The great road trip 19th Jan 2009
At long last we managed to book our camper van. We took a taxi to go and pick it up and left all our belongings in the Billabong. We had to watch a DVD on how to work it,(and Emma says you can also watch it so you know what we are driving,its called Euro tourer).We decided to invest in Sat Nav, to helpfully not get lost....Ha Ha. Then excitement off we go. Emma drives back to the Billabong... but not as quickly as we should have...Guess what ? Yep we get lost, so much for the Sat Nav, but eventually we get back and transfer our belongings to our new home for the next 33 days. Its about 5pm by now so we decide to sleep in the car park and set off Tuesday.
Some of our friends we have met come out for a goodbye drink. We go to the Dean, where there is suppose to be a free BBQ and drink, unfortunately most of the food is gone when we get there, so we only get a sausage with no roll, but we do get a free drink each and two free jugs of beer to share. Four of the lads play in a pool competition, Against fierce competition only one of them makes it through to the second round. A band is playing, that s really good. Majella and I dance. Majella, Jeff and I stop on the way home for some food, that we eat back at the hostel. Emma and I go off to the camper van.
We sneak back into the hostel to use the toilets before we spend our first night in the camper.
20th Jan ( 184kms)
The alarm clock wakes us up at 8.30, I had a very restless sleep, its not as comfy as a real bed. We have breakfast in the hostel and I go up to Donna's room for a shower(The camper does have a shower and toilet but its very small and manly for emergency use only ...)
We set off on our next part of our journey and head for Bunbury. Its not too far only about 180 kms. Emma does all the driving today as im feeling lazy. We stop on route to stock up with food and essentials.We arrive in Bunbury early afternoon, check into our campsite then head across the road to the beach. Its a nice beach and the dolphins are suppose to come and swim here, but i guess it must be the wrong time of the day. After a couple of hours we head back to our camper van to cook dinner and to our amazement meet two people we had meet at the Billabong hostel Antony and Nicola. .
21st Jan (120kms)
We get up and have breakfast. Then head off to the beach to try and see some Dolphins, but yet again no luck. Then we go back to the camper and head off for Margret river. We have a shopping stop on route and i manage to buy a nice skirt for $4.50, what a bargain. Margret River is famous for its vineyards and stunning scenery. We walk down to the river and it is very pretty. Emma has a paddle, there are some canoes there, we might take one out later. Then we drive into town to explore. When we get back to our camp spot, Antony and Nicola are our neighbours...Its lucky we like one another and NO we are not stalking them. I cook our dinner while Emma chats with them( she did all the driving today, but it wasn't too far) Emma has a walk down by the river while I sit and write some postcards and try and get on line as there is Wi-Fi....but my silly computer wont go on line. We sit and chat a while before we head off to bed. While I'm making the bed, the board in the middle of the seats falls down and breaks the clamp that holds the table in place, but luckily it misses my foot!
22nd Jan (315kms)
After a good nights sleep we shower have breakfast then hit the road. Today we are heading off to Walpole with a stop at Busselton. Busselton has a heritage-listed 2km long wooden jetty,its the longest timber pier in the southern hemisphere.We stop briefly at pemberton and drink some crunchy milkshake and had some Swiss roll, but then we both felt a bit sick. I take over the driving to drive the last 120kms.,which are very twisty tunny roads. Walpole is a very nice campsite overlooking coalmine beach. The weather has been a bit cooler today with a little rain. Emma cooks a nice dinner,Penna chicken with sun dried tomato's, very nice. We both have a walk on the beach before bed.
23rd Jan (130kms)
It rained in the night and i thought we were sleeping in a tin can. We had yummy muffins for breakfast today. Our first stop today is a giant Tingle tree, at 24 metres, this is the largest girthed eucalypt known in the world. There use to be two giant trees here. they are hollow trees and you could have parked a car in it (look at photos and this will make sense...I hope). Then we drove along a very long bumpy road to see a beautiful natural pool in the Frankland river, where there where too many pesky flies. Australian flies are terrible, they love to land on your face..disgusting. Then we drove to Valley of the giants Tree top walk. The Tree top walk soars 40 metres into the Tingle canopy. The ancient empire walk meanders through a grove of veteran trees at ground level and gives another perspective of these magnificent giant trees.
The walkway is actually quite wobbly and you feel a bit seasick while walking on it. Emma buys a certificate for walking it( she is not very keen on heights).We then head off for Albany, we stop in town to have a quick look at the shops, before we head off to our campsite, where we get lost on route(our wonderful sat nav wont accept the address of our campsite) The campsite is the cheapest we have stayed at so far, $25. The campsite is set on the lovely Kalgan river, with Kangaroos playing on the golf course. Emma goes and tries to play with them after dinner.
24th jan(by Emma) (420 kms)
Today we went sight seeing in Albany. We found the natural bridge and gap, you would not want to go swimming in the water there! very impressive features and in such beautiful surroundings. we then went to the blowholes which were a bit further down the coast we walk down the cliff to near where the blow holes are. Sandra walked up to one and jumped a bit when the air came out!! I didn't get to close to the edge, there were danger signs and I'm a bit of a coward!!!
After this we stock up on petrol and head to the wave rock our longest drive so far 365 km!!! It took about 3 and half hours to drive here with both of us doing some. The campsite in right next to the wave rock you couldn't get any closer about 200 mts. After a swim in the pool so nice as it is very hot today and then tea we head to the wave rock after the hot sun has cooled down a bit!! It is very impressive it is 15 mts high and 110 mts long and some of it has been dated back to 2700 million years amongst the oldest in Australia. The shape has been cause by weathering and water erosion which has over cut the base and left a rounded overhang. So it looks like a giant wave so we of course pretended to surf on it and managed not to fall over, it is quite slippy. The rock gets its colour from the water running down it in wetter months and dissolving the minerals adding to the colour.
We then walk to the hippos yawn which used to be part of the wave but is now on its own, and funny enough looks like a hippo yawning!!! I walk to the top to get a picture of the sun setting very pretty. Sandra does not as her flip flop broke when we were walking to the hippos yawn, poor her had to walk a long way back with only one shoe on.
25th Jan (380 kms)
Today we have another big drive ahead, we are heading for Esperance, which have Western Australia's most beautiful beaches.We have another quick look at the wave rock then head off.
We arrived at our campsite about 2.30. We walk to the beach and I'm quite disappointed, the beach is lovely and sandy but there is lots of seaweed on the beach and its very windy. We go for a drive to check out the area, but as its Sunday all the shops here are closed, so we drive around to sight see and end up on a very pretty beach with turquoise sea and beautiful rocks. The sea is very rough here and there are signs warning about the Rip currents. We have a nice walk on the beach before we head back to our campsite for dinner.
26th Jan (60kms)
We wake up to a very sunny hot day. We leave the campsite at 9.30 and head off for some sightseeing along the Great ocean road. Its amazingly beautiful and the sea is very rough and turquoise. Next is Pink lake, only it isn't pink anymore, very disappointing. It lost its pink colour about three years ago. It gets its colour from Algy in the water and three years ago there was a big storm that flooded the lake, which caused a lack of the Algy. One day hopefully it will be pink again. We call in the information centre to get some more maps and plan our route and stops for the next week or so.. Then we set off to get some groceries and petrol, but because its Australia day most of the shops are closed, but after lots of searching we find a supermarket open. We then head off to our next destination, which is only about 60 kms away,Cape Le Grand, which is a National Park. This is our first stop with no electricity hookup, but we have gas in our camper van to cook with. The beach is totally awesome, with pure white sand and turquoise sea. When we get there the tide has just come in and the waves are very big. A van towing two jet skies gets stuck at the edge of the sea and had to be pulled out. First attempt was by a four by four truck, but this didn't work, so then a big fire looking truck came and pulled it out easily. Today the temp is about 44deg, so after a couple of hours on the beach we have to leave or get sun burnt. We head back to our camper van where luckily there is a slight breeze. The weather then changes and we have a small thunder and lightening rain storm, but at least its a bit cooler. Emma cooks dinner, we have steak sandwiches with mushrooms. we lye in the camper van reading, but have to go to bed earlier than usual because we don't want to drain the battery on the van by using the lights, but we both read using our torches. I decide to have an 11pm feast of blue cheese and wine.mmmm Emma laughs and says I will have nightmares.
27th Jan (635kms)
We had planned to spend a few hours at this beautiful beach before we headed off, but unfortunately its still raining, so we set off at 9am. Today is the first day of our long drives with nowhere special to stop. We drive until about 4pm and the last part of our drive was along Australia,s longest straight road 146.6 kms( 90 miles). We spend the night in Caiguna, A very basic campsite with a scary looking motel (one where people get murdered)
Emma is very pleased we have our camper...mmmm and so am I now that she has told me that....
28th Jan (677kms)
We left our campsite this morning at 8.45am, to start our long day of driving. I drove first today for a change. Our first stop was at 11.10, I got flashed by the police going in the opposite direction and thought Oh s***, but carried on going. Until he appeared behind me with flashing lights and flashed me again. I pulled over and Emma woke up, she thought id pulled over for a bush stop(to go to the toilet) but I I said the Police had flashed me. They pulled up behind me and said that I was doing 110 in a 90km limit. He asked me a few questions, one of which was, have I been drinking? So I had to blow into a white plastic tube ! Which he gave me and said all was good. He gave me the papers with a $150 fine and two points on my licence...Not good, but I only have to pay it if I want to come back to Western Australia. We continue our journey, our next stop is Eucla to look at an old telegraph station.We drive through the Nullarbor (meaning treeless plane), it was once part of the ocean bed,. Nullabor is the worlds largest flattest piece of limestone, covering an area of approximately 2000,000 sq kms and up to 300 meters thick.We also make a stop at Head bight, this is a marine National park, where you can Whale watch from June to October. The weather today is really hot, but its the breeze which is worse,that is also hot... We plan to stop at Walata but this is closed, but luckily we only have to travel another 52kms to the next service station at Nundroo.Today we have driven across the border from Western Australia into Southern Australia and gone through two time changes of 45Min's each, so now we are another 90Min's ahead,ten and a half hours ahead of U.K time.At our camp site we hook up to the electricity so we can have the air con on, but while I'm cooking our dinner(cheese and ham omelette's with jacket potato and beans, I melt...We also fill our water tank up with great difficulty taking the cap off to get the water in!
29th Jan (209kms)
Today we are heading off to Streaky Bay, but stopped on route at Smokey Bay instead. This is a very nice small camp site right next to the sea. There is always old country music in the shower block ( my parents would love it) The beach here isn't great, but the water is very clear with hardly any waves. There is only one shop in this small town. We both do our washing, then Emma goes to lie on the beach. The weather is so hot that I stay in the camper Van and read for a while, then go off and explore. This coast is well known for its fishing, crabs ( that have got blue on their claws) and oysters. The people in the campsite are all very friendly and most of the are OAPs. Emma cooks dinner tonight and gets really hot while doing it. We have Tuna bake, I go and sit in the Camp kitchen to eat where there is a slight breeze. We go for a walk on the jetty and some a guy fishing for Squid, but he didn't catch any.
30th Jan (498kms)
Today we cross the Halfway across Australia point at Kimba and drive to Port Augusta. the town is a lot smaller than I imagined.We had a look around but there wasn't a great deal to see. We had fish and chips for supper sitting in our camper in the port, we fed lots of the chips to the seagulls. We managed to get Wi-fi at the campsite, but the connection want great. The weather today is again amazingly hot ....
I didn't manage to sleep until gone 3am this morning, it was so hot in the camper. We had the doors open most of the night, but I think that's worse because it lets the heat in. Emma drives first this morning while I try to catch up on some sleep. Then Emma sleeps while I drive. We actually pull over and stop for lunch, because I start to feel sleepy. Emma drives the last 50kms , where we stop a town called Broken Hill. Its a nice campsite, where we park our camper on some nice green grass. There is a small pool where we go and sit to cool down. Its not really big enough to swim in. The people in the pool are mainly in there 60,s and are very friendly and chatty. We go for a drive around town and up on top of the hill to take some sunset pictures. Then we have dinner in McDonald's,(the first one we have visited in Oz).
The reason we went really was to use their fee Internet. we had planned to out out and party, but didn't see anywhere very lively, so went home to bed instead.
Today we are staying in Broken hill to relax and sight see. We drove around the town to go to an art gallery but it was closed until 1pm. Then off to the shops to stock up on food, Emma bought a new skirt and I got some new knickers, as I seem to have lost some( and no I didn't leave them behind in some sexy mans room....Wishful thinking.... So then we went off to Silverton. Today less than 60 people live there, but in its hay day in 1883 250-300 thousand people lived there, the town is an old mining town, where they use to mine for silver and gold. We could have gone down the mine, but Emma doesn't like going in tunnels. Then we went back to look at the art centre. Where there is a picture claiming to be the worlds largest acrylic painting on canvas (12m 100m). Its a semicircular painting of the bush and sculptures that are in Broken hill. Then we went back to the campsite to relax in out tiny pool and chat with the people there. We had BBQ chicken for dinner.
2nd Feb (464kms)
Today we are heading to small town of Cobar, but first we are off to see the Broken Hill sculptures. Fifty three tonnes of Sandstone were used to make the twelve sculptures, each one by a different artist(check out the photo,s).
Its another very hot day and the last part of the dive was very tricky because there were lots of goats wondering around the side of the road and I nearly ran over a sheep. Because the weather was so hot,we had cold chicken and beans for dinner. I went straight off to bed with a really bad migraine.Emma was busy giving the birds water,there was a thunder and lightening storm with a little rain and Emma took a cool photo of the lightening. we also had another time change today of 30Min's( a very strange way they have there time changes here. The last two were 45Min's each and both of those were on the same day!)
3rd Feb (298kms)
A nice short drive today to a town called Dubbo, We are in New South Wales (Since just before Broken Hill) and this is our third state we are in. We arrive about 12.30 an there is a really nice looking pool, so you can guess where I head off to. em ma joins me about an hour later, where we have the pool to ourselves most of the time. The weather changes and it looks like we are going to have another storm. Luckily Emma's washing has already dried. We drive to town to have a look around and use the Internet. Then decide to go off to the Cinema, we see Bride wars, which is quite funny.
4th Feb (460 kms)
Today we are heading for Oxley wild falls National Park, Emma drives first, but unfortunately (and very painfully) I get another migraine, so poor Emma drives all the way. I start to feel slightly better but Em insists that she is ok to drive. We camp in a lovely shady wooded area, where there are only three other vehicles camping. I cook dinner, then my head gets really bad again, so I go to bed. When I wake up its dark and Emma's not back so I get very worried and stressed and set off to look for her, luckily I find her very quickly, she is busy talking to our neighbours. Feeling like my head is about to split in two i crawl back in bed take some tablets and try to sleep.
5th Feb (280kms)
After breakfast we go to look at the waterfalls in the park. Then we set off for Coffs Harbour, but stop a couple of times on route for sightseeing,first Armadale, to the tourist information the called into MacDonald's to use the Internet, but for some reason my computer wouldn't connect....arrrgh. Next stop was Wollomori to see a supposedly great waterfall ( its the longest single drop of water in Australia) but sadly it was disappointing because the lack of volume of water (Emma thought this sentence was funny?) While I was driving later that day, we drove around some of he worst bends I have encountered whist going down what seems like megga steep hills and it went on for ever and ever. After checking into our camp site, we drove to the beach for a couple of hours and then popped into the shops quickly. Then back to the site for omelet.
6th Feb (387kms)
Today we are heading to Brisbane. The roads really change today and get very busy. We stop off for lunch on route, then we drive around Brisbane to see if we can find any camp sites. I'm amazed at how busy Brisbane is. Very different from the quiet Australia that we have seen so far. We drive back 12kms to the campsite, which is very big and expensive to what we have been paying. Its Emma,s turn to have a headache today, I think it was the tricky hill starts in Brisbane...I'm pleased I wasn't driving. I go off to find the Internet, but its in the laundry and its like a sauna, so I give up and just have a walk around the campsite.because e are so far out of Brisbane, we have a quiet night as usual.
7th Feb(233 kms)
This morning we are heading off to the Eumundi craft and food market, which had some nice clothes, food and bits and bobs. We managed to taste lots of freebies as we walked around the market, including two cups of popcorn. Then we drove to Noosa, which was a very pretty. We then decided to drive back towards Brisbane and stop in Lanesborough, all ready to go to the famous Steve Irwin ( the crocodile hunter) zoo. Then go and see my good friend Andrea and meet her new hubby tomorrow....can,t wait to see her.
Today we are off to the Steve Irwin zoo in Brisbane. We get there nice and early as we know there is a lots to see. We arrive at 9.15 and to our amazement the zoo isn't open. We wait about 20 Min's then a nice young lady comes out and says hi and show us a blue tongued lizard We ask her about the opening times and she says yes they do open at 9.00 am. I look at my watch and its 9.40.She goes to check on the opening time, then we find out my watch is an hour fast. We have gone through another time change in Brisbane of 1 hour, that we didn't know about!
Once in the zoo, we see lots of animals. Wombats (even one going for a walk on a lead) they walk them every day to give them exercise. Elephants, which we fed in the afternoon, Kangaroos and wallabies, which we stroked and fed. Lots of beautiful birds,snakes, lizards, Crocodiles, Huge Aldebaran Tortoises,Dingoes, Camels,Crocodiles, Tasmanin devils, Spiky Echidnas and our favourite the very cute Koalas. The Koalas were very sleepy, they about 20 hours a day and feed for the other four. They had some which we were allowed to stroke which were sleeping in the trees. We watched a show while in the zoo from what they call the crocoseum, the stars being the crocodiles.We were told all about how dangerous they are and how to avoid being attacked by them, so they can live safely.
As we left the zoo Andrea rang us with directions on how to get to her house, which was only 10 minutes away from the zoo.
We had a great evening catching up on all one an others news and we got to see her wedding pictures( she was a beautiful bride) and of course meet her wonderful husband Steve. They were wonderful hosts and we ate alfresco and had a nice BBQ.
Its lovely to wake up in a nice comfy bed and not worry about getting up in the night to go to the toilet( In the camper van, you have to wander off and find the toilets and sometimes they are not very close). I'm up first so I make a cuppa and head off to use the Internet. When every one is up Andrea takes Emma and I for a drive then off for a walk on one of the local beaches. Its all surfing beaches around here and the waves look very rough to me. Andrea assures me that its a lot calmer than usual ( Emma and I both agree the sea is too rough for us to swim in.) Then Andrea goes off to work ,while Emma and I chill in her lovely house. We spend the afternoon catching up on jobs on the net and doing washing. Emma goes to pick Andrea up from work at 6.30, then Andrea cooks us a lovely meal of chorizo sausage with pasta and a delicious cream sauce with Cornetto for desert( Emma and Andrea call it pudding). Tonight Andrea is looking at photos of our travels, and we have a nice relaxed evening.
Andrea is at work early this morning, she works 6.30 until 9.30, Emma relaxes and sleeps in until midday. While I sit and chat with Andrea and Steve. Steve is working lates this week (2-10pm) and Andreas afternoon job is 1.30-6.30pm) so when they go off to work Emma and I go off to do some sightseeing and pop into some shops. Emma buys herself a nice pair of black sandals. We head back to Andreas, where i cook a roast dinner and Emma picks Andrea up from work. Andrea loves her meal and says we can stay as long as we like.... We watch a DVD, Jane Austins, book club.
11th Feb (85km)
We head out with Steve and Andrea this morning to have a quick look around their local area, (which is very pretty) and have drinks in a coffee shop over looking the local area and the sea in the distance( very pretty). We head back to their house where they both have to rush off to work. We say goodbye as we are heading off back on our road trip. We head off to see the Glass house Mountains, they are called this because a man from Yorkshire thought the mountains reminded him of glass furnesses back home. Then Emma drove us to Redcliffe, which was a nice short journey.
Today we head off to the shopping centre at the airport. Was a little disappointing, we both bought nothing, but we did some bargains in the food department in Woolworth's. We then went to MacDonald's to check our E-mail, then headed off to the local shopping centre at Redcliffe. We both tried on lots of clothes there and I ended up buying a dress in the sales.
We went to the cinema to see He,s just not that into you, which was an average film.
13th Feb (80kms)
Today its raining, which is a nice change from the heat. We are going to stay at my 2nd cousin Clare's house tonight in Brisbane, which will be nice.We go and look at Mount Coot Tha
look out but because of the weather you cant see very much. We sit and have lunch at the look out in the rain. then head off to the shop again ( We are not shop o,hillocks but Emma is looking for some new T.shirts but she cant find any she likes) We meet Clare at her house ( which is a lovely 5 bedroom detached) She makes us very welcome and cooks us a lovely dinner. Clare is a very big rugby fan,so we watch it while we chat.
Another rainy day, so no good for sightseeing. Clare and I have a nice morning chatting. Emma sleeps until lunchtime. Clare makes us nice blueberry smoothies then yes we head off to the shops again. Clare needs to buy groceries. We spend a few hours in the shopping mall , then head back to Clare's. I have yet another bad headache and sadly go off to bed with out dinner. Clare and Emma have a nice evening and sit up until midnight chatting.
We have a nice morning with Clare before we set of on our road trip once more. we make a stop at Tweeds head, which is a great surf beach and has a superb view of Brisbane. We have our lunch here ,which is all from Clare. fresh Salmon, Salad and potato salad, delicious (thanks Clare).We then head off for Byron Bay.
We get to a lovely sunny day,shower and have breakfast as usual, then Emma goes off to look at the a look out on the beach and only just made it back in time to be off the camp site at 10am(this is most prob the strictest and dirtiest camp site we have stayed on so far). Then we drive up the road to have a look at the lighthouse , its 100 years old but now it is automated.Then we go to look at the most easterly point in Australia. It was a very picturesque, with big waves crashing onto the rocks. It was quite a long hike (15mins) down to the point and very hot on the way back, climbing up all the stairs was hard work. Emma waited at the top for me and I was very hot an sweaty by the time I got back,( At least it was good exercise for me). Then we drove around Byron Bay to have a look around. It is quite a busy town and here you have to pay to park, which is unusual for Australia.Unfortunately it starts to rain again,so we have a quick lunch stop then drive to a very pretty camp site on Monee Beach. Sadly we don't get to make the most of the beach because it carries on raining until bedtime.
17th Feb (485kms)
It rains most of the night , making it hard for me to sleep.The sound of the rain on the van is very noisy. Although Emma manages to sleep like a baby...
Its still raining when we get up, but we manage to have a very quick look around and take a couple of photos.Today we are heading off to Port Stephens to a camp site called one Mile Beach Holiday Park. We stop at Port Macquire to buy some food and have lunch. Then carry on with our journey, sadly the satellite navigation wont take the address of where we are going and we end up at the wrong destination twice before we actually make it to our campsite. So we end up doing an extra 70kms and not getting to our camp until 7pm. It has been raining heavily most of the day today and at a couple of places we had to drive through flooded roads. There are flood warnings for further up the Coast not far from where we just left.
One Mile campsite is a very nice site,it has a nice pool a Jacuzzi an a cinema room. while I'm showering Emma sees a Koala wandering along the grass passed our camper van before it chooses a tree to climb up. Today we are staying here, it has stopped raining so we go for a drive to sight see. Port Stephan is very popular with tourists,fisherman and for its oysters. Its also good for Dolphin and Whale watching ( the whales come between late May and July, over 6,000 Humpback whales migrate north to the tropics and return between September and November and because the Islands of Port Stephan's extend so far east the whales pass very close to shore). So its a shame we are in Australia at the wrong time to see this!Its also famous for its untouched nature reserves and stunning scenery. In the afternoon we go for a walk on the beech, then Emma goes to relax in the Jacuzzi. After dinner we head over to the cinema room to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we have both seen it before but its a good film.
19th Feb (205kms)
Today we are heading off to Sydney. We stop briefly at Newcastle, but don't find it very interesting( it is where they use to send all the hard core criminals).We have lunch then sort out our things, and pack our rucksacks ( we will be leaving our camper van in Sydney and checking into a hostel)The sun shines intermittently Emma goes and has a swim then reads her book.