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Autumn-Winter 2007

28 March 2007
In a break with tradition this year we are having holidays after the wet season and only venturing to the south east of Queensland and northern New South Wales but as usual we'll keep you informed of the highs and lows as they happen on the internet. This year began in usual fashion and day one was been less than perfect. Cab airconditioner is playing up again suspect its an electrical fault so will be able to sort that myself but if it turns out to be anything more we know a good tech in Bowen who has helped us out before. More importantly at Kennedy about 20kms north of Cardwell one of the inside rear tyres went out in style with a bang and in doing so bits of it managed to impact on the stainless steel water tank just to the rear of it and now as well as a ruined tyre we have a small leak in the tank.... After changing the tyre continued on to Cardwell and a well deserved rest. Made a temporary repair on the tank, now appears to be just a tiny hole and seems to be holding well with duct tape. Today just a couple of hours further on at Townsville we got two new front tyres and the ex-front ones have taken the place of the infamous blow-out. After $430 bill we had lunch on the strand and then a bit of a look around some new caravans and motorhomes at one of the dealers before retiring to our usual caravan park to cool off. Still over 30 in the day up this way and in the 20's at night so cool comfort is important for the pampered after a day of travel. The cab airconditioning still needs attention but will have a look at that sometime when the engine is cool.

22 April 2007
After the drama on our first day of travel the rest of the journey so far was pretty uneventful. After Townsville we stopped at Bowen, Camilla, Rockhampton, and Gin Gin. Fuel remained the greatest expense but unusually this year diesel has been cheaper than unleaded so its not all bad. We diverted into Bundaberg to check out caravans and looked over some well appointed Jayco vans that may become the vehicle of choice should we decide on a few years with no fixed address. Last stop was Mapleton where we are still encamped in the front garden of the in-laws place. Easter was spent looking around using a car loaned by Andy, Robyn's sisters better half, and on Saturday I splashed out on a new laptop after getting a good price from Joyce Mayne. This time I have chosen Compaq 12in keeping in mind our nomadic lifestyle I needed something that was frugal on power and this one fits the bill nicely and is certainly portable. There was plenty of shopping and visiting with Luke who now lives at Caloundra in his 3rd floor bachelor pad. Unfortunately during this time we learnt that Scott our nephew and son of Peter and Ann Maree had been admitted to hospital back home and was not expected to live. We decided to stay put for the time being and wait and see how things went. On the 15th the news came that he had finally been taken and it was decided that Robyn and sister Tracey would fly home and attend the funeral. In the mean time on the 18th it was Robyn's birthday and to celebrate we shopped for presents and had a bar-b-q roast dinner at Tracey and Andy's new house in Nambour. Luke drove over from Caloundra and delivered a spectacular caramel mud cake which rounded off the meal nicely. This weekend I have remained here and along with many other family and friends celebrated Scott's life with a gathering at a park in Nambour to coincide with the funeral back home on Friday. Robyn and Tracey should be flying home on Monday and we have planned to travel to Toowoomba for the next weekend for a meet with another motor-homing couple and a craft show for the ladies.

11 May 2007
As forecast we headed off from Mapleton and spent the night at Somerset Dam, not as dry as we expected but still low none the less. The campground is downstream of the dam wall with only a couple there we had our choice of spots with views to the stream. Actually the Brisbane River but not much in it at this point. There was good TV reception but absolutely no phone reception. Next day onwards to Toowoomba where we camped in the show ground along with Barry & Diana in their bus from the Gold Coast. Convenient as this is where there was a craft show on!! Fortunately for the men there was also a home show so we got to look around while the ladies got their fill of crafts. I managed to pick up a roll of silvered bubble wrap to use as window shades in the bus and will cut it to shape when there is a suitable place. The weather was not the best but shouldn't complain the south east needs any rain it can get. Sunday after a leisurely start we checked out the town markets and bought fruit and veg. Afterwards we visited the folks at the cemetery before lunch at the park in Allora. Some how I took a wrong turn and we ended up on the scenic route to Leslie Dam even though our original plan was to go else ware. As it turns out we made the right choice had the whole place to ourselves for 2 days, very restful. Then after secret men's business we moved on to Cunningham's Gap for lunch and then down to Brisbane to look at caravans before checking into Tonys at Caboolture. Next day was a big day for Robyn meeting her sister and aunt for the big day out at the Brisbane Craft Expo. I visited with my sister Shirley and husband Hugh and did the obligatory shopping then met up with Robyn and back to Tonys. Thursday was a day of rest and catching up on a few jobs and importantly cut out the windscreen shades. Turned out to be an excellent job and as good as the professional ones. Friday picked up by Hugh to go to the Caboolture Historic Village to sit in on a talk on Herbs by Shirley. Most interesting and afterwards a tour around the village. Saturday Luke drove down from Caloundra and took us to look at caravans at Burpengary and then lunch and some shopping at Morayfield. Sunday we went to the Petrie markets with Tony, not as good as they used to be but the men got to look around the steam museum so made it worth while. Afterward we returned home via the scenic route thru Mt Mee and had lunch at Wamuran. Monday we visited with Shirley and collected some pictures for our family web site ,only in its infancy but at least I'm finally getting on with it. The evenings over the weekend were a wrestle fest watched on Tonys new mega TV and surround sound, could probably do without wrestling for a couple of months now but it was fun. Wednesday we left Tonys and after having a look over the Phoenix caravans factory in Caboolture headed northwards for a few days at Dicky Beach just a few hundred metres from Luke's pad. Weather has been rain on and off but managed to get some shots of the wreck of the SS Dicky after which this beach is named. Apparently its the only beach in the world named after a shipwreck. Tomorrow we head up the hills again to Mapleton to visit with the folks for Mothers day on Sunday.

27 May 2007
We had a good family get together for Mothers day at Mapleton with a sumptuous chicken and salad lunch for all and followed by caramel cheesecake delivered by Luke. Then followed crafts for the ladies busy making all sorts of cards and books decorated with coloured tissue paper, glitter and stamps. Monday it was time for us to go adventure some more and we started out by going to Jayco Caravans followed by lunch while we searched for the Boroma Vans place. One wonders how you can get lost with a GPS but seems it helps if they have the correct address on their website. Luckily they had a map and I had saved it for reference. The unfortunate thing was that it was a map to their factory not the sales yard !!! Fortunately they were both within 10 minutes but it meant that we had to double back to find the place. As it turns out the extra hassle was worth it as their vans are superbly manufactured and well worth the premium price they are asking and they are custom built so if you are prepared to wait you can have anything you like included. You can of course choose from the half a dozen or more demo vans they keep at the yard if one fits your plans. They are a little heavier than the mass produced Jayco's and this would mean choosing a larger tow vehicle but as we had been looking at the Jeep as an alternative that could be the way to go. Lots of dollars all round but if its going to be your home for some time could be worth the extra investment. By the time we reached the outskirts of Southport it was getting dark so we opted for the first park for the night. Nice place but they sure knew how to charge !! Tuesday we found the communications shop I had been looking for just a few blocks away and purchased an adapter that I needed for the internet modem and then headed west to Nerang for some shopping. Our next destination was Flannigan's reserve a few kms out of Rathdowny to the south west of Brisbane. Really dry out this way quite a distinct change from the coast which is reasonably green. Nice treed park on the banks of the Logan river, not flowing more than a trickle but there is a large waterhole for the ducks and other water birds. No caretaker at home when we arrived but as we were the only customers we found a nice quiet spot overlooking the river and set up camp. The caretaker arrived back late that evening but for the two nights there were no other campers and it was stony silent at night and quite cold around 5-6 degrees. We were warm though always pays to travel with a down quilt. After that we headed further along the picturesque Mt Lindsay Highway over the border into NSW and by late lunch we were in the Border Ranges National Park. This was along 15 kms of single lane gravel road and we thought no one would be there but soon found that there was a school group encamped for the night. After a drive around we found a spot as far away as possible and had lunch before making up our minds weather to stay or move on. We chose to stay and as it turned out there were plenty of parents in attendance and the children were pretty quiet and did go to bed early. Apart from the children there were hundreds of Bell-Miners in the trees and these hade a melodic bell sounding call during the daylight which is very pleasant on the ears. Actually managed to get a picture of a couple of them, unusual as they tend to be hidden up high in the trees. Another cool night in the forest which was much greener and lush than over the border in Queensland, who says the grass isn't greener over the neighbours fence??? I went on a bushwalk in the morning to the falls and took some pictures and afterwards we headed off to hob nob with the alternate lifestyle crowd at Nimbin. It was getting late by the time we got there so booked into the local CP for the night and some heating for the night. Next morning we had a walk thru the town and looked at the crafts they had to sell. Several people approached us and offered to sell us some 'herbs' but we declined. Our next port of call was Lismore, there was a small market on but by then all the shops were closed so after lunch at a park we moved onto the Casino Motorhome Village and have booked in here for a few days to have a good look around and see what changes have been made since our last visit. Today, Sunday, we had lunch at the new coffee shop and got many loads of washing done in the fine weather although it rained yesterday afternoon for 5 minutes so far that has been it. Not as busy as usual here as many MH owners have gone north to Barcaldine for the annual rally. This morning's entertainment was provided by one of the other campers nearby who fell over and injured his leg and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance but he did walk so hopefully not injured to badly. I have been informed that there is a craft morning on Tuesday so may be here until after that.

11 June 2007
The craft morning did eventuate and the crafty half attended, not a good roll up only 3 other ladies. There was also a digital photography meet that afternoon but no matter how many times I attended no others showed so perhaps all the photographers were away. After lunch Robyn had a meet with one of the craft ladies to examine her craft and then we walked around the village houses and there was one display home open. Very nice but up around $200,000 so out of our wish list. Wednesday we left casino for the coast and the very nice Minnie Water NP. Very nice peaceful place and we were so relaxed spent 3 nights there. Camped right at the beach with just some steps down to the water. Went on a walk over the headland which took you to the township and back through the bush. Lots of different birds in abundance and was a challenge to get them on film. Went to Grafton for the weekend to get some provisions and get the washing done also now the sun was getting low on the horizon we were getting almost no solar charging because the trees were shading the panels. Stayed at a big, mostly permanent holiday cabins, caravan park. This place is right on the banks of the Clarence River and is used by skiers as a holiday place. This weekend there were only 4 or 5 ski boats there and almost every cabin was vacant so it was very quiet. A little rain on night two but at least our washing was done and dry. Monday back to the coast and lake Arragan NP. This started out badly, as we were driving in on the gravel road my mirror broke off its weld and bounced along the road shattering the glass. There were quite a few campers here but each campsite was screened from the other by trees and just a walk over the dunes to the beach. Plenty of birds here also and a large group of kangaroos foraging on the grass. Day two and more came with loud music but fortunately someone must have pointed out that we were all here for the peace and quiet and it was toned down and covered by the noise of the waves. Looked like rain that evening so brought the outdoor furniture inside just in case and rolled in the awning. Then it rained, and rained, and rained. Came down in cats and dogs and in the morning I awoke to find that my side of the bed was damp from a small leak in the seal around the rear window. It was time to go. Took off the sheets and mattress cover and hung them to dry and propped up the mattress to dry while we drove up to the nearest place of any significance to get the window resealed. Found the only windscreen man was out of town and just on chance went to an RV repair place to see if they could help. Good news they were extremely helpful and spent the best part of the whole afternoon digging out the old crumbling sealant and replacing it with new. Also took the broken mirror mount to another workshop and got it rewelded. Kept us there as long as possible to make sure the sealant was cured and after that we went into town and got checked into a CP for the night. Dried the sheets and mattress protector in the drier and the mattress fortunately had not absorbed much moisture and dried out rapidly with the aid of the air conditioner on heat. Strange now we have done all that it stopped raining!! it was then another scenic drive up to the Gold Coast for a night at Tallabudgera CP before visiting with Barry and Diana at Robina and in depth discussions on LEDs and quilting and craft for the ladies. Another GPS guided run into Brisbane city and overnight at a caravan park before the 4km short run to the exhibition grounds for the Caravan and Motorhome Show to look over all types of van in the one place and all the new gadgets that are now available. We have so far narrowed down the choices to about 4 vans and until we have sold out home in Cairns this is about as far as we can go. Late that afternoon we drove up to Tony's at Caboolture for the weekend. Luke came down from the Sunshine Coast yesterday bringing with him pies for lunch and cheesecake to follow. Tony spent most of the day riding his mower round the acres and I did loads of washing. Today a bit of R & R and a visit this afternoon from my sister Shirley and better half Hugh.

22 June 2007
After our visit with Tony we headed up for the last few days with the in-laws at Mapleton. Lots of crafting multiple visits from Luke and a couple of trips to the coast. Finished off with a family get together and barbeque lunch on Sunday with Tracey, Liam,Jaimie and Luke all in attendance . Finally set off for home on Tuesday after the plummeting mercury over the last few days in Mapleton. Had a pleasant overnight at little van park on the Burrum River at Howard followed by a visit to Bundaberg for shopping and another look over the Golf caravans. Had lunch in a park there as the temperature managed to just top 12.5 degrees. It remained cold and windy we checked into park at Benaraby for the night with light rain starting and still cold. Of course during the night that light rain became heavy and around 2am on an unscheduled toilet run a leak was discovered from the roof vent. Not a complete disaster as it was at least dripping on the floor and not into the cupboards or bed. Lights on and tools out, unscrewed the trim and managed to confine the leak with a hand towel that absorbed the brunt of it. Of course after that took some time to get back to sleep but we were on our way again the next day to Rockhampton. Drove straight to CQ caravans and joined the queue for repairs at the gate. Couldn't have asked for better service, the owner himself came out with his ladder and Sikaflex sealant and got up on the roof and resealed it all for a measly $20. There were another couple in a motorhome in the driveway with a bigger leak from their air conditioner over their bed so must have been the day for it. Unfortunately they had to wait for a caravan to be taken from the workshop before they could get under cover and have the air conditioner removed and resealed. Seems they spent the night with a saucepan between them on the bed to catch the drips!! By now it was about time for lunch so instead of heading off any further decided to overnight in Rockhampton just in case the leak should return. Last site in the caravan park was ours and virtually no rain so the sealant remains untested but has had time to cure at least before moving on today. Weather is still cold but clear with some rain at Clairview where we had lunch and then onto Sarina for overnight again the last site in the park so our luck can't be all bad. Apparently today was the coldest June day on record for Mackay 30 minutes north. Hopefully the rain will clear completely tomorrow for the next days driving. Only good thing with the cooler weather is that we have not needed the air-conditioning on but have made full use of the heating but its quite pleasant driving.

3 July 2007
Following a relatively dry night at Sarina and the removal of the feathered roadkill from the bullbar we did some shopping and then headed north to Bowen. Checked into the usual CP there and then the fun started. First when we were entering through the card operated gate we were only about a couple of metres through and the bar came down trapping us there. It was impossible to lift it and eventually the manager had to come and wind the motor back manually to release us. Then once we were safely in our site I found that none of the remaining 3 power outlets in the mushroom serving our site had any power and even one over on the next site was dead so another walk to the office and now it was the managers turn to try and get this fixed. The pole looked like it was on its last legs and apparently someone had backed over it in the past few days but eventually he managed to free up one of the circuit breakers on the pole and reset a circuit for us so at last we had power. Not so bad but then I discover that there was no earth on it either !! Careful investigation showed that the neighbours also on the same mushroom also had no earth and another call to the manager. This had him scratching his head and left saying he would look into it. Yeah I bet. Rather than cause any more stress we just put up with it for the night knowing that we were moving on the next day. At least it wasn't raining any more and the journey to Townsville was uneventful. We refueled and drove by a caravan dealer but as it was Saturday afternoon all was quiet. Visited Robyn's brothers home but he was away so had lunch with his partner Margret before a short run out to Bluewater for the night. At last it was hot, we knew we were back in the tropics. Pleasant night and I got up and watched the US formula one race in the early hours of the morning. Last day on the road and had take away fish and chips lunch at Innisfail before the last bit in the rain to home. Its been a week now and after a few days of rain and cool nights to greet us its all returned to normal and pleasant winter weather. Now what you have all been waiting for a few statistics to end off the trip. We lasted 90 days, 34 at caravan parks,show grounds and reserves, 6 in national parks and 50 with relatives. Travelled 5373 kms using 780 litres of fuel costing $882 at an average cost of $1.13/litre giving 6.88km/l or 19.44MPG. One 4kg gas fill, 2 leaks, 748 pictures, and lastly 979 website hits. Thanks again for your attention and don't forget to have a look over the pictures on the website covering this trip.

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