Week 82 | Townsville to Mission Beach

Day 568 – 572: Townsville

Week 82 is the final week of an epic journey around Australia. After leaving Mission Beach just over eighteen months ago we never would have thought that we would still be on the road in August 2020. It has been the most exciting times of our lives. Travelling is addictive and it will always be a part of our life in the future.

This week sees us still in Townsville waiting on the Ford dealership to resolve the issue with our car. Needless to say it’s very frustrating. On the positive side we get to spend more time with my family.

We have caught up with Wendy for morning tea to celebrate her birthday and had craft again followed by drinks next door with Julie’s neighbours. It has been really lovely to have the time to catch up with so many friends.

Waking up this morning to a heavy dew and fog. It’s a real pea souper. We hope to pick up our car this afternoon and then head home to Mission Beach in the morning.

Day 572: Townsville to Mission beach

The final day of our journey. Time to say goodbye to the family at 8.16am and head for home. There are mixed emotions as we drive the familiar road. Lush green mountains and fields of sugar cane. It’s always a warm fuzzy feeling.

We arrive around lunch time and park the van on the front lawn. It’s great to see Raymond again too. The house is lovely and tidy and the gardens have grown so much. It’s a very strange feeling being back at the house, quite overwhelming really. We are going to stay in the van as we’re only going to be home for a week before we head off on a holiday from the holiday! Minus the caravan and minus Cinta…

It’s so great to see our neighbours again; Gunther and Barbara. Gunther meticulously cuts our golden sheena hedge which spans the full length of our driveway, clears our gutters of the thousands and thousands of leaves that collect from the other neighbours trees, mows our grass and sweeps leaves from our driveway. We are forever greatful to Gunther and we can’t thank him enough for everything that he has done for us while we have been away.

Tonight we’re catching up at Spicy Thai with 18 of our friends; our Friday night dinner crew. What an awesome night, great food, great company and a great welcome back home. A big thanks to Jackie and Keith, the food certainly didn’t disappoint. I forgot to get a photo….must have had too many scotches…

We just had to do sunrise this morning. Stepping onto the beach the feeling of being home just flooded our minds. While it wasn’t the best sunrise we’ve seen at Mission Beach it certainly was one that cemented any doubts of ever leaving this piece of paradise on a permanent basis.

The weekend ahead is packed with a long awaited scrabble game with my crazy girlfriends, (wow, what a catch up!), dinner with the Bingil Bay Bunch and catching up with new friends from the Gold Coast who are here in Mission Beach. We are so blessed to have so many friends in our life – we love you all so much and have missed you all like you wouldn’t believe. Many people have asked us on our journey what have we missed the most and our answer is always “our family and friends”. Cheers to being home….if only for a short time for now…

For those of you who are interested, here’s some of our stats over the past 572 days.

Fuel – most expensive; Erldunda NT $2.05 p/l cheapest; Gladstone $1.02 p/l$8,218.15
Gas – most expensive; Exmouth WA $43 8.5kg swap n go$352.75
Groceries – if only we didn’t have to eat…$15,226.84
Accommodation – most expensive; Broome $54 included $2 dog fee!
106 nights house sitting
2 nights in a State Forest
1 night in a cabin at Wave Rock
2 nights in a BnB at Margaret River
199 nights free camping or with family
261 nights, caravan parks, turf clubs, golf clubs, RSL’s, showgrounds
$8,407.77
Maintenance – most expensive; Devonport 4 x car tyres$5,064.44
Eating Out – we don’t miss out on anything!$7,523.03
Alcohol – you can’t miss out on happy hour! That’s what it’s all about….$2,245.27
Experiences – most expensive; Horizontal Falls – Derby – worth every $$6,307.17
Mobile phone & WiFi router$3,384.00
Other sundry expenses – including insurances, registrations, RACQ road assist, medications, Cinta’s expenses, donations and laundry costs$14,515.96
Total cost over 572 days; averages $112.72 per day$64,475.38
Travel distance – 42,589km

Wildlife: dead pig, dead echidna, dead kangaroos, dead bandicoot

Everyone asks if we would do it again. Let’s just say, it’s not over yet. That’s a wrap for our journey around Australia. We hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us.

Week 82 total expenses: $353.51

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Week 81 | Townsville

Day 561: Townsville

This week is all about family time and catching up with friends. It’s the last week of our journey of just over 40,000km. When we left home on the 14th January last year, neither of us expected that we would still be travelling 18 months later. It’s addictive. Travel will always be a part of our lives.

We’ve had an early morning wake up call with the men arriving to start digging the new sullage drain. We’ve never seen anything like this before so both of us are interested in the process. I’ve made some scones for the workers for their morning tea break and Julie has baked some cakes. The whole job is completed by mid afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is spent relaxing.

Wildlife: dead kangaroos, hawks, chicken.

Day 562: Townsville

It’s been a cold start to the morning with the temperature going down to 9 degrees. We are up early to take the car into the Ford dealership to sort out the problem with the ignition. The car is cranking over but not starting up and it’s caught us out on 5 occasions now. We are hoping that it does this when we drop it off so that the mechanics know what we are experiencing. I’ve also taken a short video of the problem just in case. We’re in the drop off queue and we’ve turned the engine off. The staff have beckoned us to move forward and the car won’t start. We are both relieved it’s happened there so they can see what the issue is. We’re lucky to have a loan car while it’s being fixed.

Mum and I are off to have Lunch with Dawn, Kerryn & Leanne. We have a lovely time and back at home I catch up on some work during the afternoon. The car is not ready so let’s hope they can solve the problem tomorrow. Tonight we are having an early happy hour and sausage sizzle by the fire pit.

Wildlife: dead kangaroos, hawks, chicken.

Day 563: TOWNSVILLE

Another cool morning at 9 degrees. Today is the weekly craft day. I’m making scones again for morning tea. Most of the ladies that usually come are currently away. It’s lovely to catch up with Shirley and to meet her sister Alma. I do a bit of stamping and colouring in some cards for Mum. We have a really great day.

Tonight we are all going down to the Kelso RSL for dinner. Andrew has his usual chicken parmi and I have the salt & pepper calamari. The meals are huge and I can’t finish mine. We put some money in the pokies and come home with a small win. It’s a lovely night out with Julie, John and Mum.

Wildlife: hawks, dead kangaroos, chicken.

Day 564: TOWNSVILLE

I’m working this morning and then catching up with Linda in New Zealand on a video call. Technology is a fantastic thing to be able to catch up with friends all over the world. Linda’s birthday is tomorrow, so it was really great to be able to have time to catch up on everything with her. Happy Birthday for tomorrow Linda!

Tonight we are catching up with Pete and Anne for dinner. Pete fancies himself as a bit of a good cook and he certainly didn’t disappoint us with Chicken Chasseuer on the menu. We had a lovely evening catching up. Thanks so much Pete and Anne.

Wildlife: possum, kangaroos, chicken, hawks.

Day 565: townsville

We are up early this morning so that Andrew can put beef cheeks on in the slow cooker for tonight’s family dinner. Then we are heading into the city to pick up our car. Apparently it needed a new cam sensor (don’t ask me what that is) but they assure us the problem is fixed. We fill up with fuel and head over to Supercheap auto to pick up a few things. Back in the car and it cranks over and won’t start. Needless to say a few choice words came out of my mouth. Andrew tries a few times. It just won’t start. We call Ford and then wait awhile to see if it will kick over again. Finally it starts up and we head back to the dealership. We are both not particularly happy. They assure us they’ll get it sorted and call this afternoon as we are planning on leaving tomorrow.

I’ve had another drone flight this afternoon and taken a few aerial photos for Julie of their property and also for the neighbours.

To our dismay there is no call about our car. I am quite furious. So, it looks like we will be in Townsville for longer than we had planned. Lucky we have a loan car. Andrew will have to drive up to Tully for an appointment that couldn’t be changed on Monday and then drive back to Townsville. I’ll be calling the dealership mid morning Monday if they haven’t bothered to call us by then.

We have an early happy hour this afternoon followed by the slow cooked beef cheeks. They are a winner with the family.

Wildlife: chickens, sea eagle, dead kangaroos.

Day 566: Townsville

After a lazy start to our day we take Mum for a drive to Pallarenda for morning tea. The foreshore has been developed with a walking track, picnic areas, BBQ’s and artworks. The pathways were recently upgraded and extended. There’s a couple of coffee vans parked up in different areas so we pull up at Soroptomist Park to have our morning tea beside the beach.

The artworks are within walking distance so I head off to photograph the mosaics and sculptures. To my surprise the mosaics were completed in 1994 for the International Year of the Child. They are really bright and colourful.

On the way home we drive past the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium home of the North Queensland Cowboys NRL team. There are mixed comments from locals about the new stadium with very limited parking available nearby. There is no “hill” for families to sit on the green grass with children able to run and play during the game. The seating and steps are steep and narrow, making it difficult for the elderly. On the positive side it will attract more visitors into the city centre which will benefit local businesses and the tourism industry.

Wildlife: black cockatoos, kangaroos, chicken.

Day 567: TOWNSVILLE

Andrew is heading off to Mission Beach this morning for an overnighter. We’ve packed up the loan car with items that are not used regularly or not used at all during the 18 month journey. He’s picked bags of oranges and bush lemons from Julie and John’s trees to take back to our neighbours Gunther and Barbara.

It’s time for me to do the weekly budget and write the blog. This will be the second last blog of the journey as we hope to be back in Mission Beach before the end of next week. Our expenses are up this week as we’ve lashed out and bought some lovely sheepskin seat covers for the car. The cupboards are stocked up with groceries and the car is full of fuel just waiting to go when it’s finally fixed! Until next week, stay safe and healthy.

Week 81 total expenses: $955.02

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That’s a wrap for our journey around Australia. We hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us.

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

Week 80 | Bowen to Townsville

Day 554: Bowen

High tide is at 8.00am this morning. We are all awake at 6.00am preparing breakfast and getting ourselves ready to fish the beach. It’s a pleasant 14 degrees when we walk onto the beach at 7.30am. The sun has already risen and is glistening across the calm ocean through the cloud cover. Andrew baits my line and throws it in for me. He’s a keeper! We spend two hours fishing and only have 2 bites. How disappointing. The tide is on its way out so we pack up and head back to the park.

There’s nothing better than a hot shower after a fishing trip. It’s time to do a grocery shop and get Andrew a new fishing cap. He’s going to have two days fishing the rivers with Pete after we arrive in Townsville. This afternoon we’re relaxing before spending tomorrow packing up again.

Wildlife: seagulls, kookaburras, lorikeets, turtle.

Day 555: Bowen

Our last day in Bowen and we’ve had a lazy start to our morning. There’s a lot of bird life in the park and at night the bats fly across so the van has got quite dirty. Andrew is giving it a wash down this morning. I’m cleaning all the bathroom and doing the blinds.

It’s an overcast windy day today so we don’t sit outside for very long this afternoon. Retreating to the van we spend some time reading and then catching up on a Netflix series. The rain is getting closer so we decide to pull the awning in and pack everything away. After having no work all month I’ve had an urgent request come in so my focus turns to work. An early night for us tonight before we see our family tomorrow.

Day 556: Bowen to Townsville

Neither of us have slept well with excitement of heading to Townsville today. It’s been 18 months since we’ve seen Mum so I am super excited. Bowen has put on a spectacular sunrise this morning for our last morning so I take a few quick photos before it disappears.

We are on the road by 8.00am & it’s 19 degrees. We have absolutely loved our stay in Bowen. It has so much to offer to travellers. Stunning beaches, fishing, all the required services and shopping facilities yet it still feels relatively undiscovered. The Wangaratta Caravan Park at Queens Beach is definitely one to return to.

Travelling up the highway the temperature drops to 16 degrees as the rain begins to fall. We have a very quick stop at Brandon to make our coffee and then continue driving. There’s roadworks from Ayr right through to south of Townsville. It’s great to see money being spent on trying to floodproof the Bruce Highway.

We’re pulling up at Julie and John’s by 11.30am. Julie’s place is commonly known to the family as the Steel Kingdom! We’re parking the van out of the front of the property as Julie and John are having a new sullage trench dug for their septic system. It’s been a long time coming and it just happens to be the only time the guys can come to do it. They’ll need access to the back yard right where we were going to be parked.

It’s so great to see everyone again. It’s a long afternoon with lots of stories, plenty of laughs and a few drinks before dinner. Cinta meets Yogi again and she’s not particularly friendly to him. Poor Yogi is banished to the back yard and the princess has the front yard.

A thunderstorm rolls in and Cinta is agitated and barking. There is a no dog policy in mum’s unit, however, Cinta is allowed to come inside and sit on her mat. She is a very privileged princess! An early night for Andrew as he has a 4.30am wake up call to get organised for his fishing trip tomorrow.

Wildlife: horses, seagulls, lorikeets, chicken and an array of bird life at the Steel Kingdom!

Day 557: Townsville

The alarm goes off at 4.30am. Neither of us slept well, it rained for quite some time very heavy on the caravan roof. We had 57ml which is unseasonal at this time of year for Townsville. Andrew is off to Pete’s by 5.00am ready for his day on the river. I doze back off again and drag myself into the house around 8ish. Julie and I head off to the shops and run some errands and have a lovely lunch at the Coffee Club. I’ve checked out a new lens for my camera and hope to make a purchase before we leave Townsville.

Andrew is really tired by the time he gets home and the fishing tally was 10 fish caught with 8 undersize having to be thrown back in. The thrill was in the catch though and 2 bream have been filleted. He’s had a great day with Pete.

Day 558: Townsville

Another 4.30am wake up call and the fisherman is heading off for a second day on the river. Let’s hope there are a few more fish coming home tonight. Mum, Julie and I are catching up with our very good friends Leanne (from Townsville) and Dawn (from Mission Beach). I haven’t seen them both since we left last year. It’s so good to see them again and the lunch break goes too quick. Andrew and I are catching up with them all again on Sunday night for dinner.

A proud fisherman phones through the fish tally. Twenty two fish caught for the day. A mix of salmon, cod, flathead bream and a mud crab. The boys have filleted up all the fish and Andrew is home late after two very big days out on the river. He’s had an awesome time with Pete and can’t thank him enough for taking him fishing again. I can’t wait for fish for dinner.

Day 559: Townsville

A lazy start to our morning before Andrew heads back over to Pete’s to clean the boat down. The remainder of the day is relaxed followed by a few early drinks mid afternoon. John is cooking a roast lamb in the camp oven and then we’re having a fire. The roast lamb is so tender and succulent and we all enjoy a big feed with plenty of veggies too. The fire is well under way and we have a lovely evening all together.

Day 560: townsville

Andrew is cooking pancakes this morning for the family. Mum loves his pancakes! This morning we are having a visit from two of my friends from our craft group; Wendy and Kath. We have a really lovely morning catching up on stories from our journey. Wendy has recently had a fall and broken her wrist in several places and will have surgery next week. It’s so good to see them both again and we all enjoyed plenty of laughs. A big thank you to Kath for bringing Wendy out to visit us.

This afternoon I’m taking the drone for a flight over Julie and John’s property. I’m still very cautious after the experience in Deloraine when my drone decided to have a mind of it’s own. I haven’t flown terribly high on this flight, however, I’ll get it out again for another flight before we leave.

Tonight we’ve been invited to Leanne and Greg’s for dinner with Dawn and Kerryn. We’re really excited to see everyone again. It’s been non stop conversation from the moment we arrived along with a few drinks too. We’ve had the best catch up, just like old times. Thank you so much Leanne and Greg for having us over, we’ve had a lovely evening. Dinner was delicious and a special mention about the sticky date pudding and caramel sauce – yum! And, I forgot to take a photo!

A very special week arriving closer to home, spending time with Mum, Julie and John and catching up with friends again. We’ve had an awesome week and look forward to another week of family time.

Week 80 total expenses: $517.72 – under budget!

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That’s a wrap for life back on the road, we’re almost home!

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Week 79 | Bowen

Day 547: Bowen

Waking up in Bowen with the beach 100 metres from our caravan, I ask you where else would you want to be? Bowen has really impressed us and we are enjoying being back on the road and holidaying in our beautiful home state of Queensland.

The start of the week means washing and shopping.  I’m also running a day late with my blog. The laptop is out and the budget spreadsheet is finished.  Time now to finish last weeks blog.

This afternoon we have a lovely long walk along the beach. Cinta wanders in and out but she’s not venturing in very far.  Back at the van and Andrew is reading after we’ve been to the camp kitchen and swapped some books.  I’m doing some colouring in.  Life is good!

Wildlife: seagulls, lorikeets, black cockatoos.

Day 548: Bowen

A cold start to our morning today with the temperature plummeting to 9 degrees. It looks like a cold front will be upon us for a few more days. I don’t drag myself out of bed until 9.30am. We’ve filled the thermos and are heading out to Laguna Quays for a drive. I better google to see how far it is… looks like my navigation skills have failed me again as the signage I saw on the way into Bowen was for the Whitsunday Estate not Laguna Quays. We decide to turn around and head back to the foreshore for our morning tea. A quick stop at the Big Mango for a photo on the way back in. There’s a great driftwood installation at the Visitor Information Centre too.

The wind is quite fresh on the foreshore. It’s a lovely spot for morning tea and then we have a walk out on the jetty. On the way home we stop off so that I can photograph an interesting looking fence. It’s got a train track on it! There’s been a lot of work go into this fence!

Back home for a few hours of relaxation. I’m colouring in again and Andrew is reading. An afternoon walk on the beach and then we are heading to the harbour for fish n chips for dinner. No Barramundi or Coral Trout today, there is only Spanish Mackerel left. I am a little disappointed. It was pretty good though and the prawn cutlets where plump and juicy!

Wildlife: Lorikeets, black cockatoos, seagulls.

Day 549 – 551: Bowen

Another fresh start to the day has us waking up to 9 degrees. We don’t have anything planned today apart from reading. It’s a very relaxed day with plenty of chatting to new friends we’ve made in the park.

We walked the beach at low tide today to see if there are any low spots which would be better for fishing later in the week. We picked a spot so we’re keen to try our luck again.

Another day finds me making scones this morning as Cathy and John are coming over for morning tea. It’s 9 degrees again and it’s hard to drag ourselves out of bed. The scones have turned out great and we have a lovely morning with them both.

This afternoon we head out to explore a lovely parkland area; Davidson Park at Mullers Lagoon. Situated on 23ha of picturesque gardens and wetland habitat. There is a playground area and picnic tables and bbq’s. It’s such a lovely area for an outing and there is plenty of bird life around too.

Nine degrees seems to be the common temperature this week. We hope it warms up again soon. The days are so lovely though that it makes the cool nights bearable. We’ve spent most of the day chatting with friends and just relaxing or reading. An afternoon nana nap before John and Kathy come over for farewell drinks. It’s a lovely night, we’ve had so many chats about all of our travels.

Wildlife: swans, ibis, water hens, seagulls, ducks, lorikeets, kookaburras.

Day 552: Bowen

This morning we bid farewell to kindred spirits John and Kathy. We hope we’ll see them again at some point on their journey. We are taking a drive down to Horseshoe Bay for a walk through the park and along the beachfront. The Lions park is lush and green and this is where the markets are held, however, they’re not back on at the moment due to the virus. Lions have a great set up with an undercover bar area and mosaic tables with bench seating which is under shade sails. Such a great idea. I can just imagine the markets on a fantastic sunny day.

We wander onto the beach and the water is crystal clear in the bay. Cinta strolls straight in, the water is really cold! There are a lot of rocks on the beach in this bay however it’s really picturesque. Two trawlers are anchored just offshore.

Back at the park and I decide as the wind has died down today I’ll take the drone for a flight. We head further up the beach where there are no people around and Andrew and Cinta are sitting patiently on the sand while I take off. I’m not in the air long when a Kite comes from nowhere and starts to swoop my drone. Dam it. I am forced to land and he is still swooping low near me. I have a couple of aerial shots but I didn’t manage to get up very high so I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

Wildlife: Kite, seagulls, lorikeets, kookaburras.

Day 553: Bowen

A lazy start to our Sunday morning before Andrew cooks bacon and eggs for brekky. The park is a hive of activity this morning with lots of nomads departing and heading off to their next destination.

After morning tea we head into town to take photographs of the murals. Bowen has 27 murals depicting the historical aspects of the town. I’m jumping in and out of the car taking happy snaps. Here’s a compilation of what I captured, I hope you enjoy it.

This week has been so relaxing, meeting lots of caravanners, enjoying drinks, fishing, reading and being creative. It’s great to finally feel like I’m on the holiday of a lifetime.

Week 79 total expenses: $620.74 – under budget.

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

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Week 78 | Bakers Creek, Mackay to Bowen

Day 540: Bakers Creek

It’s our last day at Bakers Creek and it’s time to get the van ready to move onto our next destination.  We’ve stocked up on all our groceries and alcohol and Andrew has washed the car.    We’ve had a great week here exploring Mackay and catching up with friends.  We are keen though to move onto a new location.

Wildlife: ibis, cattle, horses.

Day 541:  Bakers Creek to O’Connell River

It’s 9.30am by the time we hit the road and a very pleasant 18 degrees.  We are heading for the O’Connell River Whitsunday Caravan Park which is only 102km away.

Driving into the park we both look at each other and have second thoughts on our decision.  The area on the left is overgrown and there are some very, very old caravans.  The office is rundown and there’s a note on the door to ring the owner. We meet Rod who shows us a couple of available sites.  It’s not difficult to make a decision.  We’ll take the one that backs right onto the river. Past the office, the lawns are green and mowed.  There are large sites with concrete slabs that you can drive through. The park is right beside the highway, but we’ve just spent a week near the highway so it is not going to bother us.

Andrew has backed the caravan in and we are all set up in no time.  Time for a late  morning tea then a walk down to the boat ramp.  We are both pretty keen to get the fishing rods out!

The park sells bait so we are all set.  We’ve taken the chairs and all the fishing gear down to the boat ramp and last of all is Cinta.  Andrew gives me some instructions on how to bait my line and cast out.  I’m all set.  We turn around and Cinta has jumped up onto his chair.  In no time she is off the chair and annoying Andrew.  She’s trying to climb all over him.  It appears she is worse than a spoilt child so after 10 minutes Andrew decides she is going back to the caravan!  No fishing for Cinta today.  There are quite a few fish jumping in the river. Something big must be chasing them. A stingray cruises past along the bank and it’s tail is about 3 times the size of its body. The fish have been elusive today.  We’ll try again tomorrow on the high tide.

Wildlife: ibis, horses, dead kangaroos, lorikeets, cattle, stingray.

Day 542: O’Connell River

After a lazy start to our morning we pack up the fishing gear and head down to the river.  There doesn’t appear to be much difference in the tide levels. We fish for most of the morning but unfortunately there is no fish for dinner again.  It’s windy and there are light drizzly showers of rain coming across in intervals throughout the day.

Most of the afternoon is spent reading and relaxing.  Andrew is cooking a pork roast for dinner tonight.  Yum!

Wildlife:  stingray, sea eagle, sea hawk, kookaburra, kite.

Day 543: O’Connell River

It has rained on and off throughout the night.  The BOM doesn’t show a lot of rain around so we decide to head into Airlie Beach for a drive.  Neither of us can remember the last time we visited Airlie.  Wow, it certainly has grown.  Despite the virus, there are plenty of people out and about.  There is a lot of construction going on too.  It would appear that Airlie Beach has come back after experiencing Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

We drive out to Shute Harbour.  It’s undergoing a $35 million dollar rebuild of the Harbour and seawall.  Access is limited.  We head back into Airlie to the Coral Sea Marina Resort for a coffee.  It’s the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.  The view over the marina is spectacular.  Azure blue water with million dollar yachts moored at every berth.  The life of the rich and famous!  We enjoy our takeaway coffee while walking along the marina pathway.  The drizzly rain drives us back to the car.  Airlie Beach was still picturesque even on a drizzly day.

Wildlife: ducks, cattle, horses, sea eagle, dead wallabies, Shetland ponies.

Day 545: O’Connell River

Our last day here at O’Connell River and trying our luck again with fishing.  It’s quite a warm day, the sun is glistening on the river  and there are a few fish jumping near the bank on the other side.  Will we be lucky today… it appears not.  Oh well we’ve had a lot of fun over the past few days anyway.

The remainder of the afternoon is spent reading.  I’ve almost finished my second book. Quite an accomplishment for me as I haven’t read in years.  Next week I hope to get my sketch book back out.

Wildlife: kookaburras, lorikeets, sea hawks.

Day 546: O’Connell River to Bowen

We’re excited to be heading for Bowen today to the Wangaratta Caravan Park which is very close to the beach.  It’s 23 degrees at 9.00am when we depart.  Our journey is less than 100km today so we pull up at Front Beach where the little mango is and have our morning tea.  The big mango is out on the highway and there isn’t much parking space available there for caravans, so we’ll go back for a photo another day. We have a lovely walk along the foreshore.

I’ve got Andrew backed into the site in no time and we are all set up in a nice spacious site. We head down to the beach for a walk and there’s a guy fishing on the beach.  He pulls in a whiting and tells us he’s been there for 5 minutes.  We are keen to do some fishing again!  It’s so great to feel the sand between our toes and to dip our feet in the warm ocean.

Wildlife: dead kangaroos, kookaburras, swans, ibis, cattle, seagulls.

Day 547: Bowen

The alarm goes off at 6.00am.  The kettle is on and the tea is made.  It’s time to walk down to the beach to see the sun rise.  There is nothing more peaceful than the sound of the ocean at sunrise.  Bowen turned on the wow factor for us today.  Within half an hour the cloud coverage turned from dusty pink & grey to golden yellow and burnt orange.  The colourful show reminded us so much of our sunrises at Mission Beach.  My iPhone was working overtime.  We all had a lovely long walk along the beach.

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Back at home for breakfast and then we are heading out for a drive around the beaches. Horseshoe & Rose Bays, Kings Beach and Flagstaff Hill.  We are really pleased that we are staying at Queens Beach as it is our pick of all the other parks.  The 360 degree view from Flagstaff Hill is so picturesque.  Boats all jetting out on the azure blue ocean, sail boats moored in the harbour and fishing trawlers far out on the horizon.  Bowen is certainly picture perfect.

Back at the park for a quick lunch and then we’re going to try our luck down at the beach for a few hours fishing on the incoming tide.  Andrew is the lucky one today catching a small trevally.  Back into the ocean it goes.

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We’ve met Cathy and John from the Gold Coast who are opposite us in the park and tonight we’re having happy hour with them.  Happy hour went a bit longer than expected… It turns out that Cathy and John are heading to Mission Beach.  They’re going to spend a couple of days with a very old friend.  It also turns out that their friend lives just around the corner from us.  What a small world!  

This week has certainly flown by.  We absolutely love Bowen and the location the park is in.  We’ve decided to stay an extra 4 nights!

Wildlife: seagulls, lorikeets, kookaburras, sea eagles,

Week 78 total expenses: $616.47 under budget!

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

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Week 77 | Nebo to Mackay

Day 533: Nebo

Nebo; home to a heritage listed hotel, state of the art rodeo arena and a museum celebrating the Shire’s history.  The museum is closed due to the virus. The local economy relies on the coal mining industry.  There is not much more to say about Nebo. The river is dry and the township is desperate for water.  We drove around the streets and it was such a shame to see large estates of land that were to be developed but sadly they all sit unsold.  There’s a lovely small park with lush green grass and three information barrels beside the water trough and pump.  There is a couple of booklets inside on the area and nothing else.  It’s a novel information source!  The remainder of the day is spent relaxing back at the caravan park and I’ve spent some time colouring a card from Colour Me Art that I picked up at the Heritage Centre gift shop at Biloela.

Tonight we are walking up to the pub for dinner.  We’ve got a great table on the sprawling veranda.  The people you meet when you least expect it… a workman turns up and Andrew says hello as he walks up to the bar.  He comes back to our table.  Chris Brown worked with Andrew back in 1998 in Brisbane.  It’s such a small world.  The meals are generous and Andrew has the usual parmi and I have the fish-n-chip special.

This pub has a licence to print money.  We loose count of the number of work vehicles pulling up and taking away a carton of beer at a time.

Wildlife: crows, horses, cattle.

Day 534: Nebo to Bakers Creek Mackay

We’re not sad to say goodbye to Nebo.  The bindis at the park were really bad and the township is dieing.  We are on the road by 9.14am and it’s 17 degrees.  Our journey is only 87km.  There is nothing quite like the sight of the mountains and sugar cane ready to be harvested.  I have an overwhelming sense of being close to home.

We’ve booked into the Mycow Caravan Park at Bakers Creek.  It’s right on the creek bank and not too far from Mackay.  I meet Mike, he’s the Manager and he’s done the big lap 7 times, written a book; Australia Free and made a travel app.  He’s a real character.  There are a lot of backpackers here in onsite accommodation but Mike vets them all and doesn’t stand for any nonsense.  A lot of them work across the road at the meatworks.

We’ve got a corner site with plenty of space and lush green grass.  Cinta is a happy girl.  Seven nights for $170 is a good price. This afternoon is time to finish off a bit of work and get the grocery shopping done.  A quick walk on the pathway along the river where there is an outdoor bbq area and several spots with fake grass, chairs and fishing rod holders.  Apparently the fishing in the creek here is quite good.

Wildlife: cattle, horses, crows.

Day 535: Bakers Creek Mackay

How lovely to hear rain on the roof overnight.  Welcome back to the tropics, mosquitoes and humidity.  BUT I am certainly not complaining as I would much rather be in warm weather than cold.  I’m off for another much needed haircut and then we head over to Bunnings to pick up a few maintenance items.  We’ve sought out a butcher and stocked up on our meat supply.

Tonight we are catching up with Andrew and Pete’s fishing buddy Daryl.  In all the years the boys have headed off for their annual fishing trip I’ve never met Daryl’s wife Elizabeth.  I’m really excited to finally meet her and feel like we already know so much about each other.  We connected on Facebook and they’ve been following our journey through this blog.

Elizabeth and Daryl were so welcoming and we had a really lovely evening with them.  We’re looking forward to having a BBQ dinner with them over the weekend.  Elizabeth has now retired and has started sewing quality eco-friendly reusable produce bags.  Do yourself a favour and check out her Facebook page!  Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/bessbags/

Day 536:  Bakers Creek Mackay

A late start to the morning today before washing all of Cinta’s bedding.  Next up is baking scones for morning tea. Yum.  We are heading out to Quota Park to take Cinta for a walk on the Town beach.  Elizabeth has told us how far the tide goes out and it was amazing to see.  We had a walk right out, not quite to the ocean though.  There were thousands of tiny soldier crabs scurrying across the sand.  We couldn’t believe how many of them there were.  We also spotted a jellyfish.  Here’s a short video of the soldier crabs scurrying across the sand.

Our next stop is Slade Point to see the water tank mural art.  Completed in June 2019 by renowned mural artist Scott Nagy who was assisted by Cara Sanders, aka Owlet.  The Mural is a celebration of the regions Humpback Whale Migration which occurs usually from June to August each year. It also depicts their magnificent Red Tailed Black Cockatoos which reside in the area.  The views from this point are pretty special too.

Further around is Lamberts Lookout with sweeping views over Lambert’s Beach, The Cumberland Islands and Slade Point.  Both sunrise and sunset can be viewed from the lookout.  There are quite a few boats sailing past.  Our final destination is Mackay Harbour and the breakwater. Home to luxury yachts, sailing boats and a world class Marina Village.  We drive right out on the breakwater for spectacular views back over the marina.  It is so picturesque.  We’ve had an amazing day sightseeing.

Wildlife: black cockatoo, sandpipers, lorikeets, soldier crabs, terns, sea hawk, seagulls.

Day 537: Bakers Creek Mackay

After another slow start to the day we head off for a stroll around the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.  The gardens were opened in 2003 and offer over 3km of walking and cycling trails overlooking the lagoons.    There were some lovely reflections on the lagoon today and quite a lot of bird life there too.  Pictured below is some of the artwork on display.

We were surprised that there was a lack of colour in the gardens.  We were expecting a lot more tropical plants on display and felt that the gardens were more like parklands by the lagoon.  I would describe the gardens as having 50 shades of green!  We had a lovely long walk and of course I took plenty of photos.

Wildlife:  ibis, tortoises, ducks, water hens,

Day 538: Bakers Creek Mackay

It’s the weekend.  To be honest every day feels like a weekend to us. We are off for a drive to Sarina.  It’s only 30km to the south and it’s such a beautiful day.  Andrew thought that I would like a photo of the “big thing”… it’s a cane toad… not likely I said!  I’d rather photograph the mosaic near the information centre. 

We headed out to Sarina Beach and boat ramp.  It’s quite a nice beach and the drive out reminded me a little of coming into Mission Beach. Next stop was Hay Point home to one of the largest coal-loading facilities in the world.  You can drive right out to the breakwater to view the facilities.

On the way back we stop in at McEwans Beach which is on the other side of the river to Bakers Creek.  Cane farms are on both sides of the road in to the small beach side community. The tide is low.  

Tonight we are off to Daryl and Elizabeth’s for a BBQ dinner.  Cinta is coming with us and it’s a really lovely evening with them.  Great company and delicious food.  Elizabeth is a fantastic cook!

Wildlife:  dead possum, swans, pelicans, ibis. Cattle, horses, sheep

Day 539:  Bakers Creek Mackay

We are waking up to 8 degrees this morning.  We’ve had some beautiful warm days but the breeze has been quite cool.  Morning tea is with Daryl & Elizabeth and then they’re taking us for a drive to see the sights of Mackay.  Eimeo is well known for the Eimeo Pacific Hotel perched up on the hill with sprawling  picturesque views as far as the eye can see.  It’s a great location to sit back, relax, enjoy a few drinks and a meal.  Which we did.

After lunch we drive further out to Shoal Point, the northern-most community of the northern beaches.  I believe at low tide you can walk out to Green Reef Island.  There’s a lovely esplanade with picnic tables and BBQ’s and further up the hill a great spot for sunset photos.  Bucasia Beach is the last stop on the way home.  The Northern Beaches area is certainly very pretty and we’ve had a fantastic day out with Daryl and Elizabeth.  It’s been so great to spend time with them both and we know that we will be friends forever.  Thank you, to you both for your hospitality, it’s made our visit to Mackay all that more special.

Wildlife:  pelicans, swans, seagulls.

Week 77 total expenses: $1077.19 we are over budget this week, but we’ve stocked up on groceries, alcohol and quite a few maintenance items for the caravan.

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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.

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