South of Australia  2019

We left Townsville on Thursday 10 January for Mackay. We didn't get a lot of rain in Townsville but that day we had a lot of rain. It is obvious that the bus is getting a bit older. Found a leak in the roof. Luckily I had something with me to fix it in a dry spell in Bowen. It took us all day to do the 400 KM. Jed did recognise us still. Just spend one night in Mackay. Next day Carmilla Beach. Another one of our favourite spots. Park right beside the beach. We stay only one night everywhere otherwise we never reach Melbourne even close to Paul's birthday. Overnight in Rockhampton, Caliope River and Gin Gin. In Gin Gin we stayed with Graeme and Sue, motor homers we met at the Gunnedah rally.  Next to Harvey Bay. Here we spend most of the time at the beach because Betty Jenji was coming home late.  I didn't feel to well and went to bed early but Susan and Betty chewed the fat as they say here. Betty suggested to take the road via Rainbow Beach to Gympie and so we did. We had not been here for 15 years. A real tourist place for surfing. Another stopover at Gympie rest area and on to Bribie Island where we visited Phil and Marilyn. Marilyn was our neighbour in Brisbane and Phil and Marilyn lived in Townsville for a while. After a very greasy fish and chips rang Linda Lewellyn and met at our favourite spot beside the Brisbane river. In the dark we rode to an industrial area to get the front shock absorbers reconditioned. We had to wait till early afternoon to get them back. I wanted to have another look at our first house in Australia. The new owners have done a lot of work to fix up the front. Spend an hour with Gwen one of the neighbours and caught up with some gossip.




                                            9 Osberg street                                                                           Dutch shop Sydney

We had to drive a long way past Beaudesert to find a rest area. Found a beaut spot in the Border Ranges. The road was a bit windy but good views. Saturday  the 12th.   Reached civilisation again in Kyogle. Finally an Aldi again in Casino. Got to the highway in Grafton and from there on everyone was passing us at 110KM/H. I don't like those roads but you get somewhere faster. Reached Coffs Harbour late afternoon. We have camped here several times in the harbour. Beautiful spot. Next morning market. I have been looking for a statue I can put in the garden on top of a cut down palm tree and we found it here. Just fitted in the bus. More highway till we got off at Kerri Kerri. Next day Sydney. I wanted to surprise Susan by stopping at the Dutch shop. After two hours in Sydney traffic, found the shop closed. Bummer. At least there was a very cheap petrol station just around the corner.
More freeway. The maximum speed is 110 KMH. I sit on 85 to 90. Overnight in a rest stop. When I switched on my two GPS's none of them could find any satellites. When you are used to driving with one it is difficult to go without them. We did not go far this time and overnighted in an RV stop in Yass. Had dinner in the soldiers club. Daytime temperatures are around the forty degrees but so far night time is around twenty five which is perfect but it changed in Yass. I recently installed two fans above the beds and they got a workout over the next two days. Next stopover near Albury and the Hume dam. This is probably the fourth time we have stayed here. One of our favourite spots. We have friends in Wangaratta and had morning tea there. It was good to catch up with Bill and Phill van Ruth again. Bill happened to have a Tomtom spare which I could borrow. That one had no problems finding the satellites. We camped sixty from where Paul used to live live. He was told just to vacate his house in Buxton. We had a look there and it was a nice house. He found another one in Healesville. The house is not as nice but half a hour closer to work. This area had massive bushfires ten years ago where a lot of people died. When we got to Paul's house he had only moved in the day before. He is renting a simple holiday house.

     Paul's house on a large block of land with sheds and holiday houses                   Aboriginal sculptures at Rickets Dandenong ranges
We spend four days with Paul. Had a BBQ with some of his friends but stayed on the block most of the time. I walked with the dogs in the morning. Leroy the largest one got very restless every time he spotted a kangaroo. And there are a few hopping around in the morning and afternoon.
30 January.  Paul had to leave early and after we packed up, off to Lilydale for shopping. About 13 years ago we visited an aboriginal sculpture park. We were very impressed with it. When we wanted to visit it about five years ago it was closed because of fires had gone through the place.  William Rickets had lived with aborigines and is a gifted sculptor with a passion.  In a dense rainforest he created a sculpture park with at least a hundred sculptures. Certainly worth a visit.
We have been invited for a BBQ at Rie Oude Meilink. She had her sister and husband over from Holland. Had a pleasant evening there and spend the night in the car park. Next day Melbourne museum. Melbourne is one of the better cities to drive in but made a lot easier with a GPS. Drove around for a while to find a parking spot. We spend the night at the foreshore where we normally park when we go to Tasmania. Next day the science museum. Susan is not really interested in this so she prepared the dinner for tonight. And back to Paul's place where we stayed till Monday morning.  He has to go back to work and we have to explore more of Victoria. We got a lot of inquiries about the floods in Townsville. After seven years of drought the most rain we had since measurements started. The house sitter is staying in her own place because it is dangerous to drive around. We should be OK unless the dam breaks.
4 February. There might be a lot of rain in Townsville but it is raining a little bit here as well. The air is very hazy from the bush fires in Victoria and Tasmania. The fire brigade will love this rain. We took the scenic tour to Moe. We new that a friend from Paul is working in Aldi and when we were in there she recognised us. We met her two years ago when we were at Pauls birthday near Melbourne.
Next direction Sale.  After some shopping we heard 90 Mile beach is a good spot. It is but not when it is overcast and raining. You had to camp behind the dunes, no view of the ocean. Next day only 60 KM to lake Wellington. Beaut spot beside the water. We decided to just wait for better weather.
                                          Lakes Entrance                                                                      Susan at Mallacoota foreshore
8 February. After two days at lake Wellington Susan get's a bit restless and time to move on. Barnsdale and Lake Entrance. A beautiful part of Australia. Spend most of the time walking through Lakes Entrance and playing cards while overlooking the harbour. Overcast when we woke up but better weather forecast. I wanted to do the road from Lakes entrance to Jindabyne. We have done this about 15 years ago and there are beautiful campsites beside the Snowy River. The road goes through the Snowy Mountains National Park.  After 35 KM a sign road closed. Nobody was sure if it sill was closed so decided to drive till the next town. When we got there the fire brigade told us they had a massive fire in the area and the road was indeed closed due to heavy equipment on the road. It really cheesed me off because we probably won't get here anymore. A very windy road back to the highway and Orbost. During the afternoon a lot of heavy rain, hopefully the last one. The weather is slowly clearing and just perfect for Mallacoota. Similar to Lakes Entrance. Parked the bus right beside the water for the day. Spend the might in a free camp at Genowa. When we got there it looked like a caravan park. About a hundred caravans and motorhomes. These camps often save the dying towns because we still have to buy fuel and groceries.
                                    Eden sunset                                                         Old parliament house with aboriginal camp
Next stop Eden. Parked near the jetty, put our camping chairs out under a tree and watched the world go by. Visited the whale museum, stretched our legs and did more watching of harbour activity. Not bad going to bed with a view like this. Bermagui not very freedom camping friendly. Had to drive 10km out of town in to a rest area. Next day Batesman Bay. Another holiday town as most of the towns here close to the coast are. Another town not freedom camping happy. Drove to Braidwood. This is an old gold mining town half way between the coast and Canberra. Stayed in the car park of the serviceman club. The advantage is here that you can have a few beers and not have to drive. Overnight the temperature got down to 11 degrees. Only 80 km to Canberra. We wanted to see a few things here but the parking is terrible. Finally found a parking spot in front of the old parliament house. All the things we wanted to see were in walking distance but only went in to the parliament building which is set up as a museum. All very well done and interesting. The aborigines have set up a camp to protest against the "stealing" of their land. Everyone is disgusted with the whole setup but no one dares to do anything about it.     Next drove to Ria van de Zandt. This is our favourite address when in the Nations capital. Susan had cooked dinner already and after an aperitif, dinner and a lot of family talk a not so cold night sleep.
                       Australian war memorial                                                             Maarten, Ria, Ab, Hans Nilda Susan, Norma
Ria took us to the arboretum next day. It has only just been established but the view from the restaurant is fabulous. For a city with a population of nearly 400 000  nearly all you see are trees and a few landmarks. Ria had some commitments in the afternoon and we went to the war museum. We have been there a few times before but everyone should be reminded of the evils of war and especially the hardship and casualties of the "Great War". When we arrived a tour was just about to start and for one and a half hours the very knowledgeable guide raced through the memorial because at the end there was a film presentation which started a certain time. A must visit for everyone who comes to Canberra.  Five O clock happy hour at Ria's place with all the family we have in Canberra and afterwards to a club for dinner.
Next day Ria took us out to the museum and afterwards to an Dutch owned restaurant where we had "kroketten". And in the afternoon to a exhibition of  caricature portraits. All in all a very cultural day.               
                      Portrait gallery                                                                            Travelling stock route camp near Mudgee
Next day more culture. The national portrait  museum. We thought one hour would be enough but we walked out after two and a half hours. The advantage of going to all these places is parking is a lot easier and also free. We had also planned to go to the national museum but we ran out of time. Just enough to go to the market and a shopping centre. Susan is cooking the meal for tonight.
17 Feb.  Parliament house. We have been to question time before and were disgusted with the way it operated and our first impressions were not changed after this visit. Our last night with Ria. Spaghetti bolognaise and a game of card afterwards. Next days north to Goulburn, Oberon, Lithgow and the coast to Gosford. After a lot of fabulous weather overcast and a few specs of rain. Next day after consulting the weather forecast a change of plan. Brisbane is about to get the cyclone that hit Townsville a few weeks ago and it looks like it is travelling down the coast which brings a lot of rain. Now we are heading north away from the coast. As we travelled west the clouds got thinner and by the time we reached Mudgee sunshine. After shopping a campsite just north along a creek. Lots of space and the only company were cows.
23 Feb.  After two days in Mudgee time to move on. North via Dunedoo, Gilgandra to Coonabarabran. Nearby is a national park with very interesting rock formations. Warrumbungle's NP where we spend the day. It is a long track over a fairly rough track which Susan does not like so she stayed in the bus while I spend the day walking. The view from the top above the breadknife (which is the name of this particular rock formation) is the best view from anywhere in Australia. Left at 10AM and returned 4PM. I had company at the top with two very cheeky crows who wanted to be fed. Next day the muscles were not too bad.

Warrumbungles National Park

25 Feb. Heading further north. Gunnedah, we were here last year for the motorhome rally. They have a free camp beside the river just out of town. All the rivers are either low or no water at all. Next Tamworth and Bingara. Bingara another place we have stayed before beside the Gwydir river. Again very low water but it is flowing. A few days here, very relaxing. Next Inverell. Texas and back in Queensland. Warwick has a very nice main road with old (depends where you live) and decorative houses from around 1860 to 1910.
On the way to Toowoomba a sign tourist drive  and I normally take this and it paid off. A free camp opposite the the pub where Dad and Dave (Most popular radio series in Australia) supposed to drink. They serve a nice meal as well. On to Toowoomba just for some shopping and heading further north. We ended up on top of the Bunya mountains for the night. No chance going for a beer across the road.
                                       Bingara camp                                                                            Nobby:   Dad and Dave pub
5 March. Next Kingaroy, the peanut capital of Australia. The steepest hills are behind us and distances between interesting points are further apart also. Kingaroy, Murgon, Gaindah, Monto, Bilowela and Middlemount. We always try to camp beside water and we found a few  good spots. Three days at Wurama dam and one night at Lake Victoria. We would liked to have stayed a bit longer at lake Victoria but I got nearly bogged on the way in and in case it would have rained we would have been there a lot longer. At Wurama dam we were about the only ones without crab pots for red claw. Another good spot at Mc Kenzie river.
10 March. Lake Elphinstone. We will stay here for a week before we go to Luke and Nikaela. No good going there when both have to work. No problems parking here. We have been here a few times over the years but we have never seen it as empty as this. It is a large area and this time we parked close to the water. The area was just mowed. There are toilets , showers and rubbish bins. The weather is perfect, a bit hot during the day 32 degrees, 40 inside the bus. The nights are nice and cool. Only one storm  with a lot of lightning and very strong winds. I thought the awning would rip but everything is good. We watch TV outside, just perfect. Went for a walk with one of the other campers to the top of the hill you can see behind the bus.

Lake Elphinstone

16 March.