Camels, Yabby’s & Camping – fun festival!!

We decided to attend the Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Races held 2-4th August at Tara, in the western downs 300klms west of Brisbane.

The lineup to get in was a bit ‘average’ – 1 1/2 hrs but we kind of expected it as it was the first day of entry for camping. 5 days of camping @ $6 per day – good deal. Once in and campsite picked & setup, we spent a couple of days with friends & checking out Tara. The town kids held a street parade (book week characters) and a couple of markets were held around town. We have camped at the lagoon a few times before on our way west.

When the festival began on the Sat & Sun there was heaps to see and do. From the cultural entertainment, the wood carving with chain saws, camp oven cooking demos, country singers, whip cracking demos, chopper rides and of course the camel & yabby races the days were easily filled in.

Fireworks & Motorcycle stunt riding at night; The McClymonts headlined Sat night and the food stalls were all really good quality. (Got me outta cooking! :P) And each afternoon we had the obligatory Happy Hour around the campfire with the group we were with. Tough life huh?!

Best part about camping at the festival site is you can return to your camp for breaks whenever you want. We were also able to bring our dog Jeda to the camp ground, not into the festival area though. Over the 5 days we enjoyed it and thought the town organised it very well, catering to thousands of people. Even the porta loos & showers seemed to cope quite well.

I highly recommend giving this festival a try and support the small towns.  If I can give out one tip: on leaving a festival, if you aren’t in a hurry wait till after smoko! We had a clear run with not a car in site!!

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Big Rivers & Big Blue Skies

After the very disappointing result of Game 3 of ‘you know what’….(I can’t even manage to type the words!! 😦 ) we had a day in  Wauchope (west of Port Macquarie) and relived our previous stay and the changes happening in this little town, then we ventured further north chasing the sun.

Stopped overnight at the lovely town of Macksville. Three overnight RV stops are on offer and we chose the Princess Street RV Stop in a back street next to a lake and outside the Council Chambers. Only ones there. Word of warning: the allocated spaces at the other RV stops are for shorter van/car combinations. Macksville is a small town on the Nambucca River & off the Pacific Highway.

We did do another sweep through Nambucca Heads the next day, and kept going! School holidays was definitely in full swing! Grafton was our next stop over for a couple of nights.

Recommendation: Jabour Park, South Grafton (find it on Wikicamps or Free Range Camping). It is run by the Grafton Vintage Motor Vehicle Club and has everything Travellers need. Call to access lock code on gate (security is great), toilets, showers, dump point, unpowered for $10 per vehicle per night. Quiet, safe, dog friendly with an oval and wildlife in the late afternoons. A light aircraft field next door but not a noise problem.

I am a ‘Vintage Tragic’ and just love anything from the 50’s to late 70’s so I was in heaven when I found a small shop with vintage type decor in front window. HAD to go in and OMG it went on & on & up! Rooms & rooms crammed with everything my parents, grandparents and so on would have owned once! It’s like De ja vu back to my childhood. It took all my self control to walk out empty handed!! (wonder if they have a website & online store?? ) ORANGE DAZE!

The sun beckoned so onwards into the abiss!!! Highway Traffic, toll roads and more traffic!! 😦

Over the border to Queensland!! Our home state!

Motorcycles, Koalas & Vineyards

Dodging wet weather seems to be our main pastime these days. On the sunny days we attempt to do some sight seeing around the Hinterland of Port Macquarie & township.

Port Macquarie breakwall art

On a drive up to North Brother Mountain, Dooragan National Park near Laurieton we were lucky enough to encounter paragliders (hope I have the term correct?) What a view! Glad it wasn’t me jumping off this mountain! In Burrawan State Forest, a 200 year old Bottlebutt (the largest Red Bloodwood tree in the southern hemisphere) was the reason to stretch our legs and have a short bushwalk.

And another slow, rocky drive up to Bago Bluff NP gave us a spectacular view of Wauchope and surrounds. Best bit was visiting Bago Maze & Winery, Milligans Road (off Bago Road), Wauchope. A tasting, a cheese platter and view over the maze made for a lovely afternoon.

A different attraction to the norm was The Koala Hospital, Cnr Roto Place & Lord Street, Port Macquarie. Open 8am-4:30pm everyday, feedings and free tour 3pm. It was very informative and the work the volunteers do is quite amazing. Roto House is next door, an example of a beautifully preserved late Victorian building, free entry or donation. Again Volunteers help give visitors an insight into the family that owned the property.

Volunteer run as well, Douglas Vale Vineyard, 235 Oxley Highway, Port Macquarie is a not for profit organisation open Wed, Sat & Sun 10am-3pm. It is classified as Heritage listed (Est. 1859) and the volunteers are preserving this property as a working museum & vineyard. There is a cellar door with wonderful wines and a volunteer will give you a tour of the homestead and the properties history.

Douglas Vale Vineyard

South of Port Macquarie we did a drive to a lovely little town off the main highway called Nabiac. Cafes, bakery, antiques & collectables.  It is also the home of the National Motorcycle Museum,  open 9-4 everyday.  They have over 800 motorcycles on display along with classic cars, vintage toys, signs etc. Worth an hour or two browse even if bikes aren’t you’re thing.

Cowarra Dam, Kings Creek (near Wauchope) was a surprising find. It has a lovely picnic area with BBQ’s free, toilets & seating area. There are unique aboriginal artworks surrounding the picnic area. The 10,000 million litre off creek storage dam is located 5 kilometres south east of Wauchope in the Cowarra State Forest. The Dam supplies water to Wauchope, Camden Haven & Port Macquarie areas.

Dinky Di Dogs Eyes to Pie n Peas Newcastle Style!

Word of mouth can be a good thing, especially when it comes to food. Heard about a good pie shop in Dunedoo, NSW called Dinky Di Dogs Eyes (the name in itself was worth the visit!) Well, they were pretty good on a cold winters day. Then B had to make it even better by getting dessert at another pie shop nearby. So that was our pig-out for the month!!

Checked out another Painted Silo in Merriwa, which was very well done, only hard to find a road to it for a good photo. No signs or info. Maybe the town will amend that in the future. This was about the last small town before we found ourselves in our worst nightmare: big cities!! 🙂 We stopped at Maitland (Showgrounds) for a night and did the ‘walk up da street’ as you do. Old buildings, a huge levee alongside the town, a mall that would be better if no cars were allowed and a road system that was horrendous! We parked the truck in the main street (which in itself was a miracle) and walked one end, then attempted to park further south and walk the other. Except I got bamboozled with the one way streets and we ended up almost back where we had parked before!!!

Then on to Newcastle area. This is the closest we’ve ever gotten to Sydney (and that’s close enough). Spent a week visiting family and checking out the area. Weather wasn’t the best on the day we headed to Newcastle, but the Pie n Peas we found at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels near the foreshore helped, even though we had to eat them in the car due to rain.

Lotsa walking again in Newcastle. Didn’t make it to the city centre (shame that!) but a visit to Fort Scratchley gave us a birds-eye view of the Harbour and surrounds. Can recommend Murrays Brewing Co3443 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm for good food and brews.

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Museums, murals & mud!

Crossed another border into NSW (enemy territory….yes I mean State of Origin)….detoured a bit, away from those awful Highways!

In Lockhart I loved the shop fronts especially, the old style leadlight which they’ve kept in good shape. We once went to a Tractor Pull in Lockhart! That’s something to tell the world about!

I had read a bit about Coolamon, so another detour. Beautiful town! Wide, open streets with well kept gardens and shop fronts. We parked at top of town and spent the best part of the day visiting the private collection Coolamon Fire Museum (wow) and The Up-To-Date Store with the original working Lamson Cash Railway System and all original counters and storage (double wow). We hadn’t even walked the street yet – too busy chatting to the locals! So booked into the beautifully green and lush Coolamon Caravan Park. Highly recommend it for $20 per night, brilliant.

Another highlight of Coolamon was the Coolamon Cheese Factory and Little Rustic Pantry Cafe next to the Up-To-Date Store. LOVED IT! Only recently completed is the painted water tower at Narrandera which we did think was well done. The signs aren’t up yet but it’s well worth a trip up to take a look.

As the long weekend approached we ‘hid out’ in the small town of Barellan (55klms east of Griffith). The showgrounds offered power & water for $10 per night, plus Jeda has heaps of space to ‘be a dog’. Worked out great as only 3 others came in the whole weekend, probably due to the rain we had, thank goodness the ground is covered in sawdust (less mud). Barellan is known for the Working Clydesdales weekend each year (this year its 5 & 6 of October) and also for Yvonne Goolagong (& the Big Tennis Racquet).

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Border crossing, Coopers Crossing and Spanner Art

Across the border to Victoria pushed by an Arctic wind all the way! Rain or shine we decided we’d follow the Silo Trail. Must mention the town of Minyip where we stopped overnight.  No silo art but it was the setting for “The Flying Doctors” TV series. It was converted to “Coopers Crossing”. The garage is still there, now a cafe along with the petrol bowsers & sign. The buildings used as the Pub, The Majestic Hotel & Flying Doctors headquarters still there. Minyip has maintained some of the buildings very well, even though a lot are now closed.

Don’t know what’s in the water in Victoria, but there are a lot of very talented people! At Lascelles (yes there’s a painted silo there) The Drovers Hut is worth a visit (closed for maintenance when we were there 😦 ) For a small fee you get to see corrugated iron art to the extreme.  Also at Wycheproof, Yo-Yo’s Iron work collection is magnificent. Using all farm or machinery in general to create huge works of art.

We stopped at Boort for a few nights as we’d heard of The Spanner Man.  Just walking around the town you see some of his works. Lovely town, and on the weekend the Kerang Car Club were there so we (husband) got to drool over some classic cars! My fav was a Ford Customline as my folks had one in the 50’s they drove around Australia towing Dad’s home made caravan!!

We made a booking to view The Spanner Man’s art in the afternoon. John Piccoli’s Spanner Sculptures, 1314 Boort-Quambatook Rd, Barraport VIC (look him up on Google) is worth a visit definitely. He is in a wheelchair, but manages to do these huge sculptures with aid of a block & tackle. See my photo of his spanner collection. He did tell us how much he’s spent but beyond remembering! He doesn’t sell his artwork, he does them for pleasure. Donations from visitors helps with acquiring more. He has sculptures all around his property along with a menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, peahens and Macaws.

We also visited Simply Tomatoes, 479 Parkers Rd, Yando VIC to see their wool & tomato products. They offer free camping on their property too. Also a must see if in this area. The Lanyon’s are a lovely couple and their products are top class.

We did a quick zip through Victoria as it was just too cold, might come back when it’s a bit warmer!! Will set up a Silo page showing the ones we’ve visited.

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Sinkholes to Cottages to Wineries…all in SA!

Just thought I’d mention the Kingston-SE RV Park; as far as I know it may be the only RV park in SA with a ticket machine. For $10 you can camp for $10. Toilets are close, the town a short walk, the jetty straight out in front, dump point front of park & potable water nearby, no power.

Whilst we were held up in Naracoorte, we did a few day trips. We headed south through Coonawarra, Penola, Mt Gambier and Port MacDonnell. Just HAD to stop at Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate for a tasting and a sample to take home. Highly recommended!

The little town of Penola (on the hwy) has a Historic Precinct with the original cottages from the area open to view. A market garden in the back is available to locals to help work and use what they grow. Also, the park next door has some interesting ‘sculptures’ including a bearded Marilyn Monroe!

Only had enough time for a quick visit to The Blue Lake and The Umpherstone Sinkhole. Wrong time of day/year for good photos. Onwards to Port MacDonnell. We were hoping to visit Feast’s Private Classic Car Collection & Memorabilia, Lower North East Road, Port MacDonnell, but the owner was away that day, so only have pics through the gate.  Shame, cause B loves the Valiants (he had one ‘in the day’) Don’t let the blue sky in the photos fool you, it was deadly cold!!! And as we made it to Port MacDonnell the skies opened – so rain AND cold! 😦  So we drove around the seaside town and ate lunch in the car!

‘Doyaselfafava’ and visit these areas in the spring or summer!!!

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Images of Australia on our Nomadic Journey