Week 76 | Tannum Sands to Nebo

Day 526: Tannum Sands to Biloela

This week sees us travelling from the beach to the outback. We have just reached a major milestone on our journey with our speedo reading 59740.  We’ve travelled 40,000 km since leaving Mission Beach on January 14, 2019. That’s now 76 weeks! We were due back home by now but COVID-19 put a spanner in the works.

On the road at 9.00am and it’s a very pleasant 17 degrees.  We have left the Bruce Highway and travelling out along the Dawson Highway to Biloela. The landscape changes.  The creeks are mostly dry.  It always amazes me how the  foliage of the trees are green but the earth is so parched, just desperate for a drop of rain.

Biloela is located in the Banana Shire and has a population of just under 6,000.  Coal mining, cattle production, power generation, cotton & lucerne are the main industries in the region.

We are staying at the Queensland Heritage Park.  It’s a low cost camp offering showers, toilets, power & water for $15 a night.  Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the price.  I chatted with Cindy who was working in the centre today who told me that they are a volunteer run organisation trying to be self sustainable.  The council only gives them $9,000 annually in funding.  It’s such a shame that their council is not focussed on tourism in this area.

This afternoon we head over to look at the water tank art.  Spirit of the Land mural artwork seamlessly pieces together the stories of the surrounding country, from its pre-historic beginnings to early 20th Century times.  It spans 100 metres and is definitely worth stopping to have a look.

Wildlife: cattle, dead kangaroos, dead snake, crows, cockatoos, dead echidna.

Day 527:  Biloela

During the night Andrew got up and put the heater on.  We are waking up to 5 degrees this morning.  There’s a cold front moving in over Queensland so we’ll be experiencing a few more cold mornings.  We’ve filled the thermos and are heading out to the Callide Dam for a drive.  It’s only about 12km from Biloela and our neighbours were telling us that there is a nice caravan park out there.  The park is quite full and it would appear that social distancing practices are not being adhered to here.

The dam is currently sitting at 29% and was constructed in 1965 to supply water to the power station.  Today it supplies water for irrigation purposes and for the town.  Callide Power Station is now run on coal.  The park area is lush and green and the picnic tables are all brightly coloured and lovely and clean.  The breeze is fresh.  It’s a nice spot to have a coffee or picnic.

I’m off to the shops this afternoon to have a browse around. Something I very rarely do.  For a small town, Biloela has 3 cheap shops so I’m keen to check them out.  I managed to pick up some bargains, a few extra things that were needed for the van.  Back at the park we have a look around the museum that is housed inside the Heritage Centre. There is a large display of pioneering history celebrating their rich primary and secondary industries.

The temperature is dropping so it’s time to head inside for the night.

Wildlife: horses, cattle, cranes, ducks.

Day 528: Biloela to Dingo

I can’t believe the temperature is only 3 degrees when I get up just before 7.00am.  I’m enjoying my cuppa in bed and I’m not too keen to move just yet.  By 9.30am we are on the road again and it’s climbed to 12 degrees.  We are travelling through the Central Highlands region on the Capricorn Highway.

Our journey today is 191km which takes us into Dingo which sits on the junction of two major highways that service the beef, timber and coal industries.  Dingo is home to the annual World Dingo Trap Throwing Competition, held in conjunction with a country race day in August.  The traps are tossed like a hammer throw, with the record currently standing at 48 metres.  Interesting fact!

We are staying at the local caravan park run by Jen.  It’s a small park with loads of personality.  We can choose our site and while the amenities are old they are spotlessly clean and there’s a massive book exchange.  Andrew swaps 3 books straight away.  Jen offers us home grown tomatoes and tells us to pick anything from the veggie garden.

The camp fire is lit at 5.00pm so we head over with drinks and meet all the other campers who arrived throughout the afternoon.  Maxi and Hope are Jen’s two dogs and Hope immediately makes herself at home on Andrews lap.  It’s a great night chatting with everyone.  We all have the same plans for tomorrow and that’s to visit the Blackdown Tableland National Park.

Wildlife: Malleefowl, dead rabbit, pheasant, crows, swans, kookaburras, lorikeets.

Day 529: Blackdown National Park

A cold start to the morning at 8 degrees.  We have packed up morning tea and heading to the Blackdown Tableland by 9.30am  As we head up the mountain the temperature gauge drops from 17 to 10.  The sealed road in takes us through unfenced cattle grazing land and the cows are slowly wandering across the road in various places. Reminds me of trips to cattle properties with Mum and Dad during my childhood.

The next 6km in is dirt road and it’s quite corrugated. The turn off to the Rainbow Waterfall is a further 8km along another narrow dirt track.  Reading about the falls and camping area clearly states that the road is not suitable for caravans or trailers.  Their is a camp ground for tents only.  To our surprise on the dirt track we have an oncoming caravan.  We pull off as far as we can on the track.  What an idiot and it’s not even an off road caravan.  We are thankful we didn’t have to pass him on the very steep winding sealed road climbing the mountain.  For those who have been on the Paluma Range, this road is narrower and worse.  Further along the track there is a motor home approaching.  There is very little room to pull over.  Another idiot!  We arrive at the car park and can clearly see that the motor home and caravan have been illegally camping here overnight.  Their grey water is lying all over the ground.  Whilst the earth may be desperate for water it clearly states you must take everything in and leave nothing behind. Which includes water.

Three other people arrive to do the walk in to the waterfall.  We head off before them and it takes us about 45 minutes to walk the 2km track.  The sign says the falls are 240 steps away.  Here we go!  Going down is the easy part.

When we arrive at the bottom we climb over a few rocks to find a stunning oasis of sandstone cliff with a trickle of water cascading down its face into a sparkling clean, crystal clear pond.  It looks pristine.  It’s just us and the waterfall.  We take in all of its beauty.

We can just imagine how busy it would be in summer on a steamy hot day. Given it’s only 10 degrees we enjoy just looking.  The palm trees are reaching up high to the sunlight.  Tree ferns are abundant and I take a million photos.  Enjoy the short video of peace and tranquility.

We head back up the steps and I have to stop several times to get my breath. The colours in the sandstone rocks are amazing.

At the top of the lookout is another sandy track which takes you to the spa pools.  The water is crystal clear again and flowing slowly down to the waterfall.  The scenery is so beautiful.  Cloudless blue skies meet the reedy banks. There’s a pair of jeans floating in the water… more photos then it is time to head back up the track to the car park.

We’ve spent about 3 hours doing the walk and admiring all that the Blackdown Tableland has to offer. On the way home we pass another caravan coming along the dirt track.  We just can’t believe how stupid some people are.  They obviously have not researched the area before venturing in.  We pull over as far as we can again and just shake our heads.  We have had an amazing day.

Back at the park we join the happy hour around the fire again and swap stories with all the other campers.  Hope has made herself comfortable on my lap tonight.  Jen is feeding the kookaburras and a large hawk swoops down as well. It’s a great night and we bid farewell to everyone before heading back to the van for our slow cooked beef cheeks and dumplings.

Wildlife: galahs, cattle, cockatoo, finches, blue wren, kookaburras, hawk, lorikeets.

Day 530 – 531:  Dingo to Capella

Last night was slightly warmer than the previous week.  We’ve said goodbye to Jen and our neighbours Jim and Carol and we are on the road by 9.30am.  It’s 13 degrees.  We are in shorts.  I think we were both being a bit brave. Morning tea is at Comet and the wind is blowing a gale.  I’m having a drive today and will take us through to Emerald.  The road in is quite bumpy.  I continue on to Capella.  Jen from Dingo recommended this park so we have decided to stay for two nights.  Jodie the owner is away for a short break before the borders open and their daughter Ruby greets us.  We have a drive through site so I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to reverse the van in!  There is nothing much at Capella so we’ll have two days relaxing before we head into Nebo.

Wildlife: cockatoo, dead kangaroos, galahs, parrots, horses, cattle.

Day 532:  Capella to Nebo

Yesterday was a quiet day with a few hours work completed and then time to finish reading my book.  Yes, I have actually read a book….It’s taken about 3 months, but I’ve finally finished it.  I’ve swapped one of Andrew’s books in the book exchange so I my aim is to start reading again.

We are heading off by 9.00am and it’s another shorts day with a lovely temperature of 15 degrees.  We are heading to Nebo which will be a journey of 232km.   We’re going through Dysart rather than Clermont as it’s the shortest route today.  Well….what we didn’t expect was a dirt road after driving about 20km.  Andrew doesn’t like dirt road driving at all.  It’s an experience and it’s not nearly as bad as the drive into Blackdown Tableland.  We are both quite excited to see a mob of emus along the way.

The region we’ve been travelling through is home to over 9 Bowen basin coal mines.  We passed the Peak Downs Coal Mine today and it is the biggest mine site that we have ever seen.  It stretched for miles and miles.  According to google it processes 2.5 million tons of coal each year.  We had to stop at the railway line as one of the coal trains travelled past, it was over 2km long.  Coal from the open cut mine is transported to Mackay, Bowen and Gladstone for shipping.

Andrew drives through to our  morning tea stop at the back of a roadhouse near the Moranbah turnoff. It’s time for me to take over and have another drive.  I take us through to Nebo.  We are staying at the Stay a While Caravan Park.  It’s one of those parks that you drive past and think oh gosh we’re not staying here!  BUT, it’s $10 a night for power, water and hot showers so it’s good enough for us.  We’re having 2 nights here.  Amy greets us and tells us to park up wherever we like.  She’s minding the park for the owner as he works away.  It’s very run down and needs a lot of love and attention.

Well that’s it for this week’s journey, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along.

Wildlife: cattle, horses, dead kangaroos, crows, emus.

Week 76 total expenses: $469.02 under budget!

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That’s a wrap for life back on the road.

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Week 75 | Agnes Water to Tannum Sands

Day 519: Agnes Water to Tannum Sands

Queensland in winter. Where else would you want to be? The Reef Caravan Park at Agnes Water has exceeded all our expectations. It was so great to see 93ml of rain fall over the three days we were there.

It’s time to say goodbye to fellow travellers and head for Tannum Sands. We’ve booked into the Discovery Caravan Park as they have a special, stay 7 nights and pay for 5.  It’s a good price at $26 a night for the week. The park sits right across the road from the beach.

We’ve arrived just before lunch and collected our welcome pack from the night safe outside the office. Check in is currently contactless due to COVID-19.  The pack has everything we need to know and before long I’ve got Andrew parked up on our site.

The beach is calling… The walking track across the road takes you in both directions. One kilometre to the right takes you to the boat ramp or head to the left to a beautiful park area which features many art sculptures. There are no dogs allowed in this park so we’ll have to come back another day to explore.  There’s a lovely sunset happening at 5.15pm.

Wildlife: cattle, kookaburras, ibis, kingfisher, kangaroo, peacocks, scrub turkeys, lorikeets, dead kangaroos.

Day 520: Tannum Sands

It’s Board meeting day today. I’m dialling in at 9.30am for my last board meeting.  My contract expires at the end of the month and after many discussions between Andrew and myself I’ve decided not to seek renewal.  It was a tough decision, however there comes a point in time when you feel the time is right and it’s time to move on.  I’ll have one client left to service which will be enough work moving forward. We’re both looking forward to the extra time that we’ll have together to explore many more places.

This afternoon we have another lovely long walk along the beach. Andrew has cooked steak Dianne and roast veggies for dinner while I finish up my work.

Wildlife: ducks, peacocks, scrub turkeys, lorikeets crows, sandflies.

Day 521: Tannum Sands

It’s Andrews birthday today. We’ve had a lazy start to the morning with family calling to wish him a great day. I’m baking him a batch of scones in the turbo oven for morning tea. Wow, they came out terrific. A really crusty top too. We’ve enjoyed our morning tea inside today as it’s a bit windy under the awning.

Most of the day is spent relaxing and having a lovely long walk along the beach. Tonight we are going up to the Truffle Pig for dinner. It’s the first time we have had a night meal out in many many months. Wow. The meal was amazing. Andrew started off with a Mac n Cheese croquette. I did help him eat some of it. I’ve never tasted anything like it, it was damned good! Andrew had his usual parmi and I had a cherry glazed pork belly with the crispiest pork crackle. It came with a sweet potato cake that was so tasty, glazed carrots, wilted kale and snow peas. I couldn’t eat it all. It was a lovely night being able to go out for a meal in a restaurant again.

Wildlife: ducks, peacocks, scrub turkeys, lorikeets crows, sandflies.

Day 522: Tannum Sands

This morning we headed out for a walk on our own along the Millenium Esplanade. It’s a dog free zone. It’s a beautiful walk along the foreshore with immaculate lawns & gardens, timber shelters over the picnic tables, spotless bbq facilities and kids playgrounds. The area has timber artworks and sculptures along the pathways, mosaic staircases and concrete turtles as speed bumps. It is a great asset to Tannum Sands.

We ventured further around and walked up the hill to the lookout. Spectacular views of the tankers coming into the Smelter to fill up with aluminium.  Time for a coffee and a small treat before we head back to the park.  Tannum Sands has a real Hamptons feel about it.

We decided to head into Gladstone for a look around. It’s about 25km from Tannum Sands. To get an idea of the size of Gladstone we ventured up to the Round Hill lookout which offers 360 degree views of the city, the islands off the southern Great Barrier Reef and Gladstone’s industrial areas.  Gladstone is the home of two of the worlds largest alumina refineries.

Wildlife: ducks, peacocks, scrub turkeys, lorikeets crows, sandflies.

Day 523: Tannum Sands

Andrew is up early cleaning the awning. It’s a long overdue job. He was chatting to the new neighbour yesterday who commented on how marked it was! It’s lovely and clean now…  We’ve met their 5 year old daughter Lacey, who just loves Cinta.  She’s inquisitive and always asks; “where have you been?”  She watches the caravans roll in and let’s us know more kids are arriving when she sees the vans with bunk beds onboard.  She’s desperate for kids to play with.

I’ve packed up the flask and heated the scones and we are off to the Canoe Point Environmental Park for morning tea. It’s an overcast windy day so the temperature feels a lot cooler than 22 degrees. The reflections on the lake are just waiting to be photographed. There’s guinea fowls, ducks, water hens and ibis all sunning themselves around the waters edge.

Further on is another picnic area with boardwalks along the beach. The parks and picnic areas are so green and lush and spotlessly clean. Cinta enjoys her walk on the beach. The tide is right out. Gladstone has some big tides up to 4m and they come in quite fast. The tankers are all lined up waiting to come into the smelters. We count 15 of them today.

We cross the bridge to Boyne Island and stop in at the Wild Cattle Creek Boat Ramp.  Another lovely park with river and ocean views and artwork on the amenities block.  Time to head back to the park for another lazy afternoon.

Wildlife: peacocks, lorikeets, ducks, ibis, guinea fowls, scrub turkeys, sandflies.

Day 524: Tannum Sands

Another slow start to the day before spending the morning doing some more cleaning of the van. Andrew is doing all the windows and screens and I’m doing the walls & ceiling in the bedroom area. It’s surprising how quickly everything gets so dirty when you are on the road.

Lacey visits for more pats. It’s 9.30am and she says she’s hungry as she hasn’t had breakfast yet. Poor kid. We are hesitant to offer her something though. You just don’t know how her parents might feel. Off she goes again.

A late morning tea for us and then we are going down to the Boyne River for a long walk. The weather is picture perfect. Blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Boats are moored in the river and tinnies are darting in and out pulling up to fish.

Everyone we pass seem very friendly.  An elederly gentleman on his motorised scooter stops for a chat. We have a really long walk. Cinta is exhausted.   We are really impressed with the Boyne Tannum Turtleway Artscape, it runs along both sides of the Boyne River.  It is a community project installing public artworks such as mosaics, sculptures and other functioning art for all to enjoy.

Back at the park for a relaxing afternoon before we head into Gladstone for the sunset.

At 4.00pm we take a drive into Gladstone and look for a Thai Restaurant.  We are pretty keen to have a Thai Take-away for dinner after the sunset.  We drive out to Barney Point Beach, it’s the only swimming beach in Gladstone and has a lovely park area with bbq’s.  It is a dog free zone too.  The sunset at Round Hill is a little disappointing as drizzly rain is coming in all directions.  There’s a little glow of orange and yellow coming through so I managed to get a couple of photos.

Our Thai Take-away is ordered and we head back down to Barney Point Beach to enjoy it.  This is the closest thai that we have had to Jacqui’s thai food back at Mission Beach.  It was damned delicious.

Wildlife: peacocks, scrub hens, crows, lorikeets, sandflies.

Day 525: Tannum Sands

Our last day in Tannum Sands.  This week has really flown by.  It’s been really great to spend a week here.  We  have absolutely loved it, apart from the sandflies.  Just like home we’ve had coils burning and spraying ourselves with repellant.  But that is the price you pay for being right beside the beach.  The positives outweigh the negatives and we always like to look on the positive side of things.

I received a lovely photo from my sister Julie this week.  During lockdown Mum turned 90.  There was a party planned.  We were planning to be back in Townsville to help her celebrate. Of course it had to be cancelled and Mum’s 90th was celebrated in a much smaller way with the allowed 10 friends or family.  We felt really sad that we weren’t able to be there to share her special day.  We are thankful for technology though and being able to FaceTime her.  I spent a couple of weeks during lockdown making a book for her birthday.  Photos of family and friends who have become family and special friends are all within the book.  It was late arriving due to the virus, but this week Mum received the book.  She cried.  Happy 90th Birthday Mum. We love you and can’t wait to see you late next month.

Wildlife: peacocks, lorikeets, crows, scrub turkeys, sandflies.

Week 75 total expenses: $648.83 under budget.

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That’s a wrap for life back on the road.

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Week 74 | Apple Tree Creek to Agnes Water

Day 512: Apple Tree Creek to Bundaberg

Queenslanders can now travel freely within the State and caravans, motor-homes and campers are out in force on the roads again. Freedom to travel, how good it feels!

We are waking up at the free camp at Apple Tree Creek and we are putting our shorts on. That’s another awesome feeling. With temperatures in the 20’s during the day and expected 16’s overnight for the next week we are very excited. It’s so good to feel warm again.

At 10.00am when we depart it’s 22 degrees and we have a short drive of 50km to take us into Bundaberg. Bundaberg East Cabin & Tourist Park is our home for the next 4 nights. Most of the sites have en-suites which is a big bonus. The park is quite old, however the facilities are all clean. The Bundaberg Rum Distillery is a short walk away.

Tonight we are catching up with family friends Ross and Lynn who live in Innes Park. It’s been about 20 years since we have all seen each other. Mum caught us just before we left to let us know that it is Lynn’s birthday today. We had drinks and nibbles on the back deck of their beautiful home which has been very tastefully decorated by Lynn. A roast pork dinner was followed with apple pie and custard. There was non stop chatter and it was so lovely to enjoy a wonderful evening with them. Thank you Lynn and Ross we will forever be friends.

Day 513: Bundaberg

The sun is shining and it’s looking like a beautiful day. I’ve got a board meeting this morning and then we are heading off to the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. To our disappointment the tours and tastings have not recommenced due to COVID-19. The Distillery Store is open and social distancing is being practised with only 10 people allowed inside at any one time. I can’t go past some salted caramel rum fudge. We don’t drink rum, so I’m picking up a special request for my sister Julie.

Next stop is Kelly’s Beach at Bargara. We have been longing to feel the sand between our toes and smell the salty ocean on the breeze. The wind has picked up and we’ve had to put a jumper on! There are plenty of picnic tables and BBQ’s and some creative mosaics on the amenities block and along the pathway. We have a lovely long walk along the beach before returning home. Bargara has grown so much and reminds us of a mini Port Douglas. We can just imagine how busy the area would have been if the southern tourists were here this year. The beach just doesn’t weigh up to our beautiful beach back home at Mission Beach. It reminds us how lucky we are to live in paradise.

Sugar cane farms across the Bundaberg region are now being converted to sweet potato fields. We stopped in at one of the farms this afternoon after seeing the sign “Sweet Potato’s $2” and just look at the size of the bag! Needless to say I’m googling sweet potato recipes to use them up.  The stuffed potatoes tasted pretty good.

Wildlife: swans, pelican, ibis.

Day 514: Bundaberg

Cloudy skies greet us this morning when we wake. There has been a light drizzle overnight and 2-4ml expected today. We are amused by the small amount of rain that is predicted for the day.

Andrew worked in Bundaberg back in the late 70’s. We are catching up with the parents of a friend, from those banking days. Mr and Mrs Ashurst lived just around the corner from where Mum was living before she moved into the retirement village. The last time we were all together was at our wedding in 2003. We had a lovely morning tea catching up on the past 17 years.

This afternoon we are relaxing and checking out Wikicamps to see where we will move onto on Friday.

Day 515: Bundaberg

Today is all about work. I’m prepping for the board meeting next week and Andrew is in charge of the washing.

A trip to the library for some printing only to be told they are not doing printing at the moment. Next stop is Officeworks to see if they are offering printing services during COVID.  Winner, all done and then off to do the grocery shop.  We’ve decided that we’ll head for Miriamvale tomorrow.

Day 516:  Bundaberg to Agnes Water

On our way out today we are heading back to see the Ashursts again as Scott and Lisa have arrived for a few days to see their parents.  We haven’t seen them since 2003 also.  Plenty of chatter again about our journey before heading off at 11.00am.  It’s 24 degrees and it’s so great to be back in the warm weather.

Work is calling….a very late morning tea stop in Rosedale.  There’s a really cute little park not far from the highway. Out comes the laptop and the coffee.  One of the great advantages of working on the road is being able to stop at any point in time.  I’m very thankful for a patient husband who has to sit around or walk Cinta while I catch up on work!

Back on the road again and I’m looking at Wikicamps and suggest to Andrew that we go into Agnes Water and 1770 instead of going to Miriamvale.  It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind right? Of course it is…  I used to be Mrs Organised and had to book everything in advance and know exactly where I was staying each night.  That was until we hit the road.  Andrew and I had a lot of discussions before we came on this journey about me being so anal with organisation.  No plans, no routine is how we ride now.  We usually decide the day before we depart where we will travel to.  Sometimes we don’t make it there and sometimes we do.  That’s the fun and the freedom of the journey.  Jenny – familiar conversation?  Have you been able to take a leaf out of my book yet?  Just let go and do it!

There are a few caravan parks at Agnes Water & 1770.  It’s getting close to school holidays so the prices are starting to jack up and dogs are not welcome at some parks.  We decide to stay at The Reef Caravan Park which is about 5 minutes from the hustle and bustle of town.  It’s located just off the highway in a bush setting.  The park is owned and operated by Bill and Leigh.  We’ve booked in for 2 nights.  On arrival I’m told about the happy hour and fish n chip night at the fire pit.  What a fabulous idea.

We’re set up in no time.  Caravans are socially distanced throughout the park.  There is plenty of space for everyone and we have a lovely grassed site. The amenities have been freshly painted and I love the artwork of Mermaids and Mermen.

It’s 6.00pm and it’s time to head over to the fire pit with a bottle of wine and meet the other caravaners.  It’s actually quite cool tonight in the breeze so I’m all rugged up and it’s lovely to sit around a warm fire.  Most of the other couples are from Brisbane, we are the only ones from the north.  Crumbed red snapper and chips are delivered to the camp kitchen.  It’s the biggest piece of fish I have seen in a long time.  Dinner was so good.  The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  Delicious.  And then there’s dessert.  Leigh has baked a lemon and lime pudding with vanilla icecream.  Wow, we are so full we almost have to roll all the way back to the van.

Wildlife: dead possum, cattle, dead kangaroos.

Day 517: Agnes Water

A sleep in is always good on the weekend.  It’s 7.30am by the time I crawl out of bed and join Andrew outside for a cuppa.  It’s overcast and drizzly this morning.  We have a really lazy start to our day.  Before we know it, it’s time for morning tea.  We’re taking a drive into Agnes Water and 1770.  There are plenty of high rise apartment buildings and people are packed into the cafes.  We check out the caravan parks and to our disappointment the vans are squeezed in like sardines.  There is no social distancing happening here.  It’s such a shame to see such blatant disregard for the restrictions when the park we are staying at are abiding strictly to the rules.  I guess it’s the difference between a small family run park compared to the big greedy conglomerates.

We are both so pleased that we decided to stay out here and not put ourselves at any further risk. Back at the park and Bill visits us to let us know that afternoon tea is on in the camp kitchen at 2.30pm.  We decide to wander over and Leigh turns up with 2 beautiful sponge cakes topped with fresh whipped cream, strawberries, banana and passionfruit.  Wow.  Leigh is a terrific cook and it’s really great to spend time chatting with her.  Her brother lived at Mission Beach for many years and she knows a lot of the people that we know.

We’ve decided that we’ll stay another day…

Day 518:  Agnes Water

Heavy rain fell overnight.  The bathroom mat is damp.  We have both checked everything and can find no leak anywhere in the van.  It doesn’t smell, so we know that Cinta has not had an accident.  The only thing we can put it down to is that the rain has blown in through the air vents behind the fridge.  A quick google confirms that this has happened to many others as well.  There are a few suggestions for fixing it, so we’ll monitor the situation and if we are in torrential rain again we’ll definitely do something about it.

Blue skies are trying to poke through the grey clouds so we decide to take a drive back into 1770.  It’s quite grey and overcast when we arrive so it’s not the best situation for taking photos.  There are a few reflections of the sailboats as we walk along the foreshore.  There’s not many tourists walking around as the Rotary Markets are on.  We drove past but there was no parking nearby and it was quite packed so there wasn’t much social distancing happening there.

We head up to Bustard Bay Lookout.  A short walk through windswept tussock grasslands, vine thicket and coastal woodland takes you to the lookout at the tip of the headland.  The view is spectacular.  Andrew waited in the car with Cinta as the lookout is in the National Park.  There is a driftwood memorial dedicated to the surfers who have lost their lives surfing in the area.  So many, taken so young.

Our next stop is Chinamans Beach a short drive from Agnes Water. The Deepwater National Park is known as the second largest nesting site for loggerhead turtles.  Dogs are permitted on a leash outside of the turtle nesting season (November to April).  Cinta loves her walk on the beach.  The waves are crashing through the jagged rocks on the beach.  Surfers frequent here catching the waves on the unpatrolled beach.  We didn’t see any today.

Back at the park is Riley’s walk through the bushland.  Riley was the owners dog.  The walk takes you to Gnomieland.  Guests are invited to leave a gnome at Riley’s resting place.  There’s some very amusing gnomes!

The park is full of beautiful hibiscus bushes in many different colours and varieties.  We’ve really enjoyed our 3 days here.  The park is very relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the township.  There’s no bells and whistles just good old fashioned friendly service, interesting conversations and home baked food.  We can’t thank Bill and Leigh enough for the amazing job that they do at their park.  Where to Next?  You’ll have to tune in next week to find out.

Wildlife: kangaroos, pelicans, possums, goannas, parrots, cockatoos.

Week 74 total expenses: $567.14 under budget.

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That’s a wrap for life back on the road.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

Week 66 – 73 | Brisbane to Apple Tree Creek

Day 455 – 507: Brisbane

Yesterday’s announcement of restrictions being eased in Queensland was the best news we have had in weeks. We were both expecting that travel within the State would be eased by the end of June. Hibernation has been at Aspley with Andrew’s dad Dave.

With ‘stay at home’ orders and essential travel only being allowed it’s been an unusual time for everyone. Things that we take for granted have had to be re-assessed. Online shopping has become our new best friend.  The car and caravan have both been serviced and Cinta has been lucky to have a dog wash every fortnight.

With non-essential travel restrictions being eased we took Dave out to Scarborough for fish n chips in the park. Followed by a walk along the beach at Woody Point.  It was so great to smell the ocean and walk along the pathway.  It almost felt like any other normal day before COVID-19 struck Australia.

Another outing took us to Mount Cootha Botanic Gardens.  Andrew and Dave were very patient while I photographed all the beautiful flowers.  My favourite were the amazing hibiscus in every colour you could imagine.  There was plenty of space to roam the gardens with social distancing practices being adhered to by everyone.

Further lifting of the restrictions allowed travel up to 150km.  Our friends Daryl and Jenny are currently hibernating at Witta on their friends property.  We met at Mary Cairncross Reserve near Maleny and had a picnic lunch and some extravagant desserts!  It was really great to catch up again.  Jenny introduced me to her gorilla pod (selfie tripod). Needless to say I just had to get one!

Dave has taught me how to make scones with 3 ingredients; flour, cream and lemonade.  I’ll be looking forward to making them on the road to see how they turn out in my turbo oven or in the Ziggy.  We had one last catch up with our friend Glennis and scones were on the menu for morning tea of course!

Gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed and just in time before our departure.  We put on a BBQ for Andrew’s family.  A rare occasion that work rosters synced, meant that everyone was able to come together to enjoy a meal and family time.

We can’t thank Dave enough for putting up with us over the past 11 weeks.  We’ve thrown his routine into chaos almost every day.  There is no routine when you are travelling on the road.  Every moment of every day is another adventure and well made plans can change at the drop of a hat.  It’s what we’ve grown to love and dreadfully miss during lockdown.

Our last day in Brisbane is spent stocking up on groceries, packing the car and getting the van prepped for the journey ahead.  Andrew and Dave have made a snazzy plank for Cinta so that she can get in and out of the car easily.  She’s suffered with her arthritis whilst in Brisbane and has been having a course of injections over the past 4 weeks.

To all our friends that we didn’t get to catch up with during the lockdown, we’ll be back!

Day 508: Brisbane to Toogoolawah

It’s 10.00am by the time we are ready to head off.  Our journey today is out to Toogoolawah which is only 127km.  We’ve arrived just after lunch and set up in the free camp by the highway.  There are no facilities here, however there’s a public toilet block a short walk away across the pedestrian bridge.

This afternoon we are catching up with Lauren & Mike.  Lauren worked for me back in the late 90’s at the Bendigo Bank at Brookside.  We haven’t seen each other since 2003 when we left Brisbane and moved to Townsville.  Lauren baked a lovely cake for afternoon tea and of course it was enjoyed with bubbles.  As you do.  Lauren and I had many bubbles together in our past.  We had an awesome time reminiscing about the old days and catching up on what everyone has been up to over the years.  Thank you so much for showing us ‘your place’, we loved every moment of our time together.

Toogoolawah is so dry and the bindies are everywhere at the camp site.  We are parked beside the “Significant Tree”.  It’s a Queensland Gum Tree that is believed to be between 350-400 years old.  It was struck by lightening in 2017 but is still structurally sound and provides a necessary habitat for a variety of native fauna.  The sun has set at 5.07pm.  It is pitch black and the temperature is dropping.

Wildlife: horses, sheep, cows.

Day 509 – 510: Toogoolawah to Goomeri

Overnight went to a low of 8 degrees and waking up this morning the condensation is dripping from the roof vent.  There’s a heavy fog and there is no way I am getting out of bed any time soon.  Andrew brings me a lovely piping hot cup of tea and we laze around before taking a stroll up the street.

By 9.00am it’s warmed up to 16 degrees and we are heading to Goomeri via the Blackbutt Range.  The countryside is dry and the creeks are either dry or stagnant.  It’s a terrible sight.  Our journey is 144km.  I can’t wait to message our friend Sharon Lord to tell her where we are.  Sharon and Phillip lived in Goomeri for many years and Sharon was on the original committee of the Pumpkin Festival.  Goomeri is well known for the pumpkins rolling down Policeman’s Hill and attracts over 14,000 people to this small township of 664.

We are staying at the Goomeri Showgrounds for the night.  The caretakers are a lovely welcoming couple and we can choose where to park the van.  The amenities are basic, but clean and at $20 for power and water it’s very reasonable.

After setting up we walk into the small township.  Everyone is friendly and we are stopped in the street by locals wanting a chat.  We met the owner of the antique shop; Nikki who knew Sharon and was able to tell us where Sharon’s old shop was.  Outside the post office we were stopped by another elderly lady; Bev Barkle.  We asked Bev if she knew Sharon and of course she did.  Then along came Maggie on her motorised scooter and she stopped for a chat too.  She told us a story of sharing a box of mangoes with Sharon.  Sharon’s old shop is now an upmarket bakery and we’ll be back for morning tea in the morning.

The sun has set at 5.07pm and the clouds are greying over with orange hues bursting through.  To the east the full moon is rising above the tree line.  The smell of fire places burning is wafting across the showgrounds.  It’s 3.00am when I wake and I immediately turn the heater on.  Andrew is up just after 5.00am with Cinta and then crawls back into our warm bed.  By 7.00am it’s time for a cuppa in bed while we watch the news.  It’s 9 degrees. Andrew is cooking bacon and eggs and then we sit outside in the sunshine enjoying another cuppa.

There were only 6 vans here last night which included the caretakers.  We’ve been chatting with the couple next door who live permanently on the road and have been here for 11 weeks during lockdown.  They were originally from Murgon.  The couple on the other side are from Chinchilla and they are off to Coolum for a few days.  That’s all they could get.  Caravan folk are on the move again.

We’ve decided to stay another day…  It’s time to wander down to the bakery for morning tea.  Goomeri is a popular spot for travellers and there are plenty of people wandering the main street.  The offerings look amazing and we take away a coffee, a raspberry custard danish and an oreo cheesecake.  OMG they were delicious!  We both wish we didn’t have a sweet tooth. Time to walk back to the showgrounds.

We’re taking a drive out to Murgon.  Andrew’s first transfer in the Bank of New South Wales was to here.  The bank is no longer there of course.  He had a trip down memory lane showing me the two places where he lived and telling me stories of his younger days.  We drove further on to Wondai where he used to play soccer and also did relief work at the bank.  On the way back to Goomeri we decide to detour and check out the Bjelke Petersen Dam.  The facilities are still closed due to the virus.  We drive over the dam wall and head out to the lookout.  There is plenty of bird life on the banks of the dam.  Such a shame to see the dam at only 8%, rain is desperately needed out here.

We’ve had a lovely drive today.  This afternoon is spent getting back into the routine of writing a blog again.  The caretakers have dropped over for a chat and given us some mandarins.  Three more caravans have rolled in and we’ve spent a good part of the afternoon chatting to our new neighbours.  They are from Rosewood and heading on a trip for the next 7 weeks around Central Queensland.  Happy hour started at 3.00pm…

Sunset hasn’t been very colourful tonight.  Time to head indoors and keep ourselves warm as the temperature is dropping fast.

Wildlife: crimson parrots, horses, cattle, galahs, dead kangaroos, pelicans, cormorants.

Day 511: Goomeri to Apple Tree Creek

The heater went on at 4.00am this morning.  The neighbours tell us it dropped to 3 degrees last night.  We have a slow start to the day before packing up and heading off at 9.30am.  It’s warmed up to 18 degrees.  A much more pleasant temperature for travelling.

We’ve said goodbye to the neighbours and the caretakers and head further along the Burnett Highway, aka Australia’s Country Way. The landscape is dry and barren.  It’s hard to believe that corn, pumpkin and oranges are grown in this region.

Our morning tea stop is at Biggenden at 11.30am in the Apex Park.  Time to get the gorilla pod tripod out for another practice selfie.  Back on the road and we head for Apple Tree Creek where we are free camping for the night at the rest area.  It’s a lovely big area with tables, bbq’s, swings for the kids and a brand new amenities block.  It’s very popular with travellers stopping for lunch and afternoon tea.  There are only 4 other campers here at the moment. 

The footy is on and it’s time to move inside and finish off this blog.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along about our first few days back on the road again.   Did I mention how happy we are to be back on the road again?  Just in case I didn’t – we are elated!

Week 73 total expenses: $973.58 Quite high but under budget.  We’ve had to restock the van with groceries, alcohol and fill the car with fuel and a new gas bottle.

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That’s a wrap for our first week back on the road.

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Week 65 | Brisbane | Life in Lockdown

Day 449 – 455: Brisbane

Life as we know it has changed over the past weeks with new and ever increasing restrictions on our movements.  Our journey has come to a grinding halt like so many other nomads traversing the length and breadth of our country.  We can either look at this time in our life as an inconvenience or an opportunity.

We choose to embrace this time as an opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to reflect on the simple things in life that we take for granted and to be thankful for each and every one of them.

  • We’re thankful to have a roof over our head, a warm bed and a loved one to share it with.
  • We’re thankful to have food in our cupboards and fridge to provide enough meals throughout the day.
  • We’re thankful to have heating when it’s cold and air conditioning when it’s hot.
  • We’re thankful to walk outside and smell fresh clean air or listen to the waves gently lapping the shoreline.
  • We’re thankful to have the ability to connect remotely and socially with family and friends all over the world.
  • We’re thankful to be here and to be present.

Use this time as an opportunity to do something that you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time.  Now is the time. Just do it!

I’m taking this time to reconnect with the creative side of my brain.  It’s been on holiday for the past 14 months!  This is a great opportunity to put paint to canvas again and loose myself for hours on end.  I remember the day vividly while we were house sitting in the Tamar Valley and took a drive up to Greens Beach and on the way home saw this old dilapidated house from the roadside.  Stop! I said to Andrew, what a great photo opportunity.  And now it’s a great painting opportunity.

The ruins of an old house
The ruins of an old house

Yesterday was my birthday.  Under normal circumstances we always celebrate by having a weekend away or dinner at our favourite restaurant.  This year Andrew cooked for me.  He made the best beef cheeks in red wine and garlic with dumplings.  It was absolutely delicious!  

It’s been extra special this year to receive birthday cards again too.  I am lucky to be surrounded by very creative family and friends.

I’ve decided that this blog will go into hibernation until we are on the road again.  We’ve travelled around 38,000 kilometres.  I’ve documented our journey for 65 weeks, 13 more weeks than we originally planned to be travelling for.  We have loved every minute of every day and are missing it like crazy, but we are thankful for the opportunity.  We both hope that you have enjoyed coming along for the ride…

Week 65 total expenses: $427.59 – under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 65 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

Week 64 | Brisbane

Day 442 – 448: Brisbane

The start of a new week and further restrictions on what we can and can’t do. On Saturday our local elections were held and we’ve been checking the results regularly to see who our Mayor and Councillors will be back home in our region. We’re also checking on the Cairns mayoral position as my uncle Robert Manning (aka Butch to us) is running for his third term.

Andrew was in charge of doing the essential shopping trip while we are waiting for Dave to be accepted as a priority shopper through Woolworths online shopping.  I’m pleased to say that online shopping is now set up and I’m showing Dave how to place an order.

Andrew has also been busy gurnying the pathways around the house. He needs some jobs to do so he doesn’t get too bored!  I can just hear my brother say “The Little General has been giving out orders again”.  Darts games continue and Andrew is beating me…

 

We’ve had another essential trip out and had our flu vaccinations this week.  This will be the third year that we have had the vaccination.  Whilst I was against vaccinating for many years we decided while planning for our trip that it was something we should seriously consider given that we would be travelling all over Australia.  I have to admit that I have become an advocate and I can almost here Mum saying; “I’m so pleased love”.  Fortunately neither Andrew or myself got a serious cold while we were travelling last year.  I also take a herbal immune system booster, which I’ve been taking for the past two years and I also attribute that to having good health.  Let’s hope we continue to have good health through this pandemic.

Each day we are all having an afternoon walk together and the kids in the neighbourhood have been drawing pictures and kind messages in chalk along the pathway.  It’s been really lovely to see and here’s a couple of photos below.

Andrew has been telling me that he’s seen a couple of great sunrises on his early morning walk.  I decided it was high time that I started dragging myself out of bed again so that I could see them too.  These photos were taken on the pathway just as we were about to head home just before 6.00am.

April 4th is a special day in our family this year for our sister Dot who is celebrating her 70th birthday in isolation.  It was great to have a catch up on video messenger today to wish her a happy birthday.  It will certainly be a memorable one for her.

I’ve managed to start a painting this week.  It’s a photo from our time in Tasmania.  Some lovely blooms on the bank, beside the ocean.  We’ll see how it progresses over the coming week.

What have you all been up to while isolating?  Leave me a comment below!  Have a wonderful week.  Keep smiling and stay healthy. #weareallinthistogether #selfisolation #covid-19

Week 64 total expenses: $425.18 – under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 64 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 63 | Brisbane

Day 435 – 441 Brisbane

Life as we know it is changing every hour of every day as our country navigates through Coronavirus.  This week we are working on keeping ourselves occupied as we become accustomed to spending more time at home.  Each day is spent with time allocated for work and time allocated for pleasure.

We’re continuing to play darts and walk Cinta at least twice a day.

We took a drive to Ferny Grove and couldn’t believe the changes in the surrounding suburbs over the past 17 years since we called Brisbane home. We always say we should never go back and look at previous properties we owned, however our property at Dornoch Crescent was the first home that Andrew and I bought together. It was my dream house. We put so much time into the garden and it was a shame today to see the condition that it is now in. I couldn’t get a photo as there were people in the front yard.

We couldn’t take a trip down memory lane without driving past Bickles. On 4th October 2003 we were married there, had our reception and spent our wedding night in the luxurious French Provincial guest house. It is now known as Topiaries and is an exclusive wedding venue.

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Whilst the gates were locked, it still looked beautiful and bought back so many wonderful memories of an amazing day.  Pictured above is Mum walking me out to the gazebo and Andrew and I signing our marriage certificate. Red is one of my favourite colours.  It’s such an emotionally intense colour symbolising desire, passion and love.

With all the restrictions coming into force Andrew’s family has made a decision to no longer visit the house to keep everyone safe.  Scott and Leslie are face timing so that Seth and Heath can still see their grandad and keep the communication lines open.  Julie, Nicole and Kev came for one last roast dinner and we hope that we may all be able to see each other before we eventually leave.

We also took Dave for a drive out to Redcliffe to have fish and chips by the beach.  We practiced our social distancing while ordering the take away.  There was no one else in the cafe anyway and we sat down at the closed lagoon on our own.  It was lovely to be able to have a drive and see the ocean again.

I am feeling the need to be creative again.  My suitcase full of art materials has come out and I am all set up outside on the patio. The biggest challenge is finding something to paint.  I have so many beautiful photos and as I’m an Arian, it’s a very difficult decision!

We’ve signed Dave up for online shopping and will give that a go to see how it all works.  That will be one less place to go for essential shopping.  This week and the coming weeks blog may be quite short given the new restrictions on life as we know it. Until next time, stay safe and healthy and keep smiling.  We’ve got this!

Let me know what you’re doing to keep yourself occupied…

Week 63 total expenses: $458.63 under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 63 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 62 | Goondiwindi to Brisbane

Day 428: Goondiwindi to Marburg

Queensland. The State that we call home and are more than happy to #holidayherethisyear.  I ask you “where else would you want to be!” After travelling over 37,000km the feeling as we drove across the border was quite overwhelming. With so much uncertainty around travel restrictions it’s a relief to be back home in our beautiful State.

We’re moving closer to Brisbane and looking forward to catching up with all of Andrew’s family and hopefully some of our friends.

Travelling 291km today and still getting used to the changed time zone again we are departing by 8.00am and it’s 19 degrees. The warmer weather is certainly welcome after a year of cold climates.

The landscape is lush after all the rain and there is water alongside the road, something we haven’t been used to seeing. The rivers are all full but the water is a rusty brownish colour. Travelling through Toowoomba bring backs memories of when I lived there 40 years ago. How that makes me feel old. We are staying at the Marburg Showgrounds tonight and have power and water for $18. A great low cost camp for travellers. After we set up we have a quick walk around the block and then it’s work time for me. Andrew is checking the map for tomorrow’s drive into the city.

No lovely sunset tonight just fighter jets in the sky. Memories of being near a RAAF base!  Above and below are few photos of around the Marburg township.

Wildlife: dead kangaroos, rabbits.

Day 429: Marburg to Brisbane

There is no rush to pack up and get on the road today as we’re only travelling 67km into Brisbane. At 9.09am when we leave it’s 24 degrees. Andrew is confident he knows the way as we lived in Brisbane for quite a few years and within no time we are pulling up at Dave’s place.

Dave returns home from shopping only minutes after we have arrived.  It’s so great to see him again as it’s been a couple of years since he last visited us in Mission Beach. Cinta has made herself at home and after a cuppa Andrew reverses the van into place in the front yard.

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After lunch I catch up on some work and then we take Cinta out for a walk. Some of the family are coming over for dinner tonight and Dave is cooking up a chicken & leek potato bake. It was delicious. An early night for us after a lovely day and evening.

Day 430:  Brisbane

An early start to another beautiful day in the sunshine state. We are heading off to the shops to pick up some supplies. We’re in luck and manage to get our chemist & health food shop items. The supermarket is well stocked except for toilet paper, tissues, sanitizer and pasta. There is none. We are lucky that we don’t need any of these items at the moment anyway. We manage to get everything else on our list.

As we entered the shops Andrew said “I wonder if we will see anyone that we know”. You wouldn’t believe it. I recognised a woman further down the aisle. Gail was one of my staff members in 1998 when I was the Branch Coordinator at Northern Permanent Building Society Brookside branch; now known as Bendigo Bank. We automatically embraced and then stepped back from each other and said “we shouldn’t have done that”. It was a stark reality for us both of the implications of the Coronavirus. We chatted for awhile and swapped contact details. It was so great to see Gail after all these years.

Next stop is the fruit shop and then the butcher. The butcher is extremely busy but again we manage to get everything that we need.  I’ve got a small amount of work to do then the rest of the day is spent relaxing. A lovely afternoon walk with Dave and an early dinner. Another day is coming to a close.

Day 431: Brisbane

Another beautiful day in Brisbane today. Andrew is busy giving the car a really good vacuum and wash and I’ve decided it’s time to pack all the winter clothes away and get the summer clothes back out. What a great feeling.

There’s more work to be done, another afternoon walk, time to relax and early dinner.

Day 432: Brisbane

Andrew is up early again, I’m managing to sleep in until 6.30 or 7.00am. This morning he’s washing the caravan, something that has not been done in many months. The car and van are both looking lovely and clean now. The next few days will be spent giving the van a thorough clean inside as well.

This morning we are heading to the bank for some work business. We attend the Strathpine branch of the Bendigo Bank. The teller offers me her pen to sign the paperwork and I politely decline and use my own pen. It was lovely of her to thank me for considering her health and safety. Every little bit helps in this worrying time.

We have a lot of friends in Brisbane and we had fully intended to catch up with a lot of them during our stay. We’re seriously reconsidering this at the moment as we would never forgive ourselves if we bought the Coronavirus into Dave’s house or into anyone elses home. In having said that we still need to go to the shops for supplies and are putting ourselves at risk doing these every day chores each time we leave the house. These are such unsettling times.

We are also considering how long to stay. Is it safer to stay put or is it safer to move on into country towns where there is less contact with people and more wide open spaces to camp. Supplies could be harder to come by in country townships. I guess as the coming days unfold the decision could be taken out of our hands.

Day 433: Brisbane

Andrew and Dave are fixing the small fold out bench on the side of the caravan today. Andrew did a temporary fix with some fishing line when we were in Perth last year but we have been hesitant in using it in case it broke again. It’s now fixed with some heavy duty twine and as Andrew says “Happy wife, happy life”.

While the men are working I’m doing some cleaning inside the van. We’ve had a few very tiny black ants find there way in somewhere even with the baby powder around the legs. I’ve sprayed inside and Andrew has used Dave’s ant spray to spray all around the tyres and legs as well so let’s hope we don’t get any more inside. The air conditioner is now lovely and clean and the pantry cupboard and one other cupboard has been cleaned as well. I’ve also cleaned a section of the ceiling and the wall that backs onto the shower. Over the coming days we’ll continue to get the van completely cleaned. The dust gets into every nook and cranny and it’s almost impossible to keep it really clean while you are travelling.

This afternoon Andrew & I are having a few games of pool. He beats me 3 games to nil. Next up is darts. I used to play competition darts 40 years ago. Now I am feeling very old with that statement! I actually beat him 2 games to 1. I’m sure we’ll have many more games of both before we leave.

Cinta is enjoying the freedom of roaming around off her lead and barking at the pigeons that fly into the house next door.

Day 434: Brisbane

Today we’re heading out to visit a very good friend from school days back in Cairns. Glennis went to school with my sister Julie and we have all kept in touch over the years since then. We decided on the phone that we would have a virtual hug and kiss on arrival and keep our distance. It was so weird.  We had a lovely morning with Glennis, it was so good to see her again.  Through your lifetime you meet many acquaintances, however, only a handful will become friends forever.  Glennis is one of those “friends forever”.

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We are both pictured above practising our social distancing.

The news tonight about the virus is becoming increasingly worrying.  Sometimes we have to turn the TV off as it gets too much to comprehend.  It is becoming more obvious that our plans will no doubt be impacted by what is happening around us.  We are extremely thankful to be here with Dave to spend time with him and to help out where ever is needed.

To everyone following along with our journey we wish you all good health.  We are all in this together.  Breathe, smile and be kind to one another. Until next week.

Week 62 total expenses: $494.26 – a good result and well under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 62 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

Week 61 | Ararat to Goondiwindi

Day 421- 422 Ararat

Waking up in Ararat and it’s 8 degrees again! The heater goes on to warm the van up while we’re having our breakfast. I’m dialling in for our monthly board meeting today at 10.30am.  The remainder of the day is spent working.  Tonight we’re going down to Bugsy and Bone’s bunker for a sausage sizzle and a few drinks.  Bugsy has given me 2 bottles of her tomato relish and let me tell you she should be bottling this and selling it.  It is the best relish we have ever tasted.

Another morning dawns and we are heading into town to do some shopping.  My niece Bel loves Butter Chicken so I’m making it for tonight’s dinner.  We are in the car ready to go and it is dead as a door nail.  A quick call to RACV who confirm our roadside assistance with RACQ and the mobile mechanic is at the house within half an hour.  It’s not as simple as putting in a new battery.  A scan tool is required so that battery can be programmed with the electronics in the car.  The RACV don’t have that tool.  They can put in a new battery costing $484 but we would then have to go to Ford for them to reprogram the car.  We decide to call Ford.  They can put us in straight away & get the job done.  RACV give us a jump start & we are on our way.  Grampian Ford were terrific and had the new battery in and car reprogrammed within half an hour. We were very thankful that this happened in Ararat and not in the middle of nowhere as it would have been a very different outcome especially given that we are leaving tomorrow!

The shopping is done and back home to catch up on some more work before beginning the dinner preparations.  I’m used to making Butter Chicken for 2, tonight I’m making it for 9.  It’s a winner all round.

Wildlife: sheep.

Day 423: Ararat to Stanhope

It’s a fresh start to the morning however Ararat is expecting a top of 28 today.  It’s time to say goodbye to my sister Julie and husband John. Bel is driving them into Melbourne to catch their flight back to Townsville.  It’s sad to say goodbye we’ve had a great time here with everyone.  There has been plenty of laughs and plenty of nights around the fire having a few drinks.

We are packed up by 10.00am and it’s a very pleasant 23 degrees.  George (Cinta’s Ararat boyfriend) is sound asleep on the lawn as we say goodbye to him and put his food bowl down.  Cinta loves George’s food!  A quick stop a couple of doors down to say farewell to Bones and Bugsy.  We’ve loved their company too and hope that we will see them both again sometime.

The temperature climbs to 30’degrees and for the first time in a long time the aircon is on in the car.  I didn’t do any driving in Tasmania as the roads were so narrow and windy so I offered to take the wheel after morning tea today.  I ended up driving right through to Stanhope.  When we arrive I suggest to Andrew that we reverse the roles and I’ll back the van in (mind you there are no other vans here).  I’ll unhitch and set up outside and he can do inside. Tick, all went well with instructions from Andrew on unhitching.  Next things sirens are going and the CFA truck comes roaring out of the shed.  We couldn’t see any smoke anywhere and we’re hoping that it wasn’t too serious.

We’ve travelled 258km today which is a big day for us.  We’re free camping across the road from the Stanhope pub. They like you to support the pub by having a meal which we are more than happy to do so.  Chicken parmi for Andrew and a scotch fillet for me.  The meals were generous and delicious.  We had a great chat with a couple of locals at the bar.  Stanhope has a population of 590 and the main industry is dairy.  

Pictured above is a painted piano that sits behind glass in one of the parks at Stanhope.  it wasn’t easy to get a good photo, but the artwork was so great, I couldn’t resist trying.

Wildlife: sheep, cattle, dead snake, alpaca , dead kangaroos.

Day 424:  Stanhope to Yea

Our journey today is 127km as I have a lot of work to catch up on.  It’s a bit fresh this morning but the day should warm up.  We’re going to check out the free camp behind the pub in Yea.  It’s overgrown and looks a bit boggy so we decide to check into the caravan park.  It’s $40 for a powered site which is a bit on the expensive side but it’s a nice clean park with all the facilities. 

After we set up I spend the afternoon working.  We have become quite concerned with the reports on the Coronavirus in relation to the prospect of cancellation of events, school closures and self isolations .  We need to be home for Mums  90th birthday in May and we are becoming increasingly concerned about travel restrictions that may be imposed over the next few weeks. The dynamics of domestic travel are changing every day and we have had a lengthy discussion with a colleague who has given us some advice on how things may look in a few weeks. Taking everything on board given the current situation we have decided to alter our travel plans and make our way to Brisbane to Andrews dads as soon as we can.  At least that way we will be back in Queensland and hopefully able to still travel within the State.  We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we are both so disappointed that we have had to make this choice but in the long run we think it will be a decision well made.  The bonus is we’ll have to come back and finish these areas next year!

Pictured above is our spot in the caravan park at Yea and a couple of the lovely flowers in the garden.  I couldn’t resist capturing this cute little butterfly on the purple blooms.

Wildlife: dead rabbits, pelican, sheep, cattle, horses, dead kangaroos, parrots.

Day 425: Yea to West Wyalong

Last night was pleasant sleeping at 15 degrees.  Andrew was up at 5.30am this morning so I decided I had better get up too so that we could have an early start to the day as we’ll be putting in 510km to reach West Wyalong. We are pulling out of the caravan park at 7.45am & it’s 10 degrees and we are both in shorts.  Yep that’s right, it’s going to climb up to 30 degrees during the day.

We’ve decided to share the driving today.  There has been a large semi roll over northbound into Melbourne near Benalla and the highway is closed.  One of the BW’s is on its side across both lanes.  We’d hate to be travelling into Melbourne today!  Morning tea is at the Service Centre near Glenrowan and lunch stop at the quaint little town called The Rock.  The park area in the main street is lush and green and Cinta is enjoying munching on the grass.

It’s 4.00pm by the time we reach the Showgrounds at West Wyalong and it’s reached 30 degrees.  It feels weird wearing shorts again after being all rugged up and wearing winter clothes for the best part of a whole year. Time to pack those winter woolies away?  I think we will really feel the heat this year.  While Andrew is setting up outside I’m getting a bucket of washing done and the flies are driving us all crazy.  Change of plan and we move inside the van.  Andrew is in charge of dinner as I’m on a deadline with work commitments and I work through until 8.30pm just breaking for dinner & a quick shower.  We are both pretty tired so it’s an early night for us.

Wildlife: llama, alpaca, sheep, cattle, rabbits, horses, dead kangaroos, currawongs, flies.

Day 426:  West Wyalong to Narrabri

Another 5.30am start today.  I’m missing my sleep ins and lazy starts to the day.  This is not my idea of an enjoyable trip travelling another 530km.  I’ll be glad when we make the Queensland border and we can get back to a normal travel pace.

We are on the road by 7.22am and it’s 16 degrees. Our morning tea stop is in Parkes and the flies are out in full force.  We retreat to inside the van.  I’ve had no reception on my phone or through our wifi router for most of the morning so it’s quite frustrating.  The countryside is really green, the dams are all full from the recent rain.  It’s lovely to see. Canola is coming into flower and there are fields of yellow everywhere.

There are some crazy NSW drivers on the road today with many cars overtaking us on double lines and others passing with oncoming traffic.  Andrew pulls over as often as he can when he knows we have traffic behind us but some drivers are just plain dangerous.  We have a quick lunch stop just north of Gilgandra inside away from the flies.  I have finally have reception and see a Facebook post from my friend Jenny who was staying in Parkes.  I am so disappointed as we were hoping to catch up with them sometime throughout our journey.  I’m sure our paths will across again though.

We’re staying at the Narrabri Showgrounds, $20 for a powered site is a good price.  Park up wherever you like and payment is by an honesty box if the caretaker is not around.  There’s plenty of lush green grass and we enjoy some time outside enjoying the warmer weather.   We are both tired after two big travel days so I’m cooking dinner early and we’ll have another early night.  The Queensland border is getting closer!

Wildlife: pelicans, crows, dead kangaroos, flies, dead porcupine, Shetland ponies.

Day 427: Narrabri to Goondiwindi

It’s been blowing a gale all night.  Not much sleep was had by either of us.  We’ve decided to have a shorter travel day today as we will finally cross the Queensland border.  We all slept in, including Cinta.  Andrew is making bacon and eggs and by 9.30am we are packed up and on the road.

Morning tea is at a rest area along the highway and by 11.30am AEST we are in Goondiwindi. We both feel relieved that we are finally in Queensland, so if there are any travel restrictions we are comfortable with our decision and will be happy to stay put in our home state.  We’re staying at the showgrounds as we stayed here over 12 months ago when we began our journey.  Allan the caretaker is a real character and he meets us and tells us to park up wherever we like.  Unlike last year when the showgrounds were a dust bowl, it’s lush and green after the rains.

We are all set up and I head into town to do the weekly shop.  I feel like I’m back at Mission Beach. Coles doesn’t open on a Sunday.  What a pleasant change.  So, I head for the local Foodworks.  It’s really disappointing to see the shelves are almost empty.  Panic buying has taken over Australia with so many mixed messages about the Coronavirus.  I can only purchase half of the items on my list… I was quite excited to find a packet of Kleenex thick and large tissues as I haven’t been able to buy any since leaving Tasmania.  Perhaps it was the price that put people off!  I managed to buy the last packet of bandaids as both Andrew and I stubbed our toes on tree branches while walking Cinta.  Who would have thought bandaids would be in short supply.

We also use talcum powder around the legs of the caravan when there are a lot of ants around as it keeps them from getting inside.  You guessed it, no talcum powder in sight. I have been trying to buy this over the past week as well.  I have 2 special talcum powders on board for my sister Dot.  I’m hoping that I won’t have to be desperate enough to use them as they were specially bought for Ralph in Tasmania.

It’s difficult when you are travelling in a caravan as weight and space are two of our biggest challenges.  Stocking up on essential items is not really something that can be accommodated easily.  We tend to stick to minimal food supplies and buy as needed.  Travelling in the heat also comes with different challenges as three way fridges don’t work particularly efficiently when hooked up to the car.  We are now back to putting 2 freezer blocks into the fridge to help keep it cool whilst travelling.  When the heat outside climbs, so does the temperature inside the fridge.

The flies are driving us crazy here at Goondiwindi so there is no sitting outside this afternoon.  I’m madly tapping away at the laptop finishing off last weeks blog and also this week.  It’s been a crazy hectic time travelling through 3 states and working.  I’m hoping that things will settle down next week as we slowly move into Brisbane now that we have made the border.

The next 8 weeks will be spent enjoying the State that we call home and hopefully having the freedom to move around unrestricted.  Only time will tell.

Wildlife: horses, sheep, cattle, dead kangaroos, crows, dead echidna, dead rabbits.

Week 61 total expenses: $954.69 just under budget!

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That’s a wrap for Week 61 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

Week 60 | Railton to Ararat

Day 414: Railton to Latrobe

Our last few days in Tasmania sees us moving from Railton into Latrobe.  It’s another cold morning at 8 degrees which means a slow start to the day before packing up.  We’re only travelling 15km today to the Latrobe overnight RV campgrounds.  A council permit is required to camp and you must be fully self contained. The fee is $10 of which $9 goes to the local primary school.  Money is collected daily by the school volunteers and after chatting with them it’s great to hear about the benefits to the school and how much it is appreciated.  Latrobe is a very RV friendly town.

After we set up we head into Devonport to catch up on our washing as there is no laundry at Latrobe.  There’s a couple of thrift shops nearby so we check them out while waiting for the washing/drying to be done.  When we get back to Latrobe I head into the Main Street to have some retail therapy again on my own as I want to have a good look through the new Reliquere shop.  There are some lovely shops in Latrobe and I’ve managed to pick up a couple of gifts.  Back at the van and time to do a bit more work before dinner.  Below is our spot at Latrobe and some of the beautiful flowers around the neighbourhood.

Wildlife: cattle, sheep, dead pademelons.

Day 415: Latrobe

Another 8 degree start to the day and a long lie in bed.  It’s so hard to get up when it’s so cold.  Bring on the warmer weather!  We’re off to the House of Anvers for morning tea.  The Californian Bungalow was built in 1931 and is really beautiful inside.  There are two separate dining rooms both stylishly decorated.

Morning tea is a tasty selection of cakes and pastries. Red velvet cake, chocolate cake, lemon tart, strawberry cheesecake and a profiterole.  It was absolutely delicious.  We also watch the chocolates being made through the viewing windows and can’t leave without a couple of small purchases.

Next stop is Devonport to get a new pair of shoes each and pick up some scripts from the chemist.  We have a good wander around the mall and come home with a couple of items that weren’t on the shopping list.  It’s a lovely day outside with the temperature up to 19 degrees so the awning comes out and we sit outside for the afternoon.  We have a long walk around the block and meet a lovely resident of one of the old age homes as we pass his letterbox.  He was so friendly and just loved Cinta.  The cold wind drives us inside for our last night in Tasmania.

Wildlife: plovers.

Day 416:  Latrobe

Today is all about prepping the van for the trip tonight on the Spirit of Tasmania.  Our first job is to defrost the fridge and then secure everything in case we have a rough crossing.  Jobs all done and time to take Cinta for a walk into town and morning tea at Monclair.  A Beautiful building tastefully decorated with a lovely dog friendly courtyard.  The scones with jam and cream were delicious and served on a beautiful old floral plate.  A nice walk back to the van and a few more odd jobs taken care of.

Lunch is at the Thai Imperial Restaurant which is located within the Australian Axemans Hall of Fame.  Andrew orders an entree of spring rolls and they were delicious.  We’re hopeful that the main meal won’t disappoint.  Andrew chooses Honey Pork Belly and I have the Chicken Pad Thai.  Both were really good and the pad Thai was the closest dish that I have had to Spicy Thai at home.

At 4.30pm we head for Devonport and park the van up near the beach and have a long walk until 5.15pm before heading to the ship.  There is no bio security check for fruit and vegetables and Cinta did not have to have any further worming treatments to come back to the mainland. At check in there is a police sniffer dog in training & his handler hides some contraband behind the bus wheel next door to us.  He’s found it and is duly rewarded for a job well done.

Cinta is loaded into her kennel for the night and has a very sad face.  She’s not eating her treat, no doubt it will still be there in the morning.

After checking into our cabin it’s time for a lovely long hot shower which is really appreciated after free camping for 4 days. We enjoy a couple of drinks in the bar and a light dinner before moving outside as the ship departs Devonport.  The captain announces a smooth sail as the swell is only 1-1.5 metres. We are very pleased to hear that!

Wildlife: seagulls.

Day 417: Melbourne

The alarm is set for 5.00am.  It’s been a smooth crossing which now makes us realise our trip across was actually quite rough.  Another lovely hot shower and then coffee before collecting Cinta at 6.30am.  Deck 5 is extremely wet. Cintas bedding is wet, at this point we’re not sure if she wet her bed or if it’s from the rain or ocean coming into the deck.

She is super excited to see us.  She hasn’t drunk any of her water or eaten her treat. All loaded into the car we are off the ship and on the road by 6.48am. It’s a very streamlined and well organised process.  It’s  raining, 17 degrees and still dark.

Finally out of the traffic we stop at one of the big roadhouses to get some breakfast and let Cinta out for a wee. It’s a very big wee.  Back on the road and we’re now heading for Ararat, the traffic coming into Melbourne is horrendous.  We hate the big cities. We’ve reached Ballarat and the temperature has dropped to 14 degrees and it’s still drizzling.  Finally at our destination and it’s so great to see my sister Julie and all of the other family members.  Tonight is spent by the fire having a few drinks and catching up with Bugsy and Bones.  Cinta is pretty happy to see her boyfriend George again too!

Wildlife:  seagulls.

Day 418 – 420  Ararat

We’re waking up to 8 degrees this morning and hoping the temperature will climb to just under 20.  The last few days of this week are about spending time with family to celebrate my great nephew Matty’s 21st birthday.

I’m off for a long awaited haircut, the boys are all cleaning out the shed and then we’re off to the RSL for a few drinks. We’ve bought the last $5 worth of raffle tickets and then won a $30 gift card & a six pack of beer.  We were happy with that.

It’s party day, the shed is all set up with balloons and Bel has made a massive 21 covered in photos. The light bulbs have been changed to blue to reflect all the glow sticks, neon glasses and neck bands and the sound check has been completed.

It was quite surprising to hear some of the music choices being played and the older generation ended up on the dance floor singing their hearts out too.  Everyone had a great night.  Matty was put to bed before midnight…

Sunday was recovery day.  No time for budgets and blogs.  It’s been a great week  travelling back to the mainland and having time with family.  It’s starting to sink in that our journey now is heading towards home. With the threat of Coronavirus it’s difficult to know whether to change our plans.  We really don’t want to be stuck in a remote area with limited supplies and have to self isolate in the van.  Some serious discussions and planning are taking place moving into next week.

I’m a week late with finishing this blog.  Changed travel plans and a high workload have taken precedence over everything else.  Let’s hope I can get the past week completed today so that I’m up to date again!

Wildlife: sheep

Week 60 total expenses: $1072.12 over budget, however it was expected this week.

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That’s a wrap for Week 60 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!