After a long stay in Queensland visiting friends, relatives and generally ‘warming up’ it’s time to head homewards (SA). Looking on our map there aren’t too many untravelled roads which makes it tough to find a new road to explore.
So after a few days on familiar roads heading out of Brisbane passing through small towns Cecil Plains, Millmerran, Inglewood, Goondiwindi (and finding the bumpiest roads we’d been on in a while) we ended up in Thallon, south west Qld. Good timing too as the 2-3 day heat wave was about to hit along with dust storms.
Thallon, Qld offers all a Traveller needs:
Power $5.50 pn or free unpowered area
Water (good bore, drinkable)
Amenities with hot showers & toilets
Silo Art “The Watering Hole” by Drapl & The Zookeeper – a drawcard for tourists following the trail
A pub with cold beverages, good prices and tasty meals – the Francis Hotel(pay your camp fees here)
and lots of wildlife that visit the town continuously.
We watched a procession of Travellers drop in to view the painted silos after they had a BIG long weekend at Nindigully Pub’s Film & Music Festival.
Cattle grazing by the road outside Dalby, Qld
Old mate in Cecil Plains
Beautiful mosaic at Inglewood Driver Reviver
Artwork on water tank Millmerran
Sculpture Coat of Arms Goondiwindi
Weengallon smoko stop, sign on loos!!
Thallon Painted Silos
Closeup of silo artwork
Closeup of silo artwork
Thallon – Our camp spot near silos & recreation grounds
Thallon – Sunrise, roo family feeding
Thallon – Francis Hotel, Post Office incorporated
My Drop Bear Burger!
The Drop Bear!
Thallon – Sunset the roo families descend on town
Thallon – Even during the day the kids are in the playground!
I don’t normally recommend caravan parks but we did stop in one on our quick trip up near Mackay, in from Ilbilbie about an hour south (Google it! 🙂 ) that we thought was impressive. Cape Palmerston Holiday Park.
We spent over a week there with the intention of seeing if our Tinnie still floated and our fishing rods could catch anything! 🙂 I won’t elaborate, but we didn’t do real well. 😦 But we did enjoy the ‘serenity’. The amenities are HUGE and lovely and clean. Big camp kitchen & camp fire. Weekly rates good ($31pn) all year round.
We did a couple of drives around the district too, including Sarina, Carmilla Beach, Koumala Hotel & Yarrawonga Park Reserve (Notch Point) south of the caravan park.
Only had 2 weeks to get there & back as had work to be done to caravan in Brisbane, but would recommend a Spring holiday in this area.
Negatives: Mozzies/Midgies at sunset, big tides, no crabs when we were there. Positives: good weather, quiet, lots of wildlife, dog friendly van park, big camp sites & tent areas, reasonable price.
Cane season in full swing
Our campsite at van park
Nice big camp fire pit
Our site – drive thru & spacious
Not sure what it is, at low tide
Need walking shoes at low tide (
Heaps of lorikeets
Lots of roos at dawn & dusk
These guys run the park
Gate entrance to Yarrawonga Park Reserve
View to free camp area Yarrawonga PR
The beach, Yarrawonga PR
Watch out for crocs
Camp area at Notch Point
Rail cars waiting near Sarina
Busy pub wall Koumala Hotel
Like some of these!
Unfortunately this awaited us on way back to Brisbane
All safe, but a sad sight
As we left Brisbane, Curlew family crossed our path
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!!
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!! 😦
Esk, Qld: the trees get cold there!
The old & the new: old lift bridge
Pano of foreshore at Maclean
All power poles painted in Scottish tartan
Lawrence-rotating home on banks of river-every room has a view!
Smoko stop Lawrence, next to Clarence River
On the ferry across Clarence River to Maclean
The Non Bendy Bridge being built in Grafton
The Bendy Bridge in Grafton
Grafton-THE BEST Vintage Shop I found! Orange Daze
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.
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.
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.
Nabiac Nat Motorcycle Museum-Marysville burnt bike
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 Co – 3443 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm for good food and brews.
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 Storewith 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).
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.
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!!!
South Australia turned on some lovely weather as we departed Da Block. A bit of rain the week before saw the paddocks take on a tinge of green which we haven’t seen for SO long!
Wandering towards the coast we arrived in time to sample the Copper Coast Cornish Festival – Kernewek Lowender. Kadina, Moonta & Wallaroo share activities over a week in May. We sampled the cornish pasties (best we’ve had) and watched the street parade in Moonta. All the locals dress up in traditional costume and put on displays such as Maypole dancing, Furry Dance (oldest traditional Cornish custom), street parties, brass band concerts, dressing the graves (a re-enactment of a funeral procession of the era), art exhibitions, road tram tours and classic cars & motorcycles.
Onward to another ‘wine region’ – the Barossa Valley. Greenock supplied our camp spot (cricket oval) so we recipricated by visiting the local Hotel, brewery and winery! Schulter Wines near the Hotel, have some lovely vinos and a jovial host! Greenock Brewers in the old Wheat Store is also a beaut stop to taste their ales & sample a platter. And every Saturday Morning the Barossa Farmers Market south of Angaston is a great way to sample the regions fresh produce.
Down towards the great Murray River to cross at the ferry at Mannum and overnight at Tailem Bend Footy grounds. Jeda especially enjoyed Tailem Bend’s Dog Park meeting new ‘stiff’ friends and lots of new smells. The ocean beckoned so on to Meningie (lovely Lake Albert & wonderful foreshore) then to Kingston SE. Very clever shire council as they offer a 48hr RV stop that has everything a Traveller needs (except power). The seaweed was a bit high (in smell that is) but it was g8 to be lulled to sleep with the sounds of the ocean rolling in.
Kingston SE has the Big Lobster, some good fish n chips shops and it’s a good base to explore the region. We did a day trip to Cape Jaffa and Robe. We found a business called Transmutation – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle who had some brilliant products recycled to make other products.
Due to bad weather rolling in Naracoorte turned out to be our base till it passed by. One thing I will say about southern SA, they have FANTASTIC grass!!! When we arrived at the Narracoorte Showgrounds Jeda rolled on the lush, green grass and I nearly did too!!! 🙂
Moonta-Kernewek Lowender street parade
Moonta-Cornish children dressed in period garb
Moonta-Street parade characters
Moonta-Beautiful classic cars
Moonta-all ages participated
Greenock-Kalleske Wine Store
Greenock Brewers tasting paddle
Angaston-a stand out colour
Stone walls follow the line of the range
Mannum Stairwell from hell!
Crossing the Murray @ Mannum
Camp @ Tailem Bend Footy Club
Tailem Bend-Butcher with a sense of humour
Tailem Bend-Jeda with Bluey
Meningie-carving on foreshore
Kingston SE RV Park-first ticket machine we’ve encountered