Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Home to the Nindigully Pub

We left home this morning on our way to Queensland. 
Normally we break the drive and spend a night at the Yelgun rest area north of Ballina but have decided to continue through to Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast.

Camping is allowed adjacent to their famous markets and at $15 per night for an unpowered site it's a great stop over. The price includes the use of toilets, showers, non-potable water and there is even a dump point on site. 
A limited number of powered sites are available at $20 with a maximum two night stay.

Deb and Hank who live at Tewantin are joining us for a two week trip out as far as St George with some time spent around the New England area north of Tenterfield including Stanthorpe in South East Queensland. Our plan is then to camp at several locations before returning home to Sawtell.

After leaving Eumundi we continued south along the Bruce Highway and took the Landsborough turnoff. At Beerwah we headed west towards Peachester before joining the D'Aguilar Highway just east of Kilcoy. 

We passed through Kilcoy and Moore before stopping at Blackbutt for morning tea. I have it on good authority from two pieaholics that the bakery here is hard to beat. A selection of pies and other goodies were purchased with some consumed and some left till later. 

At Yarraman we joined the New England Highway and followed that south for 33 km before taking the Dalby to Cooyar Road turnoff at Wutul. This minor road is quite rough and narrow in places but thankfully doesn't seem to carry too much traffic. We stopped briefly in Dalby before continuing along the Moonie Highway for 17 km and then turning towards Lake Broadwater Conservation Park a further 10 km away. 

 We have camped here on numerous occasions and your $6 per person per night fee gets you flushing toilets and hot showers. The campground looks out over the lake and at present the water levels are low so our time spent here was nice and quiet without the hum of jet skis or ski boats spoiling the serenity. 

We experienced rather high temperatures over the 38 degree mark while we where here and the locals came down every afternoon to cool off.

Unbeknown to us the Chinchilla bi-annual watermelon festival was on while we were here so on our second day we headed the 100 km west of Dalby to check out the action.  So on Saturday morning we joined the constant stream of traffic heading along the Warrego Highway towards Chinchilla. The days temperature peaked at 38.7 degrees so after checking out some of the stalls we found ourselves a spot in the shade and watched the passing parade and watermelon races. 

On our return we took a minor road that passed through the small town of Kogan. We stopped in at the local pub for a few beers and a healthy plate of hot chips and gravy.
Camping is allowed at the Kogan Memorial Hall and power is available for $15, or unpowered $10.

A sculpture in the park beside the hall represents Hugh Sawrey a famous Australian painter who with RM Williams founded the Stockman's Hall of  Fame in Longreach. He was a great friend of a former owner of the hotel in Kogan, and who was responsible for erecting the sculpture. We have an association with Hugh Sawrey in that we have a couple of original paintings by him.

After two days camped at Lake Broadwater we rejoined the Moonie Highway and soon passed through the small town of Moonie. It was the site of Australia's first oil field and still is in operation today producing about 35 kilolitres each day. Several hours later and 187 km had us stopping in St George for lunch and several beers.

Then we continued on towards the Nindigully Pub a further 44 km away. The Gully sits beside the Moonie River and camping is free and a gold coin donation will get you a shower.

Hank received a book for Christmas titled 'Australian Bush Pubs' and wants to tick as many of the list as he can, so this pub is his first. We also celebrated his birthday while camped here so on our second evening we enjoyed happy hour before dining at the pub.

This particular burger is the smallest on the menu and weighs in at 5.5 kg's. Of course we were unable to do it justice but the resident dogs were more than happy to assist in devouring what we couldn't. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recce to Cangai

Yesterday with fellow Bushtracker friends Jane and John we headed off to check out two  locations west of Grafton in NSW.  

These sites are listed in Wikicamps and also displayed on the Hema North East New South Wales map. Both are located on the Mann River.

The turnoff is just over 17 km west of Jackadgery which is 43 km west of Grafton along the Gwydir Highway.

The Cangai Bridge Road is dirt and marked as not suitable for caravans but there would be no trouble towing our 20' van the 2 km into this location. There are two wooden bridges to cross with the best camping on the southern side. 
Apart from the clear flowing river the area is surrounded by beautiful mountains that make up the Great Dividing Range with Washpool and Gibraltar Range National Parks just over 20 km to the west.

Several km west of this turnoff  is another dirt road that takes you to another camping area marked on the Hema maps as Cangai Broadwater. This site has more river frontage than the first so it's an alternative in case there are too many camped at the first location.

Neither site has any facilities, so make sure you take your rubbish with you and if others haven't then carry disposable gloves just like we do and clean up any mess that's been left behind. Otherwise beautiful spots like this will be closed forever.

The river is the perfect place to cool off on a hot day and the water is lovely and clear and just perfect for filling non-potable tanks.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bushtracker factory visit

We had been marking time here on the Sunshine Coast for five days until Monday 14th November.

During this time  there have been two weather warnings for severe storms and damaging hail. Thankfully the first storm only dropped pea size hail and on the following evening we watched the storm front pass to the south of us. 

This particular storm wreaked havoc to the south and in particular the small town of Bauple, where there was a considerable amount of damage with many houses losing their roofs.

On the 14th November we dropped our van off at the factory for some TLC. Then it was off to the Mooloolaba Surf Club for breakfast.

 This TLC included a 10,000 km service, some minor problems that needed rectifying and to have a new hitch installed on the van.
In conjunction with Lovell's Suspension, Hitch-Ezy have marketed a new hitch which comes in Lovell's signature blue.

This Braked Towing Capacity Stage 2 Kit upgrade gives us the option to tow to 4000 kg (up from 3500 kg's). The Braked Towing Upgrade can only be compiled if a Lovell's GVM upgrade is fitted to the vehicle. The upgrade can only be attached to the Toyota OE tow bar and is not compliant for aftermarket tow bars.

Even though Bushtracker fitted the hitch they are not a Lovell's authorised installer. So we had to tow the van to the local TJM outlet in Maroochydore for them to attach the required stickers to the 4wd and take necessary photos which will be forwarded to Lovells.

It was then off to Nambour to have the registration papers for the van updated to include the vans new ATM. 

Our 4wd is registered in NSW so we needed a compliance certificate from an engineer in that state. On our way home we had prearranged to visit an engineer in Ballina who provided the necessary paperwork.

BTW the new hitch is an absolute pleasure to use. 


Friday, November 11, 2016

Towards the Sunshine Coast

After leaving Lara Station we stopped briefly in Blackall at the local supermarket to purchase groceries.

We were off to camp at a free site in the small town of Augathella for the evening. Normally we would have shopped here to support the town but we were aware that every business bar the pub closed by midday.

There was just a single man camped here when we arrived and that's how it remained for the evening. 

We toddled off to the Ellangowan Hotel just several hundred metres away for a couple of beers at 6pm and then decided to stop here for dinner.
Two enormous meals that could have easily fed four people were soon sitting on the table in front of us. Ros choose the chicken parma and I the T-bone that almost filled the plate. I'm sure the dog out the back will be well pleased tonight.

Next day was a short one of just over 180 km to Mitchell. We have often camped at the Neil Turner Weir just outside town and this is our camp for the next four evenings.

The site has flushing toilets and several taps connected to town water in a lovely park adjacent to the camping area. And once again its free. We filled our three non-potable water tanks and topped up our drinking tank. Showers and washing over the next four days will certainly put a dent in our water supply.

There were eight other groups here when we arrived and they were were strung out along the weir with no one camped on top of each other.

Over our four days we refuelled, visited the bakery each day, the butcher on two occasions, the hardware store twice, the ladies boutique, the supermarket three times and we both had our hair cut. 
That's a total injection of just over $600.00 into the local community.
It's a shame there aren't more towns that don't realise the benefits of having free camping close to town.

Just over an hour after leaving Mitchell we arrived in Roma. From here we headed SE for another 78 km to camp for the next two evenings at the Fisherman's Park on the northern bank of the Balonne River. This site has flushing toilets and a dump point. 

The small town of Surat is about 400 metres away on the south side of the river. The town has a caravan park, butcher, two supermarkets, a coffee shop and of course a pub.

After we arrived we were joined by four other vans. They all used the facilities which included flushing toilets and a dump point but no one bothered to make a donation for the upkeep of this facility. 
We are noticing that this is becoming an all too familiar occurrence. 

Our first day was just sitting around relaxing but on our second day we purchased beer and wine from the pub and some groceries. $150.00 into the Surat community.

Just a short drive today as we head further east towards the small town of Meandarra just 89 km away.
The bitumen roads in Outback Queensland leave a lot to be desired but the road from Surat to Meandarra certainly takes the cake.
Most of the road is single lane bitumen and the parts of the road that aren't, are not wide enough for our van and oncoming vehicles to pass.
We shared this road with B-doubles carting cattle to and from the Roma sale yards and trucks taking wheat to the holding facility near Surat. 

We can best describe this road as being on a bucking bronco.

We have passed by the Brigalow Creek campsite in the small town of Meandarra but never camped here. The town is surrounded by wheat farms with some stretching as far as the eye can see.
There is power and water for $10 for three days or it's $5 for unpowered for the same amount of time.
It's currently 34 degrees at midday with quite a strong westerly blowing that is helping to make the temperature feel cooler but more importantly keeping those bloody the flies off our faces.We have both found the need to use our fly nets on two occasions, talk about a fashion statement.

Our intention was to spend two evenings here but we have decided to move on tomorrow. 
The road surface east through Tara until we joined the Moonie Highway into Dalby was in the same condition to that of the previous days travel.

We passed through Dalby then took some minor roads through to another small town where we stopped for a coffee and a break. Kaimkillenbun often referred to "The Bun" is on the way through to the Bunya Mountains. From here we continued through Maclagan and then onto Cooyar. Our camp this evening is another free camp at swinging Bridge Park. Of course Cooyar has a pub but not too much more.

Another huge drive today of just 27 km had us arriving in Yarraman around 10ish where we booked into the local caravan park. Our unpowered site costing $27 which we thought was a tad steep. There are currently level one water restrictions here and the region certainly needs some much needed rain.

From Yarraman it was all mostly downhill as we passed through Blackbutt, Moore, Kilcoy and Woodford before joining the Sunshine Motorway on our way north to Forest Glen.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Camooweal to Lara Station

Shortly after crossing back into Queensland we arrived at Camooweal. The next night was spent camped on the Georgina River just outside town and where we camped not that long ago. 

With the threat of rain yet again for the afternoon of our second nights stay we decided to move away from the black soil that surrounds the billabong to somewhere more safer.

We wanted to shop in Mt Isa but not stay in a caravan park so we drove to the WWll Airfield Rest Area 54 km NW of Mt Isa for the evening. The site has Eco toilets some shelters and BBQ's. Its currently 4:10 pm and we are surrounded by dark clouds with quite heavy drops of rain falling on the van. Hopefully it will help cool down another very hot day with the temperature at Camooweal when we left just after midday at 39 degrees.

The winds picked up this afternoon as we were sitting outside enjoying our evening drinks with the sound of thunder all around but with very little rain. 
The temperature has dropped considerably and is now quite pleasant at 28.5 inside the van.

We are waiting for the wind to subside so that we can put up the awning and cook our meal outside on our BBQ, which eventually happened. We ate our meal inside before having another wine sitting outside, enjoying the most amazing lightning off to the west.

It rained quite heavily on and off during the night and we were up several times shutting and opening windows as the wind changed directions on many occasions. It was cool enough during the evening to pull up the doona for some added warmth. 
This morning was overcast with rain and a cool 21 degrees which makes for a lovely change.
We shared this large campsite with another van and several whizz bang vans.

With more consistent and heavier rain now falling at 9 am we decided to move into the Isa. Just short of an hour later we were looking for somewhere to park the van close to one of the alcohol outlets but that was not to be. Undeterred I still managed to carry the carton of Fat Yak across the main highway and several hundred metres where I had the van parked up a side street. It was then onto Coles and the dump point located next to the race course.

A word of warning...all supermarkets are closed on Sunday in the Isa.

Our original plan was to continue onto Julia Creek for several days but with the free camp surrounded by black soil we have changed our minds.
With light rain still falling we decided to head for Mary Kathleen where we camped in early September. The access road into the old township site was a little boggy in places and we camped on one of the old bitumen streets.

Another enjoyable evening with no road noise from the highway and another four groups camped up for the evening.

We left rather early with a large drive today that would take us through Cloncurry before stopping in McKinlay for a coffee. We stopped here on our way to Darwin and bought a coffee at the Walkabout Hotel made famous by Paul Hogan in the first Crocodile Dundee movie.
This time we ventured down a side street to a local park and found a plaque and statue to honour John McKinlay. He was born in Scotland in 1819 and died in Gawler in South Australia in 1872.

He was commissioned by the State Government to search for the missing Burke and Wills Expedition. 
With his party along with horses, cattle, camels and sheep he left Adelaide in 1861 and reached the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1862. 
He thereby completed the first and greatest transcontinental droving feat.

We then passed through Kynuna and Winton before stopping for the evening at the Crawford Creek Rest Area just over 32 km SE of Winton. 

Our original plan was to camp at Long Waterhole just south of Winton but with the recent rains and black soil that was enough reason not to.
We have often passed this rest area so now was as good a time as any to stop here for the evening. We backed the van in as far as possible to get away from the highway but need not have bothered because there was very little passing traffic during the night.
Later we were joined by another van and 4WD and we all sat together over evening drinks before heading indoors for dinner.
What a shock to the system this morning at 6am with the van interior at just 14.6 degrees. The hot water system was cranked up and after each of us having a hot shower and a coffee we were feeling much warmer.

 We left around 8ish as we headed for Longreach another 132 km away. Here we refuelled before stopping in Ilfracombe for coffee then passed through Barcaldine were we turned south onto the Landsborough Highway.

Our last five day stay at Lara Station was so enjoyable that we just had to come back again. What a shock to see the auction sign as we turned off the Landsborough Highway and onto the 13 km dirt access road into the station.

We were here to spend the next five days and on arrival there were just two other groups who left the following morning.
Jo is no longer able to cope with the crippling debt after the death of her husband in 2014. She hopes to have enough money to pay her debts, purchase 1000 acres near Mt Morgan and do some travelling. The auction is scheduled for the 15th November.

On one of our days we traveled the 41 km into Barcaldine to attend to some shopping and sight see, but the remainder of the time has been spent just relaxing. Ros has identified 27 bird species so far and with one more day here I'm sure the count will increase.

This rack of lamb was purchased before we left home so it was about time it was demolished...

Jo's mare gave birth to this beautiful colt on our second last day and we were so thrilled at the chance to be able to see him with Mum and Dad off in the background.

Mother nature certainly left her best till last with this most amazing sunset for our final evening.

On our last two days we helped Jo and Bill the caretaker move sprinklers around the camping area after the lawns had been cut and trimmed. The real estate agent who is holding the auction was bringing interested groups through for inspections.

We wish Jo all the best for the future.