Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Kilcoy 23- 24 December 2008

Drove through a succession of small towns, such as Esk, Toogoolawah, Harlin and Kilcoy. They epitomized prosperous farming communities with old men sitting outside the general store discussing the weather and bulletin board ads for electronic snake repellers, direct drill plantings, one ton utes and cattle dogs. The best was a sign proclaiming ideal Xmas gifts - including steel gates and fencing wire! Stopped at Kilcoy for the night in the local park that is designated for camping, with easy power access. We enjoyed a short walk back into town to an old pub (bottom park) for a drink after dinner. We sat on the veranda with a cooling breeze and enjoyed smooth jazz playing on the outdoor music system – very relaxing! Had a quiet day on Wednesday and went for a drink in the top pub for Xmas Eve. A girlie band was playing all kinds of music – country and western ( sorry – an oldie but a goodie), to an unappreciative audience of five.
Our destination of the Woodford Festival is about ½ hour away. We have now turned the motorhome around into a pretty position for Xmas day. We have power for cooking outside the motorhome and air-conditioning if needed. Who said camping was meant to be hard!

Happy Butcher

Happy Peter

Hamilton 22 December 2008

Stopped at Highfield to pick up our mail and get fuel. First couple of petrol stations had signs up saying no diesel! Problem with an oil refinery, but luckily, we found some! The area also has an old pioneer village that the local historical society is expanding and working at very enthusiastically. It stuck a chord with Peter, as this was the general area that his father worked in timber mills. We have seen a few villages now and there is always something you haven’t come across before. This time Heather was taken with the Ant Bed Oven. Early settlers used them. They insulate so well that you can still cook for three days without adding fuel! They are made of “mud” cement from crushed termite nest about 25cms thick over a frame. The base has big flat stones to cook on which retain this heat for days. The point of interest is the quality of the material the white ant produce. The comments state that scientists think that if they could extract the secrets of the material the strength could allow three kilometre high sky scrapers! Heather wants an oven in her backyard!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Toowoomba 19 - 21 December 2008

Up with the galahs and set off early – we are still on NSW time – hard to adjust to the short evenings. We had forgotten that QLD does not have daylight saving, with the result that it is dark at 7pm and pitch black at 7:30pm. The evening is over so soon so we are just running NSW time. No changing clocks in our motor home! Next stop was Warwick, which impressed us as a delightful town that cared about the aesthetics of the place. We arrived at Woollies to do the Xmas shopping and realised it was 7:30 their time and hardly a soul in sight (though they soon caught up). Bought up on Xmas goodies such as pork, stuffing ingredients, a bit of ham, custard and a lovely icecream.
Drove on in the heat to Toowoomba, a city of over 90,000 people. Decided to stay in a caravan park with a pool. Free camping in big towns is harder and it is less hassle if you stay at a park and the pool sold it - straight in when we parked! This turned out to be the only hot day - back to clouds, wind and threatening rain. We had been looking forward to seeing Toowoomba, as it meant to be one of the most liveable cities in Australia. However, we were disappointed in ways hard to define. It was once a lovely town but now a straggly city. The best part was the parks scattered around the town. They were very impressive and numerous with lovely plants. We also really enjoyed an old section where beautiful decorated old style homes sat under huge leafy green trees on big graceful blocks. One comment we read said that Toowoomba was a retreat from Brisbane’s heat and humidity. That could also be a plus. We will soon find out about that! We could not help comparing it to other (much smaller) towns and felt that Toowoomba seemed to lack a heart that the smaller ones often have in abundance.
On Sunday, we got up early and went to a number of markets. We enjoyed buying up fruit! We enjoyed a visit to a great museum, The Cobb and Co. The varieties of coaches were wonderful to see and highlighted the dependence of people on the horse during that time. That night we drove around and looked at the Xmas lights – there was one whole street where virtually every house was light up.

Bald Rock Creek

Dalveen 18 December 2008

The night was quiet and the early morning chorus got us going early. Went for a morning hike along Bald Rock Creek which was one of the most scenic areas we have hiked. The creek was quite full and moved effortlessly over massive areas of smooth rocks, with narrow crevices that create the lovely bubbling sound of water that everyone loves! We passed massive rounded granite boulders that tethered on the edges of the smooth rock bases of the creek. After a warm early afternoon and the threat of a distant storm blackening the sky, we decided to head north and visit Stanthorpe. After a hot walk around the town noticing the black sky chasing us, it suddenly burst into a heavy thunderstorm. The rain was quite tropical in density with lightning and thunder erupting simultaneously! We were in the middle of it so we settled down for an afternoon tea of cold water melon. Once the storm passed we drove on to a quiet little town, Dalveen, for a quiet night. They have a really nice designated overnight stop in a cute little park.

Our friendly neighbours

Girraween National Park 17 December 2008

In the morning we set off for the twin border villages at the NSW and Qld borders. Its claim to fame is the railway station where the Queensland narrow gauge swapped with the NSW wider gauge. The railway station was built on one side with a Queensland bull noise veranda and on the other side with a skillion roof. Typical of blues/maroon rivalry with the border running diagonally across the platform! We then went on to Girraween National Park, which is famous for the enormous granite boulders that sprinkle the area.
We went for a bush walk shortly after arriving to see the Granite Arch, a 10 tonne boulder sitting precariously on top of two massive stones. Along the way we were very pleased to see good wild flowers - small pink orchids, blue fringed irises and some big patches of flannel flowers. It was pretty hot and we stopped by a waterhole and were rewarded with the sighting of a turtle moving around.
In the evening we had a wood BBQ as they are ok about fires! The area is alive with kangaroos and the joeys have only recently left the pouches. We watched a big joey annoying mum into standing patiently as he put his head back in the pouch to drink for over 15 minutes. They are very confident but do not harass you for food as we think people are heeding the signs not to feed them. They entertained us all evening chasing each other around, as well the rock wallabies. There seemed to be an over abundance of kookaburras who may be managing to feed off campers by stealth!

Keep it up Heather

Tenterfield Campsite

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tenterfield 16 December 2008

Woke up to a crisp, cold morning (overnight min 3deg) and had another look at the early morning sunlight bouncing off the rocks. Drove onto Tenterfield, a small town of about 3,000 people, that had a charm and energy not usually seen in towns this size. They were very proud of their Federation connection – Sir Henry Parkes (their local member) gave the first of his rousing Federation speeches at the School of Arts in 1889 (he also gave one at Kiama, when he was our local member). He was a bit of a character and was called the Member for Where-ever, owing to the large number of seats he occupied during his political career. They now have an impressive museum and theatre devoted to his memory. We walked around the town and enjoyed looking at the many historic buildings. Camped for the night next to a dam on the outskirts of town – very quiet! Lots of beautiful water birds including about hundred black swans.

Celtic Stones

Xmas at Glen Innes

Glen Innes 15 December 2008

Set off north to Guyra – one hell of a cold town – felt like a bad winter’s day in Kiama! We were surprised at how green the country side was – lots of healthy looking sheep and cattle and full dams. However the locals said that there has been a severe drought and only broken recently by heavy rain. Had a late lunch at Glen Innes, a delightful town that has lots of preserved buildings, which promotes the celtic background of the early settlers. Camped at the Australian Standing Stones which are set out in a circle on a hill above the town. There are over 30 of them, about 3m high and are aligned to track the winter and summer solstices. They created an impressive sight set against the setting sun.

Guyra Country

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Heather and her new friend

Armidale 12 – 14 December 2008

Woke up to a change in the weather, with rain sheets and the temperatures dropping about 20oc. Stopped at Uralla for morning tea and then onto Armidale. This is a special town for us, as it was here (as young students), that we first met. While the centre of Armidale had changed very little, the rest of it had grown and was hardly recognisable. Had a walk around Armidale Teachers College, which was rather sad. It had been amalgamated with the local uni (UNE) in 1989 and after stripping it of any usable assets, proceeded to neglect it for 20 odd years. Recently a community group started to raise funds to restore it and it is being used as a music centre. Luckily, the famous Hinton Art Collection was rescued and we had the opportunity to see part of it exhibited in the local art gallery. On Saturday night, we went out to hear two local bands, one a folk group and the other a rhythm and blues band. Both very good and reminded us of our student days.

Werris Creek Station

Tamworth 11 December 2008

In the morning we had a look at the enormous and neglected railway station at Werris Creek. Heather can remember stopping there in the middle of the freezing night and waiting for the connecting train to Walgett. Like most towns we visited, Werris Creek is slowly dying, with empty shops and desolate streets. The locals blame it all on Tamworth being only half an hour away. Drove onto Tamworth, which was striking in contrast – a bustling, noisy city of 35,000 people. Peter remembers it best from working for the SES, when he had to handle the media attention from a big flood that swept through the town. Ironically, Tamworth is just cleaning up from another flood along the Peel River. Decided not to camp near the river, but found a campsite just north of the city and settled down for a quiet night.

Blue Sky

Sign of the Times

Werris Creek 10 December 2008

Moved on along the highway noticing vineyards of fresh young growth and general greenness relating to some decent recent rain! Enjoyed visiting the small towns such Scone along the way! I think when you hurry and go in a car the towns have little meaning and seem boring. We have the time to talk to the people we meet and discover the issues that concern them. As it was very hot, we stopped at Werris Creek for a swim and enjoyed the view so much we stayed the night and watched a magnificent sunset over the surrounding hills.

Singleton Sunset

Singleton 9 December 2008

We started a day later and stopped in Singleton. We parked on the river at the oval with a lovely green field in front. The whole town came to play touch football for a few hours so we pulled up the chairs outside our motorhome and cheered them on! Easy free BBQ, so tea was a breeze. A quiet warm night.

Evening Entertainment

Blaxland 5 – 9 December 2008

At last another adventure! We are off to QLD for 2 months!
We cleaned and tidied our house to death! Hopefully all the family will make use of the coastal accommodation available!
We said a long goodbye at Glenbrook and found the reserve next to Colin’s to be absolutely great! The kids were happy and full of joy! Ready for Xmas!
We started off a bit slowly because Peter hurt his back trying to pick up Sophie! The girls concluded that Peter was getting older! Luckily it is improving though not all together better! Blow us down if he does not hurt his ankle the next day! And what else? Peter also complains that his knee is not too good since we started! See? You need to start this stuff when you are young before you fall to bits!

Homeward Bound

Reading our blog again, we realised it finished rather quickly. That's what happens when you start heading for home - you go from a relaxed state with no plans or appointments to keep, to counting the days when you will be home, amoung family and friends. We had a great time in Tassie - very different from our other travels around Oz and one of our must return trips. We plan to have a few small trips around NSW, then an extended one to Queensland later in the year.