Friday, August 29, 2014

August 29th..Milawa

We have been home for nearly 2 weeks now. The weather has continued to be warm and dry. EC is still being cleaned...there are far more interesting things to do! However it is important to clean our rig in readiness for the next excursion.

The weather in north east NSW has been very wet during this last week. We are fortunate to have escaped that.

Eastern section of Australia

John has generated a map for me to include so you can see how far north we went.. a long way. Australia is a big place and a great place to tour and camp in. The vivid red line denotes our trail.

This blog will serve as an excellent record for me. Thankyou to those people who have followed us as we enjoyed a really fantastic holiday.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 16th...DAY 61

Ovens Valley wattle at 'Kyamba'

Luckily the weather has stayed fine for our trip through southern NSW. Wonderful crops and farmlands. Some sheep at last and only a very few cattle. The views were dominated by green and yellow..either wattle in bloom or canola in bloom. Australia's colours before our eyes.

EC travelled quite a bit more swiftly on the better highway maybe the home run was faster as well. The last sandwich lunch was eaten near Beechworth so our arrival in Milawa was early afternoon. It is always fun to check your home and garden on return. Spring has brought out some flowers and my lawn has been mown so 'Kyamba' gave a great welcome. The downside..frosts have damaged some plants and the rabbits have been enjoying the carrot patch.

Eucalyptus Leucoxylon in my garden

Cootamundra Wattle grows well at Milawa

Eucalyptus crenulata great for dyeing fabric!

We are both very pleased to be home but Safari 2014 has been successful, enjoyable and good fun. We were away for 8 weeks and 5 days which included only one damp day. Most importantly we have enjoyed good health while on the road.

With luck John will develop a map of our track but this will be added later.

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15th..DAY 60
Cootamundra welcomes us with wattle
We left our camp at Sofala at 9.00 am and 2 deg in temperature. The days are becoming cooler as we come south. Today the scenery has been refreshingly green, in fact the properties look magnificent. No wonder the land was settled once our first explorers crossed the Great Dividing Ranges. They were so excited about the inland country.

Gold was discovered in the early 1850s around Bathurst. Settlements grew and some still remain today. Blaney, Carcour, Wattle Flat  and Safala are a few of them. Buildings in the Historic township of Safala are being renovated and cared for. It is wonderful to see this history being kept alive. Bathurst was Australia's first inland settlement and was actually proclaimed a town in 1815 and is still growing and supporting the surrounding districts.

Miners Home in Sofala
Today it is most famous for the Mount Panorama Car Racing Circuit. John drove EC around the circuit at a stately speed of 60 kph...this is the speed limit for most of the year. It is an open regular road most of the time. Some homes are only accessible by using this circuit. Within the track there is a camping ground, a vineyard and an orchard as well as some race day buildings.

EC on Mount Panorama Race Track

 The day has been interesting as usual. Cherry orchards at Young a Wind Farm at Blaney, Wattle at Cootamundra and now this evening we are camped on the Bethungra Dam. a small Lake which we presume supplies Bethungra with water. It is a cool night again but we are hopeful of another fine day. In 60 days we have  had only one day dampened with a light drizzle. It must be a record 'fine weather' holiday.

August 14th…DAY 59

Last night we were certainly glad of my old ‘wagga’ quilt as the temperature dipped below zero. 
Birds and animals started their day in the bush very early..cockatoos always serve as a good morning alarm. It is to be noted that we camped on Cox’s Creek the creek in which the diprotodon was found. I cannot help wondering what other large animals wandered this forest millions of years ago.
Since then, of course, timber has been milled in the forest. An old boiler still sits by the creek, rusted and many years since it has powered a timber mill.

Forest of Grass trees in the Coolar NP.

We walked the lovely bush track to see a forest of very large grass trees. What an amazing sight. They are estimated to be several hundred years old and stand up to 5 metres tall. Cootamundra wattle is blooming amongst them.

Unexpectedly several large coal mines dominated the scenery as we travelled south. They were very big mines near Ulan. Rail lines service the area and bitumen roads were in excellent condition. We travelled through Ulan and  further south to Mudgee which is a well known wine producing area.

The hills through which we have travelled today have been both steep and forested as well as some undulating farmlands. Again these are hills on the western side of the Great Dividing range.
Main Street of Sofala

Tonight we are camped near Sofala which is deep in the valley of the Turon River, and one of the oldest Gold mining towns in Australia. It is a little old town with a very narrow main street and tiny homes very close to the road. Hotel patrons were practically sitting on the street. It is one of the quaintest places I have seen in Australia.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 13th…DAY 58

John leaning on The Black Stump

We have been away north of ‘the Black Stump’ and now we are south of ‘the Black Stump’ but are we ‘beyond the Black Stump’…I took this photo of ‘the Black Stump’ about 5 km north of Coolar.

The Keep It Park where we stayed last night had space for at least 200 rigs especially with the water so low. The lake is on the Namoi River which eventually flows into the Darling and then the Murray. As we were leaving we saw several Rosie Dock plants..usually an out back display with lovely red flowers.

The short cut we took was along ‘The Black Stump Way’ passed through the town of Tambar Springs. An unknown town to us but in 1979 the bones of a Diprotodon were found in the bank of the Cox Creek. This creature is distantly related to koalas, wombats and kangaroos. It was a solidly built plant eater the size of a large rhinoceros.

Farms were interesting as they were much greener and ‘yellower’ today with wheat crops and Canola in bloom. One property we noticed was called Kurrajong Park. The Currajong trees are known to be used during drought times to feed animals. The branches are stripped down and fed to starving stock. Yes, here we could see these very trees scattered through the wheat crop so evidently they are valued or they would have been felled.

After Coolar we turned off to head for the ‘Coolar Tops National Park’. The thirty kilometre drive into the Park took us through high undulating farmlands. The scenery was really pretty. Now we are in the park the forest trees are tall and straight. The area has been used for milling. The many birds are noisy, particularly the cockatoos. Kangaroos and wallabies come quite close to us, so close we could see young ones poking their heads out of mother’s pouch. The evening is very cold but with the warmth of a lovely fire we enjoyed our dinner outside, but now inside is the place to be.
Kangaroo and Joey

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12th..DAY 57

Our coldest morning so far at .03 deg. We found the country, coming out of the hills, east of Armidale to be very dry. The grass appeared to be severely frosted. South of Armidale it gradually became greener.

We have had an interesting day again. Armidale is Australia's highest city at over 1000 metres. It was first settled during the early 1830s after the earlier exploration  by John Oxley and his party who were the first white men  in the area. Gold was found during the 1850s.

The city has several most ellaborate churches. The University was founded in 1938. John's Auntie Madge lived and worked at the University for many years. Much of the city is heavily influenced by English style.
 A detour from the New England Highway was to visit the All Saints Anglican Church at Gostwyck . This small chapel was built in 1921. It has avenues of Elm trees which were planted all that time ago. An expert was brought from England especially to plant these Elm trees. Madge was married in this little chapel in 1967 so we were especially interested to see this very attractive historic church. It has a glory vine growing over a large part of the brick walls. This is green in the Spring and red in Autumn which would give an entirely different image to what we viewed today.

All Saints Anglican Church Gostwyck

Historic Gostwick Chapel showing Elm trees.
This evening we are camped in the Lake Keepit State on the edge of lake.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11th...DAY 56

From the coast to the mountains today and what a change in temperature. After battling with the new section of the Pacific Highway, with so many round-abouts and over- passes we arrived in Coffs Harbour. It is now a big and very busy city. We sat on the Esplanade and watched the beach and surf in the last of the warm sun we would see today.

Travelling inland again took us through the mountains on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. The bush drive was steep and quite narrow. There were signs threatening that timber trucks could emerge but thankfully they did not. Eventually we came out at Dorrigo in time to eat our lunch. While we were there an old guy called Smokey Dunn came along and spoke to us about all the sites to see in the area and the best places to camp for FREE. As an old identity of the area he offered some interesting advise.

Ebor Falls on Guy Fawkes Creek
Tonight we are camped in the Cathedral Rock National Park at ‘Native Dog Flat’ camp site. It is quite high at 1270 metres elevation….snow gums grow in the bush so that is a tell tale about the temperature. We have already adjusted our layers of clothing and bedding. The half hour walk through the granite boulders near the camp site was great although few flowers are in bloom at this time of year.

Rather insignificant Urn Heath in bloom

It is exactly eight weeks today since we left Milawa. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10th ..DAY 55

Coastal wattle
  The day began with another long beach walk. The sand had been washed clean overnight with a high tide. It was very firm to walk on. I love the way the waves keep coming in..wave after wave leaving marks one over the other. The other fact that interests me is how like sand is to snow especially on the dunes. The way the wind blows both sand and snow and how they are similar to walk in...and so it goes on...!

Travelling south on the Pacific Highway was much faster for us than the previous days of travelling along country roads. We lunched in Grafton on the Clarence River. There is a very old and narrow bridge to drive over the river. Grafton was settled in the 1830s...settled for the Red Cedar trees in the area. This 'Red Gold' attracted all who wanted to make a life in Australia...convicts and free settlers alike.

Fan Flowers

We came out here to camp on the ocean again and cannot decide whether we like camping on the coast or in the mountains. The bush here at Station Creek in the Yuraygir National Park is typically coastal and there are many wild flowers including wattle, fan flowers, banksia and flannel flowers which do not recall seeing  before.
Flannel Flowers
A few days ago John had a nasty accident with my very old mauve thongs. Consequently he went off to purchase a new pair...I now have bright green thongs to take camping.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 9th...DAY 54

What a wonderful walk through the rainforest we enjoyed this morning. The beautiful ferns, green lichens, creepers and tall trees were awe inspiring.

Age old logs covered with green lichen
John on bridge crossing Sheepstation Creek

We left our Border Ranges camp after 11.00 am, continuing on through the park till we came out near Nimbin .. a well know town for alternative life style living. The streets were packed for Saturday afternoon entertainment of one sort or another.

Then on to Lismore which has a very old style business centre and is spread out over the hilly country. In fact the scenery has been very steep and rugged all the way to the coast where we are camped just south of Evans Heads.

Coast Banksia
We have settled in the Bundjalong N P at the Black Rocks camping site. This is a very well planned area which would cater  for a lot of people. Each small site set aside to camp in, allows you to be quite private from other campers. We even have our own private clothes line! The beach is wide with a row of black rocks along the dunes. We walked for a long way watching the Pacific Ocean waves come in one after the other. We will hear the roar in our ears all night I would think.

August 8th…DAY  53

Our first stop this morning was a visit to the Warwick Art Gallery. It was easy for me to compare the city of Warwick with Wangaratta. We have a Textile Festival every 2nd year and a Jazz Festival every year whereas Warwick combine a Jazz Festival and  Textile Festival each year. ‘Jumpers & Jazz in July’ has recently finished but I was able to see the 'Knitchen' Exhibition. The local ‘yarn bombing team’ had transformed a kitchen into a 'Knitchen' by knitting covers for a whole kitchen..I love the name!

Items from 'Knitchen' exhibition.

I really expected that we would have another night in Queensland but today we crossed the border into NSW a little south of Killarney…definitely not green like it’s name sake. 

The road through the hills was bitumen and incredibly rough..I was very pleased when the road surface changed. However it was good to be ‘amongst’ the Great Dividing Range again. The farmlands were very steep and in some areas very dry but as we have come further east it appears there has been more rainfalls.

Camping in the Border Ranges National Park 
We had a couple of disappointments with camp sites this afternoon and eventually set up in the Border Ranges National Park. It is a very dense bush area which allowed only a little light to come through at 4.30 pm when we arrived.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7th...DAY 52

Time marches on and we are trying to delay our trip south. We have met other Victorian and Tasmanian campers who are doing the same. The weather has been lovely here today,,but a cold night to come... down to below 4 deg last night...nothing to compare with Milawa frosts though.

The extra day spent here at Lake Coobmunda has been lazy and very pleasant. There are always a few cleaning jobs to do or a tyre to be changed for some reason. All this happened this morning as well as a good walk around the edge of the lake. I can easily sit and watch the flights and feeding habits of the water birds. With the sun going down this evening the lake has turned quite pink.
Adult Pied Butcher bird

Juvenile Pied Butcher bird

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 6th ..DAY ..51

Cool morning but clear blue sky. We have come south today through Dalby, Cecil plains, Millmerrin and Inglewood to Lake Coolmunda. It is a beautiful blue lake with clear foreshores. Many many pelicans form quite a 'flotilla' of yacht like shapes on the lake. Late in the day we walked out along the Dam Wall...a long way but enjoyable.

The road was not quite so rough today. Despite we have been travelling on bitumen some of it has been severely rough. The farm soil shows up very black in colour. Evidently black soil is quite unstable and maybe this causes the bitumen roads to sink in some places.

As we left Dalby we travelled by several machinery yards which were either selling or hiring machinery which was huge and plentiful,,,diggers, bulldozers, tractors, headers, graders, cotton pickers and grain harvesters. I had never seen so much large machinery all together.

The crops in the area seem to be wheat, sorghum and cotton so agriculture is a busy business to be involved in. Water appears to come from the Condamine River.

Prickly Pear plants have become more plentiful as we have driven these last three days. Today there were huge plants of this ugly pesty  plant.

Pelicans sunbathing at Lake Coolmunda
Pelicans feeding below Dam Wall

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 5th..DAY 50
Burnett River near Eidsvold

A lovely fine morning...coolish at 5 deg. The rain seems to have gone. Our camp on the Burnett River was most peaceful. Before leaving we walked for 30 minutes down to the river and along some of the Conservation Park Tracks.

Our first stop was at Mundubbera to do the weekly wash..cheaper than usual at $3 a wash!
This area is dry at present but they have suffered huge floods in 2010 and 2013. Three rivers join just a little west of Mundubbera. The valleys seem wide but still homes and businesses were flooded, some in both floods. The flood debris is so high in the trees. The amount of water flowing down the river course must have been astonishing

Again I took very few photos, this time because everything looked so dry and so many trees have died,
presumably from lack of water. Trees of interest were wattles in bloom and in one area a lot of wonderful Boab trees with their main feature being the 'bottle' shaped trunk.

We travelled south for 200 km and eventually camped at the Jandowae Showgrounds for $10 per night...even hot showers. There was shade and flat ground and lots of space so finding a spot was easy. The area also doubles as a Horse Racing Track. I happily walked around the track late in the day imaging trotters and race horses doing their training runs!
Boab trees form street attraction.

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4th…DAY 49

A grey day with mist and cloud..the first day for 7 weeks when it has misted/rained all day. Consequently I took no photos.

We left our camp on Kroombit Tops at about 8.30 am. It was best to drive this very rocky and rough road before the rain started to become heavy. As it was we came out very slowly before any heavy rain. The Lookout spot provided internet connection which was helpful in planning our day and doing my blog.

The distance down to Monto was 80 km…a very slow windy and rough track. The first 22 km took 1.25 hours. The fog dissipated a good bit as we progressed down the mountain. After leaving the National Park the road took us through Private Property with lots of gates to open. The country was extremely dry, all buildings and yards were old and neglected.

The road followed the Munholme Creek which at some stage had been severely flooded. The debris was high in the trees and the many Callistemon trees growing in the creek had a severe lean which had been caused by the swift flowing water.

We are camped tonight in the Tolderodden Conservation Park which is situated on the Burnett River west of Eidsvold. Again the flood debris is high in the trees. It appears that the water was about 35 metres above the bridge. I cannot imagine such an amount of flooding water.

Today we came through a district called ‘Cynthia’…it was nowhere near as smart as either of the two Cynthias in our family!
August 3rd…DAY 48

What a great day exploring the Kroombit Tops National Park. The Lookout, then the Liberator Bomber Site and now we are camped at The Wall camping Ground. It is a peaceful park with some birds and flowers. Rainbow Lorikeets en-mass flew by our camp this morning and this evening a small flock of Red Tailed Black Cockatoos all screeching their unique call. All types of cockatoos have a particular screech. It does help with identification.

Beautiful Betsy wreckage
The ‘Beautiful Betsy’ Liberator Bomber Crash Site was very intriguing to walk around. Debris is widely scattered and appears to be in the same position as it landed at the time of the crash in February 1945. A World War 2 disaster! The plane could not be found at the time despite all efforts to locate it. The lives of six American crew members and two English RAF guests were all killed…eight war time airmen were lost. It was not until 1994 that the plane wreckage was located unexpectedly by a Park Ranger who was doing controlled burns. I cannot imagine the shock he would have received to come across such a wreckage. Since then there has been a detailed memorial Plaque placed in amongst the debris as well as detailed notice boards telling the story.

Another view of the wreckage of the Liberator Bomber

Our campsite surrounded by Sydney Blue Gums

The bush country is open with 
many tall straight trees. There are a couple of wattles blooming as well so the bush appears green and yellow like the NE Victorian bush does  in Spring time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 2nd ..DAY 47

 A day of blue skies and aqua seas. The coast between Yeppoon and Emus Park was really pretty with Great Keppel Island forming a backdrop. No wonder it is a popular tourist area. The Marina was full of boats and yachts. Many yachts were enjoying the light breeze on the bay.We returned to the Bruce Highway and headed south and then west and missing Gladstone which has a busy port. The country west was again very dry.

 Dominating our trip was the rail line which was constantly busy with freight trains either carrying ship containers or coal wagons.
To find a camp site for this evening proved rather challenging..why? We were again tempted by FREE campsites only to be disappointed by the crowds of vans, tents, camper trailers and big rigs. Mid afternoon we made the decision the head for the Kroombit Tops National Park. It proved to be quite a drive but the road had a well graded gravel surface. It was steep and windy as we crossed the Calliope Range. We arrived after 4.45 pm. It was very much cooler as we are quite high on the range. John was delighted that we could light a camp fire..'real camping'!The funniest thing we saw today was a locked gate across a rail line as well as warning signs about trains..we envisaged the train driver having to stop, get down from the engine and open the gate!! how silly.

While we have been following the busy coastal roads we have found regular roadside fish stalls. They sell a large variety of frozen fish which has been caught wild off the nearby coast.Tonight John cooked Barramundi over the campfire..The two pieces were so large that we will have fish again tonight but in a stir fry.

Gated rail line and warning sign!!

  An interesting point! Buller's Calliope Winery, in Rutherglen, Victoria, was named after the first Buller family ancester who came to Australia on the Ship 'Calliope'.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st ..DAY 46

Late yesterday afternoon we saw a raptor hovering over the waters of the Mackenzie River. On two occasions we saw him dive and make a catch..a tiny morsel for afternoon tea. I think it was an Australian Kestrel. Today we saw another raptor hovering over the sea. He dived and caught a small fish for afternoon tea as well. This time it was a Sea Eagle. It is great to watch the creatures of nature as they survive.

After a rather 'undecided' morning we headed back to Duaringa on the Capricorn Highway. Margaret may remember when we visited Duaringa in 1990! It really has not changed much.
The drive east to Rockhampton was busy with traffic and we saw several long coal trains travelling inland with empty wagons, returning to the mines out west to be refilled with a load of coal.

Red Grevillea
The beach at Yeppoon is long and clean and covered in tiny shells. There was a guy on the beach testing his beach  glider. It flew really well and was in the air for at least 15 minutes.

Tonight we are camped in the Byfield State Park amongst the pine trees and near a small creek. It is hilly country but not very steep. This makes the park very accessible. Near our rig, by the creek, I found lovely red grevilleas and  red callistamens. The flowers are all distinctive, fresh and attractive.
Sadly, I am unable to identify the specific variety.

Red Callistemon

Beach Glider in the air