January 2011

  • Cover Page
  • Map of Trip-2006.
  • Map of Trip-2008.
  • Map of Trip-2009.
  • Map of Trip-2010.
  • Map of Trip-2011.

  • Welcome to 2011 and another year of adventure for the Parfitt Family. It is hard to believe but this is the beginning of our 5th year of travelling and still we don't tire of this lifestyle. This year it will again be very busy with so much to see and do. Harry has planned out our year. Tasmania, Melbourne and the coast of NSW then followed by Cape York. We don't plan on doing any work until later in the year which suits me fine.

    We left the Sunshine Coast a few days into the new year and made our way back to Bundaberg for a week before heading off to Burrum Heads, just north of Hervey Bay.
    By the time we had arrived back in Bundaberg, it had already flooded and most of the water had receded, but unfortunately they copped it again about 2 weeks later. Luckily our properties were high and dry, so many were not so lucky. For our week we again stayed in Kelvin and Roz's backyard as we did last year. Due to all the rain we could not park on their front lawn as it was 6 inches under water. The carport was the only other option but we had to remove the TV aerial from the roof of the van and let down the tyres to get it under!

    Kelvins Birthday Ross, Kelvin and me The vans about to leave The vans about to leave
                                                      Camping at the Coombes

    As it rained quite frequently during our week there it was nice being undercover. Unfortunately our week was again far too busy. The reason I don't enjoy going back to Bundy is that we are always busy, busy, busy and don't get to kick back and enjoy our time there. First off again were pool problems at one of our rentals. It seems every single time we step back into Bundy there is a pool issue. I suppose I shouldn't complain as I would rather fix it than have to pay someone (I am so tight). Small consolation though. It actually took 12 trips back and forth to finally get it sorted and the pool clear again. Then I had to severely trim back the mango tree at our other place as we are getting a new garage built for the caravan. Luckily Kelvin gave me a hand so it was only a day's job, as opposed to the 2 days it would have taken me on my own. Many trips to the dump later and it was all done. The poor tree looks terrible but it will grow back bushier than ever very soon. I try and keep its size under control as they can get so big if left. We have had the van stored in a friend's carport for the past 8 years, and thought it was time we built our own shed. It will be fully enclosed with a concrete floor and power which will be great. We will be able to leave all the windows open when it's being stored so hopefully we won't have the mould problem that we have been faced with the last few years, when we arrive back in December to get ready for Christmas. It should have almost been finished by now but the wet weather had delayed the slab pouring (slab now down). It will definitely be up in the next few weeks ready for us on our return mid-year.  For the remainder of our week I continued to finish off some last minute jobs on the van (which will be ongoing as we travel south), the kids played and Chris sat around and drank coffee, reflecting on how lucky she was to have met me all those years ago. (Yeah right - Ed)

    Burum Heads Burum Heads Burum Heads Burum Heads
    Burum Heads Burum Heads Burum Heads Burum Heads
                               Fun at Burrum Heads - south of Hervey Bay, Qld.

    Before we knew it we were again packing up and this time heading for Burrum Heads, for our annual two weeks with friends that I worked with a hundred years ago. Unfortunately due to the floods around Gympie, Caboolture and Brisbane half of them were unable to get through from the Gold Coast until the second week. For those of us who made it we fared the best we could. The weather was actually very nice, be it a little overcast at times. I actually think we had nearly 4 days in a row with no rain. That would have to be a first since November when we hit the East Coast. It was great to catch up with the group again. I continued doing jobs on the van and am happy to report that other than a bit of chassis painting that I didn't complete recently, all the jobs are finished. Outside shower connected, van polished, new TV properly installed, new stickers on the outside of van (that was a nerve-racking job with a good outcome, all straight and NO bubbles) and others. Most of the jobs have been hanging over since we re-sheeted the van back in 2007. I had to do a flying trip back to Bundaberg for our pool fence inspection (yet another piece of Govt. legislation). While I am completely in favour of saving lives, especially kids, I fail to see why we have to have the fence re-inspected, when it was passed by the council upon completion of the pool. We live in such an over-controlled state. Where will it end?? The good news is it passed, first go. The guy said he had done 15 inspections and has only passed 3. The reasons for the high failure rate was mainly because while the fences passed initial inspection back whenever they were built, the laws regarding fencing have now changed (you have to love retrospective legislation) and now they don't conform. I am not a huge fan of retrospective legislation and am not sure it is fair. Let's hope it actually does save lives. Only time will tell. Unfortunately it will not stop chairs holding gates open and kids pulling items over so they can unlock the gate. Surely parents need to be responsible.

    We had to leave Burrum a few days early as Alex had another eye appointment in Brisbane regarding his night-time contacts (Ortho-Keratology). We quickly dropped into the Sunshine Coast, had a coffee with mum down at Cotton Tree and unloaded a few boxes of stuff that we didn't want to cart down south. Mum loves storing all our left-overs in her unit. She keeps complaining that she will have to shift out and live in the outdoor area soon as she is running out of space. That sounds like a great solution to me!!!!!!!! Alex has done so well with his contacts and his vision remains perfect all day when the contacts are out. The optometrist was extremely happy with his progress and doesn't want to see him again until we are on our way back through Brissy mid-year. In a month's time he will start experimenting and start leaving the contacts out every second night to see how he goes. Apparently 60 percent of people will end up only needing them every second night and 15 percent only needing to wear them one night a week, while still maintaining 20/20 vision. Absolutely amazing stuff. We caught up with Chris's mum and went out to her local club with her for dinner before retiring early for the beginning of our trip south. As I said last month, we were booked on the 'Spirit of Tasmania' on the 30th January so had a deadline to meet. That gave us just over a week to make our way to Melbourne. We had planned to go down either the Newell or the New England Highways but due to flooding we had to (along with everybody else) go down the Pacific Highway instead. I thought it was going to be a bit of a nightmare but was pleasantly surprised. From Brissy to Ballina it was four lanes almost the entire trip with the remainder being alright. Lots of roadworks (at least they fix their country roads unlike Qld) and what seemed like 5 million hills. Man alive it is hilly in NSW. Crawl up one side, and then fly down the other, over and over and over.
    The traffic was actually much better than we expected. I guess most people were settled at their holiday destinations or were staying put at home due to all the wet weather.
    The car went really well and it would seem that the few engine modifications that I did at Christmas have made a world of difference. Fuel economy better, engine temperature lower and more power. I wish I had done them years ago. Well and truly worth the effort. While in Brissy I opened up the back of the car to discover we had a stow-away. At our Burrum Heads Secret Santa party Dave Stevens got a 'farting gnome'. Every time you walk past him, he lets one off. Well Dave must have stuck him in our car, assuming 'Hans Farticus' (yes, that is his name) needed a holiday. We decided if Hans was going to live with us we would send some photos of him back to Dave so he could see how Hans is getting on. As you can see Hans has been having a ball so far!!

    Big Banana Batemans Bay Wilsons Prom Spirit of Tasmania
                                                 Hans Farticus on location.


    Spit Solitary Beach Holiday Park Unwinding on the beach
                                     Coffs Harbour- NSW

    So Friday 21st we left Brisbane and made it to Coffs Harbour and stayed at Split Solitary Beach Holiday Park, about 10kms north of Coffs. NSW still had a week of school holidays to go so it was going to be a bit of a challenge finding caravan sites, especially near the beach. We were happy with our first find pulling in later than usual. Thanks to daylight saving we still had enough daylight to go for a walk along the beach and kick the footy. I love daylight saving when on holidays but would hate it if we were living a normal life of work and school. Constantly getting to bed after 11-00pm would take its toll. Next morning, off bright and early, destination unknown. We decided to just keep driving until we were over it, then find a place for the night.

    Golden Guitar Tamworth Tamworth Tamworth
                                          Batemans Bay - A nice spot to stop for lunch

    By mid-afternoon we were on the very northern outskirts of Sydney. Do we stop now (being still quite early), or push on and try and get through Sydney while we still had plenty of daylight. We decided to tackle it, so off we went. The trip through the city, through the Sydney Tunnel and across the other side was uneventful. No one honked their horn at us, no bingles and very little stress. In fact I actually enjoyed the venture. It looked like we were going to make it to Wollongong so Chris rang around a few parks to see if we could get in. The first few, sorry full. Then the next one we rang, the Wollongong Surf Leisure Resort, said yes we have sites available. Cop this. Powered sites for two people $80-00 and $30-00 for the kids. What, $110-00 powered and $80-00 for an unpowered site! Tell them their dreamin'! How the hell can they charge that and what sort of an idiot would pay it? If everyone told them to bugger off, they would get a reality check. (We could get a motel for the night for half the price!) One more call to Bulli Beach Tourist Park (a council park) and we had a site at $40-00 a night. Now that's a bit of a difference.

    Bulli Beachfront Caravan Park The public baths The public baths The public baths
                                             Bulli near Wollongong - NSW

    Great park, absolutely on the beach, has its own cafe, playground, camp kitchen and good amenities. What could this other park possibly offer for an extra $70-00 a night? Madness. We pulled in even later than the previous day, not arriving until about 7-00pm. We still had time to walk along the beach and down to the public baths, that the kids have never seen before. These tidal filling concrete pools are really common in NSW, especially around Newcastle. I remember them as a kid when I lived in NSW. These are such an institution around here and hopefully they will still be around well into the future. I think they are great.

    Merimbula-NSW Merimbula-NSW Merimbula-NSW Merimbula-NSW
                                      Merimbula - NSW - with Bryan and Jane

    Next stop, Merimbula to stay with Bryan, Jane and the kids. Always great to catch up. We had two nights with the mighty Grand Tourer completely blocking off their driveway. Bryan was so distressed that we had to leave that we have promised we will stay with them again on our way back north!!! You are so lucky Bryan. Merimbula would have to be one of the most naturally beautiful and pristine places on the East Coast. Unspoilt is a great way to sum it up. The waterways are so crystal clear, no rubbish, no scum. If you have never been there, do yourself a favour, but try and do it outside school holidays as it does get very busy. We had a great few days there, went for walks along the boardwalks, had breakfast at a cafe overlooking the water (compliments of Jane, thank you) and the kids had a ball playing with Josh. Admit it Bryan, it was fun. Next stop (and to again stay with friends we have met on the road) was Lakes Entrance. For those regular readers you may remember we stayed with Mick and Caz in November 2009
    on our way back from Melbourne and in Perth twice in 2006 when they lived over there.

    2006 2011
       See, speak and hear no evil - 2006 and 2011- Mick and Caz - Lakes Entrance

    Lakes Entrance is another jewel on the south coast just over the Victorian border. It is a jigsaw of pristine waterways that would take a month alone to explore. It is a lovely town perched on the water's edge with fishing trawlers moored along the foreshore, coffee shops scattered along with a view to die for. We will definitely be spending a few days here on our way back up and this time we will allow ourselves time to explore.

    Next morning, Australia Day we were again in the car and off to Wilsons Promotory for our much planned hike into South Point, the most southerly point of mainland Australia. This trip has been two years in the planning and was on our 'absolutely must do' list. That would mean we have visited the most Southerly, most Western and most Eastern extremities of mainland Australia. We will do the most Southern point of Australia when we are in Tassy and the most Northern later this year when we are in Cape York. We had planned to try and do South Point in 2009 but we were unable to due to time issues and the fact we did not have the necessary camping gear with us at the time. This year it was going to happen. We really wanted to do it before Tasmania as we thought it would be too cold in April/ May on our return. We bought new tents, new thin uncomfortable mattresses (loose use of the term) and collected all the other gear we would need. I left booking the accommodation a bit late and we did have a bit of trouble finding something. After many calls we found a caravan park at Yanakie which was only about 8 kms from the park entry and another 30 kms from the Tidal River ranger's station which is where most of the walks commence. To get a campsite at Tidal River during school holidays you need to go in a ballot 12 months earlier. Obviously we had no hope of getting one ringing 2 days before we arrived. This national park is amazing. 550 camping sites (20 powered), a cafe, supermarket, police station, medical centre (staffed by holidaying volunteers who have to be available an hour a day = a free house to stay in), absolutely on the beach (and a bloody beautiful one) and places galore to explore. Maybe I have found the Holy Grail. A national parks department that appears to have their act together, that seem to be inviting of the general public (as opposed to excluding them) and allows you in without wanting to fleece you (yes - FREE entry). My god, am I dreaming, is this the 'After Life', could it possibly be true? Well, yes it would appear it could. To say we were impressed was an understatement. They even have a free shuttle bus that drives you around all day until 1900 to help reduce the amount of cars on the road. How good is that.

     The caravan park we stayed in was called 'Shallow Inlet Caravan Park' and was sort of in the middle of nowhere on a small body of water that I assume was a shallow inlet. It is very much a fishing area with the park nearly full of permanent holiday vans. It was neat and tidy but rather expensive at $48-00 a night, especially as your hot water in the showers turned off at the 5 minute mark and could not be turned back on. You can just imagine it, hair full of shampoo, half shaved and clunk. You then had to collect your gear, jump out of the cubicle, flick the switch to another shower and jump in to finish off the job. To be perfectly honest, I expected a little more for what they charged, but at the same time was grateful to find somewhere at all. We did a drive into Tidal River after we were set up (about a 30 minute drive) and spoke to the rangers about our hike the next day, collected maps and found out where we could leave the car. A few days prior I had rung and booked our overnight hike ($24-00 overnight fee for a family). They only allow 40 campers per campground and we were led to believe they are very popular so I was relieved when we got a spot. We were very excited. So this is the story.

    The big walk begins The big walk begins The big walk begins The big walk begins
    Golden Guitar Tamworth Tamworth Tamworth
                       Let the pain and suffering begin - the walk to South Point

    Carpark to Halfway Hut camp (first campground) = 7.4 kms. Then to Roaring Meg (the second campground), another 4.6 kms. This was the campground that we were booked into but unfortunately the weight of our packs made it impossible for us to make it that far. Instead we set up at the first camp, Halfway Hut and hoped we would not get sprung by the rangers and be asked to move on. Back to our packs. Man alive they were heavy. While we only took the bare essentials, tents, sleeping bags, thin mattresses, gas stove (no fires allowed), warm clothes, 1 x billy, water and minimal food, it all looked like Mount Vesuvius and weighed about the same. Everyone, including Harry well and truly carried their share. Alex's pack would have been 20 kg + with mine 30 kg++ and Chris's also far too heavy. I, in particular, struggled with the weight so when we finally got to the first camp after nearly 2 hours, these packs were going no further. We were the only ones there and set up our tents before continuing the walk to South Point. At about 12-30pm we set off to Roaring Meg campground (4.6km) which was pretty much all uphill. No way in the Wide Bay could I have carried the pack that far. Then it was another 3.7 kms out along a very poorly maintained goat's track to get to South Point, the most Southern Point of mainland Australia. What a relief to finally make it. It was blowing a gale (40 knots+, as forecast) and luckily for us there was a German tourist who took photos of us as the tripod (yes, we took that as well) would have been completely useless. South Point is a large rocky outcrop overlooking Bass Strait. It was spectacular, rugged and remote and clearly not a place that many people get to see. The track in was wild, up hill, down dale with numerous fallen trees blocking the path and narrow rocky tracks. This track is neither well maintained nor would appear very often used. That made us proud of our achievement. After a half hour there, we then turned around and headed back to camp, a distance of 8.3kms. So, on day one we covered a total of 24kms. Our previous record for kms walked in one day was 12 kms, so that record was smashed.

    At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia
    At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia At South Point- Southern most point of mainland Australia             
                    South Point - the Southern most point of mainland Australia.

    We arrived back at camp at about 6-00pm (still with 3 hours of daylight remaining) and set about cooking dinner, which was Indian. Beef Korma and Butter Chicken. I kid you not. Chris found these meals in Woolworths and you simply drop the sealed packets in boiling water and leave them for a few minutes, remove, open, serve and eat. Very nice believe it or not. Then just before dark the wind picked up even more and the tent really started to shake, rattle and roll. It got colder and I was not sure how good a night we were going to have. Right next to our tent was a very old rock hut with a wooden floor and a door (the 'halfway hut'). It was actually very clean and we had been cooking our meals in there. Just before the sun set we decided it best to pick up the tents and set them up in the hut. Both the tents just fitted in, with no room to spare. We shut the door and it was not only peaceful but also warm. Other than the fact the mattresses were crap, we all slept like babies not waking until 9-00am, as it was pitch dark in the hut. Bloody hell, that was a 12 hour sleep.

    The final leg The final leg The final leg The final leg
                                           Get us home - it's killing us!!

    We had breakfast and repacked our bags, trying to re-distribute a bit of weight. My plan was less weight to me, more to the others. While most of the food was gone and we had a bit less water, the weight seemed unchanged. Packed up, we started the trek back. Our original plan was to take another track back, along the coast (as it was flatter and more picturesque) but unfortunately, also longer, in fact about 5 kms longer. We got to the junction and had a discussion about which way to go. I thought the extra 5 kms would be tough so we decided to take the shorter, uphill route. I am not sure if that was really a good decision or not. The last 7.4 kms was a climb almost all of it up a reasonably steep gradient. We had many forced stops (due to fatigue) and I was really starting to struggle. You would be climbing, climbing, get to a corner, and there was more hill ahead. It started to become rather demoralising. I got slower and slower and actually started to stagger a little. I was not sure if I could continue much more with the weight I was carrying. At one stage I seriously considered just dumping my pack and leaving it there. Chris was also finding it tough but seemed to be going better than me. Then, in the distance I saw Harry raise the tent that he had been carrying above his head and he started running. Then Alex started running. They must have seen the end. That gave me enough energy to make it the last few hundred metres. Total distance walked in the two days =31.8kms, 14.8kms with those damn backpacks on.

    Packs off our backs and almost straight away the courtesy bus arrived to take us back to the car. We threw our gear in the back and collapsed in a comfortable seat. The trip back to Tidal River only took about 10 minutes. I stood up to get out of the bus and nearly collapsed. My legs were so stiff and sore I could barely walk. What the hell did I look like!!! Worse than a 90 year old.
    We threw the bags in the car, shoes off (what a relief) and drove the 100 metres to get an ice cream and some lunch. Again I could barely move. Chris was almost as bad with the kids suffering no ill effects. I honestly believe the walk had pretty much pushed me to the limit, and for the next few days I would suffer. I knew I was always safe, and would always get back but it did get me thinking what it must be like for people lost in the wilderness. Imagine trying to find a way out, totally exhausted, staggering along until you could go no further, and then giving in and laying down to die.

    I am so glad we did it, so proud of Chris and the boys, but we won't be doing it again. I will treasure the photos. We got back to the caravan park late afternoon, unpacked and repacked all the gear away in the caravan and roof top boxes. While I was active and walking around, I was not too bad, but as soon as I stopped, I stiffened up again. Next morning we packed up (with a lot of moaning and groaning) and set off for Melbourne. We hit the city mid-afternoon and as it was a Saturday, the traffic was managable. Thanks to the 'Nav Sheila' we made it to Ashley Gardens Big 4 Caravan Village at Braybrook which is the closest to the ferry terminal and to the city. It's a Big 4, which automatically means big price ($48-00 a night) but I must say  it was very, very nice. It is really well maintained, tons of facilities, good staff and drive through sites where you can stay attached to your vehicle for an early morning get away. The area they put us in was full of vans all catching the Spirit of Tasmania the next morning. The caravan park gave us a map with very detailed instructions on how to get to the ferry, and a few around us actually did a run out to the port the day before to save them getting lost in the morning. That gave us plenty of people to follow. The boat was due to leave at 0900 and we needed to be there 2.5 hours early so we pushed off at 0600 having got up at 0500. The trip was 25 kms and generally takes 1/2 hour. We followed our neighbours who knew where to go and the trip to the ferry was very uneventful until------- almost at the terminal Chris discovered that instead of putting the toilet and gate key into the after hours box, I had put our van keys in. Then the panic set in, as no-one had seen the spare key that lives under the van for a while. Fingers crossed it was still there as the security people need to look in your van. We had no time to go back to the caravan park and would have been unable to retrieve them anyway as the office didn't open until 0800.

    Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2 Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2 Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2
    Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2 Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2 Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2 Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania 2                                         
                                            Boarding the 'Spirit of Tasmania II'

    What a relief when we stopped and they were there, in the magnetic key case. The boat terminal at Port Melbourne is huge and very well organised. You get in the long line and slowly creep forward until you get to the security area. They are looking for stow- aways, contra-banned items (firearms, fruit and veg, unsecured gas bottles, fuel in jerry cans etc.) as well as looking under your bonnet for any fuel leaks. They were very pleasant and it didn't take very long. We then joined the long stationary queue and waited for about 45 minutes. I am not sure what the delay was but the boat did arrive into port late, so I assume they were cleaning it, ready for our boarding. There are two identical boats that just run back and forth non-stop. The staff live aboard and do two weeks on, two weeks off. I think it would be a tough life. Finally the line started to move and we slowly made our way to the next area where they gave you your boarding passes and seating allocation. We were driving onto the boat and were soon parked up. There are 3 rows of parking on each side of the boat and 5 levels of parking. (of the 5 decks there is only 1 deck for high vehicles over 2.1 metres). When you saw all those cars, caravans and motor homes lined up you realised how big this boat is and how many vehicles it can hold. The weather forecast was very good, so no need for the vehicles to be strapped down, which is only done in extremely bad weather. We got our gear out of the car and made our way up to our seating area for the day. There is a range of accommodation/seating options on both the day and night voyages. There is no allocated seating, and so you just find somewhere to sit. There is plenty to find but I am not sure I would want to spend all day or night in what is provided. The next level is the 'Ocean recliners'. These are on the second top level of the boat, (level 8) and are like airline reclining seats (only better) with leg supports. You are in a locked air-conditioned area that you have to use your swipe card to enter. The next and most expensive is the cabins. We had a look in them and they are very nice, rather spacious with private en suite.

    Cruising along Cruising along Cruising along Cruising along
                   Ocean View Recliners - very comfy; and leaving the ship.

    So what should you book. In my opinion if doing a day voyage, get an Ocean Recliner. They are comfortable, the area secure and there are great views out  the huge windows over the stern of the boat. For an overnight voyage, get a cabin. You could sleep in the recliners, but it would not be the best night you have ever had. The recliners were only about $20-00 pp more than no allocated seating with the cabins dearer again. You can wander anywhere on the boat. They have a cinema (showing 3 different movies a trip), a gift shop, tourist information centre, a few bars and a range of eating areas. My only criticism would be the food. As expected, food was expensive.  You had a choice of either two expensive restaurants or pies and sandwiches at the bars (sandwiches sold out very early). I would have thought an old style Coles Cafeteria, where you could get sandwiches, cakes, fruit and other crap would have been nice. Next trip we will try and take as much of our own food as possible. Our crossing was as good as it gets. Almost flat, which made for a very pleasant day. We managed to fill in our day nicely, with a few snoozes thrown in. We actually sat next to 4 very interesting fellas from Sydney and Canberra. They ranged in age from a bit older than me (probably early to mid 50's) to mid to late 40's. These guys are open ocean kayakers and are paddling from Devonport to Hobart via the West coast, a total of 980 kms (give or take a few) in 4 weeks. That is outrageous. They all seemed quite normal but I'm not convinced they could be. It made our 32 km overnight hike seem a bit pathetic.

    The 950 km trip The 950 km trip The 950 km trip The 950 km trip
                         And they seemed so sane - 980 km paddle in 1 month!!

    As it would turn out, they stayed in the same caravan park as us in Devonport, so I went to wave them off in the morning. It started to rain as they left and they looked like 4 very small specks in a large unforgiving ocean. Boy, was I glad I was the one left standing on the beach. They carry a fair amount of gear all carefully packed into the hull. They have a small sail on the front of the kayak that helps them along when the right winds are blowing. They have put me on the email update list so I look forward to hearing about their journey. A couple of them have even paddled across Bass Strait a few times before. Crazy is a word that comes to mind, but really nice blokes and I wish them well.

    Before we knew it we had arrived in Devonport (1900hrs) and we were being called to our cars. We collected all our gear and made what we thought was our way to the car. We opened the big electric door, oh bugger, no car. While we were on the correct deck, we had gone to the wrong door. Now we were totally disorientated and had no idea which way to go, but did manage to find it just as the cars were driving off the boat. That could have been embarrassing as they get you to park so close to each other that if the car in front is not driven away, the entire row of cars is stuck. After a long day that would not be a way to make friends. We quickly got through quarantine which was nowhere as thorough as going into WA (they just looked in the van door, didn't even look in the fridge) which was a bit surprising. We then travelled the 400 metres to a caravan park we had booked for the night. The Abel Tasman Caravan Park is a bit of a rough diamond, reasonably priced with one of the best showers we have had for a long time. The managers were great and we will stay there again on our way back.

    Monday morning I went to wave bye, bye to the kayakers as I said before and then we went to take photos of the Spirit of Tasmania as it departed for the mainland. As we were walking back to the caravan Chris heard a huge crash near our caravan. We ran back to find the van that had been parked next to us that night had backed into the front of a Landcruiser that had just pulled in. There were bits of plastic, blinker lenses and parts of bumpers all over the ground. The poor bugger who was the driver and cause of the bingle was so upset/embarrassed that he had done this damage to someone else's car. Then 5 minutes later another guy drove off with his power lead still attached to his van and nearly pulled the power pole over. What a morning of entertainment and dramas. Devonport is a very cute town and one we would like to explore in more detail, but for now we have another deadline. We need to get to Derby which is about 200kms away and is where Chris's sister and brother-in-law live. They have a cafe/restaurant there, called 'Berries Cafe' with room out the back for the 'Grand Tourer'. The reason for our deadline is that we need to drop off the van and head to Hobart. Tony, (our brother-in-law) is moving their yacht (a 36ft Adams motor yacht) to Constitution Dock, near Salamanca, where we will stay for 3-4 days while we do the Hobart tourist thing.

    The boat-Prime Time
    Then, we will all sail down to Port Arthur and up the East Coast of Tassie, back to St Helens, which is 3/4 of the way up the coast, where they moor the yacht. It could take up to a couple of weeks depending on the weather. If we get sick of it or seasick we can get off anytime and Anne will come and collect us. It should be a heap of fun and we are really looking forward to the experience. Hopefully the seas will be kind to us.
    So we left Devonport and headed across to Derby. We stopped at Latrobe and visited a few Op shops. We scored a few jumpers and I got a brand new pair of RM Williams Moleskins, that are a perfect fit for $8-00. I believe they retail for up to $180-00. Now where did I put that horse??? Chris got 3 pairs of pants. Next, it was on to Scottsdale to do a bit of shopping to replace all the fruit and veg that we had to give away to some Pommy backpackers prior to getting on the Spirit of Tasmania. The roads here are narrow and windy, (no guard rails) and the countryside green and lush. In the 200 kms we drove, we saw at least 20 well maintained, well signed and advertised, free camps, many with coin operated hot showers. Unlike the mainland states that seem to do anything to stop free camping, the towns in Tassie not only embrace it, but actively encourage it, as they have the common sense to understand if people stay, they will also spend money in your town. It is such a simple concept, I have trouble understanding why the other states are generally so against it. Beats me. So we arrived in Derby and had to get the van up the steepest grass driveway you have ever seen. Low range, foot down and we flew up with ease. Backed in, plugged in and time for a red. We even have our own little toilet block. Talk about flash. (Of course!! D/Ed Anne)

    Berry Cafe- Derby Berry Cafe- Derby Berry Cafe- Derby Berry Cafe- Derby
                                     Setting up at Berries Cafe - Derby

    So Tuesday, the last day of the month, the kids got stuck into their school work and I wrote the web page while sitting on the verandah of the cafe, drinking cappuccinos looking out over the old tin mine and rolling hills. They even had a little heat wave, 32 C. This is the life.

    So January has been busy for us.  We are really looking forward to our 2-3 months here and have just so much to see and do. It might be a small state with minimal distances to be travelled but bucket loads to see. Initial impression is that it is similar to the South Island of NZ. Bring it on.

    Until next month.

    One of the great joys of being a parent is the one-liners our children come out with. The other day in the car, completely out of the blue, our youngest, Harry, comes out with 'I can't wait to get pubes, then I will have somewhere to hide my lolly wrappers'. So that is what they are there for!!!!!