This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2002 Travels December 20

FRIDAY 20 DECEMBER     YEA TO HOME     80kms

We reached home mid-morning.

Our house sitter had already departed, on her drive to visit her family, near Sydney, for the holiday period. We had already arranged, via phone and mail, that she would return to us in the new year, and mind the place, and cats, while we went off adventuring some more. It was a mutually convenient arrangement.

The house was clean and tidy, the cats well fed and happy, and L had arranged a lovely array of welcome-home things. Sweet of her!

 

And thus to unpacking, cleaning the van and Truck, doing the washing that had accumulated – since Ayr! And getting the head into Xmas mode. It looked like I would be feeding at least ten people on Xmas night, with a rather short period to plan, stock up and prepare.  Enter real life!

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Gardens well kept by our house sitter

 

THE STATISTICS FOR 2002

Kms travelled:     19,783

Kms towed:         11,998

Cost of diesel:        $2,309.42

Average fuel consumption:   8.0kms per litre

Dearest diesel:     $1.30cpl – Hells Gate Roadhouse

Cheapest diesel:   $0.78cpl – Dalby

Accommodation cost:   $2240.40

Dearest accommodation per night:  $22.50  –  Brisbane Gateway Holiday Village

Cheapest paid accommodation per night:   $6.00  –  Windorah Caravan Park

Number of different places stayed:  39

Longest stay in one place:  7 weeks – Adels Grove

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2002 Travels December 19

THURSDAY 19 DECEMBER     SHEPPARTON TO YEA     125kms

As we were not due home until tomorrow, today’s was a more leisurely start, and a short stage to Yea. NOW we have slowed down!

It was a hot day, again.

Refuelled at Shepparton – 87cpl.

There was a stop for an indulgent pie and pasty  lunch for John, at a favourite bakery at Nagambie. I had sandwiches. It was pleasant by the lake there.

We reached Yea early in the afternoon. Booked into the Yea Family Park – $18.

 

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The last overnight for the van, this trip

After the basic set up, we went for a wander around town. It is a very pretty place, so this was quite enjoyable walking.

I commented to John that this was much nicer than the only previous time I’d stayed in Yea – some twenty years previous. Then, I’d spent several hours in the local hospital, suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, due to a faulty hatchback fastening on my car, that allowed exhaust fumes to be sucked in as I drove.

Today was a much more pleasant one than those we’d spent coming through NSW.

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2002 Travels December 18

WEDNESDAY 18 DECEMBER     SHEPPARTON

After breakfast, set out to drive across to Bendigo, via Elmore.

It was about 125kms each way, but interesting enough, as we had not driven this route before.

Met daughter, and spent a couple of hours with her, at the Mall shops, wandering about, and drinking coffee. She was decidedly pregnant now – only a couple of months to go. It was great to see her, but all too brief, before we made our way back to Shepparton.


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2002 Travels December 17

TUESDAY 17 DECEMBER     FORBES TO SHEPPARTON     520kms

Yet another long day of driving.

It did not have to be this way. We had told the house sitter we would not be home until 20 December, so we could have slowed down a bit!

Again, we travelled through the broad acres of the sheep/wheat belt of NSW.

Refuelled at Jerilderie – 92cpl.

At the Victorian border, the road changed from the Newell to the Goulburn Valley Highway. Since we had three nights to “spare”, I persuaded John that we should stop at Shepparton so I could try to arrange a visit with daughter. He did not want to deviate from the straight line home, with the van, but agreed we could park up in Shepparton, and do a day drive over to Bendigo, if I was able to arrange it.

We booked into the Shepparton East Caravan Park – $18 a night. Could not get into the one by the lake, where we’d stayed before. This was a nuisance, because the park was out of town and we had to drive to get to everything. Again, there were thus no pleasant walking options for me, while John napped or played on the computer – just surrounding road edges, mixing it with the traffic.

I phoned daughter and arranged to meet her for a while tomorrow, in Bendigo. They live a little way out of the city, and since her husband was home, and he and John do not mix well, we arranged a rendezvous at the shops in town.

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2002 Travels December 16

MONDAY 16 DECEMBER     MOREE TO FORBES     540kms

Today was another long driving day. I would really have liked to slow down just a bit, but John was focussed on home. My legs got quite crampy, sitting for long periods without a break, or any exercise, and I was sure it was not good for our circulation.

Today was my 57th birthday – and it was a lousy way to spend it, too! Hot, dry, dusty.

Refuelled at Moree – 82cpl. This seemed to still be a Qld type of price.

We passed through the broad acre farming country of central NSW, on and on, through the day. The only real area of interest was the more hilly country around Coonabarabran, with the Warrumbungles in the distance. From here on, we were on ground we’d covered before.

Refulled at the hamlet of Tomingley – 97cpl. Big difference from what we had been paying recently.

I was relieved when John decided to stop for the day at Forbes, about 4pm.

We booked into the Carapark, for $16. Did a quick set up, just for overnight, again. John immediately decided to have a nap and went soundly to sleep.

I needed some exercise, so went for a walk down the side of River Road, where the park was located. Given the name, I hoped I might come to the river, or a similarly attractive spot, but it was just a narrow road that went on much further than I could walk, so eventually retraced my way. In all, walked for about an hour and stretched out some of the kinks.

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Hitched up at Forbes

I’d hoped we might have a meal “out” – maybe a counter tea, or a take away Chinese meal, just something a little festive, but John wanted to keep Truck hitched up and we were too far from the shops to walk it in the dusk.

So, like yesterday, it was then shower, cook a basic meal and fall into bed.

I’d had much, much better birthdays – in fact, this was amongst the worst!

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2002 Travels December 15

SUNDAY 15 DECEMBER     BRISBANE TO MOREE     500kms

From our very strategically located caravan park, it was very easy to get onto and take the motorway west towards Ipswich. We refuelled at Yamanto, near Ipswich – 80cpl.

From Ipswich the highway took us up through Cunningham Gap – not a part of the journey that either of us had been looking forward to, and not a way we’d been before. But it was the standard route used by trucks going south, and we figured it must be better than the climb up the Range to Toowoomba, the other alternative.

Although we climbed steadily, and the road was winding, we had no issues. I was rather reminded of the roads through the Dandenong Ranges at home, but without the really tall mountain ash trees of the forest there. It was a pleasant part of the trip, in the end. Being the weekend, the traffic was not too heavy, and there were not many trucks on the road.

Once through the Range, we were in the farming country of the southern Downs.

Negotiated the northern part of Warwick, still on the Cunningham Highway, then pressed on westwards.

We stopped at Inglewood, to have a brief visit with one of the couples we had worked with earlier in the year, at Adels Grove. I’d arranged this by phone, yesterday. Since we were going through their home town, it seemed impolite not to stop for a chat. We caught up on the doings and gossip from Adels, and entertained them with tales of our employment experiences since Adels. It was a pleasant break in the travel, but after lunch with them, we continued on.

I would happily have stopped for the day at Goondiwindi, where we would cross the border into NSW, but John wanted to extract the maximum distance from the day, so we pressed on to Moree.

There were big thunderclouds building in the western distance, as the afternoon wore on, but little rain eventuated from them, despite some trepidation on our part.

Booked into the Big 4 caravan park, for $17.50, after discount. We were told by the man who booked us in, to lock our van doors, even when we were inside, as the “local” youth (that was not quite his terminology!) would come in and snatch purses and wallets.

Despite this rather dire note, the town looked pleasant enough, as did the caravan parks.

We stayed hitched up. So there was no opportunity to have a look around the town – or to sample the artesian baths the place is known for. It was basically just shower, cook dinner and head for bed.

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2002 Travels December 14

SATURDAY 14 DECEMBER     BRISBANE

After breakfast, we drove to the shop that was the specialist in providing clock and instrument workings for woodworkers. John bought a grandfather clock “pattern”, so he could order wood for same, in the big batch of timber that was to come from Tasmania. I had no idea where we would fit a clock that size into the house, but that was irrelevant! He also bought three instruments to make a weather station.

The lady running the shop was most impressive – very knowledgeable, and she made violas, clocks, boxes and clock kits, herself.

Then visited a chemist, so John could get Telfast for his midge bite effects.

We spent the rest of the day at the van, being itchy, and reading the weekend papers.

John spent some time on the computer, composing a Xmas letter.

The weather was lovely – a balmy afternoon and evening, which was a change from the heat we’d been experiencing, further north.


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2002 Travels December 13

FRIDAY 13 DECEMBER     SEVENTEEN SEVENTY TO BRISBANE   520kms

Another Friday 13th – don’t like!

We had to do a full pack up of the camp, and incurred more midge bites in the process. Around here, the midges haven’t heard that they are supposed to be critters that only come out at dusk!

It was a long, hot, day of driving.

Refuelled at a servo at Kunda Park – 82cpl.

I had hoped we could stay a day or more at somewhere on the Sunshine Coast, but John decided to get the driving over and done with, and get to Brisbane in one day.

He had gone into “heading south” mode – making a beeline for home, as fast as he can, regardless of the comfort of doing so. I hate ending our trips this way – means the trip ends with bad memories.

The drive was tense at times, due to other drivers doing stupid things, and making John cross.

It was about 4pm when we reached the Gateway Motorway, but the traffic was not too bad. I had been somewhat worried that we would be reaching Brisbane at peak time and that this would make John even more short-tempered.

I had selected the Gateway Village Holiday Park as looking like a pleasant place to stay. South side of the city was best, because the shop John came here for was that side of the city.

The park cost us $22.50, after discount. It was a very nice park. There were lots of villas – I hoped that in the future the caravan sites did not all get sacrificed to the spread of these.

We only set up the basics for a brief stay.

Bought fish and chips from a nearby place, for tea.

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2002 Travels December 12

THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER           SEVENTEEN SEVENTY

After breakfast, we drove to look around nearby Agnes Waters. There were some shops – it was a bigger place than Seventeen Seventy. There was much real estate for sale – clearly, developers were hoping for the place to boom.

Bought some bakery items for lunch

Refuelled Truck – 85cpl.

We drove to explore some tracks in the nearby Eurimbula National Park. Headed for Middle Creek. The track was slow, rough and boggy/cut up in parts. It went through timbered sandy/swampy country – not particularly interesting. The track ended at Middle Creek, which was one of the creek inlets we’d crossed yesterday.

There were a few small campsites at the end of the track – with campers.

John fished in the creek mouth for a while, and caught a flathead.

On the way back, we sidetracked up to a lookout on a low rise – it was not really worth the effort, but Parks had clearly gone to some trouble to make the track, now neglected.

By now, we had many sandfly bites – again! They were making us both miserable. They were really prevalent at our caravan park, but we had been told they were not bad back at Agnes Waters.

We decided not to stay any longer, because of the midges. Pity, because I found the surroundings lovely. I was hugely entertained by the antics of our resident bush turkey – he was so busy gathering materials from all around for his mound, scrathing about in it, arranging it to his liking. Very fussy he was.

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Turkey at work!


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2002 Travels December 11

WEDNESDAY 11 DECEMBER     SEVENTEEN SEVENTY

We were up early, to the alarm, to be breakfasted and ready to walk the short distance to the dock area, beside the inlet.

The LARC tour we booked for normally went from 9am to 4pm.

When we got there, the tour operators apologized because ours was not the usual tour. They had to also transport some Ergon Energy workers to the lighthouse, to do some work there.  So, our tour would be two hours longer and we would not get back until 6pm. Was anyone complaining? No way!

The LARC was painted pink! It was like a boat with wheels – which I guess it was!

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The LARC, with Bustard Head in the background

It was a hot day, and there were only eight of us doing the tour, which made it even better.

As soon as we loaded up and cast off, we were straight into the deep water of Round Hill Creek inlet – quite a wide inlet. It was quite a weird sensation, driving up out of the water on the other side, straight onto the sand.

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Taken on board the LARC, part way across the channel

We crossed three other creek inlets in this way, in between going at a fair speed along a beautiful, pristine beach, which was part of the Eurimbula National Park.

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Along a beach stretch, we saw what appeared to be a dead turtle on the sand. When our driver/guide investigated, he found it was still alive, but stranded. He handled it very gently, carried it to the water and held it there for a while, so it could cool down and rehydrate. It eventually swam off. We all felt really good about the rescue effort.

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Turtle rescue

There was another tidal creek – Jenny Lind Creek – at the base of Bustard Head. Usually, the LARC was parked after crossing that, and tourists had to walk up the rough road to the Lighthouse. But today, because of the Ergon men and their gear, we were driven up.

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Bustard Head light house

We had travelled 24kms along the beach, from 1770 to Bustard Head.

Bustard Head was so named because Cook’s party shot and ate a bustard here – and found it excellent eating. And so began the decimation of the huge numbers of Plains Wanderers of the continent.

The Lighthouse was being restored. It was still a working light station, but was automated in 1986. After that, the buildings were neglected, and there was a shocking amount of vandalism – surprising because it is so inaccessible. There is an extremely rough, dry weather track through the National Park, or one reaches the place by boat. The guide told us that the teenage offspring of some well-to-do families who holiday in the area, were responsible for a lot of the damage.

A former lighthouse keeper here, who was upset by the loss of such heritage, with help from some others (including the LARC operator), had formed the Bustard Head Lighthouse Association, obtained a lease over it, and had begun to restore the light house and the associated buildings. It seemed to us a rather daunting task, but was all being done by these volunteers.

The Lighthouse had a really dark history, of murders, drownings, suicide and tragedy.

After having a good look around the light station, we walked down to Aircraft Beach, on the other side of the headland. Tour groups did not usually do this, but we had those extra two hours to play with.

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Aeroplane Beach

The views along the coast from Bustard Head were superb.

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From Bustard Head, looking across Jenny Lind Creek, towards 1770

In the afternoon, we went in the LARC back down to Jenny Lind Creek and a little bit along it to a large sand dune/sand blow area. Tray-like things were provided for those who wanted to go sand boarding on the really big dunes. We passed up the offer – not the greatest idea for John’s hip.

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LARC parked by the sand dune area

We just wandered about the area, finding that really enjoyable as it was such a beautiful place. It was very peaceful there, which was just what we needed.

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Eventually we trundled in the LARC back up the top, collected the Ergon men, and were transported back the way we’d come, to the village.

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Parked by jenny Lind Creek, with the light house in the distance

The LARC was a great vehicle (vessel?) to travel in – at least in fine weather.

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We were told that the Lighthouse Association planned to have volunteer caretakers live in one of the keeper’s cottages – as soon as it became habitable – to prevent any more vandalism. Volunteers would sign up for a two month stint. They would get their necessary supplies via the LARC, on its tour trips.

We put our names down to do two months, after 2004. It seemed that it would be quite an adventure, and a worthwhile cause.

I bought a book – Lighthouse of Tragedy – by Stuart Buchanan, the former keeper who was the prime mover of the Association.

By the time we got back it was almost dark.

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This shows the beach we travelled along, and the inlets we crossed

We were pleasantly weary after a wonderful day. That was worth every cent we paid for the trip. I considered it was worth every one of the trays of mangoes I’d packed to earn that money – another way of looking at it!