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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Home Again 26 August 2013

Well gentle reader, we have reluctantly headed for home through the city traffic. While we were sad our holiday has come to an end, we were looking forward to seeing our home and Nicky. Lindy had been minding Nicky (and the house) and did a great job – Nicky was very pleased to see us and the house and garden looked great. We spent the next few days emptying and cleaning the motorhome – it felt strange being in such a large house and will take a bit of getting used to again, but we have many happy memories and already planning our next trip!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Doyalson 25 August 2013

Had a lazy start in the morning and then went to listen to some more great jazz. Having organised many festivals, Peter appreciated the work that has gone into making the weekend such a success and with the change to a new venue, hopefully the festival will gain a higher profile. On Sunday we heard the New Empire Ragtime Band Orchestra. The band consisted of about 20 young people all dressed up in 1930's costume and playing ragtime music – we hadn't heard such a full sound before and enjoyed the experience. Galapagos Duck and George Washingmachine also played and brought back memories of listening to jazz in our earlier days. Drove out of Newcastle and camped at Doyalson for the night.

Newcastle 23 – 24 Aug 2013

Drove into Newcastle over the massive Stockton Bridge and through the industrial complex we were looking at last night. As well as the other industrial activities, there are enormous coal terminals and the government wants to build another one because of the long delays in shipping the coal out, but there is a lot of local opposition to this proposal – the conflict between economic growth and the environment has been a feature of our trip from Mackay to Newcastle. We camped near the racecourse for the Newcastle Jazz Festival and in the morning Peter went to a few garage sales. Even though it is held in a large city, the festival is smaller than most festivals we visit and has a greater emphasis on traditional (trad) jazz. There were mainly local artists that played a mixture of music from trad through the standards to modern and we enjoyed the variety. We enjoyed a group called Frenchman Street, who replicated the sound of a New Orleans street band and played a typical selection of music from the 1920's. The 2 outstanding modern musicians were Andy Firth and Andrew Dickeson, who played superb modern jazz while still having a great time.
One of the biggest disparities we noticed between jazz and folk festivals was the age difference – except for some of the performers there wasn't many 'young ones' around. Folk has managed to capture a broader cross section and will continue to flourish and grow – I hope jazz works out some way of capturing the interest of younger people.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stockton 22 August 2013

Drove down to Raymond Terrace to have a look at the town. It has certainty grown in the past few years, with a new shopping complex right in the middle of the CBD, thus keeping all the shops together. The weather has taken a turn for the worst with strong winds and clouds keeping the temperature down – we wanted to turn around and head north again. Drove through beautiful farm lands until we got to Stockton. We have never been here before and were surprised at the magnificence views looking towards Port Stevens, however we camped on the western side facing the Newcastle industrial area. While not scenic, it was interesting looking across the Hunter River towards the coal terminals (largest in the world) amidst the massive cranes and silos. We watched the sun go down and the illuminations of the factories making a wonderland of lights. Ironically there was a report on the news about the dangers of the micro-particles of coal dust in the Hunter and the health problems it inflicted on local residents.

Johns River 21 August 2013

Headed south for Newcastle, stopping at Kempsey for lunch, which now has a bypass around it. Bought some pies from Freddos (best pies in Australia) and had a wander around town. While it is a lot quieter now the shop keepers complained about the downturn in trade. Camped at Johns River, a small village off the highway.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coffs Harbour 20 August 2013

Had a look around Lismore in the morning. It seems more prosperous than when we last visited it and when we had a look at the shops this was reflected in the prices. Drove down to Woodburn along a country road and enjoyed the rich farming land. Took a detour to avoid Grafton and arrived in Coffs Harbour in the afternoon and camped near the beach at a jetty. We watched the fullmoon rise over the harbour amidst fluffy grey clouds.

Lismore 19 August 2013

Set off in the morning for NSW and promptly got lost on the Brisbane motorways. After going around in circles we at last worked out that the RTA had changed the name of the M4 to the M2! Camped at Lismore Showground and went out to see Natalie, a friend of the family. She and her boyfriend are studying here and enjoy living in Lismore. Had a lovely meal and a catch up.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ipswich 14 – 18 Aug 2013

Drove through more dense bush and past some majestic lakes then onto flood plains and manicured wheat fields at Fernvale. We were surprised how close we were to Brisbane (about 40km) yet we were still in the country. Drove onto Ipswich and stopped for a few days at the showground. We hadn't been to Ipswich before and didn't know what to expect, but while it is a large city of 150,000, it still felt like a manageable town rather than a suburb of Brisbane. Being so close to Brisbane it seems to have a dual personality, always overshadowed by its big brother but determined to stand on its own feet. It has a distinctive character and all the facilities you would expect in any city.
We enjoyed wandering around the shops and had a look at some old churches and public buildings as well as the art gallery. At the gallery they had a 2m high tunnel which was a giant kaleidoscope and we had a lot of fun making different patterns by standing in front of it. Ipswich has a beautiful river walk, which was opened last year after the major floods of 2011. It seems every town in Queensland that is on a river has been hit by bad floods in the past few years.
Ipswich has also followed other towns in building a new and vibrant shopping centre out of the CBD, thus changing the old shopping centre into a virtual wasteland. We had a lovely time wandering round the town and found interesting little stores (and op shops) tucked away, as well as a decent antique centre and a modern art gallery. On Saturday we got up early to go to a giant antique fair that was held in the showground. There were a great variety of interesting antiques for sale and despite dire warnings from Peter, Heather managed to pick up some more pieces, including a pedigree doll from her childhood. We then went to a Hand Made market, where Heather picked up some ideas on using the materials she had collected.
On Sunday we got up early again for a local market that yet again was held at the showground – just a short walk from the motorhome. After breakfast we had a look at the Classic Car Festival, where we were entertained by Rock n Roll bands and saw some amazing retro cars and caravans. We were amazed at how popular the 50's and 60's look is becoming with lots of 'young folk' getting into retro clothes, accessories and cars. Peter was rather chuffed with his purchase of the Humber Sceptre when he saw how people now appreciate 50's cars. Peter bought a retro handbag for Heather made out of old records from a group called The Radiators.
After that we went to the Ipswich Railway Workshop Museum for an open day. Peter's grandfather worked for the Queensland Railways so he was interested in the workings of the workshops, which were much larger than the Eveleigh Workshop in Sydney and employed over 3,000 people. The museum was very well set out and explained the numerous jobs that were necessary to build the trains and carriages. It also had an art show based around the Steam Punk theme with amazing sculptures, paintings and photos. We finished the day with another opening of an art show in town and then we had intended to leave but decided to spend another night here to recover before heading off down the coast.