Monday, June 12, 2017

The Tagalong tours Gibb River rd Tour 2017



Home to Coober Pedy
Well the Tagalong tours trip for 2017 has started. We left Friday after we cracked the frost of the car and headed to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills for our first overnight stop. We decided on staying in a cabin for the first night and the van park at Hahndorf was pretty good. There is a historic truck get together in Hahndorf for the weekend which provided a lot of interest. Morris, Bedford, International and Kenworth well represented in the line-up. 
It is blood cold tonight and I suspect a frost in the morning.
Morning has broken and yep you guessed it frost -1 deg. Breakfast in a nice little place called the Hauss which provided a great start for the day. And what a great day it turned out to be as we headed from Hahndorf through to Pimba, well that was the plan but we chickened out.


With potential overnight temps of around 0 to -3 and no power at Pimba we though another night of comfort would be of benefit. So we pulled into Port Pirie for the night and the “comforts” of a cabin. Tomorrow it’s on to Coober Pedy for a couple of nights and met up with the rest of the crew.

We stayed at Stuart Range Caravan Park and nothing much has changed there. Still can’t get a sensible site numbering system as well as trying to shoe horn 2 vans on one site or that’s how it looked to us. Absolute confusion. We have decided any future sojourns up way we are staying someplace else. Gaz, Shaz, Rob and Judy turned up early afternoon so it was a quiet afternoon setting and talking. 






Cold again tonight but we are in the roof top tent so will see what tomorrow brings.
Not to early a rise this morning and whilst it was really cold the accommodation was not bad we are pretty happy with the setup, albeit, the ladder up and down for our early morning sojourns to the dunny are not that enjoyable. Today was a fairly lazy day. Rob and Judy haven’t been here before so they are off exploring while for us it was just some housekeeping and bit of last minute shopping and out to the breakaways for the sunset.
Headed out about 16.15 to the breakaways for the sunset so we were a little early but gave a chance to have a good look around and be it a good position for the sunset display, apparent quite a few others had the same idea and it was pretty busy but none the less spectacular. Pizza for our last meal at Coober Pedy before a relatively early night. Tomorrow we head for the Alice.

Breakaways











 Coober Pedy to Alice Springs

Well we are now in new territory for Di and I we haven’t been past Coober Pedy heading north. So we were up early and on the road by 08.30. Pretty quiet on the road considering there are a heap of people heading for the Finke Desert Rally and so we made good time to Marla for our first stop. Bit of morning tea and stretch and on the road again heading for the NT boarder. 20 km down the road our plans came to a screaming halt. The Mazda engine just stopped, no warning just a tell-tale orange engine light say “got you now sucker”. We try to maintain the car as best we can and I have confidence in our mechanic but the technical gremlins of modern cars get you every time, especial when everything is going so well. I have an EDMS setup in the car which gives you the error codes from the cars black box. Apparently the camshaft positioning sensor just packed it in consequently engine stops. After about 30 min of trouble shooting and trying things it was clear we weren’t going anyplace under our own steam. Rob towed us back to Marla minus trailer while Gaz and Shaz stood guard over the trailer on the side of the road (no mobile service to ring RACV) then returned to pick up trailer and bring it into Marla.
News is not good car Mazda is going nowhere seems it’s probably terminal. We loaded Wendy and most of her gear into Gaz and Robs wheels and they have continued on while we wait for the “mechanic” to give us some news with the hope of an easy fix and catch up. No luck there though pretty sure either timing belt has malfunction or something has come loose in that area either way we are going nowhere in a hurry. Next day was spent looking for options and solutions. I’m glad we sent the others on so they could continue with the trip. In the end we arranged transport for the Mazda back to Bendigo, stored the camper as Rob will bring it back for us and organised transport back to home. Which is a whole other story but consisted of 14hrs on a bus from Marla to Adelaide, 2 nights in Adelaide, flight to Melbourne and bus Melbourne to home. 12 months or more of planning for us anyway down the drain. So no Gibb river blog and we are home a week after we started our 6 week trip.
Glenelg

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Update on the camper

 Well we made a few mods to the camper trailer and had a bit of a dry run to Avoca. Added a Darche roof top tent. Looks pretty good and very functional. Bit hard to get a good appreciation but seems a good option. Required a few mods to the bar work but has a fair bit of space and remained dry after we had a fair bit of rain. Very happy with our mods. Looking forward to getting on the road.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tewantin to Broken Bay

Tewantin

From Hervey Bay we made the short trip down to Tewantin - Noosa to catch up with Brad and the grand kids. Well 3 nights ended up 5 nights as our travel plans are pretty fluid and it was good to catch up with the kids. 
So it was the usual stuff dinner out one night to celebrate Max (Gillies Young Guns facebook page) being sponsored by a major fishing tackle importer and Darcey's successful production at school. A trip to Eummundi markets and a bit of fishing with Max, Gaz and Myself( 14 whiting with Max getting a PB of 40 cm) and that about sums up the week really. We are still getting plenty of rain as we have for most of the trip thus far, hopefully we will get a bit of a break soon. Our next leg will be to Broken Heads in NSW just south of Byron Bay.
Visitor to our caravan site


Broken Bay well broken something
The trip from Tewantin to Broken Bay wasn't the best. It rained steadily for most of the trip down. Di and I have not been to Byron Bay and I guess we wanted to see what all the hype was about Broken Bay was a little further on so we thought that would be a good base. Once past the Gold Coast we had a few roadworks but made good time all the same. The small caravan park had been recommended to us and whilst it wasn't too bad the 50% hike in site fees from the previous week ($37 a night) was just gob smacking. $60 a night was a bit rich plus a 3 night minimum and to top it off the sites had such a slope and so small it made levelling impossible. Gary couldn't even get his car on his site. The staff were less than helpful so all in all this put rather a dampener on it. And while we tried to set up it poured, didn't help the temperament I can tell you. Weather for our 3 day stay 
wasn't the best and too cold for a dip. We managed a trip to the macadamia nut castle, a look around Byron Bay and out to the Crystal Castle helped pass the time. 
Macadamia nut castle hasn't changed much over the years and was good for lunch. Byron Bay well we've seen it now not sure what all the hype is about. 
The Crystal Castle was the star really. It is a place of worship for Buddhists and has to be seen to be believed.  

Gibb River road and the Kimberly's

And so the next journey is getting close. Leaving home for Adelaide, on to Pimba, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs. Turning west after Alice its on to Tillmouth Well, Tanami Desert, Wolf Creek, Fitzroy Crossing then on to Derby. We then will head east along the Gibb River Rd and all its splender of Kimberly's to Kununarra, Katherine and the then south to home. It has been a really wet, wet season up North which means the Kimberly will be spectacular.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fraser Island - Sand, low range and beach driving

Fraser Island

It was not a really early start as the ferry to Kingfisher Bay from River head wasn't leaving till 1230 but we had to put the vans in storage. Luckily Shaz's sister Ann and hubby Phil have quite a bit of space and allowed us to store them there for the 3 days for which we are very grateful. As it turned out it took us very little time to drop them off so we all headed for River head (Phil, Anne and Craig included) for coffee before departure. Loaded on the ferry and a very uneventful 50 minute trip to Kingfisher Bay saw us on Fraser Island. Lunch at Kingfisher Bay lower the tyre pressure and off we go. Our accommodation was in Eurong which was on the other side of the Island. Its only around 20kms but is all 4wd sand, narrow roads with speed limits of 30 km hour. Still we made good time and arrived at our base for the next 3 days around 3 ish. For the next 3 days we are staying in a house called Reid's Place in second valley Eurong.



Its a little dated but was clean and reasonable comfortable and I think everyone enjoyed it. The rest of the day was spent unpacking and settling in. Driving on Fraser Island is an experience many of the roads are single lane width, cut through the surrounds, blind bends and no where to get off the track to allow other cars to pass so great care is needed. This is a first for Shaz and Gaz as neither have been to Fraser before.
Our barge awaits



New day dawns and after a leisurely breakfast we head up the beach. We travelled up as far as the wreck of the Maheno. Thing that strikes me this time around is the number of sections of the beach which have been allocated for planes to land. Last time we were here there was only one or two now there dotted all along the beach. After sometime looking over the Maheno wreck we headed back to Eli Creek and Happy Valley for a coffee and look around. We were doing pretty well with the tides so next stop at Eli creek was fantastic. Last time here I got bogged to the axles this time round no probs. I love this place and as usual it was well patronised by sightseers.
Crew at the Maheno




Eli Creek



The water is incredible clear and flowing, but pretty cold. Happy Valley hasn't changed much from our last visit and coffee was not bad. Apparently the original owners of the facilities and eco resort went bust and the place has not long reopened. From there it was a run across the island Urang creek, then back to via the central station track back to Eurong to sit back and relax. Our picnic lunch at Urang crk was interrupted by sand flies and midges. The continued changing landscape provides an interesting back drop to our travels around the island with the contrast between the huge trees and thick under brush to the less dense rain forest almost blurred between on corner and the next. And the number and size of grass trees has to be seen to be believed. Fraser is still a very popular place and the interest in coming here has not waned. The problem is the number of people doing stupid things a ruining it for everyone.

Day 2 saw us head south along the 75 mile beach to Dilli village then inland around the lake district to Lake Mackenzie. We stopped off at a number of the lakes for a rubber neck. The white sands contrasting with the crystal clear water in the shallows and deep blue of the deeper water is always a pleasurable site. There were a number of camp areas around the lakes which looked really good except for them looking like compounds with 6 foot fences around them. I guess its as much to separate the humans from the Dingoes and protect the dingoes from humans. Which brings me to the dingoes we haven't seen one since we have been here and the consensus seems to be that its breeding time and they are all in their lairs. We did, however, have a visitor during the morning a large monitor lizard sunning itself on the shed roof. Probably about a metre long and not overly interested in anything much. Last night on the island so we decided on dinner out -  the pub was the first choice except it doesn't serve meals. So it had to be the Eurong resort – Aussie BBQ night. Not a bad fair but some interesting dishes for an “ Aussie BBQ meal”.

Day 3 Off the island. Today we head back to the mainland and our ferry isn't till 2pm so it is a bit leisurely. A bit of house work and pack the cars and we are on our way heading across the island. Today we will call into central station, which is the old logging area of the island and coincidently is about the centre of the island. This is a really nice spot with relics of the logging days, amenities, camping area and board walks along the creek. The first time Di and I visited here it took us sometime to realise that there was actually water in the creek  - its was so clear and still. Because of the rain it was running a bit harder but still exceptionally clear to the point we could see an eel and catfish scrounging for food. We arrived in Kingfisher Bay with plenty of time for a look around and a bit of lunch before boarding our ferry. We ended up doing nearly 220km on Fraser over the 3 days a lot of which, for me anyway, was 4wd low range. Not much is happening for the rest of today just pick up vans overnight Hervey Bay and then down to Tewantin (Noosa) to see Brad and the grand kids for a few days. Gaz and Shaz are staying and extra night with her sister so will catch up with us in a day or two.





Grass trees in abundance



Fungi

Lake McKenzie

On the road again Northward bound - into the rain again


Finally on our way after a few ordinary months and a busy couple of weeks. 
Friday saw as in Melbourne to see "we will rock you" at the Regent.
Dash home early Sat morning pick up the van and we are off heading for Narrandera 
and points north.

Our setup


Way side stop on the way up



















We had a pretty good trip with Wendy following on her first major trip with the JPod.
As it turned out we met up with Gaz and Chaz at Finely for a bit of lunch. 
The bakery has new owners and they were great and the food was pretty good, 
including the snot blocks (vanilla slices)
Next stop was our Narrandera for the night. The caravan park was small but the owners were
great and accommodated us. A number of the sites had been closed due to the rain and 
the wet conditions. The number of vans on the road is incredible and has surprised us a bit.
Sunday morning saw us leave Narrandera and head up the Newell Hwy for Dubbo.
The road conditions varied but its fair to say the rain has caused a bit of havoc. 
Many of the dams, rivers and paddocks were under water or over their banks. The road 
conditions had deteriorated with lots of areas down to one lane on the highway. We had 
heard the highway between Narrandera and Parks had been closed with a 40km detour. 
It seems luck was with us and the road was open albeit at reduced speeds.
We had intended to stay 2 nights in Dubbo, however, with the wet conditions and inclement weather we decided to continue on.
Next day we departed early as this was to be one of our longer days heading for Goondiwindi.
Wendy has been doing pretty well towing the pod for the first time on these longer trips and 
seems to be settling in pretty well. Again road conditions weren't the best but I am very 
happy with the van and its capabilities. It is travelling pretty nicely and is handling the rough 
stuff well. Overnight Goondiwindi and a short hop to Kingaroy - or it should have been but 
the roads went backwards a bit and was a winding narrow road for some of it so we slowed a 
bit. Still made Kingaroy by mid afternoon. In the main, although a bit slower, it wasn't a bad trip 
and getting in just after lunch allowed us to have a bit of look around. The weather again was 
a bit “iffy” but we soldiered on regardless. Couple of highlights were the nut van and the biscuit 
factory. The Peanut Van originally began its life under the name "Murrumba Star" in the late 
1960s. It was a simple van outlet for a firm called Kingaroy Toasted Peanuts 
(which no longer exists) and it operated on weekends at a Kingaroy service station.
A few months after it started operating, the van was shifted next to Lions Park at the main 
entrance to Kingaroy (the site it's occupied ever since).
And when a decision was taken to extend it to a 5-day-a-week operation soon after that,
the founder Ruth Davis was hired on a 20% sales commission to staff it. She began working 
in the van on the 28th December 1969.
The biscuit place has been going since around the early 1990's and was set up by the
Endeavour Foundation ( http://www.endeavour.com.au/) and is mainly staffed by intellectually 
handicapped and was such a refreshing place. We were fortunate to have a personally 
guided tour by one of the workers and to see the smiles, joy and enthusiasm of the people 
involved who clearly enjoyed being involved. Funny note: they have an xray/metal detector 
which all the product goes through and our guide was trying to get us to guess what it was. 
Her explanation something something that men don't wear. Di “ a bra” wrong answer jewellery 
apparently was the right answer but our guide cracked up.
With Kingaroy in the mirrors we headed off on a short hop to Hervey Bay, our base for
 the next couple of days. It is our first chance to really have a break and relax for a couple 
of days and we have nothing really planned other than just “chillin” before we head over to 
Fraser Island for 3 nights. We have finally found somewhere new for Shaz as she has 
never been there. We did however have a wonderful evening with Shaz's Sister Anne, brother 
Craig and Anne's hubby Phil. An enormous seafood spread cooked by Craig which everyone 
thoroughly enjoyed even me as Craig prepared and Gary cooked fillet mignon for me.
A very enjoyable night had by all.
A few friends in Fraser Lodge Caravan Park