Tag Archives: Volunteers

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.

The Big Red Bash, Birdsville – July 2018

It’s taken me awhile but I’ve finally sorted all my photos from our trip, including the Big Red Bash at Birdsville.

We arrived nearly a week early (avoiding the rush). B had volunteered already, and I applied once we got there. He was on setup and pack down duties (3 shifts) and I was allocated a early Road Marshall shift and two Toilet ‘Angel’ shifts. My tip is to get in early for applying for volunteer roles as the good ones go early!! You save yourself the price of a ticket, yes, but you feel like you are more involved with the whole experience by meeting all the event co-ordinators and management of the event plus you meet some great people along the way.

Because B’s first shift was the Friday before the Bash concert days (Tues, Wed & Thurs) we headed out early Friday, so we were able to choose our camp spot easily after 4pm that day – we were in the Dog Section closest to the dunes. We spent 8 days out at Bashville all up, so it’s important to have enough food & water – there are food vendors and composting toilets but no water.

Our campsite in large Dog Section nearest to Big Red dunes

The whole experience was fantastic (even my toilet duties!) The concerts were great, the daytime activities kept kids & adults busy. They had the RFDS Drag Races, the Nutbush Guinness Book of Records attempt (which we achieved!) kids shows with the Crackup Sisters and Amber Lawrence, Mal Leyland was there to introduce his 1966 movie “Wheels across the Wilderness” and they also held the Air Guitar Championships.  There is ample information on the official website www.bigredbash.com.au as well as the Facebook site ‘Travelling to the Big Red Bash’. If you are a volunteer you also get access to the Volunteers Facebook site.

The artists were all brilliant. First night featured Adam Brand & Busby Marau. Second night: Amber Lawrence, Travis Collins, The Wolfe Brothers, Russell Morris, The Angels & Hoodoo Gurus. Third night: Black Sorrows, Kate, Jon, Darryl Braithwaite & John Farnham.

Another small tip: allow time rolling in and rolling out. Don’t be in a rush. People were lined up to leave Friday morning for hours. We left after lunch and had a clear run. We stayed on the Birdsville Common before and after the Bash, you are best to be self contained as no facilities out there. Best of all, there are 12 water taps all the way from town boundary to the Diamantina River on the east side of the road.

If anyone would like to know more about our experience in case you too are contemplating attending the Bash please send me a message or email. Next years artists will be announced in October and dates for applications for volunteering should be soon after.

South Oz to Outback Queensland!!!

Well, what a trip! As with most travels on the road there are ups and downs…we did have a number of ‘downs’ pre-trip (not worth going into) but one thing that did cause concern was our batteries.

Day 2 – Peterborough Rest Area, SA – woke up to low voltage throughout van – and it was freezing!! Turned on diesel heater – no go, lights dim, loo wouldn’t flush!! Bugger! So it was a mad dash on a Saturday morning to nearest battery shop (Port Pirie) for 4 new batteries. B installed Sat arvo and then we were off again! Big thanks to Neville Coe of Coe’s Autoelectrical!

Then on to the Flinders Ranges…we thought! Held up for 4 hours just outside of Port Augusta due to Bike Race. Eventually we made it to our favourite stop: Willow Springs Station.  We did a 3 month work stint here many years ago and when we return we are always made to feel like family.

Sunset views @ Willows Springs Station

Check out their website (above) to see what’s on offer: from bush camp sites to 4×4 tracks to hiking trails to doing absolutely nothing! I took Jeda’s photo @ 8wks at the woolshed, so tried to replicate the photo again 4 1/2 yrs later, but not with much success!

Jeda @ 8weeks and recently 4 1/2 years

After a few days there it was onwards to Blinman, Parachilna, Farina, Lyndhurst (for fuel) & Marree. Had read a bit about the restoration of Farina and the underground bakery so stopped over a couple of nights to check out the ruins and of course the bakery! Absolutely beautiful fresh baked bread daily (only a few months a year so check website) – highly recommended!!!

Farina’s freshly baked bread

Stopped a night in carpark of Marree Hotel. Shouted ourselves dinner in the pub. By around 5pm the carpark was full of travellers! And by 8am the next day most had gone! From here we headed up the Birdsville Track. Smoko at Clayton Station – they have a lovely spa tub that is worth a stopover, stopped a night at Cooper Creek (no creek!), onwards past Mungeranie as we had stopped here before. Only took us 2 days and we arrived in Birdsville late afternoon.

We did have a mishap on the track though. Scored a broken rear window from a Road Train. It happens (1st time for us). B taped it up best he could till we could get it repaired.  Only a few days before the road had been closed due to rain. Graders were working frantically making sure traffic could get through due to Big Red Bash starting soon.

Smashed rear window

We parked up on the Birdsville Common with thousands of others! Did some long needed washing and minor repairs. Then it was time to sign in to the Big Red Bash Volunteers Hall in town. B signed in and I volunteered at the time as they had a number of people unable to attend or fulfill their roles. I was allotted Road Marshall for one shift and two shifts on Toilet Duties (Loo Angels).

Then too soon it was time to head out to the Big Red Bash site for B’s first setup shift. I will post a separate blog about the bash when I get time to edit my thousands of photos!! Let’s just say it was BRILLIANT!!! The concerts were great, the performers were terrific, but the event as a whole was a wonderful experience. We met some lovely volunteers and had a great time, made even better because we were able to take Jeda. I even hung out in the ‘mosh pit’ for a few performances (took me back to 25 long years ago!!)

After the Bash, we went back to Birdsville common for a day or so then we headed up to Boulia for the Camel Races. Free camping included with your ticket. By the time we arrived there were hundreds of campers there. We spent 6 days and loved it. They had entertainers for 2 nights but it was so cold we bailed early for a warm caravan!

Relaxing before the race meet begins

From Boulia we headed to Middleton, Winton (Hotel), Barcaldine, Anakie, Duaringa (Hotel), Lake Victoria, Mt Perry to Hervey Bay. Recommend Winton Hotel carpark for free camping and a great pub meal (find info on Wikicamps).

To sum up – yes outback Queensland is dry, dusty and remote – and beautiful. It is DEFINITELY a  must do for all Travellers. Don’t be put off by distance, dirt or cost. Support the people of the Outback by visiting their ‘backyard’.