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Published: April 5th 2018
Well, gunfire actually! Not "real" gunfire, but the bird-scaring variety as we embark upon our second house/cat sit up in Stanthorpe QLD. Yes, it seems QLD hasn't quite finished with us yet, and we all know you'll be terribly shocked to hear we put our hand up to keep an eye on things at the stunning Savina Lane winery, while Brad and Cheryl take a well-earned break OS. The icing on the cake is hanging out with their gorgeous cat, Sooty (see her and Jeff hanging out @ happy hour on blog entry So Long Stanthorpe - or stay tuned for more happy hour Sooty snaps on our next one!)
The grapes are quivering with deliciousness and while some have already met their maker (Wine maker of the year 2017 that is, Mr Mike Hayes) some are quietly hanging in anticipation of a continued brilliant harvest. Jeff, Brad and Cheryl have been busy in the cellar door, while Tab's been working on the downsizing challenge of sending Boris to his retirement home. Yes, you heard right, after almost 13 years of calling Boris home, it's time we parted ways.
Some of you already know, but many not, that we
farewelled our unique, talkative and cuddly fur-kid Oscar a few days before Christmas. He followed his little bro Bailey to feline heaven exactly 90 days after Boo passed on last year. Practical medicine says he died of interstitial cystitis, however we could be easily convinced he died of a broken heart. Either way, while our broken hearts try to mend, we can only hope the boys are reunited upstairs again and find beautiful homes in the next life. We will never forget Oscar our "Fatty" and his constant opinions on everything, from the weather, to world peace and often the state of his food-bowl, he always verbalised his thoughts - we'll miss that, among a thousand other things we loved about our two gingers. Caring for Brad and Cheryl's gorgeous girl Sooty is a much-needed love-in and we cherish all the moments she feels like a smooch.
This leads us to the retirement of Boris. The place just didn't feel like home without our two fur rugs, so it was time to find ourselves a new rig......welcome to your new life Boris Minor (see pics).
Boris Minor allows us to explore off the beaten track with ease, and
in future drop by some of those hard to reach areas Boris couldn't get to - though quite a few of you could quickly remind us of the MANY times we took Boris places he clearly shouldn't have gone, and always with mixed results! We firmly hold our stance that we needn't talk about that....
We liken moving from Boris into Boris Minor as similar to shifting from a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house, to a 1 bedroom ensuite apartment with a kitchenette! Quite the challenge, but as long as our resident bower bird (you all know who that is) says "no"more than "yes" about what to keep, and what will actually FIT, the task appears to be taking shape. No, fellow hombres, he doesn't need to keep every sized screw ever invented "just in case" But, you go for it, we'll let you know when we need to borrow one!
Anyway, that's our current news, but we should fill you in on the journey that took up the remainder of 2017 - I do believe our last blog had us heading south from Townsville....
After a quick stop in Proserpine to arrange Bailey's cremation
details, we then stayed a couple of nights at Hideaway Bay, which had been absolutely decimated by cyclone Debbie earlier that year, and wandered over the hill to the Dingo Beach Tavern for a few sundowners and meet a couple of the locals. It was here Tab was offered a job cooking in the kitchen at the Tavern, but with limited opportunities (and nearby towns) for Jeff to find something to keep him occupied we regretfully had to move on. These locations are absolutely relying on tourists to keep them going at the moment while they recover and repair from Debbie, so if a trip up north is on your agenda make sure you stop by.
From there, Airlie Beach was calling and it too was feeling the effects of Debbie, more notably the coastal point of Shute Harbour. But despite the damage the town was throbbing with tourists and we were very thankful we had booked a site well ahead. As we do, we headed out to check out the culinary delights of Airlie and found one stand out called Walters Lounge - seriously good! Wine list a bit of a let down, but the food OMG. There
was also a stunning boardwalk that ran all the way from our site into town, about 2km, with little eateries and watering holes dotted along the way, so that took up a couple of hours one sunny afternoon too.
Along the way, we continually check our Aussie Housesitters profile to see if there's anyone who has contacted us, or if there's a sit coming up in towns we are about to get to. We knew Mackay was next on our itinerary and saw a short sit looking after two adorably boisterous dogs called Zoey and Charlie (Shepherd Cross & Golden Ret). We made initial introductions with their parents and some play time in the backyard and after a few treats became firm friends. The house was cosy, located not far from Mackay central, so we could explore by day and Netfix/couch fur-cuddle by night - these two were absolute couch hogs! And we have decided that Netflix is seriously bad news if you haven't seen TV for a while - we had to practically unglue ourselves from all the catchup TV we have missed the past travelling years! While in Mackay we headed out to try some delicious little
restaurants by having a progressive tapas trundle on the AFL grandfinal day - afterall the QLDers aren't really into AFL so its not like there was a big event going on in the one place.
Leaving the bustle of Mackay behind we continued to Sarina where there was a VIP (very important package) awaiting us - Bailey had come home. Our little man was now able to finish the rest of the trip with us, albeit in quite a different form, but we welcomed him back with tears and fond memories, it was (and still is) all so new.
A rest-stop night in the tiny town of St Lawrence and we continued down the coast with Yeppoon pineapples on the mind. Oscar had other ideas about our first camp choice near Kinka Beach, when he collapsed while we were setting up so we rushed him back to Yeppoon Vets as quickly as Boris would go, fearful we may be saying goodbye to both our boys in one fortnight. From holding him we could tell his temperature was sky-high and he was breathing really rapidly. Unsure initially, they played it safe by giving him a tick bath (ticks are
highly prevalent pretty much on the ENTIRE QLD/NSW coast bloggers - keep your pets safe and apply tick prevention always), and this also helped to get his raging temperature down. Next was a drip and to begin some antibiotics and blood tests. Long story short, our poor old man had a lung infection and he spent the next 5 days in the lockup. We visited as much as we could and by the last day, he was back to his usual talkative self and was head-butting his cage so we knew it was time to bring him home. Crisis averted.
Yeppoon itself is a lovely little community, with various delicious eateries, bustling coastal vibe and perhaps best of all access to Great Keppel Island, a 40 minute journey by boat. Disembarking into knee-high crystal waters Keppel truly is the "barefoot destination" we were promised when we signed up to the adventure. With the main resort having closed down years ago, the only two remaining resorts couldn't be more casual - it felt like we were back on Fiji-Time the minute we arrived reclaiming the "no hurry no worry" vibe. We spent two nights and three glorious days swimming, snorkelling,
dining, wining, lounging and sleeping - all this while poor Oscar was in the clink. We even hired a double sea-kayak one day - rented by the hour - and after about 30 minutes knew our arms were about to drop off if we didn't stop NOW! You don't want to seriously injure your elbow while on an island vacation, now do you? Our accommodation option was a glamping tent, complete with queen sized REAL bed, side tables, lamps and one resident mosquito who decided it was his mission to wait until we fell asleep and then do a fly-by as close as aurally possible - you know the type! Alas we only had repellent rather than death-spray so really all we achieved was to gas ourselves while the little bugger laughed on.
Reluctantly we headed back to the mainland, but we were also super happy as we got to see how our Oscar was doing - thankfully on the improve but not quite ready for release yet. The next day we decided to revisit the area we left in a hurry when Oscar collapsed, so we jumped on the local bus service for the 40 minute-per-way ride out
to Emu Park and back. Emu Park hosts one of the most beautiful war memorials we have ever seen, a definite must-see if you are in the area. We lunched at the little pub overlooking the bay and wandered around the town and that afternoon got the great news that Oscar could come home the following day YAY!!! Collecting him from prison about 11am Saturday, he seemed really weary and we decided moving camp wouldn't be fair that day, so we paid for another couple of nights and headed out to the boat marina at Rosslyn Bay where there was a little restaurant with live music every Sunday. We kicked back with a couple of wines and listened to some cruisy tunes for a couple of hours while our boy slept.
Onwards down the Bruce Hwy, past Rockhampton and Gladstone (not missing much there) our next camp was a great little spot on the Calliope (pronounced Cal-eye-pee) River where we slept to a steady drizzle and the next morning a council worker warned us there was bit more rain on the way and that this camp was being closed. A bit more rain? The spot we stayed at the
night before ended up underwater! Our best laid plans to head out to 1770 and Agnes Water were plugged, while we sat out a rain storm of epic proportions in a little Hwy town called Miriam Vale. Now, Miriam Vale has a small grocer, an op shop, a servo and a pub. Thinking we would only be stuck one night we headed into the pub for tea oblivious that the Bruce Hwy had since been closed in both directions. Every truckie, man, woman, nomad, child and dog was at the Miriam Vale pub that night! Quite the ruckus, and a wait time of an hour and a half for some chewy chops & veg, but quite entertaining all the same. The area received over 670mm of rain in 2 days and roads were closed not only north and south, but east and west too, so we called Miriam Vale (boring!) home for three nights. Thankfully we had managed to grab the only remaining slab site at the van park attached to the servo, so Oscar was thankful for that. In fact, he thought three movie-bed-snack (repeat as required) days with his mum and dad was an awesome idea.
mild cases of cabin fever, we left for the big rum swilling town of Bundaberg and while the river there had risen metres, thankfully the town was high and dry with just a lot of floating debris around the moorings. We stayed in a great park over the north side, with an easy walk over the historic Burnett Bridge into town proper. Here we discovered a great little brewery making some tasty froths, a great cider and "sides" of biltong that you could buy in jars just to plonk on the table while you sipped - fab idea and tasty too! Not being rum-hounds we gave the distillery a miss and went for a walk out to the Bundy Botanic Gardens instead, where we spent an hour or two wandering around. Heaps of the gardens had flooded so probably not the best time to go in hindsight.
Finally the roads into Agnes Water & 1770 had reopened so from Bundy we headed north again, as we'd heard these towns were worth a visit. We elected to stay in the bush camping area just out of Agnes which was fantastic, and walking distance via excellent bush trails into town. The
rain set in again the day we left there, so a stop in the gorgeous little town of Childers at a fully-sealed RV overnighter was the order of the day, as we crept closer to a long-awaited catch up with friends Peter & Belinda, from Stanthorpe, who had moved to Hervey Bay. Meeting at midday at their favourite little seaside restaurant, it ended up being a 9-hour-lunch, that stretched well past dinner time, but so wonderfully good to see them and such a relaxing, cruisy day. Thanks guys, we hope to see you both again soon.
We spent the next day checking out the sites of Hervey, once again jumping on the local bus service to make our way around this massive, progressive town. The population growth in the Bay is palpable and it seems every NSW/Vic retiree wants a piece of the action! In fact, Belinda works in the new home sector of local real estate and signs up to 20 newbies a week, which is incredible for a town a long way from any city.
Tin Can Bay was the next port on Boris' radar and we spent a couple of very relaxing days having a
fish, swimming and eating the most spectacular prawns we've ever had (even had to include a picture - sorry!). We happened across some dolphin feeding one early morning walk, which left us feeling quite confronted, these poor beautiful creatures lured into waters where they (often) get injured by debris and boating movement, all for the local café to take $10 from each visitor. The people running it were absolutely rude and it really just felt like a cash grab, and one that changes the behaviour of these gorgeous creatures for the worse. Take our advice, avoid if possible.
A night in Gympie, and then we'd started to hit the "burbs" coming into the top section of the Sunshine Coast. We chose a fabulous RV stop in Eumundi as our base while we explored the Noosa/Coolum area, again by jumping on the local buses. Noosa itself was surprisingly lovely and quiet, gearing up for a hugely popular triathlon the coming weekend, so we set about checking out the shops, taking in the stunning beach and bushwalks surrounding the town itself, a bus ride to Coolum, and of course rewarding our efforts with some tapas for lunch. We had jumped on
the bus at Eumundi about 7am that morning, and wearily disembarked at about 6pm that night - quite a day!
The next few nights we called Caloundra home venturing via bus into Mooloolaba on Melbourne Cup Day to enjoy a gorgeous lunch at Fish on Parkyn, recommended to us by Brad & Cheryl. We were treated to a beautifully set table with a view, dined like royalty and even enjoyed a bottle from a different vintage than was on the menu, a truly amazing venue with a lovely owner, whom we met during lunch. Followed up at the nearby Hotel , where an incredible lightning storm raged while the Melb Cup ran on the TVs, Jeff even managed to pick the winning pony (which incidentally almost equalled the price of our long lunch!).
Woodford Showgrounds was our next "home" where we stayed for almost a week taking in the highcountry above the Sunny Coast such as Montville, Maleny and Mount Mee. One of the days we took Daz out and went hiking in the Glasshouse Mountains, taking in stunning Ngungun Summit walk, followed by the Mt Tirbrogargan Circuit before calling it a day and arriving back at Boris
about 3 minutes before a freak rain storm engulfed Woodford - good timing! We enjoyed a glorious pizza and a few reds at the local in Woodford and just as we were about to leave another freakish rain event rolled in - luckily for us the courtesy bus was about to depart so a stinky crazy ride home was most welcome. The next day we jumped aboard a wine tour, just us and a lovely lady host with a 4wd (and her mum tagged along too) for a little tour taking in the surrounding boutique vineyards. We had a sensational lunch at Ocean View Estates, then she even drove us to a little craft brewery on the very northern outskirts of Brizzy - it was crazy to think how close the city was to us, as we'd spent so much time enjoying the natural wonders of the mountains and waterways of the hills above the sunny coast. Being the only two guests we pretty much could go anywhere we felt like and it was a wonderful chauffeur-driven day out.
Having missed the famous Eumundi Markets last time we stayed there, we were very keen to head back there and
check it out - boy were we glad we did! Hundreds of stalls selling everything from rice paper rolls to didgeridoos to tie-dyed undies - we were lost in there for about 3 hours. It should be on everyone's bucket list, such a collection of random goodies, and one of the places you can truly say there IS something for everyone. We did quite a bit of Christmas shopping and really enjoyed our stay back at the RV stop too, can recommend it for any travelling folk.
It was during our stay at Woodford that our old boss from Evans Head gave us a ring to ask if we'd be keen to come back for some work over summer, and we said yes! This gave us a bit less than 2 weeks to get a move on down the coast, so a quick catch up with Tab's Aunty Linda, Uncle Greg and cuz Morgan and we continued south. Stopping off at Brunswick Heads, Byron and Ballina on the way down, we soon found ourselves back at Evans with 5 months of solid work ahead of us. Boris was set up onsite and we worked between the park at Evans
and Adrian's other park in Yamba which kept things interesting and varied. We even managed to squeeze in a little trip up to Stanthorpe to help put the nets out & drop fruit around February, and a camping trip to Bellingen with Tab's parents Scott & Maria (Scotty's birthday on the 2nd last day too). Our sister-in-law Anita (married to Jeff's brother Dave) even called in a couple of weeks ago a few days before we left Evans, which was awesome.
In some sad news, we got a call from the desert telling us one of the riders we used to look after at Finke had died in an accident at the Deep Well Enduro MotoX race late January. Stokie was an awesome rider (won Finke last year) and an even better bloke who, at the age of 28, was taken far too early. We all know he died doing what he loved and that is some consolation. Visit: https://www.dirtaction.com.au/videos/video-tribute-to-daymon-stokie/32233.htm
So that's our recent past, and we are excited to get to know Boris Minor and get his wheels dirty as often as work/life permits and of course keep you all updated via this here blog. Updates have
been a bit sporadic this past year, but we hope you still enjoy reading our tales and if you don't, there's always pictures to check out! See ya from Stanthorpe xxoo
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