Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arakoon National Park

Arakoon is closer to home than Crowdy Bay National Park and we normally combine staying here on our way home. We have again pre-booked site 13 under the Norfolk pine trees with the bay behind our site. The couple camped bedside us where here forty years ago when the Norfolk pines were planted and the camping was free. They have camped here every year since then.
The campground faces due west across the bay to South West Rocks and the sunsets are quite spectacular. I think its probably the only location on the east coast where you can photograph the sun setting across water. 
This site gives us easy access to the water and more importantly it gives our solar panels enough light until the sun sets. We have booked for seven nights and plan to just relax with walks along the beach and include plenty of swimming.
It was lovely to meet Karen and Ken, who follow our blog and recognized our 4WD and van. They were first time visitors to Arakoon after reading one of our blog entries and have recently taken a tour at the Bushtracker factory. Their plan is to place an order in the not too distant future. We mentioned how we print our blog trips as hard cover coffee table books. They were interested in the address, so here it is:

Its the first time in many years of coming here we have had seven beautiful sunny days, the only downside is the camp area has never looked so dry.
One day returning to our campsite after shopping in South West Rocks we followed a Bushtracker heading to Arakoon. Nina and Greg in their 20' BT were passing through on their way home to Newcastle and popped in for a chat. 
Apart from the goal another historic site is a German graves monument perched on a hill just over 1 km from the goal.
During our stay we enjoyed a breakfast and lunch at the restaurant within the park. The restaurant is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Crowdy Bay National Park

We have just spent seven days camped at Crowdy Bay National Park. The weather was fabulous with rain falling on two of the nights. This National Park is one of our favorite camping spots and its just over two hours south of where we live. Once the three remaining sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade south of Coffs Harbour are completed then our travelling time to this park will be greatly reduced.  
The park has four campgrounds which include Crowdy Gap in the south, with Kylies Beach, Indian Head and Diamond Head in the northern section of the National Park. 
Our preference is to camp at Kylies Beach, with its basic facilities which include drop toilets, cold water showers and very clear non-potable water. The campground is set back from the beach behind sand dunes and vegetation and is protected if the weather turns nasty. The main campground is basically a large grassed area without those dreaded koppers logs, and for those who require shade there are other more secluded campsites surrounding the main area.
Indian Head campground:
Diamond Head campground:
 Laurieton with a population of 2000 people is just 5 km north of the National Park boundary and has all the facilities you would ever need. The park lies just over 45 km south of Port Macquarie and 35 km north-east of Taree. We access the park through Kew and then Laurieton but you can also access the park through Moorland south-west of the park.
We have found in the past that the camping areas get very busy during weekends and school holidays which probably has something to do with having these larger towns so close. We try to avoid these times however for this break a weekend was included in our time here, and as expected it was busy but by Sunday night, there were just three other groups camped with us.  
The ranger station is at Diamond Head where the majority of people seem to prefer to stay, with its extra creature comforts which include flushing toilets and free gas BBQ's. Since our last visit the campground has been upgraded with kerb and guttering and new turf. 
There are many activities to keep you busy while staying here including many walking trails, fishing, swimming, whale watching, surfing or walking along the beaches that are never crowded.
But best of all is the wildlife. There are koalas and kangaroos along with goannas. With over 700 species of eucalyptus in Australia, the koala only eats from 40 species, and they sleep up to twenty hours per day with the remainder spent eating. 
Looking south down Dunbogan Beach towards Diamond Head. Diamond Head is thought to be named after quartz crystals that are present in the cliffs and that sparkle when the angle of the sun is in the right location and viewed from the sea.
Several photos taken from the headland walk:
Looking south down along Kylies Beach towards Crowdy Head. Captain Cook named it Crowded Head in 1770 after seeing a group of aboriginals on the headland.
During World War ll, the Australian author Kylie Tennant moved to Laurieton. She met a local farmer who grazed cattle on Diamond Head and he built her a timber hut to use as a writing retreat. The hut has been moved to its present location and restored by National Parks. The hut can be accessed from Indian Head and Kylies Beach campgrounds.
Several km west of Laurieton is the steep access road that takes you 487 metres to the summit of North Brother Mountain. Laurieton is in the foreground with the small towns of Dunbogan and North Haven on the left hand side of the Camden Haven River as it enters the sea.
Looking south from North Brother Mountain over Watson Taylors Lake with Crowdy Bay National Park off to the left, and Crowdy Head in the distance:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yuraygir National Park

After picking the van up from the factory we remained on the Sunshine Coast for several more days before leaving on Sunday 18th May. We spent the night again at the Yelgun rest area on our way south.
From Monday 19th we spent three lovely nights camped at Yuraygir National Park. The park lies along the NSW coast and starts just south of Yamba and hugs the coast for the next 60 odd km. We stayed at the Illaroo campground which backs onto the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Options while staying here include surfing, swimming, fishing and walks along the beach, that stretches for many kilometres north towards Sandon River. The small town of Wooli is quite close and Grafton is just over 50 km inland. 
Facilities include eco-toilets, rubbish bins and fireplaces. 
6 June:
After a suggestion from Stephen, we have purchased the black infill which arrived today. It was purchased from Caravan and RV Works, who have just relocated to the same street that Bushtracker are in at Kunda Park. Best of all it was on special at $2.00 per metre. We both feel that the black infill is a far better match with the silver cladding.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Our van was five years old when damaged by hail in November last year. 
Our only thoughts on the day were ones of sadness, but now all that has changed, because it now looks brand new again. 
The only item not re-installed was the rear outside shower locker. This locker continually leaked whenever it rained and wasn't worth the trouble. 
We have also upgraded the television to the latest 24 inch LED version and replaced our Pioneer deck with the latest product from Fusion. These photos show the changes we have made.

Audio locker and new Television:
Fusion deck:
DO35 hitch, Jack and WDH system:
LED reading lights:
Ceiling touch LEDS:
Awning LED lights and outside speakers:
We love the automatic awning:
In conjunction with this work, the bearings and suspension were serviced and the under body has been re-sealed. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

What a difference just one day makes

Just returned from the factory, and the exterior of the van is now complete, except for installation of audio and visual equipment which include the outside speakers and our roof mounted satellite dish. These will be installed next week along with having the under-body of the van re-sprayed. 
Talk about eye for detail they even purchased an RM Williams Longhorn sticker to replace the ones that were on the van.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Progress to date

Here are the latest photos taken this afternoon.
There is still quite a bit of work to be completed on the vans exterior including installation of the awning. Daniel from Leisuretainment is still to install some of the extra audio and visual equipment including the rear view camera and outside speakers.
We are blown away with the vans transformation after having it sitting around damaged at home for the past five months.
Van completion looks likely on Tuesday or possibly Wednesday next week.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Van Renovation to date

Friday 2nd May:
Its now day five since we dropped our hail damaged van at the factory. 
We were unaware until yesterday when we received a call from the factory that our awning was also to be renewed. 
The call was to confirm if we wanted to go with our existing type of awning, or pay extra money and install the Dometic 12 volt automatic awning. After checking out its operation yesterday afternoon at the factory we have now decided to go with this option.
Here are a series of photos showing the new cladding in place:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bushtracker Factory Visit

Saturday 26th April:
We left home this afternoon turning north on our way to spend the night at the Yelgun Rest Area just off the Pacific Highway and north of Brunswick Heads. We often stay here on our way north to the Sunshine Coast as it breaks the trip and makes the drive more manageable. Unfortunately for us this weekend is part of the ANZAC long weekend and end of school holidays. As we drove north towards Yelgun we had very little traffic going our way but a continuous stream heading south. On arriving at Yelgun the local Lions Club caravan was setup with a twenty four hour 'Driver Reviver' stop. There were cars everywhere, so we setup a considerable distance away.
The van is booked into the Bushtracker factory on Monday 28th April to have a total re-skin after the hail damage we received in November 2013. Repairs will take a couple of weeks to complete so we have decided to stay and have another good look around the general area. 

Sunday 27th April:
Sunday morning as we headed up past the Gold Coast we were surprised at the lack of traffic but that all changed once we crossed the Gateway Bridge. The traffic going both ways on the Sunshine Coast Motorway was just unbelievable with a never ending stream of vehicles.

Monday 28th April:
We dropped the van off at the factory at the allotted time and then spent three hours discussing some changes we wanted made while the insurance work was being carried out. 
The changes to be carried out before re-sheeting the van include the addition of a audio/visual locker on the vans nearside, outside speakers, extra awning LED lights with dual colour on the nearside and replacing the extra large window above our dinette with a smaller 1200 x 600 mm window. This involves re sheeting the van interior around this area.

Tuesday 29 April:
Other changes not affected by the insurance claim include replacing the current powered jockey wheel with a Vehicle Components jack, the latest weight distribution system, new DO35 hitch, replacing existing blue diesel heater tank with the black one, replacing existing tail lights with LED ones, replacing old style fluro interior lights with latest touch LED's and the piece de resistance being the new Silver Cladding. This cladding is an extra $1000.00 over the price of the usual white cladding.