Saturday, 25 August 2012

On to Sydney

Our first night in NSW we spent in Evans Head, a lovely little coastal village on the northern coast. We camped right on the river, with beautiful pelican friends.

The next morning we paid a surprise visit to Rod, a previous boss of Wayne's who moved there 19 years ago. He has a busy vet practice there now so we could only see him for a quick visit.

We have had to change our itinerary slightly to allow Wayne to do some computer work for a day in Newcastle.
No central NSW for us this time round, but we have found the VERY FIRST Big Aussie icon.

We negotiated our way into Pymble in Sydney, where we spent two nights with friends Damon and Ann, and their four kids, Erin, Hamish, Lachie and Angus. We sun baked on the northern beaches one day, watching the filming of "Home and Away", and had a great evening out while Alice babysat the crew.

Leaving Sydney was an experience. We decided the harbour bridge was a must, so off we went. 57km took two hours, AND some mongrel bus driver clipped our wing mirror! Got some good snaps though!

As we are now hugging the coast, we travelled the Sea Cliff Bridge, constructed in 2005 to solve the issue of rock avalanches from the cliffs.

Last night we stopped at Lake Tabourie, a really beautiful peaceful spot. It's probably hell in summer with tourists everywhere, but we basically had it to ourselves. A definite "must come back" place. We watched the storms gathering, and the wind freshening. A little rain overnight, and a gusty wind. The wind is now gale force and amazing. Today's driving might be a challenge. We could stay another day here, but we might blow to New Zealand!

I know! Another b*** sunset!!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Southern Queensland - Part 2

A hair-raising drive over Mount Mee showed us some spectacular scenery, but was very steep for the poor motorhome! Perched on the top of the ridge, outside Dayboro, is Diana and Tim's amazing house. It's built with the flavour of a mediaeval castle, and has wonderful views.  

We, and many other interstaters have lobbed in on them to attend the inaugural Queensland Griffon Champ Show, which attracted an amazing 100 hundred entries - all griffons. We also exhibited at the Ekka (Brisbane Royal) and another show for Toy Dogs. It was great to see our little Pricklepants again, and to see that he still remembers us!

All in all the week was a huge success. We are returning with lots of ribbons, but more importantly, we have had a great time with lovely people. Can't thank you enough guys!

Southern Queensland - Part 1

Having left Rockhampton, we meandered our way down the coast towards Brisbane. We had a good time discovering all about Macadamia farming, Bundaberg Rum and Ginger Beer. 

We are still collecting water samples. This one was from Ban Ban springs, a natural spring and Aboriginal gathering place.
We headed on down towards Marg and Danny at Goomeri. Marg and I were friends at school from Prep. It's always good to be together again. They have a beef farm in a lovely part of Queensland, and I loved my time there, catching up, checking on the new calves and soaking up some sun.

Unfortunately, time to move on again!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Central Queensland

We have made it back East, albeit in the North! We travelled through to Longreach where we played tourist for a day, seeing the QANTAS museum (the airline was conceived and first flew from that area), and the Stockman's Hall of Fame. We loved the QANTAS museum. The tour was full of info, and variety.

The Stockman's Hall of Fame unfortunately was vastly over capitalised for the information it contained. It is obviously catering for the o/s tourist wanting the whole Aussie experience. By chance we discovered the township of Barcaldine, birthplace of the Australian Labour Party, following the shearers' strike back in the 1890's. The symbol of this chapter in our history was a magnificent old "tree of knowledge". Sadly, it was poisoned and killed early this century, but the town has erected this interesting series of enormous wind chimes to perpetuate the monument.

We have now spent a lovely time with the Stanleys in Rockhampton. It was great to sit and enjoy each other's company in their beautiful surroundings. On Saturday, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Wayne and Grant, best buddies since boyhood. Little Milly will be six on Tuesday, so that meant three different cakes!

The griffons flew up and joined us on Thursday, so we're in doggy mode now. Great to see them again!!

Today we had a lovely picnic at Yeppoon, and then a wander around Mount Archer, with panoramic view, inspite of the controlled burns today.

 Finally, moonrise over Gret Keppel Island. 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Barkly Tablelands

Having left Daly Waters, we continued south to Three Ways, where we finally turned left (amazing, after so many hundreds of kilometres of straight road) and headed east towards the Queensland border. The land is very flat and dry, with untidy scrub, and very few trees. What watercourses we passed were all dry. 

The cattle are a specially developed breed - Droughtmasters, which are best suited to the poor conditions. They are basically Brahmans (the Indian sacred cows) crossed with regular shorthorns. Very little of the land is fenced, so it's not unusual to see them grazing along the roadside. At least they seem more road smart than the poor kangaroos. It's depressing how many crumpled Kangaroo carcasses we had driven past - Poor buggers. We camped at a cattle station called Barkly Homestead, and shared our plot with this beautiful boy!

Over the border and into Queensland! We're racing a bit at the moment, to allow for some much needed travel-free time with friends soon. We did have a quick look at Winton, the birthplace of Banjo Patterson's Waltzing Matilda.

Wayne's 50th Birthday

We headed off from Kununurra after a trouble free time with the mechanic - wonderful man! While waiting for him to finish, we were compelled to shop for Argyle pink diamonds. I loved them, but alas, the card would bounce far too high! Statistics are as such:
One in 10,000 diamonds is pink.
They cost 20 times that of a white diamond
95% of the world's pink diamonds come from the Argyle mine near Kununurra

A warm day in the car took us to a VERY dusty spot on the Victoria River, and we have now marched across the Northern Territory to our northern most point in the trip at Katherine. We are now heading south for a bit before heading east for Queensland.

Today, being Wayne's big 0 birthday, we have sought out a suitably quirky place to celebrate. We stopped for an ice-cream at the Larrimah Pub - bright pink, and suitably odd, but too early in the day to stop. It is also the highest altitude pub in the Northern Territory, and sports a giant Stubbie outside.

We ended up at the Daly Waters pub, which is totally jammed full of ANYTHING anyone could think to collect, from bras to coins to dutch clogs.
Had a blissful soak in their pool and then a yummy meal. Only problem was that they felt some live entertainment was in order. We lasted under 5 minutes before retiring for an early night. Daly Waters has a very interesting past, having been a telegraph station and post office for the region. It was then the perfect spot to refuel the early QANTAS planes heading from Sydney to Singapore. That really put it on the maps, and it was then integral in Australia's air defence during WW2. These days it has a permanent population of 18 souls, although it would seem there is a nightly population of about 500 travellers!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Kimberley - Part 3

Our last few days in this region was spent at Lake Argyle, relaxing, doing some homework and exploring while we waited for the mechanic in Kununurra to be able to fill the mystery substance into the mystery tank!

Lake Argyle is the biggest man-made lake in the southern hemisphere. It was formed when the Ord River was dammed in the 1960's. It has a capacity 21 times that of Sydney Harbour. The down side is that vast tracts of significant Aboriginal grounds were flooded - without any discussion with their elders. The up side is that it produces hydro-electric power for the region, and assures permanent water for irrigation for the Ord basin around Kununurra and Wyndham. There is SO much water!! They only ever use 5% of the yearly catchment, so lots is just released regularly to flow out to sea 120km away. In fact, during the 2010 wet season they released enough every day to service the needs of the whole state for a year! There has been talk of a pipeline, but it has been dismissed as too costly/ infeasible.

Sorry - can't work out how to rotate!


Would love to stay longer, but must roll on into the Northern Territory...