strip of NSW is
breathtaking part of
this magnificent country. The east coast of Australia is so very, very
different to the west in so many different ways. I think what stands
out as the major difference is how much more crowded the east coast is.
Travelling from Merimbula to Sydney is just a succession of towns, some
small and some large. At times we couldn't even reach 100kms/hr and we
were slowing down again for another town. You could easily spend 3
months exploring this small area alone, but not this time as we have a
time line we have to stick to. Having a deadline and having to be
somewhere in a certain time feels most uncomfortable. I am not sure I
am ready to face the real world yet!!!!
leg of the
trip took us
Batemans Bay, Ulladalla and Nowra. Of course we passed straight by at
must see places.
getting to that
time of the
day that we
needed to find
somewhere to camp for the night. We knew that some friends that we met
on the road were camped nearby so we headed slightly inland to Kangaroo
Valley. This is an absolutely charming little town about 20 kms inland
from Nowra. In the middle of town is Australia's only operational
'Suspension Bridge'. A beautifully maintained piece of history. What
the maps didn't show is that to get here one must travel on the most
mountainous road we have ever seen. The poor car. We were in 1st gear
moving at walking pace. This was almost 'low range four wheel drive'
country. I didn't tell the car but there was only one way out. Straight
back up that mountain.
site we were
(Camps 3 no 565). What a spot. This is a free camp we think owned and
operated by the NSW Electricity board. This would come close to
being the best free camp we have seen yet. Set in the hills on the
banks of Lake Yarrunga this huge camp area has the greenest, thickest
and beautifully mowed grass we have ever seen. Combine that with a
toilet block, taps with
drinkable water and bins and you have the perfect campsite. There is no
time limit on how long you can stay. This would be a great veg out spot
for a week. We were to discover the best part was yet to come. Around
dusk out came hundreds of wombats! This is the first time any of us had
seen these beautiful creatures in the wild. As you can see they allowed
us to get up pretty close to them. This was a real thrill for us and we
followed them around for ages. Luckily we were warned that during the
night we could expect some unusual sounds from under the van. In the
middle of the night I was woken by the van rocking and what sounded
like an elephant mating under the van. It turned out to be a
wombat scratching it's back on the caravan chassis.
Unfortunately one night was all the time we could afford this trip but this is one place we will most definitely be returning to.
exit from our
free camp, it
was back to the
coast and more scenic countryside. Even more little coastal villages,
one of which was Kiama. One cannot pass through this little spot
without visiting the famous 'Blowhole'. It's a great setup with plenty
of free parking for both cars and 'big rigs'. The tides were not
the best so
the 'blows' were only average but still impressive.
An early get away and a long drive had us entering the outskirts of Sydney at around 4-00pm. The beginning of peak hour traffic is not a great time to be attempting a city crossing from the very South to the very North especially when you have absolutely no idea where you are going (thank God for the Navman!) and with an 18ft caravan behind you. What I will say is the other motorists were extremely curteous, allowing me to change lanes at a second's notice and not once giving us any grief. We found Melbourne exactly the same. Nice to see some road tolerance from the city folk.
So we were heading for the Northern Beaches to stay with another family we met on the road and have stayed in contact with since. We were all excited about seeing Tim, Katie and the kids again as the last time we saw them was Esperance. For those who having been keeping up with our travels you might remember the people who got very bogged on the beach on the way to 'Lucky Bay' in February. Well this is them. They have now been home about 6 months and are enjoying their new home (as did we). We had intended to only stay a few nights but ended up staying 6.
Sydney is without a doubt the most picturesque city in Australia. The beaches and harbour are superb with a headland and beautiful beach at every turn. Remove 2 million people and this would be a great place to live. I might be an old fashioned country boy , perhaps even a whinger, but there certainly was a couple of issues I found particularly annoying. The first was the need to pay to park the car to go to the beach. It was costing up to $6.00 for a few hours. It kinda takes away the fun when you are constantlly looking at your watch so you don't end up with a $80.00 parking ticket. Next thing we will be getting charged to walk on the sand!!.
Sunday and headed
to see the Murray
Clan. We would normally have done this over two days but when we rang
to say we were on our way we discovered that Mandy was off to Sydney
(can you believe that) on Monday. It was a big day with us doing 700
kms and arrived around 6.00pm (not so bad with daylight saving). It
was great to see them again and to see the house renovations which are
looking sensational. We had planned only two nights there but not long
after arriving Lex and I were sitting facing the van looking at the new
drawbar and chassis having a beer. Lex then stands up, lays on the
ground under the back of the van and informs me the bumper and back
section of the van was not straight. We had not touched or even looked
at that back section of the van while doing the rest of the repairs in
Eden because that is where it was supported on the hoist. We couldn't
leave it like that so the next day out came the angle grinder, jacks
and welders and very straight it became. To ensure the weight of the
bumper and all the gear hanging off it doesn't cause the back to sag
again we welded a 130mm flat plate 6mm thick on the inside of each
chassis rail extending 1.5 metres towards the front of the van. So
another two days was spent under the van getting dirty. It must now be
the straightest, strongest chassis around, or at least under any 25
year old van. As Jack, Joe and Jed were still at school the boys amused
themselves during the day. Alex and the Pee Wee 50 motorbike were
almost inseparable as he rode all over the property.
One afternoon we picked up the boys from school and Lex took us out to their local dam where the kids spent hours being towed around behind the boat on their boogie boards. Lex and Harry went out on the board together and then Lex slipped off the back of the board (on purpose) and Harry did a lap of the dam by himself, with a smile big enough to drive a truck through. Inverell remains one of our favourite destinations so the news is not good. We will be returning again guys.
We left Thursday morning and drove to Beaudesert and spent the night with Suey and Mark before heading off to the Sunshine Coast for our 3 week stay and then hhhhhhhhooooommmmmeeee. I just can't bring myself to say that word.
It was a
Brisbane where we
dropped in to see
Chris's mother Jan for a few hours before making our way up the coast
to Maroochydore and to Cotton Tree Caravan Park. We all now very much
feel that the trip is well and truly over and we are just going through
the motions to get home. We continually have to remind ourselves that
we still have 6 weeks left to enjoy. Will life ever be the same again!!!
It was great to see Mum and Stuart again after 12 months and one week and also good to see old friends and familiar faces. Although we have not at any time been lonely it is always good to see a familiar face again.
As soon as we had set the van up (which was about the 110th time this trip), Harry insisted we start to set up the lights. So off to Buderim where some good friends of ours, Frank and Pam kindly store all our Christmas lights each year for us. So with Harry directing the proceedings up went all the decorations. Of course we had numerous trips to 'Crazy Clarks' buying a few more sets of lights during the week. This year we built a new chimney complete with Santa's legs that sits on the caravan roof, this time made of polystyrene foam which should last a bit longer than the original that was cardboard. Our street in the caravan park looked absolutely unbelievable with everybody making an outstanding effort. Each night we have hundreds of people walk past and enjoy the spectacle, with Alex and Harry dressed up and handing out lollies to other children.
this is without
a doubt the
most magical time of the year. Nothing in this world could compare to
the joy and excitement that can be seen in the face of a small child as
they walk around in amazement at the sight of all the 'pretty lights',
at the joy of sitting on Santa's knee and then the great finale of
leaving a few treaties out for Santa and the reindeers before going off
to sleep, in readiness for the big day that awaits them. Maybe this
trip has totally changed my focus and made me a bigger softy, but now
more than ever, it is the simple things that really bring me the most
Christmas Day itself was a fairly low key event (just the way I like it) with Mum and Stuart coming down to the caravan and Chris's mother Jan staying with us for a few days. It was a great day with Chris again going to too much trouble.
here we pretty
well had a
contstant stream of
people dropping in to see us, which was great, and then for the next
week the weather turned a little nasty with a lot of rain and wind so
we had to amuse ourselves with indoor type activities. The weather did
finally improve so we again started to hit the beaches. Alex has
borrowed a surf board from Roz and Kelvin and had been having some
lessons from Mark earlier in the week and then with Roz and Kelvin. As
with everything Alex tries, he is 200% keen and pretty good at
it. I guess that is now something else we will be buying and carting
around on the roof of the car. We are certainly not complaining as
there are plenty of other less desirable things that he could be
interested in, even at his age like Playstations, X box, TV and
numerous other brain deadening pursuits.
New Year's Eve seems to come around so quickly these days. To think that one year ago we were in Cobar at the very beginning of our 'adventure of a life time' and here it is again, at the end of the trip. As per usual we didn't make it to midnight (although very close this year) but we did sit down with a drink and reflect on the year that was, and our plans for the future or at least the next few years of our future.
that is it for
didn't have time
this year to sit down and do the Christmas card thing, so for those who
take the time to read this 'journal of our trip' and to take an
interest in our adventure, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a
very happy and healthy 2007. To be interested in the pursuits of others
is a lovely attribute to possess, and we thank those of you who took
the time to email and call during our travels - we really appreciated
it! We wish you every happiness for next year and hope that if you have
a dream that you can fulfill it, just like we did. There is something
worse than failing, and that is not trying. If you have an itch,
'January 2007 ' that
will be the
final instalment for this trip, but believe us, not the last for this
that thing that passes you by, while you are busy doing all that other