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Summer of 2006

6 January 2006
Well folks its day four and its time for the first report from the road. Some of you will have already seen the happenings on day one in pictures on the web site but for those who didn't it goes like this. We set off from home, early for once, and first stop was at the Woollies servo at Raintrees for a top up, about 15kms. Now yours truly sided up to the pump grabbed the black nozzle and plunged it headlong into the diesel tank and proceeded to rack up 32 litres about $35. BUT when I went in to pay the attendant says 'that was premium unleaded you put in'. Well yet to be convinced I went out to check and sure enough even though it had a black nozzle instead of the traditional Woolworth's blue for premium she was right. Well being of no help I just paid up and started phoning. RACQ first and they warned not to drive it so we sat put and waited for the tow truck. 30 minutes and they were there and hoisted the Pod onboard ($88) and took it with me to Redlynch to my local mechanic while Robyn loafed in the cool of the shops. Another hour and $56 and the tank was drained and new fuel filter fitted and I was off again. Refilled the tank ($90) this time at Shell with real black nozzle. Total so far $344 including the original contents of the tank. Picked up the navigator and by now it was time to stop for lunch so we cruised on to Gordonvale and had it at the green patch. Afterwards we figured that we weren't going to bother with getting too far and decided on Tully. On the way of course that wasn't all for the day it was hot and getting progressively hotter in the cab. The aircon wasn't working very well at all and seemed like it need some gas. Camped at Tully CP and set up the satellite dish for the nights entertainment and guess what, there's more !!! The set was reporting that the channels were not authorized so as at least the internet was working fine I sent off emails to the relevant people to get it working. By the morning all was well and at least that was another problem solved. Next day tried to get regas at Townsville but seemed like everyone was either on holiday or not interested so carried on to overnight at Home Hill. Couldn't get any service at either Ayr or Home Hill so next morning continued on in the heat uncooled. Next stop Bowen and good luck at last. Found an aircon specialist and couldn't have been more helpful. Said he was flat out but dropped his tools and regassed it immediately and only wanted $25 for his trouble. Much more pleasant except for boring countryside with an overnight stop at Sarina. No problems. In the morning sudden gusts of wind toppled the satellite dish so there was no TV at breakfast but got us on the road early for a very hot day on the road. Morning tea at the St Lawrence and lunch under a lone tree in 38 degree heat. Pushed off faster than needed as there was a nearby bushfire approaching and not getting any cooler. Tonight cooling our heals at Rockhampton and appreciating the value of air-conditioning. Satellite dish is no restrained with rubber straps as the winds are rising.

25 January 2006
It wasn't long after we left Rockhampton that the cab air-conditioning quit completely so decided it must be something more than gas this time and carried on with the hot wind on our faces. Stopped at the Calliope river rest area and in amongst the dust and speedboats had lunch and then on to spend the night at Gin Gin in a little caravan park behind the service station. Turned out to be the cheapest so far at only $15. That evening we had thunder storms surrounding us for a couple of hours but only managed to get anything like rain for about 15 minutes and then cleared up. Next day another hot one and stopped at Gympie to fill up and then pulled into the Super cheap auto store for some more permanent rubber straps to hold down the satellite dish. of course while I was in there it began raining cats and dogs, so much so that we decided to eat the hot chicken we bought for lunch in the car park and wait for it to pass. Then to round off the day we did the last leg to Mapleton to Robyn's parents and got our self set up in their yard. Monday before the rain set in I set up all the awnings and got ready to have a relaxing break while the girls did some crafts. now as most of you know next morning I was struck down with the terrible pain of a kidney stone. By 8 am I was already lining up at the doctors and strong painkillers were prescribed after an injection for the pain but by the afternoon it was unbearable and down to the Nambour Hospital Emergency Rooms and after many injections of morphine and other various drugs ended up in the observation ward for the night. of course it all settled down and they sent me home but by lunch time I was again at the doctors and getting stronger drugs in the hope of settling it. of course these didn't work and I was back at the ER by 4pm and getting morphine again. This time they relented and admitted me to the wards but the wait was long and I seem to remember getting to bed at 3am only to be woken at 5:30am for the morning observations. This went on until the following Tuesday with daily doses of the demon drugs which I might add had little effect on the pain but at least it must have dulled it a bit. Luckily by Monday and the second CT scan they found the critter had moved down towards the exit door and would probably give me no more trouble so I was sent home and thankfully no more pain. BUT there's more.... by Wednesday afternoon I was back at the doctor and now as well as the unpassed stone I had picked up some sort of bug where the IV was in my arm and now needed antibiotics to try and settle it down. Spent the next few days watching the craft and helping out with the computers at Tracey's and generally being an invalid.Now the good news, about 3pm on Sunday the pesky little rock left home for good and now I don't have that to worry about. Sunday afternoon found the problem with the airconditioner so another win, just a broken wire. Monday packed up and headed down to Tony's (my brother) for a couple of nights and catching up with both him and my sister and new brother-in-law. of course this was not without mishap as now after fixing the air-conditioner the temperature gauge refused to budge. Again a simple fix, during my inspection of the air-con wiring I had inadvertently dislodged the wire from a poorly crimped connector. This was easily fixed once we arrived so perhaps that's it for a while. Not so, we left from Tony's had lunch with Shirley and Hugh and then headed down to the Gold Coast for the night. On the way we decided to stop for afternoon tea near dreamworld and when we stopped found that for some reason last time the toilet was used the bowl kept filling and by then the holding tank was full and the water was overflowing into the toilet cubicle which luckily had been sealed to the floor some years ago and apparently the remaining 100 litres of fresh water had continued to flow out the door and down the stairs to the entry door and onto the road. Of course this meant there was an urgent cleanup and draining the black water tank, luckily unused at the time, along with drying all the floors and woodwork that had been wet. All was OK fortunately no damage to the woodwork or the pump just 180 litres of fresh water wasted. After a sit down and re-group we kept going and found a park in Burleigh heads for the night. A refill with water and hanging out the damp cloths from today's mishap and we went for a walk to the beach. Sky is clear and the place is quiet and all is now well with the world.

1 February 2006
Well here we are at last in the Apple Isle. After Burleigh Heads things went smoothly for a change and next we stopped at Brunswick Heads for lunch where the some of the young women were very open with their public dressing then onto the Casino motorhome village for a couple of nights. It was hot but mercifully we were cool inside. The village has progressed since our last visit over 18 months ago and is a credit to the management but not so the residents. we went to the free sausage sizzle on Friday night and you would have thought we had some contagious disease as no-one bothered to be the slightest bit friendly. They seemed to be from the chapters and had carefully arranged themselves so they were sitting with their own and outsiders were not welcomed. Did notice that most of the other transients had not bothered with the get together so perhaps they were forewarned. never mind we were off on Saturday with the next stop being Grafton for shopping and then Corindi beach for lunch. great spot as usual. Nambucca heads next to the river for the night and washing. Next onto Tuncurry at a beachside CP, hot as usual but a walk to the beach was worth it. Left the awning out and during the night there was a downpour and found many litres of water had accumulated in the awning needing emergency draining before it collapsed. Unexpected as the sky was clear as crystal at bed time. needed fuel the next day and stopped at Bulahdelah where on one side of the road Shell had diesel for $1.40/litre and over the road Mobil had the same for $1.31 looked good and didn't wast one of the discount dockets. Strange it should be so dear when it was $1.18/litre everywhere in QLD with the government 8c/litre subsidy so should be $1.26 here in NSW, seems that someone is getting mighty rich from profiteering. After filling we had barely gone 1Km when we were diverted via the bush roads for over 50Km to avoid a major accident on the highway where apparently a van had hit a truck so we took the scenic route. After that diversion we took another to take in a craft shop in Newcastle and while we were there made a call to the Telstra shop to get Robyn's mobile changed to a plan with the 'My Hour' bonus option. Had to pay to quit my contract but will save that in a couple of free call nights and will enable us to keep in better voice contact on the road. As time was passing we stopped at Belmont next to a huge lake and managed to get a waterfront site for the backlot price so made the best of the views over the water in the evening and took a few pictures. Overnight the rain set in and continued on throughout the day as we did the last 100Km to Sydney. Managed to sort out the correct roads to get to the terminal after some confusion at the departure from the harbour bridge and the toll we didn't know about! After lunch on the wharf we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania III for the sea leg of our trip south. Unfortunately it remained overcast for almost all the trip so wasn't the best for photos but I did my best. Dinner that night was an all you can eat affair and I certainly did it justice whereas the navigator didn't manage to keep her lunch down so only made a mediocre job of it. We both slept well and the cabin was comfortable and the boat was surprisingly smooth. Morning saw us cruising Bass Strait and brunch was served all morning so we attended about 9.30 and sampled many of the dishes. There can't be any complaint about the food it was abundant and good too. Arrived in Devonport one hour early at 1pm and headed via quarantine to the shops to restock the larder and then up to the lighthouse for lunch with a view. All very casual here, no traffic, plenty of fresh food on the shelves and lots of houses for sale to look at. Tonight we have done washing and getting a full charge in the batteries before heading off to more adventurous places. We watched the ferry sail past the CP on its way home as you can see from the picture and as the temperature dropped from the days high of about 25C to about 17C at 9 pm we have been rewarded with a beautiful sunset. Ahhh what a place.

8 February 2006
From Devonport we began by visiting the tourist information and picked up a book called 'Free Camping in Tasmania' and decided to begin by following one of its suggested tracks. It had 5 recomended camps on this route so we figured must get somewhere. Well the first 3 were only suitable for a quick stop but luckily we soldiered on and came across Leven Canyon. Super quiet and nicely looked after and on night one we were the only ones there. There was a nice graded walk to the canyon and I got some good pictures. Next day Robyn was not feeling the best and so spent most of the day in bed recuperating and I went on the lower walk to the fern grove. A number of other campers arrived that day along with a big bus from the tourist bureau so I took advantage and got some pointers from the ranger on good places to visit. Fortunately it was cold at night which kept the other campers quiet and inside. As we had camped under trees the batteries were getting a little down so we headed for somewhere with power to recharge. This turned out to be a little place called Penguin which had craft markets the next day so you can guess what we did. After the markets we again headed inland to a little camp at Gunns Plains. This is run by a wildlife park and we got to camp right on the riverbank with only one other tent way over the other side of this huge area. After a beautiful sunny day and a cool night we then moved on not far to Riana and a park run by volunteers at cheap rates. Its a bit rustic but the price is right. Overnight it was blowing a gale and the temperature dropped to just above 8C during the night. On then to Wynyard for some now much needed washing and stopped at the very same park we had been to 32 years ago. There's been some changes but still recognisable. My back has been giving me some problems and I have a nerve pinched that it making my right arm painful so made an appointment with the local chiropractor to get straightened out. Today after a visit to Table Cape and the lighthouse, we went to Fossil Bluff where all the rocks have masses of fossilised shells in them. You can see the view in today's picture. Some shopping at Wynyard before back to Burnie for secret men's business at the dump point and then the chiro for me. Of course nothing is fixed in one visit so I have another appointment for tomorrow. Visited the handmade paper factory along with the paper sculptures that were hugely overpriced but sadly you were not permitted to photograph them so went away disappointed. Tonight we are staying close by at the park in Riana again. Of course silly me managed to back into a tree branch and get a small dent in the back of the roof but nothing tragic. Hopefully after tomorrows manipulation we'll get to go to some nice bush camps further west.

21 February 2006
Its been a long time between posts but there are reasons. One we have been mostly out of mobile range and the second, I inadvertently went over my 100Mb data limit for the month so decided to delay until the new month and in the mean time I have raised my limit to 300Mb so should be ok for now.After another visit to the chiro we decided to have a lay day at Burnie and catch up with the chores before going further west. Sunday we headed off and after a short drive by mainland standards pulled into Black River NP and although there were plenty of occupants managed to find a nice quiet spot away from the crowds and set up camp for a couple of nights. Dirt cheap too just $2 each per night with resident wallabies. Monday the crowds left and we were one of just a few that remained. Beautiful sunset and arctic 7C overnight. After such a good rest we were primed for travel even if the weather wasn't and the next stop was Stanley with the famous 'Nut' for morning tea. The clouds were closing in so rather than take pictures that didn't do it justice further travel was called on and we would return in a few days in the hope that the weather would change. Next stop Smithton for a gas bottle refill just in case the weather should get even cooler and the heater was warranted. We made a small excursion into Montagu to have a look at a camp ground but it was full of permanent vans with shade cloth fences around with only a small area for travellers and much too dear for what they were offering. Further west in the very north west corner we inspected the Woolnorth wind farm. There are 37 windmills and is well worth the look as its one of the biggest. You can see why its built there as the wind was gale force and certainly not the place to stay. We had lunch and read the information from booth and then over 23kms of good gravel road came across Marrawah on the west coast. Beautiful sea views and there was a free camp but not very big and already many occupants. Just another 15kms and we were at our destination Arthur River. There are 3 NP campgrounds and after a tour of all three and a visit to 'The Edge of the World' to view the unbroken ocean view to South Africa we found ourselves a cosy nook in one for a couple of days. Unfortunately here also there are permanent vans, mostly vacant but seem to be out of place in a NP camp. None of the camps have direct access to the coastline but there was a track that allowed us to climb up one of the tree covered sandhills and view the sunset over the western ocean. Not as good as it could have been due to cloud but worth the effort. Lots of Bennett's wallabies at dusk along with wrens and sunbirds to entertain us. There was evidence of wombats but none was sighted. Backtracking to Marrawah and then via the Bass Highway east with a stop at Dismal Swamp NP for a look. Turned out to be a commercial operation with a slide down to the boardwalks and an asking price of $20 for the slide or $10 for a walk. More appropriate for a theme park so we gave it a miss and took in the views from the top. Figured that they would have to pay me $20 to go on the slide as I valued my body more than that. Lunch at Smithton at the river, nice spot but no camping as yet, well not legally. Apparently there is to be a camp established here soon. Back to Stanley and this time spectacular weather so while Robyn trolled the inevitable craft shops I made the trek up the path to the top of The Nut and did the walk around the top. hard climb up for the first third of the track but gradually got easier and the track around the top was well defined and mostly flat. Beautiful 360degree views and well worth the walk with many pictures taken for posterity. Just over 5500 steps according to my pedometer. By the time we arrived at the caravan park they were fully booked but no problem with just another 10kms to a nice little park at Crayfish Creek with friendly helpful owners and pleasant bush setting. On their recommendation we set off next day to Dip Falls and on the way a new forestry centre run by the owners. Top tour around only cost $8 and interesting insight into the past logging in the area by a man who had worked in the industry until recently. Excellent scones with jam and cream so I've been told and the lumberjack cake wasn't bad either along with a cappuccino. After this we went to the falls, not a lot of water but interesting hexagonal rock formations and adjacent was a 'The Big Tree' 390 years old and luckily managed to escape the logging in this area in the 1930's. Exiting via another gravel road back to the highway and another diversion to Detention Falls just near the village of Myalla. Lunch and then a longer walk but better falls then back to the highway and past the Opium Poppy farms. Wynyard next stop for some shopping, washing and overnight at the CP. Returned the next day to Burnie via a caravan yard at Somerset. No we haven't decided to sell the Pod yet but you have to keep your options open. We had a visit at the Lactos cheese factory at Burnie and came away with some tasty treats and then a little further on to Guide Falls just past Ridgley. Only a short walk and by far the most impressive yet as you'll see. Back to town for some crafts and then my last visit with the chiro. After that hectic few days we holed up in the Burnie CP for a rest day and some of the crew managed to sleep until the afternoon! That evening we went for a walk over to the beach to see the Fairy Penguins come ashore. There were about half a dozen but unfortunately no pictures as its forbidden to use flash because it can blind them apparently. Sunday we proceeded to the outskirts of town where the Toll Tasman Car Rally was to end and had a relaxed lunch and watched some of the cars arrive back. Of course by far the best entertainment was the arrival in front of the field of a police car with siren wailing and appearing to be very out of control. Afternoon and a longish run to Hawley's Beach east of Devonport for afternoon tea. Nice spot with beautiful beach but definitely No Camping allowed. Even the camp mentioned on the map has been closed. Made an executive decision and continued on to Narawntapu NP on the other side of the inlet from Hawley's Beach Good road all the way until you reach the park then the worst bit of dusty corrugated road you could imagine. 5 kms to the camp site to see if there was any chance of staying then 5 kms back to register then another 5kms back to the camp !!! Not very brilliant, you would think they could put a pay box at the camp like the other states. A few there the first night but more the second night. There were many wallabies in evidence and lots of possums in the trees and just by good luck I managed to see and photograph the endangered Spotted Tail Quoll only found in Tassie . One of the furry critters managed to make off with one of my thongs during the night so will have to procure another pair next shop. Today usual relaxed exit and back to Devonport to pick up the new satellite tripod, a great success much more efficient stable set up, and do many loads of washing ready for the next expedition. To compensate for the length of this posting there are five new pictures on the website. Just click on the main picture to go to the archive if you haven't before and have a look.

5 March 2006
Another long time between postings but we've been out of mobile range for some time adventuring. After the day at Devonport relaxation dictated another night so after a trip to town for provisions and lunch at the lighthouse we returned to our site for another night. Refuelled and ready for action we moved on via a chocolate factory where we came away with a huge box of their goodies then a visit to the Axeman's Hall of Fame at Latrobe and Lake Barrington for lunch. After lunch we headed thru the forests to Cradle mountain and after finding the caravan park was booked out we decided that along with the 15 or more other vans to camp out in the information centre car park that night. There were free busses to the mountain from there to deter motorists on the narrow winding road so we took the opportunity as the weather was not that good to try and get a good look before it got worse. There were of course stupid drivers who insisted on driving their own vehicles but luckily not many. Luck was on our side and as we arrived at Dove Lake the clouds cleared enough to get some good pictures of the famed Cradle Mountain. Apparently according to the bus driver that was the first sight of it that there had been all day. We returned and went on a beautiful mossy green walk to some falls at the NP visitor centre. After the night in the car park we then drove westwards via the mining towns of Rosebery and Zeehan and opted to travel up the west coast another 30 minutes or so to a little fishing village called Granville Harbour. There was free camping on the shores and we were rewarded by sunny skies and calm weather and a beautiful sunset over the ocean with fishermen out in their boats. Next day the weather was miserable and demanded a day reading and staying inside. After that we returned to Zeehan and then onto Strahan in the hopes of getting some washing done. Checked out the local sights and the woodworking displays and had lunch at the wharf before checking into a caravan park. Tried to get some washing done but there was a line up at the laundry so put that job on hold for another day. This place has changed into Tasmania's Byron Bay and the prices reflect that. Off to Queenstown and after trying to get into the CP to do washing, they were closed for 2 hours for lunch, we went to the town laundromat and did it there while we had lunch in the street. Of course now that the washing was done we had no need of the park so headed a little way out from town to Lake Burbury and spent a pleasant night by the waters edge with only the fishermen and their boats coming at evening and morning. Didn't sound like they were catching much but couldn't have been a better place to try. On the journey thru the mountains we came across Nelson Falls and a short boardwalk rewarded us with beautiful pictures. Next onto Lake St Clair and a night in the trees. The weather had again closed in and overnight dropped to around 3 degrees so finally we had to break out the heater. This lake is at the southern end of the park that has Cradle Mt in the north and the adventurous can walk the overland track from north to south in a few days. Turning southwards now via the privately owned town of Tarraleah that had been nicely restored for tourist accommodation and onto Ouse for some groceries and lunch in the park. We continued to Mt Field NP and the famed Russell Falls. The charges at the park were outrageous but there was nowhere else to stay. Walked to the falls before evening in case the weather changed but only about one third of the falls is flowing so a bit disappointing. Next the last western part to visit and a drive to Lake Pedder and the Gordon dam. Beautiful weather couldn't have asked for better. Many pictures were taken and after lunch we decided to give the free campground a miss and opted for a top lakeside stop well away from the road and had panoramic views of the lake to ourselves for nothing. Another beautiful morning with the mountains reflecting in the lake before a late start on the drive to Hobart. We were going to stop in New Norfolk but unfortunately there was a rush on camp sites and there was no space but a call ahead to Berriedale got us a little corner in a park and we got some much needed washing out of the way. We drove to the local shopping centre and got some provisions while I got a replacement phone for Robyn's mobile that had decided to die just when we needed it. Another brilliant day and then in the morning off to the Salamanca markets in the drizzling rain and cool temperatures. Same old market stuff and some tasty treats to eat before we moved into the showgrounds with about 30-40 other caravans and motorhomes taking advantage of the cheap pricing. We are having two nights here and this morning there were markets so it was just a quick walk to explore. Mostly trash and treasure so came away empty handed and taking advantage of the afternoon off for some computing. As with last time you have been rewarded with more than one picture so check out the archive by clicking on the cover picture to look at them in the archive.

16 March 2006
After the weekend at the showgrounds in Hobart made it three nights after waking up with a headache Monday morning and spent the day recovering. Must have been the strain of two markets in one weekend! After the usual emptying tanks and filling the fresh water we then topped up with food and fuel and headed southwards. This took us to the Huonville for a pleasant lunch by the river with the wood carved tree stumps adorning the riverbank. Next onto the town of Dover and checked in for 2 nights and got started on the washing. While it was drying on the second day we drove on as far south as you can go in Australia to Cockle Creek and lunched there after a walk to the statue of a Southern Right Whale at the end of the track. Took lots of pictures and accidentally managed to snap a couple of pictures of a rare Black Tailed Gull that according to my book hasn't been recorded in Tasmania before, will be doing more checking on that later. Lots of campsites there but as we were already booked and had left our washing on the line we returned to Dover on the many kilometres or rough road. The weather as usual had turned unpleasant the next day but we soldiered on to the Tahune Forrest and the Airwalk. This is a suspended walkway high in the trees and ending up with a span just hanging over the Huon River. This was not for the fainthearted so I went alone while the cook did some reading. That night we took advantage of the complementary camping for motorhomes in the back carpark and spent the night with a few others doing the same. Next day back to Huonville for shopping and lunch again by the river. Afterwards we then travelled down the other side of the Huon inlet visiting the small town of Eggs & Bacon Bay. had to visit as we had seen it on the net with a house for sale some time ago and couldn't resist having a look. Well it was a pleasant enough spot but the house was still for sale after all this time so that must tell you something. Continuing on around the coast to we decided to call it a day a little further on and managed to find a little space away from the road right on a headland overlooking the ocean. As it was a long weekend with a holiday on Monday we thought it lucky to get such a good spot to ourselves and stayed on in splendid sunny weather for another night. Many pictures were taken and a few fishermen tried their luck in the adjoining bay but no other campers. Next onto Kettering to check out the ferry to Bruny island but sadly vehicles over 6 metres were to be charged $51. We decided it wasn't worth it to be charged almost as much as it cost on the ferry from Sydney and powered on to Margate. There we stopped at the railway market and had coffee and cake for morning tea. This is the last passenger train in Tasmania and has been fixed to this spot since passenger services ceased. The train was ok but the market was a bit of a fizzer. A visit to the historic Shot Tower in Kingston was next where lead shot was cast in the past. After a small donation I climbed up the 233 steps to take in the view from the top and take some pictures of course. Back down the 233 steps and a short journey back to Hobart and lunch by the water at the Casino. Afterwards we went to Tasmania's biggest shopping centre for a look {not really that big} and then onto Richmond for some pictures of the famous stone bridge. Tried to check into the caravan park there but they were full and so returned to Cambridge where we got the very last site for the night. It had been a very hot day 31C, heatwave for here, but after doing some washing and relaxing as night fell the winds began and overnight the temperature plummeted to 14C. Monday big day with a visit to markets at Sorell and then the spectacular views at the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch, and the Devils Kitchen where we appropriately had lunch. These are all superb rock formations on the clear blue ocean beach on the Tasman Peninsula. Then a visit to the Blowhole at the unusually named Dootown. Here all the houses are named including the word 'Doo' in them including things like 'We Doo', 'Love Me Doo', 'Doo little' you get the idea. Next we have booked into CP at Port Arthur for two days to see the historic remains of the infamous convict prison. Day two became a rest day after another morning headache and after extending our stay for a further night we set off to for the day at the Historic Site. We rounded off the day with a circuit of the Tasman Peninsula taking in The Remarkable Cave and White Beach before returning to the park for the night.Today we'll be trying to get to see a doctor for medical prescriptions and flu shots and after a suitable CP for washing etc. Again your luck is in as there are six new pictures uploaded to the archive for your viewing, with now 16 at a time showing. Be patient as it takes a while to load. Late news, we have extended our stay on the Apple Isle until after Easter.

7 April 2006
Heading back from Port Arthur we ran into Tim and Leeann, on their honeymoon, at Dunalley while we were having a coffee break. Tim and our Ryan grew up together so we know him well along with his dad being my work colleague for many years. They were on their way to Port Arthur for the day and we arranged to meet with them that night back at their cabin at the Cambridge caravan park to catch up. By the way Dunalley is the site of a canal connecting Blackman Bay and Norfolk Bay and was used to expedite shipping from the east coast to Hobart. Quite a success apparently and the differing tides in the two bays keeps the canal clean and silt free. Our quest to get the washing done at Cambridge was not to be as there were line-ups for both washers and driers but it gave us a good chance to chat. Next day doctors in Hobart and shopping before heading north thru Bagdad !! to a free stop at Kempton. Not much going on in this town but the free stop did have power so we took advantage and had a rest day there the next day. Next day further north via Oatlands to arrive in Ross for the night. The caravan park here is right in the town and next to the famous Ross bridge so after a couple of loads of washing took some pictures and walked the main street of town ending up at their renown bakery where I sampled the coffee and we both had cakes to make sure the reputation was deserved. At the other end of our walk there was the wool museum with information on the wool industry that this area is built on. Next day weather was spectacular with blue skies all round so took new shots of the bridge and cruised around town and photographed many of the other historic buildings. A little further up the road is Campbell Town also not to be outdone they have a red bridge along with an historic pub both begging to be photographed. All along the Midland Highway there are both topiary trees shaped as animals and iron silhouettes cut out as troupers,wagons etc to make the journey more interesting. On to Launceston with just a quick stop for food and fuel as we are spending Easter weekend here. We headed north east to Lilydale where we stayed for the night at the falls park. Low price but pretty ordinary as the main road was close by and there was a lot of traffic. In the morning I took a walk to the upper and lower falls before we continued on to have lunch at Tassie's huge lavender farm. Unfortunately flowering season was over but there was plenty to see and of course things to buy. That evening we intended to overnight at Scottsdale following a visit to the local craft outlet but while having lunch at the park realized that the log trucks were passing by every 10 minutes and along with the other traffic made it a pretty unattractive place. Shame because it had a duck pond,trees, good amenities and free but no way was I going to listen to traffic all night so after lunch we went another 20 kms to the north coast town of Bridport. What a good choice that was, even though we had to pay we had a site right on the beachfront and it was picturesque and quiet so much so we ended up staying for 3 nights. This of course necessitated a walk thru the beachfront parklands to the local shops for some supplies and of course the bakery for cakes. Leaving there we made a long day of it and visited the costal village of Tomahawk looking for the huge sand hills we both remembered but it seems that in 32 years they have vegetated it to stabilize the sand so it was no longer accessible. However there was a top smoko spot at the boat ramp so all was not lost. Next there was 20kms of gravel to the town of Gladstone and then the Little Blue Lake. Unlike the famous blue lake in Mt Gambier this is not a natural phenomena but the remains of mining that has been rehabilitated and flooded. The water is a beautiful pale blue caused by the minerals left over in the ground after mining. As the weather started to close in we had a stop at Weldborough lookout for lunch. It was cold and drizzly rain so I ran up the path to the lookout and got some pictures. Would have been better in the dry but you have to take the good with the bad. Just a note I did 'run' but it was only about 30 metres up the hill to the lookout. A little further on and a 10 km diversion took us to St Columba falls. These falls are 90 metres high so pretty impressive. The walking track was closed off but it seems everyone was still using it so we followed suit and even though it was about a km down hill and the same back up it was well worth it. Actually got better photo's of the creek than the falls as the cloudy conditions didn't do anything for the look of the falls and their sheer physical height made it difficult to take it all in. We rocked into St Helens in the torrential rain thinking we would book into a caravan park for the night but there was no room at the inn. This needed a quick resolution so a diversion to Humbug Point where in amongst the trees we were able to overnight for free. The rain cleared in the evening so next morning we dragged ourselves the 7km to the Bay of Fires NP and managed to get ourselves on a top secluded site right on the beach overlooking the ocean. Beautiful spot and settled in for a couple of days relaxing and watching the waves and the seagulls. We had almost decided to make it three days when it began to rain heavily again and as power was running low we tried again at St Helens and this time success. So after some shopping and a visit to the bakery of course and a craft shop we were able to finally get some washing done. Naturally we were so exhausted from all that work and stayed another night for luck. Leaving there we went out to the giant Peron sand dunes at St Helens Point where we went for a walk over a huge one and down to the shore. It was like a scene from the Sahara struggling up to the top dying of thirst. After we had the cakes purchased earlier from the bakery for morning tea. There was more beachfront driving before a turn to the west via St Mary's Pass to St Mary of course. Some clever person had erased the 'P' from the sign saying 'You Are Entering St Marys Pass' which gave us a good laugh but no picture as it was on a winding stretch with no where to pull off. A quick stop at a quilt shop and then further on to Fingal. There was a good free camp in the town but we were heading out to a riverside camp at Griffin on the Esk River. This place was huge and in amongst plantation forest but there was only 2 other campers so we had one of the camp areas all to ourselves for 2 days. It was icy cold over night with the temperature falling to 4.8C so finally the gas heater had to be used in earnest. The place was mostly quiet except for a few hours a day when in the distance you could hear a bulldozer working in the forest. Back via Fingal and secret men's business at the dump point and a top up of fuel then via St Marys to the coast and Bicheno. We stayed here for 3 nights while the weather sorted itself with a couple of trips to the blowhole and the beautiful coloured rocks for pictures and of course there was a bakery within walking distance so we sampled their coffee cakes and pies on more then one occasion. Leaving there the next was to be a visit to the Freycinet Peninsula with the top views of The Hazards, craggy mount backdrop to Coles Bay, a walk to Cape Tourville Lighthouse and another to Sleepy Bay. These were all magnificent photo opportunities and well worth the effort. Backtracking a little we drove into Friendly Beaches where we spent the night with many wallabies for company and the sound of the ocean. Inland again to Lake Leake, could have camped there but the campsite was not the most inviting, and it was still early so we had lunch by the water before leaving. On the road back we made a 10km diversion on gravel to Meetus Falls. These were accessed from the picnic ground on a rough rocky track so I made the trek alone hoping for some pictures. All went well until the very end where there were wooden steps down to the lookout but right at the end there were a couple of rocks as the last step. Here there was slippery moss growing and of course in my haste slipped on these and ended up wedged between the guard fence and the rocks. After a couple of moments imagining I had broken my wrist or worse still my ankle I dusted myself off and found I had just a cut on my wrist and some bruises. Nice falls just the same and another lucky escape. It had been a long day and we drove onto Swansea via Nine Mile Beach, there was supposed to be a camp at the end but more like a car turn around, which meant we stayed at the CP instead. Rewarded by a top sunrise over the bay with mountains of the Freycinet Peninsula silhouetted in the background. After a refuel in town and some more photographs the next stop was Triabunna. Here we had coffee and cakes at the bakery but it was so cold and windy we didn't stay long. A visit to the seamen's memorial at the wharf followed by the mandatory craft shop. The weather had begun to worsen and in driving rain [pun intended] we drove onto Buckland and some pictures if the historic church there. Unfortunately the trees have grown somewhat since the last time we were there and it was all but impossible to get a clear shot but we did our best. From there it was all rain until we got back to Hobart. We had intended to overnight somewhere on the way but with the mercury dropping and the rain falling it seemed like a good choice to head to the big smoke. There is of course an ulterior motive as there is a craft expo on in town. We returned to the showgrounds to overnight before a marathon craft session at the expo yesterday. Of course I didn't attend but did some shopping, refuelled and cleared my emails that have been accumulating over the time we have been out of range. Its also bitterly cold and blowing a gale so sitting here with power has its benefits. There was snow on Mt Wellington both mornings so you get the picture. Today is a rest day, some people overdid it yesterday and need to recuperate in bed.

18 April 2006
After a chilly and wet few days in Hobart with snow daily on the mountain we were at last heading north up the east side of the Derwent Valley with the autumn leaves now in abundance. First stop was the Hamilton for lunch where there are over 50 historic buildings all of which seem to have been converted to B&B's each spoilt with the modern trappings of TV antennas etc. Next to Bothwell and overnighting in the town CP situated next to the cemetery and behind the golf museum. It was here that the first golf course in Australia was established. With the weather again increasingly windy and cold diverted to Waddamanna. Here is the site of a complete preserved hydro power station that has been converted to a power museum. I walked thru it and looked over many interesting displays all meticulously preserved while Robyn had a rest in the bus. Next visited the Great Lake and onto Arthur's Lake for lunch and then to the camp site where we overnighted by the water with the promise of wind and colder temperatures to come. Used the gas heater for a number of hours as this camp was unpowered and holed up in the warmth expecting to see snow on the ground in the morning. It didn't happen even though its over 1030 metres above sea level but the cold change was to come later in the day after we were back down on the lower altitudes. Lunch in Longford after a visit to the pie shop. Must be cold I was even craving a hot pie for lunch. Pretty town with much of the original buildings preserved. This was the first town in Tasmania built without convict labour. After lunch a small diversion to Launceston to check for mail then west to Deloraine and overnighting by the river. Top spot and a pity to leave in the morning. Liffey Falls was next on the agenda and after a harrowing drive down the narrow gravel road I set off on the walk to these falls. Would have to be the best falls yet with 3 smaller drops before the main falls. With plenty of water flowing it made a top photo opportunity. For a lunch break we returned to Deloraine and while Robyn looked at the famed silk wall hangings I walked the main street where they have many unique cast aluminium figures that needed photographing. After this we checked into a CP in Haden as its Easter the parks and all free camps are of course packed out. Weather miserable so washing and drying done the next day and plenty of reading. Moving on we refuelled at Launceston before the journey up the eastern side of the Tamar River. Picturesque journey passing Bell Bay aluminium smelter, Georgetown and onto Low Head and its excellent lighthouse. This site also has the only working 'Diaphone' fog alarm remaining in the world. Lunch in the grounds of the pilot station before heading back south a little to the 'Batman Bridge' across to the west side of the river and up to Beauty Point for a couple of days. Packed out of course but luckily we had booked so no trouble. Sunny during the day but colder than usual so made do with TV and books inside as most others were doing. Leaving there we went to the very end of this side of the river mouth to West Head as you will see. This is the eastern end of Narawntapu NP, the western end of which we stayed in the middle of February. No camping this end but beautiful clear blue water and huge sandhills to the beach. Back southwards with a stop at the markets at Exeter and a stop for provisions before checking into Legana for two more nights. Windy over night with apparently 90-100km/h winds rocking the bus in the early hours of the morning. Today is the cooks birthday and into Launceston for a look at the monkeys at the city park enclosure and craft and textile exhibition then walked into town for a celebratory lunch. This was excellent but afterwards we had to dart in and out of cover as the rain and the icy wind had returned. Too miserable for a visit the gorge but that's something for tomorrow.

25 April 2006
The rain continued and with no let-up in sight we went to Cataract Gorge anyway and in a break in the downpour scampered down the 500 steps to the lookout and cafe reaching it in time for the rain and cold to return. Of course neither of us had taken a coat so as we sat shivering hot chips were the go. Managed to get off a couple of pictures with the gorge looking like it was full of mist but it was really rain. Next there was the run up those same 500 steps in the rain at the same time shielding my camera under my shirt. Arrived back at the bus completely stuffed and the cook 10 minutes later and wetter also stuffed. Lunch was had at a bakery in Westbury, hot pies of course and afterward I looked over the steam museum. Excellent restored steam engines but unfortunately the gloomy weather made it rather dark for pictures but I did my best. We made the last leg to Devonport in rain that would make the tropics proud and retired with the heater at the caravan park for our last night in Tassie. Realised my bed had got damp in the downpour during the day I spent the early hours of Thursday with the sheets and mattress protectors in the driers before we checked out. Secret men's business and a visit to a couple of caravan manufacturers were today's entertainment and lunch at Hungry's out of the continuing rain. Later in the afternoon after the rain abated we relaxed and made sure all was ready for the voyage overnight. Boarding the ferry seemed to take hours and the line of caravans and motorhomes were loaded last of course. Luckily the wind and rain had cleared so we were hoping for a reasonable crossing. We had only booked seats and planned to nap during the night and make up for it in Melbourne. As soon as we set sail the captain warned that they were forecasting 40km/h winds so got down to the serious business of eating before the rocking could begin. Sleeping on a chair has never been my strong point and I managed to read 4 magazines and watch hours of TV but no sleep. Robyn tried the seats without success but followed the lead of many others and settled in for a camp on one of the lounges with a blanket while watched TV. Both looked pretty grim in the morning but at least the journey was not rough and we arrived on time at 7 am. Another wait of probably an hour to disembark and we were on the way to the CP where we had booked and settled in to sleep the day away in comfort. Ryan came round after work and brought pizza for dinner and so ended Friday. Saturday we went to town for a look around and on Sunday it was markets. Monday was rest day for me with washing and a few small jobs that needed attention while Robyn went to town with Ryan to cruise the craft shops. Today its Anzac day and we have been for a bit of a tour of Mt Dandenong for some pictures, shame about the smog.

3 May 2006
After our time in Melbourne we headed east to Gippsland and after some time on the highway, lunch and 2 craft shop-stops we ended up at a quiet little spot about 20kms off the highway called Blue Pools. No one else there and there was actually a pool but not blue. Spent two nights enjoying the solitude before a little further for lunch and shopping at Bairnsdale then onto our final destination for a while in Paynesville with our good friend Laurie. [same name different spelling and opposite sex and a regular stopover for us in this part of the country] Two nights of partying to celebrate our hosts birthday followed by three more days doing a few jobs around the place to help out. Pod went to Bairnsdale on Monday for a service and now shipshape for the long journey home. Late this morning we motored to Lakes Entrance for lunch and a quilt shop followed by a little further to Orbost. By now the crew were getting restless and complaining of tiredness so called it quits here for the night. Nice spot surrounded by Autumn leaves and the pleasing sound of Bell Miners high up in the trees. Rain and wind had been promised for today but apart from a strong tail wind coming here its all gone quiet and certainly no rain as such yet, but then there's always tomorrow.

14 May 2006
After Orbost the promised rain didn't come and we had a pleasant journey to our next port of call Mallacoota. We had been past the road to here a few times but never ventured in so now we decided the time had come. Mallacoota is in the bottom right hand corner of Australia and the furthest east you can go in Victoria and has beautiful river/lake thru the township and also surf beaches. We drove around and got a good look before deciding on the council caravan park on the foreshore of the lake. All the sites are sloping and many have dug holes in the ground to level caravans etc and selecting a site with an appropriate hole kept us on the level. There was a beautiful pink glow in the sky over the lake at sunset with many Pelicans and other sea birds in evidence. next day we explored the town and ended up at the bakery. Sweet and savoury treats were taken back for lunch and afternoon tea. After two rest days here the next thing was to get across the boarder into new South Wales and visit Eden for some shopping and sightseeing. In the afternoon we cruised on a little further to near Bega to visit with a couple we had not met before but had conversed by email. Intended only a short visit but once we had been allocated a place to park and connected to power couldn't think of a good reason to move. Spent the next 2 days helping Ian sort out some of his computer problems and of course indulging in some of Jan's fine home cooking. Who would want to leave ?? Ian took us for a drive around the local hot spots and many pictures were taken. The weather overnight has been cold but the days fine and before we pushed our luck too far made a break for the north. For lunch we met up with Ellen and another Ian, motorhomers and usually residents of Paynesville, at Narooma on their way home after getting a new palatial motorhome. For us Bateman's bay was the destination and checked into a very nice caravan park for two nights to soak up the view. Night one had the most spectacular sunset we have ever witnessed the whole sky alight with the orange glow, photo's don't do it justice. Did the weekly wash of the sheets and towels and that got us up to date on that count after a couple of loads at our last stop. rain threatening still but just a few drops during the night. Left there and explored the shops nearby then put in a days driving onto just past Nowra on the coast at Gerroa. beach caravan park with outrageous fees but had enough for the day so that was it. Gloomy night with some rain but fine enough in the morning for some pictures at the beach. Big day after this tackling the new Sydney bypass tollway for the first time. Turned out to be a Godsend, not much traffic to contend with and just a short stretch at the end between it and the Pacific Motorway heading north. Toll worked out to about $10 but added years to my life not having to contend with Sydney traffic. That night stopped at The Entrance right on the lakeside with an assortment of seabirds for company and had take-away from the store nearby to give the cook a break. Heavy rain that night but fined up in the morning for the trip to Tuncurry. Put off trying the couple of forest campsites as there were at least 10 kms of muddy road leading to each with no guarantee that they were any good. made a small detour thru the Booti Booti NP camp ground and decided that the fees, $7 entry and $8 each for the night, were excessive and continued onto the CP we stayed in on the way south and found that it was only $20/night with all facilities. Seems that NSW doesn't really want anyone to use its parks but there loss is our gain and we have stayed on for another night here. Walk to town today and a celebratory Mothers Day lunch for us. Wishing all mothers a Happy Mothers Day goodness knows you've earned it.

7 June 2006
After Tuncurry it was just another leisurely drive northward to Nambucca Heads. Weather was poor and the washing needed attention so made use of their driers. Shame about the rain as this would have been a good spot to stay. It has frontage to the river and adjoins the beach as well but not much fun in the rain. Northward to Coffs Harbour for some shopping and then a little further to the campground at Corindi Beach. Not really at the beach but on a headland with ocean breezes and peasant views. Almost no one there so seemed like another two days to enjoy it. Second day the rain returned and so it was a wet trip up to Ballina and a damp overnight stay. At last the rain cleared and seemed like summer had returned and we new that Queensland was just a little way off. Made our way up to the Gold Coast and had pleasant lunch by the ocean at Coolangatta before overnighting at Miami. In the morning while Robyn had a hair cut and a look round the shops I met up with another motorhomer, Barry, to exchange ideas and in the afternoon rendezvoused with Robyn's sister Tracey and family for the Blues Festival that was on that weekend at Broadbeach. An afternoon of deafening music and coffee was followed by unusually for us an after dark arrival at Southport for the night. Sunday we continued on thru Brisbane to visit with friends at Murrumba Downs for lunch and chat before the last few kilometres to my brothers at Caboolture. Stayed there and socialised for a few days with him and my sister Shirley and husband Hugh before saying goodbye and heading up to our present location at Mapleton with Robyn's parents. As you can imagine there has been much crafting for the girls while I did a few jobs around the place and helped Tracey with her web site. Its looking pretty good now after three long afternoons of tweaking. Has been pretty relaxed but now its time to start the final leg of our journey and head home so tomorrow we'll be casting off and should be home within a week.

5 July 2006
The last leg of our journey took us up the Queensland coast with stopovers at Gin Gin, Carmila, Bowen and lastly a pleasant overnight stop at Big Crystal Creek NP campground a little north of Townsville. I'm happy to report that everything went well and we made it home without mishap. There are many things to do to the pod before we head off again but only a couple of major things being, the need to look into a break leak on one of the front wheels, a replacement muffler and there is 'that dent' that will need attention! There has been plenty to be done around the home, already there have been 2 x 4 cubic metre skips of garden rubbish and a trip to the dump with the proceeds from a cleanup of our spare room with more to follow. Seems harder to get back to the swing of life in suburbia and dreams of just heading off for good linger on. We'll be giving serious thought to that over the next months, but perhaps you'll be reading of our next big one before we make that decision, only time will tell. As for this one even with the mishaps that befell me it was still most enjoyable and by far the longest expedition so far. I have compiled some vital statistics to bring this journey to an end. We spent 159 days away, 5 calendar months and 10 days, with 86 of those spent in caravan parks, 40 with family and friends, 30 in national parks and other freecamps and lastly 2 nights aboard the Spirit of Tasmania III. By road 12378 kms using 1780litres of diesel costing $2289 with a fuel economy of 14.38l/100km or 19.64mpg. By sea 1398kms costing $850. A major service in Bairnsdale Vic, 4kg of gas and 3 litres of unleaded for the generator.For Lawrie 4 visits to the chiropractor in Burnie, and not forgetting 6 nights in Nambour Hospital with 'The Stone'. To adequately cover all that I snapped off 4518 digital pictures just to make sure I got the perfect shot, well most of the time, and many of those will be appearing on the web site soon which incidentally had 1683 hits in the time we were on the road. I think that about covers it all so once again thank you all for your interest. Cheerio and thanks for all your emails, The Crew.

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