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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday Lunch at Geelong

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Kevin, Sandi, Les, Pauline, Milton, Margaret, Norm

I have had a special request for one final blog.

Yesterday, we decided to visit the DFO Essendon for our shopping excursion.  Being right beside the Tullamarine Freeway at Essendon Airport, the centre was easy to find, however, finding the access was much more difficult, even for TomTom.  The centre’s address on their website was actually in the middle of the southbound lanes of the freeway, which really threw a spanner in the navigational works.  We ended up doing a tour of the backstreets of somewhere before being able to access the freeway again and find our way to the carpark – not one sign anyway to help!  We managed to buy what we had planned, so a good day.

If anyone is interested, you will be glad to know that the first international flights for the day land at 4.30am – and when the wind is from the north, the planes fly directly over the Big4 Discovery Caravan Park at Braybrook, and at a low, decreasing altitude.  After the first plane, the remainder follow about one to two minutes apart.  Just in case anyone is interested ...

A big surprise today because the sun actually shone and the wind swung from the south to the north.  Leaving the caravan in the park, we had an hour’s drive, under clear blue skies, to Ripples Restaurant on the bay in Geelong.  A family lunch had been organised, with four cousins and three partners attending.  The food was great, as was the company and the time slipped away very quickly as we caught up with all the news.

Time to raise the jacks and hitch up one last time before we commence the final leg of our homeward journey.  The weather is looking reasonable, with north-west winds to assist and the forecast is for seas of 1-2 metres, so not too bad.

Saturday, 16 September 2017


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Lunchtime reflections at Jerilderie

Roadside wattle

With Brian and Pat


Viewing the gardens at Rosebank

Lunch with Sandra and Treor

At the football

Here they come ...

From palm trees to blossom trees

The weather continued to be fine when we departed West Wyalong, with a roadside stop at 9.00am to boot up the laptop and purchase tickets to the Friday night semi-final between Sydney and Geelong.  We continued south through the canola and wheat fields, with a lunch stop beside the lake at Jerilderie before arriving at the RACV caravan park at Cobram.  This is a beautiful park, with extremely large sites, double concrete slabs, heated amenities and very well maintained.

Tuesday morning was time to hit the “Big Smoke” – and the rain, just as we approached the outskirts to Melbourne.  We had no problems negotiating the motorways and were at the Big4 South Dandenong in time for lunch.  This is a small park, good amenities, all sites have concrete slabs (but some are better than others) and can be a bit muddy when wet.  We undertook a touch of retail therapy during the afternoon at the nearby merino/possum factory.

Wednesday morning was time to visit my only remaining aunty and we were pleasantly surprised when her son and daughter-in-law also called in at the same time.  We then spent a couple of hours wandering around a much expanded Chadstone and its VERY upmarket shops.  Thursday was another catch-up day with Sandra and Trevor for lunch at Rosebank, a lovely old house converted to a restaurant.

Friday morning was pack-up day for the journey across Melbourne to the Big4 Discovery at Braybrook, which would be much quieter than South Dandenong with all the Sandown 500 patrons.  The nice park is convenient to the city, the boat, shopping centres and Geelong.  Friday afternoon the weather completely cracked up, with thunderstorms and torrential rain – wonderful weather for watching football at the MCG!!!  We needed to be early to secure parking, so ended up driving into the city during the worst of the weather, with a nearby road flooded after the rain and a burst water main; the Pajero coped without any trouble.  After parking, we sat in the car watching the rain until just after the gates opened at 5.30 and the rain cleared.  We had excellent seats with a really posh bar/lounge area immediately behind.  Unfortunately, the game didn’t go the way we would have liked.

Saturday will be a day for some birthday and Christmas shopping and Sunday we hope to enjoy a lunch at Geelong with some cousins before catching the Spirit of Tasmania for a late sailing.

Our travels for this year have come to a conclusion.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Western Plains Zoo

Sunday, 10th September 2017

Only its mother would love a wild dog ...

Azure kingfisher


Black rhino and calf



Apostle birds getting excited over ant holes

Elephant taming

Tiger, tiger ...

Dubbo dawn

No trains in this Lions Park

Red rump parrot

Saturday morning dawned clear, breezy and very cool, but without the forecast frost.  By the time we were ready to leave, the temperature had risen from 3 degrees to 7 degrees!  We continued our southerly direction along the Newell Highway, with plenty of trucks and caravans heading both ways.  Apart from plenty of dead kangaroos and lots of bright parrots, the only other wildlife we saw was a very brave emu attempting to cross the highway.  The middle section of the drive (co-pilot’s turn to drive) proved to be the roughest and hilliest as we needed to cross a range of hills between Coonabarabran and Gilgandra.  The sun continued to shine and the temperature had reached a pleasant (in the sun) 16 degrees by the time we arrived at Dubbo.

We are staying at the Big4 Discovery and once again, despite booking well in advance, we given a dreadful sight – all dirt, no slab and quite shallow.  Back to reception with the question, Why?  Offered a choice of drive-thru sites which, although still mainly dirt, were a much better option.

Not having been to the Western Plains Zoo since 2008, we decided to have another look this afternoon and also have lunch at their cafĂ©.  The cook forgot about our order and after waiting 30 minutes, we enquired as to how much longer.  Ooops – great service from then on!  We enjoyed the drive around the zoo, stopping to look at the various animals – and our beautiful wild kingfishers, parrots and wrens.  Although it isn’t school holidays, there were a lot of families at the zoo and a lot of children in the caravan park.

Go the Swans!!!  The Swans most definitely went – woohoo!

Sunday morning saw a cloudy dawn, which also meant some magnificent colours in the sky.  With the temperature hovering around the 3-4 degrees and an overcast sky, it was a rather raw feeling to the start of the day.  Our journey today took us to West Wyalong, passing The Dish at Parkes and travelling through Forbes.  How different the country looks this year compared to the same time last year when it was freezing cold, raining and the countryside was underwater.  We had a pleasant surprise this afternoon when a lady I worked with for a number of years pulled into the next site, together with her husband.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Glen Innes & Narrabri

Friday, 8th September 2017

Heading towards Cunningham Gap

Roadway through the Gap

Pretending he is still in Queensland

Standing Stones at Glen Innes

These stones didn't "sing"

Wednesday in Brisbane was spent with Jenny and Brian.  We met them at their house before being taken to Sandgate for lunch at a little restaurant that was very special to Jenny.  We enjoyed a very nice meal and some very nice socialising – we haven’t met up with them for a couple of years, so there was plenty to talk about.  Following lunch, Brian took us for a tour of the Redcliffe peninsula before we returned to their house.  The weather continued to be superb and it was our final day (sort of) to wear our Queensland clothes.

Thursday we headed south once again, negotiating the motorways and tolls of Brisbane before joining the Cunningham Highway as far as Warwick.  Once again, the skies were very clear and it was a pleasure driving through the farms, vegetable crops and the flowering wattle, before climbing 700 metres through the Cunningham Gap.  The drop in the outside air temperature seemed to match exactly the rise in fuel consumption as we slowly climbed to the top of the Great Dividing Range.  We had a short stop at Warwick before continuing south on the New England Highway, which did leave a lot to be desired north of the New South Wales border.  We stopped for lunch at the border before the final leg (on a much improved road) to our overnight stop at Glen Innes.  After settling into the Fossickers Caravan Park, we visited the Information Centre before finding the standing stones (no Jamie or Claire appeared).  At 1157 metres above sea level, the air is much more bracing and an overnight temperature of -4 is forecast.  Time to once again swap the wardrobe and bring out the woollies – and the heater!

Fortunately, the overnight temperature didn’t quite reach the anticipated minimum, but it was still a very chilly start to the day, with the windchill much lower than the reported temperature.  Today we headed west towards Moree, dropping down from the New England Range to the Western Plains.  The Gwydir Highway was very good and easy driving, especially after yesterday, and there wasn’t a great deal of traffic.  Once again, the weather continues fine and sunny, although the bracing wind was also once again a head wind.  We passed through the pretty town of Inverell (making a note it would be a nice place to spend a night) before continuing through cattle farms to Moree before turning south for Narrabri.  The cattle farms gave way to wheat farms, with some canola, all the way to Narrabri and our overnight stop at the Highway Tourist Village, just south of the Namoi River.  A nice little park, probably a bit too shady at this time of the year, but we look out over a very pleasant little garden with petunias and a large grassy area.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Mackay to Brisbane

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Having a break at Marlborough

Our front garden 
There is something in there  ...

a very rare plasticus dinosaurus!


Honeyeater in the grevillea

We travelled further south to Rockhampton on Saturday, with little hold ups despite an accident at about the half way point which closed the highway both ways for some time.  Truckies were very good about passing information along over the two-way – this explained why there was little or no oncoming traffic.  Fortunately, by the time we reached the site, everything was clear.  We left the sugar cane fields behind as the bush became drier.  We spent the night at the Big4 Discovery and were pleasantly surprised to find the ground maintenance had improved immensely and the grass had been cut!  Another hot day.

Sunday saw us cross the Tropic and become sub-tropical as we continued southward through the very dry cattle country towards Childers.  The sugar cane made a reappearance, as did the large macadamia orchards – and the trees were in flower, something we haven’t seen before.  We stayed once again at the Iron Ridge Park and it was such a pleasure to have “space” around us, with only nine caravans in this farm park.  We even had our very own front garden, complete with fire pot, fire wood and bench.  The blue faced honeyeaters were very fond of the large grevillea beside the caravan.

Today, with the weather still glorious and hot, we headed to the big smoke – Brisbane.  The trip was fairly slow at times, with a very self-centred and inconsiderate driver towing a caravan and feeling it was his right to ignore the traffic build-up and drive between 70-80.  After following him for over 40 kms, I managed to get past him at Gympie; he was most unhappy, sped up and deliberately cut me off at the end of a merging lane.  Himself and the other driver kept all the other two-way users entertained with their conversation for a time.

We are staying for two nights at the Brisbane Gateway Resort – mainly cabins – and once again we asked ourselves why the worst sites are allocated to us when we book in advance.  The amenities are fine and the park was easy to access from the highway and not too far from Garden City Shopping Centre, where we spent a few hours this afternoon.  Movenpick have an outlet at Garden City, which was very nice after a stressful morning.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Cairns to Mackay

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Thanks, James

Cardwell Jetty

Hinchinbrook Island through the smoke

Water lilies at Tyto Wetlands

Eight little ducks went out one day ...

Blacks Beach, Mackay

Yesterday morning was not only very hot and very smoky, it was also time to hitch up and turn the compass in a southerly direction.  Most of the packing had been done on Thursday afternoon, before a last ice cream and farewells to our Crystal friends.

The weather was overcast and smoky until after we had passed Cardwell, although the temperature was still hovering around 27-28 degrees.  Traffic was quite heavy and although we encountered a few roadworks, we weren’t held up at all.  We stopped for over half an hour at the Tyto Wetlands in Ingham for a lunch break and a walk around the wetlands and information centre.  Lots of water lilies in the lakes and a magnificent copper owl in the information centre were well worth stopping for.  Our overnight stop was at the Big4 Walkabout Palms in Townsville, which is a very convenient location on the highway and very close to Laverack Barracks.  The fighter planes were quite restless during the evening with some low level flying.

Today continued to be hot and sunny as we continued further south to Mackay.  It seemed that the whole countryside between Townsville and Mackay is one big canefield!  We also had the misfortune to encounter a decent headwind today, which made the fuel economy look a bit sad and necessitated refuelling at Prosperpine.  Traffic wasn’t as heavy today and apart from a few rough stretches, the road was pretty good.  We are staying overnight at Blacks Beach; we stayed here on the way north and the beach is still just as nice.  It was so good to have a walk along the water’s edge with a cool breeze.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Cairns Festival

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Our time in Cairns has about come to an end, with only one more day remaining.  The last few days have been fairly busy, with the Cairns Festival Main Parade happening last Saturday.  There were 87 entries this year and it took well over an hour for the parade to pass.  There didn’t seem to be as many actual “floats” this year, but there were lots of entries from various schools, organisations and clubs with people in some form of dress special to that particular entry and walking behind their banners.  There were lots of children, which was very special for them.  Following the parade, after moving our chairs to the boardwalk, we only had a short wait until the much anticipated fireworks show drew the expected oohs and aaahs from the crowd.

On Monday night, we took James and Maureen with us to look at the light show on the Cairns Library (and dodge the bats which hadn’t left home for the night!).  This year, the colours were very bright and depicted Aboriginal designs.  After leaving the library and as we drove past the soon to be opened aquarium, we noticed that the restaurant area was open to view and a large tank was brightly lit.  Himself managed to make a sudden stop without damage to anyone or anything and we joined a number of other people having a free look at what can be expected after opening day.

Tuesday night we said farewell to our bowling acquaintances at Edge Hill, promising to return next year, hopefully.  Today we enjoyed lunch with James and Maureen – our last opportunity before leaving on Friday.

It will not be easy to leave the climate behind and head for the cold weather further south, but it will be rather nice to see our family again.