Monday, January 17, 2011

Arriving Home 16th Jan

Dear Fellow Blog Readers,
You have been asking where are the blogs?
Firstly I would like to thank those who gave me feedback on their enjoyment of the blog. You really encouraged me to keep going and now we have a wonderful record of our fabulous adventure.

Since we arrived in Melbourne, we have virtually been staying with people and enjoyed their generous hospitality and delicious food. We were having such a good time that the blogs have gone by the wayside but I can assure you it will be done to complete the record of this amazing trip so it can remain in cyberspace forever.

So here is a brief update with a more detailed version to follow later.
We spent six days in Melbourne for Christmas with Penny and Chris in their delightful flat, then on to Jillian (Brian’s sister) and Neil in Albury where we spent three days. We were there for New Year’s Eve and were joined their friends. We certainly enjoyed their company, the lovely air-conditioned house and some very yummy food. Neil has a new Porsche so I felt very important going for a ride – what a beautiful car.

After an overnight stay at Yass we went to Gwandalan which is just south of
Newcastle and is on foreshore of Lake Macquarie, to see Jenny (my sister) and Doug and had a wonderful eight days of chatting, relaxing, boating, sailing, eating amazing food and have a great time, not to mention the disastrous games of Scrabble (I lost all three games!)

We then went to Wellington (which is near Dubbo) to see Auntie Gwen. It was great to see her again and I was able to do some chores and gardening.

Then DISASTER hit!! On Wed 13th Jan I received a phone call from a friend to say that my investment property in Ipswich (which was a dud anyway) was underwater!!! What a shock!!! We had to wait for the water recede and also all roads home were blocked. We left on Friday after we shared a morning breakfast on bacon and eggs with Gwen at our caravan park by the river. We stayed the night at Coonabarabran and I caught up with old family friends Gwen and Athol. Then a long drive to Tenterfield the next day. On Sunday we left at 5am and headed straight to Ipswich to spend the day helping with the clean up. A rather unwanted welcome home!!
What a massive job. On the Sat all the carpets had to be pulled up and everything had to been thrown out. All the plasterboard had to come off and the place had to be guttered. Owners unable to attend were able to pay to have the unit cleared which I did.
There were an army of volunteers. As there was already a team working in my unit, we went and helped other unit. All plasterboard from the walls and ceilings was on the floor and had to be removed by wheelbarrow and the kitchen had to be dismantled. Brian worked like a Trojan and I did my bit. After a couple of hours we had a volunteer couple join us which made a huge difference. He was a landscaper so knew how to use a shovel and wheel barrow. The only thing left to do was to hose the place out with a gurney and put a microbe killer on the frame.
We had to go so, very weary and footsore, we headed for home. The drive home through the back way to Boonah was magnificent. It was so very green and I really think it was the prettiest drive of the whole trip. How lucky we are to live in this beautiful part of Australia.

When we arrived at the gate the grass was over waist high and the bitumen road was
as narrow as path. The trees in the front paddock have grown so much. Then we came down into the creek and oh dear – the caravan got bogged!!
It took nearly three hours to get it out by winching and pulling. The ropes broke twice and the van was very close to a large post which threatened to scratch and dint the side of the caravan. Finally we managed to winch it sideways and then pull it out unharmed.
Totally exhausted, sweaty and very weary we were able to finally have a shower (thank goodness for solar hot water),and relax with a stiff scotch and go to bed.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

To Melbourne:

We passed into Victoria just before Nelson which is on the Glenelg River. This was another place familiar to Brian as his parents spent many holidays here and lived here in their retirement.

Finally we were on the same time zone except for Queensland.

We stopped at Portland to see where Brian used to keep his boat. More memories!! There is a very good information centre here and we were able to unhook and leave the caravan. We had to do some washing so that was handy. It was showery and windy once again.
We went to see the old fort with some guns that originally looked out over the sea but now they are pointing to the large wheat terminal.

A drive along the coastline took us to the lighthouse. It was extremely windy and I had great fun walking out to the lighthouse and lookout as I was nearly blown away.

We camped the night at Sawpit Campground which was a free camp just outside Portland. It was a lovely campground in the state forest which was an old sawpit. Lots of huge trees were spread around the campsite and although it was muddy and damp from the rain, some campers had a fire.
A short walk took you to Whaler’s Lookout where the aborigines lit a fire to let the whalers know that the whales where present. In return they were given whale meat. You could see the whole of the coastline and Portland from this vantage point.

The next we went to Port Fairy where we had to get another two tyres to replace a punctured one and the spare.
Port Fairy is an interesting old town with some lovely old houses along the river and lots of boats tied up to the wharf. We had been here before so we had some lunch and headed onto Warrnambool which is a large place. It is very interesting but we were tired and it was very busy so we keep going.

We stayed in a small town called Terang which had a beautiful avenue of huge oak trees. It was a bit sad as a lot of shops had closed down but they did have a beautiful golf course. The countryside is just so green after all the rain.

We went on to Colac the next day, stopped for a coffee and a bit of shopping and then to our free camp beside Colac Lake. There are lots of lakes in this area and we were really glad to finally see some sunshine. I had a really good book so it was nice to sit out in the sun and enjoy the warmth. We were the only people there.

From here we headed to Melbourne with a stop at Geelong to look at the foreshore
which had been refurbished and is very nice. There are lots of bollards along the foreshore representing all sorts of people and eras. There is a big marina here, a big wheel, a pier, a merry-go-round, a miniature train and a nice beach.

We arrived in Melbourne thanks to the trusty GPS which took us through the very long (and scary) underground tunnel and then through some back streets to land us in Penny’s leafy street and we were able to get a park right near their unit. They were both at work so we walked down to the local shopping street to have a coffee.

Geelong Foreshore

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mt. Gambier

Mt Gambier is famous for its Blue Lake which is an old volcano crater and is a brilliant blue from November to March. They don’t really know why it is blue for this short time. There is another crater nearby which is a greeny colour. The lake area is beautiful with walking paths right around the lake and lookouts and lots of beautiful green trees. A great recreation area for the people of Mt Gambier.

The whole area is limestone so there are lots of caves and sinkholes. We went to see the Cave Gardens which is a big hole in the middle of town and was originally the town water supply but now is a garden. The limestone sits on a clay base so the water that seeps through the limestone accumulates in caves and sinkholes. When Brian lived here he used to go diving in these underwater caves. There is another big cave in the town which you can look through but we didn’t fancy that. Limestone was used to build most of the houses and old buildings. Mt Gambier is graced with many old beautiful buildings and is the second largest city in S.A.

The gardens in Mt Gambier were beautiful with lots of roses everywhere and many beautiful old trees.

The next day we went for a drive to Port MacDonald which is only 20 klms away where we saw the jetty and lots of crayfish boats anchored in the harbour. It is renowned for its delicious crays. An interesting mural depicts the activity at the jetty in the early days. It was a very busy port then but because of the rugged coastline and shallow harbour there were many shipwrecks. The local maritime museum has some fascinating displays and info about the wrecks.

A scenic drive takes you along the rugged limestone coastline. There is a colony of fairy penguins on one of the small islands close to the cliffs but you really have to go on a tour to see them. You can see where a lighthouse was finally put up to warn unsuspecting seafarers of the dangers. It always took several keepers to mann the lighthouses as they had to keep replenishing the whale oil of kerosene to run the light. This lighthouse was the only one that has the living quarters underneath it. The prevailing winds were so strong that a wall had to be built to protect the building. The lighthouse has been moved but the remains of the wall are still visible.

Brian has some old friends who in Mt Gambier so we went to visit and the next day Brian went to help John with his work which is garden maintenance and tree lopping so I had a day lovely day to myself shopping. I also visited the brand new library which is a magnificent library. They have a huge historical research room and I was able to research my great grandfather who came to Mt Gambier from England in 1856. That evening we were treated to a beautiful roast dinner by Brian’s friends.

On Thursday we went for a tour of the Blue Lake pump station. We walked down the steep hill to the old limestone pump station and learnt some of the history. We then went in a lift which took us to the level of the lake and we walked along a tunnel where we could see the pumps in action. The lake it is deep in a crater so it is too steep for animals to get down to the water’s edge so there is very little pollution in the water which makes it very good quality water. There were just a few ducks on the water and a funny little diving bird which goes down very deep. Mt Gambier will never be short of water.

We enjoyed our stay in Mt Gambier and spent the next night at a free camp at Mt Schanck which is at the base of yet another crater and is where Brian used to live. There is a quaint little stone house there and he built all the stone extension on the house so it was great for him to see it again although it is not lived in now and a bit overgrown.
We walked up to the crater rim where you could get a really good view of the surrounding countryside. It was very windy at the top.

From here we headed to Victoria.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Mt Gambier:

We left Coorong National Park in blustery conditions and headed east. We checked a free campsite called The Granites which was right beside the sea but it was far too windy to consider staying. We pressed on to Kingston SE where we checked out the local fish shop on the jetty. We had been told to try Coorong Mullet and it was delicious!!
It was very very windy in Kingston and especially out on the jetty. The caravan park was on the foreshore and very exposed so we checked out a free camp which was near the beach and was supposed to be sheltered. We found that it was still very windy and we were being sandblasted so we decided to head inland to maybe escape the wind.
With a tail wind we made good progress and finally ended in Millicent which is about 50 klms from Mt Gambier. Brian used to manage a service station here years ago.
We found a lovely caravan park on the edge of town overlooking the paddocks. It was still windy and rainy but not nearly as bad as on the coast.
We bought some fresh Coorong Mullet and some garfish in Kingston SE which I cooked that night and it was delicious.

It was a nice day the next day so we decided to stay another day there as the CP was nice and very reasonable. We went for a drive to Southend on the coast, which is a small bay where Brian used to keep the first boat that he built many years ago. Unfortunately the boat lost its mooring and was wrecked so there were lots of memories for him.

We then went onto Beachport, a lovely old seaside place with some very old buildings including a very old pub and a museum.
There is a large jetty of course and lots of crayfish boats are moored in the bay as crayfishing is one of the main industries here, The sea was very blue (sunshine at last) so it was a pretty scene.

We went on the scenic drive along the rugged and fragile limestone cliffs so you can
imagine how dangerous it was for all the ships in the early days especially as there are lots of hidden reefs along this coast. Surprisingly there was also some lovely beaches. We finally came to Lake George which is a shallow lake where Brian's family camped amongst the tea-trees when he was young so many more old memories although things have changed a lot since then.

In the morning we set off for Mt Gambier and settled in to Central Caravan Park for a relaxing day.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Goolwa is at the mouth of the River Murray. The Murray runs into Lake Alexandrina ans Lake Albert and then spreads out through a series of islands and the along the Coorong which spreads out along the a narrow channel by sand hills for miles, as the mouth of the Murray is only a small opening and often blocks up completely. Until recently there hasn’t been much water in this part of the Murray as it is all being used upstream for irrigation and many weirs have been built to hold the water back. Now there has been so much rain in Queensland and NSW so the Murray is getting a much need flush out but may also cause some flooding when it eventually comes down.

In the 30’s a large barrage was built across the river to stop the salt water travelling up the river – it had encroached 250 miles upstream. The barrage consists of a series of cement gates which can be lowered stop the water or opened to let the water flow out. At the moment there is a huge amount of water flowing out to make room for water that is coming down.
We were able to walk out on the barrage and see the water flowing out. The pelicans, swans and divers had a great time catching the fish as they came downstream.

Goolwa is a very interesting historic town with lots of old buildings. During its hey-day, from the 1850s to the 1880s, Goolwa was one of the country's earliest and most important river ports. Goolwa developed as the Murray's link with the sea. Cargoes of wool and other produce were off-loaded at the river port and transported by (horse-drawn) railway to be exported from a seaport on Encounter Bay - initially Port Elliot and later Victor Harbor. Supplies and passengers also travelled this route.
A steam train still operates as a tourist attraction from Victor Harbour to Goolwa.
There is also a paddle steamer that has been lovingly restored by enthusiastic volunteers and is taken out on the river twice a month. Many old boats are seen in the water and at the Armfield Slipway a group of keen wooden boat enthusiasts restore wooden boats. Goolwa is also home to the bi-annual wooden boat festival.

Goolwa sits on a huge bend in the river and a big bridge goes over to Hindmarsh Island where there is a marina and some flash houses. This is where Stuart sighted the mouth of the Murray. Every sort of water sport is enjoyed especially now there is lots of water.

We really enjoyed our stay in this interesting town and the beautiful reflections on the River Murray.

The Coorong is a long, shallow lagoon more than 100 km in length that is separated from the Southern Ocean by a narrow sand dune peninsula.
The Lakes Alexandrina and Albert form the mouth of the River Murray and are comprised of fresh to saline waters.
The Coorong's fragile ecology depends on getting a mix of fresh water from the Murray and sea water from the ocean.
The Coorong is renown for the birdlife and is now a National Park. It has been dry for a long time but now with all the rain that has occured upstream the lake is full and more water will be coming down to flush out the system. It is also very popular for fishing and we bought some fresh Coorong mullet which was delicious.

We camped on the National park by the Coorong and although it rained it was beautiful.

Fleurieu Peninsula:

We left Adelaide and headed down coastline and passed nearby, but not through, some famous wine growing regions such as Reynella and McLaren Vale. Although we loved Adelaide it was good to get out of the city away from traffic.
There are quite a few beaches here and we called into Sellicks Beach. It is one of the few beaches that you can drive a car onto the beach. Big cliffs overlook the water and there are very few waves.

As we got further south the hills became rolling and very steep. The countryside was very green. As this area was settled early in the history of SA there are some very old buildings and I was reminded of England. Although you are very close to Adelaide you feel like you are very isolated. We passed through some very quaint villages until we came down some steep hills to Rapid Bay where there was a free campsite. What a delightful place this was!! Rugged steep cliffs at one end of the small bay, a lovely beach and a huge long jetty at the other end and a green, flat camping area in the middle. There was a limestone crushing plant on the side of the hill near the jetty but that is no longer used. The town had a few very old stone workers cottages (no longer used), an abandoned store and I think three local residences although there is a three teacher school that services the whole district.
Rapid Bay was the first place in SA to be surveyed by William Light who proposed it as a site for the capital and so the some of first settlers arrived here. We saw the rock with the initials WL carved by Colonel Light.
It was very hot but overcast so I went for my first swim for a long time in the refreshingly cool water.

The next day we went for a drive to Cape Jervis which is where the ferry goes to Kangaroo Island. We decided not to go there as it is very expensive to take the caravan over and the weather was overcast and unsettled.

Then we went onto Victor Harbour on the east coast of the Peninsula through a very scenic drive on steep rolling green hills dotted with contented cattle and clumps of green pine trees.
Victor Harbour is the commercialised part of the Fleurieu Peninsula which is a popular beachside resort with Adelaide people. They had a big schoolies celebration here in November. It is a very pretty harbour with Granite Island connected by a long jetty. This is where they took the goods onto the ships and brought in building materials and machinery. There is now a horse drawn carriage (a replica of one used) that takes passengers out to the island as it did in years goneby. On the island, a walk that circumnavigates the island with some lovely views. A fairy penguin colony lives out here and tours to the see the penguins operate some evenings. It was overcast so once again you didn't get the benefit of the blue sea.
We just got back to the car when we heard a warning for severe thunderstorms and over 100 knots winds coming our way so we raced home to batten down and get ready for the onslaught. The sky was very black and we did receive some rain and some strong winds in the night but not to that force. In the morning we heard that the Eyre Peninsula had been hit so the poor farmers who where just about to harvest their first bumper crop in many years had their crops damages. Adelaide was hit with flooding as well as many other areas. We were very glad we left there when we did.

We headed back to Victor Harbour the next day and then on to Port Elliot as we heard there was a very nice caravan park there. Port Elliot was a quaint little place with some very old buildings but because we were looking for the CP we didn’t stop. We could see the park couldn’t find how to get to it. It was at the end of a little bay called Horseshoe Bay so we went down there though some narrow streets and poor parking for caravans but we still couldn’t find how to get to it. By now tempers were rather frayed. We finally realized we had to go out to the highway to get to the CP only to find it was very expensive. That was the last straw so we keep going to Goolwa which is a lovely town on at the mouth of the River Murray.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Adelaide :- beautiful city - magnificent old buildings - glorious gardens – many parks- very relaxed feel- friendly people – O barn – pandas-great beaches and much more.

Our caravan park was near a bus stop and also the O-barn which is a track that a bus can hook on to and can travel with great speed along and then the bus can go back on the road again at the end of the O-barn – a very quick way to get into the city. We were very pleased to find that seniors can travel free on public transport between 9 and 3 weekdays and anytime on weekends which was a great saving. We also had a bicycle track at our back door and it ran right along the river. It was flanked with some beautiful river gums and lawns and was delightful to ride along. You could ride right into the city or up into the hills for the very energetic.

The afternoon we arrived we took a bus ride into the city and all along North Terrace were the beautiful stone buildings of two universities, the museum, art gallery and library.

We took a stroll though the Botanical Gardens with its green grass and huge trees and interesting plants. I always like to go into Botanical Gardens as they are so refreshing on a hot day and it’s always nice to get close to nature.

The next day I went to the Zoo to see the pandas-Wang Wang and Funi – the only giant pandas in the southern hemisphere. It was very well presented Zoo and the pandas were really cute. They seem too amble slowly along to find the titbits of food that were put out for them.
Wang Wang lay on his back and decimated a stick of bamboo with great gusto and lots of loud chomping. They eat an enormous amount of bamboo every day and some locals help out by providing the zoo with bamboo. There is a male and female and hopefully they will breed although it may be slow process as she only comes into heat once a year!! There were lots of other interesting animals and zoos are certainly different these days as the animals provided with a good environment.

Our next outing was to the Birdwood National Motor Museum which is in the Adelaide Hills. The road out here was very twisted and windy as the Hills are very steep with deep valleys. Birdwood was settled by Germans and was originally known as Blumberg but changed its name at the beginning of World War I. We strolled down the street and found a motorbike shop which was absolutely filled with old motor bikes parts and all sorts if junk – it was almost a museum in itself.

The Motor Museum adjoins the old mill building which is a very old stone building and the museum is in the throes of refurbishing it. The Motor Museum is an amazing collection of old vehicles from all eras and of course Brian was in heaven especially seeing many of the cars he used to own.

Tom Kruze, the outback mailman who faithfully delivered the mail along the Birdsville Track in horrendous conditions for about 40 years, was honoured here. A movie “The Back of Beyond” was made in the fifties about his journey to highlight the hardships of outback life which you could view here. A group of enthusiasts found his vehicle in the desert and rebuild it and then had a re-enactment of the run with Tom(then 84)driving. What an achievement for all involved.

After a very interesting morning we went to Hahndorf which is a famous German town. It was full of German buildings, a pub selling German beer, and lots of German food and of course lots of souvenir and craft shops. It started to pour with rain so we didn’t have much time but it was very interesting.
On our way home we had a quick look at My Lofty which is a mountain lookout with 360 degree view of Adelaide, the Hills and the Port. Unfortunately it was very hazy because of the rain so we headed home.

The next day we went to Port Adelaide where there is a great Maritime Museum. Lots of original old buildings line the streets but also some modern development going. The museum was very well presented and especially geared to activeties for children which is great to see. Port Adelaide was very busy in the early days as all the wheat and wool from the Peninsulas was bought here by ketches to be put onto bigger boats. There was a life size model of a ketch in the museum. Also Matthew Flinders spent a lot of time charting the South Australian coast and went into both of the Gulfs.

We went down to the riverfront where there a replica a lighthouse that was at the mouth of the river. You could climb to the top. My energy ran out but Brian managed to make it and he could see a long way. There were was a tugboat being restored by volunteers as well as a tall ship moored at the whalf.

The next day was very hot. We went on the O-barn to try it out and we were in the city in no time. We did a bit of shopping and then Brian went back to watch the car races while I stayed in town to do more exploring. I found the river which is flanked by grassy areas but it was really too hot to walk along so I took a ride on Popeye which is a little boat that takes you on a short cruise. Lots of swans swam around looking inquisitive. The cricket was on nearby but by the results I’m glad I’m not a real cricket fan!!!

I then caught the tram out to Glenelg, which is the nearest beach, to meet a friend of Kylee’s. There were crowds of people enjoying the water but there are no waves as it is really a bay. It was great catching up and Mieka showed me around. I was pretty weary when I got home.

The next day was Brian’s birthday so we went out for brekkie and then shopping. The car races were on in the arvo so he was glued to the tellie and I went bike riding, did the washing and just relaxed.
We enjoyed our stay in Adelaide and I think it is a lovely city.