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
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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!
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’.
Anakie sculpture @ rest area
Inside the Birdsville bakery
The iconic Birdsville Bakery
Sunrise @ Cooper Creek
Jeda’s favourite car position
Was a bit muddy lately! Birdsville track
Single lane due to water lapping the side of Birdsville track
Two graders on Birdsville track after significant rainfall
Taped up smashed rear window on Birdsville Track
Smashed window – extra tape just in case!
Got my Crew wrist band & ready to rock!
Campfire with friends Birdsville common
Just how dry the earth is in the outback
Jeda’s favourite guard position – the stairs of the caravan
Jeda eyeing off my damper
Water in the Diamantina River, Birdsville
Our first sunset on arrival @ Birdsville common
Sign outside North Blinman Hotel
The Blinman Store with sculpture
3D school crossing in Boulia
Our camp area with the hundreds of others
Yummo Happy Hour with savoury damper & a cold beer
Demo on how NOT to dismount a camel – he landed in a heap on the ground!
Jeda not sure about sign (she’s a SA born dog)
“Let me outta here” – camel tagging event
Entertainer Mick Lindsay
They’re off and racing!
One of the food vendors @ Boulia Camel Races
The race winner
Rides @ Boulia Camel Races
Enjoying the win
Winners @ Boulia Races
Back of Duaringa Hotel free camping
Sheep & Cattle loading setup @ Farina
Rail precinct water tower, Farina
Our first stop @ Farina – for smoko treats!!
Sunset @ campground, Farina
The restoration of Transcontinental Hotel, Farina
Street signs on vague streets with no buildings, Farina
Views from ruins windows
The wood oven in underground bakery, Farina
The Underground Bakery, Farina
War Memorial on hill @ Farina
Flocks of pelicans surround the lake
Sunset over Lake Victoria
Juvenile Whistling Kite @ Lake Victoria
Fueling up @ Lyndhurst Hotel
Sunset Marree Hotel
Car park camp area Marree Hotel
Bar @ Marree Hotel
Photo in Marree Hotel of Tom Kruse & wife
Our RFDS mascot comes along for the ride
Marree – Tom Kruse truck
Views of mesas
Sign out front of Middleton Hotel
Middleton Hotel – old Cobb & Co coach
Sunset over Morayfield
Smoko @ Mungerannie @ the Bus Stop & Macca’s
The Stone Man near Marree
Tree of Knowledge Barcaldine
The Public bar in Birdsville Hotel
Middleton Hotel – opposite is The Hilton Hotel!!
Arnos Wall in Winton – has some new additions since our last visit
The new Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton
A good way to tart up a donga!
Brilliant sculpture @ Parachilna
Frost on the windows @ Peterborough
Whilst held up on road to Quorn, watched the Pichi Richi train go past
Love this building…
The Shoe Tree on road to Bedourie
Whetting your appetite before reaching Prairie Hotel
You know you are in a mining area….
Aerial of buildings @ Willow Springs Station
The BEST camp kitchen in the Flinders!
@ entrance to Willow Springs Station
Part of the camp kitchen decor
Sunrise over the Winton Hotel bush camp ground
Had a g8 full moon whilst in Winton
Winton-Beaut burger @ Musical Fence Cafe – given Jeda’s approval!
We headed south from the wheatbelt to Margaret River in the South West to meet up with other “Traveller” friends for a while. Because we had farm sat in this region for over 6mths previously we did a highlight tour with them over 3 days.
Cellar Doors, chocolate & coffee places, ice cream, cheese….all the naughty spots!!! And they have an abundance from Busselton down! Onwards south-east to Northcliffe where we camped at Sid’s Campground just outside Pemberton (find him on Facebook or Wikicamps). A bush camp with free range sites, quirky loos & showers and brilliant walking tracks around the property. At $10 per site per night (more for power) great value. This was our base to explore Northcliffe, Pemberton, Windy Harbour & D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
From here we moved on to Walpole (for smoko) then on to the Valley Of The Giants. Because we had friends with us to mind Jeda, B&I got to take a look at this walk amongst the tree tops. Luckily it wasn’t windy! B loved it, me – not so much. Hate heights! But I did like the walkway on the ground called the Ancient Empire walk.
Onwards to Denmark and thru to Cosy Corner Campground. It’s a small campsite near the beach. We had the most uneven site we’ve had in over 11 years! But B got us sort of level. It was only for one night, as we moved to another the next day…even more uneven! It had a camp host, but he was moving on soon as not happy with the Council who run it. We did the tourist route and visited a Toffee Coy, Ice Creamery, Ugg Boot maker and a Meadery.
Broke up the eating and drove out to Green Pool and Elephant Rock in William Bay National Park. Noice. It was eating time again, so off on the tourist route to Denmark Farmhouse Cheese & Ducketts Mill Wines! Cheese & wine tasting in one! So good we stopped and ordered a platter (and some sample bottles for later!). Unfortunately the weather turned bad so we filled the truck tank with water at Denmark Info Centre and headed back to Cosy Corner.
Next day we checked out the fishing on the beach at the day use area. Spent a lot of hours there to have nothing to show for it! Nothing legal to keep. Story of our life! Even went back for more the next day….same result!
So we decided a day trip was in order…off to Albany. As our friends were with us we had Jeda minders so B & I visited the National Anzac Centre. Brilliant! Highly recommended. You could spend hours there reading about the history, and then we walked around the grounds of Princess Royal Fortress and Mt Adelaide. From there we had a photo op at Dog Rock, checked out Emu Beach for fish and chips and general drive around.
Soon it was time to farewell our friends who headed to SA, so we checked into a park at Two Peoples Bay about 20km’s from Albany. A basic bush park on private property really. We were able to visit Albany many more times, including their op shops which I loved. It suited us as we decided what was our next move as it was coming up to Christmas…..where are we going to hide??!
Due to bad weather we headed to Geraldton to a van park to wait out the rain & wind. But after a couple of days we realised we’d just have to head off…somewhere!
So after checking out some more coastal towns, Horrocks Beach & Coronation Beach we went inland to Northampton then on to a tiny town called Yuna. It’s a 72 hr stopover with toilet & water behind a hall. Quiet and surrounded by crops. We had very cold days & nights due to the wind, but good time to catch up on stuff.
We met a number of Travellers that kept us entertained over the 3 days. Then we moved on further east to Yalgoo as I’d read a van park had just been refurbished and it had good reviews on Wikicamps (my 2nd favourite travel bible after Camps Australia). The reviews were right – nice neat small park, brand new mud brick uni-sex amenities, reasonable rates & friendly managers (also Travellers).
So we made it our base for a couple of weeks. As it was mid July by now the wildflowers were coming into bloom which gave the area a pretty lift. We visited Joker’s Tunnel – an old gold mine. It had it’s own tenants – bats. We also did a day drive to Payne’s Find via dirt road and the everlastings were breathtaking. We also encountered Emus, Roos and Wedgetail Eagles along the road. The Gold Battery was closed so we kept going to Mt Magnet. As we’d been there before we headed out on a backroad to Dalgaranga Meteorite Crater – the smallest in Australia. (Don’t go out of your way to visit it, it’s very under-whelming).
Early August we headed back to Geraldton to get some things fixed. We stopped in Geraldton’s new RV Stop near the Info Centre in the car park. It had a great Esplanade to walk along and seals that sun themselves on the rocks. It’s right next to the port so it’s a bit noisy and it’s very well lit! You can watch the tugs guiding the ships out of port for some entertainment! Once all our repairs were done we headed to a favourite spot east of Geraldton – Ellendale Pool.
It had been raining and it was a bit sloppy getting in, but we managed and set up camp. It has two areas to park, flushing loos & a dump point. The cliffs opposite are beautiful in the am & pm. If it wasn’t for the bad weather and Jeda being sick we would have stayed longer. We encountered heaps of orchids and 3 visiting Echidnas!