinaroo, North Queensland. Next year, 2016 will see us on another trip to Perth, this time via New South Wales and South Australia. We'll probably take 2 months for that one.

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