Feb 27, 2010

Kalbar -Lake Cressbrook

We stayed at the Kalbar Showgrounds for 8 nights and enjoyed every moment, Kalbar makes a great stop over for visiting nearby towns & attractions. 40klms from Ipswitch, 10klms from Boonah and 8klms from the well known Aratula Bakery. Boonah by the way has the best valued Hamburgers i have eaten, so good we went back twice :-)

Showgrounds Kalbar

Each day we went for a drive around just checking out little towns and taking in the stunning scenery, Mt French National Park has a fabulous lookout with an easy walk, Moogerah Dam is well worth a look but unfortunately like Marroon Dam it doesn't allow camping.

Moogerah Dam

Harry the caretaker at the Showgrounds kept us entertained with his remote control car's, he has around 15 of them and majority are 1/8th scale and nitro powered, they certainly fly around, Harry doesn't race them preferring to just fiddle around with them and watching them do wheel stands for hundreds of metres. I helped mow the grounds a second time before we said our goodbyes to Harry & Gus his American Staffy and left for Somerset Dam.

Friendly Green Tree Frog

Somerset is only 20klms from our destination Kilcoy but we thought we may spend the week here before the end of the Month, plenty of Red Claw to catch apparently. We were surprised & shocked at the cost to stay at the tourist park, $28pn for unpowered is extreme for what is a SEQ Water Supply, plus on top of that it was $15 licence to put the power boat in the water plus a Qld Freshwater fishing licence.

Somerset Dam

We stayed 3 nights, the 2nd day i drove to Cooroy and had the Hobie Kayak replaced under warranty [again] Sunstate Hobie are the Qld agents for Hobie and they were very helpful & understanding of our run of bad luck, a quick phone call and Hal arranged to exchange our's for a new one, this time i was able to choose my colour and opted for the original Sage version, i never liked that bright yellow! Whilst there i purchased some trolley wheels, a rod holder and anchor.

On the return trip i stopped at Forest Glen Bakery just off the Bruce Highway, this would rank as one of my top bakery's we have indulged at, certainly on par with Freddo's at Kempsey.

Back at Somerset The weather was very humid and the water was rough, but i had to try my luck on the Red Claw so i purchased the fishing licence and used the kayak to get out and drop the nets, the Opera Style nets are allowed here in Qld and i had two, the bait used can be Dog Biscuits or Fruit, i was told Rock Melon worked well. Having only dog biscuits i tried them first with no luck, so i changed bait to banana & tomato and caught 3 in one net, nothing in the other. I spoke to one camper who proudly told us they caught 90 that morning !!

Red Claw

David & Maureen came and visited us the last night we were there, we had a BBQ tea and had a lovely evening chatting about everything, it has been agreed that we get to the property on Thursday of this week so with that date set we left Somerset the next morning and headed to Crows Nest & Lake Cressbrook.

A quick visit at Esk and we followed the signs to Crows Nest, the road we took had some signs saying Truck & Caravan turn around ahead, and then another sign saying Unsuitable for Caravans, Vickie was a bit worried but i ignored the signs and continued on, the road was bitumen for most of its 56klms length, gravel for around 20klms, it had a few steep sections over the Bluff but nothing that was a concern to the F250, it certainly wasn't a daunting road as the signs suggested.

Coming into Crows Nest from a direction we had not been i allowed the GPS to navigate us to where we wanted to go, with a slight hiccup where we visited the National Park first and then a major stuff up where we journeyed through the bush following a narrow trail that took us to a dead end after 17klms, we could see where we needed to be, the problem was we were on the opposite side of the Lake! Bloody GPS Navigation cannot be trusted. Backtracking all the way to the highway soon had us where we should have been. We have visited Lake Cressbrook before and knew that there was a charge of $2.50 gate entry, camp fee's had risen slightly to $7.50pp. It is a lovely spot with plenty of kangaroo's, some Bucks were absolutely massive in size, their forearms were huge!

Lake Cressbrook Camp

Vickie's back is playing up again so we treated the stay there as a relax and read, i had set up the satellite dish and it drizzled rain most of the time. We need to get a prescription filled for Vick so we moved this morning and now at the Crows Nest Caravan Park, the very 1st Van park we have stayed in since leaving home. Chemist is not open on Sunday's so tomorrow we will get that done and move on and find a free camp somewhere else.

Feb 17, 2010


Hot humid weather & storm clouds was a recipe for thunder & lightning, plus lots of rain! Harry the caretaker at the Showgrounds had suggested we camp on high ground which we did, Harry has been caretaker for the past 5 years and had never seen that area flood to any extent, that was untill that night. We watched the rain come bucketing down and the small creek behind us turn into a raging river, the water kept rising and soon we were surrounded, Harry came over and suggested we hook up and move to another spot on the bitumen, I thought we would be ok where we were but to save a sleepless night i would do as suggested. But 1st we got Harry's Bushtracker hooked up to his Jeep and got that into the shed as his van was in a low spot. By the time we did that our van rig was sitting in 12" of water and still rising, with the forecast for another front coming through i hooked up and moved over near the gate on the old drag/burnout strip, at least we were on a hard surface. As things turned out the rain eased off a bit and the creek stopped rising.

Kalbar is a small town with only the basic shops, whereas Boonah is larger and only 10klms away so the next day we went for a drive, our plan was to do a loop and take in the scenery but it was raining again so instead we just checked out the Boonah shops and had lunch. The next day we drove to Ipswitch to find the BCF store and exchange a camp chair that had broken, we have had the chairs for two years and both have snapped the arm's off, a bad design but a very comfortable chair, and with a 5 year warranty we will just keep returning them if they continue to break. At 1st we couldn't find the store and we did a U turn and asked at a service station, as it turned out we were heading in the right direction so we fueled up and headed back the way we came, next thing BANG! my 1st reaction was we had either been shot at or had a stone thrown at the truck, a quick lok in the mirror and i saw a council worker on the verge with a grass cutter, damn! a rock had been flicked up and smashed the rear passenger window. I reversed up and showed the worker who was most apologetic and told me to see his supervisor around the corner, we did that and exchanged details and got the phone number for the Ipswitch Council. It was arranged that we would go to BCF exchange the chair and then call in at the Council and the claim form would be waiting for us. Arriving there we found the man in charge had arranged for us to speak to a windscreen company closer to Kalbar which we have done and now waiting for another call to arrange a time to take the truck in and have the glass replaced. Then it's off somewhere else to have it tinted.

A pain the ass but we have the attitude it could have been a lot worse. To fill in the morning i have been helping Harry mow the grounds, a large area but with me on the ride on mower and Harry on the tractor & slasher it only took a couple of hours. It was good practice for when we get to Kilcoy.

Feb 10, 2010

Tooloom Falls

Around and around we go, where we end up, we certainly don't know.

Left Old Benalbo after staying one night, it was pleasent enough spot for an overnighter and thanks must go to the local shire for having provided such places.

We headed North to Urbenville, here they have a camp spot close to town for a small fee you get to use the hot showers, we didn't need to having everything we want in the Bushtracker but we did stop for a coffee break and a walk into town where Vickie brought some shopping. One thing that does amaze and annoy me is that we rarely get acknowledged with any pleasentries, they must be fully aware that we are 'tourists', doesn't take much to say Hi' passing through? etc. Next time it appears all to hard for them we will take our dollars elsewhere.

Tooloom Falls is just 5klms out of town and worthy of being highly rated in our classification based on our need's. Very scenic, green grass, BBQ facilities, Shelter's and the Fall's themselves. Beautiful spot and one we will definately call back too. I got the Kayak out and pumped it up and we both took turns in paddling up the river, The Kayak is a Hobie Mirage and is equipped with pedals as well as a paddle and is easy and quite fast to peddle along. Not having a NSW fishing licence i thought it best to leave the rods in the bags but i was told that some big Bass & Catfish live in these waters.

We only stayed one night at Tooloom Falls, the rain started again and the thought of being cooped up didn't enthrall us, so onwards we went. Unfortunately the rain followed us everywhere, a visit into Kyogle got us out and checking out the local shops & bakery on our way down to Casino, Kyogle Caravan Park is for sale at a reasonable price if anyone is interested. Perhaps it's me but i get a feel for a town the moment we drive into one and Casino didn't set my passion to stay alight. The rain didn't help, and i am sure we will be come back one day for a 'proper' look.

Out came the map and we decided to head back along the Bruxner Highway towards Tenterfield and on up to Bald Rock National Park but before we got that far we stopped at Crooked Creek Camp for another overnighter. We had been here previously and one of our BOG [Bushtracker Owners Group] Member's, Alan mentioned to us after he heard we had visited, that there was another camp spot down the track further. With the rain still continuing to fall steadily we choose to stay in the same spot we did previously but i did take a walk down the track and saw exactly what Alan had described, the area is used and maintained by the Wilderness Horse Riders Assoc. I came across an old bed, the exact style i used when i was a young boy, my bed was used for outdoor fun & games as well, i can recall my elder brothers carrying it down the hall way to the back yard where it got used as a trampoline, pretend fishing boat and covered over it became a cubby house, but at the end of the day it was back into the house and my bed. I cannot imagine the amount of patience my Mother must have had with 3 sons.

Left Crooked Creek the next morning again with water tanks all full thanks to the rain and drove onto Tenterfield where we used the dump at the showgrounds, then parked near a park and into town to do a small shop before heading out to Bald Rock National Park.

The fee's they charge to visit is reasonable at $7 valid for 24hours, Camp fee's are an additional $7 pp on top of that, we choose not to camp and just stopped for 24 hours. The walk to the summit of Bald Rock can be tackled in two ways, a very steep 1.2klms or an easier 2.5klms walk [one way] we choose the longer route but it was still very steep in parts with majority of the walk an uphill slog. It was well worth it though and the views fantastic, coming back down was a lot easier.

Bald Rock

Moving on after our stop we headed to Leslie Dam just out of Warwick, what a let down! $8 per person per night, for a view of a lake with low water level & dust & dead grass. We are only 44klms or so from Tooloom Fall's so thats my guess where we will end up again tomorrow. Vickie has been busy with the clothes washing as i slog away with this epic of work, it's a tough life i keep telling myself lol

Leslie Dam, A dissapointment

Maroon Dam, nice but no camping

As predicted we left Leslie Dam and drove to Tooloom Fall's again, it's a lovely spot and we stayed 3 nights here. The weekend was a lot busier than when we visited the week previously mainly trail bikes and a few campers. Plenty of space for all and it wasn't a concern. We are now at Kalbar Showgrounds, very humid with black thunderstorms overhead, we will base our selves here for a few days and check out some neighbouring towns.

Feb 6, 2010

Wells Crossing - Old Benalbo

Copeton Dam was a big dissapointment, we had entered via Auburn Vale road and went looking for the CAW5 – 271 site, we expected the water levels to be low but didn’t expect the millions of mozzie’s & sandfly’s that greeted us. We were literally swarmed by them and in the time i had left the car door open the inside was alive with every one of them, no need to discuss whether we would like to stay here and it was a quick grab of the mortein spray and fumigated the van & car and out of there! The Bastard mongrel things were still crawling out from under seats and dash mats for many kilometres later biting any flesh they could find. The dash mat is littered with thousands of dead mozzie’s.

Where to now? As we were expecting to camp up here a week we hadn’t thought much further, a quick look at the map’s and we decided to head via Inverell and check out Pindari Dam near Ashford. We took the dirt road out from Bukkulla through some beautiful countryside, everything lush & green. We came across a beautiful camp spot at Wells Crossing 7klms East of Ashford on the Pindari Dam road, this will do us we thought as we drove in and liked what we saw, green grass, shelters with benches, lovely shadey tree’s and a water tank full of clean rain water, and beside the Severn River. It was hot and we made use of the river and sat on the bank and cooled off.

Wells Crossing

Pindari Dam

We should have unhitched the van and driven out to the Dam to check things out but i didn’t as i thought if it’s any good we will stay and save the double trip, if not we will just come back to Wells Crossing. As it turned out Pindari was not Caravan friendly with lousy signage pointing to where large caravans & buses can park but no parking, we drove down to the water’s edge and the ground was very uneven and the banks covered in slime and mud. Back up the top the view was lovely and we did find a parking area that we could have turned around in but we thought, what then? So we headed back to Well’s Crossing, Bugger our ‘spot’ had been taken and though we thought about stopping anyway we choose to continue on and head to Bonshaw Weir, [CAW5-240] Hoped you enjoyed it Kimberley Karavan Travellers.

This was another lovely camp spot, the Weir wasn’t as nice as the Severn River we had left but the area was clean with freshly mowed grass, shelters & tables and basic toilet amenities. The weather was hot in the sun but lovely sitting in the shade so that was about as much as we did, lazed around and read book’s and watched the bird life flitting around us.

Bonshaw Weir

Texas ... even the name makes you want to visit, i know it did for me as it was always one of those towns i wanted to drive through. The name arose from when the McDougal Brothers originally settled on the land around 1840, the property was abandoned in the 50’s while they went in search of gold, when they returned they found another settler had taken over and it was sometime before they were able to establish it back, in 1936 Texas USA was at war with Mexico fighting for independence and the McDougalls called their property Texas as their dispute was similar.

Texas is situated on the Dumaresq River, Tobacco played a large part in the history of the area but these days it’s primarly a beef & sheep grazing area. We did some shopping, said hello to a stray dog which is always a worry because Vickie & stray’s dogs could mean ..... can we keep it, Gladly that didn’t happen as we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t stray as it had a collar. We left Texas and drove on to Inglewood, So here we were well and truly in Qld! We were only 3 weeks ahead of schedule so what did we do? Turned around and headed back into NSW but this time we went via Coolmunda Dam [no camping here despite what CAW5 say’s] and then swung south and headed to Pikedale and Stanthorpe.

Nice Shade of Green

Coolmunda Dam

We were heading to Bald Rock campground but an error on my part on not working out the distance as to what fuel we had left meant we had to start praying whether we would make it in and out and then down to Tenterfield, not wanting to risk running out we choose to drive to Tenterfield, it must have been close because when i filled up the 114lt fuel tank it took 118lt, too close for comfort because when the Big Effy's engine stops it means power steering and power brakes also stop, not a good feeling when in such hilly terrain. But we made it and headed to Tenterfield Showground’s for a stay, BUT we didn’t count on the Tenterfield Show being on and camping was full. Only ourselves to blame as we don't pre plan our trips, no worries neither of us are into the side show’s for amusement so we decided to head down the road to a place called Crooked Creek [CAW5-239] but once we left Tenterfield the rain came pouring down, the Bruxner Highway is windy & steep and it was relief when we came across the camp site, it is a steep road in and for security i choose low range 4WD, just as well as it was very slippery & muddy down the bottom. One other camper was there so we just parked up, i set up the water collecting bucket and we spent most of the day inside listening to music and reading. The tanks were all full in the morning with clean fresh rain water, too easy!

Crooked Creek

The drive out was fine, again in low range 4WD we just cruised on up and onto the highway, a few kilometres up we took a narrow windy dirt track to Benalbo, we had a few vehicles pass us either way on the very scenic drive. Benalbo looked to be a quaint town but we copped a few glares from some locals as we drove through the town, not the most welcoming of places we thought. 10klms further on we are at Old Benalbo ... lovely camp spot, green grass, shelter’s & tables and the loo. The rain is still showering down, there is a creek running by us so maybe some yabbie’s with our steaks again tonight, we have phone & internet signal so a good time to catch up with ‘everything’

Feb 2, 2010

Gwyder River - Bundarra Camp

We stayed three nights along the Gwydir River 3.5klms out of Bingara, all along this stretch the Gwydir Shire have allowed camping which is great, the Shire is aware that the majority of campers spend money in Bingara so it's a win win for all. We spent our time either reading or going for walks, we went into town and did some shopping and Vickie dontated some money to the RSL pokies, drove around the town and re-visited the Batterham Lookout.

The weather was mostly overcast & humid with threatening rain while we were there, solar amps were down so Vickie decided to do some washing and at the same time give the batteries a charge up with the generator. TV reception was scratchy so out came the Sat Dish, getting a good signal however proved difficult with the amount of tree's around, i percervered though and ended up having success.

Gwydir River, Bingara NSW

Rather than try the Kayak again i pumped up an inner tube and floated down the river a few kilometres, the walk back took the longest. Leaving Bingara we drove the road to Inverell and then turned off and went to Bundarra where there is a lovely Lions sponsored free camp by the river, lots of green grass, shady tree's and toilet amenities. We will stay here the night and head off in the morning to Copeton Dam for a look & possible stay.

Bundarra Camp

Feb 1, 2010

Bingara - Time to Reminisce

For those following our Blog you would have guessed by now that we re-visit places more than once, We also [mainly me - Mick] don't see much interest in large City's and prefer to be away from the hectic pace that City's have. Country towns however hold great interest to both of us and we enjoy exploring some of the out of the way places. Our trip North took us back into familiar country again;

Aboriginal for ‘shallow river crossing’, Bingara is nestled on the Gwydir River in the New England area of northwest New South Wales. Bingara is at the heart of the Fossickers Way, a picturesque route that offers a quiet alternative to the New England or Newell Highways. Prior to European settlement, the Wirrayaraay tribe of the Gamilaraay Nation occupied the land. The first European to discover the area was the explorer Allan Cunningham, en route to the Darling Downs in 1827. The town of Bingara was founded in 1840 and gold was discovered in the area in 1851.

Bingara hold's it's own special connection to me, it was the town my Mum and her 2nd husband Neil came to live after leaving Carrum Victoria in the late 70's. After Mum & my Dad seperated when i was just a baby, Mum's time was spent working to raise her three sons, she had no relationship for 20+ years untill she met Neil through a Gem Club. They both loved the fossicking lifestyle and decided to move to Bingara, where they married. They fitted in well with the small country town involving themselves in the Arts & Crafts group and other local groups, Neil was an expert 'whittler' and could turn a length of wood into a linked chain. After 12 years or so Neil passed away and Mum a few years later, both their ashes are scattered at the Batterham Lookout which overlooks the town and is seen from their front porch.

We have visited Bingara more times since they passed away than we did when they were alive, funny how life can work.