Sunday, 20 October 2013

Jacobs Well, Queensland - 18-20 October 2013

Friday

At the Caravan Show in June, we joined the Australian Caravan Club. It is an Australia-wide club which is composed of Branches or Chapters. Each Branch usually has trips away every 6 weeks approximately. We thought it was worth joining. The members are like-minded people and it would be good to have the opportunity to get away with them now and then. And also, the tips we would be likely to pick up, so we have heard, would be handy.

We had had an email in July asking if we were interested in joining a new Branch about to start up. They were going to be called the Brisbane Rouseabouts and their first trip would be to Casino in the first half of August. Unfortunately we couldn’t make that one.

This weekend is the 2nd outing for the new Branch and it was to Jacobs Well, a little fishing place just south of Brisbane. It is only a 35 minute drive for us, and probably not somewhere we would have even thought of going to. We haven’t been there since the boys were little. There were only going to be about 6 vans going along, so a nice small group to start off with.

Friday was a miserable day. It was a bit drizzly and very windy, but also very cool compared to what it had been. But the rest of the weekend was supposed to be a lot better. We left home about 10am and were well and truly set up by lunchtime, then spending the rest of the afternoon watching the comings and goings of people and vans. I think we were the first ones there, but the others dribbled in over the rest of the day with the last van, or rather camper trailer, arriving about 5.30pm.
 
We did see a funny sight. A fellow came in towing his van. He checked in at the office, then proceeded up to the boom gate where you put in a code to get in. There are witches hats around the post holding the boom gate - in other words be careful! This guy cleaned up the witches hat, turned his van too early and the boom gate next to the entry he used scraped right down the side of his van.  He moved it right out of position as well. He stopped, got out and had a look at what he had done, then got back in his car and drove off. It was left to the lady in the office to right things outside but he obviously did something to it as it was blocked off for the rest of the weekend.
Those that were around met up for a cuppa/drink around 4pm as one couple, Lyn and Warren, had just come down to say hi, but weren’t staying. There is Di and John. Di had sort of organised the weekend and originally office bearers were supposed to be elected this weekend. But as only a few were coming, it was decided to put that off till next time. Also there were Dianne and Rex, Ken and Graham. They all seem very nice.

After the meet and greet broke up and we headed back to our van, we found the last van, the camper trailer, had set up next to us. We introduced ourselves to Jean and Stuart and chatted to them for a little while. They seem very nice too.
 
Saturday
Saturday was a lot nicer day than Friday, although still a little bit breezy. But that helped keep the sandflies at bay, so can’t complain.
The camping area at Jacobs Well is a lovely set up with lots of trees – melaleucas and fig trees. Unfortunately in the fig tree next to us, a huge crowd of noisy lorikeets obviously slept there at night. When we got back to the van, they weren’t sleeping and were very noisy. Luckily they were quiet at a respectable hour but we figured they would probably be up early – and as a result so would we.
After breakfast, we went for a walk round Jacobs Well, heading out to the end of the road. There is a pretty new estate there with some quite big houses. There were also people fishing on the river’s edge. Bruce didn’t bring any fishing gear this time, but it is a place we would come back to another time.
At morning tea time, we all gathered and this time Stuart and Jean came along to meet everyone. Also, Ken’s wife, Sheryl, was there. She had come down this morning. We all had a good chat for about an hour before going our separate ways.
I spent the rest of the day doing some sewing and reading. Bruce read and did some sudokus and crossword puzzles. I won my fortune ($12) on a scratchie.
We had booked for dinner tonight at the Jacobs Well Tavern. What a fantastic night we had. We all got on famously and we laughed so hard and so much. Rex and Di, particularly Di, had us in stitches with her stories of things that had happened to them over the years. Then everyone else started coming out with them. It made for a great night.
Apart from the fun we had, the meal was great. We all enjoyed what we had ordered. Also, around the walls of the pub were some great paintings by an artist by the name of Donald James Waters.
I looked him up on Google and he has been painting for about 30 years. Check out more of his paintings -  www.djwaters.com.au
 
Sunday
After breakfast this morning, we packed up and headed down to the cafe not far away with Stuart and Jean for a cuppa. We are having a quick get together at 9.30 before everyone heads away, except Di and John who are staying another night.
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend and look forward to many more trips away with the Club.
            
 

 
 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Binalong Bay to Launceston Airport - 14 September 2013

Today is our last day. I would be quite happy to stay, but unfortunately work on Monday. Our last day started off cloudy and felt warmer than the 8 degrees that it was when we left.

The birds put on a show for us this morning in the garden. There are so many birds and they fly up to the deck and through it even when we sit there.

On our way through St Helens we stopped at the newsagent to claim our winnings from a scratchie we had yesterday - $25. We bought 2 scratchies yesterday with winnings of $37 from 2 we had bought the day before. We like Tasmania scratchies.

When I dropped the key off before leaving, I spoke to the owner of the cottages (only knew Marion's name, not her husband's) about the way we were intending to drive back to Launceston. We were going to drive down through St Mary's and across through Fingal and Avoca to hit the Midlands Highway and then head up to the Airport. We haven't been that way before. He suggested going another way as he said it is an uninteresting trip with nothing touristy to see. We decided to stick with our plan as the other way to go was the way we had come on Tuesday when we came across from Cradle Mountain. Plus, we had also done that trip last time we were in Tasmania.

Our first stop was at a little coal mining place called Cornwall, about 2 kms off the main road. I had to go and look as my ancestors came from Cornwall itself. There was a sign on the highway to the Cornwall Wall of Remembrance. It was erected in 2006 I think it was. It had a plaque with the names of people who had died in mining accidents over the years but then it had all the names of the people who had actually worked in the mine located in Cornwall. Coal was first discovered in Cornwall in 1843 but coal production didn't commence in Cornwall until 1886. There are a few coal mines in the area. There have been ups and downs in coal production since then but has remained fairly steady over the last 30 years.

Driving through the tiny town of Cornwall, life looks a real struggle. The yards are overgrown, cars are driven till they stop and then just left, houses are not maintained. The places that are looked after with pride really stand out. A bit sad.

Further down the road is a place called Fingal and there is also a coal mine there. It is slightly bigger than Cornwall. It had the lovely backdrop of the Ben Lomond National Park.

We didn't see a good place for morning tea till we reached the highway where we saw St Andrews Inn, built in 1845 with convict labour.


I must have been holding the camera crooked as the building looks like it is falling backwards and Bruce is about to fall over, but that was not the case!

On the walls in the hallway are the original documents of indenture. George has owned the place for 17 years and he does all the cooking. In the cake cabinet he had a chocolate and beetroot mud cake with chocolate chilli ganache. He said it was lovely and I imagine it would have been but I took him at his word. I have a chocolate and potato cake which I make and the potato makes it lovely and moist. I imagine the beetroot does the same.

Not far down the road at Epping Forest there was a market so we stopped for that. There was a lot of china and glass, some of which looked very nice. We went inside the building to see what was in there and on one of the tables were 3 bundles of patchwork fabric fat 1/4's (quarter metre pieces). There were 5 pieces in each bundle and they were half price at $15 each. I took all 3. The lady said I obviously knew a bargain. Apparently they were from a shop owned by a lady who had died. They will go nicely in a quilt I am working on at the moment.

Not far from Launceston Airport is the village of Evandale. Every time we are near the airport we go there and have a walk through. There are lovely old houses, and old buildings converted to galleries or cafes. This gallery used to be the stables of the pub, build in 1840.

Well, it is time to go. On to the airport to drop the hire car off - 870km later. Back to Brisbane for us and back to work on Monday. We had a great time.

Our next trip away will be for a few days in mid October. I'll add to the blog then.



Friday, 13 September 2013

Binalong Bay - 13 September 2013

On the ABC current affairs program this morning, they interviewed Tom Denniss, an ultra marathon runner who was completing a run around the world at the Sydney Opera House this morning. He had spent 662 days running over 26,000 steps, and raising money for charity. His favourite part of the trip was running across the Nullarbor. He sounds like a very interesting guy. If you want to read more about him follow this link www.tomsnextstep.com.

We headed out this morning and out first stop was Shop in The Bush about 15 kms from St Helens. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. It sells antiques, old jewellery, books, and other stuff - odds and sods in other words. It has been operating since 1982 by the same people, so it must be doing something right.

From there we drove on to Pyengana, a few kms further down the road, to visit the Pyengana Dairy Company, where they have been making cloth bound cheddar cheese for over 100 years. It is in a beautiful valley and there are 200 Friesian cows in the dairy. They get 1,000mm of rain each year so no wonder it is green and lush looking. We took part in a cheese tasting and the cheese was delicious, so creamy. They have won many awards and it is used by many of the top chefs in the country. They have over 100,000 people go through the place each year. We bought a few of the different cheeses to take home with us and look forward to opening them. They also have their own brand of milk and also ice cream. See www.pyenganadairy.com.au.

After the cheese tasting, we decided to have morning tea at The Holy Cow Café at the Dairy. Great name for their café. They are also open for brekkie and lunch. We had a lovely Devonshire Tea with their own cream and jam. Yummy.

After morning tea, we were able to look through the window at a couple of the guys making cheese. Huge vats of cream being stirred for about 3-4 hours to make the cheese. It is bound in cloth, in the traditional method, and set aside to mature for varying lengths of time depending on the type of cheese being made.
From the Dairy we went down the road about 1 km to The Pub in the Paddock, famous due to the beer drinking pig, Pinky, that lives there as well. It doesn't really look like a pub, more like a lovely old farmhouse. The Pub is on the market for $800,000.

We headed back to St Helens then and went for a drive out to the end of St Helens Point. When we were last in St Helens, we stayed along St Helens Point in a cottage called The Beachhouse. It was a great house and we went past it today and it is still operating as a holiday rental. Out near the end of the Point, are the Peron Dunes. The Dunes are pretty extensive and would be great to slide down on a piece of cardboard!
It was back to the cottage for lunch and a relaxing afternoon, before going for a walk in the late afternoon. Thank heavens it wasn't as windy today as what it has been, although it was still cold. We walked up to the area on the hill behind where we are staying. There are quite a few houses on the market. One of them has a fabulous view and I checked the price it was selling for. $720,000 +. Not bad for an ocean view.

Bruce is happy that he is able to watch the Rugby League semi final on TV tonight live even though he is in Tassie.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Binalong Bay - 12 September 2013

What a windy day it was today. A bitterly cold wind. The highest temperature today was 11 degrees. But at least it was sunny.

We set off about 9 am for a walk up the beach to the other end. Bruce took his backpack with thermos, mugs and morning tea. As we reached the other end, in amongst the red lichen rocks just out of reach of the water, a fish was flapping feebly. Bruce picked it up and threw it back in the water. Hopefully it survived.

We climbed over the rocks/boulders out to the headland to see if we could find a sheltered spot to have morning tea. What a beautiful spot for morning tea, looking out towards the ocean and no one else around.
If we had walked back along the beach, we would have had to walk into the wind. We decided to head inland hoping that would be better. It was in parts. The road took us up high above Binalong Bay overlooking the Bay and Grants Lagoon which is just behind the beach. We walked about 8 kms all told.

We had lunch on the front deck and it was beautiful, the sun glistening on the water. Bruce saw a bird do a kamikaze dive into the water after a fish.
I did hear bits and pieces of another book on the radio today that sounded pretty good but didn't hear the title or the author. All I knew was that it was set on Thursday Island. I ended up googling it and found it. It is called My Island Homicide and is by Catherine Titasey.

After lunch we drove out to The Gardens, about 13km along the coast from Binalong Bay. The road is a dead end, ending at a couple of houses. When we got there, there were some people in a hire car who had couldn't get their car going. It would start, but they couldn't get it out of park. It had happened to them three times today and they had only hired it this morning in Launceston and were on their way to Bicheno. There was very little phone reception there but he found a spot where he got a bar or so and with great difficulty, after a few attempts where we could hear Peter but he couldn't hear us, Peter suggested looking for a lock on the stick. Sure enough, there it was, and the people left happy people.

After they left, I walked along the track that cut around the headland. I always have to see what's around the next corner. It was very pretty countryside and coastline. Green pastureland meeting the beach with its red rocks. What a place to live.
On the way back to Binalong Bay, we stopped at Cosy Corner North to check it out. It is quite a large area on the beachfront with sheltered spots in amongst bushes and trees where you are allowed to free camp for up to 4 weeks. There are toilets provided, but no water or power. We also checked out Cosy Corner South, Swimcart Beach and Jeanneret's Beach, which all have free camping for up to 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks you have to move out of the area for 4 weeks. You can't move to the one just down the road. After the 4 weeks, you could move back again if you wanted. Pretty good. Cosy Corner North and South were my favourites. At Swimcart Beach you can actually park your van right on the edge overlooking the beach, but on a windy day like today, it wouldn't have been very pleasant.

We arrived back at the cottage in time for afternoon tea and spent the rest of the afternoon reading. What a hard life holidays are!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Binalong Bay - 11 September 2013

I just saw on the weather tonight that St Helens had the highest temperature in Tasmania today - 14 degrees. It showed snow on Mt Wellington in Hobart and no doubt it snowed in Cradle Mountain. It was sunny most of the day with a few clouds building up during the day. We were sitting on the deck in the afternoon with the sun shining just about everywhere but behind us where there were rain clouds, when it started to rain. It didn't last long though and it is supposed to be fine for the next couple of days.

We drove in to St Helens after breakfast this morning. We parked the car and walked up each side of the main street, before paying the Information Centre a visit to pick up some information on walks at Binalong Bay. I also asked at the Centre if the patchwork shop that I had visited the last time I was in St Helens was still open. Unfortunately it had closed so I missed out there. We then went to the IGA supermarket and bought enough groceries to last us till we leave here.

We have listened to a fair bit of Radio National while in Tasmania and they have interviewed a number of authors. Their books sound like they will be worth reading. One of them is by Ruth Ozeki, who is part Japanese and part American. She was at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Her book is called A Time for the Time Being. As part of the interview the recorded her reading part of her book, possibly at the Festival. She really got you in, just with her storytelling skills. Then another person they interview was Turia Pitt, who wrote the book called Everything to Live For. Turia is the ultra marathon runner who was caught in a bushfire in the Kimberleys, I think about 18 months or 2 years ago, with burns to 65% of her body. She sounds like a remarkable person, and the book is the story of what happened and her recovery. Her doctor said he had never had anyone with such deep burns to survive.

After an early lunch, we walked up the road from our cottage to walk the track to Snake Point. The beginning of the track involved rock hopping across rocks along the edge of the water. We took the easier option of sticking to the gravel road, joining the track further along. Along the coast in the Bay of Fires area a lot of the rocks are covered in red lichen.
We reached Snake Point and looked out to sea, to see if we could see any whales. Apparently a couple had been in the Bay yesterday, but we didn't see any. However, on the way back we did see a seal sunning himself on rocks and then taking a swim. He was a cutie.


Altogether we walked about 9 kms today which was good, seeing we hadn't done a good walk for the last couple of days. I was having withdrawal symptoms!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cradle Mountain & to Bay of Fires - 9 and 10 September

Monday 9 September - Cradle Mountain

It poured overnight and didn't let up all day, so we spent a very relaxing day in front of the fire. The view from our cabin is certainly easy to take. We were joined during the day by our resident currawong, who even brought a mate along a couple of times.

I spent the day either reading (I'm reading Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper at the moment) or doing some sewing. I am working on an applique quilt called Charleston Rhapsody, a design by Carolyn Konig, and its progress has been given a boost after today.

One unfortunate consequence of the heavy rain today was being unable to visit Devils @ Cradle. We were going to do the tour tonight which also took in the feeding of the Tasmanian Devils. We had heard good things about it but it was not to be.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time at Cradle Mountain and will be very sorry to leave. It is such a beautiful place. But, tomorrow we move on to another area - one we haven't been to before, the Bay of Fires National Park.

Tuesday 10 September - to Binalong Bay and Bay of Fires

It poured during the night and we even had thunder. It was still raining when we got up this morning. The forecast is for a cold front coming through later today bringing snow down to 200 metres and sea level in places. The snow would certainly look a picture at Cradle Mountain.

We got away early and not long after leaving the mountain, the rain stopped. Our first stop was at Sheffield, about an hour from Cradle Mountain. We have stayed here twice before and really like the town and the area. It is called the Town of Murals and Mt Roland forms quite a distinctive backdrop, rising to about 1200 metres. There are about 60 murals around the town and the surrounding area, telling the story of the area. The town runs a mural competition each year and so a new mural is added each year. There was also a shop in town that had lots of different tea cozies in the window.

Leaving Sheffield, we then stopped at Deloraine for a cuppa. Deloraine is a town of artists and craftspeople and there is a big Craft Fair in November each year since the 1970's. I went in to one of the galleries before joining Bruce in the café. There were some beautiful quilts and knitted garments, paintings, woodwork, etc. on display. I can imagine what the Craft Fair would be like.

We bypassed Launceston and headed towards Scottsdale and St Helens. About 25 kms the other side of Scottsdale we saw a sign to Legerwood, 3kms off the main road. They have an Anzac memorial in the park in town which was fabulous.

In 1918, 9 trees were planted to honour the 7 soldiers killed in WW1 and a tree each for Gallipoli and the Anzacs. The trees were declared dangerous in 2001. A committee decided to hire Eddie Freeman to chainsaw carve into the trees a likeness of the men killed. By Anzac Day 2006, the carvings were completed. Each tree has a plaque at the bottom of the tree with the name and biography of the soldier killed. They now draw in tourists. It really was very good.
We stopped off in St Helens to buy a few groceries for tonight and brekkie before driving out to Binalong Bay, about 20 mins north of St Helens, arriving about 4pm. We are staying at Character Cottages, a cluster of cottages on the hillside looking out over Binalong Bay and up the coast. We are staying in the Deluxe cottage. It is a lovely cottage with a glorious view. We even sat outside on the deck to have a cuppa when we arrived but half an hour later, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up and was strong enough to blow one of the chairs across the deck!

 
There are quite a few walks in the area so we should be able to get some walking done. If that doesn't happen, it certainly won't be a hardship to sit and admire the view!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Cradle Mountain - 8 September 2013

Well, it is our 40th wedding anniversary today. To think we have put up with each other for 40 years! We are very content with our life and enjoy ourselves.

It rained again during the night and there was a misty rain falling this morning when we went down to brekkie. It was 2 deg. While we were at brekkie, Gill and Mike rang to pass on their congratulations. It was their 40th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. We also got a great text from Ian and Yvonne with a great cartoon of Kevin Rudd out the front of the Lodge with his bags packed saying "My name's Kevin and I've got to zip!!"

Bruce's nephew, Luke, is getting married today. He and Josipa flew over from Perth on Friday, together with Josh, Luke's brother, and are having the ceremony at Mike and Mandy's place. We rang and spoke to Luke and wished them all the best. We would have liked to be there but we had booked our trip to Tassie back in January. Matthew and Katrina flew the flag for our side of the family. Katrina will take lots of lovely photos no doubt, so we will be able to see those when we get home. Luke was saying a few of them had a game of golf yesterday and there were more bottles than clubs in the buggy!

About 11.30 we drove to Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain to tackle the Dove Lake Circuit. We last walked this circuit in the year 2000. At that time there was no timber boardwalk along any of the track. Now there is a lot of the timber boardwalk along the track and they are still working on it.

The Dove Lake Circuit is 6.6km long and takes 2-3 hours to complete. We did it in just over 2 hours. It is not a difficult walk but a little bit harder than easy. We had rain for most of the time we were on the track, but only a misty rain. We couldn't see Cradle Mountain until we were right underneath it and then it was still fairly misty. At the beginning of the walk we past a fellow with a fishing rod. He had been fishing for trout in the Lake. He had no luck but enjoyed himself. We also met a couple and the fellow had recently retired. He said he had slipped into the retirement lifestyle very easily. They had booked a one way ticket on the boat with no return date. He said he did have an appointment in mid October with the accountant for his tax but he said the Tax Dept owes him so they probably wouldn't stress if he didn't get it in then! We also met a group of 2 fellows from Hawaii and a girl from Hobart.

The track goes through The Ballroom Forest about half way along the track. It has stands of myrtle, sassafras and king billy pine trees with a creek running through it into the Lake. A lovely spot.


This is a photo of Cradle Mountain today, misted in with the rain.
For dinner tonight, we booked into the fine dining restaurant, The Highlander. It is where we have brekkie of a morning. The other nights we have had dinner in the tavern and we have been very happy with the meals. But tonight was special so it was The Highlander.

We had a very nice meal, beautiful presentation, but it was a case of big plates small helpings. It was okay for me, but Bruce has a very healthy appetite. There is a wine cellar in the restaurant and you could go down and pick out a bottle of wine. Or you could order by the glass. One glass is enough for me so Bruce just ordered a couple of glasses.
The staff at the Lodge have been very good. They have been very friendly and will go out of their way to help you. One of the waitresses we had tonight is from Estonia. She has been out here with her boyfriend for a few months, starting in Perth, then Adelaide and then here. They will stay another 3 months before moving on. They are here on a 12 month working visa.

While we were at dinner, Matthew rang to tell us how Luke's wedding had gone. He and Katrina had really enjoyed themselves and spent a bit of time talking to Josh. Josipa's 2 brothers had also come over and walked 'down the aisle' with her. Sounds like it went really well. Pity we couldn't be there.

It was a great way to spend our 40th anniversary at Cradle Mountain - out in the open with breathtaking scenery. Couldn't ask for more.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Cradle Mountain - 7 September 2013

Woke a couple of times during the night to the sound of rain and it was still raining when we got up. It was very windy as well. We had to drive down to brekkie.

Mid morning we drove out to Cradle Mountain so we could get a couple of photos when the weather clears - the weather continually changes here. As we stepped out of the cabin it was snowing! It quickly changed to sleet but it was lovely to see the snow. Hope to get more of it while we are here.

Peppers Lodge is the first accommodation outside the National Park and it is 8km from Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. We got a bit more snow on the way and the temperature was 1 deg. The wind was very icy. There were quite a few people setting off to do one of the walks from Dove Lake. We had already decided not to do one today. Thank heavens. It would be very unpleasant to be walking with this wind. When we arrived at Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain was obscured by cloud but we managed to get a few pictures of it reasonably clear. You can see the snow up the top of the mountain. It is a very distinctive looking mountain and very beautiful. There were even waves on Dove Lake from the wind. By the time we left and headed back to the Lodge at 12.15, the temperature had risen to 2 deg.

We have a resident currawong on the deck of our cabin. When he sees us he flies in and sits on the railing and then jumps over to the back of the chair which is just outside the window. He sits there looking in at us. This afternoon he started making noises to attract our attention.
 
We went down to the Lodge to have afternoon tea. More snow showers while we were there. After afternoon tea, we decided to do the short Enchanted Walk, which is only 1 km long and an easy walk. It follows the Pencil Pine River on one side, crosses over and then comes back the other side. It was a lovely walk, along a timber boardwalk the whole way. It was a lovely walk and we saw pademelons and more wombats. I love the gnarled trees covered with moss and all the moss that covers the ground. It makes everything look so old.
 
We had an early dinner and sat down to watch the election telecast and a change of Government. 


Friday, 6 September 2013

Cradle Mountain - 6 September

It rained overnight and was still raining this morning when we went to brekkie. As we walked out of our cabin, there was a pademelon under the verandah out of the rain. Then another one hopped in. I opened the door to go in and get my camera and he wanted to hop inside. Obviously used to people.


At breakfast we spoke to a fellow, from the Gold Coast, who had just finished the Overland Track yesterday. This is the 3rd time he had walked it and he hasn't been rained on once. Lucky he finished it yesterday. He was very interesting to talk to. He stayed in the cabins this time, but he has camped previously. I thought the Track would be closed over winter but it isn't. During the peak time, the numbers are controlled and it costs $200 each to do the Track. If you do the walk in the low season, it is free and not as crowded. There are improvements being made to the Track all the time. He was saying that the timber boardwalks they put in cost $180/metre as they fly the workers and equipment in by helicopter.

This fellow (we didn't even get to introduce each other but just talked) had also done the Kokoda Track with his son's school. They had 2 spots left so he took one and an ex Army fellow took the other. The ex-Army had an interest in military history so he took them through each battle spot pointing out where the enemy guns were, where the Aussies were, etc. He said it was a fabulous trip.

After breakfast we went up to the National Parks office to get our passes. It is $16.50/day per person or you can get a Holiday Pass for $30 each or $60/vehicle (up to 8 people) and it lasts for 2 months. As we are going to Bay of Fires National Park next we got the Holiday Pass.

By the time we got back to our cabin, the rain was starting to ease but each time we went to head out on a walk, it would get heavy again. Finally it stopped but we decided to just do the King Billy Track which was only a 2 km/30 minute walk through the bush behind Peppers Lodge here. It was a beautiful walk through the rainforest. There were myrtle and sassafras trees but the King Billy Pines were something to see. Some of them are up to 1,500 years old.

We didn't get rained on so after lunch we decided to chance it and do one of the longer walks. We decided on the Dove Canyon Circuit which is a 2-3hr/7km circuit with a Grading of Hard. Some of the track is along the timber walkways but most of it is pretty rough and is not regularly maintained. It was pretty wet underfoot a lot of the way and you had to scramble up and down rocks, sometimes quite steep rock faces, but I managed really well I felt. There were only a couple of spots where I needed Bruce to help pull me up. My poles helped a lot, just keeping me steady and also taking a lot of the pressure off my knees. Along the track we crossed the Pencil Pine River and the volume of water was tremendous. At the top of the Canyon you can hear the noise of the water going through. They have wire along the cliff edge and we couldn't see the bottom so it was quite a way down. We passed a few pademelons. The walk took us 2 1/2 hours and it started raining about 20 mins from the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the walks we did today.


We got back to the Lodge and were walking up the path behind the Lodge Shop when we spotted a wombat having a feed in the grass along with a small wallaby. It was great to see.

We headed up to our cabin to make use of our spa bath. As I was undressing, Bruce saw a leech on the back of my leg. Yuk yuk. It is the first leech I have had and my reaction was a real girl's reaction. I was not happy! Then of course I couldn't stop the bleeding. I hope he enjoyed himself as he didn't live long after that.

Bruce took the bottle of champagne we were given down to the couple in the cabin next to us. They are spending a year in Tasmania to see as much as they can. We had spoken to the fellow yesterday afternoon. He wife had flown to Adelaide yesterday for a job interview and would be back this afternoon. They have been here since Monday.

We saw some beautiful sights of Cradle Mountain today in our walks. It is such a fantastic place.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

To Tasmania - 5 September 2013

It was a very early start this morning to catch our flight to Tasmania. We flew to Melbourne where we had a 2 1/2 stopover before getting our flight to Launceston. Melbourne was wet and dreary and we were expecting the same for Launceston but it was lovely sunshine when we arrived at 1.30pm, and 18 deg.

We picked up our car at the airport and headed out to Cradle Mountain, where we were booked in to Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge for 5 nights.

We stopped off at Deloraine for supplies - chocolates, nuts, cheese, wine and cider. Deloraine is a lovely town. We have been here a couple of times and had seen the Yarns display a few years ago which is stunning. There was no time for sightseeing here today as we didn't want to be too late getting to Cradle Mountain.

You forget how beautiful Tasmania is until you come back and see the spectacular scenery. The last time we were in Tassie was in 2005. We brought Mum down with us. I didn't realise it was that long ago.

We arrived at the Lodge at Cradle Mountain about 5pm and the temperature had dropped to 10 deg. When we checked in, we were told that we had been given an upgrade to a spa suite. Very nice. The cabin is lovely and very tastefully decorated. On the wall over the bed is a large picture taken on one of the walks on the property. There is an open fire in our room with a lounge in front of it. Off the main room there is a deck looking out in to the bush.

While we were unpacking, someone dropped off a bottle of champagne just inside the foyer of the cabin. I had mentioned on check in that we were here to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. That was a lovely gesture.

Our cabin is about a 3 minute walk from the main building on a timber boardwalk. The main building has the Bistro, the Restaurant and a couple of lounge areas downstairs and upstairs they have a couple of rooms they use as TV rooms. They run a slide show on plants and animals each night at 8pm or you can watch the news etc. There are no TVs in the cabins. We will head down there on Saturday night to watch the election.

We opted to eat at the Bistro tonight but booked in to the Restaurant for Sunday night, our Anniversary. We had a beautiful meal at the Bistro, both of us having salmon. There are fires in all the rooms of the main building, except for upstairs, and the rooms are lined with timber. It's a lovely building.

The Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is about 65km long and 40km wide, 161,000 hectares in size. It became a World Heritage Area in 1982.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Home - 25 July 2013

As we were packing up to come home this morning, an older lady who resides in the caravan park, walked past pushing a pram. Bruce thought she must have been looking after a grandchild. He had a look in the pram as she went past and there was a dog in there. The dog was even covered with blankets.

There were lots of road works so the trip was a bit slow. We called in to see Mike and Mandy and arrived in time for morning tea, having stopped in Lismore on the way through. We had a winning Scratchie and wanted to cash it before leaving New South Wales. We spent a few hours there before heading up to the Gold Coast where we caught up with Jan and Steve. They have recently moved there and we had a look through their new house, which is really good.

From there it was home where we unpacked the car and van.

We had really enjoyed our first long trip away in the van. Apart from the leak in the roof, everything went smoothly. We need to reorganise our cupboards under the sink and hot plates, and will get a spice rack to attach to the inside of the cupboard which will free up a little bit of room in our single grocery drawer. Having a small (13') van, we don't have a great deal of storage space. Before our next big trip next year, we will be ready for free camping. We will also get an outside door on the van to give us access to under Bruce's bed. With having the innerspring mattress it is too awkward to access it from inside. That will give us a bit more storage space.

My next addition to the blog will not be till September, when we have 10 days in Tasmania.

Total mileage for trip:  2,883 kms

Yamba - 24 July 2013

While Bruce went to the river to try his hand at fishing again, I walked into town. I walked along the river again but continued on rather than turning into the shops. The path took me round towards the breakwater and then the ocean. There were a few fruit and vegie stalls set up in the area and I bought a small loaf of pumpkin and parmesan sourdough bread to have for lunch and some beautiful looking tomatoes.

Near the markets was a board which explained the development of the breakwater and Yamba itself. In the 1850's Yamba was called Clarence River Heads and the only European residents were the Pilot, his family, and a four man crew. They all lived in tents on Pilot Hill, which is up near where the lighthouse stands. When plans for the construction of the breakwater in the river mouth began in the 1860's, this caused a population explosion and the town of Yamba was born.

I continued on to the end of the path and then doubled back and headed up the hill to the lighthouse. It was a beautiful sunny day and the view was great.

I walked down the hill into town and bought some cold meat to go with the sourdough and tomatoes and headed back to the river to walk home. I spotted these pelicans having a rest. Hope the roof of his boat doesn't collapse.

 
By the time I got back to the van, the wind had come up a bit but it was lovely and sunny so I spent a couple of hours sitting in the sun, doing a bit of patchwork.
 
Bruce arrived back and he was pleased as he had actually had some bites on his line and nearly caught two fish. A miss is as good as a mile, but he enjoyed himself and that's good. By this time the wind was really strong, so he took the awnings down before we sat down to lunch. The sourdough was delicious.
 
We went to Sassafras - the Italian restaurant in Yamba we had been to not long after it opened - for dinner. It is still the same owner and he has been open for 9 years. What a great meal. We ordered a Spicy Prawn Pizza and it was absolutely covered in prawns. They are freshly caught by the fishermen in Iluka, which is just across the river from Yamba. Would highly recommend Sassafras to anyone going there.
 


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ulmarra, Maclean, Brooms Head - 23 July 2013

After a cloudy day yesterday, we woke to a sunny day today. We also woke to a text message to say someone had used my credit card fraudulently, and that my card had been suspended till I rang them. Apparently someone had used it to spend over $1,000 on Wotif and then again at 3am this morning. It was suspended at 3.30am so they didn't waste any time. They will send me a new card.

We had planned a day of looking round the area today. Our first stop was the Tourist Information Centre at Maclean. They have a gallery at the Centre, with lovely items for sale by local craftspeople. There were some incredible dolls that were so lifelike. The lady who made them had used silicone instead of porcelain for their faces. I'm not really a doll person, but these were amazing.

We really like Maclean and have been there on a number of occasions. It was named in 1862 and quite a few of the early settlers were Scottish. They were mainly Highlanders driven from their land during the war there with the English when they were being cleared out from the Highlands. Several shiploads arrived on free or assisted passages. Many of them became landholders in Maclean and a number of descendants of these early Scottish settlers still live in the local area. Maclean has a big Highland Gathering each Easter.

In Maclean, there are telegraph poles through town decorated with Scottish tartans. We spoke to a lady at the Information Centre. She was telling us that she had been involved in getting it going and that it had taken 3 years. It started up just before the Olympic Torch Relay in 2000 with 10 telegraph poles. There are now more than 200 poles decorated with different tartans.


From Maclean we drove south to Ulmarra. Ulmarra is an 1860's River Port town and the entire village is classified by the National Trust town as well. We usually stop at Ulmarra at a park on the river for a break when driving through, if we are driving through on a long trip. There is an antique shop that we haven't looked through and a timber shop, so we checked them out today. The Wood Shop had some beautiful pieces of furniture and they also sold timber for those who wanted to make their own.

On our way from Ulmarra to Brooms Head (back near Maclean), we stopped at Fredo Pies. Fredo Pies are originally from Frederickton, near Kempsey, but have now expanded to other outlets along the mid north coast of New South Wales. We had tried them once before, and we didn't think we were all that impressed. Bruce decided to give them another go. They had Crocodile, Wild Boar, Kangaroo and Camel, but Bruce decided to try Chicken, Garlic, Honey and Chilli. I had a taste and the flavour was nice but there was a fair bit of sauce and not a lot of substance.

Driving along the road to Brooms Head we came across a sign advising to be on the lookout for emus, and sure enough we spotted a couple. We now have a Shoo Roo (also called Hopper Stoppers) on the front of the car. This makes a high pitched sound as we drive along and keeps the wildlife away from the car - hopefully.

Brooms Head got its name in 1870 when a broom thought to have come from the wreck of the ship "Eureka", was found washed up on the beach. Before that it was known as Cakora Point. We hadn't been to Brooms Head before today. It looks a sleepy little town and is surrounded by Yuraygir National Park. The Yuraygir Coastal Walk goes through Brooms Head, starting at Angourie, which is near Yamba.There is a Council caravan park along the water's edge and we will come back for a stay at another time. We went up on the headland and spotted a whale out to sea. That's our second for this trip. Brooms Head is certainly a lovely spot.


After afternoon tea back at the van, I went for a long walk, although not as long as yesterday. Where we are staying is a good place to walk, as it is level and easy on the knees. I haven't got as much walking done this trip as I would have liked. Lucky I don't have any scales with me!


 

Yamba - 22 July 2013

We woke to an overcast day. It is supposed to be fine through to Thursday so hopefully it will clear. We have an ensuite site this time, which means our van is parked right next to our own shower and toilet. Nice for a change. I did a big load of washing so hopefully that dries without too much trouble.

Bruce rang Coromal this morning and organised to drop the van in on Friday. Tony, the guy Bruce spoke to in their Service Department, said that there had been a few vans back with leaks. He said they will just reseal the whole roof. The first time we took it back, Tony was a bit sceptical as he said they never have that problem. Why did it have to start with us! Anyway, as long as it is fixed. Thank heavens it is still under warranty.

Bruce spoke to his brother Mike to see how he was going. Mike mentioned that his son Luke, and fiancée Josepa, are getting married on 8 September. That is our 40th wedding anniversary and we will be at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. We booked it about 6 months ago. What a bummer we won't be able to go. They are getting married in Perth and also having a small ceremony here.

We weren't sure how far from Yamba centre we were, so Bruce drove me in this morning and dropped me off so I could walk back to the caravan park. It is not far at all, only 2.8 kms. I wandered round town to see what had changed since our last visit a few years ago. There is a patchwork shop which is new. It is combined with a scrapbooking shop. I went in to have a look, but they are the modern, bright fabrics which are very nice but not what I prefer. Last time we were here, we went to an Italian restaurant which hadn't been opened very long. It was opened by a fellow who used to have a restaurant in Melbourne. He had moved to Yamba and opened up this restaurant, called Sassafras. It is still open so we hope to try it out while we are here to see if it is as good as it was last time. The cinema is still next door and you can see a movie for $8. Man of Steel is on and I am a Superman fan. If we get time to see it, we will but time is running out. We may have to wait till we get home.

I started walking back to the van along a walkway beside the river, which was lovely. I came across Bruce who had gone fishing after he dropped me off. This is his third time fishing while we have been away. When I saw him, he wasn't very happy. In all that fishing, he not only hadn't caught a fish, he hadn't even had a bite!


Later in the afternoon, we walked into town for Bruce to have a look at the place. We called into the Fishing Co-op to see what was available but they didn't have much at the moment. We thought we may have been able to have fish for dinner tonight. We walked through the Calypso Caravan Park right in town, but didn't like how the vans were so close to each other. After a walk through town and a stop for afternoon tea, we headed out of town.

Not far from us is another caravan park called The Blue Dolphin. We had a look through it, as it is right on the river and would be better for fishing than where we are, and not as big. It looks pretty good, with plenty of trees and a nice outlook over the river. We kept walking, as further up the road is a small Coles shopping centre. We thought we would have a look to see what was there. There was a sign to a tavern, so we just followed the signs. It was a fair way and was right on the river. We had dinner there and they had a courtesy bus, so we got a lift home. After all the walking during the day, I had done 21,000 steps. That is the most I have done while we have been away.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

South West Rocks and to Yamba - 20-21 July 2013

Just as we were going to bed last night, the rain started and was very heavy during the night. And just yesterday I was saying how we had had such lovely weather. I should have kept quiet.

Allyson and Ian left South West Rocks on Saturday, heading for Port Stephens. We had really enjoyed the time they were here and we will do it again. We have tentative plans to meet in Pambula on the south coast of New South Wales next year.

After they left we decided to drive to Hat Head, where there is a National Park. It was still raining but not as heavy as during the night. Hopefully it will clear. We had tried to get to Hat Head the day we went to Kempsey but the bridge over the river to get there was closed for road works. The vegetation in the area is quite stunted and scrubby, and it wasn't very appealing. If we had the choice of going to Hat Head or to Crescent Head, a bit further south, we would go to Crescent Head. Hat Head has quite a big caravan park, which we walked through. This took us to a lovely timber walk bridge which crossed the river to the Korogoro Peninsula. There were some nice views from there but we didn't see any whales. Apparently Hat Head is a good place to view the whales from.

We got back to the van in time for lunch. I went in to open the windows and found some water on the inside of Bruce's window. I checked his bedding and mattress and it was all wet. And we thought the leak was fixed! We spent a long time checking it all out and it doesn't appear to be as bad as the last one we had, but still bad enough. We had a mess in the van for the rest of the afternoon. We had the mattress up on its side drying it out, bedding over my bed as we tried to dry that. There was still the odd shower around so we weren't game to put it outside. It is so frustrating. We will have to call Coromal on Monday. We think we will come home a day early. That will enable us to empty the van Thursday afternoon and take it in to them on Friday. They can have it for the week and Bruce will pick it up the following Friday.

Sunday morning we left South West Rocks for Yamba. It looks like the rain has gone and we had a beautiful sunny day. We called in to check a couple of the free camping spots out on the way past. We haven't been able to do any free camping this trip as we are not set up for it yet. We need to get solar panels, another battery and a pure sine inverter for Bruce's sleep machine but we hope to have all that by the time we head off on our next big trip next year.

We are staying at Yamba Waters Caravan Park. It is a really big caravan park and there are lots of permanent residents living here in their prefab homes. There are also a lot of Victorians here, escaping the Victorian winter. Also, Yamba is an area that draws people who want to retire somewhere else, other than where they were. It is a lovely area, on the Clarence River, with fishing for those who are interested in that. The caravan park is right on a lagoon which has fishing as well. I went for a walk around the park, which took about 20 minutes. I spoke to an elderly guy near us. He showed me a rug crocheted by his daughter which was lovely and very much like one Bruce's Mum, Glor, crocheted for us. I also noticed a sign on another permanent's cottage advising that she runs a craft group and to drop in for a chat.

We had a cooler night last night, dropping down to under 10 deg. Our heater came out again, and the layers went on, but it was okay. We were pleased we weren't in Katoomba. We spoke to a lady as we were setting up and she said she had just spoken to her sister in Katoomba and that it was snowing then.




Friday, 19 July 2013

South West Rocks - Friday, 19 July 2013

Lynne and Rob stayed in a cabin which was not far from us. In the cabin next to them, apparently there was a couple who argued and fought all night. Allyson said she heard them shouting about 4.30 - 5.00 this morning. I woke with a start about then, thinking the shouting was in a dream I was having. Apparently they were also arguing at midnight last night. Lynne and Rob heard none of it. They slept like a log.

Bruce cooked porridge for breakfast for Lynne, Rob and himself this morning. I had my usual cereal which I enjoy. We had another good talk over breakfast, before they headed off south. While we were saying our goodbyes, Bruce turned Rob around and said to him: "Rob, this is what people do in caravan parks - read (Ian), read (caravan behind us), read (caravan further over)!" Rob thought he would fit in very well! We had photos taken before they left.


Ian and Bruce then headed out on another fishing expedition. They went up near the Trial Bay Gaol this time to see if they had better luck. Unfortunately, they didn't - although Ian caught a small sand crab which they had to throw back. You need a fishing licence in New South Wales to fish. Bruce bought one before they went out yesterday and bought a 12 month licence for $31. We will probably end up this way again in the next 12 months.

Allyson and I did some more stitching while the guys were away.

A lot of people checked into the caravan park this afternoon. We had a tent go up beside us and a big bus across from us. The bus was also towing a car. The number plate was MANBUS. The owner had just bought a new aerial yesterday and Ian tried to help him set it up to receive the different stations, but he had no luck. Unusual looking aerial.


A van also arrived today with 3 very young children. They had a little boy of between 2 and 3 and also a set of twins, who were still crawling. It was good to see. All was quiet tonight.

Ian cooked a barbecue tonight - Reef and Beef. A T-Bone and prawns. It was a lovely meal. We certainly haven't starved. In fact I don't think I want to jump on the scales. We cooked the meal in the camp kitchen and ate there on the long wooden tables. The wind had been blowing hard all afternoon, but it was quite protected there. We washed up there as well. We then retired to Allyson and Ian's van for our last game of Scopa. Unfortunately, Bruce and Allyson won their second game of the week.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

South West Rocks - Thursday, 18 July 2013

A good result in the State of Origin last night. 8th year in a row they have taken it out. Not that I am a football follower but it's good to see them win.

This morning I set up a blog for Allyson as she, like me, has always done a journal of their travels. Then when we did some sewing. Allyson is doing some embroidery and I did some cutting of 1" squares and drawing of 1/4" sewing lines so I can piece them. I bought some 5" charm packs in Kempsey yesterday and used the beige ones as I needed more of that colour.

While we were 'busy' at the van, Bruce and Ian had gone fishing for a few hours to the Macleay River but came back empty handed. They did enjoy themselves though and will try again tomorrow.

We went back to the Smoky Cape Café for afternoon tea before adjourning back to the Park and Allyson and Ian's van for happy hour. This caravan life is very hard to take. It is so laid back, you almost fall over! We have had an absolutely fabulous time and can't wait to do more of it.

As we were sitting at the van, I received a text from Lynne and Rob, friends of ours from Canberra. Lynne and Rob are the couple I had mentioned on an earlier blog post who have ordered a camper trailer which is being built in Brisbane and will be ready about October. They have been to Brisbane to see their daughter and were on their way home, earlier than planned due to the constant rain up that way. We have been very lucky with the weather, as the only real rain we have had were the first few days when we were in Armidale. Lynne and Rob had actually been in Armidale when we were there (when they were on their way up to Brisbane) but neither of us had known. Anyway, Lynne sent me a text to say they would be in SW Rocks about 6.30pm and did we want to go out for dinner.

Allyson and Ian were happy to have a quiet night, so the four of us went to the local Thai restaurant. We had a beautiful meal, freshly prepared. We had a great chat, catching up on all the latest news. The four of us get on really well and there is always plenty to talk about. They had actually booked a cabin at the same caravan park we are staying at. We will see them for breakfast.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Kempsey and Crescent Head - Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The last couple of days have been overcast but dry. Today was lovely and sunny so we decided to go for a drive to Kempsey, which is only about 40 kms south of South West Rocks.

We parked and headed for the main street. The highway bypasses Kempsey now and that has made such a big difference. The big trucks that used to go over the bridge and through the centre of Kempsey usually caused holdups but that doesn't happen now. We went into an electrical store as we had been looking for a Birko water heater for the van. We have been using a kettle on the hot plate but that takes quite a while to heat the water. We didn't want a big kettle as they take up too much room. We weren't sure if they still made Birkos but inside this Bi-Rite electrical store they had one Birko left and weren't getting any more in. They were selling it for $20, down for $99. I certainly wouldn't have paid $99 for it but it was a bargain at $20. As we wandered round the store, we saw a Sunbeam Travel Iron. I didn't even think of them making a travel iron and maybe they don't any more. It may have been on the shelf for a while. It was $40. It is a steam iron and even has a shot of steam and a spray of water. I used it this afternoon to iron some of my patchwork and it works well

Ian was happy as he managed to pick up one of the Sunbeam Nutri Ovens that Bruce and I have. He got that at Big W for $99. Allyson and I found a patchwork shop and spent a lovely time there buying some fabrics.

Leaving Kempsey, we headed out to Crescent Head to have a look. I don't think I have ever been there. I didn't remember it anyway. There are about 1,100 people living there. Lovely caravan park right on the water. Would be nice to spend a few days there. We drove up to the Lookout. There was a great view in both directions. The water was a beautiful colour. While we were up there, we spent quite a while watching a hawk gliding on the currents.

From Crescent Head we took a minor road heading towards South West Rocks rather than going back to the Highway. It followed a river most of the way. It went through a little place called Gladstone which had a beautifully restored hotel, The Heritage Hotel. We tried to get a toastie or similar for lunch but they only had main meals. We ended up at a bakery instead. There was a lovely park across the road from the hotel right on the river. It looked a lovely spot.

Well, it is State of Origin tonight. Ian will be going for NSW and Bruce for Queensland so should be a noisy night. The caravan park has a big screen so we are hoping the game will be shown there. We are having pizza beforehand. Good footie food.

South West Rocks - Tuesday, 16 July

For breakfast on Sunday, Ian had cooked bacon and eggs. Yesterday, Bruce had done puftaloons (fried scones). This morning, we had cereal and porridge. We have certainly not gone hungry.

We went to Smoky Cape Lighthouse this morning to have a look. Built in 1891, it is the most elevated lighthouse in NSW. At the bottom before you climb up to the Lighthouse is Captain Cook Lookout. Captain Cook named the area Smoky Cape in 1770 when he saw the smoke from the fires of the Aborigines in the area as he sailed by. There is the lighthouse up the top, two cottages just below it which you can stay in (what a view you would have), and then the old stables below that - all painted white with a royal blue trim in places.

As we walked up the steep path to the Lighthouse, we spotted 2 whales out to sea. Great to see. Too quick and too far to get a picture unfortunately.

After leaving the Lighthouse, we went to Trial Bay Gaol to have a look through. It was built between 1877 and 1886 and served as a prison till 1903 when it was closed. The Gaol didn't fit in with prison reforms at the time. It was resurrected in 1915 to use as a camp for over 500 men of German descent. They were academics, professionals and craftsmen. In 1918 the men were relocated to Holsworthy and in 1922 the Gaol was closed permanently.

At the Gaol, the internees put on their own plays and produced their own newspaper. They also had their own bakery and the bakers had such a good reputation, the villagers brought out their flour to have it baked.

From the Gaol, we went to the Smoky Cape Café to have a late lunch before heading back to the caravan park.

Bruce and I cooked a Curried Mango Chicken dish for all of us for dinner (yum) before Allyson and Bruce took us on at another game of Scopa. Again, Ian and I were triumphant. Allyson was getting frustrated as I was beating her at every turn. I had even gone online to check the rules for the game to make sure we were playing the right way. In the online rules there is talk of the first to 15 being the winner of each hand. We don't know how that would happen very often as in all the hands we played we didn't once score that much for a round. I'll have to find someone who has played or you can play online and I could give that a go to see what happens.



Sunday, 14 July 2013

South West Rocks - 14-15 July

We have had a pretty relaxing few days. Sunday I did a couple of walks, one with Bruce and one with Allyson. In the afternoon, we went to see The Lone Ranger at the local cinema. We laughed so much. A great movie, very entertaining.

We played another game of Scope last night. Ian and I wiped the floor but Saturday night Allyson and Bruce did that to us. We bought an entry in Oz Lotto for tomorrow night to win our fortune!

Today, Monday, it has been cloudy most of the day. We had morning tea in town and did some shopping. I have made a cake for afternoon tea and Allyson and Ian are cooking fish in the oven for dinner tonight to see how that goes.

When we were out this morning we drove out to the Macleay River where there is another estate of housing. There is a beautiful house there on a grassy hill overlooking the river. Verandahs all around, colonial looking. Very nice. There were pelicans galore, hoping the fishermen along the river got careless with their catch. You can just see the house in this picture.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

South West Rocks - Saturday, 13 July

Another beautiful day. The Markets were on in Horseshoe Bay this morning. Horseshoe Bay is right in the town. We had a good wander round the different stalls but didn't buy anything. Allyson bought some jam and hand towels as well as a wooden train with a timber carriage attached for their grandsons to play with at their place. After that, we had morning tea at a café overlooking the Bay.

Near where we had morning tea, there is a craft shop which is open 7 days, and is full of different sorts of craft items for sale. There must be a large craft community here to produce such a quantity of items. Jewellery, woodwork, knitting, cross stitch, glass, painting, photography, etc. There was a great photo of a dog sitting in the driver's seat of a car with its elbow on the window frame. There was a caption underneath, saying 'Going My Way, Babe!'. It was so good. Allyson bought me a lovely framed cross stitch, which was very nice of her.

Next to the craft shop is an old cottage which is set up as a Maritime Museum. It was a very interesting Museum. There was information on the 44 ships torpedoed or sunk during World War II along the east coast of Australia. The attacks extended as far south as the coast of north east Victoria. The things you learn.

There was also information on how Trial Bay got its name. 13 convicts seized the brig Trial in September 1816 when it was in Port Jackson, Sydney, along with the passengers and crew. In December of that year, Aboriginies reported to authorities that a boat had smashed on to rocks on the mid north coast (present day Trial Bay). Apparently the 13 convicts had built a boat from the debris but had perished in the sea. The hostages had gone overland but were never heard from again.

After lunch, we all walked to Trial Bay Gaol along the road and back along the beach. We are going to have a look through the Gaol on Monday. Allyson and Ian haven't been through the Gaol before so are keen to have a look as well. Pretty cheap - $7.50 or $5 concession.

Allyson and Ian are pretty sceptical about how good our oven is so we said we would cook them a roast for dinner. Again we had our favourite meat, half leg of lamb, as well as roast vegetables and gravy. It turned out beautifully and they were so impressed they are going to buy one when they get home.

After we had cleaned up, we got out our card game, Scopa. We had bought it in Melbourne last year and had really enjoyed a game with Matthew and Katrina a few months ago. We thought Allyson and Ian would enjoy it as well. They had put us on to a card game called Rage which is great as well, but needs a minimum of 4 players. With Scopa you can play with 2. Anyway, they loved it and are keen to have another game. Bruce brought out the Drambuie, so there was plenty of laughter as well.

Friday, 12 July 2013

South West Rocks

We had a glorious day today. Warm and sunny. It was hard to believe it was winter.

I made some biscuits in the oven this morning - Cinnamon, Cranberry and Spice Biscuits. They were very nice biscuit. The recipe came in an email from Sanitarium last night. I just changed a couple of the ingredients to fit in with what I had. They were so nice that a kookaburra decided he wanted some. He flew in from behind Bruce, hit him on the shoulder as he went past and took half the biscuit out of his hand. The other half fell on the ground. The kookaburra then sat on the tree near us watching us the whole time for another opportunity which we didn't give him. Peter will laugh at that as the same thing happened to him when he was a little boy eating nachos on Mt Cootha!

After we had morning tea, we went for a walk along the beach almost to town before walking back on the walking trail to the caravan park. It was an hour's walk so it was good. As we walked along the beach we came across a corrugated iron shed (open in the front) with an old lounge out the front and a sign on the side which said Dine In or Take Away. When we got back to the caravan park I asked the receptionist what it was. Apparently when the mullet are round, the fishermen congregate at the shed for about 6-8 weeks while they fish. They have a wash in the surf! Sounds wonderful I don't think.


On our way back to the caravan park along the path, Allyson and Ian drove past. They had made good time. It was only 12.15 and we didn't expect them till about 2pm. They had got away early this morning. We finished the walk back and Bruce gave Ian a hand to set up when we got back. Their van is lovely, a Roma, which they had bought when we met up with them in Melbourne in January for the Australian Open. It's funny seeing theirs next to ours as ours is quite a bit smaller.

We spent the afternoon talking and talking! Allyson is a quilter like me, and also embroiders beautifully. We will no doubt get some quilting done over the next week. Ian and Bruce also did quite a bit of talking and shared a beer or two.


Allyson and I take a Lotto entry each week and whenever we win anything, we put it in a kitty for when we meet up and we go out for dinner. We usually meet up at least once a year. I forgot to take the money with me to Melbourne so I made sure I remembered this time. We have $235 in the kitty so we will probably get a couple of meals with that. We went to the Country Club tonight where they had a seafood smorgasbord on (it is on 7 nights a week). It was $22 a head, so pretty good value. We had a bottle of wine and an entry on keno as well. We had a good night.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

South West Rocks - Thursday, 11 July

Yesterday morning we left Tamworth. We had enjoyed our time there but it was time to thaw out! We took the Oxley Highway across to the coast. It is quite a windy road but a very scenic drive. The speed limit for quite a fair stretch of the road was 110 kph. How on earth you could do that along that road beats me.

We arrived in South West Rocks about 3.30 pm yesterday and set up before relaxing with a cuppa. We are staying at the Big 4 South West Rocks which recently won an award for Best Caravan Park in NSW. It has a lot of facilities for kids, and there are quite a few staying here at the moment, as it is the last few days of the NSW School Holidays. There are lots of trees around and plenty of kangaroos hopping through the caravans. You have to be careful where you put your feet. My gum boots are coming in handy for when I go to the Amenities Block.

We went into the town this morning to have a look around. There are quite a few boutiques in town and you wonder how they all keep going. There is a nice Thai restaurant according to the lady at reception here at the Park. We will have to give it a try. There are 3 different lots of shopping centres - a Bi Lo at one, an IGA at another and the main shopping centre, which is the older lot of shops and it had a Friendly Grocer, a small supermarket.

We think it is about 30 years since we were here last. The boys were only very young at the time.

After lunch we went for a walk out to Trial Bay Gaol. There is a path from the Caravan Park along the road for quite a bit of the way. Along the way I noticed an owl, a Tawny Frogmouth, sitting in a tree having a sleep.

When we got to the bottom of the hill heading up to the Gaol, we took a bridal path through the bush. It was called the Monument Hill Walk. It was just over 2 kms to the Gaol and was a lovely walk. The track went through a picnic ground at Little Bay which was full of kangaroos, Eastern Greys. As we arrived, two of the biggest kangaroos decided to have a punch up. One of them got the other one on to the ground before they split and went their separate ways.

We continued on the trail, and up the top of the hill is the Monument that the trail gets its name from. There are some graves of Germans interned at Trial Bay Gaol during the First World War. Two of them were brought from Ceylon to the Gaol and one of them from Malta.

We walked down the hill to the Gaol but will visit that on another day. We then walked back along the beach. It was great to be able to do a decent walk.

Tomorrow, friends of ours will be joining us for 6 days. Allyson and Ian were supposed to arrive today, but were held up. We are certainly looking forward to spending some time with them.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

To Manilla, Tuesday 9 July

Bruce took Les to town today as he had an appointment with the optometrist. After that he was going to buy a car, which he had seen yesterday. He had seen 2, and was going to the bank hoping to get a loan of $5,000 so he could buy the dearer one, which was a ute. Unfortunately, the bank wouldn't lend him the money, no doubt due to his age, so he settled for the cheaper one. Les is moving on tomorrow now that he has wheels again.

We have our back seat up and some of our goods and chattels stored there so only 2 can ride in the car. So Bruce drove Les to town and came back for me. We headed out on the road to Manilla, which is about 45 kms north west of Tamworth. We had been there once before, but years ago.

It was quite a sad and depressing place. There were so many empty shops, close to 50%. We parked at one end of town and walked down one side and back the other. The first 5 shops we walked past were empty. However, there were 4 pubs and 2 clubs in town. How they all functioned I don't know! In the small park near where we had parked the car was a little rose garden. The roses were called Fiona's Wish, named after Fiona Coote, the first person to receive a heart transplant in Australia. I think she actually got 2 hearts. She must come from Manilla.

One thing we did see in Manilla, which was out of the ordinary, was a fellow riding a horse into town along the main street.

There is quite a big lake/dam about 20-30 kms from Manilla called Lake Keepit. We decided to drive out to it and have a look. We took the turnoff which we thought would take us there and ended at a cattle gate with a sign saying only authorised personnel could go any further. We couldn't see the Lake from there so headed back to the main road and drove on a bit further to the next turnoff. This took us to a caravan park which had lowered gates. For day visitors it was $10 per car. We didn't want to pay that just to have a look, so we pressed on a bit further to the dam wall, thinking we would probably be able to see it from there. No luck. We ended up at the bottom of the dam wall and couldn't see the Lake at all. We gave up.

We headed back towards Tamworth and stopped at a park on the edge of town to have our lunch, before doing some grocery shopping and then it was back to the caravan park. We started packing a few things away as tomorrow we are off to South West Rocks to thaw out. We have 10 days there and friends of ours, Allyson and Ian, are joining us there for about a week. Looking forward to it.

Bruce is in the process of preparing a chicken curry for dinner. If I keep going with this, he'll have it all done and I won't have to do anything!

Mileage so far:  1,540 kms

Monday, 8 July 2013

Nundle

The last few nights have been very cold, below freezing, but the days have been absolutely beautiful. We have had a few relaxing days and now that the concerts have finished, we decided to go for a drive to Nundle, which is south of Tamworth (on the way to Muswellbrook and Scone).

Before we did anything in Nundle itself, we took a drive about 5km out of town where there was a patchwork shop, only to find it was closed today. It was on a property. I spoke to a lady in one of the shops in town later and she said she thought the owner may have been having a little bit of time off at the moment. It is school holidays here for this week. Never mind.

We arrived there just in time for morning tea, which we had at the Mt Misery Gold Mine Retreat Café. A bit disappointing but we sat on the verandah in the sunshine so it wasn't all bad. There is still a Woollen Mill operating in Nundle and we wanted to have a look at that. Some beautiful woollen clothing on sale, as well as balls of wool. While we were there they operated the machine which ran wool of the big cones into balls of wool. There was a photo inside the Mill of a caravan that a group of Nundle ladies had knitted a cover for, for the Sydney Easter Show earlier this year. There was a great area out the front of the Mill where you could have a picnic if you wanted to.


We left the car at the Mill and had a walk along the main street. There are only a few shops but there was a great store we enjoyed looking through. Odgers and McClelland Exchange Store opened in the early 1890's. It closed in 1979 and was then reopened in 1999 by the current owners, but with the same name. It sells a variety of things - different teas, housewares, candles, a few toys - but they are more the vintage housewares, like enamel bowls. Have a look - www.exchangestores.com.au.  It was an interesting shop to look through and we bought a couple of small trays that will be good to use with the convection oven. The lady we spoke to said she is doing reasonably well and that Nundle itself is doing okay, as they have a bit of variety in the town.

We had bought provisions for our lunch, but we needed to buy some cold meat. Unfortunately, the general store did not have any cold meat and there is no butcher in town. That was alright we thought, we have a tin of salmon in one of the crates in the back of the ute.

About 8kms out of Nundle, in the mountains behind it, is a place called Hanging Rock (not the Hanging Rock from the movie). We drove out to the Lookout there to have our lunch. We were surprised to see areas of frost still on the ground, and this was 2 in the afternoon. It was a beautiful spot. Got out the salmon to put on our lunch, only to realise we needed a can opener, which was back in the van. Luckily we had a jar of peanut butter but the salmon would have been lovely.

Had a couple of visitors while we were at the Lookout. A guy drove up with his wife and his two grandchildren, who were visiting them for the holidays from Narrabri. He said he had been retired for 5 years and had been trying to talk his wife into buying a van, but she didn't want that. He said he will keep trying to talk her into it.

We drove back to Tamworth along a dirt road for part of the way, which followed the Peel River, almost from its source. It was a beautiful drive and we saw a couple of free camps which looked pretty good. There was one at the Chaffey Dam which even had showers.

When we got back to the caravan park, we had a visit from Les, the old guy just down from us. He invited Bruce down for a beer (I don't think he is comfortable around women). I took the opportunity to get up to date with the blog. When Bruce returned he told me about Les. Les is 82, 83 this year. He has been living in his van for the last 3 years and wishes he had done it sooner as he loves it. He is 76 kgs and has lost 30 kgs but he didn't say over what period. He had a check up today and the doctor is very happy with him. He was pleased Bruce had a beer with him. He enjoyed the company.

We don't have a TV in the van, but we have managed to watch the couple of shows we like on iView on the laptop. Last night we started watching Homeland which we have on our hard drive. We enjoyed it. We will watch some more of that tonight.