Well, it’s well and truly winter time in the Clare Valley!! No frost just yet but plenty of cold icy winds and some rain. The newborn lambs are bleating around the district which is a lovely sight. The paddocks are all green, the weeds/grasses profuse and the workload still constant!
B has been busy weekdays with some casual work so weekends are all go getting things done around Da Block. We are heading off to the Big Red Bash near Birdsville in a weeks time so the countdown is on! Looking forward to this outback concert – another Bucket List item nearly ticked!
We have put in another rainwater tank to take advantage of the winter rainfall. We’ve had a few bonfires, watched things in the garden flower, mulched the rock garden and watched grass grow madly through it!! 😦 And given our caravan diesel heater a work out on these cold nights (and some days!)
This will be my last post for a while whilst we are ‘on the road’ – heading to Western & Central Queensland then might get the tinny wet on the east coast?! Till next time…..
From a hot & sweaty summertime we have graduated to a cooler and a bit windier autumn. The trees are turning bronze & gold letting us know the cool weather will be on it’s way! Exactly what I love! The vineyards look beautiful now vintage has finished, autumn colours abound.
Excavations on Da Block went well: the new septic is in, heaps of plumbing trenches, installed two cattle grids, digging some tree holes, solar panels installed and much more. We were able to setup a rock garden on a long bank with beautiful huge Bluestones and the Yuccas & Agaves I’ve been nursing and cuttings from friends. Unfortunately the pumpkins & rock melons I grew from seed didn’t survive – I’ll have to watch more ‘Gardening Australia’!!
B painted up the inside of a container to be his ‘tool shed’. It’s taken time but we are seeing progress week to week. We moved the van for the 3rd time to the container pad (better for when the rain comes). We’ve just had a couple of dust storms when it was really hot which was a new experience.
Today I have the heater on!
Looking forward to a break. Heading north to the Big Red Bash (www.bigredbash.com.au) in July as B volunteering setup/pack up. We are able to take Jeda to the concert in the desert as dogs are allowed. John Farnham is headlining with Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows and more…..
Western Queensland here we come!!!
Starting the excavations
Aerial of work in progress
Big Hitachi awfully close to the van!
Lots of rubble extended the block
Finished drain outlet
Digging the huge hole for septic tank
Septic in trenches being dug
Installing cattle grid #1
Grid #1 done
Grid #2 nearly done
Moving the huge Bluestones in place
Jeda thinks it’s all good!
B painted the interior of container
Septic irrigation area done
Start of leaves turning in driveway, Japanese Elms
Yes, as you may imagine it is starting to get cold in the southern states! We have been ‘freedom’ camping most of the way down, finding some lovely places to camp and check out what these small towns have to offer.
We spent Easter at Roma Qld and they put on a wonderful country ‘do’ for visitors, unfortunately on Rodeo day it rained but quite a few people still attended. We headed further west to Mitchell to camp on the weir for a while, then south to the NSW border, via Nindigully Pub – we have been there before – a good free camp site but the pub is run down and the staff didn’t seem interested in ‘the tourists’ so our stay was short & sweet.
Crossing the Qld/NSW border we passed through Moree (beautiful old buildings) to camp by more rivers and check out the little towns. We found a little town worth mentioning called Bingara. It has heaps of camping on the Gwydir River, both sides of the bridges. We found that the local council had purchased a lot of the buildings in town and are gradually doing them up. We loved the coffee at The Roxy Cafe next to the Roxy Theatre, which we toured – it had been closed up for 40-odd years before council started to use it again and bring people to visit. The town is very friendly and offers everything travellers need, except watch out getting fuel at the servo – big rigs beware.
We spent a week in Bingara then reluctantly decided we better keep moving on. We are currently in Tamworth which wasn’t on our route, but vehicle hic-ups have forced us to wait out some repairs till done (these things happen as you will know). If anyone is heading south for the winter like us and freedom camp a lot, make sure you have a heater of some sort! We installed a diesel heater in 2012 but hadn’t used it till now (as we were north last year) and it has been a blessing on these cold frosty nights.
In my last post we were in Ayr (Qld), rained in. A week later we headed off south just above the flood waters. We kept an eye on where the water was and skirted around or stayed in one place till it subsided. We visited a number of places for the 2nd or 3rd time, but it’s alway nice to go back and see what has changed.
At Carmilla Beach we had an ‘issue’ with the deep sand; Balgal Beach was beautiful (in between rain showers); until we arrived in Redcliffe (where I grew up) to visit family. At the time the Bee Gee Way was opened and I and thousands of others attempted to get a glimpse of Bazza Gibb. I won’t be changing professions to ‘Paparazzi’ any time soon, as I was in the wrong place for any close-ups of the man. I think the photos and statue are great for Redcliffe – it will bring more people to the Peninsula.
Finally, we have set off on our next journey in the Australian Outback. We decided to head west due to the amount of rain most of the east coast has been receiving the past few months. We haven’t gone far really. We found some wonderful 3 night stays along creeks and rivers for a donation to the councils. Apart from battling the flies and mosquitos, they have been lovely. In Meandarra (between Toowoomba-Surat) we found a great Anzac Memorial Museum with some wonderful war memorabilia. For a little town it has accumulated a vast amount of equipment from the WWI&II – including a Canberra Bomber.
We are on our way to Roma for the Easter in the Outback Festival. I am camera-less at present (just using B’s point & press) and feeling almost naked – mine is in for a major service/overhaul in Sydney. Ordered a new one online (upgrading to Canon 7D) and fingers crossed it will arrive in Roma same time as us!
Have put a photo of the rubbish left at a roadside stop on the Moonie Hwy in this post as I am disgusted that this sort of stuff is left by the road we travel. It’s a common occurrence in most states, but in SA we found the RA’s to be a lot cleaner (due to payment for cans, bottles etc) – maybe other states should do the same – and what about National licencing & Road Rules – don’t get me started!
Recently we spent a family Easter weekend at Bjelke-Petersen Dam near Murgon (west of Gympie). We were lucky enough to have fine weather nearly the whole 4 days. I have uploaded a few photos of the dam & its wildlife in my catalogues. On the Sunday the park put on a market which we decided to join. There were around 30 stalls, not bad for their first market. If you ever get the chance go take a look or camp there – it’s a lovely spot (probably better when there’s not so many people there though). There are powered & non-powered sites & cabins. Lots of birdlife, if you own a boat you’ll enjoy the dam for waterskiing, wakeboarding, fishing & redclaw. Can’t tell you how the fish are because we didn’t try. It’s a lovely place for a day out – and for those who like their wine, there’s a Wine Trail in nearby Moffatdale!
I don’t know if you have heard of Kilkivan but it’s a small country town north west of Gympie. We were lucky enough to be passing through when they were holding the Great Horse Ride (see photos under ‘Outback’). It was quite an impressive display with over 500 riders. Whilst there we camped in the old rail yards with permission and put our stall up the next day. Unfortunately most of the riders were not advised of the market so not many people showed, but we met some lovely people and Kilkivan is a lovely town to stop in if you are ever out that way.
We finished the cane season in Ayr and we decided to head south to do some routine maintenance on the van. On the way we thought we’d check out some of the dams we hadn’t visited before.
First stop was Finch Hatton which has a beautiful Gorge. Then on to Eungella Dam up in the hills west of Mackay – tested out our F-Truck at least on those steep mountainsides. Plenty of room around the dam and bird life was in abundance – especially a Darter who squawked all day and night! We had visits from a couple of friendly horses grazing around the dam edge most days. Didn’t catch any fish but enjoyed the surrounds.
Next on to Lake Elphinstone (north of mining town Nebo). Unfortunately we had bad weather the whole time – windy and rainy, so we kept going. On to Clermont and Theresa Creek Dam south-west of the town. We loved the wildlife there. It was a bit more ‘structured’ – with a kiosk and sheds for shelter (and you had to pay to stay), but it’s worth a visit. You will be knocked out by the amount of waterlilies covering the dam and the cattle that continually spend the day munching on them, up to their neck in the water. We were woken to the sounds & sites of lorikeets (so tame they eat from your hand), miners, apostle birds, spoonbills, brolgas, egrets, darters, comb crested jacana (or lilly trotter), magpies & magpie geese – a heap of photo opportunities!
Unfortunately we had to keep moving, so next stop was Clermont where we continued our history lesson of the area with a lively old fella called Bernie Bettridge and his wife Jeanette. He is solely the ‘Master keeper of Clermont’s history’, going from his stories and photos he showed us. He comes out to the dam every afternoon to talk and meet the travellers – he invited us to his home and we spent two fascinating hours checking out all his ‘treasures’ he’s collected most of his 80-odd years. You begin to wonder what will happen to all his things when he’s no longer around to ‘teach’ and show younger Aussies all about their past.
From Clermont we headed south-east to Bundoora Dam (near German Creek Mine). This would have to be our favourite spot on our short trip. It’s mostly used for the workers for skiing and recreation. No fish to speak of but some Redclaw near the dam wall. We had a beautiful sunset and sunrise the first day, but after that the wet weather set in, which was a bit disappointing, but didn’t deter us from enjoying the scenery. Not as profuse in bird life but still a pretty spot and perfect for the locals for fun sports.
Even though it was only two weeks I did get some lovely photos that I will shortly upload to my catalogue for you to see.