A Travellerspoint blog

Finally made it home!

More to come...

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Well, we have finally made it back to Perth and arrived at the caravan park we departed almost 8 months ago. Due to a lack of a reliable internet connection and the sheer volume of material I still have to put onto this blog site, I will update it when we are settled in a house with a better internet connection.

Thanks for hanging in there with us and keeping up with our exploits. If you haven't done it already, click on the susbscribe link and you'll be notified by email when I've done it.

It's good to be back in Perth, but we'll miss our travelling - it's been a wonderful 8 months.

Phil Denise and Danii

Posted by PhilAndDen 16:18 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Last day on the mainland for a while

Happy Australia Day!

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After spending the last 3 days in Albury/Wodonga, it’s time to head for Melbourne to board the ship to Tasmania. Only problem is that we have to leave the caravan park at 10am, but be at the dock by 7.30 pm. However, it will only take 3 ½ to 4 hours to drive there which leaves us 5 hours to kill on the way.

After just over 120 Kilometres down the Hume Hwy towards Melbourne, we turned off onto the Midlands Hwy and headed west. In contrast to what we’ve been seeing for the past couple of months, it is dry here and you can tell it hasn’t rained in a while. By lunchtime we stopped at Shepparton in the heart of the Goulburn Valley for a bite to eat and have a look around. This is quite a sizable town and we spent a bit of time there looking through the shops and walking around town before heading off again.

We continued onto the old goldfield area of Victoria and our first stop was Bendigo. We did not spend much time here, but drove around the streets of this wonderfully preserved city. You can tell there is a lot of history in this place, so Denise and I have pencilled this into the itinerary of our next trip. Next stop was Ballarat where we spent a little bit of time looking for somewhere to stop, however this city is not a friendly place to stop towing a caravan so it took us a while to find a place to stop. By this time it was starting to get a bit late, so it was onto the Western Freeway and head for Melbourne. Today we have managed to see quite a bit of northern Victoria on the way to Melbourne. After a couple of wrong turns we managed to find where the trans Tasman ship Spirit of Tasmania II is berthed. After being in a long queue for about half and hours, we finally drove the car and van onto the ship.

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Just before 9pm the ship departed and it took just over an hour to go through Port Philip Bay and into Bass Strait. We should be in Devonport by 6 the next morning and hopefully the weather will be kind to us on the voyage over.

Posted by PhilAndDen 17:27 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

A few days in Albury/Wodonga

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We have stopped at the twin border towns of Albury/Wodonga for 3 days as we have a breather and spend a bit of time before heading to Melbourne, and drive onto the ship to Tasmania. It’s amazing how big these towns are, and coming from Western Australia realise how much of WA’s population is concentrated in Perth. We spent time exploring both towns (as well as the odd bit of shopping). On another day went on a drive to visit as Strawberry Winery and bought a very yummy bottle of Strawberry Liqueur. After that, we drive onto Mt Beauty which is on the edge of the Victorian Alps. It was only 30 kilometres from the ski resort town of Falls Creek which (unfortunately) we did not go on to.

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We are glad to be in drier areas now as there is no humidity with the warmth, which is a pleasant change for us all. No doubt as we move into cooler areas, we’ll miss the warmer weather (no pleasing some people eh?).

Posted by PhilAndDen 17:13 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Heading for the border

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Our next stop is Goulburn which is approximately 150 kilometres South West of Sydney on the Hume Hwy, which is the major link between Sydney and Melbourne. We did not want to stop in Sydney on this trip so we bypassed by using the Motorways which skirt the outside of the city. We could not see any of the well known landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge or any of the city skyline due to the high walls surrounding the motorway which was a pity.

We finally arrived in Goulburn, found the caravan park and set up for the night. After a little bit of shopping we drove around town to find a public park with a BBQ on it, and finally found one. It was a lovely night as we encountered the first clear skies in over 2 months, and had a picnic as the sun set.

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We have stopped at the twin border towns of Albury/Wodonga for 3 days as we have a breather and spend a bit of time before heading to Melbourne, and drive onto the ship to Tasmania. It’s amazing how big these towns are, and coming from Western Australia realise how much of WA’s population is concentrated in Perth. We spent time exploring both towns (as well as the odd bit of shopping). On another day went on a drive to visit as Strawberry Winery and bought a very yummy bottle of Strawberry Liqueur. After that, we drive onto Mt Beauty which is on the edge of the Victorian Alps. It was only 30 kilometres from the ski resort town of Falls Creek which (unfortunately) we did not go on to.

MtBeauty.jpg

We are glad to be in drier areas now as there is no humidity with the warmth, which is a pleasant change for us all. No doubt as we move into cooler areas, we’ll miss the warmer weather (no pleasing some people eh?).

Posted by PhilAndDen 14:31 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Port Stephens

A jewel on the NSW coastline

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Today we have a longer than usual drive as we head for the coast to Salamander Bay which is in the Port Stephens area. Just before we reached Tamworth, we travelled down the steepest section of road we have been on to date. Luckily for us we were going down as it’s 6 Kilometres of very steep road in 3 stages. We were hoping to drive through Tamworth to have a look at the activity there, but the main road through town was closed and detours were in place. As we had the caravan on the car we had to bypass the town, but there were no shortage of cowboy hats!

We arrived in the Port Stephens area which is approximately 60 kilometres north of Newcastle on the NSW central coast. We stayed here with friends we made back in WA who kindly offered us to stay with them, and spent 3 wonderful days in an area called Salamander Bay which is one of those unspoilt areas of the coastline.

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Our friends Rex and Marrion showed us all the sights in the area including a day trip to Newcastle. Newcastle is an old city which is reflected in its architecture. We went through the Christ Church Cathedral which is one of the largest in Australia which was a first for us both. It was here that the effects of the 1989 earthquake became apparent due to the reinforcing made to this large and ornate building. Despite being in a geologically stable region of the world, you are reminded that nature can change the face of the earth at any time and in any place.

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Despite the rain and overcast weather, we’ve had a wonderful time here and before long, it was time to hit the road and head towards Bass Strait.

Posted by PhilAndDen 14:16 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Heading south again

Bye bye Queensland... we've had a great time

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Happy Birthday Denise!

We haven’t quite escaped the rain yet, but it’s been mostly clear on our journey here from Brisbane. For the first time on this trip we encountered some really serious hills to pull the van up! This was along the Cunningham Hwy which runs from Ipswich in QLD and joins up with the New England Hwy just before the NSW border near the town of Warwick. Before long we were at the border and after 13 weeks (3 months), we finally left Queensland.

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We stopped in the lovely town of Teneterfield and for those of you with an eye for trivia, this is the birthplace of Peter Allen. It had a pleasant feel to it and if we weren’t travelling, would have liked to have spent a few days here exploring the countryside.

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Danii managed to get herself stranded in Tweed Heads on the QLD border, so we drove there to pick her up. We travelled over the Great Dividing Range through the towns of Casino and Lismore en route. This is the area of NSW which had been in flood from the recent storms over the New Year period, and the damage in some places was amazing. In some places, the road had only been re-opened in the previous day, so it shows how easily you can become stranded when weather like this hits.

The next stop was meant to be Tamworth, but unfortunately this is the time of the year when the country music festival is on, and all accommodation is booked out. We stopped at the town of Uralla which is just over 200 kilometres south of Tenterfield for the night and it turned out to be another lovely country town. We finally had a stop where there was no rain to be seen and gave us a chance to get some of our stuff dried out.

Posted by PhilAndDen 13:53 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Back in the big city

Made it to Brisbane

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Well, we’ve finally made it to the big city and have been lucky enough to find a caravan park close to the city centre. Brisbane roads can be confusing for the uninitiated and have take quite a few wrong turns already! It makes us appreciate how good the roads are in Perth.

We plan to spend a bit of time here, so this blog will be on hold for the next little while and we possibly may be here in Brisbane for Christmas, but nothing is set in stone.

We’d love to hear from any of you reading this as we cannot spend great lengths of time online due to the nature of our internet connection. Instant messaging like MSN or Yahoo is not an option, so email is the next best thing. Our email addresses are:

philanddenise@gmail.com (both of us)

busdriver12@gmail.com (Phil)

denga3699@yahoo.com (Denise)

Update

Well we had to go to the Gold Coast and visit a theme park. On the 4th December we spent the day at Dreamworld and had a really great day. They have some unreal rides which can be found on Dreamworld's web site here . The rides we went on were The Giant Drop, Tower of Terror, The Cyclone, and The Claw. We had a look over the Big Brother house and here is proof the girls were there!

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I've also got myself at job at a BWS liquor store here in Brisbane, so we will be here until Mid January at least. That means we will be having a banana bender Christmas this year ;o)

Update #2

We've decided on a Brissie departure date - 16th January which co-incidentally is Denise's birthday. At this stage we expect to be back in Perth by late March early April.

A word about the weather here - most of the time it has been overcast and for most of that time it has been raining. On 6th January a storm passed through Brisbane which dumped almost 50mm in just over 1/2 hour! There is a small creek passing by the back of the caravan park, and this transformed into a raging torrent. Within 24 hours of the deluge it was back to it's former self showing that the drainage is very good here. We were lucky as the storms were worse in Northern NSW and Southern QLD and the flooding quite extensive.

Well, I had to put another highlight in here. On 10th January we travelled to the Gold Coast once again, this time to visit Seaworld. We had a great day and apart from the seal show being a little corny, the whole experience was wonderful! For us the highlight of the day was the dolphin show with the Polar Bears coming a close second.

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We will be have been in Brisbane for 2 months and it has been a really good stay. We packed a lot of things into this time and would have no hesitation coming back here. We'd even live here if the opportunity presented itself.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and it's time for us to leave this rain sodden city. Next stop, New South Wales!

Posted by PhilAndDen 12:15 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Staying in Gympie

No, it's not a small sledgehammer

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We are staying at Gympie which is 160 Km north of Brisbane decided to treat ourselves to an ensuite site. We’ve not had one since Broome and felt we deserved to treat ourselves. The main reason for staying here instead of going all the way to Brisbane was firstly to break up the trip, and secondly to give us give a place to stay which is close enough to Australia Zoo.

We spent the day there and were impressed by the cleanliness of the enclosures and the facilities for the visitors. Stand outs for us were the tigers, kangaroos (which we hand fed), and the otters. However, it is very tourist oriented and the live shows were simplistic mainly aimed at kids, and those who don’t have a clue about animals. We felt like we were watching the Wiggles rather than a wildlife show. If you want to find out more info, click onto their web site here

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Posted by PhilAndDen 22:50 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Staying by the numbers

In the birthplace of Queensland

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We are starting to get close to Brisbane now (just over 600 K’s) and we wanted to have a couple more stays before we got there. One of these places is a town which has the distinction of being the only one in Australia to have a number as it’s name – 1770. Those of you with an eye for history will understand the significance of this number as it is the year Captain Cook first came to Australia. There is a small monument here commemorating where he landed and there is a festival every year in May commemorating this event. The town is referred to as the birthplace of Queensland as this is the first place where the British came ashore.

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1770 is located on a peninsula which has very steep hills at the end of it, and this provided a good opportunity for Denise and I go exploring. We ended up on the edge of a cliff admiring the stunning view across the ocean whilst watching the water crashing over the rocks. It was one of those experiences which recharges the batteries and makes it hard for you to leave.

Posted by PhilAndDen 22:47 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Rockhampton awaits

Our last stop in the tropics

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Rockhampton is located on the Tropic of Capricorn, so this will be our last stop in the tropics. This is almost at the exact place on the east coast as Coral Bay in on the west coast, but the difference in landscape shows how diverse this country of ours is.

Any hope we had of drying our stuff evaporated (pardon the pun) approximately 40 Kilometres north of Rockhampton as we passed through some of the heaviest rain we’ve encountered on this trip. By the time we reached our caravan park site, the rain was falling lightly until the time we needed to start setting up when it proceeded to bucket down. It rained non stop at this rate for another 8 hours well into the evening with me running around in my spray jacket getting things tied down. I was told by someone in the office that Rockhampton had received nearly 100mm of rain in the past 2 days!

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However, the rain did finally stop and after we get settled had a nice dinner at the bistro on site which was a nice way to finish the day considering our aquatic activities. This caravan park had a bath in the ablution block and we all indulged in a good soak, something we haven’t had since we left Perth just over 3 months ago.

We are staying in Rockhampton for 3 days, and it did not rain any more which gave us the chance to get everything washed and dried, and before long were back in business. We did a lot of relaxing on this stop and met some nice people from Tasmania and Canberra and spent a pleasant evening with them swapping tales and enjoying each others company.

Denise and I were lucky enough to be able to vote in the upcoming Federal election at the Electoral Commission office, so it’s good to have that one out of the way. It’ll be great to travel soon without having to see all the electioneering nailed to every second tree we go past!

We also spent an afternoon looking over the seaside town of Yeppoon which is approx 60 K’s from Rockhampton. We had lunch in a tavern which offered counter lunches for $10 each which was excellent value considering some of the places we have eaten at to date.

Posted by PhilAndDen 22:40 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Mooching around Mackay

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We decided to stay in Mackay for 3 days just to slow the pace down a bit, as the constant packing and unpacking gets a bit tiresome after a while. We stayed in a Caravan Park in North Mackay which was close to shops and the city itself. The park was teeming with all sorts of birds, but ducks were the prominent ones and lorikeets joined them for a daily feeding just after 4.30 in the afternoon.

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We also drove south of Mackay to a town called Sabina where there is a museum and replica Sugar Mill which we thought would be good to look at seeing we’ve been in sugar cane growing country since we started heading south from Cairns. Unfortunately we were 10 minutes late for the tour and as the next one didn’t start for another hour and a half, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to Mackay. We had a look at some of the beaches and ended up at a pub on the top of a hill overlooking the the ocean and some of the numerous islands which form part of the Whitsundays.

On the last day of our stay, the clouds that had been threatening some rain finally came good and gave us a good soaking. It’s obvious by the surrounding countryside that water is not a problem, and with the wet season upon us it’s time to get the brollys out. Unfortunately we had so much rain overnight, that the roof of the annexe collapsed under the weight of the water on it and soaked Danii as she was asleep. In fact the whole annexe was soaked, but we had a few hours of sunlight before we left and we able to get most of our gear dried out. However, there were some items which we couldn’t get dry in time, and we had to leave it in a damp smelly heap in the boot of the car with the hope that we can get it dried out at our next stop, Rockhampton.

Posted by PhilAndDen 22:36 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Time to head south again

Passing through Townsville

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After saying goodbye to Cairns, it was time to head southwards with our first stop being Townsville. We only passed through here on the way to Cairns, so we are staying here for a couple of days to have a look. We used our time in Townsville to relax and had a look around the CBD and watched a movie (Saw IV) to get out of the warm weather.

Posted by PhilAndDen 02:54 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Finally arrived at Cairns

Truly a tropical paradise

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After 11 days of overnight stops (except for 2 in Mt Isa) it was time to stop for a while, and Cairns was it. This is one happening place. On our first night we went to the Night Markets which are open 7 days a week from 4.30 to 10 pm. This was located on the foreshore precinct which was buzzing with activity, with shops and various eateries open. We settled in an Irish pub for a few relaxing drinks to finish off the day.

As we wanted to see a few sights while we were here, we spent one day at the Kuranda Wildlife Park which is only 30 Kilometres west of Cairns over the mountains. We were treated to a stunning drive there, as we wound though numerous hairpin bends through the rain forest. We were lucky as there were not many visitors and virtually had the park to ourselves. There was all types of animals including, Lions, Tigers, Bears, Rhinoceros, Deer, Ostriches, Hippos, Monkeys, Goats, Peacocks and a Dingo Pup. It was a great day and recommend you visit if you’re in the area.

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The next day we went on the Skyrail to Kuranda which is a 7 Kilometre Cablecar ride over the rain forest canopy in the mountains overlooking Cairns. There are 2 intermediate stations en route where you get off and explore the rain forest where there is an Interpretive Centre and guided tour by one of the Rangers. To say it was stunning is an understatement. As we left the second stop the rain clouds came over the mountains and we were in the midst of the rain as it was falling on the canopy below.

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At the end of the Skyrail was the town of Kuranda where we had lunch at the local pub and spent the rest of our time there checking out the numerous markets. There was also a bird and butterfly sanctuary to visit, but we did not get to see them due to a lack of time. It was time to hop onto to the Kuranda Scenic Railway which wound it’s way down the Barron River Gorge for one of the most picturesque railways in Australia.

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All in all, Cairns has been one our best stops since leaving Perth and we were sad to leave.

Posted by PhilAndDen 02:50 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

On our way to the tropics

Time for us to get back to the coast

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In the morning just as we had packed up and was ready to head off, I noticed the tread had come away from one of the tyres. We couldn’t travel on this, so after a bit of driving around, found a tyre shop to replace the tyre. It turned out that the other 3 tyres had very little tread and would be lucky to last another 5000 kilometres! So I bit the bullet and forked out for 4 new tyres for the van (and $400 later), but as this is our home and we will be travelling through a lot of isolated countryside, so it made good sense to do so. This is now the 6th tyre we’ve had to replace since leaving Perth (2 for the car as well as these 4 van tyres). In the end, we didn’t leave Mt Isa until just before 1pm which meant we were going to be late at our next stop, Julia Creek.

Julia Creek is a small town in cattle farming country on the Barkly Highway which runs from Mt Isa to Townsville on the coast (just over 900 Kilometres). We will need to make 2 overnight stops with Julia Creek being the first. As the sun went down we were treated to a beautiful colour display in the sky as the clouds were building to a storm as the sun was setting. However, the storm did not eventuate, and after sunset we were treated to a beautiful full moon which highlighted the night sky for us. We sat outside with a couple of drinks soaking up the atmosphere for the rest of the evening – it doesn’t get much better than this.

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After another 250 Kilometres travelling west along the Flinders Hwy (Barkly Hwy), we pull into the town of Hughenden which is our next overnight stop. After setting up we head into town to stock up supplies only to find the whole town shuts down at midday on a Saturday. Having arrived there in mid afternoon, there was nowhere for us to buy food for tonight’s dinner. We noticed a couple of pubs and a Chinese restaurant so it looks like we’re eating out tonight. We decided on Chinese and it tuned out to be one of the best Chinese meals in a while – quite the little gem in an oasis.

In the main street there is a quaint little shelter made from windmill rotors and a café called F.J. Holden which is a 50’s style diner with an Aussie flavour. It’s actually owned by F & J Holden!

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After getting all packed up again, we jumped back onto the Flinders Hwy and continued west. This is the main highway between Mt Isa and Townsville on the coast, but the section is this part of the country is one of the worst pieces of bitumen we have driven on so far. The road has a lot of dips and on a couple of occasions, the tow hitch bottomed out on the road. I had to drive the car a lot slower which was going to make for a long journey, as our this stretch is almost 450 Kilometres.

We stopped at Charters Towers for lunch, a delightful town which is the last major centre before the coast at Townsville. After depositing the car and van on the main street, we had some good old fashioned pub grub. One thing we couldn’t help but notice was the pokies which you won’t find anywhere in WA (except for the casino). Unfortunately it spoiled our dining experience with the incessant ker-chinking and blipping of the machines. Despite that, we had lunch and set off on our final leg.

After the long drive from Hughenden we finally arrived at our destination, Rollingstone which is a beachside village approximately 60 Kilometres north of Townsville. After setting up and a BBQ tea, we sat on the beach and watched the moon rise over the ocean, a strange sight for west coasters! It was lovely and a perfect way to end a long day travelling.

Posted by PhilAndDen 03:27 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Back into mining country

Our first stop in Queensland

sunny 35 °C
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The wind we encountered overnight has not let up so we are fighting a brisk wind all the way towards Queensland. Added to that is the slow climb onto the Barkly Tablelands and as a result, the car is using more fuel than normal. After travelling for just over 250 Kilometres, it’s time to move our clocks forward half an hour as we cross the border into Queensland.

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Just 13 Kilometres over the border was the first town in Queensland, Camooweal where we stopped for lunch. We set off again and just after 200 Kilometres, arrive in Mt Isa which is a large regional centre because of the mining activity there. We were feeling pretty tired after nearly 6 hours of travelling and as soon as we had unpacked enough, set ourselves into relaxation mode. This has been the longest distance we have travelled in a day since we left Perth just over 12 weeks (87 days to be precise) ago.

We spent our free day here looking around the town and doing a spot of shopping here and there. Despite it’s size, it has a laid back feel about it but was quite warm which is fairly standard for this part of the world. Just behind the caravan park was a lookout which we climbed and had a good 360 degree view of the area.

It's time for us to keep moving towards the east coast and the nearest coastal town is Townsville just over 900 Kilometres from here, so there are a couple more overnight stops to come.

Posted by PhilAndDen 03:21 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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