Holiday Around Oz   2012  Townsville to Canberra  4 January - 9 February

When we knew we would take off for seven month we had four people lined up to look after the house but one by one they dropped off. Last resort a housesitting website. We found through them a lady who looked very suitable and was staying with friends but preferred to be on her own. 
Straight after the new year packing the bus, the cars are stored beside the house and on 4 January 2PM ready to roll. First fuel and then the open road. Two minutes after we leave someone waving and when I look in the mirror I can see the spare tyre is ticking out the side of the bus. Just a pin missing but I hope it is not an bad omen. First stop Wulguru and John and Marie Lucius. Here they saved some kroketten and oliebollen for us. Ayr next, Merv and Leslies place for an overnight stop. Always very relaxing there. I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that I forgot the powersupply for the laptop. Can't go without it, which meant a trip back home. We did eventually arrive in Bowen and Horseshoe bay Beautiful blue sky a bit of a breeze. We spend the day and Friday morning under the trees with an occasional swim. Arrived in Mackay late Friday at Luke and Nikaela's place. We stay here for the weekend. The ladies went shopping and Luke and Myself went fishing. The ladies brought home more than we did.

       Bowen has the name of not very freedom camping
       friendly. The caravan parks were empty because
       this is not the season. You would think that they
       would welcome people who would spend money
        in the shop.

Horseshoe Bay








Nikaela getting a foot massage and Luke playing with his I phone.

Inland from Mackay

Saturday night the "kids" took us out for dinner to an Italian restaurant overlooking the harbour. Sunday morning another fishing session with the same result as the previous day. Early afternoon went for a drive towards Eungella. Stopped at a pub for a huge pie and drinks. Another card game at night which Luke despite boasting about his card skills lost. Like and Nikaela had to start early on Monday morning. We were still in bed when they left. Some shopping and off to Carmilla beach. We have done the coast road so often that we have our favourite spots so spend a few days. Parked right beside the beach in the shade. Could not be better.
                                  We feel right at home again                        Carmila beach has it's own stairway to the moon
10 Jan. A few quiet days here to recouperate from the previous hectic days. While relaxing at the beach and not catching any fish I was going through the motorhome magazine and saw that the Mackay chapter planned to have a meeting in St Laurence which is where we were going so we decided to join them for the weekend. The weather was hot and steamy up until Thursday but Friday morning rain and the temperature dropped to 25 degrees. We did not expect a lot of motorhomers from the Mackay sugarloafers to turn up but twelve arrived and we had a very relaxed weekend with them. The weather did not help. Rain all day. 

Camp at St Lawrence with the Mackay sugarloafers

15 January. On the way to Rockhampton. Heavy rain all the way. Some shopping and spend the afternoon and dinner with Doug and Chris Wyer. More chores like laundry and shopping and on the way to  Gladstone. This is a very heavy industry area. Wherever you look you see big factories. The foreshore looks very pretty but is in the news lately that all the fish caught here has ulcers and looks sick. We only spend a few hours here. The center of town is dead and we could not find anything interesting to see here. Next our favourite camping spots. Calliope River. The weather could be a bit more cooperative. The fish were biting and I nearly caught one. Next time better. I keep trying. We stayed one day. Normally we stay here a bit longer but the weather was not too good. 

Gladstone harbour. Cement factory on the right. Heavy industry on the left.

Next stop Bundaberg.  Everyone in Australia knows Bundy Rum. We visited the factory last time no need to do this again. We visited Barbara and Darryl Smith  which we met on the road last time around. Finally we could shop at an Aldi again as there is none in Townsville. This will be one of many visits to Aldi over the next 5 month.
19 January. Maryborough. We wanted to visit John and Robyn de Lange but they were not home. At night Petrie campsite beside the Mary river. The fishing no good the first day but the next day someone gave me some worms and I caught seven catfish. Saturday was spend with the Caloundra Suncoasters. The local motorhome chapter. On Sunday it started to rain and it is still raining. That night we spend with Gary and Chris Bailif. Old friends from Townsville. Monday nearly all day with Peter and Marijke Hoeksema. We could do our washing there and continued in the afternoon to Eatons Hill and Maralyn Britton. Old neighbour from when we still lived in Brisbane. All very pleasant visits. Tuesday we saw Linda Llewellin in the hypermarket. We bought our first car from the Llewellins. All the time we are driving through Brisbane in the pouring rain. It is a year ago that Brisbane got flooded and a lot of people are worried that it might happen again. We dropped in at John and Pam Homes for a hallo and coffee but we stayed for the night. 
    Glass House mountains from Caloundra boardwalk                      Marijke, Susan and Peter watching the website
25 January. Left in pouring rain and this continued for a few days. We planned to travel  away from the coast road but severe weather warnings and flooding made this impossible. We just drove the highway No 1 south. Don't let the name fool you because as soon we were out of the populated area's the road was single lane and full of potholes. A few mishaps on the way. The alternator decided to stop supplying electricity, the toilet would not work and to top it off our wine cellar which is the microwave broke the tray. Luckily we were still in an industrial area and the alternator was replaced after a few hours. The toilet repaired and the tray in the bin.  Spend the night beside the road near Byron Bay. 26th,  Australia day. We planned to be near a city and enjoy the festivities but there was not much going because of the weather. Lunch in Coffs Harbour. Parked beside the ocean and had a little walks in the dry spells. A big fair set up in town but no one inside. It is not much fun to sit in a ride when it is pouring rain. Next morning further south through Kempsey and Port Macquarie. Kamped just north of Taree in a large clearing in a forrest. 

  Coffs Harbour. View from the breakwater. You can just see the bus.

 Coffs Harbour our parking spot for the night          Coopernook camp ground                   Guess where?
29 January. Another day in Coopernook. Rain most of the day but during a dry spot our neighbours showed the film Red Dog on a TV he mounted outside the caravan. An Australian film funny and sad at times. 30 January and off to Lemmon Tree Passage. We visited Irene and Jeff Lord  whom we met in W.A. three years ago. They were in a camper trailer that time but we talked them in to buying a motorhome. Slowly heading south. The weather has deteriorated to the point that it rains continuously and it is getting cold as well. 1 February. Pass through Newcastle and stop for the night in The Entrance before we can park in Sydney. I don's particular like Sydney. The roads are narrow, the traffic is hectic and it is difficult to get your bearings. In the other capital cities you get an idea of which direction you are traveling. Not here. Very hilly and the roads twist and turn all the time. The beaches and harbour area are nice but the rest is dreary especially this time because the rain did not stop. We are parked in Rozanne Bruce front yard whom we met in Townsville two month ago. She is a partner of Victor Rijn who we know already from our first years in Australia. We even had a visitor. Helen Hudson who is a cousin from susan. We have seen her the first few years we were in Australia but lost contact. We had a pleasant few hours catching up. We spend one day exploring Sydney which showed us the important bits. And walking through the rain is not one of my hobbies. Saturday morning slept in till 8.30 This does not happen very often. The sun is half out and the world looks a lot brighter. We had a enjoyable morning and lunch with Rozanne and Victor. Rozanne lives at the bottom of a very steep hill and we were worried that the bus might have trouble getting up the hill, but no worries.
The Tomtom get us finally out of Sydney and we spend the night in a rest area. We must have let a window open because the mozzies nearly carried me out of the bus.
                           Victor, Rozanne, Susan, Ab                                                       Tianjara falls
5 Feb. Visited Geert and Miel Kroon in Bowral. I briefly worked with Geert in Cameroon in 1967. From Bowral we took the road to Nowra which is a long steep twisty descend towards the coast. We did not stay long in Nowra and took the shortcut to Canberra via Nerriga. Half the road is exellent most of it OK and some of it very corrugated. The surprise was Tianjara falls. Not much water but fantastic views. Did some shopping in Braidwood and camped just north of there beside a river. Next morning off to Canberra and Ria van der Zandt.  Whenever we are there we are always made very welcome. Susan was supposed to cook the meal but was not allowed to do so. Next day the ladies went to the Renaissance exebition.  When they came back there was jus enough time to get ready, because we were invited by Maarten and Norma Black to go out for dinner. As you can see we did not go hungry. Everyone opted for the chicken schnitzel. We rounded the evening off with coffee at Norma and Maarten's place.
9 February. Ria had to leave early and said goodbye in the bus. One last drive through the centre of Canberra and it will be a while before we visit here again.

Norma, Maarten, Susan, Ab and Ria