Nov 6, 2013

All The Way Home - November 2013

This could well be our last update for many months, we are now home.

Getting here was just another drive, it was lovely catching up with mates Mal & Lynne at Maldon though we only stayed a night as the pull of seeing our now pregnant daughter Erin in Adelaide was to strong to ignore. We had a lovely Thai meal and caught up with any news that we all had and left Maldon the next day, stopping at the Chocolate Mill just out of Daylesford where Vickie bought some metal art for our garden, and NOT ONE chocolate .... amazing

From there it was down and across to Adelaide where it was hugs all around with our Daughter and husband on the fantastic news that they are expecting a baby next April. We are so happy for Erin as she has always been baby mad from a very young age, her working life has involved child care in one form or another and now she is to be a mother herself. What with our son and his partner having a gorgeous daughter and our eldest daughter with two girls of her own we feel our lives as parents passing on the baton to our children is accomplished, though Erin and Scott i think we need to have a BOY ....

We stayed a week in Adelaide, visited China Town three times for the best Chicken and Rice and also visited a Chinese restaurant twice for an evening meal, Adelaide is fantastic for it's reasonably priced restaurants. I did a couple of handy man jobs on Erin's home and spent most afternoons on the lounge with their [child] dog, Kenya. We caught up with Vickie's Brother Al and his wife Eileen on a Sunday and drove to Hahndorf for the afternoon, they were flying home the next day and Vickie had arranged to fly home as well and let me drive the long road home by myself, that suited me fine and that's what we did

The long drive home was just that ... a drive, nothing exciting happened nor did i do anything exciting along the way, Vickie and I are both looking forward to being home and settling back into our house, it's been 5 years and 11 months and we are over traveling around, WHAT? do i hear you say .... well Yes ....... we are over the traveling with no real purpose, we don't intend to stop and or sell the van but what we will do is revert back to what we used to do and that's go away for a month or three and then come home for a similar time, we both need to get back into our home for sanity but also well aware that we will also need to get away again for the same reason. When we first started it was exciting and different, we saw many places for the 1st time and enjoyed the experience of moving slow, the last twelve months has not been like that, we have felt that we were being steam rolled along through circumstances arising and not all of it has been enjoyable, we felt like we were doing it just for the sake of it. We need to chill out at home, get our lives back, re-socialize with friends and enjoy time with our family and grand daughters and get our mojo back.

So there we have it, this blog has been enjoyable but also i created a monster for myself, i tell people i have done it for myself which is entirely true, i want to be able to look back at the many places we visited, the people we have met, some whom we now call friends, it's been lovely to read the comments from visitors and i am pleased that many have found it interesting, i don't write like a travel / tour company but from my heart and our experiences. Thank you to those that have taken the time.

Oct 8, 2013

Kenilworth QLD - Bingara NSW October 2013

 A lot can happen in a few weeks,

We received the approval from the Insurance Company for the repairs to our Caravan, Thanks CIL as i mentioned on the phone to them we are insured with them for the simple reason that most owners of Bushtrackers use CIL and the Insurance company are aware of the brand of van and the quality workmanship that goes in to the manufacture and repairs and are happy to accept the quotes from BT.

So with approval given we just had to wait a few days to get the van into BTi, they required the van overnight so that meant us booking accommodation not quite that simple as it was school holidays and majority of places require a minimum of two nights, we managed to get into a Motel at Noosaville, not quite around the corner but we were running out of options.

Whilst at Kenilworth we received a call from Kimbo and Nerida that they were on the move south from Mackay and would be calling in to catch up, Excellent ! we were not able to previously as they were there and we were here and certainly wasn't expecting to be back at Kenilworth again so soon. There had been a recent Rodeo on at the showgrounds and we were one of the 1st caravanners back in and the workers were still cleaning up, Clem the caretaker knows us well by now and was very surprised to see us back, after explaining what had happened we were told to camp anywhere we liked.

There was a distinct aroma of horse manure which gave it that earthy country smell but as each day went by it either lessened or we got used to it, We did the usual Eumundi Markets again on the Wednesday and on Thursday Kimbo & Ned turned up. The usual catch up's and extended happy hours occurred and on the Saturday they went to the markets to catch up with Ned's sister Claudia and Brother in Law Clive whom we also know well, we 1st went to Yandina markets but it was mainly fruit and veg so we also went back to Eumundi and caught up with everyone for lunch.

On the Sunday night i was taking down the awning and packing things away to be ready for an early start, a couple of the tie down pegs were hard to remove so i grabbed my fossicking pick and using the pointy end levered out the 1st peg, the 2nd peg i attempted to do the same except i stuck the pick into my ankle ! YEEOOOW that hurt but i didn't think i had done to much harm, it bled profusely and did so for that night. Up early and delivered the van to the BT Factory finally looking forward to getting the repairs and getting back on the road.

So with the van dropped off we visited a few shops until after lunch and went to our motel, Anchor Lodge in Weyba Road Noosaville, the place was very clean and offered all we needed for a night, a comfy bed and large TV. My foot was still oozing blood and i kept changing the band aids, such a small cut for so much blood. Dinner that night was at a Thai Restaurant in Noosaville and it was delicious, back to the motel for an early night.

Tuesday we filled in the morning and around 1pm we received the call to come get the Van, as usual we were delighted with the quality of work completed, we had a new fridge which for us was a gamble as we had been very Happy with the last but they were no longer available and this model is not what BTi usually install, Also their were quite a few unhappy owners of the Vitrifrigo with the earlier model but we had bitten the bullet and decided to give the new and improved version a go because it meant an easier install. To say we are delighted is an understatement, the fridge looks quality and the small problems with the older version has been changed to what appears a far better design, of course time will tell but so far with only a week gone by it is working perfectly.

Vitrifrigo 230lt stainless steel
Same with the new oven that was installed, same brand as previous but updated and everything works just that much better than before.. So very happy with the outcome, it may have inconvenienced us a lot and cost us a couple of thousand dollars in extra fuel costs doing the big loop back to the Sunshine Coast ... but very happy all the same.

New Swift Stove

Away we go again, heading down the Bruce Highway heading to Blackbutt where we were going to wait for Kim & Ned to catch up again my ankle began to ache, intensely ache, excruciatingly ache, it got worse to the point i was unable to use my left foot to push the clutch in without in agony, I knew it wasn't good and headed straight to the Kilcoy Hospital. By the time we pulled up out the front i couldn't walk and literally had to drag and hop myself into the Dr's surgery, there they took one look and said that i was off to hospital but 1st i had to go to a 2nd surgery for an x-ray, one of the kind staff drove us there as we still had the Van on the Ute and i wasn't able to drive and Vickie didn't feel confident. After seeing a 2nd Dr and having an X-Ray we then had to wait an hour before we could be taken up to the Hospital where i was immediately given Morphine and a cannula went in my arm and they started pumping IV anti biotics into me..

I was thinking i would be in overnight but each day the Dr would visit and wasn't happy with the progress, he started talking about having to go to Redcliffe Hospital to have an operation to have the would cleaned out and also 12 weeks laid up in Hospital with a permanent IV if the infection got into the bone. Luckily for me after 3 days of drugs they let me out on the proviso i took a course of anti biotics and if the pain or swelling should come back get to a DR ASAP..

Re-Enactment - ouch!
 I felt for Vickie as she was sleeping in the van in a side street with everything on an angle and the weather was hot, everyone in the Kilcoy Hospital was so nice and helpful offering to move the Van but we were not comfortable with people un-hitching not knowing what they were doing so Vick stayed where she was on the street ......

Our 1st night out of Hospital we only traveled a couple of kilometers to the showgrounds, the next day feeling ok we moved onto Blackbutt where again we stayed ion the Showgrounds, we were surprised at the price as it was $8 un-powered or $20 with power, a fair bit of difference for some electricity but as Vickie wanted to catch up with the clothes washing it was $20 for us.

The 3rd night was another short drive to Cooyar where we stayed at the free camp Swinging Bridge, a great spot and Cooyar congratulations and Thank you from us for allowing travelers to stay.

Edith Tebb's grave, sad story of a 4 year old drowing

Swinging Bridge Cooyar
Another place we have visited and stayed at twice before is Tooloom Falls near Urbanville, a great free camp with a lovely waterfall, not having phone signal and knowing Kimbo and Ned would be on the road looking for us we decided to only stay one night and move on to our pre arranged meeting spot.

Tooloom Falls

 4th Night, Texas - again, it was only a few weeks ago that we were here .. but this time Kimbo and Ned also turned up so the 'team' was back together again.

Presently we are camped along the Gwyder River - AGAIN at Bingara NSW, this is getting out of control just how many times we have been to Bingara since my Mother and Step Father lived here,  and their ashes scattered on top of Batterham Lookout ....

We will be staying here 3 nights before making our way down to Victoria to visit friends Mal & Lynne and then across to Adelaide to stay with our daughter Erin and hubby Scott .

Sep 23, 2013

Coober Pedy - Kenilworth September 2013

With the decision made to return to Bushtracker in Queensland to get the repairs done we said goodbye to Rick and Julie and headed South. We battled a strong head wind and though our speed was very conservative the fuel economy rocketed up to 27lts per 100kms !!! Instead of getting our usual 400 + klms per tank we achieved only 300klms! Thank goodness it only lasted that day and we pulled in at Lake Hart Lookout for our 1st night. It was blowing a gale so we didn't sit outside any longer than to watch the sunset.

Lake Hart Lookout

 The next day we were up and on the road by 7am and around midday pulled into the BP truck stop at Port Augusta for fuel for the car and ourselves. We had a very filling burger each and one of the best bought Cappuccino's we have had. Now we were starting to travel North and because this wasn't a site seeing trip we decided to travel the route the quickest up into Queensland, coincidentally it's almost the same roads we traveled on just weeks before. The Outlaw Motorcycle Club the Rebels were having an Australia wide club run and we were getting passed by groups of them, think what you will it's an impressive sight and sound to be overtaken by mobs of bikers, we were relieved they didn't do a Mad Max on us.


One of their support vehicles must have driven past us 3 or 4 times, we ended up getting waves. At one point we came across a couple of bikes stopped on the side of the road, i slowed down to see if all was OK and got the big thumbs up.

 The trip at this stage was fairly uneventful, we stopped at one truck bay for lunch and saw this 5th Wheeler with a damaged hub, at a good guess it looks like they lost the wheel, hub from bearings that had collapsed causing it all to let go. No one was around so we guessed they were off getting repairs organized. What did amaze me about this particular 5th Wheeler was the very light suspension set up, i sure wouldn't feel confident having that set up under a Van the size of that.

 Queensland has the WORST bitumen roads in Australia ! We had driven up through Broken Hill and on up to Cunnamulla, there we made a right turn and headed through St George and Dalby. The flooded black soil has destroyed the bitumen surface and we had a rough ride. Amazing that people put so much emphasis on corrugated tracks when main roads like these are allowed to be in such terrible condition. The other thing we noticed was hundreds of dead roo's and emu's, with very little water and rain fall out these parts the animals are all feeding along side the roads and becoming road kill by the many trucks and cars traveling.

An old cottage at Kainjkillenbun
The Bun Pub
We stopped a night at Westmar opposite the hotel and received a message from friends Stephen and Robyn [Gone Bush] that they were at Blackbutt showgrounds and had a wheel bearing problem with the van, coincidentally that was the route we were going so arranged to call in the next day. Blackbutt is a lovely town, reasonably priced camping at the showgrounds of $8 per night, water but not power. The Town also has one of IF not the best Bakery we have visited and we have seen a few, i love my pies !! Well these were superb, so much so we ended up buying 10 for take away to go in the freezer.
The Beef, Red Wine and mushroom i would give 10/10, the Chunky steak a 9/10 and Vickie said the Lamb and Rosemary Pie was the best she has had. During our time there i also fitted in a Crocodile Pie, their Gold Medal winning gourmet pie, to me it tasted like Chicken Mornay, and though it was nice i preferred their beef style pies.

The afternoon was spent chatting with Stephen and Robyn and later another Van pulled in and it was an old contact i had with the VKS-737 HF network, Stuart and his wife Jane, they along with another couple joined us all for a few drinks around the fire before we all got in our vans and watched the AFL game between Fremantle and Sydney, what a top game and good result.

We are now based back at Kenilworth, the same spot we were just a few weeks ago, the van repairs have been put back until Monday as we are waiting for Insurance approval  ..... what have i always said about having plans ....... they just never work for us..

Sep 16, 2013

Bingara - Coober Pedy - September 2013

We had a lovely stay at Bingara, we wish we could have seen what we see now when my Mum lived here back in the 1990's, the town people are very friendly and the surrounding scenery and Gwyder River make camping here an absolute delight. We met Gus and Kathy who were camped up from us and each night we took it in turns to have the camp fire and happy hour. Gus was so taken by our Kimble Fire Pot that he bought one in town. A very nice couple and we hope to bump into them again somewhere.

Saturday the 7th we went in to town to vote, we stood in the queue for 3o minutes only to be told they didn't take interstate absentee votes and it would mean a drive to Moree, something we didn't want to do, the Electoral Officer told us to explain the situation when our fine arrives.

Our week of camping along the Gwyder was coming to an end, Rick and Julie were arriving and together we were heading to the Bushtracker Muster at Alice Springs. The route we were taking was one Rick had chosen and we were happy enough to tag along and looked forward to seeing something different. Rick is an amazing man with a memory of an encyclopedia and kept us entertained with information about the places we visited. One thing Rick didn't do was get Vickie a feed of Yabbies, we tried at most of the water holes and rivers but came up nil everytime.

So after filling up with water and emptying the loo cassette and doing a final shop we left Bingara and headed towards Moree, across to Walgett and up to Hebel where we stopped at a lovely river and listened to the hundreds of different frogs, the barking frog kept up his song all night but far from being annoying it was a very pleasent experience.

Frog Paradise

Peace and Tranquility accompanied by hundreds of Frogs
From Hebel we headed towards Goodooga and then onwards into the Culgoa Flood Plains, it was all dirt along here and it was great to be out in the bush with no other traffic, we got a bit bamboozled at Toulby as the previous floods had carved great channels in the tracks and once we finally worked out which way we should be heading we came across a locked gate on the main track in and out. A quick discussion and the decision was made to enter a hundred metres up where the fence had been laid down by previous travellers. Once back on the track proper we continued on until arriving at the Mitchell Highway where we turned right and towards Cunnumulla where we fueled up. It was here we saw a Bushtracker go past and as we were leaving town we were called up on the UHF, turned out it was fellow BOG members Rob and Liz Caldwell [Tellem Buggerum] They were heading up to Boulia to meet up with other club members.

Hebel Hotel
Hebel Store
Rick and Julie, Camp at Hebel Waterhole

The Old Dunny, do not stress there is a modern one
Tour anyone?
Onto Eulo where we stayed the night at the Paroo River, there were a few other campers already there but we had plenty of space, 30 minutes later Rob and Liz also turned up so a pleasant Happy Hour was had around the camp fire. The next day was a very short drive, we headed back into Eulo where we had a coffee and the local shop, checked out the leather shop where Julie bought a nice bag, visited the Date Winery where Vickie bought two bottles of Sticky Date Wine Liqueur and also took a look at the Mud Spa Baths. All very interesting. Camp that night was just 5klms along the river, it was hot and though the river looked like Yabby country nothing was caught, i was hoping for multitudes of birds to be around the area but it was very sparse on bird life, we christened it Lifeless Creek.

Didnt see one ....
Paroo River Camp
Business Opportunity?
Opal Store
Euro Queen Hotel
Euro Main Road

'Lifeless Creek' Euro 5 Mile Camp
The next day we were moving on to Thargomindah and then down to Noccundra and a visit to the Historic Hotel, No meals available so a quick drink and chat and then across to the river for some lunch. The diesel water pump was thumping away and the flies were thick so it was a no brainer to move on again this time heading for Cameron Corner.

Nocundra Hotel
Rick and Julie Left, Mick and Vickie Right
Lunch Stop
One of these is a REAL 4WD ... :-)

Camp on side of road, plenty of firewood, great night
 This was all new to us, Cameron Corner was one of those places on my bucket list so it was great to finally be going there. The track was varied in smooth and rough, i had aired down my tyres and was travelling along fine following Rick in his 200 series, from Cameron Corner we doubled back to join into the Strzelecki Track at Merty Merty, That night we camped at Monecolina Bore a lovely oasis in the desert, i had heard stories that rubbish was everywhere but it all looked clean to us, plenty of rabbits around maybe they were the cleaners.

Cameron Corner Store
Fueling up, $2.20 litre

3 State Marker

Montecollina Bore
Whistling Kite
Another happy hour but a relatively early night, we broke camp before Rick and Julie but they caught us up and it was around lunch time that we stopped and opened the van only to find the contents of the fridge and frezer were strewn around the floor, but was shocked us  even more was both doors had come off the fridge and bounced around in the van, we soon found out why the doors came off as the main hinge connecting the fridge and freezer had broken, we can only guess what happened after that but it appears the larger door got caught in the ocky strap holding the stove lid and door closed, it caused the brackets on both to give way and damage the oven, the grill also took a hammering and it all looks very sad. More damage was found with the shower screen perspex scratched and a couple of cupboard facias damaged and a tear in the vinyl floor.

The Hinge that caused the problems
One Stuffed Fridge
The Oven didn't fair any better
Taped Up for travel
We tried to make the best of things and transferred what we could into the car fridge and put everything back in the Van fridge and gaffer taped up the doors,

Montecollina Bore

It Took me to find a Yabby
Rabbits at Montecollina Bore

Blanchewater Ruins

The Smooth Section

Quang Dong ? Tree

Who drives down a dry river bed?

Mick to the rescue
Lake Eyre
We tried to think happy thoughts and continued along towards Lyndhurst where we fueled up at the Hotel, cheap fuel prices compared to the servo, 20c a litre difference but what an ignorant arsehole of a publican, we have never met anyone with such a lousy personality, our lunch order was stuffed up which resulted in us waiting a half hour longer than Rick and Julies, we were wondering why ours was taking so long and when i finally asked i was told "I made four burgers" ..... maybe but the other two were for the people who had left ...... where are ours? " For F&^% Sake" he replies the girl stuffed up .... Well mate we have news for you, your lucky to have anyone working for you, get up off your backside and smile occasionally !

Finally off the Strez and onto the Oodnadatta track, we hadnt checked the contents of the fridge as we only had one roll of tape  but when we did the contents had spoiled as the fridge was no longer working. Bugger, the meat we bought from the Bingara Butchers was superb and cost us $160 and it was a waste ..... so we put all the meat in a large bag and gave it to the owner of the William Creek Hotel for his dogs.

We stopped the night at Lake Eyre South Lookout where we had a lovely view, but millions of fly's, finally they left us and after a few drinks and a couple of Jaffles cooked over the fire i was off to bed with an aching back. I left Vickie and Rick chatting away, did i mention Rick is extremely knowledgeable. I laid listening for a while before putting the Sat Dish up and watching Carlton get beaten by Port Adelaide, great result !

Lake Eyre
Riding on Lake Eyre

Curdimurka Siding

William Creek Hotel
 We got into Coober Pedy yesterday and stayed at Riba's Van Park and underground camp ground, a very interesting place, you can camp under ground with your tent in a rabbit warren of tunnels, an excellent idea and great adventure if you have kids.

Monday morning it was phone time to the Insurance Company and Bushtracker, we decided to not continue on to the muster but head south and back to Queensland and get the repairs done as quickly as possible. We are extremely dissapointed not to be attending, we were looking forward to catching up with the many friends we have in the BOG group.