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Summer of 2003


13 December 2002
Wednesday 11:30am finally saw us setting off after many delays. The journey thus far has been mostly punctuated by food breaks and overnighting at caravan parks at Cardwell first off, and then last night Home Hill. Both parks away from the highway so no noise and plenty of artificial cooling. Tonight the end of 'Friday 13th' we seem to have avoided bad luck befalling us and we're staying at another quiet park in Sarina. The owner was keen for a look over our bus and told us of his plan to head off in one of his own and let the park provide income. Dreamer !!

17 December 2002
Heading off from Sarina we refuelled at Carmila, still the cheapest diesel available, and then lunch at another fuel stop further south.They serve the biggest burgers in Australia, a full 6 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches high, so much that we elected to have only one and cut in half to share. Its a must do if you are travelling this way. Then onto Rockhampton and what has to rate as the worst value caravan park have noted it for the future 'never stay here again'. From now on the road gets progressively better and then we headed into our regular spot at Lake Monduran. This time they have changed the park and now you are charged $5.50/night unpowered and $11 powered. Of course with this comes hot showers and a laundry if you require it and also on site caretakers and a kiosk. Shame we cannot camp on the far side of the dam any more but I guess some people were overstaying there time and spoilt it for others. Certainly had an impact as there was but one couple in the park along with us. Another few hours drive and we are now parked in Mapleton up in the hills west of the Sunshine Coast for a while until after Christmas.

25 December 2002
More shops, more crafts, wrapping presents, unwrapping presents, eating, drinking now for recovery. Merry Christmas Everyone.

10 January 2003
As you can see with the lack of interesting commentary we have spent a lot of time with Robyn's family at Mapleton with the womenfolk spending their time crafting, and the men eating drinking and the occasional computer fix. Seems fair to me! We then moved onto my brothers acreage property at Caboolture, arriving while he was still away and setting up camp. Since we have been here the crafty one has been taking it easy and so far managed to make a bead bracelet for my mum and catch up on some reading whilst she and my brother have been taking it in turns to whip up the evening meals whilst yours truly otherwise known as 'The Driver' has been the designated washer-upper. I have been cleaning up a few small rust spots that have appeared since the wet weather as you can see 'The Driver' is also multi-skilled. We have had two visits with mum and she is looking fit and well and it seems her health this year has stabilised. My sister is now living in her new house and has cleverly made access to her yard with the bus impossible, was this by design or just bad luck?. We will be staying on until Monday to give us another visit with mum as a family and then heading off.

18 January 2003
Headed off Monday and ended up at Crows Nest NP where we stayed for two days, all alone except for the brush turkeys and two friendly possums. It was cool and peaceful and many pages of our books were digested. Next we headed off through Toowoomba where we made a visit to local Centrelink to renew our health care cards that had been sent to home and bought a few groceries to see us through. That afternoon we went in search of Goomburra SF park and camped in the first designated spot again alone until day two when another group arrived and camped down the far end. This is when the weeks entertainment began. About midnight on the second night the fridge started madly starting and then stopping and with past knowledge I knew the batteries were low so we turned it off until the morning. Of course this had a material benefit of enabling an easy defrost after breakfast and reasoning that we needed to go to somewhere in the sun and with no restriction on the use of our emergency generator. This quest was on and so we went to Leslie Dam just outside Warwick. We set up and fired up the Honda for an all afternoon run and having the sun on us the batteries were getting a double lot of charge. At about 7pm the generator had used its fill of fuel and thinking that all would be well we settled down for a peaceful night after a glorious sunset over the much depleted lake. All was not well, right on cue at 10:30 pm the fridge ceased to run again. This time I was not amused and taking my meter in hand checked those pesky batteries. Sure enough one was 6 volts and the other, now known as The Dud, was barely 4 volts. Seeing no cure for this I left well enough alone vowing to fix it in the morning. Next morning a call to Battery World revealed their closest shop was at Toowoomba and having confirmed that they had a pair of the right batteries in stock we made a record breaking pack up and headed back to get the replacements. Now all is well and we are over-nighting in a caravan park after having done the weeks washing and planning our next move.

24 January 2003
Heading off again from Toowoomba this time we went via Leyburn and then out to Coolmunda Dam. Well this is were the day started to go bad, after circumnavigating the dam it became evident that there was only one camp spot and that was a private park well away from the dam and not very attractive so we headed off again. This time via Inglewood and Texas in search of Bonshaw Dam. Another failure there was no sign of the dam and no sign to the dam so onward to Ashford and after 37kms of winding gravel road we finally had somewhere to stay Kwiambal NP. At last running water and only a couple of others to share it with. After a day of 40+ degrees I realized that the removal of the floor mat from the bus when we had the windscreen leak was a bad idea as now half the waste heat from the engine was now in the cab with us as well as the outside 40+ so the top of the job list was get something replace it. We quickly found out that the cicadas in the trees were intent on making incessant noise all day and was not something you could learn to love. Thankfully as night fell they at last took a break and it was peaceful and quiet even if it was still hot. Next day we just relaxed, put up with the cicadas and watched the overflying F-111's doing manoeuvres, at last something to drown out the pesky cicadas. After two hot days and nights there it was time for a change so off to Glen Innes for a cool off and resupply. Next day after buying some replacement underlay for the bus we set off to the east and up the Gibraltar Range to Mulligans Hut camp site with of course the obligatory 10kms of gravel. There are burnt trees and undergrowth everywhere from the bush fires earlier this year and a serious lack of wildlife presumably lost during the fires.I spent the first hour or so fitting the underlay before the afternoon brought a fairly mild thunderstorm and from then on continued to rain for the rest of our stay. It was cool and during the night it was actually cold! what a change. The park was peaceful but after spending last night in a cloud that lingered on in the morning making everything feel damp it was time to move on. A long downhill drive, all in cloud, brought us to Grafton and have checked into a nice van park. Its Australia Day long weekend and last days of school holidays so we are lying low until that's over. By the way the new underfelt was a resounding success

29 January 2003
After two days at Grafton the washing had been done and we reprovisioned and headed off to the coast. First we looked at Minnie Water and of course the campground was full to bursting so we had lunch in the park overlooking the surf and then onto Wooli and except for the mandatory craft shop, nothing there made us want to stay so onto the next spot Red Rock. Noticing there seemed to be a large number of motorhomes in attendance we took a closer look and one of the group came over introduced himself and invited us to join their gathering. This was an unexpected lucky break as they were from the motorhome club and had arranged a special price at the park of just $8/night instead of $24. I booked us in for 2 nights and we set up along with them and then spent the next 2 days exchanging stories and ideas. Leaving there and heading south we looked at many other potential campspots but as Robyn was suffering a headache we booked into a park at Sawtell and of course we found that it was the last day of school holidays so we had to pay an inflated amount for the privilege. On the road again and more exploring we finished up at Nambucca Heads. We had an exploratory street walk and lunched at a small cafe before shopping and finding a place to camp. We are now checked into a pleasant beachside park for the next two nights.

4 February 2003
While we rested up at Nambucca the weather as usual turned grey and so on moving to our next place of rest, Gumma Crossing reserve {not Gummi as I told some of you}, of course all it did was rain and blow endlessly. Two days and nights without going outside was enough so next we went onto Kempsey and had a pleasant night and did all the chores that needed doing and a refill of gas to boot. On our way again just a short run to Port Macquarie and sun, surf, and beaches. Had the oil changed in the bus and had one of the tyres with a suspect chunk of rubber missing checked and pronounced ok. Being the adventurous types after lunch at the beach lookout we headed westwards to check out a state forest park for the night. How foolish, for starters we stopped at the directions map and checked that it was 18 kms to the first camp and headed off on the winding gravel road.18 kms later no sign of the park so we soldiered on and finally a sign, not to that camp but to the next one another 11kms, suppose we must have missed a turn somewhere. Deciding that we had come this far we kept going and now after an hour and 29 kms of miserable forest road gradually getting worse we arrived at the camp. Bad luck, it was closed !!! not only that there was earth barrier in front of the entrance just to make sure you couldn't stay. After a few unkind words about the NSW forest service there was nothing else to do but turn back. Of course this park is up a mountain and mountains sometimes are shrouded in cloud and rain, need I say more. Finally after navigating in the clouds and rain we escaped with the time now 6:45pm we stopped for a refreshment break and some more unkind words etc etc and headed back to Port Macquarie. Just on dark we checked into the beachside caravan park. Today after a well deserved sleep in we had a walk to town and the beach and of course rested some more. The bus is now covered from top to bottom in forest mud and will have to wait until we can get to a car wash as there is a ban on hosing due to the water shortage. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

9 February 2003
The bus, still covered in dirt, was to stay that way for a while, as there are severe water restrictions due to the drought that prevented us washing it in other than a regular car wash. This being the case we had our last foray southwards to Crowdy Bay NP just a short drive but must have the most corrugated road in Australia, so much so that it would take the prize over the forestry track a couple of days previously. We arrived shaken AND stirred but otherwise intact and selected to camp at Kylies Camp, as it was less crowded than the main area at Diamond Head. So far so good until night fell and one of the groups of campers decided that we should be entertained by someone with no talent banging on bongo drums until all hours. Fortunately the tide was coming in and the surf all but drowned it out so eventually sleep followed. Another late morning and a walk to the beach, relax, and watch the assembled kangaroos and goanna foraging for food. Just on 7pm a van arrived with two women and one male and set up camp the other side to the 'musicians' and within minutes had sawed down a tree for firewood!! We looked on in amazement and even more incredible the ranger came moments after and of course they hadnít paid their fees so they had to cough up. But he seemed to either not notice the obvious fresh cut tree or chose to ignore it. Needless to say we were not amused and after another night of musical? entertainment packed up and headed off. This time heading northward, again over the incredibly bumpy road, to Port Macquarie for a carwash. Then onto the famous pie shop at Frederickton for lunch. Finally a small riverside village called Stuarts Point where we have been enjoying three days of peace and quiet, watching others fish, and of course the housework chores of washing and filling up with water etc. Today as you may already know is our 29th wedding anniversary so a trip to the local tavern for a huge lunch was in order to celebrate the occasion. Early night tonight {wink} and tomorrow off to Coffs Harbour.

15 February 2003
On our way north to Coffs harbour we went into Grassy Head, not much here except another caravan park perhaps if we had more time would be worth a stop, Scots Head, more developed with million dollar houses overlooking million dollar views, then onto Nambucca Heads for lunch overlooking the painted stones decorating the breakwater. After lunch a visit to Valla Beach, small fishing/holiday village with caravan park and attractive retirement village next door, and then finally a visit to 'Spotlight' for emergency craft supplies followed by lunch and shopping. After a drive through town following the tourist route we settled on a beach caravan park for the night. There was heavy overnight rain followed by the inevitable water leak, this time in the passenger side door. Fortunately it was not much and I believe it was due to me not closing it properly the afternoon before, but we will see. Checked out late as usual so drove to the historic jetty and had breakfast in the bus while the rain cleared up. A mandatory mall walk followed and being unable to part with any more money we decided it was time to leave town. Just a short drive up the highway we stopped in at Woolgoolga for a look and fresh bread and then a further 9kms to Corindi beach where we have been for the last 3 nights. This is a top spot and only $10/night if you camp without power or $12 with. We have spent the days going for beach walks and the occasional swim in the clear waters and generally relaxed and enjoyed the pleasant surroundings. Another beautiful day today with swimming, newspaper reading and some craft done before we head off tomorrow.

25 February 2003
After relaxing we made a leisurely departure we headed a little further up the coast to look at a free camp beside a river. This proved unsuitable as it was not only overgrown but there was a fisherman's vehicle parked across the entry. Yamba was then the alternative and after procuring a few needed supplies we headed to a caravan park next to the river complete with kangaroos, goanna, and bird life. The weather was not improving so we resorted to reading inside for the afternoon. Next day we headed west to Casino and had a preliminary look at the site of the soon to be CMCA [motorhome club] motorhome park. Looks good so will have to schedule a visit in the future once it's up and running. Then onwards to Kyogle and west into the hills to Toonumear Dam. This would have to rate as one of the memorable wastes of time. Due to the drought when we finally got to the place there was less water in the dam than I have in a bath and the campground whilst asking you to pay $5 for the night was all overgrown and presumably had been unused since the dam level had dropped. As usual we headed back to Kyogle [no campground] and then onto Lismore where we booked into a very central park for two nights. Second day washing was done and pegged out and then we walked the length and breadth of the town centre and managed to keep most of my cash. Rain of course set in for the night and continued the next day. From Lismore we headed back to the coast and went via Ballina, Lennox Head for morning tea, Byron Bay for lunch and a drive around, missing out on the lighthouse, as it was impossible to get a park for the bus and also the $5 charge just to park! Onto Pottsville for the night at a riverside caravan park and by some strange coincidence the park manager came from Cairns and what's more had lived down the road from our house, small world isn't it. Rain again all night but not as heavy next day. Travelled via the scenic coastal route instead of the new freeway to the Gold Coast and while Robyn browsed a huge shopping centre I went to a chiropractor to get my neck adjusted. Both were a success neck is now much better and little was purchased at the shops. Two days and more rain at Loaders Creek caravan park overlooking Seaworld across the water and then onto friends, Robbo & Brenda at Loganholme for a visit and exchange motorhome ideas and then overnight at an small park near Redland Bay. More visiting next day other friends, Dave & Sandy,who we haven't seen for years. Sandy was in the middle of preparation for an appearance on TV next week on 'Extra' Saturday 5:30pm on Nine. She does mosaic work and if you miss the program you could have a look at her website at www.ozmosaics.com. Returning to the freeway over the Gateway Bridge and onto Tony's at Caboolture. Of course this did not go as planned when we arrived we found that his bridge over the creek into his property was well underwater. After a phone call to announce our arrival he organised for us to come in via his neighbours higher level bridge and we were again safely encamped. Of course it didn't end there as yesterday it started to bucket down rain and of course the supposedly fixed leak in the windscreen began to leak onto the floor of the cab again. Luckily it was noticed early and managed to stop the floor covering from getting too wet. Today has brought a little bit of sun and just some showers BUT the bridge is now under about a metre and a half of water and its lapping at the neighbours bridge. Will we escape ???? Find out next time.

9 March 2003
Well we did escape, again only by exiting through the neighbours higher level bridge and after lunch with my sister, shopping and a visit with my mum we headed north to Mapleton. The rain was heavy and the road slippery and so many ignored the conditions and didn't slow down, leading to a 7 car pile up that we were lucky enough to be just a few cars behind. Plenty of bent metal and broken bodies, perhaps they will learn from this costly mistake. Another perilous drive up the range and then an equally treacherous manoeuvre down the wet slippery driveway, backwards, into the in-laws front yard. As it turned out it went well and we settled in to some days/weeks of craft, shopping and 'that' leak. Once the weather finally fined up some investigation of the leak was done only to uncover two others! These were dispatched with some new silicone from the local hardware. 'THE LEAK' was not so cooperative, being the windscreen seal it was a job for the professionals so on an almost fine day I took the pod down to the coast to Windscreens O'Brian for another dose of sealant. Thank goodness this is covered by a lifetime warranty so all it cost was a little diesel and the price of a pub lunch for my accomplice and I. Next wet day guess what..... it was back, this time the amateurs took over the repairs and with the help of some of grandads preloved windscreen sealant I put the leak to rest, for now at least. We had a pleasant afternoon at the farm of one of the many cousins near Kenilworth. We all went, travelling via the one way, one lane, gravel road through the hills with views overlooking the fertile green fields with just millimetres to spare to the ever-present vertical drops at the side ot the road. The two children had a swim in the creek and we all went for a long walk around the farm checking out the photo opportunities with Tracey {Robyn's sister} and myself competing for the best digital shot for the day. As it turned out we both had some success making for some great background wallpaper pictures. You get to preview just one. Some adult education for grandad on the use of a scanner to send and receive faxes while the better half continued to paint those cats filled another day. Another two, or was it three days and many drinks later installing Win 2000 on Tracey's computer and putting together a basic web page for the up and growing craft business just about filled in the spare time here. Today it was all the domestic chores, washing, water in, water out, cleaning, defrosting the fridge, and the usual checks tyres, water, and oil and we are just about ready to head off towards home and hoping that the weather will stay fine for the next few days for long haul home.

15 march 2003
It was a leisurely drive home the weather was kind, no rain to speak of until around he Tully area, overcast to lower the temperature, and incident free. There were many other motorhomers on the road and most gave us a friendly wave as we passed. First we stopped at the usual Fred Haigh Dam, quiet as usual with only one other camper. The water level had risen with the summer rains up to about 50% capacity from the record low on our way down 3 months ago. A big day next, on to Rockhampton for some shopping, and then to a new stop for us at Mt Etna Caves. This will be a good spot for a future trip, rates were reasonable, and there are the limestone caves to explore. Next day over the long boring drive with another GIANT hamburger for lunch near St Lawrence {no relation} and then overnighting at Sarina. Thursday a little more scenic, a stop at Mackay Spotlight to spy on the craft lessons being offered, refuelling at Bowen followed by fresh cream buns and overnighting at Home Hill. On the road again, the weather was still fine and even managed to be sunny in Townsville for a visit to our financial manager with request for an advance of funds and a visit to the local Spotlight spying again. Lunch at Bluewater and then on into the overcast to make camp for the last time at Cardwell. Light rain overnight and some heavy falls letting us know we are back in the tropics before arriving home for lunch. Lawns mown, house is relatively tidy and inhabited by two other boys as well as our own, and once we got rid of them all, did three weeks washing up, vacuumed, did the washing, sorted 3 months mail we could relax and plan the next journey. This time its been 94 days, 6990kms [4344 miles], 971 litres of diesel [213 gallons], 470 saved digital photographs, 13 website updates, 676 website hits, 46 free nights mostly thanks to Nan & Grandad and my brother Tony, 48 nights at paid parks, 4kgs of LPG, one oil change, 2 deep cycle house batteries and 'THE LEAK'. Thanks to those of you who gave us somewhere to stay, to those we met on the way, and to you all for following our progress and keeping in touch with your emails.
The End


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