A Travellerspoint blog

Longreach to Winton

Seeing the drought first hand

33 °C
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Winton (pop 950):

The road between Longreach and Winton made us very aware of the 5 year drought Longreach is going through (we did see 30 Emus along the paddocks - tough birds). The contrast between the 100km radius around Longreach and its neighbours is difficult to describe. Spare a thought for how tough it is for these people living here. In town we saw photos of the amazing 129 truck road train that brought feed from the south to help out some time ago. Amazing stuff.

Famous for its Qantas birthplace link, and the birthplace of Waltzing Matilda, this little town (pop 950) is steeped in history. But it is small town. And our first experience of flies on this trip. The flies were very bad, so we went to the local swimming pool and spent hours there, reading and swimming. What great value for $2. Nice shade and tables and a huge, clean pool.

The town has constructed a special area where long vehicles (like us with the caravan hooked up) can park under cover. There is also a dump point next to it for grey water and free drinking water to fill up. Nice, real hospitality in this small town.

We saw the exhibits and statues commemorating Banjo Peterson and his Waltzing Matilda he wrote here many years ago. We gave up on driving out to the dinosaur stampede tracks (110km of dirt road is too much)

Trivia: The town was moved 1km because of a flood in 1876. The man responsible for shifting it (Robert Allen an ex policeman) felt that the name of the location (Pelican Waterhole) was too cumbersome to write across used postage stamps (he was the unofficial postmaster by then) so he changed the name of the Town to Winton (the town of his birth in England)!

Only in Australia experience: Henriette played a few instruments on The Musical Fence outside Winton…
Only in Australia (again): Arno’s wall is 70m long and contains anything and everything including the kitchen sink (and a motorcycle and much more). See photo.

We ended up sleeping over at Mistake Creek just outside town (free camp). We were the only people there. Us plus lots of birds, a massive goanna, and the flies. We sat inside and watched TV. Amazing to get 24 channels in a place as remote as this!

And then we were off to Hughenden, 215km north east, as part of Australia’s Dinosaur Trial.

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

Swimming pool in town

Swimming pool in town

Specially provided shade for caravanners

Specially provided shade for caravanners

Rubbish bins in Winton

Rubbish bins in Winton

Replica of biggest dinosaur found in Aus

Replica of biggest dinosaur found in Aus

Outside the library

Outside the library

One of them read u think theysaurus

One of them read u think theysaurus

Hotel in Winton

Hotel in Winton

Henriette playing the musical fence

Henriette playing the musical fence

Goanna at Mistake Creek

Goanna at Mistake Creek

Flinders River empty at winton

Flinders River empty at winton

Coolibah tree marked to help Burke and Wills find help

Coolibah tree marked to help Burke and Wills find help

Banjo Peterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda here

Banjo Peterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda here

Arnos Wall 70m long

Arnos Wall 70m long

5 years of drought outside Longreach

5 years of drought outside Longreach

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:00 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Barcaldine to Longreach

In the heart of the drought in the outback

34 °C
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We arrived in Longreach in 36 degrees. Even though the caravan park had no grass (5 years of drought), we needed to have our air con working, so we booked in for two nights.

Longreach (pop 3624) is great town with lots to experiences. Too many tours, in fact, so we made some choices.
We visited the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and did the Qantas Founder’s Museum. There was an amazing doco/movie of one of the founders made in 1960 telling the story of how Qantas started in Winton and Longreach. These happen to be the first two towns between which an Australian Prime minister flew in a pane for the first time ever. We also saw the first plane which had a toilet (in 1929).

Highlight: The Outback Stockman’s Show. Lachie Cossor was brilliant. A full hour of horse tricks, dogs demonstrating herding sheep, Lachie singing his own compositions (even on a 1000kg Brahaman Bull’s back) and more. Truly brilliant and worth every cent.

A personal blessing was to attend the Pre Viewing (first in Australia) of the movie Eddie Eagle in the local cinema. A packed theatre (180 people) as it was free. The local Rotary Club sponsored it (together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in aid of polio awareness. It is a heart warming true story starring Hugh Jackman. Really special movie worth watching when it is released.

We attended worship in the local Uniting Church before leaving for Winton. There are a few things we need to see there, but we’ve heard it will be our first exposure to flies in 2700km of travel, so the plan is to stay for one night only.

Streets are wide enough to turn stagecoaches around

Streets are wide enough to turn stagecoaches around

Stockman show rounding up sheep

Stockman show rounding up sheep

Stockman show riding 1000kg bull while singing

Stockman show riding 1000kg bull while singing

Stockman Hall of Fame

Stockman Hall of Fame

Radio station building Henriette  considering donation

Radio station building Henriette considering donation

Qantas Museum 1929 plane with toilet

Qantas Museum 1929 plane with toilet

Qantas Founders museum

Qantas Founders museum

Longreach Uniting Church

Longreach Uniting Church

Longreach Uniting Church stunning stained glass windows

Longreach Uniting Church stunning stained glass windows

Longreach Tourist  Park

Longreach Tourist Park

Longreach park pool and our van

Longreach park pool and our van

Historical shops in town

Historical shops in town

Brolga birds in caravan park shoulder high

Brolga birds in caravan park shoulder high

Art and craft mural of history

Art and craft mural of history

Posted by ChrisHenriette 14:49 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Jericho to Barcaldine

Only a 100km but had to stop in this interesting town

32 °C
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After the free camp in Jericho we planned to move on to Longreach, but Barcaldine ended up being interesting enough to spend a day there. We found a lovely free camp 14km out of town (narrow bitumen road filled with kangeroos (saw 30 in one go cross the road) and some Emus.

Barcaldine is reasonably small (less than 1500 people). It is known as the garden city of the west. It is only after leaving this town that you understand what this means. Longreach (our next destination) has been in the grip of a crippling drought for 5 years, so the difference will be apparent in the next post.

Barcaldine is home to the Tree of Knowledge, the reputed birthplace of the labour movement of Australia. The famous tree has been preserved and placed under an award winning timber structure that was constructed to protect the preserved tree. We saw the Spirit of Australia (train) stop at the station, and some truly amazing road trains with 3 and sometimes 4 trailers. Truly intimidating.

Irony?: There are 5 hotels in the main street (each with a pub). Were they there before or after the strike that led to the meeting under the tree of knowledge?

The free camp outside of town is called Lloyd Jones Weir. There are huge flocks of birds that come to drink there (Red Winged Parrots, Pale Headed Rosellas, Kookaburras looking to steal our spare ribs off the BBQ, etc). Also Kangeroos coming for a drink.

We only spent one night there and moved on towards Longreach.

Spirit of the Outback stops in Barcaldine next to us

Spirit of the Outback stops in Barcaldine next to us

Shop in Barcaldine

Shop in Barcaldine

Road train in Barcaldine

Road train in Barcaldine

Outside Barcaldine Emus

Outside Barcaldine Emus

Lloyd Jones Weir in front of van BBQ

Lloyd Jones Weir in front of van BBQ

Lloyd Jones Weir free camp toilets

Lloyd Jones Weir free camp toilets

Lloyd Jones free camp toilets

Lloyd Jones free camp toilets

Barcaldine tree of knowledge

Barcaldine tree of knowledge

Barcaldine is friendly

Barcaldine is friendly

Barcaldine Henriette plays tubular bells

Barcaldine Henriette plays tubular bells

Barcaldine has 5 hotels with pubs in the main street

Barcaldine has 5 hotels with pubs in the main street

Posted by ChrisHenriette 03:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Emerald to Jericho

Going through Alpha

32 °C
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The journey from Emerald to Jericho took us through the small town of Alpha (pop 350). It is known for the murals on 28 of the buildings (done by local and more well known artists).
Trivia: The streets are all named after famous poets.

Jericho was a very small town. The promotional material claims 100 people live there, but locals told us it is down to 60 adults. The council does a great job though, through maintaining the best free camp we’ve had (next to the Jordan River). It was so good we stayed three nights. This draws free campers to stay and spend money in town (keeping small business afloat). The name of the town and river explain the art works depicting Old Testament stories.

Jericho is home to the smallest operating drive-in theatre in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately it only operates one day a month and we missed it. There is a mural (amongst others) of two goannas having beer in Darwin Street.
Trivia: The streets are named after famous scientists. The crystal trumpeters is a really interesting symbolic monument (based on the Biblical stories of the Israelites and the town of Jericho as described in the Old Testament book of Joshua).
Trivia 2: There are clay models of all the building in town (at the visitor centre). Fun to see if you can spot the buildings you've walked past. You can easily walk from the free camp into town.

Highlight: The gentleman driving the school bus turned around when he saw us (carrying my camera) and invited us to view him shearing a few sheep for a local that isn’t able to do it himself. The experience was further enhanced by conversations with several (older generation) shearers. One told his “biggest one” was being part of 63 guys that sheared 100 000 sheep in 5 weeks when he was younger.

When we felt it was enough, we moved on to Barcaldine (only 83km down the road). Another free camp awaits at the Lloyd Weir.

We went from Emerald to Jericho

We went from Emerald to Jericho

The trumpeter in Jericho

The trumpeter in Jericho

The Crystal Trumpeters in Jericho

The Crystal Trumpeters in Jericho

On the road to Jericho beautiful forests

On the road to Jericho beautiful forests

Jericho this is what hoarding looks like

Jericho this is what hoarding looks like

Jericho smallest drive in theatre in Southern Hemisphere 32 bays

Jericho smallest drive in theatre in Southern Hemisphere 32 bays

Jericho Redbank free camp on my birthday

Jericho Redbank free camp on my birthday

Jericho opposite our caravan

Jericho opposite our caravan

Jericho neighbour Joan teaching us to catch red claws

Jericho neighbour Joan teaching us to catch red claws

Jericho information where there is a clay model of each building in town

Jericho information where there is a clay model of each building in town

Jericho holding cells next to police station

Jericho holding cells next to police station

Jericho from one sheep

Jericho from one sheep

Jericho fresh water turtles in front of our camp

Jericho fresh water turtles in front of our camp

Jericho free camp late night

Jericho free camp late night

Jericho free camp- can you spot us

Jericho free camp- can you spot us

Jericho caly model of drive in theatre

Jericho caly model of drive in theatre

Jericho a lot of wool from one sheep

Jericho a lot of wool from one sheep

Iced coffe and ice cream - Waiting for the newspaper that comes at noon

Iced coffe and ice cream - Waiting for the newspaper that comes at noon

Alpha with 28 murals in town

Alpha with 28 murals in town

Posted by ChrisHenriette 16:34 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Carnarvon Gorge to Emerald

This includes visits to Sapphire and Rubyvale

32 °C
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After 5 amazing days in the Gorge, we headed to Emerald to see all the precious gems of the area. The towns of Rolleston and Springsure were not really worth a stop, so we went straight to Emerald. Booked into the Nogoa Caravan Park. Nothing flashy, but the best free wifi we've had so far (caught up on all of our favourite TV shows we missed in the gorge) and great trees. Even did my BAS accounting and reconciled accounts that still needed to be done after selling the business.

The town of Emerald has a lovely town centre (art and trees) and a great visitor centre (great volunteers and mosaic art as well as the biggest sunflower painting in the world (25m). We used it as a base to explore the gem fields of the Central Highlands. The train station is beautiful and the Fairbairn Dam outside town is impressive (at 43% full it still contains more water than the Sydney Harbour)

This means driving out to Sapphire and Ruby (some 40km to the turn-off). You truly experience going back in time. Hundreds of miners are still mining their 30 square metre claims looking for rubies, sapphires and other precious gems. Most live in humpies (could be anything from a corrugated iron little home, or a 50 yr old caravan to decent stone house). Many have satellite TV. The two towns are right next to each other, but you do cross the Tropic of Capricorn between them (making Rubyvale a town in the tropics!). This meant we hit the 2000km mark since leaving Hervey Bay.

Going down a Sapphire mine was certainly worth it. It is informative with lots to see. 15m (5 storeys) down there is still no dust as the 50 mil yr old gravel is all river washed from back then (after the lava flow).

The pub at the local Royal Hotel has won best bush pub in QLD for 2014 and 2015, so we had a birthday lunch for me (a bit early as we'll be in the bush on Monday).Great food, cold beer and good service in a charming wooden building.

Quirky story; Another curiosity is the piano tuner's grave outside of town. Apparently he didn't heed advice (in 1906) about the flooded May River, tried to cross it, and drowned. So they had to bury him next to the river as the soil was so bogged, they couldn't carry the coffin elsewhere. The coffin was made of wooded planks stored in the railway station refreshment rooms nearby. Then came the next problem: It rained so much the grave kept filling up. So they had to drill holes in the coffin to let the poor guy sink and rest. only in 1992 did a researcher discover his real name and was a plaque (2 actually) added to the site.

On our last day we attended worship at the local Uniting Church. Then off towards Longreach. We've noticed some nice free camps, so we might be unreachable for a day or two again.

We went from Emerald to Sapphire Rubyvale and back

We went from Emerald to Sapphire Rubyvale and back

Rubyvale shopping

Rubyvale shopping

Rubyvale post office

Rubyvale post office

Rubyvale piano tuner's grave

Rubyvale piano tuner's grave

Rubyvale most live in humpies where they dig

Rubyvale most live in humpies where they dig

Rubyvale luxury shopping

Rubyvale luxury shopping

Rubyvale if you wanted your own claim for mining

Rubyvale if you wanted your own claim for mining

Rubyvale how most miners live

Rubyvale how most miners live

Rubyvale going down 5 stories in Sapphire mine

Rubyvale going down 5 stories in Sapphire mine

Rubyvale down in Sapphire mine

Rubyvale down in Sapphire mine

Rubyvale - voted best bush pub in QLD for 2 years

Rubyvale - voted best bush pub in QLD for 2 years

Rubyvale - about to enter Sapphire mine

Rubyvale - about to enter Sapphire mine

Emerald Uniting Church Rev Jim Pearson

Emerald Uniting Church Rev Jim Pearson

Emerald rail Station is stunning

Emerald rail Station is stunning

Emerald Nogoa Caravan Park

Emerald Nogoa Caravan Park

Emerald Fairbairn dam at 43 percent still more water than Sydney Harbour

Emerald Fairbairn dam at 43 percent still more water than Sydney Harbour

Emerald Botanical Gardens

Emerald Botanical Gardens

Emerald - Sunflowers were once big here. Even Vincent knew

Emerald - Sunflowers were once big here. Even Vincent knew

Emerald - beautiful mosaics tell the history

Emerald - beautiful mosaics tell the history

Each of the towns have these beautiful entry signs

Each of the towns have these beautiful entry signs

Posted by ChrisHenriette 21:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Carnarvon Gorge

One of the most beautiful places we've ever been

33 °C
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When we free camped at Yuleba, fellow campers told us that Carnarvon Gorge was the most beautiful place they've ever seen. So we not only decided that our new Jayco Caravan was going to have to endure 15km of dirt road (last bit to to be bitumined soon), but that we would stay 5 nights. The drive there from Yuleba was another surprise. We didn't expect so much lush forest this deep into the interior. In Roma we loved the Bottle trees everywhere (800 in town). 138 of them line the main street in the CBD (each with a plaque dedicated to someone that died in the war).

Takarakka Caravan Park is just beautiful. The sites are spacious, and the there are lots of trees. We missed out on a shady site because we booked late. The amenities are superb, the camp kitchens even better, and there is free fire wood daily for camp fires (which we used to BBQ on and to be taught how to make damper with sweet chilli and cheese in the dough mix). In the camp you will find Pretty Faced Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos everywhere. We saw Kangeroos crossing the stream next to us daily and one evening we saw an Echidna. The most memorable site in the park was the Platypus pool next to our camp kitchen. It meant we were there every morning after 6am to look in wonder and get some photos. To see both the monotremes (mammals that lay eggs) of Australia in our park on the same day - priceless. Late at night you see Rufous Bettongs hop in the park. The bird life is abundant. The little shop in the park carries the basics, of which ice cream is the most important. Some nights they provide roast dinners. There is no free wifi (despite the promise) and no TV reception. Happy hour at the outdoor pub is great with cheap beer (a wide selection). The information session about all the different trails in the gorge at 5pm every day is essential, and really well done.

Carnarvon Gorge is next to the caravan park (2km) inside the Carnarvon National Park (298 000 ha). There are great rock pools near the entrance (perfect for a swim every day after walking into the gorge).

We walked in our Shimanos (like Crocs but better) and had no problems. The walks are graded level 3 and 4 and very well posted and maintained by three full time rangers. The scenery and diversity is some of the best you will ever see anywhere in the world. It is truly mind blowing. The trees are as big as we've seen anywhere in the world. I took more than 300 photos (but will limit myself below to not bore you). Anyone who can possibly make it here, just have to. One family we talked to were on their 8th visit. The furthest we did on one day was 14km (you can do the 87km Great Walk if you really want to). To do what we did, you cross the creek around 18 times and you see four major attractions (Ward's Canyon, the Amphitheatre, Art Gallery, and Moss Garden). Ward's and Moss are so cool inside due to the dripping water and breeze. These walks include a 60m deep hole you enter through a crevice at the bottom, and 19 000 yr old Aboriginal art works. On another day we did Mickey Creek and Baloon Cave. On our second last day we did the steep climb to Boolimba Bluff to get the great view. The best experience, we think, is to start your walks at about 6.30am. Then you see all the animals before other walkers scare them away (or they go to sleep), and you experience most of the Gorge whilst it is still cool (finishing with a swim at the rock pools every day by lunch. Some of the most special animals were the Swamp Wallabies (3 with joeys sticking out) and the Dingo we saw.

New friendships. Had such a good time with Johann and Joelene we met there. Ex South Africans that spent time in Tauranga (NZ) and now live in Brisbane. Good BBQ and walk together.

After 5 of the best days ever, we reluctantly packed up to travel on. On to Emerald.

Takarakka Caravan Park

Takarakka Caravan Park

Takarakka Caravan Park writing this blog

Takarakka Caravan Park writing this blog

Takarakka Caravan Park Platypus pool metres from our site

Takarakka Caravan Park Platypus pool metres from our site

Takarakka Caravan Park fresh water turtle

Takarakka Caravan Park fresh water turtle

Takarakka Caravan Park Eastern Grey Kangaroos crossing river

Takarakka Caravan Park Eastern Grey Kangaroos crossing river

Swamp Wallaby with Joey hanging out

Swamp Wallaby with Joey hanging out

Rock pool - our daily swim after walking

Rock pool - our daily swim after walking

Pretty Faced Wallaby

Pretty Faced Wallaby

Pretty Faced Wallabies in full flight

Pretty Faced Wallabies in full flight

Map of Carnarvon Gorge trails we walked

Map of Carnarvon Gorge trails we walked

Happy hour at the outdoor pub in the Gorge

Happy hour at the outdoor pub in the Gorge

Goanna

Goanna

Carnarvon National Park Dingo

Carnarvon National Park Dingo

Carnarvon Gorge Wards Canyon

Carnarvon Gorge Wards Canyon

Carnarvon Gorge view from Boolimba Bluff - steep climb

Carnarvon Gorge view from Boolimba Bluff - steep climb

Carnarvon Gorge typical scene

Carnarvon Gorge typical scene

Carnarvon Gorge typical scene again

Carnarvon Gorge typical scene again

Carnarvon Gorge typical Fan Palms and Cycads everywhere

Carnarvon Gorge typical Fan Palms and Cycads everywhere

Carnarvon Gorge one of 19 times we crossed

Carnarvon Gorge one of 19 times we crossed

Carnarvon Gorge Moss Garden

Carnarvon Gorge Moss Garden

Carnarvon Gorge lloking up inside 60m deep Amphitheatre

Carnarvon Gorge lloking up inside 60m deep Amphitheatre

Carnarvon Gorge every 10m an amazing tree

Carnarvon Gorge every 10m an amazing tree

Carnarvon Gorge Art Galley - 19000 years old

Carnarvon Gorge Art Galley - 19000 years old

Carnarvon Gorge Amphitheatre entrance

Carnarvon Gorge Amphitheatre entrance

Carnarvon Gorge  Moss Garden inside

Carnarvon Gorge Moss Garden inside

BBQ with new friends Johann and Noelene Stock

BBQ with new friends Johann and Noelene Stock

Posted by ChrisHenriette 20:04 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Yuleba

Judds Lagoon best free camp

25 °C
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On the Warrego Highway just 3km before Yuleba (small town with 183 people) we turned off to Judds Lagoon. This was our first free camp of the trip and the purpose was to experience and learn (to make sure solar worked well, how much water we need, etc). The place was so beautiful, we stayed two nights. We didn't even unhook the car.

We missed the resident tame Dingo, but the abundance of birds around the lagoon was very special. There was a beautiful Pretty faced Wallaby family that lives there. Very cute. We watched Galahs nest and Kookaburra hunt fish. On our second day we were the only people there for most of the day. We made a fire each day to BBQ and just had the best time. It wasn't so warm that we wanted to swim, but there is even a flying fox to tempt you.

The drive from Toowoomba: Nice drive, with beautiful trees and rich forests all along the way. There are large cotton fields along the road as well. Dalby and Chinchilla have Coffee Clubs... always good to have a revive stop.

We then booked the Carnarvon Gorge next. Fellow campers on our first night at the lagoon told us it was the best place they visited on our big lap, so we decided to stay for 5 days. It will mean a bit of dirt road, but we will take it slowly with our new van.

Sorry about this late post. There was no internet or phone coverage in Carnarvon Gorge. Will post that in next day or so.

Toowoomba Vinnies op shop - $5 for this bag full of books

Toowoomba Vinnies op shop - $5 for this bag full of books

Toowomba departure - photo of bikes for Zac

Toowomba departure - photo of bikes for Zac

Pretty Faced Wallaby

Pretty Faced Wallaby

Judds lagoon you can buy a home made stove or BBQ to take home

Judds lagoon you can buy a home made stove or BBQ to take home

Judds lagoon our front view

Judds lagoon our front view

Judds lagoon fire wood fir sale (sic)

Judds lagoon fire wood fir sale (sic)

Judds lagoon dinner - boneless marinated ribs and sweet potato

Judds lagoon dinner - boneless marinated ribs and sweet potato

Judds lagoon cooking dinner

Judds lagoon cooking dinner

Judds lagoon - our view

Judds lagoon - our view

Cottonfields from Toowomba to Yuleba

Cottonfields from Toowomba to Yuleba

Chinchilla tourist info. Great stops with free info home made fig jam and cold water

Chinchilla tourist info. Great stops with free info home made fig jam and cold water

Biggest Bottle Tree in Roma

Biggest Bottle Tree in Roma

Big 3D mural in Roma telling history

Big 3D mural in Roma telling history

A typical view between Roma and Carnarvon Gorge

A typical view between Roma and Carnarvon Gorge

A map from Yuleba via Roma and Injune to Carnarvon Gorge in top left hand corner 300km

A map from Yuleba via Roma and Injune to Carnarvon Gorge in top left hand corner 300km

Posted by ChrisHenriette 21:39 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Toowoomba

City of Gardens

sunny 27 °C
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We arrived in Toowomba on 23 March. The plan was to stay off the main road over the Easter long weekend and just take it easy. This is a major city with total population of 162 000 (including the regional surrounds) making it the second biggest inland city in Australia (after Canberra). Toowoomba was was a very pleasant surprise.
It truly is the city of gardens (250 parks and gardens totalling 8100ha).
Altitude is 700m above sea level, offering beautiful hills and views.
Ave rainfall: 692mm.

Parks: So we've done a lot of local cycling and exploring. Toowoomba is great for cycling with long green corridors criss crossing the city and suburbs. We did about 40km of cycling through its famous parks. The Gowrie Creek sections of the parks allow you to avoid most traffic carrying roads, so we went south to the University of Southern Queensland campus where the famous Japanese Gardens are. Beautiful and great place to picnic (which we did). Watch out for the many turtles in the ponds. To the north we went all the way to the Queens Park Gardens. These are beautiful because of the numerous huge trees that fill the park. The best bit is the botanical garden in the corner. There is a free map available in the park indicating 20 of the biggest trees (all tagged), making it fun to learn the names. Our favourites: The bottle trees, great mauri , hooped pines, bunya, etc. In September there is a spectacular flower show that makes the park a major tourist attraction.
To us the biggest surprise was Picnic Point. It is an elevated park with a waterfall, BBQ's, picnic tables etc. The views promised to be so good that we went back for a second visit. On our first visit the fog was so thick we couldn't see the views. The fog did make our first visit quite special. See the photos.

Markets: We went to the Streets and Lanes festival in the CBD. Great music, exhibitions and food.
The farmers markets at the show grounds were not worth the drive out there.

Toowoomba Motor Village Caravan Park was very pleasant. Nice trees, good facilities. Took a nice photo one night at 10pm when the fog was particularly dense.

We took a day to drive out to Highfields Pioneer Village for the Easter Vintage Festival. It was great fun and well attended. There is an entry fee, but certainly worth it (60 restored buildings). We enjoyed delicious $3 home made pies, lots of demos (fresh damper, putting the metal ring on a ox wagon wheel, etc), a Ned Kelly re-enactment, heritage dwellings and exhibits. Well worth the drive and day.

On Easter Sunday we attended worship at Middle Ridge Uniting Church. Great, inspiring service led my Rev Rob Callow. More that 20 kids and 100+ adults partaking. An uplifting day with lovely old fashioned hospitality.

Tips:

  • Make sure you visit the Information centre. Great service, and knowledgeable volunteers with good resources.
  • If you can't visit all the parks, don't miss out on the botanical gardens and picnic point.
  • Take map or GPS (or on your mobile). The road signage at T junctions are not always as good as you'd expect in Aus. Not good when you're cycling.
  • We were told to fill up on diesel. Under $1 per litre. It will be more expensive in the north (inland). Our first fill up since leaving Hervey Bay (nice big tank)

On Wednesday morning we start turning north. Not sure yet where the next stop will be. We'll keep you posted. Going in the direction of Roma.

Worship at Middle Ridge Uniting Church Easter Sunday

Worship at Middle Ridge Uniting Church Easter Sunday

View from Katoomba lookout point in Toowoomba towards Brisbane

View from Katoomba lookout point in Toowoomba towards Brisbane

Toowoomba Motor Village Caravan Park

Toowoomba Motor Village Caravan Park

Toowoomba many garden cycle routes - Gowrie Creek

Toowoomba many garden cycle routes - Gowrie Creek

Toowoomba is a beautiful city

Toowoomba is a beautiful city

Toowoomba CBD Streets and Lanes festival

Toowoomba CBD Streets and Lanes festival

Road from Esk to Toowoomba

Road from Esk to Toowoomba

Queens Park bottle tree

Queens Park bottle tree

Queens Park botanical garden

Queens Park botanical garden

Picnic Point walk

Picnic Point walk

Picnic Point play park

Picnic Point play park

Picnic Point during fog

Picnic Point during fog

Picnic Point during fog and rain

Picnic Point during fog and rain

Japanese Garden at Southern Queensland Uni Reflecting

Japanese Garden at Southern Queensland Uni Reflecting

Japanese Garden at Southern Queensland Uni Picnic

Japanese Garden at Southern Queensland Uni Picnic

Highfields Ned Kelly capture re-enactment

Highfields Ned Kelly capture re-enactment

Highfields Heritage Village lunch

Highfields Heritage Village lunch

Highfields Heritage Village exhibition

Highfields Heritage Village exhibition

Highfields Heritage Village damper and pies

Highfields Heritage Village damper and pies

Gus Beutel lookout at Revenbourne National Park

Gus Beutel lookout at Revenbourne National Park

Fog at 10 pm in Toowoomba Caravan Park

Fog at 10 pm in Toowoomba Caravan Park

Camp Kitchen Salt and Pepper Squid and Crumbed Flatheads

Camp Kitchen Salt and Pepper Squid and Crumbed Flatheads

Uniting Church we attended in Esk

Uniting Church we attended in Esk

Posted by ChrisHenriette 18:09 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes churches trees Comments (2)

Esk to Toowoomba

Amazing caravan park in small town

semi-overcast 34 °C
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We were planning to do free camping in Kilcoy but there were lots of flying foxes. So we decided to go on towards Esk. We ended up in town because the 35 degrees made the swimming pool at the park seem very attractive. One of the best caravan parks we have ever seen. Lovely mountains to look at. Large trees meant that we had several great/spacious sites to choose between. There is an abundance of wildlife. King Parrots, Lorikeets (you can hand feed), possums, and a Koala in the trees close to us. On 22 March we took a drive around Wivenhoe Lake/Dam. Stopped several times including a beautiful park (called Cormorant Bay) with lots of BBQ's. Best of the picnic spots. Took pork bangers for the occasion.

Tomorrow we go on to Toowoomba. First time we've booked ahead (because of the Easter weekend)

Uniting Church we attended in Esk

Uniting Church we attended in Esk

Special antique shop in Esk

Special antique shop in Esk

Rest stop at Wivenhoe Dam

Rest stop at Wivenhoe Dam

Pork bangers at Wivenhoe dam

Pork bangers at Wivenhoe dam

Lorikeet feeding at Esk caravan park

Lorikeet feeding at Esk caravan park

Koala at Esk Caravan Park

Koala at Esk Caravan Park

King Parrot at Esk Caravan Park

King Parrot at Esk Caravan Park

Galahs at Esk Caravan Park

Galahs at Esk Caravan Park

Flying foxes at Kilcoy made us pass free camp

Flying foxes at Kilcoy made us pass free camp

Did the circle around Wivenhoe dam

Did the circle around Wivenhoe dam

BBQ in great camp kitchen in Esk

BBQ in great camp kitchen in Esk

3500km to go from Esk to Darwin

3500km to go from Esk to Darwin

Posted by ChrisHenriette 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains churches trees animals birds Comments (1)

Mapleton to Esk

5 days in Mapleton to explore Montville etc

rain 28 °C
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We spent 5 days in Mapleton exploring the surrounding area. The mountains and walks, and forests, and views are truly spectacular! Everything people have told you about Montville and this area is true. We did the circular drive (Kennilworth, Witta, Maleny, Montville). Narrow, winding roads through sub tropical rainforest. Truly worth spending some time here. If you're into cheese tasting, we thought the one in Kennilworth was better than the Maleny one. We did pop down to Eumundi markets again (for some fresh fruit).

Montville has a lot of specialty shops worth visiting. Tops spots are: The clock shop where you can buy cuckoo clocks, the special chapel for weddings, and the friendly folk at the information kiosk in main street.

We walked several hiking trails stretching form 1.7km to over 7km. The best has to be Kondalilla Falls. Some steep bits, but stunning forests with very tall strangle figs and palm forests. Highly recommend doing it anti-clockwise so you have a great swim near the end (see the lungfish photo) Also saw a common green tree snake. Mary Cairncross near Maleny is special as it is very easy and we saw six pademelons (small wallabies, some with joeys), whipbirds and many more. The big fig tree walk neat Kennilworth is also worth walking. Very short, but all board walk and lush. It wasn't a problem to walk in rain as our big Bunnings umbrella was great in a rain forest where the rains falls straight down.

Unexpected bucket list item (ubli): Seeing pademelons which we didn't even know existed.
Be careful: Stinging leaves at fig tree walk.These can sting for days if touched. I got bitten by a couple of leeches because of open shoes in Mapleton walk. Not serious, but a nuisance.

The road to Esk is rather narrow if you're towing, but OK. Esk caravan park was a pleasant surprise. But more about that next time.

We did the purple circle

We did the purple circle

Walking the rainforests

Walking the rainforests

Views of Glass House Mountains

Views of Glass House Mountains

Views from near Montville to Glass House Mountains

Views from near Montville to Glass House Mountains

The fig trees do grow big

The fig trees do grow big

Stinging leaves to watch out for

Stinging leaves to watch out for

Saw 6 wallabies called Red Legged Pademelons

Saw 6 wallabies called Red Legged Pademelons

Picnic at Baroon Dam

Picnic at Baroon Dam

One of many unusual mushrooms (2)

One of many unusual mushrooms (2)

Now this is a proper tree fern

Now this is a proper tree fern

Montville is just the prettiest town

Montville is just the prettiest town

Lungfish on Mary Cairncross Walk

Lungfish on Mary Cairncross Walk

Leech that bit me

Leech that bit me

Kondalilla Falls Walk

Kondalilla Falls Walk

Kondalilla Falls Swim

Kondalilla Falls Swim

Elkhorns and Staghorns everywhere

Elkhorns and Staghorns everywhere

Cuckoo clockmaking in Montville

Cuckoo clockmaking in Montville

Common Green Tree Snake

Common Green Tree Snake

Beautiful Montville

Beautiful Montville

Amazing trees in the many day walks

Amazing trees in the many day walks

Posted by ChrisHenriette 19:56 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes trees Comments (5)

We start our big lap in Hervey Bay

A week of preparation at our home base

sunny 30 °C
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We have stopped postponing our "bucket list". This is the start of our big journey. Our brand new Jayco Journey was delivered and we decided to stay in Beachfront Tourist Park Torquay in Hervey Bay. This was our first choice as you're really beach front on a lovely swimming beach. The other beach front ones have less trees (the council culled numerous trees at nearby Scarness after a freak accident killed someone during a storm).

We stayed for 8 nights which included inviting friends over to have a cuppa or a braai (BBQ). The idea was also to test out how the caravan operates and to have last minute installations done (e.g. UHF radio, buy satellite dish, etc). We didn't do much exploring in Hervey Bay as this is home! It has 18 km of beach front of which 10 km is swimming beach. Major attractions include whale watching (August to October) and Heritage listed Fraser Island (largest sand island in the world and has rainforest andozens of lakes). Two neighbours in the park were in their vans awaiting settlement on properties in town. Both were touring and found this amazing town and decided to stay.

Dramatic decisions needed to be made (how many towels, buying a smaller Breville coffee machine, buying a portable modem with enough data, etc)
Comments on photos:
I will figure out later how to caption the photos. For now: Henriette and I waving goodbye to Hervey Bay. Phil installing our satellite dish (he brought cappuccinos - what service!) and the view of the beach in front of the park where we had a daily swim.
We finally packed up and left for Mapleton.

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Posted by ChrisHenriette 13:37 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches Comments (5)

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