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OUR BIG TRIP



DAY    37      Wednesday   15   May

Packed and left Adels Grove around midmorning and the road was once again OK till we reached the mine turn off.  From here the deep bits became deeper and the high bits got higher, and the dust came at  the cars in waves of blindness, great fun.  On pulling up just before Gregory Downs it was found that the Clarks fridge had damage and needed a new condenser, the Hales oven door had broken, the Kollmorgen van was OK but for the sink outlet becoming loose. Good trip.  Due to the problems associated with having the fridge and the oven repaired we headed for Mount Isa, but stopped before kangaroo time started at Terry Smith Lookout.

A very funny evening was enjoyed before bed as we intend leaving early tomorrow.

 

DAY   38    Thursday    16   May

As arranged the camp was vacated at 8.00am and an uneventful trip taken to Mount Isa and set up in the Sunset C/P.  Bruce took his van to fridge mechanic and came back with good news. They had all the necessary parts and he is to return the van there tomorrow. Derek contacted the oven supplier and they advised there intension to manufacture a better door tonight and send it direct to Mount Isa for delivery on Monday (HOPE). Neil, well he just tightened the plug hole support and cleaned out the drawer where the glass was broken.    Easy.  We will see!!

Afternoon was spent cleaning out the Gregory Downs to Adels Grove road dust so ladies were quite busy.  Neil had a service on the Prado and Bruce and Virginia also did a bit of clean up, bearing in mind he is to have his fridge removed in the morning, not much point in too good a cleaning job until that is finished.

Martin and Rita Castles were not mentioned in the above report because they stayed at Adels grove for a few extra days to unwind a little.  Just wait till they hit that road they will do more than unwind.

Back to Mount Isa and the rest, we enjoyed coffee and red until bed time and retired.

 

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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY    33     Saturday    10 May

As the weather is still hot and sticky, all packed up and left the Karumba Point Caravan Park before 10.00am and drove into Normanton and decided to stay at the Normanton Tourist Park. Very nice tidy park with new managers. After setup and lunch most of the group swam in the lovely pool and spa, and later went walking to the variety of historic items around the area, the wharf, goal, town hall, etc.    Bruce again ventured to the pool before tea and as we had a big drive tomorrow most were in bed early.   During the night we heard our second 5 minute sprinkle of rain.  No more than 2 ml, if lucky.

 

DAY    34       Sunday    11 May

Up early and all packed up and left the camp before 8.30am as we were booked to travel to “Critters Camp” on the Gulflander. What a great little engine with very good commentary by the driver and conductor in the second carriage. The return trip saw us back at Normanton station around 11.00am and then back into the rigs for the long haul to Gregory Downs.  All set up and town walk and just a couple at the pub before tea.     Most were tired so early to bed.     Another big day!

 

DAY   35      Monday   12 May

No early movement as we had not very far to travel today.  Pack up and set off at about 10.00am and headed toward Lawn Hill National Park.  The trip was quite eventful by way of animal behaviour. Roos bounding, cattle strolling , baby emu scurrying, very large eagle dragging dinner across the gravel, big pig on back with lots of friendly birds, and a cuppa, after all vans pulled up on a very quiet, very dusty gravel road, all on the road to Adels Grove Camp Ground.  As we drove into the site area it was reported to Derek that the left hand blinker was lighted all the time on his caravan. This turned out to be a problem in the 12 volt plug from the car to van where some wiring had become a little warmer than need be.  Resident 12 volt expert and all time good guy Martin Castles came to the rescue and after a quick swim he and Derek pulled the plugs apart and corrected the problem.  Good job Guys.

After lunch a walk around the park compound was taken and it seemed all enjoyed as another swim followed. Next was happy hour at Hales camp area before Bruce started a beaut fire in a pit near his camp. After tea we all had a great time sitting around the Bush Telly just watching and having a few.  

 

 

DAY   36     Tuesday     13   May

Lazy morning before setting off, without the vans, to Lawn Hill Gorge as some of our group had booked canoes to see the gorges from the water. Arriving a little after 10.00am and as the weather was not as hot as previous days, we did a walk to the Wild Dog Dreaming, and followed this to Cascades before returning to the car park for lunch. This over and the canoes on the water Derek and Gwen decided to walk to the Island Stack which gives a great view of the complete gorge, but not without a lot of pain, as the heat had started to return.  A big climb for those two I think.

Early afternoon saw the group return to Adels Grove camp and some swimming in the river. Happy Hour, during which Rita was seen to be brushing flys from a scratch on her leg.  “Let me fix it Rita.”  The look on Rita’s face said it all. Have you ever had plastic pressure pack applied to any wound? Stings Doesn’t It?  After tea, and as Bruce’s fire was relit, coffee and some red stuff was had as that bush telly was gazed at before bed.            Question;    Just who’s fire was it anyway? 

 

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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY   32    Friday     May   10

 

With the weather so warm we decided to have a lay day. Now that to me means” lay down” and rest, but others had other ideas.  First thing we were visited by the parents (Peter & Marie) of a friend of our number 2 son. This made breakfast late so we did not get to do the Karumba town walk till it was getting too warm for us Southeners, but we did manage a walk and then a drive to look at the other c/parks and also the boat ramps.  This town is full of fishermen, about 4 million of them, and they all have a Tinnie and every Tinnie has a trailer which means there are no parking spots near to the pub. But the fishy need to get to that special spot, which incidentally is probably about three thousand Kms from home.  Gee why not just stay at home and fish in the Mordialloc Creek.

We did get to have a lay down after lunch and just before Happy Hour, which was just before we walked back to the point look out to again photograph the sun on its last legs.  Incidentally we missed the eclipse of the sun this morning due to all that blue sky, and the fact that we got up too late.  After the sun did set we enjoyed a lovely meal from the pub before walking home to coffee talk and bed.      Big day for a LAY day !

 

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Lynder : v00160
Good to read about your adventures Neil. Juuussstttt a little jealous but please keep us informed. DP.
Monday, 13 May 2013 15:02
Alby & Geraldine : s00037
Keep up the good work Neil. It's a ripper yarn! Alby
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 08:57
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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY    28   Monday    May   6

 

Up early, for, as mentioned in yesterday’s Blog, we had a few Km’s to do. Left Boulia camp and headed for Dajarra and did not sight another car during this part of trip. Stopped at Dajarra for our normal town walk.  Not a lot to see, so continued towards Mount Isa.  As we approached this town, the country was improving and on arrival found a large town brought about mainly by the mining of Lead, Copper and Silver and Gold in small quantity.

Booked into camp (Oz camps) and set up vans and had some lunch. Afternoon saw us at the Info centre, booked into a mine tour with the MIM company for next day.  Looked around info centre and then did some shopping in the town.  We then returned to camp for happy hour, tea and bed.  Big day.

 

DAY   29       Tuesday     May    7

Sleep in this morning before breakfast and then did town walk before returning to camp for lunch. Followed was the booked mine tour at 12.45, so back into city for the dress up of orange overalls, heavy belts, gumboots and battery on belt with lamp on hard hat.  What a great experience, about 20 people of all ages enthralled by our guide Jason as he told a lot of the whyfors, whybys and howcomes of tunnel mining, including all the SH & E  regulations.  Quite funny really, but very good value.   The drop in the cable lift was the first experience to master, followed by the dark on embarking from the lift. One good thing though, it was cool, after the heat of above, just beaut.

At the completion of the tour in the Crib, we were given tea or coffee and bickie and as we all got up to go the guide said, “just one more thing”.   During the tour he had shown us a wall which some new employees had been practicing with bore holes and charges and pressure release holes with wires hanging everywhere.   Well, he picked a lady from the tour group to “Blow” this wall.   BANG, RUMBLE,  CRASH,  what a noise, the reverberations went on for several seconds up and down the tunnels.  Thanks Shane.

On returning to the main building and changing back to our Civvies we had an interested look through their fossil and history museum.  All of which was very good.  Returned to camp, and  just before sunset we drove to a lookout above the city for photo opportunity of sunset, back to camp tea, talk, and bed.

 

DAY     30   Wednesday     May  8

 

Packed up camp and left just before 10 am for Normanton. The road out of Mount Isa toward Cloncurry is very rugged with wonderful scenery. On arrival went straight to Info centre at the Mary/Kathleen Park. After a look around there we went back into the town for a town walk before continuing to the Chinaman Creek Dam to eat some lunch. 

After lunch it was decided to continue a little further than planned and continued to a budget camp, Terry Smith Lookout where, by nightfall there were 12 vans set up and ready for sleep. Happy Hour was an interesting evening and tea, yap and some very light rain for about 2 minutes had all in bed for the night.

 

DAY     31    Thursday     April    9

 

Very early pack up and leave was the order, as we had another 300 Km day to do in heading for Normanton and Karumba.  With potty stops and town walks at Burke & Wills and Normanton where  Virginia, the girl in the Info centre checked site availability at Karumba for us. Sites booked, we continued on to the Karumba Point Tourist Camp.  Very comfortable, though some of the Gypsybusters were without power a couple of times during the evening. A short walk in very warm conditions to the point where sun set photos over the water were taken.  To us Easterners to take sunset over water is quite an event.

Fish and Chips at Ash’s was next followed by a dark but still very warm walk back to camp for coffee and bed.      

 

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Farmstay at Tingha

Just finished our 1st farmstay . Must say we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and if the opportunity arises we will be visiting more of these properties. Our 2 day stay was at Tom & Sandra's property at Tingha. T & S, terrific hosts that they are, made us very welcome although they had only arrived home from a WA trip the day before we arrived. Our short stay included both a self drive and a conducted tour of the property and also a visit to the property's shearing shed. Enjoying the Sundowners hour with our hosts we failed to notice that the sun had disappeared below the horizon. No problem though, we just happened to have a torch with us to help navigate our way back to the van.

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days. We would certainly recommend Farmstays .

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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY    25     Friday   May   3rd

 

Leaving Long Waterhole camp at around 10.00 am, dump point visited and bank loan taken out for super market visit, we headed for Middleton where we met up with some road work. This held us up for a few minutes so we had lunch and waited.   The Castles had not come with us as they went via Cloncury and will see us again soon.  The budget site we had picked out at the early Cobb & Co stage coach horse change depot, the Middleton Hotel, was not up to scratch so we continued to the next site at the Hamilton Hotel site.  Very quiet site once the sun set, but boy did it get dark.  After driving  around 250 Km for the day we were all ready for tea and bed.  After a few coldies that is.

 

DAY    26     Saturday   May 4th

Fairly early rise as a truck we had spent the night with started engine and left before sunup.  Packed up dodging an enormous swarm of flys and set off, around 80 Km to Boulia.  First stop was the info centre, followed by a town walk. Not much to report regarding the walk.  We did go to the primary school fete and purchased some yummy fruit cake. Eventually found way to Caravan Park and set up. Had lunch and then as it was so hot we just sat and watched the world go by.  Actually nothing moved. If anybody is in or around Boulia in the near future please keep an eye out for my sun glasses, lost somewhere ???

Had a group barbyq at Clarkes van, coffee and bed.

 

DAY   27    Sunday   May  5th

As the day was to be a lay day (it was Sunday) we slept a little longer and rose a little later and after breakfast visited a local building called the “Stonehouse” which is a Museum and Fossil  display of a local gentleman who goes out to digs, looking for new exhibits, about 3 times a year. 

After this interesting morning most of the group went driving and inspected the old Police Barracks around 25 Km from Boulia and also a water hole which to the knowledge of the museum manager has never been dry. The writer had a hair cut by the side of the caravan before tea and started to pack up camp as we have a big day on Monday…. almost 300 Km to Mt Isa.

 

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DAY   21   April   29

Sorry Folks       New day but same number

 Left caravans in camp at Ilfracombe and drove the short distance to Longreach. Did town walk and then booked into the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.  Had a very enjoyable day of reading all they have on display, such great building also.  

They do a great deal on arrival where for a little extra we could purchase a second day return ticket and see a show and also have a lunch in the dining area.

We were also lucky to be invited to the 25th Anniversary of the opening by Queen Elizabeth of ASHF and after a few speeches and the cutting of a very large Birthday Cake we left for Ilfracombe and camp. A rather long walk around the town saw the bottle collector, the machinery along the Highway, and the shop?

 After a lot of walking during the day we were ready for tea after happy hour then a lovely shower and bed.

 

DAY   22    April   30

Because we had taken up the offer of a second days entrance to the Hall of Fame we left the camp a little ahead of the rest to do some banking etc in Longreach, and then headed for the Hall to meet the rest of the Gypsybusters. We waited in the foyer for a very loud ringing of a “Cow Bell” to announce that the outdoor stadium was open for a display of wonderful horse and dog  control, piglets and ducks and later in the show even bull control.  Something I could use.!

The show being finished just on lunch we walked to the Stockmans café and bar for a very tasty Hamburger and can of coke which was part of the second day deal.   This finished the Clarkes and Kollmorgens walked across the Highway to the Qantas Founders Museum.  I am sure that everybody who goes to this display must walk away very satisfied with what our business people have achieved in regard to raising a single aircraft hip organization into the company it is today.

Picked up a few perishables from supermarket and returned to the camp, where the assistant manageress took us to view a house in the town which has been empty since 1990 and not touched since.  All furniture, clothing, cooking etc etc  still in the 1900 house.  Very sad really.

After some very funny jokes and poems by the management team at Happy hour we had tea and sat around the Clarkes camp till bed.

 

DAY   23     May    1

Left the camp at Ilfracombe and once again drove into and through Longreach to inspect a budget camp just above the town.  Not to our liking so continued on to Winton. Went to Info centre to find that campdraft (a form of horse riding cowboy who ropes a beast and then drags it to the ground in preparation for branding, competition) was not to be held during the coming weekend as advertised, so found a budget camp about 3 km  on the south of Winton at Long Waterhole camp.   Very quiet, though dusty, as very little rain in Winton this year so far. After set up and lunch and after driving back, did usual  town walk and just happened to stop off for a quicky  at the local, and on the way back to the cars we watched a police car chase a V8 Falcon down the main street at great speed.        I only had Lemon squash Sir!

 

DAY   24   May   2

Left the camp at 9.00am this morning to drive (no vans) about 110 km to the “World’s only Recorded Dinosaur  Stampede” at Lark Quarry.  This display should be seen by any person who happens through this way, absolutely terrific. How lucky was the land owner who was out looking for opals who chanced upon this amazing display of little big and bigger feet marks in clay.  What a display.

all retired for tea and bed Returned via the Diamantina River Road. Driving  aprox’ 350 klm for the day so had happy hour and

 

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DAY   19     April  26

On returning to the camp and finish pack up we then moved on to Augathella where we did our normal town walk during which we spent some time in a very good Information centre including a video room. Very good indeed.  Moved on to a park and ate lunch.

After eating we continued to Tambo where we set up the vans beside a very dry Barcoo River. Drove into town and enjoyed a couple at the local and spoke to the Information Centre. We were advised that the Agricultural Show was to be held the next day and we were camped on the entry road to the gate, due to be opened at 6.30 am, but did not disturb us at all.  Back in the camp a fire was lit and dinner was had before a watch of the Bush Telly and then bed.

 

DAY   20     April  27

Castles cooked their breakfast on the resurrected fire and after pack up we set off for the short trip to Blackall. Van set up was done beside an equally dry section of the Barcoo River in fairly warm conditions so a break was then taken by the writer. This park was council run, at $ 5. 00, just a few metres from the main street where the usual town walk was done.

After lunch a drive to the Information Centre and some advice to go see a beautifully restored Wool Scour building.  It was decided way back that the wool had to be washed before it was repacked into the bales for transporting overseas to save as much space as possible, this scour process made 2 bales fit into one, size not weight was the requirement. The building still working under steam and is belt driven. Everything is in excellent going condition and was put that way by volunteers from the community. 

Returned to the camp via the “Black Stump” and fuel stop for the cars. Happy hour, tea, chat and bed.

 

DAY   21    April   28

Up early, walk to shops for supplies and back for breakfast, pack up and head off for Ilfracombe. First stop was Barcaldine, where the “Tree of Knowledge” was the meeting point of the first Australian Labour movement by the shearers. The tree was poisoned some time ago and there is now just a monument under a very large canopy of false branches.

Made our way to Ilfracombe, set up camps, walk to watering hole (next door ) for a few, then happy hour in the camp kitchen, tea and bed.

 

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DAY  16     April 24

Woke early, but snoozed till normal get up, breakfast, pack up camp and head from Mitchell toward Charleville. First stop for town walk was Morven, historic centre, Kerosene hut, etc.  Had a cuppa then continued to Charleville Bush Camping site. We were given a walk around and told of the history of the camp by Graeme (owner) and then set up vans.

Washing to be done, lunch, before driving into town for some supplies and a short look around at the main shops while a gas bottle was filled.  On our return the owner had some more advice regarding the camp and how it had grown from a piggery through kangaroo culling depot to a very clean and well run caravan park. He has certainly done a heap of work. Does not take smokers, children or dogs.   Very brave.   Happy hour around the fire pit, tea, the chatted till bed.

 

DAY 17       April   25

Left camp early by 9.00am to attend the Charleville ANZAC March and service at the memorial, very good morning was presented. After service looked at Vortex gun display, this gun was designed to shoot a large amount of hot air (just like this column) into the above possible rain carrying cloud, in an attempt to produce rain.  Not sure of this ….

Followed was a walk around the park where the guns were displayed before driving to the airport  and info centre where we were told about and booked a spot on a tour of a top secret (then)  U S air base that had been used to arm Super Fortress bombers with a very top secret Norden bomb sight designed to assist with accuracy on bombing runs during WW2.  We were shown around a very large site by our guide Monique and stopped at about 6 spots where bombers had been hidden in the trees and necessary building site.   Returned to camp for happy hour,  tea,  fire pit and then bed. Very interesting and educational day.       Here I must say    “ GO BOMBERS”  

 

DAY    18     April  26

Up early again as camp owner does a bus tour around Charleville to show how the floods and fires have had a large bearing on the history of the town, three huge floods since 2000 and it seemed about 10 pub and church fires throughout the last century.  Great history lesson was had.  The town is at present, with the Queensland Government, in the process of building flood levies around the  lower shopping and house areas to help with the water problem.  The fires are another thing!

On returning to the camp, pack up vans and continue to Tambo      (Tomorrow)

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RobQ : v00162
looks like you are having a great trip
Thursday, 09 May 2013 18:32
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LAKE Bolac

This is my first attempt at Blogging.

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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY 13,  14   &  15  

  Sunday  April  21

 

Packed up and departed the show grounds, headed for Meadowbank Farm, a budget farm stay with no water due to the water shortage, power if required and hot showers.  The shower is heated using a donkey !  (chip heater) and was NOT to be touched by campers under threat of death.

The farm is about 14 Km from Roma toward to Mitchell.  Just  had a relax for the afternoon. Lir a great fire in time to cook a barby on the flames and then some crumpets done in the Jaffle irons. laughted away a couple of hours before bedtime.

 

DAY 14     Monday  April  22 

Headed out mid - morning into Roma,took a town walk,  bought gold plated rolls at the bakery and then headed Wallumbilla, not much of a town walk but a walk just the same, Calico Cottage and an early “T” model Ford ute that had been restored.  Henry would be very pleased. Continued to Yuleba for a look around and noticed a sign to Old Yuleba which turned out to be just a couple of palm trees and a monument.  Returned to the farm stay via Roma where we looked at a couple of places, the Court house the Bush gardens and tried to see the stained windows in St Pauls Church, but not open. At the farm we once again started the fire to cook tea.

 

DAY  15     Tuesday April  23

We had arranged to leave the Vans at the farm and go to the Roma Sales Yard for an Auction of cattle, supposed to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and was very large with 11600 under the hammer.

 This over we returned to pack up camp and after a cuppa headed for Mitchell. First stop was Muckadilla for a quick town walk. Continued to Mitchell, found dump point at show grounds, found shady spot and had a sandwich for lunch. Drove back into town parked vans and did a walk around before heading for the Neil Turner Weir for a where the Castles had been waiting, as they had left the day  before the rest of us, from the farm.

Having set up the vans in the budget camp on the weir we then walked to the overflow where earlier we had seen a car drive across.  Rather strange wall ?  Met some ACC Sunshine Nomads members and had a late tea before once again lighting a fine fire, before bed. Lovely night.

 

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DAY   12   Saturday  April  20

 

Probably the coolest morning we have had so far.  Get used to it.

As this was to be a lay day we were all a bit sluggish to get started, but eventually set of for a farmers market at the park beside the Big Rig and all looked at the market and took in some information next door.

After lunch took our mandatory town walk before retiring to the camp for happy hour tea and coffee at the Castles van before bed

 

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Great reading your blog Neil sounds like a wonderful trip you are all having, stay safe and take care. from Ron & Rhonda.... Read More
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 07:39
Lynder : v00160
Looks like Murphy has finally left Lionel Neil and decided on making someone have fun with him. Have a safe and wonderful trip to ... Read More
Thursday, 25 April 2013 15:21
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OUR BIG TRIP

DAY       9     April  17

Up early as today we are to move on.  First stop was Hebal just over the Qld / NSW border, very tired looking now with just a hotel and General store.  However we did have morning tea here before continuing to Dirranbandi where we did our normal town walk and also lunch.

Followed was a short drive with a 3 km stretch of unmade road into Nindigully for our overnight stop which was on the river bank below the pub.  Quite a few camps were set up here.  Set up camps and then enjoyed a walk along the Moonie River where we finished at the pub happy hour before returning to camp for our own happy hour sitting on the river bank.  Bruce and Derek had lit a fire so we all had Jaffles with an assortment of fillings,    YUM.   Watched those stars till bed.  Quite a day.

 

DAY      10       April  18

Lazy morning with few Km to travel today, relit the fire and had egg and bacon for breakfast.

 Sat around chewing the fat until it was time to pack up and leave.  Next stop was St George.  On the way sighted a huge herd of cattle being mustered, stopped to photo this event.  Also stopped a short way on to photograph a large cotton field, dam and roll storage site.  Did a town walk of St George before lunch and a further walk along the Balonne River to view the Weir.

Stopped for afternoon break and cuppa at roadside rest area, before continuing to Surat, which is   also on the Balonne River. Set up camp in the Fisherman’s Park, took short walk, then tea, before coffee and bed.

 

DAY      11      April  19

Another short day in the saddle so after breakfast went for walk over the bridge into Surat for normal town walk. Viewed footpath market and had good look in the Cobb and Co museum before returning via the river walk. Packed up and left Fisherman’s Park at about 11.00 am and drove non- stop (big deal) into Roma. Writer was quite excited about being in Roma as we have a Roma caravan, so had to have photograph taken at entry ROMA sign with caravan in view. Set up in the Show Grounds which are very clean.  Quite warm at set up so took time over lunch to recuperate before driving into town for look around. 

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OUR BIG TRIP

OUR BIG TRIP 

Day 8    take two   April 16

 

Tuesday morning arrived with slight overcast sky, but this improved. A fresh food market in the town had the ladies excited and a town walk finished with lunch.

The day was then declared a lay day, so we all had a restful afternoon, lounged back, washed car.

Tea tonight could  be late as all but 2 have walked to the Artesian Pool.

Today’s question     What  is the relationship of stone flaps,  sleep apnea,  speeding fines,  door catches,  lost mail,  loose wires  and kangaroos? 

 Answer     Murphy’s Nephew has arrived at the Hale’s camp.

We will be moving on tomorrow. Our stay here at Lightning Ridge has been very enjoyable.

 

 

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GrahamH : n00037
Great to read your Big Trip. Please keep the news coming. LR is a great place, the ACC Golden Westerners had a muster there in 201... Read More
Friday, 19 April 2013 11:20
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OUR BIG TRIP

 

DAY     6, 7 and   8             Sunday to Tuesday   April   14 – 16

 

Some of the group swam early in the artesian pool, and after breakfast we all went to a Trash and Treasure market in the main street and then the Information Centre where we were advised to do what they call the Car Door Trail where a car door painted a particular colour will represent a description on a sheet issued by the centre.  Before proceeding with the tour we did a quick town walk and looked in the Art Gallery and some other points of interest.  Other places of interest were the Native Gardens where some very clever photos were taken, and of course, the Opal Centre.

The Blue Car Door tour was taken before lunch and following this was the Red Car Door Route. This Tour included Amigo’s Castle which was featured on the TV some time ago where a miner begins to build a front fence from rocks and can’t stop building. Wow what an exercise, it is huge, so many hours of sweat has gone into this building, not yet complete, and probably never will be as he is building another “home” as too many people stop to admire his old job which stops his project.

Next was the Green Door Tour which included some higher territory where some great views were available. The camp put on a live show of entertainment during the evening which was enjoyed by most campers. Tea in the camp kitchen and then back to Hales camp for night cap and to bed.

Monday morning arrived very warm, so we booked a bus trip to the Chambers of the Black Hand Mine Tour.  This tour is amazing, it began with an induction to tell all of the possible dangers when below ground, fitted with a hard hat and proceeded underground about 30 metres, paid our money, we always have to pay our money, and into a wonderland of carvings and paintings of most of the characters in our lives, Elvis, Shrek, Mickey Mouse, Wally, Little Johny Howard, Spiderman, Batman …………….. The list just goes on and on.

 Unbelievable, Great.  On top of all this great art ….   It was beautifully COOL, that was until we climbed those 81 steps back to the surface and hit the 30 + heat once again.   Still a great day was had.         Oh, did I mention that they sell Opals.

The Yellow Car Door Tour was next which included some more opal sales. art galleries and mines.

At the camp a swim in the pool to refresh, a short drive back up the hills to a great spot to take some

photos of the  sun setting and have happy hour.  Returning to camp had tea and turned in for night.    Great day.

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OUR BIG TRIP

DAY       4  &   5         Friday   April  12/ Saturday 13

Friday morning early saw Bruce, Virginia & Kay set out for a walk. Later after breakfast, we hit the road heading for Tottenham for our usual town walk (not far from the geographical centre of New South Wales) where a local identity gave us some insight into the area. Continuing through cotton fields and one enormous storage area to Warren where a town walk was held before finding a park to have some lunch.

Eating finished, we drove on to Coonamble, set up camps and went for town walk for a look see, had happy hour, tea and watched the stars before bed.

Saturday, not far from Coonamble, an unholy shriek came from the radio….the Hales had been hit by a kangaroo, no damage to the car fortunately but some damage to Skippy. Apparently about 30 roos came from nowhere and surrounded poor Derek and Gwen.  

Next stop was Walgett for a cuppa and town walk. Very sad sight with most businesses having to fortify their fronts with shutters, steel frames etc.  Sad.

Drove longer than normal and arrived at Lightning Ridge to set up at the Opal C/P. Lovely clean camp, excellent facilities, but only gravel underfoot.  Walk around camp after lunch, watched the Castles and Clarks in the pool for a while and then walked to the Artesian bore swimming pool. Lots of bathers in, which we were told is the norm.  Later in the day most of group went to swim.

Used camp kitchen for barbeque and sat and watched the stars, and there are lots of them.    

 

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OUR BIG TRIP

DAY    3             Thursday   April 11  

A beautiful sun rise this morning over the lake. Packed up, Derek needed to fill a gas cylinder. This done we arrived at Condoblin in time for smoko which was done in a park near the Lachlan River, followed by the town walk. During this walk we were approached by the local news agent who advised us to have a look at the Aboriginal Learning Centre just around the corner. We were met by Percy Knight, the Designer and  CEO of the Wiradjuti Study Centre, who gave us a personal tour of the establishment and told how the people are instructed in their own ways.  The building had been all hand made by local Aboriginal volunteers, mud bricks, Murray Redgum frame and beautiful doors were also made by hand. Very interesting morning was had by all.

After lunch we drove through to Trundle where we did the town walk, continued  to Tullamore, once again the town walk. Our last stage for today was on to the rear of the Rabbit Trap Pub in Albert where Southerly busters Bruce and Virginia Clark and Martin and Rita Castles were waiting. Set up, chatted and eventually went to the pub for a couple, back for tea and talked under the stars until bed time.  The trip has now become a Gypsiesbuster outing.

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OUR BIG TRIP

DAY     2           Wednesday  April 10

Left the Narrandera show grounds  by about 9.30  and drove to Griffith for our now  Trade Mark town walk. On return to the vans lunch was prepared and eaten. Then continued to Rankin Springs for another town walk and then drove a little further to Lake Cargelligo and another town walk where we walked the main street to the lake and return.  Another short drive saw us at a budget camp stop Frog Hollow on the edge of the lake with another eight rigs. Just the four of us at Happy hour but happy enough.  A Flotilla of pelicans floated by to the delight of Gwen and Neil’s cameras.

 Nice quiet night, before the Galahs decided it was light enough to see, so light enough for us. 

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OUR BIG TRIP

OUR BIG TRIP.

   Derek and Gwen Hale, Neil and Kay Kollmorgen ,  Bruce and Virginia Clark and Martin and Rita Castles ( the latter two couples from the Southerly Busters and first two are Gippsland Gypsies)

     Day 1       April 9  - 13

Having left the Deniliquin C/P around 2.00 pm, leaving the Tucks to hold the fort, the Kollmorgens headed for Finley and up the Newell to Narrandera Show grounds to meet up with the Hales who had returned to Albury for some warranty work on their van and were now set up at the Show Grounds.

On arrival we set up and of course started happy hour, did a communal barby,  and enjoyed a very quiet and required nights’ sleep.

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Golden Westerners Tag-A-long

Day 1 - Finley

Monday 18 February 2013 saw 9 van arrive at the Finley Caravan Park. With the temperature around 34 degrees we settled down to happy hour and meet and greet. 

With new members Dorothy and Bob, Audrey and Gregor and Kathy and John joining the group for only the second time there was much interaction among the group.

Judy covered the finer points of the trip and where we would all stop and meet up during each day. Tomorrow would see the group at the SPC Factory outlet at Shepparton for morning tea and then onto Bendigo.

The group was placed into two groups which we hope will made our job of entering the various parks just that little bit easier, time will tell.

Day 2 Finley to Bendigo

With the groups sorted,  Bluey 1 left Finley to the tunes of "on the road again" thanks to the efforts of Glen Thompson. Heading south towards Tocumwal it was a very easy drive with many of the irrigation canals full and the fields looking good. UHF 18 was the channel of choice with the members having a good chat along the way.

In reaching the Murray we were all surprised  at the number of vans enjoying the river. One count was 50 vans free camping in glorious sunshine.

Shepparton was the destination for morning tea as well as the SPC Factory outlet. Each of the members had a great time snapping up the specials. Judy reminded everyone to present their NRMA card and receive an additional 10% discount.

Judy received a phone call from David B stating that Kyle had missed the turn and he was now with Kyle having morning tea. They would catch up with us later in the morning.

Bluey 2 began arriving at the SPC Factory as Bluey 1 was leaving. 

Graham H had the misfortune to have the battery go flat and with the help of David O a jump start was in order. 

It was not long before Bluey 1 was on the road and Bendigo was in sight. The Golden Nugget Tourist park was the destination with all nine vans arriving by mid afternoon. Many enjoyed a dip in the pool as the plus 30 degrees was a little uncomfortable.

A great happy hour was held in the camp kitchen, with the next days activities planned.

Day 3 - Bendigo 

The Central Deborah Gold Mine was the first attraction with most of the group enjoying the underground experience. The above ground museum was extremely informative and a real joy to see a "working" mine in the center of the city.

The famous Talking Tram Tour kept the group entertained for the next hour as they saw many of the Bendigo attractions.

Lunch was at the Foundry Hotel, situated on High Street. We will certainly use this hotel again as the meals were first class and very reasonably priced for a 2 course serving.

A tour of the Bendigo Town Hall was arranged for the afternoon. Very interesting tour into the past of this great building.

Happy hour and a swim in the pool was the order of the day before retiring.  

Day 4 - Bendigo

The GW's enjoyed a late start to the day with a visit to the Bendigo Pottery. We have arranged to have a tour of the pottery and were greeted upon arrival.

First up was the potters wheel demonstration. Graham, the potter, gave a good insight into the art of the potter with us all enjoying his banter. After producing a stunning pot, Graham tripped and the pot was no longer the work of art. 

Since last visiting Bendigo Pottery there has been a great deal of work with a museum being established show casing the history of the pottery. Bendigo Pottery certainly has a long and checkered history.

Morning tea was enjoyed by all with scones and jam being the order of the day. Morning tea must have given the ladies some extra strength as the purchases have assisted the local economy.

Bendigo Pottery should be one the list of all that stay in Bendigo.

Next on our list was the Golden Dragon Museum. what a highlight this museum is, with one of the longest "dragons" housed in the museum, furniture from the early Chinese days. I am sure that those that visited will have lasting memories of the displays. Outside the museum were the Chinese gardens which were just as impressive. We ended up spending 2 hours at the museum, much to our amazement.

Just a short distance from the museum is the largest timber church in the southern hemisphere. A quick visit was well worth while.

Back to the Golden Nugget for another refreshing dip in the pool. Most of us had commented that we had never used the park pools as we have so far. The high 30's are beginning to take there toll. 

Kyle's fridge has not been working that well and will need to have someone look at it once we reach Ballarat.

Day 5 - Bendigo to Ballarat

Today we split the group into three, which gave us three van in each group. We found this set up much easier as it allowed us the opportunity to stop in the various towns along the way. Greg had suggested he would like to stop at Maldon, as he had read that it has one of the nicest streetscape in the region. Maldon seemed like a good spot for morning tea. Each group arrived in Maldon and enjoyed a lovely time exploring the shops and imagining how the town would have been like in the 1800's. 

The GW's commented that we would like a lot more time to explore this area with the town of Creswick, Dayleford being on the"must visit" list.

On arrival at the Big 4,Welcome Stranger Van Park, we all sat down for lunch and then went off to explore Ballarat. 

Happy hour was again stretched to several hours with great friendship shared.

Day 6 - Ballarat.

Sovereign Hill  was the first port of call and with several of the group visiting for the first time, this precinct, certainly impresses.

With a demonstration on how to pan for gold we all thought we would leave with our fortune, ha,ha. The closest we all got to the real thing was watching the gold pouring presentation. The value of the small bar ($140,700). We could just about purchase the ideal van with the bar.

Seeing the wheelwrights at work and the Cobb & Co coach bought back memories for Judy as her early decedents were part owners of Cobb & Co in NSW (Forbes) and later in Queensland. One of the wheelwrights family have been in the trade since 1860.

We all left Sovereign Hill by 3.00pm and made our way back to the park as we were going to see the light and sound show later that evening.   

Kathy and John had found us all a place for dinner before the show, which was much appreciated. 

Blood on the Southern Cross. What a night. In my view this should not be missed as it is the best light and sound show I have experienced. 

Day 7 - Ballarat

Day 7 was a "free" day for all with many places to visit in and around Ballarat. Greg and I took the opportunity to visit the Bendigo Swap Meet. We had been told that this is one of the largest swap meets around, nearly 2400 sites, with all manner of goods. Items for sale ranged from old tools to complete cars, old caravans, motorbikes etc. We both thought we would spend around an hour but 2 hours later we had only touched the surface of what is an impressive meeting. I was able to assist a group be identifying a differential as being from an Austin A30, my first car.

Back to the van park to pick up Judy and Audrey we set off to see the Avenue of Honor and later to the Botanical Gardens and the 1956 Olympic rowing site.

The botanical gardens should not be missed with many stunning trees as well as the bust of every Prime Minister. 

Unfortunately Kyle was not feeling OK and decided to head home.

Day 8 - Ballarat to Apollo Bay.

with only eight van we decided to from into two (2) groups for the run to Apollo Bay. An easy run was enjoyed down the Midland Hwy. We had aimed to be in Torquay around 10.30am for morning tea. I now understand why I put on a couple of kilo's each muster. We found a comfortable spot on the beach front that fitted all the vans and enjoyed a very relaxing stop. the second group arrived just when we, Bluey 1 had finished morning tea.

The run down to Apollo Bay must be one of the best road trips around. Judy and I have now completed the Great Ocean Road in all but one of our RV's and we will continue to visit the region.

Apollo Bay Recreation Van Park had been booked for our stay and while this may not be the greatest park around happy hour was enjoyed by all with members of the Sunshine Nomads joining us. Tomorrow sees the group head off to the Otway ranges.

Day 9 - Otway Fly, Lorne

With the tanks filled, morning tea packed it was of to the Otway Fly. we traveled along the Great Ocean Road to Lavers Hill turning right to towards Ferguson. On arrival at the "Fly" a cuppa or cold drink was consumed, along with home made biscuits.   

The "fly" is a 600 metre long walkway, 25 metres above the forest floor. The "fly' was opened in September 2003 and was frabricated in Launceston, Tasmania. 

The walk contains an impressive tower standing 47 metres above the forest floor providing a magic view across the forest canopy with tree ferns covering the forest floor. To view the towering Mountain Ash is something to behold. 

We all agreed that the experience was well worth the trip.

Next stop was to be at Lorne for lunch with a wrong turn taken by Graham the trip was just that little bit longer and the bistro was closed by the time we arrived. Thank heavens Lorne has several bakeries so pies became the flavour of the day.

After a casual walk around Lorne, with the ladies having a close inspection of the shops it was of to Apollo Bay for a relaxing afternoon.   

Day 10 - Cape Otway

With only a visit to Cape Otway lighthouse on the agenda several couples shared vehicles ans left Apollo Bay around 10.30am.

On the way to the Lighthouse, the group encountered many koalas. The overseas tourists certainly enjoy the sight just stop anywhere to photograph the koalas. It has been 3 years since Judy and I have been to Cape Otway and we were shocked to see the damage to the maana gums. 

All enjoyed the Lighthouse and agreed that it was worth the drive.

Judy and I had wanted to visit a couple of "free camps" in the region. The first was the Johanna Beach Campground (Camps 5 - 679). What a great place to spend some time with good amenities. 

The second was the Aire River East and West campgrounds. Again both these camp sites are worth putting on the list.

Tonight was our communal tea. Thanks to David and Irene for arranging the fish and chips which were enjoyed by all. At the end of our meal Irene was very suprised with the "birthday cake", again a great day was had by all.

Day 11 - Apollo Bay - Port Campbell  

With only 95klm to travell the two groups left Apollo Bay after 9.00am. We planned to call into the 12 Apostles on the way as the morning sun was shining in the correct direction for the camera buffs.

The first problem was trying to find somewhere to park 8 vans as all the vans parking was already taken. After many photos and a cup of tea we made the last 12 klms to Port Campbell. 

The big surprise for most was that there is only ABC TV. If one wants all the channels pull out the satellite dish.

All vans set up it was off to the 12 Rocks Cafe for lunch. Again we all needed much walking to take care on what we had consumed.

Happy hour was held on the camp kitchen, on of the best we have come across.  

Day 12 - The Gourmet Trail

After calling into the local tourist information centre we found out that the Great Ocean Road in not just about great scenery and tall rocky towers, there is a loverly Gourmet Trail.

Heading out towards Peterborough we then turned right and headed towards Timboon.
First stop was the cheese factory. This had been a traditional Aussie cheese factory but recently new owners have taken over with a real French cheese being manufactured. There were several  styles from Mountain Man to Extravagance. Pity it is sooo far away.

Next stop was the Berry Farm. Strawberries and Blackberries, pick you own and try not to eat too many in the process. While most filled their containers some eat their contains as well. Great value and great flavour.

Lunch was calling so it seemed a stop at the Timboon Brewery would be a nice fit. A sample of the lovely spirits and a great lunch was enjoyed by all. 

Where to next? 

G.O.R.G.E chocolate seemed the right fit. To much to choose from and the taste was just right. Samples taken supplies purchased and it was off the the Gibson Steps. 

Judy, Graham, Gregor and Glen went to the bottom and felt the ocean while the others watched from above. At least we walked of the days eating and drinking.

Loch Ard Gorge was the next stop which was really great, but the crowds. Three coaches were following us and it did detract from the experience. Others called into the London Bridge, The Arch and the Grotto on the way back to Port Campbell. Day 13 - Port Fairy, Bay of Islands

With a lazy start to the day off we ventured to Port Fairy for lunch. Most had been to Port Fairy before and were looking forward to the fish and chip from the whaft. Off to the park and lunch was enjoyed by all.

It was time to head east again as the "rocks" were calling. first stop was Childers Bay. This was an area we had never visited before and it was a real joy with lovely bays and some different features. Highly recommended.

Next stop the Bay of Islands. This is a photograhers delight. Find the right place and let the "lens" do the talking. Judy and I took a diversion to one of the "boat ramps". The sign said 4WD only. Well I not sure I would have taken a boat down this ramp, it was just amazing how steep and narrow it was. 

My favorite, on this section of the coast is Mystery Bay. The cliffs and formations are just so colourfull. The light either in the morning or afternoon allows for some amazing photos. I am so glad that I now have a great digital camera! Thanks Judy.

Day 14 - Port Campbell - Halls Gap

The group once again the group split into two (2) groups with the first heading off early while the second group had to call into Warrnambool.

The second group also were on a mission as one Glen Thompson had to visit Glenthompson. Glen had received many photos of the signpost but had never been able to reach the town.

The Thompson brothers had arrived in the 1800's and established a brickworks, which still operates to this day. Photos taken lunch taken it was off to Halls Gap.

Day 15 - Halls Gap

With the Tag-A-Long now at an end we all settled in for our last happy hour together. We all agreed that we would need more time to explore Halls Gap as it has soo much to offer. 

The next morning we began to say our goodbyes, which kept going for the next two days. 

The Tag-A-Long covered nearly 2000km, 328 litres of diesel, and great company for 16 days.   

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Ken and Kristine : n00007
Thanks Graham for the Blog up-date. Wish we were there enjoying everyone's company. Looking forward to more Blog entries as the tr... Read More
Sunday, 24 February 2013 06:02
Ken and Kristine : n00007
Thanks Graham for keeping us up to date with progress. Your effort is much appreciated. Cheers and take care K&K
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:35
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