Monthly Archives: August 2014

Day 75 – Eumundi Markets and the Ginger Factory at Yandina

Today Ann and I enjoyed catching up with our friends Neville and Mary. We hadn’t seen them for some time and it turned out that they were staying in Mooloolaba but were flying home on Friday.

We arranged to pick them up at their apartment in Mooloolaba and then drove up to visit Eumundi Markets for a walk, coffee, chat, and lunch.

Neville and Mary at Eumundi Market

Neville and Mary at Eumundi Market

Shorty and Ann at Eumundi Market

Shorty and Ann at Eumundi Market

After a thorough circuit of the market and take-away coffees we ended up at the Lionheart Hotel for lunch. The hotel is currently undergoing major renovations using a medieval castle theme in what is basically an old Queenslander hotel. It’s a bit of a strange combination but it seems to work. One thing that struck us today was that the temperature was in the mid-twenties but they had a fire going in the dining room! Needless to say we didn’t sit near it. The meal was good, the company was great and it was a great environment in which to catch up.

We then moved on to Yandina to check out the Ginger Factory and the Nutworks factory opposite. Mid-afternoon, the weather cooled down a bit and after more nice hot coffees we headed back to Mooloolaba and Forest Glen.

Mary and Ann at one of the shops at the Ginger Factory

Mary and Ann at one of the shops at the Ginger Factory

Neville and Ann at the Nut Factory

Neville and Ann at the Nut Factory

What a great way to catch up with old friends!

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 74 – Maryborough to Forest Glen, Sunshine Coast

Ann and I both slept very well last night. There was no rain and no howling winds and, as we realised later, no children and no slamming doors of Hippy/Wicked style campervans. This caravan park is a great place for grey nomads.

As we hadn’t unhitched the van from the Ute, packing up was a pretty quick matter, so we were back onto the Bruce Highway quite early.

Leaving Maryborough, we were surprised that there was still a lot of sugar cane, but it did disappear the closer we got to Gympie, out first stop for coffee. We pulled into the Lake Alford Recreation Area on the south end of town and what a nice spot to stop this was! The lake itself is well maintained and has fountains, bridges and seating. There is plenty of wildlife in the form of ducks, ibis and other water birds. There are also amenities for travellers and other historic attractions in the area. On the highway is a large statue commemorating the early gold miners of Gympie.

Coffee stop at Lake Alford, Gympie

Coffee stop at Lake Alford, Gympie

From Gympie we continued down the Bruce Highway which as highway A1 has a maximum speed limit of 90 kph. At one point in becomes the M1 motorway with dual lanes and a speed limit of 110 kph, and then reverts back to the single lane A1 at 90 kph. Very confusing! Then, as we came closer to civilisation it reverted back to the M1 and it continues in that mode all the way into Brisbane.

M1 Motorway

M1 Motorway

However, as we commented previously, there are some massive roadworks going on along the Bruce Highway. As frustrating as it can be to have to travel at 40 kph at times and to have to drive on newly laid bitumen, the improvements will be massive and will make driving on the highway much safer and more pleasant.

Roadworks on the Bruce Highway

Roadworks on the Bruce Highway

Major roadworks on the Bruce Highway

Major roadworks on the Bruce Highway

Just before lunch we reached our destination at the Big4 Forest Glen Holiday resort, just out of Maroochydore. Ann had tried to book a site at Cotton Tree where we stayed last year and where friends of ours are staying, but nothing was available and this park seemed like a good alternative. Unfortunately we had a bit of a problem as someone had changed the site we had originally booked and we couldn’t fit on the replacement offered. Eventually they did find a site that we could squeeze onto, although Andy from the park had to assist us onto the site.

At this stage we weren’t totally happy with the world in general so after a quick lunch we headed out to the nearby Kunara Organic Marketplace. It was quite amazing. There is a huge organic food store, an organic butcher, a small clothing shop with hemp, bamboo etc style clothing, an organic café and a garden centre. The entire place was packed! We had a good look around and enjoyed very nice coffee and non-fattening cake at the café before returning to the Ute. We then drove a short way to the Forest Glen Shopping Centre and had a look around there as well. Ann enjoyed her visit to the Patchwork Angel quilting shop.

Kurana Organic Marketplace

Kurana Organic Marketplace

Feeling a lot better we returned back to the caravan park, hitched the van onto the Ute and made a few adjustments to our set-up and unhitched. Now we were feeling a lot happier! This is an older park built on a slope and many of the sites were not designed with big rigs in mind. Still, our site is reasonably flat, unlike some of our neighbours who almost seem to be perched on stilts.

Finally set-up at Big 4 Forest Glen

Finally set-up at Big 4 Forest Glen

Not all sites are level - look at our neighbour!

Not all sites are level – look at our neighbour!

For dinner we got our glad rags on and went to “Jampa’s Spirit of Tibet” traditional Tibetan restaurant which is a separate building in the grounds of the caravan park. Ann had a Tibetan Beef Curry and I had Rashhi Ngu-Tse, which is a goat and spinach curry. Both our meals were absolutely delicious and we will be coming back here another night.

We will be staying in Forest Glen for at least a week and may not post daily entries to the blog while we are here.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 73 – Maryborough Day 2

Despite our hopes, it rained heavily all last night. Fortunately the rain stopped early morning but the sky remained grey and overcast all day with occasional showers. We decided to stay in Maryborough another day rather than travel through bad weather and hope that the weather would improve tomorrow.

So this morning we just fiddled about in the van. Some of last night’s rain had somehow got inside so I spent a little bit of time carrying out some emergency sealing repairs where it appeared that the caulking around one of the windows had shrunk slightly and may have been the cause of the leak.

Minor caravan repairs

Minor caravan repairs

We had our morning coffee under the awning although the wind blew up quite strongly so we decided to put the awning up and escape inside, out of the weather completely.

As fifth wheel style caravans aren’t that numerous on the road, I am always interested to see them on the road and to talk to other 5th wheeler owners. A quite unusual 5th wheeler parked in the site next door so I went out to have a chat to the owner. It turned out that he had made his own 5th wheeler by converting a conventional Roadstar caravan, because he preferred the towing characteristics of the 5th wheeler over that of a caravan. Basically he chopped the front “boot” off the caravan and welded in a new sub-frame for the new hitch. He then modified a fibreglass aerodynamic nose cone for large trucks for the new front for his caravan, and while he was at it added additional side storage compartments. He then custom made a special tray with hitch for his ute – a BT50 of course. The end result is a great combination of the best features of both a caravan and a 5th wheeler. His design means that the bed is in its original position and he can walk around it and he can still lift it up for storage – something we can’t do! Sure there are some compromises but there always are no matter what sort of RV you have. This project obviously took a lot of thought and effort and it’s great to see such ozzie ingenuity.

Interesting home made fifth wheeler caravan

Interesting home made fifth wheeler caravan

After lunch in the van we put on waterproof/windproof jackets and went for a good long walk. We stopped for coffee at the Station Square shopping centre before walking back past Aldi where we stopped for a few more supplies.

Today has been a lazy sort of day and we haven’t done any touristy type things. We did however see this interesting monument to the pioneers of Maryborough.

Monument to the early pioneers of Maryborough

Monument to the early pioneers of Maryborough

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Day 72 – Boyne River to Maryborough

After a good night’s sleep we woke to see the free camp area transformed. Although still early, the sun was out and the scene looking over at the bridge over the river from the van was wonderfully peaceful. Some of the vans had already left and the number of cars and tents that seemed to have appeared overnight was quite surprising. There was even a convoy of military vehicles stopped in the rest area. By the time we were packed up and ready to leave the number of cars simply stopping for a cuppa – or to use the toilet facilities – was again, surprising. This is a very popular place!

View of the bridge over the Boyne River - from the van

View of the bridge over the Boyne River – from the van

Boyne River Rest Area Transformed, including army convoy

Boyne River Rest Area Transformed, including army convoy

Breakfast at Boyne River rest area

Breakfast at Boyne River rest area

Our first morning stop wasn’t too far down the highway at Miriam Vale.  Although we had stopped there last year we nearly missed the turn to the main street which is not very well signposted at all on the highway. Miriam Vale is a delightful “village” with a friendly looking pub, a couple of coffee shops, some interesting gift shops, good visitor facilities and is overall a great place to stop for travellers. The coffee shop where we enjoyed coffee and non-fattening cakes was full of friendly, chatty travellers so our morning coffee was very enjoyable.

Main Street, Miriam Vale

Main Street, Miriam Vale

From Miriam Vale we continued due south and stopped for lunch at Gin Gin. Gin Gin has a great free camp on the north end of town which we had a look at last year but couldn’t fit in – so we stayed at the Gin Gin showgrounds. Again, Gin Gin is a traveller friendly town with a good variety of shops, pubs, amenities, an information centre, caravan parking in the middle of town, and more. Ann and I lashed out on the $8.50 roast of the day with vegies and gravy at the Highway Hotel.

Interesting street scape in Gin Gin

Interesting street scape in Gin Gin

Highway Hotel in Gin Gin

Highway Hotel in Gin Gin

The scenery today was varied. Around Gin Gin we experienced more sugar cane fields, although there were also orchards growing various fruits including citrus, mangoes and we believe macadamias. We were also a bit surprised to see some pine forests.

More sugar cane fields near Gin Gin

More sugar cane fields near Gin Gin

Orchards near Gin Gin

Orchards near Gin Gin

I might also make a quick comment about the Bruce Highway. Last year we made many comments about the state of this highway, most of them in the negative. This year there are still roadworks but it is very obvious that massive works have taken place over the past year or so and the improvements are considerable. The highway has been widened and in some places duplicated, corners and bends made safer, hills flattened, overtaking lanes added and rest stops and pull-overs added and improved. All in all it is a much better and safer driving experience and the various levels of government involved should be congratulated. One can only hope that all the good work going on won’t be destroyed by the next storm or flood!

We drove through Childers without a stop but again, we were here last year and this is a nice little town worth exploring.

Main street of Childers was very busy

Main street of Childers was very busy

From Childers we continued to our final destination today, the Wallace Motel and Caravan Park in Maryborough. Ann had booked a drive-through site which made getting set-up a lot easier. This is a nice park which has been rebuilding after three damaging floods in the last three years. The sites are flat and grassy, we have a concrete slab under the awning, and the facilities are good. TV reception isn’t wonderful here but we do get some channels and we can live without TV anyway – we came prepared with some DVDs just for this situation.

Set Up at Maryborough

Set Up at Maryborough

Relaxing at Maryborough

Relaxing at Maryborough

After setting up we went for a walk and visited Aldi for a few supplies. Upon our return to the van we sat outside for a while just relaxing and reading. That was until it started raining a little, which got a little heavier, so we packed up the chairs and retired back into the van. We haven’t heard any more rain on the roof for a while now so hopefully it has blown over and we will have a fine day tomorrow.

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 71 – St Lawrence to Boyne River Rest Area

Ann and I both slept like logs last night. The darkness was a major factor – no bright caravan park security lights outside the bedroom windows – just stars punctuating the blackness! The silence was another welcome factor.

It was a bit cool when I got up so I started in jeans and a long sleeve top but changed into the more traditional shorts and tee-shirt once we hit the road as it was obviously going to be another beautiful day.

Today was to be another driving day similar to yesterday, with no specific destination in mind and just a couple of places that might be possibilities.

The first leg of our journey was one of the most uncomfortable driving experiences we had ever encountered, and I am sure that all caravanners will have experienced similar situations. As soon as we got onto the Bruce Highway from the St Lawrence road, we ended up behind an older Millard caravan being towed by an older Ford Falcon sedan. Speed-wise it stayed around 75 kmh with bursts of speed up to 80 kmh. In itself this wouldn’t normally be a problem as the BT50 has plenty of grunt and we have met these drivers before and I am usually quite comfortable overtaking in the right conditions.

With a fair bit of traffic coming in the opposite direction it was starting to take a bit longer that I would have preferred to be able to overtake the Millard and then disaster struck. The Millard van got stuck behind an older motorhome that seemed to be only able to manage 75 kmh at best, so we were stuck. There was simply no way I was going to be able to overtake two slow and totally erratically driven rvs in one go. The traffic behind us was going berserk and a few crazy drivers made overtaking manoeuvres, even over double lines, and often requiring the slamming on of brakes and pushing in to get back onto the right side of the road in the face of oncoming traffic. At times it was potentially quite dangerous!

Then, obviously seeing the error of his ways, the driver of the motorhome pulled off at a roadside stop and let traffic past. What a relief! Even the old Millard van got a bit carried away and started speeding up. Low and behold, just as it seemed that it was my turn to make a move to overtake, the Millard got stuck behind a slow moving Golf caravan. We were in exactly the same situation as before but with even heavier oncoming traffic making overtaking even more difficult!

Finally, just before Marlborough, the Golf van pulled off onto a side road and the Millard gained speed. We turned off the highway into Marlborough and had a well-deserved cup of coffee. Then, lo and behold, the Golf van parked behind us. Coffees were gulped down, dishes quickly washed, and we were off again. After a quick stop at the servo to top up the diesel we were back on the highway, ahead of that Golf slowcoach. It was a fantastic feeling to be able to get to 90 kmh, and that was in third gear! We eventually caught up with the Millard van but fortune was on our side at last and an overtaking lane saw that problem disappear and we were able to continue our journey at our own pace.

During this time the countryside had changed. We were no longer in sugar cane country and the scenery changed from flat cattle grazing land to bush and scrub, but all the while with mountains in the background. At times we saw the signs of recent bushfires, and smoke from current fires as well.

Changing scenery

Changing scenery

We stopped for lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton. We had spent a few days in Rocky last year and it was quite nice to see the river and some of the other places we recognised. There were also some interesting roadworks underway. While following Gabby the Garmin GPS to a rest are in the Camps 7 book we saw some nice shady spots on the side of the road and decided to stop there instead of driving any further.

Views of Rockhampton

Views of Rockhampton

New bridge under construction near Rockhampton

New bridge under construction near Rockhampton

Lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton

Lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton

boyneriver-2014_2539-cropped_web

After lunch we headed for the Calliope River Rest Area – Q102 in Camps 7 – which we had seen last year and made some favourable notes about. Unfortunately things have changed since then and the main access road had been closed. When we tried the alternative route we found more changes to access including signs forbidding camping. There were a few parked vans at the end of the Old Bruce Highway and more along the riverbank but we were simply not game enough to take our van down the sandy and rough road that we assumed they used to get where they were.

We were a lot more successful at the next free camp we tried – the Boyne River rest area Q105 – although again there were changes compared to last year. Access to the area had changed with a result that vans had squeezed into all sorts of strange positions. The higgledy piggledy result left otherwise good flat areas inaccessible. In amongst the chaos there were actually several concrete slabs – it just didn’t make much sense. This is a very busy place and there are a lot of caravans and motorhomes here, and also several people simply sleeping in their cars or tents. Despite all this we managed to find a nice flat site with views overlooking the river and without close neighbours.

Views of the Boyne River from our van tonight

Views of the Boyne River from our van tonight

Views of Boyne River Rest Area free camp

Views of Boyne River Rest Area free camp

We feel that the Boyne River rest area isn’t as good as St Lawrence, but after a reasonably long day’s drive, and viewing a beautiful sunset over the river while having BBQ lamb and vegies for dinner, I’m sure that we’re going to sleep well tonight anyway.

We have no idea where we’ll be staying tomorrow night, but that’s all part of the adventure!!!!!

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 70 – Airlie Beach to St Lawrence Recreational Reserve

We got off reasonably early this morning as today was to be a driving day. Despite some initial issues getting into our site at the Island Gateway Holiday Park we were well positioned to get out and were able to make an easy and untroubled exit. Armed with maps and our Camps 7 free camps book, we made our way to the Bruce Highway and headed South without any set destination or caravan park booking.

Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll

The scenery for most of the day was reasonably uninspiring. It was basically sugar, sugar, sugar – remember the 1970s pop song – and sugar mills. The sight of continual sugar cane fields and even the sweet sugary smell in the air became a bit too much after a while. Having to stop at one point for a sugar train was something of a respite from the otherwise somewhat monotonous countryside.

Sugar Cane Train

Sugar Cane Train

Sugar Refinery

Sugar Refinery

First stop for late coffee and early lunch was outside the Mackay Tourist Information Centre. We were here last year and the Centre has been significantly improved since then with the addition of a roundabout so you can actually turn around, a dump point, and changed information facilities. No changes have been made to the amenities though.

From Mackay we returned to the Bruce Highway and eventually stopped for afternoon tea at Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden. This is a really interesting place to stop and the ice-cream and coffee were delicious. We were here last year and actually stayed at a free camp at the nearby Flaggy Rock Community Centre. We noticed that there was a job vacancy for a caretaker at the community centre and also that Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden was also offering overnight accommodation for self-contained RVs – apparently in competition to the community centre.

Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden

Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden

After Flaggy Rock we made our way to the St Lawrence Recreational Reserve free camp where we decided to stay overnight. We actually stopped here for lunch or coffee last year on our way south and were quite impressed and that assessment was confirmed today. We’re not quite sure exactly what this place is. There are some buildings, animal pens and stock loading ramps, a kiosk, an amenities block including toilets and coin operated showers, and more. This is a huge area and the variety of vans here is quite amazing. A popular local activity is fishing, although apparently the fish weren’t biting this afternoon.

We did a super quick set up with front and back legs on the van but remained hitched up. We put the awning out mainly to dry things out as it was a bit wet from the overnight dew when we rolled it up this morning.

Set Up at St Lawrence free camp

Set Up at St Lawrence free camp

As I was cooking dinner on the BBQ, we were delighted to see a beautiful sunset. Some of our neighbours have lit camp fires and the feeling of near black darkness punctuated by the occasional fires and brilliant stars in the sky is absolutely magic.

Sunset and camp fires at St Lawrence free camp

Sunset and camp fires at St Lawrence free camp

Free camping is not for everyone but we are set up to be totally self-sufficient. Our fridge, stove and hot water service all operate off the gas bottles and the lights and TV operate from deep cycle batteries which are charged by the solar panel.

For us, free camping at a place like St Lawrence is what caravanning is all about.

We might be tempted to stay here another day …..

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: , ,

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