Week 17

Back by popular demand … It’s me (well at least 1 person – Kerry – missed my informative ramblings).

I can’t believe how fast the time is going now, and also how much distance we have covered in a short amount of time. To date we have travelled over 17,000km’s and have been on the road for more than 121 days. We have stayed in 50 places, which means we have set up the van that many times, used 50 different toilets in caravan parks (not to mention numerous other hideous public amenities about the place) and have crossed 4 state lines. We are just over half way and while I am now beginning to wonder where our lives are headed when we return to Perth in March, Wayne is not giving it a second thought. He is still pondering how the hell is he going to ‘catch a fish’.

Woolgoolga 

Once we left Evans Head we had made the decision to go inland to Sydney rather than down the coast. We feel like we have seen so much of the coast that a change of scenery would be good. This meant that we would bypass Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie and head to Tamworth instead. First though I wanted to catch up with a beautiful friend of ours whom I hadn’t seen for quite a few years. Unfortunately we only got to spend breakfast together but in that time we still solved all the worlds problems, including plastic surgery, chicken necks and daughters !! We met up at Woolgoogla which is between Grafton and Coffs and it was beautiful. If we had more time we would have stayed longer. Not many pictures as we only stayed the 1 night but Wayne still managed to take some pictures..

70’s Glasses

Woolgoolga Beach at Sunset

Drive to Tamworth via EVERYWHERE 

Basically, we took a wrong turn. Or several of them as it turns out, not that Wayne will admit that. He of course blames the GPS (doesn’t everyone) even though for once I think it was correct. Anyway.. we spent a lovely 8 hours in the car this day (lucky we were full from breakfast). We did however cross some beautiful country and skimmed through some very pretty towns. We hit Nana Glen and I knew it rang a bell and then I remembered Russell Crowe had property there, couldn’t see his property or Russ himself, but I’ll claim that as a celebrity sighting anyway :-). We double backed through Nana Glen (hence the 2nd wrong turn) and made our way to Dorrigo. This drive was mainly up and down the mountain range and it was gorgeous I’ll admit. There were numerous properties dotted throughout with some spectacular views. Unfortunately during this drive Olivia developed a huge ear ache that didn’t pass for a couple of days, so while Wayne and I enjoyed the drive, Lulu did not.

We also quickly (and by quickly I mean, we added yet another 30km’s onto our trip) went to see the Wollomombi falls. It was pretty impressive by it’s largeness but not much water :-(.

Wollomombi Gorge

Dorrigo Mountain

We eventually arrived in Tamworth and immediately I loved it. The main street is full of nice trees, cafe’s and shops. It just has such a nice atmosphere that I could live there (I say this about many places). We checked into another BIG 4, and Olivia’s ear still wasn’t the best, so it was a quick dinner and time for bed. We got up early the next day and hit the Gold Guitar Museum where they have a display (Wax display) of country singers old and new, and also a new Don Bradman exhibition which Wayne spent a lot of time in. It was interesting, if not a little dated.. (I’m a country snob clearly).

After this, Olivia’s ear was EXPLODING so after trying unsuccessfully to get an appointment with the 3 GP’s in town, it was off to the hospital. All was ok and after spending almost 2 hours we got our script and headed into town. By this time we were pretty hot and hungry so decided to eat first. We had some lunch at a cafe called Vivaldi’s and all of a sudden Wayne jumps out of his seat and say’s ‘oh mate, I’ve got to get a photo” I had my back turned so didn’t know who he was talking too, only to hear this person say ‘You’ve gotta ask me mate’ .. I turn around and it was…….. suspenseful music…… Not Keith Urban, Not Kenny Rodgers (as you’d expect surely being in Tamworth) but … CARL BARRON. Sure, you may laugh but we love him. I mean LOVE HIM. We often just say one of his jokes, and have watched his dvd’s numerous times. He was very gracious (and tiny and cute) and after I got over my initial shock and embarrassment of Wayne, I quickly jumped up and put my arm around him for a picture (not good when a guy has a smaller waist than your own).I even said to him “is it HOT HOT, or HOT HOT”.. a line he says in one of his DVD’s.. shoot me now.. I don’t know what happened to me. Turns out he was also eating in the same cafe, so I didn’t move for the remainder of our meal as I was wearing SHORT SHORTs that looked terrible and I was too embarrassed to get up and pay for the meal as I would have to walk past him. Thankfully my charming husband pointed out that he wouldn’t be looking at me anyway ! .. I’ve passed my use by date.. can’t even get a tradie to wolf whistle now.. that’s a blog for another day!

After this we walked up the hill to the Music Hall of Fame. I had great hopes for this place. Not sure what I expected, something a little bit glamorous or Nashville inspired (I haven’t been to Nashville) however it was a tiny old building, with half the lights turned off and we were the only patrons. There was a lot of information about country singers that I hadn’t heard off, apart from a few. The girls got bored very quickly, although Wayne and I made a point of reading every article and looking at every mannequin. We paid $14 after all !

After this we did another walk, this time down the hill where we found Buddy Williams and Slim Dusty (bronzed statues).. By this time Sarah was crying, she was very hot, it was almost 40 deg and Frankie was well and truly overdue for her nap. We headed back to the van for a swim and a rest.

During this visit to Tamworth, my Dad agreed to meet up with us in Bathurst and to keep it a secret from Mum, so we ended our Tamworth stay early and quickly headed to Dubbo.

Tamworth’s Golden Guitar

Tamworth

Carl and Groupies

Dubbo

It didn’t take long to get to Dubbo and again it was a hot hot day. We arrived at the caravan park and set up and then I had a melt down. Over nothing in particular but everything and everyone made me very annoyed, so Wayne took the girls to the shops and then to the pool. I think I just needed some space and some air to breath. Either way, I didn’t get to see the Dubbo Gaol and this was entirely due to my “sookiness” for lack of a better word. I did enjoy my time alone though.

The following day was ZOO day and we loved it. It’s a great Zoo for those who haven’t been there. The girls and I wanted to ride our bikes around but Wayne disagreed and said ‘No, we’re driving in air conditioned comfort’. After about an hour I was glad that I didn’t push him on the bike idea. Every woman, every man, every family that were riding bikes, were the most miserable people you’ve ever seen. Red blotchy faces, sweat streaming down their backs, families yelling at each other, wives saying ‘you take the caboose’.. Thank heavens we opted to be lazy and drive. It was once again almost 40 deg with not a whisper of wind.

The animals were great. We went to a few ‘keeper talks’ and the girls found them fascinating. For instance did you know that an Elephants ear weighs between 30 – 40 kilo’s and the veins in their ears are as thick as our fingers ? The Giraffes and Elephants were my fav. The Tiger was pretty amazing too.. We have some pictures..

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Cuddles & Keeper – Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo

Look At Me

Bathurst 

Time to leave Dubbo and drive to Bathurst to meet Mum and Dad. We were all very excited, and the girls dressed to impress. We were meeting them at their hotel room so the girls had a plan to knock on the door and say ‘Hi, we’ve run out of sugar, do you have some?’ but of course this all went out the window in a sea of giggles. Mum was very surprised and Dad was happy to see the girls too. We didn’t do much this day, just caught up with Mum and Dad and then the following day (today) we hit the shops in the morning, did the Mount Panorama obligatory lap of the race track (at a whopping 60km’s) and then took the girls to an Adventure Playground. I love the old buildings and architecture of this place, but once again not enough time to explore everything. It’s hard keeping the kids entertained also. Especially Frankie. We are still in Bathurst as I write this.. We are planning on spending some time in Parkes and Cowra before making our way to Sydney in about a weeks time. This past week has been really very busy, but the end is near.. Soon we’ll be able to relax a bit more once we are with family and friends.. hint hint.

Surprise Mum

Bathurst Soiree

Pajero on Poll!

Bathurst

So, that’s about it. My biggest concern right now is trying to find time and a cinema that is showing Breaking Dawn part 2… Once I’ve seen it, i’ll be able to sleep well again 🙂

Until next time…

Jo xo

Rod & Win,

Heres one for you guys I couldn’t pass up, “You might be a Redneck if……… you drive a Razorback”

Razorback

Cheers

W

 

Advertisements

Week 16

Evans Head 

Hi guys Wayno here. The post has been flicked to me again, which is good because we have had another awesome week. So last week we left the Gold Coast and made our way to stay with friends at Evans Head. Evans Head is a small town of about 2600 people located between Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour. It’s completely surrounded by National Park and has a decent river opening to the sea. This place has everything a small town needs and a terrific community to go with it. But the important thing about Evans Head is, it’s the home town of Rod and Win Hatcher.

I used to work with Rod about 10 years ago and upon retirement Rod and Win left Perth for this beautiful town. Being the social couple they are, they bought a large house with an attached, fully self-contained two bedroom flat. There was no way we were heading down the coast without dropping in, and they were very happy to see us. These guys love visitors and have set the flat up with everything you could possibly need.

We ended up spending 8 nights in Evans Head, which now looking back was a journey in itself, particularly for me. On the first night we arrived we headed out to one of Rod mates birthday party, we met a number of locals, were warmly welcomed and enjoyed a bbq with drinks into the night.

The next day Rod and Win showed us around town. Win loves to take photos, and Rod makes sure he’s pointing into the distance every time the camera is trained in his direction. Who were we not to join in..

Evans Head Lookout

Evans Head Lookout

The next day we headed off to see Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay. Jo loved Byron Bay, me not so much. It’s a busy place with an almost endless stream of backpackers and hippie types kicking around. We visited Cape Byron Lighthouse and the adjacent headland which is the most eastern point of Australia, can’t miss that one.

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron

Lennox Head

That night it was time for Rod and I to hit the local bowling club for a few beers. I learnt that I definitely have no aptitude for bowling and that if I am to join a bowling club, I should join as a social member for the cheap beer and stay off the green!

Unlike most of the coast we have seen so far, you can swim in the ocean at Evans Head, the main beach is first class. Rod swims in the ocean at sparrows every morning and loves to get down to the beach and river at every opportunity. He also has a collection of boogie and surfboards for visitors to enjoy, so we had a great time. I even managed to put the yak in the water.

Surfing Sarah Ripping Up the River

Evans Head – Main Beach

Evans Head – Main Beach

Sadly that night I developed a strong tooth ache which, even as much as I fear dentists, I couldn’t ignore. I have always hated the dentist and this was no different. I paid her for new Porsche and she gladly provided two root canals, three fillings and a headache that wouldn’t budge for a couple of days. Rod and I found a way to numb it in the evenings with Czech beer and bottles of red which was very civilised I thought! .

That aside I managed to get a few early morning pics on one day. At the same time Griffo decided a change was necessary, a nice blonde change. Shes back to the colour of our wedding day, very nice!!!

Blondes Have More Fun!

Evans Head

Misty Morning – Evans Head

Sunrise – Evans Head

Not surprisingly Rod is also a member of the local RSL (returned services league) club and every friday night is “Mens Secret Business Night” for the sub branch group. I was lucky enough to tag along and meet some of the gang. These blokes have convinced the RSL to give them their own room overlooking the river, complete with barmaid dishing out cheap Guinness, every Friday night, where do I sign! Needless to say Rod and I stayed until stumps before heading home for a few more, now that’s living!

The next night we decided to head to the local Thai restaurant for dinner. The food was lovely, although Frankie was in fine form. No sooner had we finished our mains and a severe storm hit. Lighting was flashing and thunder cracking overhead, poor Olivia was scared senseless. Moments later in a flash, the town’s power was gone and we were fumbling around in the dark. My first thought was to our caravan back at Rods place which was sitting with windows opened etc… We ran to the car and raced home, it was bucketing down. I got drenched in the 10 metres from car to caravan, I think Rod said we got 55 mls of rain in a couple of hours, we havent seen rain like that in a while. The next day we visited “Woodburn” a small town up the road, to witness where large trees had been ripped out of the ground, roof’s ripped from houses and even a caravan sitting in a paddock on its roof, pretty powerful stuff!

Dinner at the Local Thai Restaurant

Storm Lighting

Almost to cap the week off, Rod and Win took us to breakfast at the Evans Head Surf Club. It’s only open on Sunday mornings outside of school holidays and it’s not to be missed if you find yourself in the area.  Rod got the big breakfast and could barely jump over it. The food and coffee were awesome as was the scene over looking the Evans Head Main Beach. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Breakfast at Evans Head Surf Club

Evans Head – Main Beach

Unfortunately as is the case with all good things, the end comes around to soon, and today we left Evans Head for Woolgoolga. Rod and Win the whole family thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with you. Sarah is now known as “Sassy” and Olivia as “Lily” and I know these days will be forever remembered.

We have also now decided to detour from our original plan of following the coast line to Sydney. Tomorrow we will head inland to Tamworth, probably Rods country music influence. In any case until next week, enjoy your 9-5 gigs.

Cheers

W

Week 15

Hello Campers,

Well yes this is a little late, and yes I promised Griffo I would have it done a week ago and subsequently promised it would be done that night on every morning until now. But the last couple of weeks have been unlike most of this holiday where we retire to the caravan for dinner and then enjoy a couple of hours before I start snoring and drag myself to bed. We have been welcomed into the homes of two friends to eat beautiful dinners, warm beds and wine, wine and more wine. In the day time there has been so much to do, and the early evenings well …..beer!! So you can now understand the most difficult predicament which led to the delay of these words. If this is not going over with you, thats OK it didnt go over with Griffo either so you’re not alone, but as a mate of mine says “Bear and Grin It”!

Brisbane

Well week 15 saw us leave Noosa for Brisbane. A former work friend of mine Les Bush and his lovely wife Yaja invited us to their place in South Brisbane. We took them up on the offer figuring we would park the van out the front and maybe Griffo would enjoy a bath. Well were we in for a suprise!

As I parked the van on the front verge I was worried about getting it level as the verge slopped away. Les said “Dont worry about it, your all staying inside.” and that was how it was. Les and Yaja have a lovely house only a stones throw from the beach which looks across to Stradbroke Island. Yaja insisted on cooking all the meals, fine by me, and that lady can cook! whilst Les needed another man to share some 6 year old cab sav’s he had being keeping. It was a very hard gig and an absolute treat, thankyou guys we all really enjoyed the couple of days. Les and Yaja took off to enjoy a boat cruise so we also spent one night at a van park in Rochdale.

During the days we took in a few sights. The first day was Australia Zoo the former home of the crocodile hunter. This place is brilliant and its no ordinary zoo. To start with the enclosures are huge and really well appointed, you can see that these people really care for and about their animals. The highlight of the visit was at the “Croc0seum” where an animal show unfolded. At one point there were about 20 birds large and small doing circle work inside the arena, all zinging past and swooping down on the crowd while ACDC was being belted out, very cool! The croc running after the handler was also entertaining, they can keep that job. Later the kids got up close to the Koala’s and Komodo Dragons, I’d recommend this place if your ever passing by, a couple of pics…

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo – Crocoseum

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo

The next day we decided to get to South Bank. In 2011 I was asked to travel to Brisbane for work and Griffo and I decided to take the opportunity to get the kids to theme parks and see a bit of Bris Vegas. One of the spots we wanted to see was South Bank as we had heard excellent reports about it. Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas and we instead watched the Brisbane Floods unfold first hand. At this time South Bank was under a few metres of muddy water, but not on this visit.

South Bank is a free water park packed with eateries and entertainment on the edge of the Brisbane river a few minutes drive from the city. We spent the afternoon kicking about in the water and sun having a ball. I also got to catch up with a colleague QPOL who came down for a drink. Queensland really does these water parks well, I guess because the stingers and croc’s mean you can’t swim in the ocean, no matter how inviting it looks. We have enjoyed these water parks all down the Queensland coast. Great idea for the Perths Swan River foreshore I reckon.

South Bank – Brisbane

Gold Coast

So with Brisbane done we headed to the Gold Coast. No more long drives here, its was only 45 minutes and we were in theme park territory. We stayed at a nice van park in Helendale, right beside “Movie World” and Wet n Wild Water World. We hit the kids area of Movie World on the first afternoon much to the kids delight. Then over the next 4 days we took them all in, plenty of fun for all.  Livy loved the roller coasters and a crazy batman ride at Movie World. Thankfully Griffo can handle these rides and took Livvy on them, not for me. I did the water rides, I dont care how scary it is as long as there’s water otherwise its for Griffo.

The highlights included patting the sting rays, the jetski and Dolphin imagine show at Sea World. The tubular shute ride at Wet n Wild Water World. The 4D Iceage show and the Batman staged fight scene at Movie World were awesome. Heres a few more pics.

Gold Coast – Movie World

Gold Coast – Movie World

Gold Coast – Movie World

Gold Coast – Movie World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

Gold Coast – Sea World

With the theme parks done we had a look around the area. Mount Tamborine is a lovely town in the hills west of the Gold Coast, we also loved Coolangatta and Burleigh Heads. This is a beautiful part of the world, but Ive said that about most of Queensland. Anyway from here we head to NSW but I will leave you with a couple more pics, until next week..

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads

 

 

Week 14

Noosa Heads 

My new favourite place. We’ve been here for the whole week and have loved every minute of it. Wayne has never been here before, and I had been here with my parents years ago and then once with a girlfriend where we drove up from the Goldcoast for a day. It’s a lot different and it’s more touristy (which I happen to love) and basically if Wayne tells me he has a job in the Brisbane office, I’ll readily pack my bags and make him commute from Noosa. I’m the perfect wife am I not ?

We arrived and as per usual found the deal of the day and settled on a caravan park in Tewantin which is 8km’s from Noosa and a really pretty town. We set up and quickly met the people next to us who invited us over for a week. They were from England but had moved over to QLD about 6 years ago and come to Noosa every couple of months for a holiday. They told us about the Eumundi Markets which are on every Wednesday and Saturday and as this was Tuesday night, we decided we’d go first thing in the morning.

I couldn’t believe how big these markets were and how insanely busy they were for a midweek non school holiday Wednesday ? We could hardly find a parking spot and ended up paying $5 to park on an oval.. I was in shopping heaven. They had everything you could think of and more. The kids depleted their pocket money in Hervey Bay the week before and were pretty unhappy about that let me just say. We are trying to help them be more accountable with their money and not waste it on silly stuff. Like teddy bear key-rings for instance. Each time Sarah see’s an ATM she begs me to let her use your keycard (although she’s the saver of the family) I think between the 2 of them they pulled together about $6 and managed to get a couple of lucky dips. I struggle with seeing them searching their empty wallets, but something makes me stick to my guns.. I was a hopeless saver/spender and I don’t want them to be like that. Within about 10 mins I’d made my first purchase and then another within about 30 mins.. a quick bite to eat (a delicous tandoori and mint salad) and then it was back again. I’m sucker for all things ‘homely’ so I hit the homewares stalls with gutso but also managed to sneak in a few christmas presents. We left Eumundi with that feeling ‘we could live here’ and made our way back to the van. When we arrived back we noticed that our ‘new’ camping friends Cassie and Jason had arrived too. They are also travelling around Oz for 12 months and are from Perth.. We had a drink or 2 and then the kids were getting restless. Time for dinner and bed..

The following day we had to wait around the park for a while as Wayne was taking the car to Mitsubishi to check a flashing light that kept coming on, so the kids swam with their friends, I had a chat with Cassie and we basically just hung around. Finally after lunch we hit Hastings Street and once again I was in lala land. It’s very sweet that Sarah and Lulu want to accompany me into every store I go in, but makes it hard for me to ‘browse’. They both constantly pick things up, say ‘mummy, buy this it’s magical’. There were many lovely shops, of course all over priced but so what.. I can look can’t I ? I went into one store to try on some clothes and Sarah throws over the change room door a ridiculous short red skirt telling me (and everyone else) that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit mummy, I’ll just pop out and get you the next size up ! Wayne is nowhere to be seen at these times, he’s just off with Frankie and the pram.. Had a quick coffee and people watched for a while (trying to spot Pat Rafter amongst the crowds, but to no avail).. back to the van, with happy hour again with friends.It’s a hard life !

We also went to the Noosa National Park which borders the coast. Having the pram again dictated how far we could walk as the park was undergoing work so most of the tracks were closed. We managed to walk for a little bit though, and then we walked down the boardwalk to Main Beach. 33 deg on this day, so it was a stinker and we were all pretty hot after it. The Noosa Triathlon  was on the coming weekend, so there were lots of people training around Noosa and also our caravan park was filling up pretty fast. That night we did a sunset river cruise. Our friends were also doing it and we almost had the boat to ourselves. You were able to bring your own nibbles and drinks whilst they provided the ice and glasses. It was very laid back and lots of room for the kids to walk and play. Lots of people were out on their decks waving at us, fishing, having drinks. It was a little windy and a thunderstorm was threatening so it wasn’t the greatest of sunsets, but it was a lovely night.

The rest of the week was spent exploring, taking the kids to parks, walks along the Noosa Marina. Basically we’ve just had a really lovely time and it’s felt like a holiday, which may not make sense seeing how we are on a very long holiday, but it felt different somehow.

Next stop is Brisbane where we will be hitting the theme parks and Wayne will get to catch up some work colleagues, I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to some more ‘male’ time 🙂

Here are some pictures, until next week..

J x

Noosa Main Beach

Noosa

Noosa Marina

Noosa Yacht Club

Eumundi Markets

Noosa National Park

River Cruising Noosa

River Cruising Noosa

River Cruising Noosa