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, September 25, 2014

Goondiwindi 25 September 2014

We woke up to a cloudy and windy morning and set off on our southerly trek (it’s gona be windy in Goondiwindi). The road started off fairly well and then deteriorated into the bumpiest road we had encountered in Queensland and we kept our speed down to stop hitting the roof of the cab! From Miles to Goondiwindi, we were amazed to see so many Prickly Pear trees along the road – some up to 6m tall, especially when we had just read about the herculean efforts of the pioneers to get rid of it from the land. Strange how each generation has to learn from their own mistakes! We stopped for the night at a road house just at the edge of Goondiwindi and an enormous truck pulled up next to us with a giant machine on it – heading out to the mines. The driver had his 4 year old granddaughter on board, who loved every minute of the ride. Goondiwindi was a surprise and reminded us of some of the Victorian farming towns – lovely gardens and a prosperous CBD.

Miles 24 September 2014

Woke up to a bright, sunny day and headed towards Miles. More of the same country as yesterday – dry cattle country and through a couple of non-descript villages to Miles. This is a prosperous town, but with none of the charm of neighbouring towns. It is on the junction of 2 major roads, as well as being the supply town for a number of mines in the district, so caters for a large number of FIFO miners. It also has a heritage village which we enjoyed visiting. The locals have pulled in about 30 old buildings from the surrounding villages and stocked them with local artefacts that reflect the early days of white settlement. Peter can remember the tales that his father told him about growing up in the bush in Central Queensland and the museum bought these stories to life. We camped at Chinaman Lagoon on the edge of town and enjoyed watching the water birds settle down for the night.

Theodore 23 September 2014

Set off south again, (stopping at a great op shop at Gracemere) towards Theodore. It was good to get away from the busy coastal highways and onto a country road again. Had been looking forward to eating a banana at Banana, but it looked a bit of a dump (with not a banana tree in sight) so we kept on driving. We passed through a few more dying one horse villages and stopped at the Theodore Showground for the night. Theodore is an unusual town – it was designed as a model town by Walter Burley Griffin in 1928 and has that attractive, but uniform layout typical of these planned villages. It is also built on a floodplain between a river and a creek and when the top their banks, the whole town is flooded. Rather sad but typical of many towns built next to rivers. The last major flood was only 3 years ago and the town has been struggling to get back to normal. We enjoyed our stay in Theodore, as the townsfolk have a great pride in their town and make an effort to maintain it. This area is also prosperous farming country thanks to the river irrigation, so hopefully it will be one of the towns that survive.

Rockhampton 18 – 22 September 2014

Had a long drive for us – from Mackay to near Rockhampton – a pretty but tiring trip. In the morning we camped at Kershaw Gardens, a free camp right in the middle of the city. We had stayed at Rocky for a few weeks last year, so we knew our way around. Rocky is another large town with a thriving shopping mall out of town and a mouldering CBD – rather sad to see all the old heritage buildings decaying. Went out with a few friends to a local pub that has a rodeo out the back - a lot of fun and remembered us of Quamby. We decided to go to a Sri Lankan Festival put on by the local Sri Lankan community but regrettably it turned out to be more of an amateur concert and we (along with a lot of the audience) left at interval. However we enjoyed the dance costumes and the enthusiasm of the performers and their audience. We drove out of town to Woolwash Lagoon for a few days but unfortunately it rained (for the 2nd time this trip) as we got there. We still enjoyed ourselves and had a great time observing the wet land birds.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mackay 17 September 2014

After a hearty breakfast with Deb and Kim, we said goodbye and continued our trip south. The weather is still very warm and we don’t want to go too far south into the cold. Drove through Home Hill and Ayr and stopped outside Proserpine for lunch and then camped at Mackay by the Pioneer River, in a very quiet spot with a few other campers. Mackay seems to get busier each time we visit it with new apartment blocks going up beside the river. Unlike Bowen, they have kept the new shopping centre close to the CBD and that seems to have kept the centre alive.

Bowen 15 – 16 Sep. 14

Got up early in the morning in the morning and drove down to Bowen and as there was no free camping, settled into a caravan park. We hadn’t visited Bowen for about 9 years – unfortunately not much seemed to have changed since we had last been there. One reason may be that Bowen is in a rain shadow area and doesn’t receive enough rain to make it the tropical paradise that people expect in this region. They had made a movie there (set in WW2) and that’s about it. It is interesting that Bowen is positioned between 2 thriving towns (Townsville and Rockhampton) but prosperity has slipped them by – although they are hanging out for the final approval for Point Abbott mining depot (Point Abbott – what is the point)! While Bowen is quite flat and surrounded by mangrove swamps, there are a number of pretty little bays to the northern side. We went for a snorkel at Greys Bay, but it was very murky, so the next day we went to Murrays Beach however it was still murky and although we saw some coral, we didn’t spot any fish. On Tuesday we caught up with a lovely couple, Kim and Deb who owned a local motel. They invited us to camp in their yard and we went over for drinks. They are interested in buying a motorhome and wanted to know what we liked about our travelling – where would we start!

Guthalungra 14 September 2014

In the morning we packed up the motorhome and headed south. We enjoyed our time at Townsville – it had a good mixture of natural attractions and services and we definitely want to stay there again. Headed through Ayr and Home Hill, both pretty little towns but very quiet as it was Sunday and everything was closed. The scrubby paddocks gave way to flat fields of sugar cane and vegetable crops, irrigated from the Burdekin River. We camped at the hamlet of Guthalungra, next to a reserve and discovered another Longreach parked opposite us.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Townsville 30 Aug – 13 September 2014

We said goodbye to Judy and Bill on Friday and took them to the airport. It was great catching up with old friends and certainly made the trip to Magnetic Island more enjoyable. On Saturday we went to the Rock n Rodz Nostalgia Festival where we stepped back in time to listen to Rockabilly Bands, view the classic cars and hot rods, admire the beautiful women’s fashion, enjoy the rock and roll dancing and appreciate all the 50s and 60s memorabilia. We had a quiet chuckle when we realised that we have enough things at home to start our own stall! On Sunday we visited a nursery expo (next to the Ross River Pool Complex)that was overflowing with tropical plants such as bromeliads, ferns, palms, orchids and desert roses (which were spectacular). Although the expo was all about tropical plants, there were enough plants that grow on the south coast to keep us interested and inspired. On the weekend we went to see a play by Thornton Wilder called “Our Town”, an unusually play with no scenery or props and the ‘stage manager’ talking directly to the audience. Although it was an amateur production the principal actors were very good and we enjoyed it immensely. We also had a walk around a marina and had a tour of a replica 15th caravel ship. The owners are older than us and took 10 years to build the ship. They have been sailing it around Australia for the past few years. The caravel design comes from an Arab Dhow and this ship is a replica of the Portuguese ship wrecked in 1522 at Port Fairy. It was amazing to walk over the ship and see how primitive it is and how difficult it must have been to sail and realise that people like Columbus and Vasco De Gama sailed these all over the world. It was also judicially moored next to a 5 million gin palace and the contrast could not have been greater – I know which one would get the most enjoyment from their ship! We finished off with a walk along the Strand and enjoyed an ice-cream while sitting on some deck chairs. The whole promenade is a credit to the council and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much the council can do with the CBD – it is rapidly dying with so many vacant shops that it is hard to find one that was open! Laura decided to come up and see us on the way to Nauru and it was great to catch up with her. She is now responsible for finding employment for refugees and is enjoying her new job. We took her around Townsville and showed her the sights. Laura and Heather caught the ferry across to Magnetic Island and had a great time visiting all the bays and beaches – it really is a special place.