The New England and the final run

Welcome to another of Australia’s roughest roads, The New England Highway.

After a rock and roll run we spent a cold and noisy night at Murrurundi where the trains and trucks kept busy for most of the night. Everything was frozen in the morning with a large ice plug ejected from the waste water hose. Our lights were dim last night as everyone must have had heaters on and the power supply was stretched.

Leaving at 9am we bounced our way to Armidale and set up camp at the showgrounds. Two nights there saw temps drop to minus 6 deg and a snow white landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keen to get to warmer climes we pushed on to Ipswich Showground arriving at 4pm on 1/6. With a low of 10 degrees and a sunny 23 degree day to follow we spent 2 days thawing out before heading to the Sunshine Coast and a friend’s property in the hinterland for the final camp on our round Oz trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the border into Qld

 

A most relaxing and enjoyable time with lovely rural views and warmer days and nights here. Thanks Mark and Sonja for sharing your home and family with us for our final week of The Journey and camp number 116.

43,500 klms since leaving the Sunny Coast in October 2015 we are finally back again, in what is still one of our favourite regions in Australia.

We have been in some amazing places, seen some of our country’s wonderful scenery, met some great people and made some lifelong friends. Memories are made of this!!

The Burrow will have a well-earned rest and a bit of TLC.

We are now house-sitting for 5 weeks in Buderim before becoming caretakers of a small farm north of Noosa.

I will sign off with another poem:

SETTING UP CAMP

THEY’D JUST ARRIVED IN THEIR MOTOR HOME AT ABOUT FOUR O’CLOCK

GRACIE MAKES HIM DRIVE ALL OVER LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT SPOT.

SPYING ONE BENEATH A TREE OUT SHE HOPS TO GUIDE HIM IN,

WITH WAVING ARMS AND SHOUTING SHE GETS HIM IN A SPIN,

AS A LOW HANGING BRANCH STOPS IT ALL WITH A BANG,

AND SHE BLOWS HER STACK LIKE AN EXPLODING MERINGUE.

“GET OUT YOU GOOSE AND GET UP THE LADDER

WHY DID I LET YOU DRIVE?”  YELLS  SHE GETTING MADDER.

A SMALL CROWD HAS GATHERED AS ‘AROLD GOT NOBBLED,

THEY ALL BEAR WITNESS THAT POOR  ‘AROLD  ‘OBBLED.

AFTER CHECKING THE DAMAGE HE GAVE HER THE KEY

AND SAT DOWN IN DISCOMFORT UNDER THE TREE,

WHILE SHE BACKED AND FILLED WITH PLENTY OF FIDDLE

EVENTUALLY PARKING RIGHT OUT IN THE MIDDLE.

ALL THIS HAPPENED OUT ON THE PLAIN NOT FAR FROM NULLARBOR.

‘AROLD SAT THERE WRACKING HIS BRAIN ON HOW TO EVEN THE SCORE.

GRACIE WAS DRIVING NEXT MORNING AS ÁROLD HAD SURE DONE HIS SHARE

I WONDER WHEN HE FINALLY REMEMBERED THAT THE BLOODY LADDER’S STILL THERE.

Eucla 2017 © TCD

Into Vic and then across the plains in NSW

12/5 Mildura again for two nights.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving across to Mildura we decided to camp again at Psyche Bends and as luck would have it got the same spot on the river bank that we had over a year ago. The road and tracks in were cut up after the floods earlier in the year. It is still one of the best camp sites with the birdlife as prolific as ever. We had 2 pairs of yellow spoonbills nesting across the Murray from us and the usual activity of fishing boats and river boats were always entertaining. We shopped and re-fueled in Mildura at the best fuel prices were have had in eight or nine months.

We are still able to confirm that SA and Vic roads rate as the worst overall in Australia with NSW and Qld not far behind.  On 14/5 and a cool morning we packed up and a rough rock and roll on our way to Balranald for lunch.

We encountered some heavy traffic on the way

Then we lurched our way to Hay to a good free camp at Sandy Point Reserve on the Murrumbidgee river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We passed cotton farms and aerial spraying and saw plenty emus on the plains across to Hay. A nice hot shower at the Hay info centre was most welcome and we felt that we could mingle with people again! We followed a B Double loaded with cotton bales and arrived at one of the several cotton gins in the district where acres of bales are stacked in the open awaiting processing.

 

 

 

 

There was plenty of firewood at Sandy Point and we had another couple of camp oven meals. The walks along the river are good and quite easy going and there are a number of red gums almost ready to be washed in with the next flood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was Temora where we had planned to camp at the showground. The circus was in town and it was booked out so we headed into town behind the refurbished historic railway building and camped there for the night with a wet departure on the 19th .

Arriving in Jugiong, and back on the Murrumbidgee, we were greeted with water in the van near the door and around the airconditioner. We set up camp, between rain showers, in the show ground reserve and experienced about 4 month’s rain in one night and further leaks in the van. Fining up to a mostly sunny day enabled us to start the drying out process.

 

Superb Fairy Wrens abound here and are coming right up to our feet. We have counted 16 different bird species here and wake up to a morning chorus plus evidence of nocturnal visits from possums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visited the refurbished hotel for a drink and chat to the owners and had a morning coffee at the café. These businesses have transformed Jugiong into a destination stop for heaps of people with the main street parked out on the weekend.

23/5 we left Jugiong in clearing fog and arrived at Poplar Caravan Park at Camden where we stayed for 6 nights leaving on the 29th after Jasmine’s birthday on the 25th and surprise party on 27th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed our stay and time with family and thank them for their love and hospitality. The chariot now has its seats in the back again and a repack was necessary before we left Sydney.

North from Port Lincoln

1/5/2017

The weather has turned much colder with rain squalls and drizzle as we left Port Lincoln and drove up the coast to Louth Bay where there were a couple of sites in the 5 site camp. We convinced ourselves that we wouldn’t enjoy fishing in the cold and wet. As the forecast was for more of the same we headed straight to Whyalla and a good camp overnight behind the Weeroona Bay Football Club.

 

We were given a friendly welcome and a lovely farewell with a package of home cooked goodies for morning tea on the road.

 

 

 

We enjoyed it all on the way to The Brinkworth Travellers Rest which was good value at $12/night for power, water, wc and shower. We had a restful few days there and enjoyed walks around the historic railway town and surrounds. The nights were cool at 4 degrees but the days were lovely.

 

 

 

 

May 5th saw us on our way to Renmark where we set up at Plush’s Bend on the Murray. It is a truly lovely spot and for the first time for a while we were able to eat outside as it was nice and calm. Plenty of birds here with V formation of some 50 or so pelicans flying over, plus swamp hens, ducks, eagles, hawks, heron, darter, galahs, kookas, magpies, butcher birds, minas, egrets and more. Many of them performing for us as we enjoyed breakfast on the riverbank.

 

Caught freshwater shrimp in our traps and fished for the rest of the week the our only success being carp and a few scrawny redfin.

We had a good look around Renmark which is very attractive along the riverside.

Our camp neighbor was Gary from the Gold Coast and his dog JB ( Jim Beam). JB enjoyed the carp heads and was obviously a discerning foody as he left the rest of the body.

A drive across to Berri produced our first “Aldi shop” for some time. We relished a lamb roast followed the next night by an Old Sod pie both a la camp oven.

Nights and mornings became quite cold as there were frosts in the area although the days were nice and sunny. We warmed up in the mornings thanks to the warmth from our gas oven for 20-30 minutes.

 

From here we head into Victoria to camp again on The Murray at Psyche Bends near Mildura

Onward to Port Lincoln

Leaving Ceduna behind we drove down the west coast of The Eyre Peninsular to Haslam Campground to the north of Streaky Bay. The jetty here was once used to load wool and wheat off the coast. The first blocks of land sold to settlers here at auction for €9.9.4

We weathered a thunderstorm on our first night and drove into Streaky Bay the next day to shop and buy some bait.

Streaky Bay saw a world record shark caught by rod and reel by a young local fisherman, this massive shark was a world record catch weighing 1520kg and more than 5m long. It was caught on a 24kg line in April 1990 after a 5 hour 15 minute struggle.

 

Our fishing yielded small fry with the exception of a nice squid enabling us to enjoy our first fresh caught calamari for dinner.

 

 

The local oyster farmers at Haslam have to drive well out into the shallow waters to launch and retrieve their boat on a daily basis.

 

 

Swag huts and bush shower

 

 

 

 

 

After a few days at Haslam we ventured further down the coast to Coodlie Park Farm Retreat near Venus Bay where we spent one night before driving on to Port Lincoln where we are currently at the Caravan Park at North Shields. The weather is now quite cool with maximums of 17 and 18 degrees following very chilly nights. The first couple of days were windy but now, thankfully it is much calmer.

 

A visit to Coffin Bay saw us return with fresh oysters and Dawn has bagged a very nice 46 cm flathead off the beach behind our campsite.

 

 

Welcome Swallow

 

We are here until Monday 1st of May when we fish spot hop our way up the east coast of the Eyre Peninsular.

At last phone reception and net coverage here has allowed us to bring the blog up to date even with the connection dropping out on a regular basis.

 

Kalgoorlie/Boulder and then The Nullarbor

We arrived in Kalgoorlie after a brief rest stop in Coolgardie on the way.

After a good wander around Kalgoorlie and Boulder we extended our stay here in the hope of getting a parcel from Sydney which had not arrived after allowing 10 days.

The Superpit Gold Mine is an amazing site with 3.5 klm of open cut mine. The view into and over the pit is extraordinary. With decades of production still ahead it is beyond comprehension that our government is going to allow the Chinese to buy a major share in the mine. Although with everything else they are selling to them what is one more nail in our national coffin?

The old ghost townsite of Kanowna, north of Kalgoorlie, was where we spent some time prospecting for gold. The only metals we dug up were bits and pieces of all that remains of the town of over 12,000 people and 16 pubs here back in the day.

The cemetery has graves from the 1800’s with the last burial there in 1925.

The character of Kalgoorlie and Boulder has been well retained with the original and refurbished frontages to the pubs and stores. There is still one remaining  brothel in Kal. and there are topless barmaids in some of the pubs.

 

 

 

10/04/2017 We were driving out of town after an early morning shop when the Post Office rang to say that the parcel had finally arrived!!

 

 

We drove back to pick it up and the headed for Norseman where we refuelled and headed to our first camp across the Nullarbor, Fraser Range.

 

At the western end of  unique wooded area the size of England, Fraser Range Rest Stop looked out over a salt lake.

Departing at 8 am we topped up with petrol later at Balladonia,  and drove the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, 146.6 klm. Baxter Rest Area, 67 klm west of Caiguna, was our next overnight camp. We set up the BBQ and after dinner retired early with a full moon encouraging a pack of dingoes. They were howling not far away from our camp. We had heard them before in the Northern Territory and north WA but not as many as we heard here.

Putting more klms under our belt we spent the next night at Mundrabilla, behind the roadhouse. It was only a short hop the next day to Eucla. A police car, travelling west, did a U-turn and pulled us over at 9.15 am for a breathe test as part of the Easter blitz. We spent 2 nights at Eucla and visited The Travellers’Cross Memorial and The Eyre Memorial.

Sat 15/04 saw us over the border and into SA but not before another breathalyser. Photo stops along the way included the coastline and cliffs of the Great Australian Bight and Nullarbor Roadhouse.

Arriving at Nundroo, we had to book in behind the roadhouse for 2 nights as Ceduna is booked out until Easter Monday.  Nundroo amenities are an absolute disgrace, run down and filthy. The place is run by third world immigrants and they haven’t forgotten how they lived there. The only thing  going for Nundroo is the cheapest fuel across the Nullarbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We called in to the windmill museum at Penong where locals have restored many windmills including the largest in Australia.

 

 

 

 

Dingoes’ Lair hole on Nullarbor Golf Course

Ceduna was a breath of fresh air on Monday. We could stay only one night in Ceduna as they were booked out from Tuesday onwards until the end of the month. School holidays and a couple of caravan clubs had the town booked out.

Next we head down the west coast of the Eyre Peninsular in SA.

Mangowine Homestead near Nungarin

Leaving Merredin we headed through Nungarin to Mangowine Homestead which is a National Trust property leased by the council. We are set up here for the week and the Warden, Bob, took us for a tour of the old homestead and surrounding buildings which was very informative and full of local history.

We are the only ones staying here at present and it is a bit warmer than our previous camps although the nights are cool. The flies are still very friendly when the breeze drops.

Took a drive into Mukinbudin, which I last saw in 1970 when working in the wheat belt. It hasn’t changed very much.

We walked to the top of the rock behind the homestead and added another rock to the cairn. Visited the family cemetery on another walk around the property.

The old Inn here was a stopover for people travelling to the gold fields from Toodyay in the west. A copy of Chloe hangs on the wall.

There is a one hundred plus year old fig tree still fruiting each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Salmon Gums have been magnificent throughout the wheatbelt with their summer colours showing their best with the sun on them

We paid a visit to the markets at Nungarin and after saying our farewells to Bob on 4/4/17 we drove via Muka, for fuel, and across to Southern Cross where we purchased a WA Miner’s Right and a pie ( as you do).

50 km east of Southern Cross we pulled in at Karalee Rocks and Dam where we camped for a couple of nights. There were about 20 vans in there for the night.

 

 

We walked around the dam bank and along the old aquaduct out to the rocks which like many of the granite outcrops through the wheat belt were used to capture the rainfall.

Butcher birds and magpies along with the mandatory flies have been our companions here.

ANYHOW HAVE A GOOD ONE

Blowing an easterly this morning so it’s sure to be a warm one.

They like it that way and will make their presence known.

Some people call them friendly when upon them they do swarm

With small, medium and large ones buzzing like a storm.

Around your head they love to be in your ears and up your nose

Covering you in such numbers you can hardly see your clothes.

The tough ones love the Aerogard so don’t you be surprised

When they feast upon it mightily and crawl into your eyes.

The March ones like the colour blue, no matter light or dark

And will bite right through the clothing and really make you smart.

The short wave sends them flying right around your hand

To buzz into your ears and mouth and come back in to land.

We walk around under the veil and eat beneath the net

We’ve tried to beat them many ways but not succeeded yet.

To áve a good weegend my friend will take successive tries

But it wouldn’t be Australia without the bloody flies.

Mangowine Homestead April 2017 © TCD

26/4/17 saw us heading for Kalgoorlie.

 

 

 

Wagin and onto Kwolyin Camp near Bruce Rock

Booked into the Wagin Caravan Park for 7 nights and with a mix of fine and showery days with temps up to 31 deg we have visited local parks, walks and the Big Ram, Baart.

We walked part of The Wait-Jen trail alongside Lake Parkeyerring and drove out to Puntapin Rock.

Another thunderstorm produced an influx of mozzies most of which we left behind when we set off for Kwolyin Camp via Narrogin where we shopped and re-fuelled on our way.

 

Arriving at Kwolyin ghost-town site we were greeted by a thousand flies and a warm afternoon. Bruce Rock council have done a good job here with flushing toilets and good camp facilities with a 72 hour maximum free stay. We enjoyed some good walks around the camp area and also The Railway Walk, Granite Gardens Walk and Cathedral Rocks. Staying here has inspired another poem which tells a bit more about this place.

KWOLYIN

A myriad stars light the dark canopy, twinkling, now the only lights over Kwolyin,

A town bereft of buildings here to see, with eyes straining in darkness to peer within.

Here and there a broken slab remains.

Remnants of a golf course tee lookout on growth regenerated where fairways once were plains.

In bush a concrete strip oft heard “owzat he’s out.” 

A footy ground with scrub fed by rains, overgrown, lost evidence of many a cheer and shout.

A nondescript grave site, with a few laid to rest in their beloved Kwolyin, looks out of place.

Close at hand an overgrown railway also at rest, its rusting rails and rotting sleepers losing pace.

Some denied the lifeblood water and a railway barracks, which saw the town displaced.

The arsonist’s burning of the pub where Kwolyin town here once had pride of place,

Now left to the bush to steadily reclaim its own.

But for a sign or two none would have known.

Carved from the bush

It returns to the bush.

March 2017 © TCD

Leaving here we drove across to neighbouring Shackleton and photographed Australia’s smallest bank building before heading through Bruce Rock to Merredin where we had a break and small shop.

Windy Harbour and Cosy Corner

We have had a mix of weather here at Windy Harbour, from calm and warm to windy and cool.

Walks have included Point DÉntrecasteaux, The Window, Tookalup Lookout, lighthouse and Salmon Beach. A visit to Northcliffe for fuel and the Understory Walk with sculptures and artwork in the bush was very good.

 

An evening fishing produced 6 nice herring which made a tasty meal and another visit to Salmon Beach produced a great flathead meal with fillets so big they had to be halved to fit in the pan. Well caught Dawn.

The camp here has been good with friendly caretakers and a memorable push button shower which gives about 15 seconds of hot water per push. Power here is limited to 10 amps  and we have had issues with our solar charged battery and some of the interior lights to the Burrow.

On 9th March, after a wet night and in light rain with a stiff breeze, we left Windy Habour driving via Northcliffe and onto Walpole. It was wet, cold and windy so we didn’t do the tree top walk, and satisfied ourselves with a pepper pie and coffee at the bakery. Further on at Denmark, we did a small shop and refuelled with LPG before driving on to Cosy Corner near Albany, where we got the last free camp spot available and will be here for a week. We were forty minutes later than anticipated as the GPS co-ordinates in Camps 8 book were incorrect and landed us in a farmer’s driveway about 15 kms away.

On the trip here from Windy Harbour we have had our first breakages, two glasses, since leaving nearly 18 months ago. Also had some water blow in through a seal at the front of the air conditioner. Hopefully, it is now fixed with some magic tape supplied by our neighbours, Kev and Lynda.

Kev and Lynda had a repeat visit ticket to the historic whaling station in Albany which they passed on to us. Our visit there was very good and we enjoyed the tour, movies  and exhibits despite extremely strong wind. We shopped and re-fuelled and arrived back at camp to find that several people had lost awnings and annexes in the blow. Fortunately again we came through unscathed as we were camped in a more sheltered corner than they were.

Had a few unsuccessful fishing trips before finally bagging a small feed of herring. Small fish and crabs were pinching bait most of the time and weed was an issue also.

12/3/17 produced an overnight thunderstorm which we weathered OK and awoke to a fine morning.

Another fish with Kev produced a small whiting and another feed of herring.

A visit to The Australian ANZAC Memorial in Albany was very good and provided excellent views over King George Sound.

 

We have decided to miss going to Esperance due to road closures and detours from storm damage and will head north via Wagin. Hopefully it will be a bit warmer than the south coast.

Margaret River Area

Our first 3 days at Gracetown have been spent with Lynne at her son’s beach house and we have been spoilt with all the running about. We have visited galleries, coffee shops, Cape Naturaliste, Prevally Beach, Margaret River and the river mouth plus so much more. Thank you Lynne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was showery at best but the intrepid travelers kept at it.

When Lynne left for home we moved to Gracetown Caravan Park for a few days where our visitors included 3 kookaburras, two of which sat at our table to be fed.

 

 

A “game“of tennis proved how unfit we are.

We visited Gnomesville at Dardanup which has inspired another poem.

GNOMESVILLE

They are gathered on the banks of the creek which to them is home,

Even the one swinging back and forth and known as Metro Gnome.

The gnomes were here the gnomes were there

Wherever you looked the gnomes were there.

On the banks of the creek they were lined, with every gnome you’d hope to find,

In the hollows and on the hills too, up the trees and beside the road through.

There were cricketing gnomes and soccer gnomes, basketball, softball and badminton gnomes.

The hockey trollops they were there along with some gnomes with golden hair.

Every club and group was represented there by gnomes from far and wide.

The Turners with Mum and Dad, the kids and a dog were proudly sitting on a log.

The Farrington-Brownes from Derbyshire, with vacant stares stood around a fire.

A nursing team who were far from home were all sat listening on a phone.

A tea party of gnomes sat around a table taking tea with Aunty Mabel.

Everywhere was a gnome at home, so many it even prompted a poem.

Gnome gnome on the range where acres of little folk dwell,

Where red caps are showin’ and white beards are blowin’

Right here in this Gnomesville bush dell.

The whole affair was quite surreal and this scene in the bush had a funny feel.

There wasn’t a gnome away from home under the measured beat of The Metro Gnome.

So head out now to Dardannup and add to this story.

Bring your own little gnome for a piece of the glory.

You wont leave your gnome alone.

Jan 2017 © TCD

  On the way home we visited Busselton and Dunsborough, where we had afternoon tea with Dennis and Colleen who we met at Vince Connolly Crossing in NT and then again at Bullara Station WA. It was lovely to catch up and to enjoy some more of Colleen’s famous scones, which were all the rage at Bullara Station.

 

 

From Gracetown we had a short hop across to Wharncliffe Mill camp closer to Margaret River and in the middle of a karri forest. The bush walks were good with one of them ending up about 12km when we took a wrong turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time has been spent exploring the Margaret River area with visits to Cowaramup, Mgt River, Augusta and Cape Leuwin. Wineries, deer farm and the cape lighthouse where the Indian and Southern oceans meet plus lunch at Colour Patch in Augusta were among our stops.

  Walks and more walks saw us slowly regain some fitness and nibble off a bit of weight.

 

 

 

 

 

Our next move was a little further south down Caves Road to Leuwin Naturaliste National Park, Conto Campground. This is a lovely camp set amongst peppermint trees within walking distance of the rugged coastline. The Cape to Cape walk from Leuwin in the south to Naturaliste in the north passes here, and the walk along the cliff tops was awesome, with great views to the sea and rocks below, and to the beach at Conto Springs where we had a dip in the ocean.

We are becoming quite reasonable bread and scone makers and Dawn has excelled with some lovely pies.

Little blue fairy wrens have been coming right up to our feet here and we have seen race horse goannas. Brush tailed phascogale , pygmy possums, ring tails and brush tail possums are returning to the area after successful 1080 baiting of foxes and feral cats for the past 20 years.

From here we head to Windy Harbour on the south coast. Hope that it doesn’t live up to its name too much so we can enjoy some good fishing.

The House Sitting Continues

We have enjoyed the month of January and early February house sitting firstly at Bullsbrook and then at Mandurah.

Our time at Bullsbrook was on an acreage property looking after Muz and Covy, two ducks who loved their afternoon “escape time” fossicking around the gardens and lawns. Watering was our main responsibility while there as it was hot and the lawns, gardens and young trees needed a good soak every few days.

 

A couple of our regular little visitors were Splendid Fairy Wrens and Silvereyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to Yanchep National Park was great and on a relatively cool day we had some good walks which have been lacking lately.

 

Dawn fully recovered from her cat clawing and now has both feet approximately the same size!!.

We each had skin checks in Midland and I had the usual dozen or so bits burnt off.

Our hosts at Bullsbrook, Peter and Sue, were away overseas and we left just before they arrived home to look after Sue’s cousin’s place at Mandurah.

 They came down for a day while we were there which was lovely. Peter paddled out in his kayak with a number of drop nets, and was much more successful than we had been in landing a nice feed of blue manna crabs.

 

 

 

 

Mandurah was more watering and giving the daily feed to the local magpies, butcher birds, ibis, bronze-wing pigeons and twenty eights, plus some tucker for the fish in the pond.

Di’s gardens had to be seen to be believed as they were unexpected tropical gardens in a dry sandy environment. Her husband Barney runs a trike tour business in the Swan Valley. Our last few days there saw some light rain and the gardens said their thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to Fremantle saw us catch up with Dawn’s friend Lynne who will be meeting us in Gracetown at her son’s beach house.

Through our  house sits we have made some lovely friends who have opened their homes to us. It has been a joy to look after them.

We have headed a little further south to Gracetown which is close to Margaret River and will make our stay here the topic of the next post.

Internet connection has been very patchy via mobile and difficult to upload photos so the blog has run behind schedule and some photos will have to wait to be shared.