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27 July 2013 - Finale

We made the journey in to northern Sydney via the Great Lakes Way and Budgewoi and The Entrance...it seemed appropriate to visit The Entrance as this was the place that we first hatched our travel plans.

We stayed Friday night in Lane Cove National Park, before making our final drive in to Sydney on Saturday morning. We visited Milson's Point for the photos under the bridge before taking the drive over the Harbour Bridge. The end to a truly amazing adventure!

From here, we are spending a few days catching up with friends before heading back up to the Sunshine Coast to do some more work with our planned house builder. The campervan will then go in to storage for seven months in Brisbane, as I am starting work with a German company at the end of August. We will move to Germany for six months, hopefully whilst our house is getting built and then return to Australia next February.

I really hope that all the readers of this blog have enjoyed following our travels. From our side, we are sure it will make a great diary for us to look back on in the years to come. In the next few days, I will prepare a conclusion section and add it to the web site, listing the best and worse things that we have encountered, our thoughts and feelings.

Under the Harbour Bridge - Opera House in the Background

Over the Bridge

25 July 2013

We did the meetings that we had to do on the Sunshine Coast and started our drive down to Sydney yesterday...our deadline being Saturday morning to arrive back in the Big Smoke. It would have been nice to have more time to do this final leg as there is so much to see. We have been around here before several times, but generally its been during school holidays, when its been too busy to enjoy things properly. Oh well, I guess we'll have to save some of the places until next time.

Last night we stayed in Grafton and got up early to make a good start. We were in Coffs Harbour by 10AM and stopped for the obligatory photo with the Big Banana...it was Australia's first roadside big 'thing' and dates back to the late 1960's. Today, you will see many 'big' things as you drive round Oz..the Big Merino at Goulburn, the Big Prawn at Ballina, the Big Pineapple, Big Guitar, Big Crocodile, etc, etc...but Coff's Banana was the first.

From there we drove down to Stuarts Point (the doesn't appear to be any apostrophe used in the name anywhere, so its not my typing mistake). We stayed here one New Year and it is a beautiful spot. Today it was so peaceful and the lagoon, river and sea were stunning against the cloudless sky.

Tonight we are staying in Forster, a place that we really like too...that makes us only about 350 kms/200 miles from Sydney tomorrow.

The Big Banana

Stuarts Point River

Beach at Stuarts Point

21 July 2013

Once we got to Byron Bay, our plans changed! We need to go back up to the Sunshine Coast for a few days to have a meeting with the people we are hoping to build our new house with. This will then only give us three days to get down to Sydney for our planned finishing day on Saturday 27th July.

In the meantime though we have had the weekend to start our turn back to the Sunshine Coast and so headed inland to Nightcap National Park, Minyon Falls and then the Gold Coast Hinterland, around the very pretty town of Tamborine. Last night we bush camped at a very reasonably site called Sharp Park River Bend. The weather has been quite awful. The campsite was flooded in parts and covered in a low cloudy mist for most of the time.

100m Drop at Minyon Falls

Minyon Falls Through The Mist

Finally...A Nice Afternoon at Broadwater

18 July 2013

We're back in New South Wales and definitely on the 'homeward' leg. We stayed around the Sunshine Coast over the weekend as we have decided that we are going to buy a block of land there and build a house, hopefully to move into in about seven months time.

But for now, we must continue our travels. We drove down towards Brisbane, staying at a caravan park on Bribie Island. The weather at the moment isn't great, a lot of rain showers and so we probably didn't see Bribie Island at its best. From there, we drove down to the Gold Coast via the Chumley Warners British Fish and Chip Shop www.chumleywarners.com.au It really was good British fish and chips, with cod and haddock, proper batter and even proper brown malt vinegar, rather than the white stuff the Aussies seem to think is what you use. They even did deep fried black puddings, mars bars and suet puddings. I think a repeat visit could be in order after my arteries have cleared out!

We only stopped one night in the Gold Coast, moving down over the border and on to Byron Bay. Its the peak whale watching season and we were lucky enough to see lots from the lighthouse. They make a magnificent sight as they spurt water and breach. We'll probably stay here a couple of days, its really laidback and the old Hippie capital of Australia.

Cabarita Beach As The Storm Gathers

Byron Bay - Most Easterly Point of Australian Mainland

View Over Byron Bay

12 July 2013

After staying a few days around the Gold Coast, we have decided to come back up to the Sunshine Coast and spend a bit longer here. We are really liking it and think it could be a place where we will settle down eventually.

We'll probably stay around here for another five days or so, before heading over the border, back in to New South Wales and on to complete the lap in Sydney.

5 July 2013

A couple of days touring country southern Queensland, from Goondiwindi through to Warwick and on to Toowoomba. From there we came back through Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Didn't seem like much, but already 1,000 kms since changing the oil on Tuesday!

Had a quick look around Surfers Paradise this afternoon, its a place we know (and love) well. The weather was a great 24C considering its mid-winter. The place was quite busy with it being school holidays. Unfortunately, we cannot party here quite like we used to when we weren't on a limited budget, still its very nice all the same.

Looking Down from the Range in Toowoomba

Surfers

2 July 2013

We drove down to a rather wet Brisbane over the weekend and caught up with expat friends on Sunday morning, having a nice brunch overlooking the river and city - even if it was rather cold. We stayed Sunday night a Summerset Dam, which was a bit of a bush camp/caravan park/boat users and fishing park all combined. It was a bit rough and ready, though probably great if you were there for fishing and drinking all week.

On Monday, we drove to Kingaroy, peanut capital of Australia. We had a look round the visitors centre and made a stop at the peanut van for some fresh peanuts. I've worked in the peanut processors around here a lot, but I wanted to take Lin to see it. We then drove south and in to the Bunya Mountains. I'm sure they are spectacular in good weather, but unfortunately the rain never stopped and it was so misty and foggy that it was a job just to keep the van on the road.

After an overnight stop at the little village of Bell (judging by the amenities at the caravan site the shop selling paint and paint brushes obviously closed in this town a long time ago), we made a quick stop to change the oil and filter in the van. Its the sixth change so far and I am now down to doing it less than 13 minutes from start to finish. We went on to Dalby and then across country to Moonie, where we stopped at the roadhouse for lunch. This place used to be really good for food, but we got a very poor feed and coffee with no coffee in it. Wont be stopping there again!

Tonight, we are staying in Goondiwindi after having found a caravan site reasonably away from the highway truck noise. 

Nice Spot for Lunch in Brisbane

Driving Conditions in the Bunya Mountains

26 June 2013

We have really slowed up distance wise this week, spending the whole time camped at Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast, but going out daily to explore the areas of Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa, etc. We've done about 400 kms just driving around the area! We really like this strech and its the first time on the trip we have spent more than four days anywhere.

The weather has been beautiful considering its the middle of winter. In the last few days its been clear blue sky all day and cool still evenings. Cotton Tree is a very big caravan park, right in the centre of everything, shops, social clubs, the surf club and everyone camped around us is very friendly. Its been an easy walk out to enjoy a few beers whilst watching the British Lions tour rugby match last Saturday and State of Origin Game II. We're having a great time here!

Maroochy Beach

20 June 2013

Fraser Island and the day's trip was so good! We had paid a little bit extra to go on one of the smaller group tours and it was so worth it. The 4x4 bus picked us up at the caravan park at 7.30AM and took us over to the island on the 30 minute ferry/barge trip. From there we bashed across the island tracks to the main beach on the other side. I decided to treat myself to a trip up in the little plane that takes off and lands on the beach. The weather was pretty poor, but it still gave a great perspective of how the rainforest clings to the sand underneath and in parts is completely missing. The view of the beach and waves as great too.

After a nice lunch, we went on a lovely bush walk through a freshwater creek and then the bus took us on to one of the large freshwater lakes on Fraser. We didn't leave the island until it was going dark at about 5.00PM, ending the day off with a well earned beer on the boat back. It was one of the best days of the trip so far.

See the full album of Fraser Island here

The Tour Bus

The Beach, Dunes and Rainforest from the Plane

After a Safe Landing!

One of the Hundreds of Freshwater Creeks

19 June 2013

It was onwards to Hervey Bay today, via Bundaberg. We stopped in Bundaberg to look round the rum distillery museum but didn't pay to go on the factory tour. We've booked a full day's four wheel drive trip to Fraser Island tomorrow - the world's largest sand island. So we will have to be up early!

The Big Rum Bottle

18 June 2013

Another slow day heading south on the highway due to the number of road works that are going on. With these slowing the truck drivers down too, it seems to send them in to a frenzy of acting even more stupid to try to make up time. Still, we have arrived eventually in the Town of 1770 or just 1770 as it is also known. Its named after Captain Cook (lieutenant as he was then) landing here in May 1770 to survey. Its a pretty little quiet town and was well worth the detour to get out here.

Momument to Captain Cook

Beach at 1770

17 June 2013

We have spent the last few days just slowly driving down the coast...for most of the time the highway runs inland and is a bit unpleasant because its only single carriageway and full of impatient truck drivers. We're having to push the campervan do doing the speed limit of 100 kph (about 60 mph) just to avoid some of their stupid overtaking and tailgating behaviour. As usual, the only police you see are sat in their speed camera vans totally oblivious to the rest of the dangerous driving and probably under orders from the State that pursuing other offences doesn't generate enough revenue. That's my rant over!

We've seen a few nice places along the way. We camped and a new caravan site at Cape Palmerston on Saturday night. It was very well done and we enjoyed the communal campfire and cooking our tea over the flames. 

On Sunday night we stayed in the city of Rockhampton, which didn't do much for us, but now we are out at Emu Park. Its a nice coastal village near Yeppon and east of Rockhampton. The beach is pretty and the council owned caravan site is OK. We'll just stay here for one night I think.

Beach at Yeppon

Wind Sculpture to Commemorate Captain Cook Sighting This Coast in 1770

14 June 2013

Two wonderful days in Hamilton Island, the very cheap price we had paid kept making us think there was a catch, but there wasn't! We left the campervan at the caravan site, catching the bus to the harbor for the 9.45AM ferry sailing. It was a lovely smooth crossing to Hamilton Island via a quick stop at Daydream Island. We had an hour looking around the tourist wharf before going off to rent our golf buggy. Cars are not allowed on the island and whist there are free shuttle buses, the best and most fun way to get around is on a golf buggy.

We spent the day enjoying Hamilton Island's beaches, and mountain lookouts travelling around in the buggy. Our accommodation was in one of the Palm Bungalows, which was simply beautiful and even had a hammock out of the front and a charging point for the golf buggy's batteries! Though these bungalows are classed lower than the Reef View Hotel where we stayed last time, we though they were far nicer.

In the early evening, we drove up to the lookout where a bar is set up to have drinks whilst watching the sunset. Then it was down in to the town for drinks at the harbor side tavern (after parking the buggy for the night of course).

This morning, we just toured the same spots of the island again enjoying the views with fresh pastries from the bakery. Then it was time to get the ferry back, this time via Long Island and on to Airlie Beach. Now we've driven out of Airlie Beach about 40 minutes to the little village of Conway Beach.

Click here for the full album of Hamilton Island photos

At the Top of Hamilton Island

Our Wheels

Awaiting Sunset

Island Sunset

12 June 2013

I had to go to the dentists yesterday before we left Townsville...the most painful part being the bill! We've now driven about four hours south to the town of Airlie Beach, which is really nice. Its very laid back and feels like a real backpackers place, though the main street is a bit of a mess at the moment with long running road works that have crippled many of the local businesses.

We enjoyed walking around the park, harbor and pool/lagoon. Better still, we have found a great deal to get us to the paradise of Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. We have been there before, when we flew in from Sydney. We wanted to get the ferry across from Airlie Beach and may be stay a night this time. The internet advertised price was working out at near $700 which was too expensive for us, so we were considering going just for the day...that costing $220 for the two of us on the ferry, still really too much for us. Anyway, now that we are in Airlie Beach (the departure point for the ferry), we have found a late deal at $240 for both of us, ferry crossing and one night in the lovely Palm Bungalows, so we have booked it for tomorrow and are so glad that we didn't spend the $700 to book in advance.

Airlie Beach

10 June 2013

Its the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend in Australia, so the Monday is a public holiday. Funny how the Aussies get a day off, but we didn't in Britain! Anyway, we took the passenger ferry over to Magnetic Island - an island about 11 kms/6 miles from Townsville. Its partly developed with a small marina and a few hotels, but most of the island is national park and we went on a really excellent if a little energetic bush walk up through the rainforest and over the mountains. It took about four hours, but was well worth it.

View From The Top At Magnetic Island

One Of The Magnetic Island Beaches

9 June 2013

We spent the weekend in Townsville. The main reason was to go and watch the North Queensland Cowboys play the Canterbury Bulldogs at rugby league on Saturday night. We stayed in a caravan park about an hour's walk from the town centre, walking in to the Cowboys Supporters Club about four hours before kick-off for a few beers. A bus then takes you out to the ground and should have brought us back, but there was such a long queue we decided to get a taxi back to the Supporters Club for a few more drinks. The Dogs won comfortably in the end and it was good watching James Graham play for the Bulldogs, as he is ex-St Helens. We only got in about 1.30AM!

On Sunday, we went for a very long walk from the caravan park, along the seafront in Townsville and out to the Casino. We didn't gamble, but if you go in and join their club (for free), it gives you unlimited free soft drinks and a one-off free meal!

Townsville Marina

7 June 2013

We did have a great night watching New South Wales beat Queensland in the first State of Origin rugby league game. The cafe bar in Mission Beach turned out to be quite good in the end. We spent Thursday recovering/relaxing.

Today, we have driven south and about 50 kms inland to Wallaman Falls...the highest single drop water fall in Australia at 268 metres! On the way, we stopped to buy bananas right from the grower's gate. At $1 for 5 they were excellent quality and very cheap.

Its hard to get an idea of just how high the falls are from the photographs...Malham Cove in England is 80 metres high, so this is more than three times higher. The drive out to the falls was very impressive itself, though we decided not to do the very steep walking trail to the bottom of the falls, it was too late in the day by the time we got there.

View Back To The Sugar Cane Fields On The Way To Wallaman Falls

Wallaman Falls

5 June 2013

Well... Paronella Park and its high entry fee redeemed itself last night with the floodlit tour of the park that we did. The buildings and the waterfalls looked very impressive and perhaps 'enchanted' by night. In the end, we really quite enjoyed it.

Click here for the full night time album of Paronella Park

This morning we drove on to Kurrimine Beach, which was a nice sleepy hamlet. From there, we've come to Mission Beach. We've often heard this place being talked up, especially by backpackers, so we've been quite surprised when we got here that its really quiet. They haven't even got a proper pub where we can watch the State of Origin rugby league match tonight. Though we have found a good cafe bar where they will let us in for drinks without having to buy a meal.

Paronella Park By Night

4 June 2013

We stayed at a bit of a strange caravan park just south of Cairns last night, it was supposed to be a 'tourist park' but it was really just filled with long stay permanents. As usual, there were the arguments coming from cabins and cars coming and going at all hours that we have come to expect with this type of site, but it was OK for one night.

We've driven south a bit and visited Paronella Park in the Hinterland behind Innisfail. Its a sort of folly come ex-1920's leisure park that's been battered by the elements, cyclones and nature over the years and is now open to the public again. The entry fee was are rather exorbitant $40 each, but that does at least include a night on there camping area and a return tour in the evening to see the waterfalls and what's left of the buildings lit up. It was voted number one tourist attraction to see in Queensland in 2009...I'm not sure what that says about the rest of the things to see in Queensland!

Click here for full album of Josephine Falls and Paronella Park

Josephine Falls

Paronella Park

3 June 2013

An interesting few days exploring to the north of Cairns. We went first to Mossman Gorge, riding a courtesy bus up to the river rapids area and then went on a lovely walk through the rainforest. From there, we went further north to the Daintree Rainforest National Park. To cross in to Daintree, you have to go on a small cable ferry across the river. None of the guidebook or tourist maps mention that this is a rather steep $23 return! But by the time you have driven up there, you are sort of committed. Its a bit of a surprise when these ferries are free in New South Wales and South Australia.

In Daintree, we went to Cape Tribulation, named by my Great Great Great Great Great Uncle Captain Cook as it was near here that he first struck the reef and his troubles began.

We stayed Sunday night on a pretty campsite a Wonga Beach. Monday saw us revisit Port Douglas, which is a very nice holiday town about one hour north of Cairns. We really do like it here and the property is cheap....though other than tourism, there wouldn't be much other work. 

Click here for full album of Mossman Gorge, Daintree & Port Douglas

Mossman Gorge

Cape Tribulation

More Things to Kill You - Box Jellyfish

1 June 2013

Six months on the road and we have arrived in Cairns. The last four and a half days drive have been a long way and we are glad that we didn't go down to Alice Springs from Tennant Creek as it would have been even so much further to come back.

The final part of the drive through the Atherton Tablelands was wet and misty...well this area is World Heritage listed as the 'Wet Tropics', but the mountains did look more like the Yorkshire Dales in November. We stopped one night at a nice quiet site in Mareeba and then drove down to have a quick look around Kuranda. The Barren Falls located near there were certainly quite impressive.

We're having a day or so to relax in Cairns now. We have been here several times before, so know the area well. Yesterday evening we went out and had a few beers, especially at our favourite place here - The Shangri-La Hotel on the wharf...they have a little known about two hour happy hour between 5 & 7PM, where all their drinks are half price. $6.50 for a XXXX beer and glass of good champagne. Not bad for the best 5 star hotel in Cairns!

Barren Falls

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Current Position:

Date:                      27/7/13

Nearest Town/City:    Sydney, New South Wales

Distance Travelled:    34,760 kms / 20,856 miles

Litres of Petrol Used:  4,051


Previous Progress:

Date Location Kms Travelled Miles Travelled
25/7/13 Forster, New South Wales 34412 20647
21/7/13 Southport, Queensland 33321 19992
18/7/13 Byron Bay, New South Wales 33019 19811
12/7/13 Cotton Tree, Queensland 32487 19492
5/7/13 Kirra Beach, Queensland 32227 19336
4/7/13 Goondiwindi, Queensland 31583 18949
27/6/13 Cotton Tree, Queensland 30655 18393
20/6/13 Hervey Bay, Queensland 29972 17983
18/6/13 Town of 1770, Queensland 29671 17802
14/6/13 Conway Beach, Queensland 28720 17232
10/6/13 Townsville, Queensland 28355 17013
5/6/13 Mission Beach, Queensland 27943 16765
4/6/13 Paronella Park, Queensland 27850 16710
1/6/13 Cairns, Queensland 27387 16423
28/5/13 Burke & Wills Roadhouse, Queensland 26352 15811
24/5/13 Katherine, Northern Territory 24625 14775
22/5/13 Kakadu/Jabiru, Northern Territory 24132 14479
20/5/13 Darwin, Northern Territory 23358 14014
13/5/13 Saddle Creek, Northern Territory 22368 13420
9/5/13 Bungle Bungles, Western Australia 21649 12989
5/5/13 Broome, Western Australia 20717 12430
1/5/13 Karijini, Western Australia 19688 11812
29/4/13 Tom Price, Western Australia 19570 11742
24/4/13 Coral Bay, Western Australia 18528 11116
19/4/13 Carnarvon, Western Australia 18178 10906
15/4/13 Monkey Mia, Western Australia 17688 10612
13/4/13 Nanga Bay, Western Australia 17601 10560
10/4/13 Kalbarri, Western Australia 17196 10317
7/4/13 Geraldton, Western Australia 17010 10206
4/4/13 Port Denison, Western Australia 16841 10104
29/3/13 Perth, Western Australia 16390 9834
25/3/13 Guilderton, Western Australia 15895 9537
22/3/13 Mandurah, Western Australia 15233 9139
19/3/13 Yallingup, Wester Australia 14901 8940
16/3/13 Margaret River, Western Australia 14840 8904
13/3/13 Albany, Western Australia 14170 8502
10/3/13 Fitzgerald River National Park, Western Australia 13755 8253
8/3/13 Esperance, Western Australia 13199 7919
4/3/13 Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 12695 7617
28/2/13 Ceduna, South Australia 11229 6737
26/2/13 Coffin Bay, South Australia 10775 6465
23/2/13 Arno Bay, South Australia 10431 6258
19/2/13 Marion Bay, South Australia 9729 5837
16/2/13 Balaklava, South Australia 9403 5641
13/2/13 Strathalbyn, South Australia 8831 5298
10/2/13 Mount Gambier, South Australia 8315 4989
7/2/13 Peterborough, Victoria 7857 4714
5/2/13 Kennett River, Victoria 7695 4617
1/2/13 Echuca, Victoria 7162 4297
29/1/13 Bendigo, Victoria 6872 4123
26/1/13 Oatlands, Tasmania 6303 3781
24/1/13 Richmond, Tasmania 6034 3620
21/1/13 Bicheno, Tasmania 5682 3415
19/1/13 St Helens, Tasmania 5588 3352
16/1/13 Low Head, Tasmania 5323 3195
14/1/13 Launceston, Tasmania 5086 3051
11/1/13 Bracknell, Tasmania 4719 2831
9/1/13 Cambridge, Tasmania 4348 2608
5/1/13 Snug, Tasmania 4154 2492
2/1/12 Lake St Clair, Tasmania 3684 2210
1/1/13 Strahan, Tasmania 3548 2128
28/12/12 Cradle Mountain, Tasmania 3211 1926
26/12/12 Wynyard, Tasmania 3092 1855
23/12/12 Cooee, Tasmania 3008 1804
20/12/12 Arthur River, Tasmania 2706 1623
17/12/12 Somerset, Tasmania 2307 1384
15/12/12 Somers 2091 1254
13/12/12 Cowes - Phillip Island 1799 1079
11/12/12 Wilsons Promontory 1585 951
9/12/12 Yarram 1280 795
7/12/12 Lakes Entrance 1028 638
5/12/12 Merimbula 540 335
3/12/12 Mystery Bay 422 262
1/12/12 Huskisson 166 103
30/11/12 Sydney 0 0
       

NB: Distance travelled is road only and doesn't include ferry from mainland Australia to Tasmania.

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