Saturday, July 24, 2010

Greensborough, Vic

Hi Everyone,
As you can see we are safely home and toasting our toes in front of the fire. The weather is a bit chilly to what we have been used to but it is lovely to be home.
We last left you at Roma from which we thought we would have an easy drive to Lightning Ridge and the chance to look for some opals to add to my stash. Not to be. I don't know why things happen when I am driving but they seem to. We were still travelling the Great Inland Way, in other words the back roads of Queensland, which at times where a bit challenging, when I hit a cattle grid a bit hard. Another loomed up in the distance so I slowed right down thinking this one may be a bid rugged as well, and I was right, only this time even with me being careful there was a bang and smoke started pouring off the right hand trailer tyre. I thought the tyre had blown out but nothing so easy - the centre bolt on the spring had sheered, the axle had moved back and the tyre was rubbing on the guard. To cut a long story short after great improvisation Rex had realigned spring, found a bolt on the camper which would work as a centre bolt, reassembled and we were ready to continue our journey. I was impressed by the number of travellers that stopped and offered assistance. Rex now driving we arrived in Lightning Ridge in time to follow the Red Car Door Trail. Old car doors are painted different colours which lead you around the different sights of the town. The Red Car doors wound us through the opal fields, past Amigo's Castle, Astronomers Folly and then onto a collection of curiosities in a type of museum. Again there was hot springs in the area which we visited but we didn't join the locals and tourists who were soaking but went looking for something to eat after a challenging day. Moving south the next day to Dubbo there was a noticeable chill in the air. We were thinking of visiting the Western Plains Zoo but decided against it as by the time we arrived it was middle afternoon and the cost was $60.00. We had visited before when we were friends of the zoo and it hadn't cost us anything (spoilt) Overnight the frost came down resulting in an outside temperature of 1 degree which decided us to travel the last 8oo km home.
A great trip with many wonderful memories of places and people along the way. Our last photo is from Lightnng Ridge and is the Astronomers Folly. A town that exhibited its sense of humour.
Signing off
Rex and Rob

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From Roma, Qld

Hello Family and Friends,
After leaving Cairns we decided on taking the 'Great Inland Way' a new tourist route from Cairns to Sydney. Unsure where we would stay that night we just headed out through Mareeba and Atherton. It was getting on in the afternoon with no possible place to camp when we fell on Innot Hot Springs and Caravan Park. Here we found 6 built pools all varying in temperature from cool to very hot filled from the natural springs. Rex tried them all, even the very hot against the advice of the other bathers. I think he lasted about 10 secs in the very hot before the message got through to the brain and he bailed out straight into a cooler pool alongside. His lovely English white legs were tinged a bit rosy for a while. The river that ran alongside into which the springs flowed at intervals was in places even hotter. Some people had dug holes in the gravel alongside the river which filled with water in which they soaked in a more natural environment. What surprised Rex was that a short distance downstream where the water was still warm he found fish living happily. The next day we had booked into Undara Volcanic National Park known for its lava tubes. We had a lovely campsite, unpowered which didn't worry us in the business lease section of the park. This is a commercial lease that has been specifically set up for tourists. Instead of cabins there where old railway cabins fitted out as accomodation as well as modern type tents with sleeping quarters either side and a kitchen area in the middle.
There where some good walks which covered lookouts, old telephone line from the late 1800's and a replica heritage hut but the lava tubes were only accessed by paid tour at $48.00 per person. I objected seeing it was partly the reason for a national park being located there.
We went into the National Park and walked around the crater rim of Kalkani an extinct volcano and saw where the lava tubes ran right through the national park but couldn't access them. This was our only complaint we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Moving south fast we travelled on to Emerald. Their Botanical Gardens is a credit to them. We spent an hour exploring the different areas. I got lost in the Melalueca Maze, Rex tried an emu apple which he quickly spat out and the rainforest section was beautifully cool to walk through. We are now in Roma which is probably best known for its saleyards through which cattle are auctioned twice a week. When we went past them this afternoon there where some cattle waiting in the yards to be auctioned on Tuesday there is another auction on Thursday. Tomorrow we cross the Qld border into N.S.W our destination for the night Lightning Ridge.
Catch up again soon
Rob and Rex

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Cairns

Hello Followers,
Rex here updating you on our adventures. Cairns is a nice small city surrounded by mountains that are almost everday partly covered by cloud. Looking up from the city it gives you the impression of spot fires with smoke rising. To go anywhere out of Cairns you climb up through very tight narrow twisting roads to most of the tourist places. On Friday afternoon we drove up to the power station on the Barron River which is part of the electricity grid for Cairns. There was a small falls that dropped a long way from a great height called Surprise Creek Falls. Saturday we went to Kuranda known for its cable car and tourist train track around the mountains,. From the train track you can see spectacular Barron Falls. Kuranda is a tourist town that reminded us of the Dandenongs. Sunday we went to a place called Crystal Cascades where we could walk a formed path alongside as the river cascaded down the mountain, creating swirling white water with small waterfalls that in places had pools for swimming. The same day we visited Lake Morris high above Cairns which is its water supply. To get there we had to drive on a narrow road. It is the only road I have driven on that is only open 3 days of the week with the warning drive at own risk. Monday was a completely free day so we decided to head further north to the Daintree. We went into Mossman Gorge where we did a tropical rain forest walk, which was unlike aanything we had ever seen before with vines, huge buttressed fig trees so dense that the creeks seemed like tunnels through the jungle. It was here we found the Rex Swinging bridge over cascading water. We travelled on past Rex Lookout to Daintree Village. It was here we took a crocodile river boat ride, it lived up to its name; we did see big salties (crocs), tree snakes, kingfishers and a white crested eagle. We have just about covered the tourist sites of Cairns nearly as much as the sugar cane rail lines which go everwhere. Bye from Cairns.
More to Come
Rex and Rob

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From Cardwell, Qld

Hello Family and Friends,
Tonight's entry is dedicated to my brother Terry who lost his struggle with cancer today. May he rest in peace. It was Terry who partly motivated our epic adventure around Australia the long way to catch up with him. Sadly our timing was a couple of days out.
In memory of him we will share the rest of our journey.
Since our last entry in Mt Isa we travelled to Richmond, headwind all the way and the fuel economy was way down; now I know why it is suggested to travel anti clockwise. Richmond is part of the Dinosaur triangle. The discovery centre is amazing with the skeletons of marine reptiles and dinosaurs found locally as well as the moon rocks. We immediately became avid fossickers, with map and pen knifes we started digging in the 100 million year old sea bed, in one of the alloted sites. Rex struck pay dirt quickly, uncovering good fossilised sea shells which he gave to a child fossicker. Not me I coveted everything I found; what I thought was a tooth, a piece of fossilised bone and shells all went into the collection to bring home along with the copper rocks and the iron rocks; no wonder the fuel economy is down. The photo tonight has to be of the fossilised dinosaurs bones found at Richmond.
Charters Towers was just an overnight stop but again we were fortunate to have night time entertainment. This time country and western; Golden Oldies which keep the park entertained till bedtime. Next morning we travelled further east to Townsville turning north towards Cairns stopping at Cardwell which was a good choice. We travelled through sugar cane and banana terriotory - miles of it and in the background beautiful clouded mountains with lush forest where the sun doesn't reach the ground. Fishing last night at the jetty we couldn't catch a cold but we were fortunate to see a huge, metre round, green turtle, who I think had a good feed of prawns and burley which Rex was using to tempt the fish. Today we went out to Murray Falls National Park along a winding road through sugar cane fields and banana plantations into the misty mountains. A great place to camp in the rainforest with magnificent falls and rock spa pools to cool off in as today the sun shone.
Catch up again soon
Rob and Rex

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Mt Isa, Sunny Qld

Hello to all our Family and Friends,
As you can see we are certainly moving fast. One week to drive through NT.
We did stop sometimes though. The first stop was only overnight at Victoria River Roadhouse. It is beside the Victoria River which was beautiful. The locals said they wouldn't swim in the river even though it was hot because of crocs; so we went looking at old Victoria River Crossing but couldn't find any. Next day saw us arrive at Katherine Gorge; campsite right beside the pool along with all the international visitors and 3 school camps, regular ant city. Did the walk around the gorge with good views finising our trek down Butterfly Gorge. Again it was very hot and we cooled off in the pool before the school kids took over. After tea entertainment at the pool was lit by strobe lights similiar to a disco with live performers. We had a ring side seat from the camper. The music started off as country and western which had a lot of crowd participation which was encouraged. A pleasant change to what most campers had been experiencing and it was appreciated. The mood turned more up beat towards the end with the schoolgirls getting up and strutting their stuff. When they did the Bus Dance Rex remembered how well Lee and Julie used to do it at birthday celebrations. Then it was on to Mataranka - Elsey National Park. We have camped here twice before so it was only a familiar stop over. Rex did go for a swim in the Roper River and tried to catch an elusive Barra but no luck; sausages for tea once again. Bonus was we did have the only site with a sprinkler so Rex stepped back into his childhood and had a shower under it. Onto another familiar spot, Banda Banda Station. A cool grass spot to stay with plenty of water so we were able to wash the car. Interesting to watch all the oldies with their super large caravans trying to back them in. Rex couldn't contain himself and had to offer assistance as two sites were being taken up by one van. Not that they were untidy or anything they just couldn't follow their lovely wifes guidance. A few domestics were happening. They were all lined up like a jagged bolt of lightning. Night time entertainment had changed to the history of Banda Banda rather than the running of a cattle station. Reason being that they don't know what will happen in the future as it is in the process of being sold. We thought our next stop would be at Barkley Station Roadhouse on the Barkley Highway that runs acros the middle from Northern Territory to Queensland but we travelled on and crossed the Queensland Border last night and stayed at lovely Camooweal where it stays light till 7.30 pm and is a cool (cold) 24 deg C. Locals were pulling out their woolly underwear. The pool was closed as this time of the year. Not much else to do so we moved on to Mt Isa. After settling into the caravan park we went up to the Look Out, similiar to Anzac Hill at Alice Springs from which we could get a good idea of the layout of the city and where the shops were. Hustling bustling busy city where pedestrians have to give way to cars, a bit strange to us Victorians. Back at our camper a helpful neighbour thought the alignment of the a frame and the camper body was out of alignment and he thought we may have a chassis problem. Just what we needed. Rex obligingly climbed underneath to set his mind at rest an said that all was fine.The camper wasn't going to fall to bits.
Tomorrow we moved on to Richmond to look for dinosaur bones.
Love to all
Rex and Rob

Friday, June 25, 2010

From Kununurra, W.A

Hello Followers,
From Broome we headed east to Derby which is known for having the highest tides in Australia. It is the place that has flights or boat trips out to see the horizontal waterfall because the tides move so quickly, not that we saw them, but we did watch the tide coming in very quickly from the pier. We also saw a huge hollow Boab Tree infamous for being used as a prison in earlier times which was located a short distance out of town. We had planned to travel from Derby to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek but after checking road conditions learnt that the road after Windjana Gorge was pretty rough and needed a high clearance vehicle so we decided to give them a miss and went by the highway. At Fitzroy Crossing we camped at Kimberley Lodge which as we drove through the pristine grounds looked like a swish golf club. No shortage of water here and we were allowed to wash some of the red dust off car and camper. Geikie Gorge is close by and we decided to bust the budget and go on a river cruise run by the rangers. The gorge is small by comparison to Karijini but it is here we saw the wild pigs and the freshwater crocs from the boat. Returning to the camp ground we crossed the original Fitzroy Crossing 10 feet wide and 150 feet across following ground level and not a bridge structure. Next overnight stop was at Halls Creek where we picked up a new dolly wheel for the camper to replace our ailing one. In the afternoon we decided to do the Tourist Drive. We first saw a phenomena of quartz crystal stacked like a built wall that appeared in sections over the hills. It can be seen from the air appearing from the ground over a large distance. No one is sure how long it goes for as part of it is still buried in the earth. Suitably called the China Wall. There was also Palm Springs about 45 kms out of Halls Creek which formed a crystal clear pool unusual in such a dry environment - no washing of the car in Halls Creek. 7 kms on along a 4WD road - the back road into the Bungle Bungles, Lake Argyle and Kununurra and our first real creek crossing we found the promised Gorge; red cliffs and a string of deep pools with sweet water; the perfect campsite for one lucky couple who offered us a cup of tea. Returned to the caravan park as the sun slid quickly below the horizon. When the sun goes down here it doesn't mess around - 5 minutes between daylight and dark. We are sending this from Hidden Valley, Kununurra, just on the edge of the National Park which has been likened to a mini Bungle Bungles. We walked it today in mid 30 degree heat and discovered the similiar beehive shaped hills that made the Bungle Bungles famous. We were glad to cool off in the pool when we got back. We had planned to get the car serviced while we were here but Nissan can't fit us in under a week. The mileage is adding up 15,000 kms on this trip up to now. Tomorrow we move on to more adventures.
Catch up with you all again soon
Rob and Rex.
Photo Profile - Palm Springs - Halls Creek.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

From Broome W.A.

Hello from Broome to all our followers. We are well and still very much enjoing what we are doing.
The last place we left you was at Pannawonica. Since then we have travelled to Millstream - an abandoned station that has been turned into a National Park. The main feature here is water - beautiful clear green springs flowing through tropical green growth with pools, some with water lillies, manicured by the previous owners. These pools are flowing rapidly and deep into the Fortescue River creating wetlands along which the walking trails wind their way. It forms an oasis in the middle of an arid landscape. Considering the pioneers came to this country in the late 1800's the buildings and the layout is very good.We spent 2 days exploring the station and walking the walks before moving on to Karatha where we did a once around the block and said this is a mining town not a tourist resort. We moved on to Roeborne where we stayed in what we called a Happy Caravan Park. While there we visited Point Samson - the up market place to stay if travelling through this area, and Cossack - the heritage restored village open to the public. From here we travelled to and stayed at Cape Keradaun. We were fortunate to find the best campsite at the mouth of the river close to the beach. This lovely blue river wound its way over white sand as it snaked its way down to the sea. We enjoed a walk along this nice coastline beach which went for miles and it was good experience for an overnight stay. Our first downer was waking up to a flat on the front wheel of the car. The spare was under everything in the back of the truck so all had to be unloaded and had fun working out how the tyre changing worked on th new vehicle. From here we went to try and get the flat fixed at Pardoo Roadhouse. They don't do mechanical repairs and we moved on to Sandfire Roadhouse, who also didn't do repairs so on to Broome. So many stressful kilometres with the knowledge that we didn't have a spare. We arrived in Broome, booked a site and hurried on to the Tyre Service to get our tyre fixed, which we were lucky to get done, before closing time it being Saturday. After settling in and relaxing a bit we did a tour of the town which is different to when we last experienced it. It is now a thriving, bustling, recreation tourist town which has spread out and is bigger than it used to be. We revisited Cable Beach with its Camel Rides and the 4WD's driving up the beach, we went searching for the dinosaur footprints on the headland, visited town beach which seemed used by the locals rather than tourists with its historical cemetary. We did a shop and retired back to the caravan park and the pool. It is unusally hot here for this time of the year with temperatures getting close to 40 deg C.
Tomorrow we head for Derby. More to come
Luv Rex and Rob