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Western Australia Trip - Weeks 5 and 6

Well what a couple of weeks.  I think we have found the worst road in Australia.  More on that later - back to the beginning of the last two weeks.

Wyndham:    Smaller then I was expecting but quite a nice little place –very hot! 

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It reminds me a lot of Weipa but smaller – very spread out.  The Five Rivers Lookout is great

 

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 but I think we saw a better sunset from Anthon’s Jetty.

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There is a great little café just down the road from the caravan park called the Five Rivers Café that does a great barra burger for lunch.

We also went out to see the Prison Boab.

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 We went out to Marlgu Billabong where we saw lots of birds and a saltie just cruising along in the water.  Thankfully we were on a boardwalk and not near the water’s edge.  On the way to Marlgu Billabong we passed Telegraph Hill.  Not much left there now except for lots of boab trees.  There was a telegraph station there during the First War which intercepted and decoded radio messages.

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Marlgu Billabong

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Old Telegraph Station

Before we arrived in Wyndham we had heard a story on the local news about the export of mahogany timber from Wyndham to Asia.  These mahogany trees were originally planted as host trees for the sandal wood but that little experiment was not successful so they let the mahogany trees grow and have now harvested them.  It was the first time timber had been exported from the Wyndham port and was a new experience for them so when we arrived in Wyndham of course we had to go down to the port to see the operation. Actually there was not much happening so whether they had loaded the ship or were working under the cover of darkness we don’t know.  A day later the ship was gone so I guess they had finished loading it.  There is still a pile of timber there so it won’t be the last ship they will load with mahogany.

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Billy the resident donkey at the Wyndham Caravan Park.  A bit of a pest but if you chased him away he he was okay.  

On the way to the Gibb River Road, we called into the Grotto about 20 kilometres south of Wyndham.  Quite a pretty spot – you park at the top and walk down to a pool at the bottom of what is usually a waterfall but due to the dry was not flowing.  The walk down consists of 140 steps (although Phil counted only 136) down the side of the cliff and I mean the side of the cliff (!!!) and no hand rails or even a chain or wire. If you suffered vertigo you would not walk down it.

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The Grotto

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Steps to the Grotto

We then stopped into Emma Gorge Resort for morning tea and don’t they know how to charge.  $26 for a cup of tea and coffee (a cup not a mug) and two slices (not huge slices either) of cake supposedly fresh but tasted like it was fresh out of the freezer that morning.  There were a lot of people out on the Gibb River Road that morning and I think we met every lunatic driver who has never driven on a dirt road and some very rude tourists.

 There was not very much water flowing over the crossing at the Pentecost River – there was very little water in most of the creeks and rivers.

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We ended up camping at Ellenbrae Station - $15 per person per night for a spot in a very basic camp ground (no power).  At least there was a flushing toilet.

It was an easy drive next morning down to the turn off to Kalumburu as they had just graded the road but quite a different story once we turned onto the Kalumburu Road. I don’t think is has been graded in the last five years!!   Some of the corrugations were so big they had corrugations on them and you couldn’t drive in the table drain as that had corrugations as well.  After we turned off the Kalumburu Road to go into Mitchell Falls Camp ground believe it or not, the road got worse.  We stopped at the King Edward River Camp Grounds (which turned out to be a blessing) as it was getting late and we still had 78 kilometres to go.  

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Crossing the King Edward River

Next morning we decided that as the King Edward River Camp Ground was so nice we would stay there and do a day trip up to the Falls and a day trip it was!!  It took us two hours to drive the final 78 kilometres the road was so bad, then discovered that we had picked a day when not one but two tour buses were up there so we didn’t have Buckley’s chance of getting a helicopter flight.  So we did the walk into the falls which they say is 3.5 kilometres and takes about 2 hours each way but the distance depends on who you talk to – some say 3 kilometres while others say more like 5 kilometres.  It was a nice walk but we rushed it a bit as we kept thinking we still had a two hour drive back to the camp site and Phil really didn’t want to drive it in the dark.  It was a very badly sign posted walk.  You actually pass the Little Merten Falls (where some people were swimming) then a cave/overhang that has some aboriginal art (but you only see that if you know it is there or you take a wrong turn like we did), then some quite spectacular falls which we later learned were the Big Merten Falls but I am surprised more people have not gone over the edge – there is no such thing as safety barriers up here.   To continue on the walk you have to cross the top of the Big Merten Falls – thankfully we were able to rock hop across as there was not much water but usually you have to wade across and it is very close to the edge.  After walking a bit further you come to what we learned later was the top of the Mitchell Falls.  You really can’t see much of the falls unless you are in a helicopter or aircraft but as there was very little water flowing I think the flight would have been a waste of money.  I will just have to come back after they have had a good wet season but I will be taking a flight from Kununurra or Derby.  I have no desire to travel that road again.

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Little Merten Falls

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 Big Merten Falls

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Top of Mitchell Falls

On the way up we broke four eggs securely packed in their carton in the esky (thankfully they were in the esky so the mess was contained) and the cherry tomatoes were mush.  When we got back to Wyndham what vegetables we had left had to be thrown out as they too, had been pulverised.  Other than a crack on the inside of the esky which I think was caused by some cans on the way home we don’t seem to have suffered any other mishaps.  We did see a couple of vehicles coming back on the back of recovery vehicles but the way some people drive I can understand.  We came all the way back to Wyndham in the one day (a very long day and Phil says his hands were aching from holding the steering wheel when we got back) as the resorts (Drysdale Station, Ellenbrae Station and Home Valley Station) aren’t very appealing for just an overnight stop.  There isn’t anywhere else to stop.

 We did spend an extra day at the King Edward River Camp ground.  There was a lovely swimming hole there

 

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The Swimming Hole complete with steps.

and also a waterfall

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 The Waterfall on the King Edward River

which was just a short walk down the river.  The walk down the river was over some very polished rocks – quite unreal.  I wouldn’t like to walk on them though if it was wet as they were incredibly smooth.

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Polished rocks

The camp ground was really nice and well maintained although the surrounding country was burnt thanks to a neighbour’s fire.  The camp sites had been slashed so did not burn and were a decent distance between each camp site. Each camp site was quite large with a fire ring.  There were only toilets there but they were very clean.  The only water was from the river which you had to collect yourself but that was easy enough.  The camp grounds are on aboriginal land but are administered by the National Parks.  They have a camp host there during the tourist/dry season and the couple there now are really good.  They go around the camp area quite a few times checking that everything is in order and as most people do what we did and do a day trip up to Mitchell Falls they keep an eye on your camp site while you are gone.  Also about two kilometres on either side of the camp ground are Aboriginal Cultural Sites.  Some of the art is probably the best I have seen. 

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The first one we visited the path also takes you past a burial site which surprised me as they normally do not allow tourists or anyone to see these sites.

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The Windjana Man

We had a day in Wyndham to wash unpack the camping gear and repack everything.  We then went back to Kununurra for a day as I needed to do quite a bit of grocery shopping – replenish our fruit and veggie supply.  There is only one small grocery shop in Wyndham and it seems every expensive.  It was good if you just needed to buy one or two things and friendly staff. 

Whilst at Kununurra we also took a drive to a couple of waterfalls/springs which we had missed.  Valentine Springs was not anything more then a puddle of water but at Molly Springs the water was still trickling over the falls and it was a very nice green oasis with a small swimming hole at the bottom of the falls.

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Molly Springs

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We saw some Kimberley wild cattle.  This one looked in good condition but most looked very poorly.  I think most of the cattle are wild - they only muster once a year and we have seen very few fences.  There will be a sign saying the boundary of one property but no fence to separate it from the next property.

Next day we left Kununurra bound for the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park.  It did not take us all that long to reach the caravan park and after checking in we had an easy afternoon – mainly watching the helicopter take off and land.

It was an early start next morning – we had to be on the bus by 7a.m. for our full day tour of the Bungle Bungles.  It took us two hours to reach the National Parks Information Centre which is 3 kilometres inside the National Park Boundary (a total of about 52 kilometres from the Caravan Park).  It is all very interesting.  The caravan park is actually on Mabel Downs Station and is technically called a ‘home stay’ as Mabel Downs is a grazing leasehold property and cannot conduct any business on the property except grazing.  Because of this and the different departments of government there are some strange rules at the caravan park.  Such as - none of the buildings can be permanent structures and everyone has to take their rubbish with them as the park staff can’t collect rubbish.  All the grazing leases in Western Australia are due for renewal at the end of this month and apparently there have been changes made to the leases to allow tourist operations – it will be interesting to see how these changes are going to affect these tourist operations already set up.  They should be able to provide better facilities but probably at a cost.  The Bungle Bungles are a National Park but have no public access road to them.  The road that goes into the National Park is on Mabel Downs Station and the owner of the station apparently told National Parks that he would allow public access to that road providing the National Parks maintain it.  It is a shame they don’t do a bit more maintaining!!  When we did the helicopter flight you could see the corrugations from up in the air they were that big. 

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The Beehive Domes

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Cathedral Gorge

Our trip into the Bungle Bungles was an awesome trip.  I have not seen anything quite like it.  The banded honeycomb domes (cone karsts) were massive – much bigger then I was expecting.  We firstly went to the southern end of the park where it is prominently made up of the honeycomb domes and went for a walk into Cathedral Gorge.  The walk is down a fairly narrow (dry and sandy) creek bed between these massive banded cliffs to the end where there are these massive sandstone overhangs. 

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We then had lunch at the carpark before boarding the bus again and driving (bone rattling) up to the top (northern) end of the park.  The northern end is quite different – the cliffs at the northern end are still sandstone but made up of conglomerate and not banded like the southern end.  At the northern end we did the Echidna Chasm walk – again it takes you up a dry creek bed this time over river rocks (yes, this time they were river rocks like the ones we have at home and not  massive great jagged boulders).  The further in you walk the narrower the walls get until you get to the end.  In some parts there is just enough room to walk single file and other parts it opens out into quite wide chasms.  Here there are also quite a few palms growing in the creek.

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Walking into Echidna Chasm

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Did you know that Australia has the World’s third largest fault line?  I didn’t - but it is right here in WA.  The picture below is of the fault line which apparently stretches from up near Darwin down to somewhere near Kalgoorlie.  It is a very stable fault line (if there is such a thing) and there are only a few minor tremors when the plates crash together.

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 Next day we were booked for the helicopter flight which was great and gave a completely different view of the National Park.  It was only a little helicopter - took the pilot and 3 passengers and it had no doors!!  It was certainly a bit windy – almost blew my head phones off at one point. It was also quite windy as it buffeted the helicopter about a couple of times.  Phil got upset as it really messed up his hair.

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After the helicopter flight we packed up and drove further on down the road – all of 9 kilometres - to Leycester Rest area (a 24 hour free camp) for the night.  Quite a nice stop situated on the Ord River and had some very quiet, mainly braham bulls wandering around and through the camp.

Tomorrow we go into Halls Creek – about 100 kilometres further on – we are really settling into the grove of this grey nomad lifestyle!!!  I will probably have to send this blog from there as the mobile reception here is not great.

 

AND the Boab tree for this week is:

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Still reading your notes and jotting down notes 4 when we do the trip. Love it.
Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:21
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Western Australia Trip - Week4

We are still in Kununurra and have now seen most of the attractions in and around Kununurra as well as a little further afield. 

We have been to: 

  •         Kelly’s Lookout;
  •         The Sandalwood Factory – very interesting.  There is a lot of Indian sandalwood now been grown in this area – in fact the biggest plantation in the world so they say.  They are calling the sandalwood oil liquid gold.  Unfortunately it takes about 16 years before the trees are old enough to start harvesting.  The sandalwood tree is a parasite and needs a host tree to attach it’s roots to and eventually kills the host tree.  Quite a nasty little plant.  Just how successful the venture is depends on who you speak to.
  •        The Hoochery – a small rum distillery.  I say small because I am use to the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.  Quite an interesting place but probably would have been more interesting if we were rum drinkers and their product is quite expensive.  However, considering that they have to get their molasses from Queensland or northern New South Wales you can understand why it is the price it is.  The woman we spoke to at the Hoochery was not too complimentary towards the Sandalwood Factory.

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The Hoochery

  • Ivanhoe Crossing – the first causeway or crossing over the Ord River.

  •      Kimberley Ornamental Stone Craft and Gallery – some very nice Zebra Rock and other stone carvings and jewellery.

  • Diverion Dam.  The original Dam built for the Ord River irrigation scheme.  The Argyle Dam is fed into the Diversion Dam (also known as Lake Kununurra) which keeps Lake Kununurra at a constant level and is then gravity fed into irrigation channels.  There is apparently only one area where they need to pump the water to.  We did another Sunset Cruise on Lake Kununurra which was very enjoyable.  The reflections and sunset were good but not quite like the ones we had on Lake Argyle.

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  •   Mirima National Park.  The locals refer to Mirima National Park as the mini Bungle Bungles.  It is only 2 kilometres out on the eastern side of Kununurra.  We went for a couple of short walks which were really good.

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  • Zebra Rock Gallery and Café.  Again some lovely carved Zebra Rock and jewellery.  It is right on Lake Kununurra and they have a pontoon built out onto Lake Kununurra where you can get some bread and feed the cat fish – hundreds of them.  They also have a dog (“Kelly”)which comes down to the lake and swims out into the middle of the catfish and stands upon her hinds legs and tries to catch a fish.

 

 

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'Kelly' trying to catch a catfish

Saturday we did the full day tour to El Questro Station.  It was a long day.  The bus picked us up from the caravan park (actually the diver stayed here Friday night so we were the first pick up –lucky we weren’t running late) and after picking up another two couples we were driven out to Emma Gorge Resort where we met up with another three couples before doing the Emma Gorge walk.  It was quite a difficult walk as you had to clamber over some rocks particularly as you neared the end of the gorge.  It was worth the effort though as you are surrounded by these extremely high red sandstone cliffs with a small waterfall dropping into a large pool at the bottom.  Most people went swimming but it was a bit too cold for us.  On returning to the Emma Gorge Resort we were served morning tea – tea or coffee, fruit juice, cakes and fruit platters.  We were then driven over to the Zebebee Thermal Springs.  They would have to be the prettiest hot springs we have been to on this trip.  Quite shallow (which suited me) and lots of little waterfalls.  Entry to the springs is closed at 12 noon but because we were on a tour we arrived just on 12 after the rangers had chased everyone else out of the water so we had them to ourselves for about half an hour.  It was then onto the restaurant at the Homestead Village for lunch – either barra or steak with chips and salad.  It was a very nice lunch – Phil had the barra and I had the steak.  My only complaint would be that the steak could have been cooked a little bit more and if you like your steak well done, then it could have been cooked a whole lot more!

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On the walk to Emma Gorge

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Emma Gorge

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Zebedee Thermal Springs

After lunch we were then driven down to the jetty on the Chamberlain River where we boarded a boat for a cruise up Chamberlain Gorge.  Another spectacular gorge with sheer red cliffs.  At the end of the gorge we were served champagne and fruit platters.  The crew also had some fish food which we all fed to the fish.  There were many Archer fish there and they feed by spurting water up into overhanging branches to dislodge insects which fall into the water and are then eaten.  Well these archer fish think that someone’s hand held out of the boat clutching a small fish food pellet is an overhanging branch and spurt water onto your hand so that you drop the fish pellet into the water for them.  Some of them weren’t very good shots and the water spurts were hitting other parts of your body or even the person next to you.  There were also a number of cat fish and a couple of very large barramundi swimming around the boat hoping for a meal.  All the fishermen on board were drooling but they don’t allow fishing in the Chamberlain Gorge.

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Chamberlain Gorge

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It was then back on the bus and the return trip to the Caravan park.  We did not arrive home until about 7p.m. 

Today has been a pretty lazy day – just catching up on some washing and chores.  Phil did go fishing in the Dunham River and Ord River this afternoon but didn’t catch anything – he was not fishing too seriously but we did not see anyone else catch anything either. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC_0168.JPGFishing in the Dunham River

Our caravan site here is just over the road from Lily Lagoon and most afternoons we take our chair over to the bank and watch the sunset.  This afternoon we were watching a couple of fresh water crocodiles – the first we have actually seen here.  We had been told that there are heaps in the Lagoon but we hadn’t actually seen any until this afternoon.  One almost had a duck for dinner but the duck was just a bit too quick.

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The view opposite our caravan

And this week's photo of a boab tree.......

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We have tomorrow here and then on Tuesday we leave to go to Wyndham where we will have a few days before heading out on the Gibb River Road and up to Mitchell Falls.  We are planning seven days to go up and back to Mitchell Falls.  I don’t think we will get mobile reception anywhere along that part of the trip and as we don’t expect to be back in Wyndham until the 18th or 19th June it will probably be two weeks before my next blog.

 

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have been enjoying your blogs. Stick with it.
Thursday, 11 June 2015 09:20
Phil and Kathy : q01035
thank you
Thursday, 11 June 2015 19:12
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Western Australia Trip - Week 3

Western Australia Trip - Week 3

Monday was spent doing all those mundane things you can’t avoid even when travelling like washing, grocery shopping, cleaning, minor repairs etc.  I now have my 12 volt connection problem sorted – a brand new connection.

Tuesday was a big day again.  First up we went out to Katherine Gorge and checked out the Visitors Centre.  Quite an impressive building and a lovely eating area overlooking the Katherine River, then we set off to walk up to the Baruwei Lookout and ended up doing the circuit walk.  The first part was all up stairs but the return walk was down a road which they use to service the water tanks for the Visitors Centre and other buildings so was quite an easy walk.

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It was then back to Katherine via Knott’s Crossing (I think it may have been the original crossings of the Katherine River as it was just a cement causeway now partly washed away) for some lunch (late) and a shower before returning to the Gorge for our Sunset Dinner Cruise. 

The cruise was fantastic and the colours in the Gorge in the late afternoon sun were magnificent.  Phil said I took too many good photos to put on this blog and you would just have to come and see it for yourself but I have managed to select a few to put up.

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We cruised up the first gorge and then up and back on the second gorge

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and when we got back to the first gorge they had brought up another boat set up ready for dinner. 

 


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The atmosphere was magical and certainly made up for what the food lacked.  We just drifted back down the gorge doing a couple of circles along the way and once it got completely dark the skipper put a spotlight off each side of the boat onto the shoreline.  I would have to say that the atmosphere was as good if not better than the Sounds of Silence Dinner we did at Uluru.

Next morning we packed up and headed west.  Our intention was to go to Timber Creek but after some discussion we decided to stop at the Sullivan Camping Ground in The Judbarra/Gregory National Park.  The camp ground is right next to the highway.  It is only a small camp ground but I am pleased that we did stop overnight there as we decided to get up a bit earlier next morning and 18 kilometres further down the road we stopped and did the Escarpment Walk which was three kilometres long and I can guarantee it was one and a half kilometres up and one and a half kilometres back down.  Gave Phil’s knees a good work out (and my thigh muscles) but the view from the top was fantastic.

 

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We arrived in Timber Creek about lunch time and after checking into the caravan park we confirmed that the boat cruise on the Victoria River was going that afternoon.  They need at least 8 people to go on the cruise otherwise they cancel it.  Thankfully they had eight people going.  It was another great sunset cruise (we are getting good at these sunset cruises).  The boat jetty is about 10 kilometres west of Timber Creek and you are picked up at the Croc shop in Timber Creek and taken out to the jetty in an old bus (the bloke running the tour was quite proud of the bus so I think it must be nearly vintage).  We travelled about 70 kilometres up the Victoria River spotting crocodiles (both salties and fresh,

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agile wallabys (numerous), a jabiru, kites, cattle, sea eagles (which are fed as well as the kites),

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a black headed water python

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and a water monitor.  When it was time to turn back we pulled into a pontoon moored in the river and had nibbles and cold drinks before returning.  Part way back down the river we stopped to watch the sunset before returning to the jetty and home.

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Next day we went down to the Bullita homestead and Limestone National Park.  A very interesting park.  The camp ground in Limestone NP has been closed for sometime as the road was washed away but they are just in the process of re-opening it.  We only went in as far as the walk to the Calcite Flow as the new track looked very rough and the sign said 'high clearance 4WD and use low range'.

The Calcite flow was formed by calcium carbonate rich water flowing vigorously down a slope.  The rapid movement of water creates a turbulence which forces carbon dioxide out of the water resulting in a chemical reaction which causes the release of solid calcium carbonate from the water.  The calcium carbonate (or calcite) builds up on any solid object such as a tree root or rock.  Looking at it from a distance it looks just like a waterfall.

 

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On the same walk which was less than a kilometre return we saw:- 

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Rillenkaren which is caused by acid rain.  Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by the rain bearing clouds.  The rain from these clouds is a weak carbonic solution which dissolves the softer part of the limestone; and

 

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Stromatolites - which are considered the oldest evidence of life on earth.  They occur today but not as prolific as they were during the Adelaidean period.  They are formed in shallow seas and lagoons when millions of cyanobacteria  (primitive bacteria life forms) colonise together in a ‘cabbage’ shape growth.  Filaments, protruding from the cyanobacteria trap sediments.  These may eventually become fossilised, thus creating stromatolites. 

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Nearby were some tufa dams another form of calcium build up.  I have seen them previously with water in them which creates a waterfall but this is the first time I have seen them dry.

It was then onto the Zebra Rock Mine (camp ground) which is just inside the Northern Territory border.  It was a 10 kilometre detour off the highway over a pretty rough dirt road but was worth the effort.  This area is apparently the only place in the world where this rock is found – very rare.  And apparently the geologists and scientists are still trying to figure out how it was formed.

 

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From here we also did a sunset cruise (yes, another sunset cruise) on Lake Argyle and the wetlands.  We saw a couple of fresh water crocodiles and many, many different birds and the best sunset I think I have ever seen.  I have had real trouble trying to cull the number of photos I took (only about 300).

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The next day we crossed the border into Western Australia (and had to make sure we did not take in any fresh fruit or veges or honey of any description) and checked into the Caravan Park at Lake Argyle for a couple of nights.  The park was almost full.  I think we got one of the last powered sited.  It was bedlam when we came in as there were so many others checking in at the same time.  The vans were queued up back out onto the road waiting to be checked in and shown to their sites. There were quite a few blokes showing the vans/campers to their sites and they were running around in a frenzy!

 

We then checked out Lake Argyle.  It is amazing that such a little dam wall can hold back so much water. 

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The dip in the infinity pool was good if a little cold.

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We have now moved onto Kununurra.  We only arrived today and after checking into the caravan park, visiting the Information Centre (most unhelpful) then going to the Department of Environment’s office, just down the road, to buy our National Parks Pass (because the Information Centre had run out and would not be getting any more in for at least a week ????) and grocery shopping we have not had much time to do anything else.  We are here for a week and have a number of things on our to do list.

 

Sorry this is a bit longer than usual (and late) but we have not had mobile phone connection for the last 3 nights.  

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Western Australia Trip - Week 2

 

Passing through Camooweal we called into the Drovers Camp (museum) where we spent a very entertaining two and a half hours listening to Stumpy Adams who was a drover in his younger days.  We then called out to have lunch at the Camooweal Billabong where we had camped last time we passed this way.  There was a bit more water in it this and time and quite a few more campers along the banks although it was no were near crowded.

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Camooweal Billabong

 

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Crossing the Border into the NorthernTerritory

We continued on along the Barkley Highway and set up camp for the night at the Avon Downs Rest Area which is right opposite the Avon Police Station.  It must be the most remote and isolated police station in Australia – there is nothing else there except the police station and a couple of houses.  Next day we travelled onto Attach Creek Rest Area on the Stuart Highway.  The camp area was quite full by the time darkness fell but we had a camp fire in our fire place and all our nearest neighbours ending up sitting around it for awhile.

 

The next day we travelled on up the Stuart Highway and I must say the trip north on the Stuart Highway has been much more interesting then the trip south to Alice Springs.  We stopped overnight at the Daly Waters Pub.  What a great place to stop.  The camp ground was almost full and nearly everyone had dinner at the pub.  Steak and Barra and self-serve salad.  Yum Yum!  They also had entertainment from 5p.m. until just after 8p.m.  Three singers and they were quite good.

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Daly Waters Pub

On the way out next morning we called into the Stuart tree (not very exciting) and then it was on up the highway to Mataranka.  We booked into the Bitter Springs Caravan and Camping Park which is walking distance from the Bitter Springs Thermal pool, for two nights as we wanted to do the walk to the Makaranka Falls.  After lunch we walked down to the springs and had a laze in the water which is suppose to be 34 degrees but did not feel too warm as the temperature was about 36 degrees.  Certainly back in singlets and shorts weather. 

 

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Bitter Springs

Next morning we got up early and went for the walk to the Makaranka Falls.  It was a good walk as the path meandered along the river for most of the way. The only downside was that for about one third of the walk was through soft sand – very good for the calf muscles!!  The falls were not very spectacular when we reached them.

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Roper River

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Mataranka Falls

The next day it was all the way up to Katherine (about 106 kilometres).  We arrived mid-morning and our first stop was at the Tourist Information Centre where we booked for the Sunset Cruise on the Katherine Gorge –the first night we could get on was Tuesday so just as well we were planning a few days here.  We then did a bit of shopping (not retail therapy but necessities – food) before checking into the Riverview Caravan Park.  A nice park and we just have to go out the back gate (which is locked between 7p.m. and 7a.m.)  and it is a five minute walk down to the Katherine Hot Springs where we have been the last two afternoons.

 

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Katherine Hot Springs

Today we went up to Edith Falls – very pretty.  There are a couple of different walks you can go on but we chose the 2.8 kilometre walk to the top falls walk.  It was pretty rocky and up and down so was not real good on Phil’s knees but the walk was good and the falls very pretty.

 

 

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Edith Falls - Lower Pool

 

 

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Edith Falls - Upper Falls

 

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Edith Falls

 

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Edith Falls

 

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Lower Bridge -Katherine River

We are here for another two days before heading west.

 

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Western Australia Trip -Week One

Leaving home on Sunday 10 May, 2015 we travelled west having our first night's camp at Gil Weir at Miles.  It was then on to Morven stopping at the Morven Recreation Grounds where we found they were holding a three day Sheep Dog Trials.  We spent the afternoon watching some very smart sheep dogs (and some very dumb sheep).  It was really good to watch and that night the local fishing club who were manning the canteen put on a great roast dinner for $10.

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Morven Sheep Dog Trails

Nest day we headed north stopping for a wander around Aughatella – the home of the giant meat ant.

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A giant meat ant.

We then drove on through Tambo and camped the night at a rest area on the Barcoo River. 

Next morning we stopped for a look around Blackall – a nice neat little town and also Barcaldine.  We had to have a look at the monstrosity they now call the Tree of Knowledge.

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The Tree of Knowledge (???)

I am very glad we travelled this way quite some years ago when the real Tree of Knowledge was still alive. 

The further north we drove from Morven the drier it got.  After turning onto the Landsbrough Highway at Barcaldine the number of dead kangaroos along the road and beside the road was unbelievable.

We again stopped at a rest area just south of Ilfracombe.  It began to get quite windy.  We stopped next morning in Ilfracombe for a look at the old machinery which lines the highway but it was too windy (and with each gust of wind you also got a cloud of dust) and too cold (!) so we retreated to the café for a cup of coffee.

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Old machinery at Ilfracrombe

We had booked into the Caravan Park in Longreach and after checking in we did a walk around town and then a walk around the grounds of the Heritage Centre where we found these emus wandering around.

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Next morning we were up early to catch the first stage coach out of town – actually the 8.30 a.m. Cobb & Co Coach Experience.  It was really great except it was still cold, windy and dusty.  After the stage coach ride we were served a yummy morning tea of fresh hot scones with jam and cream before watching an old time movie (Smiley Gets a Gun) starring Chips Rafferty.  Then after the movie we had the old time tent show out the back.  It was put on by the two young Kinnon boys and they did a really good job.  They had everyone laughing a lot and some very well trained animals.

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 Cobb & Co Experience

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That afternoon at about 4.30p.m. the bus picked us up from the caravan park and drove us down to the Kinnon & Co camp on the river where we boarded the Thomson Belle for a sunset cruise on the river. It is a bit deceiving to see all the water in the river and everywhere around so dry. 

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 Sunset cruise - Thomson River

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After the cruise it was back to the Kinnon & Co camp for camp oven stew followed by apple slice and custard.  We then had a bush poet recite some poems before heading down to the big screen they have set up on the very edge of the river for the Harry Redford (alias Captain Starlight) Sound and Light show.  Then it was back to the camp fire for Billy Tea (or coffee) and damper before being delivered back to the caravan park. It a was a very good night.

After a very hectic day in Longreach we were a bit late leaving the next morning as we had some house keeping to do before we left.  We then had a pretty long drive before pulling up at the Fullarton River Rest Area for the night.  We did stop off at Winton for a break and some musical entertainment at the Musical Fence.

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 I had to drag Phil away from playing Waltzing Matilda on the fence.

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It was the drums for me.

We are now at the WWII Site Rest Area about 60 kilometres west of Mt Isa.

(Sorry this blog has taken awhile to be put up but I have been having problems with my 12 volt computer connection and also uploading the photos to the blog sight but at least one problem has been fixed).

 

 

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My Perth Adventure

Howdy,
                A recent incident let me know Murphy is alive and functioning at full capacity. I was in Perth and was ready to head to Adelaide, I was at a Woollies check out to pay for my cross country provisions when the card reader said " go away, your card is invalid ", luckily I had enough cash to cover the transaction. I promptly rang the Visa freeze card department who informed me they had indeed acted on my behalf as a previous purchase of update of software from an overseas firm had also been blocked as this firm had been tagged as scammers. They also told me a new Visa card had been mailed to my postal address in Adelaide --- Bewdy!!  Unfortunately I was still in Perth with 70 bucks to my name and it was a Friday long weekend there, so they agreed to sponsor my trip across the Nullarbor as they could monitor my purchases ( fuel etc ) as I progressed on my run East. I thanked them profusely as they were bending over backwards to assist me. Some hours later silly me went to withdraw some cash from a hole in the wall, the ATM promptly ate my card and I am sure the ATM camera had an arched eyebrow and a nasty gleam in the lens!  Needless to say I survived the next 4 days by using nefarious methods and not being there when the council ranger checked. Luckily for me there was a branch of the bank I use in Fremantle, one of about five in Aust and managed to get there the following Tuesday without running out of fuel. Luckily my run East was uneventful. To add insult to  injury the Visa person I had negotiated the terms of use with rang me and inquired  how my trip went?  I must confess I calmly and sedately described my anguish at being stranded due to an oversight in their department.  Just another incident in the learning curve of being on the road. however I would not change this life for anything and am happy to keep going.      Regards   Nick 

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Murray River Ramblers Bush Camp

  Murray River Ramblers 14th  Muster at Boomanoomana  Bush  Camp

Our first Bush Camp held from 30th Oct to 5th Nov. on the banks of the Murray between Barooga & Mulwala 12 MRR members camped, Daryl & Jill MRR members and friends Dan & Jan called in on Monday,  also camping with us were Border Hoppers members Peter & Raye  from Wagunyah, Bill & Una from Wagga ( on their way home from Lucindale ) & 2 other Borders Hoppers  from Mulwala called in for a few hours, also from Swan Hill Southern  Nomads  Des & Lyn  camped with us. Another camper nearby from Brisbane  Al was invited to join in also (he knew how to play cards well )

The Muster was full of fun, fellowship & games as well as plenty of WIND on Sat. & Sun. which made it impossible to keep Trevor’s marquee upright,. As usual Kaye Hocking had things well organised with Trevor taking care of the portable loo. Friday evening seen a few members  dress up for Halloween.

Saturday afternoon saw a few games on the river bank such as throw the Broom like a Javelin & rubber mallet like a Shot Putt followed by a game of Klop won by Border Hopper Peter. Then it was time to get ready for our Damper tea cooked by some members in camp ovens ( on Gas).

After all that those of us who were brave enough to face the cold enjoyed a sing-along accompanied by 3 members on Ukuleles (Kaye ,Maree & Una with Henry keeping beat on an imported Drum )

Sunday started with our traditional cooked Breakfast of Eggs, Bacon, Sausages & Tomatoes & the rest of the day was filled in by fellowship under the Gum trees with a few Ladies doing Craft work or Crosswords & that evening saw 5 members & Al play cards until it got to cold.

Monday was another great day of fellowship with the Wind finally giving up. Des showed off his latest  toy being a Drone with some amazing photos. Again the same ones played cards finishing the last game at 11pm.

 Tuesday Melbourne Cup Day couldn’t go by without celebrating the MRR way on the river bank.  Ross & Sharron prepared a paper bag lunch which was enjoyed by all. But the highlight of the day was the horse racing game organised by Kaye & Ian. There were 3 races with 6 horses bets were placed & dividends paid it was a very entertaining event. There was a hat parade won by Gloria & Ross

Then it was time for those that had to go home to leave but there were 8 members that stayed on for another night & so ended our longest Muster & thoughts of having another Bush Muster next year. Story done by Phil   Griffiths                                                                                                                                                                                                           (

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Vinnie and Kat : q00166
Your blog was a delight and absolute pleasure to view. Well done Phil & Gloria. Cheers Vince.
Sunday, 05 June 2016 19:44
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The Pownall's

John and Janet Powell from Point Cook vic 

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Ted and Cathy's Nomadic Adventures 2014 (Pt.5)

Day 228  18-09-14

Left Camooweal and headed to Mount Isa. Called into Lake Moondarra.  A shadow of its former self and I am not talking about the water level. Very disappointing.

Booked into Sunset Top Caravan Park. Ted contacted a friend Trevor Crawford, and made arrangements for lunch the following day.

Did some shopping. Woolworths building disgusting. Filthy and run down.

Day 229 19-09-14

Washing day and then off to lunch at the Coffee Club for lunch with Trevor Crawford. Great to catch up with him again.

Day 230 20-09-14

Left Mount Isa and set off for Cloncurry. Toured the Rev. John Flynn Memorial ( He was the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service). We found it very interesting.

Moved on towards Normanton. Pulled up at Terry Smith Lookout Rest Area, opposite the now closed Quamby Hotel. We decided to stay a few days.

The sunsets were fantastic.

Day 231 21-09-14

Decided to stay an extra night. Lots of birds drinking from bird waterers, some person had made. Kept the water level up.

Day 232 22-09-14

Headed off to Normanton, with a quick look at Burke an d Wills Roadhouse. Very basic and expensive.

Arrived in Normanton and visited the Tourist Info Centre, which is in the old Burns Philp Warehouse. Toured the Museum, which cost us $8 each. Very Interesting.

Then to the Normanton Railway Station and went for a ride on a 1931 Rail Motor RM 31, which is powered by an AEC petrol engine, which has to be started by a crank handle. Gret ride.

From there we headed to Karumba, where we filled up with water and emptied black water. No free camps. Back towards Normanton and spent the night at Phil Schaeffer Rest Area. We had no gas as the tap on the regulator was leaking. Had to run the generator all night to keep the fridge cold.

Day 233 23-09-14

Into Normanton and had the gas tap replaced, before heading off to Croydon. Had a great yarn with an old lady (a real "Bushie") Very interesting lady. Also went to the  "Oldest Store in Australia". It was like a step back in time.

A quick trip to Lake Balfour and then off towards Georgetown, with an overnight stay at Cumberland Chimney Camp Spot, right near a lilly covered Billabong. Fantastic range of Bird Life.

Day 234 24-09-14

On the road again, into Georgetown,where we bought some souvenirs. Continued on to Mount Surprise. Could not get fuel as they were waiting for a delivery. The road has deteriorated into narrow, one lane bitumen, with strips of wider road. Headed on into Mount Garnet and then cut across the Silver Valley Road, to just outside Herberton. This road was all dirt with some very hilly sections. We headed to Irvinebank, as the Tavern there was advertising free camping. Irvinebank is an historic tin mining village, 26 kms from Herberton, along a sealed and unsealed road' We set up camp and decided to eat at the Tavern, only to find that it closed the week before our arrival. Bummer.

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Looks like you haven't left the Police Force yet Ted, you have on - in one of the photos above - one of those Police belts with ev... Read More
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 18:08
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Trip to ACCL National Muster Lucindale from Sunshine Coast

Depart from the Sunshine Coast on 28 September for the National Muster via Esk, Gundy, Dubbo, Cooma, Lindenow South, Berwick, Great Ocean Road, Mt Gambier, Millicent Kingston SE, Tailem Bend, Keith and Lucindale 12 October. Linking up with our Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren and their new Jayco Swan in Melbourne on 6 October.

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Skidro couple

We spend most of our time travelling around OZ [SKIDRO] ie. Spending The Kids Inheritance Driving Around OZ , in our 25foot Traveller caravan and are currently in the Lockyer Valley . In 2 weeks we aim to travel with the Wandering Warriors as support to their walkers raising money by walking from Brisbane to Canberra over a 3 week period.

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The Dean's Travel Tales 2014 (Week 6 and final)

After leaving Echuca – Moama we travelled up the Long Paddock stopping at a caravan park in Deniliquin then on to Hay.  We pulled off the road to read about the sculpture along the way.  I particularly liked the Drovers and Headless Horseman and the story that goes with it.

 

 

We camped overnight at Sandy Point on the Murrumbidgee River at Hay with quite a few other travellers.  It is a big area and very popular.  We also checked out the Long Paddock sculptures at Hay.

We also went out to see the sunset on the Hay Plains which, the lady in the Tourist Information Centre advised us, is the second largest flat area in the world next to the Sahara Desert.  They have these really neat table and chairs out at the viewing area.

It really is amazing – it seems like you can see forever

and the sunset was quite brilliant.

The next day we travelled up to Lake Cargellico where we camped at the free camp out at the weir.  It is a huge camp ground which goes along the Lachlan River with some great spots to stop.

It was then up to Condoblin and out to view the Utes in the Paddock which are situated about 30 kilometres out of Condoblin, the last 5 down a dirt road.  They are in the middle of nowhere, only a couple of farm houses around and they are brilliant.  They are all Holden utes and each one has a plaque which gives you the information about the ute and the painting.  They have put a lot of thought into the paintings on the utes and what it means.

It was then on up to the Rabbit Trap Hotel at Albert.

There is an area opposite the hotel where they have some units, two powered camp sites and then quite a large (unpowered) area where you can camp.  There are also toilets and showers which are quite new and very good.  The powered sites are $10 per night and the unpowered area is free with a donation to the Guide Dogs for the use of the showers.  There was also a very friendly (feral) cat which thought it might adopt us and if it got a chance stow away in our van. 

Thankfully it had moved on by the time we got back to our van after dinner.

We had dinner at the pub along with everyone else who was camped there and quite a few of the locals – it was a good night. 

We were awoken the next morning by thunder and we thought we were going to get a tremendous storm

We managed to avoid the storms until after we had checked into the caravan park at Tooraweenah then it proceeded to rain (and hail – only small thankfully) for the rest of the afternoon and most of the night.

It was then rain and showers all the way to just north of Moree.  We stopped at Yelarbon Recreation Reserve again for the night.  It was very cloudy and stormy looking all around but we did have a brilliant sunset this afternoon.  Hopefully we should be home tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.

 

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The Dean's Travel Tales 2014 (Week 5)

We had a change of plans and did not come up through the Grampians – they had been badly damaged by bushfires earlier this year and the northern section is still closed and other parts have only just re-opened so we thought we would give them a miss.

 

Instead we have travel up through the Lodden Valley.  We have stayed at a couple of great freedom camps (Gold Coin donation) and discovered some really interesting things.

Our first freedom camp was at Glenpatrick Reserve (just a dot on the map) – Phil was really impressed as there was a shelter shed with a fireplace in it and he could have a camp fire.

We then checked out the spot where the ‘Welcome Stranger’ nugget was found – still the largest nugget ever found.  Interesting country – very hard, rocky country.  Would be even more interesting if we had a gold detector.

 

We then travelled through Inglewood where we saw this magnificent old house.  It was very large for the time it was built – the chap who built it in the 1800’s had 14 children so he built a large house with 13 bedrooms.  It must have been quite a mansion when it was first built.

Our next night’s camp was at Hard Hill, Wedderburn and it was a hard hill!  They have an old gold mine there as well as some barbecues and picnic tables.  They have also made quite a few areas for campers, caravans and motor homes. They also have an ‘eucalyptus stew pot’ – it was used to extract the eucalyptus oil from eucalyptus leaves.  It is still in working order and they use it now for school and tourist demonstrations.

After leaving Hard Hill we went to Boort and spent most of the day there.  The townspeople are very friendly.  We had heard about Simply Tomatoes and the Spanner Man so we made some inquiries and after telephoning John Piccoli, the Spanner Man, and arranging a time to call out to his place to see his sculptures we went out to Simply Tomatoes which is about 14 kilometres from Boort.  After spending about 2 hours there seeing their tomato operations, having coffee and a taste test of the tomato products and also having a tour of their wool blanket making room we finally left feeling like we had known Ian, Marilyn and Annie for years.  I am sure if we had not had the appointment to see the spanner sculptures we would have ended up parking the van up and staying the night.

We then went to meet John and view his amazing spanner sculptures.  He does not draw the designs but sees them in his head and then creates them.  They are all made from different spanners which he collects, mainly from swap meets.  The sculptures are all so real and not abstract at all.

What makes these sculptures even more amazing is that John is in a wheel chair.  He showed us his workshop and then around his garden where he has placed all the sculptures (explaining how long it took him to make each piece and a little about each one) and his menagerie of birds (mainly pheasants and macaws), deer, alpaca and pet kangaroo.

It is a real pleasure meeting these types of people and seeing the things they do.

As we had spent so much time around Boort we ended spending the night at the caravan park at Pyramid Hill – council owned but run by volunteers and only $15 per night for a powered site although the plumbing wasn’t so good.  When Phil went to connect the hose to the tap water came gushing out of the ground – the pipe had rusted through so it was a quick call to the caretakers who had to come and made some make-shift repairs until the plumber could come next morning.

Next morning we climbed to the Lookout on Pyramid Hill.  Beautiful view - it is surrounded by very flat land. 

We continued north and crossed the border into New South Wales having a brief lunch stop in Echuca.  When we visited Echuca last year they were building their big new Discovery Centre and Saw Mill which are now finished.  They have now made Echuca very, very commercialised and  I feel it has lost all it’s natural charm.  Without paying to go on the Pevensey Paddle Steamer or to go through the Discovery Centre you cannot get near the river bank or boardwalks along the river bank.  I think they have really spoilt it and we won’t be in a hurry to return.  The Murray River was also very low – not much water this year.

They grow a lot of canola in the areas we have been passing through which makes the scenery very pretty as there are lots of field of gold. 

 

 

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The Dean's Travel Tales 2014 (Week 4 Cont)

First afternoon at Warrnambool we went to Flagstaff Hill to book for the laser and light show.  We ended up spending about three hours there looking through the village – it was very interesting and very well set out.  The laser and light show was excellent.

 

yes - we did We also found another lighthouse- actually there were two (both still in use today although they have been modernised and mechanised.

 

And we didn’t see it all so we had to make another trip back to see the museum the next morning.

 

The museum was very interesting.  Below is a photo of the famous peacock which survived the sinking of the Loch Ard.  It is now insured for $4 million.  When you go through a museum like this one and you realise the conditions the people put up with on those ships it is a wonder any of them survived to arrive in Australia.

 

Next morning we went down to the bay where the whales come in but there were none to be sighted.  The people at the Information Centre said they only had one female come in to calve this year and she left about 2 to 3 weeks ago.  It is unusual as apparently they normally have quite a few come in.  So we went to the Antique and Collectables markets in the old Fletcher Jones factory.  I have never seen such a big Antique and Collectables market – they had absolutely everything, antique furniture, china, glassware, toys, books, clothes, tools even tuppaware and more!

The old building is surrounded by beautiful gardens apparently created mostly by one man from an old quarry.

We then went out to the Cheese factory at Allansford – there is the factory, café, cheese tasting and shop, where they have lots of local wine, cheese, and preserves, as well as a museum where they have old separators, cheese presses as well as lots of other interesting things.

From the cheese factory we went to Hopkins Falls.  They were not easy to find as there are not many signs to them but the countryside is very pretty (very green) so it was a nice drive.

We also went to the Botanic Gardens which are also very pretty.  They were designed by the same guy who designed the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

This pine tree was grown from a seed brought back from Lone Pine Gallipoli.

Out next day trip was down to Tower Hill and Port Fairy.  Tower Hill is great.  It is a dormant volcano crater which has been turned into a wildlife refuge (or as the signs say ‘a native game reserve’). 

From the lookouts at the top you can see the crater very clearly, then the road, which is one way, goes down to the bottom of the crater where there is an Information Centre (closed when we were there), barbecues and picnic tables.  There are a number of walks going from the Information Centre.  We did the Lava Flow Board Walk –which is suppose to take about ½ an hour. 

I am not sure how long it took us but it was an easy walk.  We saw kolas, grey kangaroos, a black wallaby, emus including this male with his chicks,

Black swans and lots of water hens.

Next was Port Fairy - very pretty especially along the wharf area.  It is only a small town with lots of eateries – very much a holiday village.

They are very big on their canons down here.  I don’t think we have been to a park where there has not been at least one canon.  This one at Port Fairy had four – all aimed at the town.

And yes, we found another Lighthouse. 

This one is on Griffiths Island at Port Fairy.  There is a very good walk out to it.  They have built breakwaters at the mouth of the river – first one was built in the 1870’s - which incorporates the path way.

 

Tomorrow we leave Warrnambool and turn north.  I think out next stop will be Hall’s Gap in the Grampians.

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The Dean's Travel Tales 2014 (Week 4)

We stayed two nights at Anglesea – checked out Bells Beach - 

quite a few surfers but not much surf (they say to come back at Easter time), went for a drive up to Erskine Falls and Split Point Light House.

We then continued along the Great Ocean Road

 to Apollo Bay and checked into the caravan park for three nights.  The water falls are beautiful down here at the moment – we have been to Carisbrook, 

Hopetoun, 

Beauchamp 

and Triplet Falls - all have lots of water going over them.  Triplet were the best – quite spectacular but a bit hard to get the full effect in one photo.

We have also been down to Cape Otway Light Station calling into Mait’s Rest on the way.  We did a great little walk there – absolutely beautiful rainforest.  I was expecting to see elves around every corner.  Hang on – is that one….

...No it’s only Phil.

 

I was very disappointed in Cape Otway Light Station.  I feel it was quite expensive ($19.50 per person entry fee) for what is there.  The Telegraph Station is very poorly set out with only a few posters on the walls with a little bit of information about the Telegraph Station and Light House when they were first constructed– it would have been much more interesting if they had the rooms furnished as they would originally been and stories about the early Light House keepers and Telegraph Station operators.  They also have some information on dinosaurs skeletons found in the area but this information is in the Telegraph Station and seems out of place there. 

 

We saw quite a few koalas on the way to and from the Cape Otway Light Station.

We did the beech drive which takes you to the California Redwood forest.  The California Redwood trees are magnificent – they were planted in 1938 and are so very tall.  You walk in amongst them and it is like walking into a different world.

 

We also went up to the Otway Fly and did the tree top walk – it was great.  Very similar to the one in Tasmania – and just as good.  The Otway National Park is great but at this time of year we are probably seeing it at it’s best as everything is so very wet.  The tree ferns are magnificent and there are so many huge beech trees.

We climbed the tower which is 45 metres high -  quite a few steps to reach the top.

It was then time to pack up and go to Port Campbell.  It was quite a fine day as we arrived near Port Campbell so we decided to do the helicopter ride then and here in case the weather turned nasty.  We did the 25 minute flight down to the Bay of Islands.  It was really great even though it was quite cloudy but at least it wasn’t raining and was not windy.  It was only a small helicopter we were in so I am glad it was not windy.

 

We booked into the caravan park in Port Campbell for a couple of nights and then went down to have a look at London Bridge and the Grotto. 

London Bridge

The Grotto

We then went back up to the 12 Apostles lookout at sunset (not that there was really any sunset due to the overcast conditions) to hopefully see the Little Penguins coming ashore but obviously someone forgot to tell the penguins that they were suppose to be coming home for the night as we waited until about ¾ of an hour after sunset and almost froze waiting for them but didn’t see any.

Next day The next day was spent doing the Timboon Food Trail.  

We started off by having coffee and a fabulous almond meal mandarin cake for morning tea followed by a single malt whisky tasting, ice cream tasting, two cheese tastings and ending with a chocolate tasting.  All I can is yum yum!!!  Now all I need to do is some strenuous exercise to work off all of those kilojoule’s.

We did do a little sight-seeing down towards the Bay of Islands.  It is such a fabulous coastline that I have taken so many photos.  We found this boat ramp –

 

not quite sure why they built a boat ramp down a cliff face but they did – I wouldn't like to drive a 4WD down it let alone try to launch a boat even a tinny.

 

Next day - so much to see, so many places to go – we started off at Gibson’s Steps

(for a bit of morning exercise) then to the 12 Apostles (although there are not 12) viewing platforms,

 

 

then off to see Mutton Bird Island, Thunder Cave, and The Blowhole before descending into Loch Ard Gorge (I don’t know how anyone could survive a shipwreck and then being washed ashore in Loch Ard Gorge), 

then a walk out to the Arch Viewing Platform, Razorback Island 

and the Salt and Pepper shakers and the sisters. Phew!!  Then for a walk along the beach in front of the caravan park and around to the jetty.  I am not quite sure why they have a jetty (quite a big one) here – watching the waves come in this afternoon I certainly wouldn’t like to try to bring a boat in through those waves and reefs and rocks….

 

Now for a good nights sleep after all that exercise.

Tomorrow we are off to Warranambool.

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The Dean's Travels 2014(Week 3)

We are now in Angelsea arriving here late morning. We have had a great couple of days based at Werribee South.  The GPS brought us down from Ballarat on the Western Freeway and then onto the Princes Freeway – couldn’t believe the traffic!!!  I am glad it was Phil driving and not me.  We went into Werribee to do some grocery shopping Monday afternoon and there was so much traffic in there as well.

Werribee River

Red Cliffs - Werribee River

 We stayed at a really nice Caravan Park at Werribee South just across the road from the beach.   

 

Sunset at the jetty over the road from the Caravan Park at Werribee South.

We had really good weather the day we went to the Werribee Open Plains Zoo.  It is not really as big as I was expecting – no where near as big as Western Plains at Dubbo and not as many animals.  We did the Open Air Vehicle Off-road Tour which was really good as they drive right up to the animals.  Some a little too close - like the white rhino which came right over to the vehicle.

Oh No!  I may be on the dinner menu!

A very chilled out Silver Back Gorilla.

T

This little hippo is only a few weeks old - neither her nor Mum moved when we came near them.

A couple of very relaxed giraffes.

A very friendly white rhino.

A very cheeky Serval Cat - wanted to do it's own thing and now what the trainer was trying to get her to do.  Typical cat!

The next day we did a day trip down to Geelong, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale.  It was a great day although it started to rain just as we were leaving to come home and was very cloudy all day.  Still cold but not as cold as it had been in Ballarat.  I loved all the bollards along the waterfront at Geelong- I could have spent hours walking along there looking at them all. 

We found this carousel too and I just had to go for a ride on it.  Phil was not impressed.  There were two other women on it at the same time and all the husbands were just shaking their heads and taking photographs!

 

We also found where the gnomes go to play.

Can you find the one who is not a life saver?

We then went down to Queenscliff where the ferry comes in from Portsea or is it Sorrento?  

This is a trick photo - looks like the ferry has run aground.  It actually moors just the other side of the stone breakwater.

I didn’t realise there was a Fort at Queenscliff.  You can do a tour of it but we were too late for the tour – a shame as I think it would have been interesting.  It is still in use today by the Army so is not open to the general public to wander around.

 

Note the lighthouse in the back ground of this photo.  It is the only ‘black’ lighthouse in Australia – most lighthouses are painted white.

We then went over to Point Lonsdale where the waters of Port Phillip Bay meets the southern ocean.  It wasn’t too rough but some big swells coming in.  It was interesting watching the ships come and go.

 

I just had to take this photo for you, Gwen.

On the beach at Point Lonsdale.

It was a little bit windy.

It has rained most of today - the wettest day we have had so far.  We parked the caravan at the Caravan Park at Angelsea and then went for a drive up to Torquay and back along the coast calling into Bells Beach.  

Surf Museum at Torquay.

Bells Beach.

We couldn't believe all the surfers out in the water - there didn't look to be too much surf.   The weather is clearing tonight so hopefully we will get a couple of fine days before the next front comes through.

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The Dean's Travel Tales (Week 2 Cont)

We had a very windy drive to Ballarat – luckily we arrived in time to book into the caravan park and set up before the rain started.  The caravan park was right next door to the M.A.D.E. (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) so we spent the afternoon there.  It was quite interesting. Next door is also the Memorial Park to the Eureka Stockade.

Next morning it was still raining (showers) so we headed over to Creswick to visit the Woollen Mill.  While we were having a tour of the Mill it started snowing.  Of course we had to abandon the tour and go outside to have a look.

  It was magical – at first it was just small snow but then the wind dropped and it was just big flakes of snow falling.  Being a Queenslander I had not seen snow fall like that before – of course I had to go out into it and catch some snowflakes!  

Unfortunately it didn’t settle anywhere –I think it was too wet as there were showers just before the snow fell and shortly after.

The forecast for the next day was becoming fine so we headed off to Sovereign Hill. 

  It did fine up into a beautiful sunny day but cold.  Sovereign Hill was very good – much bigger then I was expecting and very well done.  We bought a Gold Pass which allows you to go back for a second day and you really need more than one day to see everything.  We ended up spending half the next day there as well.  It is not a place I would like to go in school holidays – I think it would be too crowded. 

Phil making friends.

 

  We went to the ‘Blood on the Cross’ Sound and Light Show.  It was very good but absolutely freezing as part of it is outside and they take you from one area to the next in open air buses. I think it could have been better if they had a few actors in some of the scenes as it was all lights and recorded sound.

We spent the rest of Sunday wandering the main street of Ballarat which is quite magnificent- very wide with a park with lots of statutes, fountains etc in the middle and the Botanic Gardens and Lake Wendourie. 

Phil you are starting at the end of my life not the beginning.

 

 The Botanic Gardens would have to be one of the best Botanic Gardens I have been to.  Well laid out, beautiful old trees and white marble statutes everywhere as well as an avenue where they have a bust of each of the Australian Prime Ministers.  Lake Wendourie is where they held the canoeing and kayaking for the1956 Olympic Games.

 

This is the memorial to all prisoners of war.  The black wall at the back contains the names of every serviceman who was taken a prisoner of war.

Winter - he is really making himself felt at the moment.

Wonder what this lion is smiling about?

Andrew Fisher - Prime Minister from 1908 to 1915

Boat Sheds on Lake Wendouree

We also went for a drive down Memorial Avenue.

The Arch of Victory - the trees behind this arch form the Memorial Avenue and every tree has a serviceman's name at the base.

The weather for the last couple of day has been beautiful but  the nights and early mornings have been freezing.  It was apparently minus 3.5 degrees this morning.  There was ice all over the Toyota when we got up (about 7a.m.) and the last two mornings the pipes have been frozen.  Thankfully we have a gas heater as well as the reverse cycle air-conditioner as this morning it was even too cold for it to work.

Tomorrow we are back on the road heading for Werribee.

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FNQ Trip 2014

Well we finally left Railway Museum Van Park at Ravenshoe 10 degrees this morning. Travelled to Undara and did the Laver Tubes tour. Twisted my ankle whilst traversing the track into the Laver tube camera in hand taking photos of the people in front climbing down the rocks. Probably should have kept my focus on the climb.
We are currently at the Bedrock Van Park at Mt Surprise. What a great park. Heading to Normanton tomorrow.
By the way had lunch at Tolga Pub with 13 ACC members including Lionel Mussell and Tom and Sandy. Dennis

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The Dean's Travel Tales (Week 2)

Before leaving Tatura we had to have a walk around town to fill in time until it was time for morning tea as we had to try their bakery’s award winning vanilla slices.





They were very YUM.

 Then it was off to Bendigo.  After going down some back roads found by Phil (and the GPS) we arrived in Bendigo about lunchtime and checked into the Golden Nugget Caravan Park.  Being a Sunday afternoon we drove into the centre of Bendigo as we considered there would be less traffic and easier to find our way around.  We found where all the tourist attractions were and went for a walk around the city centre.  It is a lovely city – reminds me very much of Christchurch before the earthquakes.

 

Town Hall


The Law Courts

I love all the old stone buildings.
  Rosalind Park is lovely except for all the flying foxes – it is a shame it is illegal to get rid of them.  
 

We also went and checked out Sacred Heart Cathedral – we were going to go to Mass there but they don’t have any services on Sunday afternoon. It is a magnificent building.

 







 

I also loved Alexandra Fountain - especially the mermaid horses.

Monday morning we firstly went to the Tram Centre at the Central Deborah Mine and caught the tram to the Tram Depot and Workshop where we did tour of the workshop.  It was very interesting – they do all the maintenance, repairs and restoration of their trams as well as some work for private collectors and the Melbourne trams.  We then hopped on the tram back to the city centre where we had lunch at the beautiful Shamrock Hotel – another magnificent building.

 

 

Shamrock Hotel

Later Monday afternoon we did the tour of the Central Deborah Mine – I wasn’t terribly interested in doing the mine tour as we had been down mines before but I still found it interesting.

 

We were very lucky with the weather as it was sunny and not too cold all day.  The forecast is for bad weather coming!!

 Tuesday morning dawned quite fine but cold.  We decided to go for a walk around the Botanic Gardens and Lake Weeroona before the weather turned bad.

 

I am glad we did as by the time we reached the Chinese Museum and Gardens it was windy and rainy.  The Chinese Museum was very interesting.

 


We had been told about a massive Buddist Temple being build just out of Bendigo so we went out to have a look.


It is going to be another 20 metres higher then this when it is finished.  We were taken over for a look inside - it is massive.  When it is finished it will be identical to the biggest temple already built and the centre piece is a Budda statute carved out of a single piece of jade found in Canada - it has already been carved but is on tour around the world at the moment.  It is going to be quite something when finished.  It is quite a large property and they already have a retreat centre and monastery on site but have plans for some houses, an Interpretative centre, retirement home and school

Wednesday it was miserable – wet, windy and cold, however we had planned on driving down to Maldon to catch the steam train to Castlemaine and return.  A nice day for a steam train ride.  Maldon is a very old historic town – looks almost as it did 100 years ago.  The steam train was great.  The first class carriages are done up beautifully.  It was a 45 minute trip from Maldon to Castlemaine and we had about a 20 minute stop in Castlemaine while they turned the engine around before the return trip. 

 

Main Street Maldon




I love this sign in one of the carriages.


It fined up this afternoon and we came back to Bendigo on some back roads- some very pretty scenery.  We visited Bendigo Pottery this afternoon.  They certainly have some pottery!!!  We had a look through their Interpretative Centre and also got lost – it is part of the old factory.  They also have an antiques and collectables room.  I have never seen so much antique and collectable items in one room! 

It has come up very windy tonight but is not raining at the moment but they have forecast gale force winds and rain for tomorrow.  We leave here tomorrow and go down to Ballarat.  They are forecasting Friday to be their coldest day – I am glad I packed all our winter woollies and the caravan has a reverse cycle air-conditioner!!

 

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FNQ trip

We are at the Railway Museum park. $15 per night bit crowded but that has been the same wherever we have been since we left the Sunshine Coast 30 June. We thought it was the school holidays but it would appear that somebody farted south of the Qld border and the Mexicans headed north. The Mexicans we meet  during our trip have told us they are not returning south until the weather improves. Bastards the weather will never improve south of the Qld border. Looking at some of the mouldy vans parked in the van parks it would appear the weather is pretty crappy in the south.
The freezer compartment door broke  on the way to Cairns and of course we had to get it a replacement. $350 and 10 days later we have a new freezer door. The worrying thing was the guy that fixed it wasn't sure how to go about it. Luckily I had repaired the old door with Locktite (fantastic product) after going online for How to instructions, so I gave the fix-it guy instructions on how to go about it. After we had the new door in he said, " I have been repairing vans for 5 years and I now know have to replace a freezer compartment door on a Dometic fridge. I didn't get a discount.

Heading across to Normanton about 1st August.

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