Saturday, November 10, 2018

Crowdy Bay National Park

We have just returned home after five days away, camping at one of our favourite spots.

With the near completion of the dual carriageway on the Pacific Highway south of Coffs Harbour, our travel times have now greatly reduced. And so have our stress levels as we no longer drive on sub standard and badly maintained roads. 

Crowdy Bay National Park lies roughly 44 km south of Port Macquarie and has been a favourite of ours since our first visit here in 2006. 

Leaving the highway at Kew its just 7 km until you pass through Laureiton, before turning south towards the national park boundary. To access Diamond Head where fees are paid involves 10 km of good quality dirt road with just minor corrugations. 

There are numerous campgrounds here but we prefer Kylies Beach campground. It has less facilities than some of the others with just a drop toilet, cold shower and non potable water.

It's named after Australian author Kylie Tennant who lived in Laureiton and whose writing retreat hut still exists not far from the campground.

 Its a lovely campground without those dreaded bollards and has large open grassed areas to camp on. 

Being just 200 hundred metres back from the beach, it offers much needed protection in case the weather turns nasty.

Each afternoon the kangaroos come out to feed and if your lucky you may get to see the  resident koalas in the gum trees that surround the camping area.

All available services are located just 13 km north at the town of  Laureiton.

We only ever camp here on weekdays as we find its just far too busy on weekends and particularly during school holidays or over the Easter period. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

DJI Mavic Pro 2

I was really surprised just how quickly my Mavic Pro drone has sold. It was just a matter of hours once I had listed it on a Drone Facebook group.

Why was I selling a perfectly good drone? 
Well I'm upgrading to the latest offering from the DJI factory.

The new drone comes in two versions. There is the Mavic Pro 2 and the Mavic Zoom 2, and both are far superior to the original one. 

Camera House here in Coffs Harbour were sold out when I enquired, and they suggested I go online and and purchase the drone and have it shipped to my home address, rather than the store. 

By doing it this way I would jump the queue of people who were already waiting for stock to arrive. More importantly a second price hike is eminent since this drones introduction in August, so I've also dogged another bullet.

I've chosen to go with the Mavic Pro with its larger image sensor after DJI teamed up with Hasselblad. 
The Hasselblad camera has been around since 1941 and the Swedish design is well known around the world. The sensor is four times larger than the original one which of course lends itself to much higher quality and colour performance.

The larger sensor means an increased ISO setting from 3200 to 12800 and an increase in megapixels from 12 up to 20 will now produce even more stunning photos.

The original drone with its fixed aperture has now been replaced with an adjustable aperture of f/2.8-f/11 giving even more control for handling different light conditions.

There are many more differences between the old and new with features like an increase in colour profile from 16 million to over 1 billion colours. Hyperlapse is also another addition.

Another important feature is the introduction of omnidirectional obstacle sensing. Sensors are now positioned in the front, rear, sides and underneath, whereas the original only had forward sensing.

It now has 4K HDR support and the drone can be plugged directly into a 4K TV to view your footage with the correct colour tones and contrast.

Flight time from each battery, along with a 8 km transmission distance from the remote control device and speed have all been increased. Mind you I only ever fly within line of sight. 
Top speed is now 72 kph in sports mode. It also features low noise flight technology making it much quieter than the original one.

I also purchased a Fly More Kit. It includes two sets of props, a car charger, two extra batteries and a charging hub that you can connect all the batteries too. Purchasing the kit instead of buying these items separately saves well over $400.00.

Unfortunately the price has also considerably increased with the introduction of this new drone and its added features.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Heading Home The Long Way

Our van has spent two days at the Bushtracker factory in early September having two items replaced under warranty along with some extra items installed. We have also been experiencing a problem with our hot water system but a hot water and gas service soon rectified this annoying problem.

While the van was getting some much needed TLC then so were we. 
We stayed at the Rivershore Resort in one of there luxury safari tents with all the mod cons. The resort is a 15 minute drive from the factory and the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Our Camec 4 kg washing machine decided to give up the ghost about a month ago and we have been experiencing problems with our DVD player.

You can imagine our surprise when we found out that the washing machine warranty was for two years and the Fusion DVD player for three years. So two brand new items fitted for nix. Talk about happy days.

We also installed two rear stabilizer legs along with a bike rack that fits behind our generator box. It was fitted by South East Stainless who are just down the road from the Bushtracker factory.

It was a shortish drive north to Cooroy, where we have spent three days camped near this lovely little town.

The Cooroy RV stop is for fully self contained vans with no power available and with all water to be contained. Its lovely and quiet with a dump point 100 metres away and fresh town water. And at $10 per night it suits us just right.

We left Cooroy on a Monday morning heading south along the AI or Bruce Highway as far as the Landsborough turnoff. This road runs parallel to the highway but is a much quieter option. From here we took the Peacheaster road that eventually joins the D'Aguilar Highway just north of Woodford.

From here we headed west on the D'Aguilar Highway through Kilcoy and onto Blackbutt for a brief stop at the bakery before turning south at Yarraman. We briefly followed the New England Highway through Cooyar and Wutul before heading cross country on minor roads to spend the night at the Jondaryan Woolshed. 

The woolshed is heritage listed and the oldest operating woolshed in the world and was built in 1859. We camped down by Oakey Creek but at $22.50 we thought that was a bit rough, considering we used all our own facilities.

A brief stop outside the Nindigully Pub for a coffee break before driving south to camp at Thallon. 

We passed by Thallon in June on our way to the Big Red Bash held at Birdsville in July, but we are staying here for the evening to photograph the art on the nearby silos. 

These silos are the first to be painted in Queensland and the first painted working silos in Australia. 

It was just wonderful to be heading off this morning without the strong winds we have been experiencing for the past two weeks. There was just a gentle breeze in the tops of the trees that continued for the rest of the day.

We steered ourselves south towards Mungindi. From just north of town, we headed south west towards Collarenebri. On the way we stopped off to see the One Ton Post beside the Barwon River 8 km west of town.

This post is the largest survey peg in Australia and was erected by John B Cameron in 1881. Cameron's Corner where the three states meet was named after him. It marks the eastern end of the 700 km long fence which divides New South Wales from Queensland along the 29th parallel. 

The first 40 odd kilometres towards Collarenebri and the last 15 kilometres before reaching town is bitumen. In between is quite a good dirt road with few corrugations but most of this is covered with quite deep bulldust.

Our plan was to camp on the Barwon River west of town for three days. But the drought has really taken hold of this area like so much of the country we have passed through on this holiday. Its very depressing passing by properties where the cattle and sheep are being fed because the paddocks have no grass just dirt.

From Moree it wasn't to much further towards Gum Flat Reserve on the Gwydir River. We have stayed here before and have another nice site along the river. There is an eco-toilet and rubbish bins.

After reading threads by other Bushtracker owners, we decided to purchase a Snow Peak fire pit from Drifta. Its made in Japan from marine 316 stainless steel. The frame that sits over the pit can be adjusted in height to suit different heat levels. After just a week of use we both agree that it was money well spent. Snow Peak

While our Ryobi reciprocating saw sort of handled the job of cutting firewood, we have replaced this with a Stihl battery operated chainsaw. While its not cheap it will definitely last much longer than the Ryobi product.
I cannot believe just how good this product is with its 12" blade and a lithium-ion battery that takes just an hour to charge and the battery is good for cutting 100 logs on a single charge. Just like a hot knife through butter. 
Our last night before returning home was spent at Cangai. Its a free camp on the Mann River west of Grafton and there are no facilities here but the water from the river is suitable for our non-potable tanks.

We arrived home after three months away were we covered 10,905 kilometers. Our fuel average was 20.2 L/100 km and the Big Red Bash at Birdsville a definite standout.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Carnarvon Gorge National Park

We have spent the past three days camped at Sandstone Park. Its a new camping facility about 6 km from the Carnarvon Gorge Visitor Centre at the start of the gorge walking tracks. There are 41 very large sites with 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside.

There are no powered sites here with the only facilities being portaloos spread throughout the site, a dump point and fire pits to each site. They have also done away with the stupid nonsense of retaining your grey water, and are happy for it to flow onto the ground where its badly needed. Daily fees are currently $23 per site.

This new tourist enterprise is situated on Bandana Station which comprises 43,000 acres and borders the national park. The station is now organic and normally averages about 2200 head of cattle.

This is our third visit to Carnarvon Gorge with our last visit in August 1997. Back then camping was allowed all year round in the national park but its now been limited to just school holiday periods.

On our second day we walked as far as Cathedral Gorge which involved the crossing of Carnarvon Creek a total of forty times. 

The return distance to the visitor centre is 18.2 kilometres. Of course there are the many interesting sites that branch off the main track, which blows this distance out by many more kilometres.

Some of the side trips include sites like Wards Canyon which is a very steep climb which really gets the blood flowing with its hundred odd steps that finally takes you into a side gorge, that shelters the worlds largest fern, the king fern.

Then there is the Moss Garden where water is constantly dripping from the sandstone for the mosses and ferns that survive here.

The amphitheatre is a 60 metre high chamber gouged out by running water over thousands of years.

On our last day we paid what we thought was a very reasonable $165 for three of us to enjoy a twenty minute flight over 'Bandana Station' and Molleyamber Gorge.