Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200311 Australia Qld NSW

SATURDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2003 – Get up early to enjoy the weather before it gets really hot.  Yesterday made the high 30’S and with a hot breeze it was getting a bit much even for the Aussies. We all head out to the Botanical Gardens where there is a free zoo with Australian native animals.  Cherie works there and after our picnic one of the keepers lets us into the koala enclosure.  There’s a Mum and baby up one tree and we are really lucky to have the baby climb right down in front of us.  In the afternoon Jeff & Netty call in to see us, they also know Gavin who is staying with Mike and Cherie. 



SUNDAY 2 NOVEMBER – Up at 5.30am to drive into Yeppoon to meet up with Brett & Megan.  They have a small ½ cabin cruiser and we set out to explore the Keppel Isles.  Pumpkin Island is often used by naturist groups and has simple cabin accommodation.  It’s a private island and we chat to the owners who after 42 years have just sold it to a South African company.  Conical Island is one of the smallest in the group; you can camp here and have the whole island to yourself.  Near Great Keppel is an under water observatory.  The fish gather here as tour boats throw food out before taking visitors down to view.  I go out snorkelling with Brett and manage to conquer my fear of the big fish, and I mean big with the potato cod up to 2m long.   Motor past some more of the large Keppel Islands before anchoring up to eat lunch.  A spot of fishing follows but the only catch is an undersized reef cod.  It’s now high tide and Brett takes the boat up Leek Creek.  The bottom is sand and when you step out it feels like a sponge and lots of bubbles ooze out.  We meander through the mangroves up to the old sheep sheds. Years ago the island was used for grazing and boats would come in at high tide to collect the sheep.  Return before sunset having had a great time.  We buy fish & chips for tea and sit down by the sea to eat them.  A fitting end to yet another brilliant day.



MONDAY 3 NOVEMBER – Drive straight to Bundaberg for a business day.  I get a refund on the broken TV. BBQ’s Galore fix the fridge gas leak problem but despite visiting a few places we can’t get to the bottom of the problem of the fridge not working on 12v.  Overnight at the rest area on the Isis Highway just south of town.



TUESDAY 4 NOVEMBER – Arrive at Nature’s Rest near Glenwood to find we have yet again dropped in at party time, we’d forgotten that it was Melbourne Cup day.  Jenny & Tony have invited friends round to watch the race.  Anise & Athol, Shane & Heather we already know and we meet Paul & Linda, Noel & Kathleen, Wayne & Sharon and Dave.  Ken & Kay also head up to join us which is great.  $1 buys you a horse in the sweep and we get 3 between us but the best we do is a 4th.  Spend the rest of the day socialising and end up sitting round the outdoor wood fire, as it is a chilly evening.   

NATURES REST – $18 (£7.20) powered site, $16 (£6.40) unpowered


WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER – I have a really bad night as it gets quite cold and I can’t breathe very well.  Fortunately as soon as the sun rises the temperature does the same.  Head back with Ken & Kay to their new place at Minyama near Mooloolaba.  They have recently moved into a luxury unit backing onto one of the canals.  It reminds us of Port Grimaud in France except this time instead of doing a canal tour to see how the other half live we get a taste of how they do.  The unit has 3 bedrooms with 2 en-suite bathrooms, a spa and BBQ on the terrace and views straight over the canal and marina where yachts are moored.  Within the complex you can use 2 swimming pools, 1 children’s pool, a spa pool and sauna plus there are outdoor table and chairs, sun loungers and BBQ’s.  1/3 of the owners live in the units, 1/3 rent them for holiday lets and the other 1/3 rent them out unfurnished for 6 months or more.  Ken & Kay are going off to Sydney on Saturday for 2 weeks and we are staying in the unit to keep and eye on things – just how good is that?  We are within walking distance of a shopping mall, there’s a medical centre right next door and lots of shops and bars all nearby and the beach a short stroll.  They have satellite TV meaning Steve can watch the sports channels whilst I play on the Internet.  In the afternoon we drive around the area and down to the beach to stroll along the front.  After our evening meal we christen the spa pool.



THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER – I make an attempt to do some early morning swimming but after 4 lengths in the 25m-lap pool I’m coughing and wheezing.  Take the opportunity to get myself checked out at the medical centre next door.  The doctor explains that there are many bush fires and dust storms inland that could be aggravating my asthma.  He prescribes a preventative spray plus blood tests to find out what I am allergic to in Australia.  The consultation including blood tests costs $40 (£16) and the medicine $23 (£9.20).  We have reciprocal arrangements in Australia so a visit to Medicare gets me over $25 (£10) refunded against the consultation. 



FRIDAY 7 NOVEMBER – My breathing is already much better and I manage 10 lengths of the pool with no problems.  The shopping centre is so near that we reckon we will go up each day to get fresh food (and the special offers).  Steve cranks up the BBQ on the terrace for our evening meal and like everything else here it is a deluxe version.



SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER – Ken & Kay set off at 3am so it feels quite strange getting up and having the place to ourselves.  Take a walk to the shopping centre then return to make full use of the facilities.  Over the weekend Steve has chance to watch 5 English football matches, whilst I set to work on the Internet



SUNDAY 9 NOVEMBER – When I get up at 6.30am Steve is just coming to bed after his sporting night!  I make it up to 30 lengths of the pool and spend the rest of the day watching movies, sunbathing and making a short walk to the shops.



MONDAY 10 NOVEMBER – Steve watches sport all night again.  After a brief downpour it’s cloudy so we take a walk to nearby Buddina Beach, which is windswept and wild. 



TUESDAY 11 NOVEMBER – Video Ezy offer all movies at $1 (40p) on Tuesday.  I return with 10 and only the latest releases have to go back tomorrow, the rest we have for a week.  John’s funeral is held in England with about 50 people attending.  Claire, David and Steve’s Mum & Dad go down to support Mum along with my sister Netty.



WEDNESDAY 12 NOVEMBER – Usual routine; check mail on Internet, breakfast on the terrace followed by sunbathing, trip out, lunch, swim and sunbathing by the pool, movie, evening meal on the terrace, movie.  Throw in an evening sauna for good measure.  Hear that Steve’s Dad has been admitted to hospital with a blood clot in his big toe.



THURSDAY 13 NOVEMBER – Same as yesterday but with a bit of rain and no swimming.



FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER – In Mooloolaba we manage to get the fridge 12v problem fixed with a new switch $42 (£18).  We continue to Tewantin to visit Keith & Diana.



SATURDAY 15 NOVEMBER to FRIDAY 21 NOVEMBER  – Typical days with me swimming up to 1000m.

MINYAMA 11- 17


SATURDAY 22 NOVEMBER – Out early to the shops to stock up the van ready for our Monday departure.  Realise how much I don’t want to live in a house when I begin cleaning up!  Settle down in the evening to watch the Rugby World Cup final with England playing Australia.  Steve has even talked me into watching it.  Australia score first but by the end of the first half England are leading 14 – 5 and things are looking good.  In the second half all the scoring is by Australia but we are still ahead 2 minutes from time.  Australia then equalise with a penalty putting the game into extra time.  What a nail biter.  Steve is almost running out of beer as his drinking speed increases with the pressure.  In the last minute of extra time Jonny Wilkinson does his stuff and a drop goal wins the cup for England.  What a game, reckon Hollywood couldn’t have written a more exciting script.



SUNDAY 23 NOVEMBER – Ken & Kay arrive back late morning.  Catch up with their news then enjoy a delicious roast beef dinner in the evening.



MONDAY 24 NOVEMBER – We’ve enjoyed the house sitting opportunity but it’s good to be on the road again.  Heading south we bypass Brisbane on the gateway motorway $2.20 (90p) toll.  Veer off to travel down the Gold Coast.  It’s schoolies week and the place is packed with youngsters.  Tradition has it that once you have finished your last year at school (school years in Australia are the same as calendar years) you go off for a week to celebrate.  The problem now is that older teenagers try and join in and this causes trouble.  In Burleigh Heads we visit Les who runs the TAN (The Australian Naturist) magazine.  I now write regular articles for him so it’s good to finally meet face to face.  Just a short drive inland is Tallebudgera where our motor homing friends Frank & Lisa live.  At the end of this week they are moving out of the house to let tenants in.  Lisa has got a job as cabin crew with Virgin Pacific in New Zealand and they are moving to Christchurch.  Despite them having heaps to do and Lisa still working they are delighted to see us and try hard to persuade us to stay all week. 



TUESDAY 25 NOVEMBER  Frank insists there is nothing we can help them with so rather than delay him by being around to chat we head off.  Fill up with petrol, as it’s more expensive outside Queensland.  The twin towns of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads straddle the NEW SOUTH WALES border and as we head down the main street we put our clocks forward by 1 hour (now 11 hours ahead of GMT).  We then confuse the issue by returning to Coolangatta when we find out Calendar Girls is showing at the cinema, in the shopping mall.  It’s all decorated for Christmas with the main display of Santa in his sled towed by white kangaroos!   Being a Tuesday we pay child price $8 (£3.30).  The film is really good and we recognise the scenery.  It’s filmed in the Yorkshire Dales mainly around Burnsall.  Leave at 3pm and return to NSW where it is 4pm.  By the time we get to Murwillumbah the Rainforest tourist office that we want to visit is closed.  Back track to Tumbulgum (what a lovely name) with a nice picnic spot on the banks of the Tweed River.



WEDNESDAY 26 NOVEMBER – Back into Murwillumbah where we not only visit the Rainforest Heritage Centre but also the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery with art by the famous Doug Moran.  Journey onwards through the scenic Tweed Valley to Nimbin, made famous in 1973 by the Aquarius Festival and still predominated by hippies.  It’s like a time warp with hippy characters roaming the streets, psychedelic shop fronts and lots of people offering dope.  The Nimbin Museum fills us in on the hippy culture and the “greeenies” who have done a lot of work in the area saving the rainforest. With street cafes packed out with dope smoking hippies we could easily be back in Asia.  Cut inland along mainly dirt roads enjoying superb views from high up.  Passing lots of macadamia nut farms we arrive at Rocky Creek dam but as you cannot swim or camp there we don’t stay.  In Nightcap National Park we head into Whian Whian State Forest where you can free camp at Rummery Park.  From here we make the 5km circuit walk to Minyon Falls.  Unfortunately due to the drought they are barely a trickle.  Back at camp we notice a distinct chill in the air and for the first time this trip we put our fleece jackets on and light a campfire to be joined by Andrew from Sydney.



THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER – After a chilly night we linger in bed until the sun warms things up.  Continue our journey through the hills with more far reaching views out to the coast.  There are lots of stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables cheaply and we can’t resist 10 avocados for $1 (44p).  We’re heading for Belongil naturist beach but unfortunately we end up on the right beach but the wrong end.  We’re on the northern outskirts of Byron Bay but should have gone in from Tyagarah along Greys Lane.  We can’t be bothered turning back so make for Kings Beach at Broken Head.  It’s a fair walk down steps to the beach, shaded by pandana trees.  There are plenty of spots to shelter from the breeze and we enjoy a good few hours sunbathing.  Steve tests the water but says it’s quite cold.  In Ballina we manage to find a garage that can mend the problem with the diff tomorrow.  To fill in time we visit Thursday Plantation where they make tea tree oil and products.  It’s a lovely place with gardens and a maze.  At the moment they are also holding the east coast sculpture show.  A booklet guides us through the woods where sculptures (mainly made out of rubbish) are strategically placed.  Some are very impressive in their ingenuity and we really enjoy ourselves.  After eating our evening meal in the Bicentennial Park we drive round to Pacific Garage where they will do some work on Billy tomorrow.



FRIDAY 28 NOVEMBER – The garage opens at 8am and they soon have Billy up on the ramps.  We paid to have the diff leak sorted out in Cairns where they replaced the seal but it now seems the leak is from the gasket.  Had they spotted this is Cairns we may have got away with the $4 (£1.75) for the gasket but we have to pay again for labour and end up with a bill for $115 (£50).  This time we have used a Repco garage to make sure we have a full Australia warranty.  It’s almost lunchtime when we leave so just south of town we head out to Patches Beach.  We find a nice place to free camp and a beach, deserted due to the strong winds.  Tucked away behind our windbreak we have a very pleasant afternoon sunbathing. 



SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER – Amble along making a detour out to Evans Head through Broadwater National Park.  Both nice spots but not that different to other places we have visited.  Next stop is to look at New Italy where migrants first settled.  By lunchtime we are at Ulmarra.  This is a heritage river port and the main street is full of old buildings.  Just north of Coffs Harbour we feel the pull of the beach. We turn off opposite the Big Banana, walk along the main Diggers beach then over the rocks to Little Diggers the naturist section.  The water is cool but I still manage a swim.  Late afternoon we return and make use of the beach showers.  A walk up the hill at the south end of Diggers gives us fine views to Coffs Harbour and an opportunity to watch dolphins at play. 



SUNDAY 30 NOVEMBER – This is such a lovely spot that we return to Little Diggers Beach for a morning of sunbathing and swimming.  At dinnertime we head into Coff’s Harbour and down to the jetty area, packed out with families enjoying the BBQ facilities.  Just outside town we stock up on bananas at 50c (22p) kilo. Further south we turn off the Pacific Highway onto the Waterfall Way.  Pause in Bellingen for a stroll around, pleasant but not outstanding.  The road begins a steep ascent and winds it’s way up to 762m passing roadside waterfalls.  At Dorrigo we visit the National Rainforest centre and walk out on the skywalk to take in the fantastic views.  On the other edge of towns Danger Falls are quite a sight.  Further west we reach Ebor Falls and enjoy views of the upper and lower falls.  Our final stop for the day is Woololmombi national park where we again get fine views from the lookout and a spectacular sunset.  It’s a national park and you can camp for $3 (£1.30) per person.



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