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Published: October 19th 2012
OK, most of you know we are home now and I am sorry that we have not had a chance to finalise the journey in print. The fact of the matter is that we arrived home on the 1st
Oct and it took nearly the whole week to empty the van, do the washing, wash the van, empty the Pajero, wash the Pajero and not forgetting tackling the jungle that had grown where our garden used to be. Then there was half a day to take the van to the chassis manufacturer for inspection after the broken suspension arm, and another day to take the van to storage – bloody good thing I am not working!
Back to concluding the trip. We had a great time in Noosa/Tewantin with Pam and Allan and it was great that Niki and Kim could catch up with us there. We might have mentioned that Allan is a professional fisherman and he offered to take Geoff to where he knew there were some tame suicidal fish that would literally leap onto Geoff’s baited hook. Four different locations were tried and Allan finally suggested that Geoff was the unluckiest fisherperson he had ever met! Kim tried
No fish here either!
to help Geoff catch fish as well, but they couldn’t even lose the bait off the hooks. As a token of thanks for the effort, G gave Allan the 3 crab pots that we had carted from Emerald in central Queensland, all around the country without ever getting them wet.
And so we left Tewantin and headed south. The brakes were on as we had made appointments in Sydney to catch up with a fellow building the same car that Geoff is doing and then dinner in Orange on the same night with friends met on a previous trip. It was a dream run from Noosa, past Brisbane all the way down past the Gold Coast with freeway/motorway all the way. NOT ONE STOP LIGHT. Our first stop was at a Ballina C.P., and then two nights at a place called Minnie Water. We had been to there on our trip in 2008 when we stayed in the only caravan park there, however during that stay we did find that there was a National Park offering cheap (self supported) camping just a few kms along a dirt road. We did the N.P option this time
and were lucky enough to arrive just as the ranger was opening up some additional sites. We picked the one that was best for the view and accommodated the van comfortably. We drifted off to sleep at night to the sounds of the surf crashing on the sand just below our caravan. Unfortunately the weather was not great with rain and very cold winds coming off the Pacific Ocean (this did not deter the surfers and some brave swimmers). It was also the start of the school holidays so it was very busy with young families. Both facts helped acclimatise us to what was to come in Melbourne.
Heading relentlessly south our next stop Nambucca Heads, a place that had been recommended to us by a fellow traveller that we met and who lived there. He did point out that the area would be full of hot rods as they were holding their national meeting at a nearby town called Valla during that week. He was right as the closer we got to the area i.e. about a 100 km radius the more hot rods we saw. I am guessing, but I think the meeting
proper was to be at the end of the week that we were there as the folk in the rods seemed to be sightseeing more than anything. During our time here, we backtracked to the (slightly) inland town of Bellingen. I was surprised to find NSW boasts 2 Nimbins, as Bellingen has many of the traits found in Nimbin with a fairly alternative/back to nature lifestyle and many good craft shops. I must admit we did not really detect any smell of hash, but one thinks that it was not going to be far away. Continuing on that trip found us at Dorrigo where it was bitterly cold and wet. We viewed a lovely waterfall between showers. The conditions did not do justice to this little town, and we headed back to the warmth of our caravan.
The weekend loomed ever closer and we made our way down NSW where we intended to spend the next two nights at a place near Wyong about 100 kms north of Sydney, and where the kit car builder is located. The van park was on Tuggerah Lake and full of permanents, which if you are a traveller is
not so good. The first day we went for quite a tour around the area, down to Bateau Bay where Geoff had the coldest swim of his life. It was a surf beach and the day was quite hot, many people were swimming so we decided we would do likewise. It was sooo cold ones legs ached almost right away and we couldn’t stay in more than two minutes.
The next day started quite early (for us) and Geoff had a bit over an hour with the “boys” talking car construction. He was very jealous when he got back into the car as the Sydney mob (there is one owner and 2 ½ helpers) have nearly finished their construction and it really looks fantastic. It was then time to head west for Orange; a trip that we knew was going to take 6 hours even with a third of it being on motorway. It was a long trip and as we headed into the Blue Mountains the dreaded side wind struck and the traffic increased with holiday makers heading off for the long weekend. As we headed up the range towards Katoomba, Margaret started calling
It jumped off the coat of arms
Free camp - Kylies Campground - Crowdy Bay National Park (NSW)
the outside temps (from the in-car monitor) we were surprised when it dropped to 12deg and incredulous by the time we stopped for lunch when it had reached 6 deg!! It didn’t seem to be that cold when we got out of the car (more like 7!), but it definitely was not warm. We were beginning to wonder about the wisdom of going to Orange.
Orange turned on its worst when we arrived and it rained just as we were setting up the caravan for the night. The wind-chill factor when combined with the rain was somewhere off the scale. However things got a lot better when our friends Tony and Jane turned up to take us back to their home for dinner. They had invited another couple of their friends who were also fellow travellers from Orange and a very convivial evening followed. A chilly morning (the thermometer inside the van told us it was 4 degrees), so Marg put on the reverse air conditioner before we had to get out of bed – there is one advantage of being in a C.P with 240v supply. We were up early and on the road
Zero being built at Wyong (NSW)
back home, but not before going via Canowindra (pron: can-ow ndra) and the Age of Fishes museum. As with Kronosaurus corner in Richmond (Qld.), this was an amazing display. It was found by chance in 1955 when road workers uncovered the remains of thousands of fish fossils in a 360 – 370 million year old deposit that was once part of a huge inland sea. The things we stumble over in our own backyard are quite amazing when we find them.
We have mentioned the radio/cd/gps unit in the car was not working properly for ¾ of the trip, but we also found that the GPS maps were several years out of date when we were on the second last day before arriving home. We were looking for a free camp just north of the border in NSW to spend the night, and had picked a couple from the bible. Unfortunately, several years ago, work was completed duplicating the Hume Highway in that area (100 kms or so) and as we approached the places we had picked, the GPS had us driving through farmers paddocks. In reality it was perfect tarmac, but just not where it used to be and there was no indication about how to get to the free camps that were off the old road...grrrr. Onward we went, and thankfully we still had the jerry cans full of fuel as we desperately needed them on the Albury bypass when the fuel light came on. Not a lot of fun transferring 40 lts of fuel, in fading light on the side of a freeway with B-doubles thundering past at 100 km/hr about 1 metre away (ok, they might have been a little further away, but...). By the time fuel was transferred, it was fully dark and G was worried because the headlights were only good for spotting possums, but we made it into a wayside stop that was formerly a rest area and the quarantine station at Chiltern. It was dark and cold; we were hungry and resolute that we were not driving another centimetre that night. There were some other vans and vehicles containing people with the same thought, so we pulled in and made a quick dinner and were in bed by 8pm.
Some trivia from the trip:
Best place – Geoff says the Horizontal Falls; marg says – my name should have a capital letter! Oh, alright, the Horizontal Falls trip.
Best experiences –
· both of us agreed (surprise, surprise) - were the wonderful free camps we experienced. They were mostly on the seashore, but some were inland beside a river, or just amongst the trees. This is where we met many friendly like-minded travellers and had many drinks and nibbles with them. It made a lot of the caravan parks look very ordinary.
· The wide variety of birds and native animals we saw throughout the trip and no – not a snake in sight.
· The many glorious sunsets overlooking the ocean in WA and NT.
· Waking to the sound of birdsong.
· Going to sleep with the sound of the roaring surf or gently lapping waves.
· Campfires at night, just the two of us, or with fellow travellers.
· Getting home again to what seems like a mansion after living in a 21 feet x 8 feet space for 5 months.
· Seeing friends and family again. Love to you all.
· The car was not really up to the job and the dealers were ordinary and few and far between in the West and NT..
· Caravan – very happy with that other than a couple of little issues (and the suspension breaking, but that has been well and truly dealt with in a very professional manner by the chassis mfr.) 2012 Round Oz
clockwise 2008 Round Oz
anti-clockwise 2012 Mits. Pajero 2008 Mazda BT50 Total distance
26199 kms Total time away
184 days/26 weeks Fuel – ave. Ltr/100 km
13.14 Fuel – ave. Km/ lt
7.61 Fuel - ave. cost lt
AUD 1.765 Fuel - total cost
AUD 6,076 Caravan
3 tonne, full van, ensuite
& washing machine
1.7 tonne, pop-top,
Tot: 2.052s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 18; qc: 70; dbt: 0.0394s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb