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


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 ( 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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Well the next trip is planned and we are looking forward to heading off. We have an addition this time with Wendy now having her own rig. More to come when we leave so watch this space. A few pictures of the new van.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Birdsville or Bust

Well our next trip is fast approaching and planning is pretty much finished.
We are head to Mungo NP then up to Birdsville via Broken hill. From Birdsville we go down the Birdsville track to Maree and then Farina Station finishing up at Rawsley Pk Station in the Flinders ranges.
Can't come soon enough for me except I have a bit of work to do to get the trailer ready. And guess what last time we went up here it was green. This time it will be green again so much for desert. But Lake Eyre will be full!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Port Lincoln - The last leg

Leaving Coffin bay for Port Lincoln wa a pretty casual affair as we had only about 50kms to travel. So with a bit of time up our sleeves we walked up to the local store next to the caravan park and had some breakfast. Pretty good fair and not expensive. We ambled off around 10ish and were set up in Port Lincoln before lunch at the Port Lincoln Tourist Park. This is well placed and right on the water with terraced sites. The staff were very friendly and helpful. We are here for a week but I think it will be pretty lazy one with little really planned. Tuesday we are swimming with the sea lions with Adventure Bay Tours. We are also waiting for Chris, Sam and Oliie to arrive. We went into Port Lincoln after lunch for a bit of a look and some stores, and of course a bit of fishing. The luck hasn’t been all that good with the fishing since Venus Bay so we live in hope.

Statue of Makybe Diva

Port Lincoln looking south from Old Mill Lookout

Old Mill Lookout
So it was just relaxing until Tuesday when we had to be at Adventure Bay Tours by 7.45 for our Sea lion experience. The crew from Adventure Bay tours were fantastic and after an 1 ½ hr boat trip they put us amongst the sea lions. There weren’t that many but as with most things wild there are no guarantees Being so early in the season they are also a little wary and flighty so it took a while for them to come around. The trip out an back was a little rough and a few of our fellow travelers suffered on the trip, but spirits remained high. I must say I felt great getting back into the water. It been a while since we have done much snorkeling etc and I miss it. Sure it was cold but wet suits are always a help. The cold headache took a while to bring under control though. Back on dry land the rest of the day was pretty quiet. Tomorrow we are heading up into the Lincoln National Park for a spot of 4x4 action.
We packed a lunch and the whole team into the 2 4WD and headed off. For a couple of our clan this is there first experience at 4x4 driving.
The "crew" on the Wanna sand dunes

Wanna Sand dunes

adding to the pile

Cape Donington Lighthouse

Looking east from Cape Donington lighthouse

 We turned of at Mary Ellis beach and headed up the Seaford – Wanna track. This had a few different technical drives including rocky outcrops, steep tracks, jump ups and sand dunes. We are not hard core off roaders but it was great fun and we came across many fantastic sites and scenery. From Wanna we headed across the national park to Stamford Hill for lunch. Lunch over we retraced some of our tracks and headed NW up to Cape Donington Lighthouse. Di was a little disappointed because it wasn’t really your traditional lighthouse as it was made from sandstone and not painted white and blue!!! Another great day with lots of tied but happy people.

Thursday was our last full day before heading home and was pretty quiet, with coffee and cake, a bit of fishing and not much else. Port Lincoln has a strong maritime history but is also famous for producing a champion weightlifter and Melbourne Cup winner (Makybe Diva) who is been acknowledged with a life size statue on the water front. Tomorrow we head for home after another great (if not short) trip. We have had a great time as usual, with great travelling companions and few new ones. 

Coffin Bay - What a great place

It was only about 160kms to Coffin Bay so there was no urgency today. We packed and got away about 10ish and though we would make Coffin Bay in time to set up and head into Pt Lincoln for lunch. Not so we lost a little time not far from Venus Bay when Gaz had a small mishap with his van which took us a bit of time to fix. Wasn’t too bad though we made Elliston for coffee and Coffin Bay for lunch then headed into Pt Lincoln for some stores. The van park (as with most we have stayed at) is pretty good directly opposite the bay. We had a bit of a planning session for the next few days and if the tide is right tomorrow we will head up into the Coffin Bay national park. There is a 6hrs return trip to Pt Sir Isaac. About half way along the track you need to do about 6 kms along the beach which can only be done 1hr each side of low tide.
On our way to Pt Sir Isaac Coffin Bay NP

Pt Sir Isaac beacon

Beach drive to Pt Sir Isaac

More of the Beach Coffin Bay NP

So the day broke as a pretty good one so we headed of early. We had to be at the beach entrance for the run up the beach, do the inland leg to the point and be back on the beach an hour after low tide. Now that may sound easy enough as the last leg, once we got off the beach on the outward leg, was only about 24kms round trip. However this is a 4wd track and had just about everything from sand, rock, steep ascent and descent, wash a ways etc. I was all 1st and 2nd gear work. We made it to the Pt Isaac light. The national park has some magic places to stop off and take in the scenery. We had a ball and would have loved to stay a bit longer but the time (and the tide) were against us. Once of the beach on the return we stopped for lunch at a great little rest area which looked back alone the bay a rocky out crop.
Our lunch spot

view from our lunch spot

 How lucky are we that we can do this. Coffin Bay national park is a fantastic place.

Friday was just a lazy day sitting around talking with a little fishing thrown in. We didn’t put the yak’s in as there has been a white pointer sighting in the bay and best not to tempt fate. Only sort of downer for day was while fishing off the pier, had a bite which took rod and reel into the drink before I had time to react. Not fussed about the rod but it was one of my good reels. Tomorrow is our last leg as we head into Pt Lincoln for a week then home.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 8 & 9 Beautiful one day blowing a gale the next - Venus Bay

So we left Streaky Bay for a short hop to Venus Bay by way of Murphy’s Haystack’s. 
Murphy's "Haystacks"

More "haystacks"

Friendly inhabitant 

Haystack's have some great colours and pattens
Not your ordinary hay stacks these a actually rock formation which has evolved by erosion, subsidence and the ravages of time. They are none the less a great side track and the site is well maintained and has easy access. We spent about an hour wandering the site. The textures and colours make for some very interesting photos. Back on the road to Venus Bay and what a great spot (well at least it was on this day). The park operators were fantastic and very accommodating. Gaz and I decided on a spot of fishing in the afternoon so after launching the Kayaks we headed out into the fray. The water was flat, not all that cold and no wind to speak of. Sometimes you have he luck and other times not on this day I did and Gary didn’t 3 nice size Australian Salmon and I dropped 1 good size one. Gaz just had no luck – ah well tomorrow may be his day. Di and Wendy had the fillets for dinner (thanks to Gaz’s expertise with a knife). Tomorrow is another day.
And indeed it was and it’s blowing a gale but still warm. We have decided on a quiet one today just sitting around, a bit of reading and a spot of fishing.
Well it’s almost like Melbourne weather we woke this morning, after yesterday’s blow, to cold winds and colder temperatures. We decided to head down to Ellinston for a bit of a run. Ellinston is a tad bigger than Venus Bay but not much. The weather was a little better but not much. We had lunch at the cafĂ© which was enjoyable and decided to head back to Venus Bay via the scenic route and follow the sculpture trail. 
Entrance to woolshed cave

Some more of the coast line

and more

and more

One of the sculptures

Along this dirt road, apart from some great views of the coast, are sculptures of various forms. They are, unfortunately, falling into some disrepair but none the less add a different dimension to the trip. It was then back to Venus Bay.

The next day dawned as a pretty reasonable sort of day. Venus Bay has been a bit of relax for us in that we planned to do very little other than, well relax interspersed with a little fishing. We took the kayaks ut this morning and Gaz managed to hook up pretty quickly and landed a pretty substantial Australian Salmon which turned out to be it for the morning fishing session. The afternoon session was less productive, as was our search for squid that evening. Ahh well at least we had some sun and exercise, on to Coffin Bay tomorrow.