Dubbo

I was up early, a slight frost, the fog was resonably thick so we delayed our departure to about 10.00am. What a glorious day, not too hot but just a delight to be on the road heading north. Four days from Melbourne and already we can see the difference from winter in Tassie although the nights are probably colder.

A quick stop to check out an old open cut mine at Peak Hill, mainly to just break up the drive and stretch the legs.

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We arrived at a CMCA “Member Stop Over”, an area set aside by a fellow CMCA member on their property, on the outskirts of Dubbo and were all set up and ready for lunch by 12.30pm. It was very noticable how dry it is in Dubbo, hardly any green grass and a lots of dusty marks where there had been a bit of traffic.

We have driven through Dubbo many times but had never stopped. This time we just had to get a 2 day pass for the Dubbo Zoo. Driving around the 6km loop around the zoo, all you need to do is park up, get out and check out each section.

 

The first stop we observed hyenas getting fed, man talk about pack mentality, I am sure I wouldn’t want to step into their enclosure.

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A little bit of luck is needed at times as the enclosures are quite large, sometimes the animals are towards the back, sometimes they blend in with their enviroment. The breeding programs seem to be working as there are a few juvenile animals running around with their mothers.

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A two day pass is part of the admission, but there is an extra fee to go on a safari into an enclosure. We did enjoy the up close encounter from an open sided bus.

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The giraffes have right of way and the bus must wait if they decide to cross in front of us.

You can even stay overnight, we didn’t choose this option but it would be an awesome experience trying to sleep with a lion or tiger roaring in the dead of night.

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To finish off the afternoon we had a quick look around the Japanese Gardens. It was nice but nothing to rave about, although the water was full of some super sized goldfish (carp).

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The carp averaged 300-400mm long, throw a few pebbles in the water and they think it is feed time.

We are heading to Binnaway tommorow, a fellow camper has recommended it to us. We will have to wait and see.

Forbes

We were on the road around 9.30am with the sun shining making for another glorious day. We arrive at Wheogo Park in Forbes and were setup for the night just in time for lunch. After lunch we had our first chance to take the bikes for a lazy 3.5km around Forbes Lake.

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Some nice scenery and great walking and cycling tracks on both sides on the lake with plenty of bridges to cross so whatever your fitness level, there is a circuit for everyone.

After 2 nights camping by ourselves there is over a dozen vehicles of all sorts camped around us tonight, even a double decker bus.

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A double decker bus makes for a very unique motorhome

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A tandem trailer and a 4wd complete the combination

A short drive just over 150km to Dubbo is planned for tommorrow.

Junee

Day 2 started with a mild frost, however the day warmed up very quickly. We were on our way to Junee by 9.30am and a nice 105km drive took us through Wagga Wagga and we set up camp for the night at the Junee Golf Club on a disused bowling green before lunch.

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Dianne and I made our way to the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory after an early lunch.

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The highlight of the visit was making our own Rocky Road, we were able to select from a wide variety of fillings and select our own choice of chocolate.

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Next door was the Gasworks Garage Museum with a nice selection of cars and trucks for a gold coin entry fee

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Junee was a major railway town and I just had to visit the Roundhouse Museum, while Dianne had a walk around the town.

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The roundhouse consists of two separate halves with a train line through the middle.

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Over half of the roundhouse is still used as a train repair workshop.

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A wide variety of trains and carriages are on display. Even a double decker bus was viewable next to the main display.

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Most displays had steps up to them for easy hands on viewing. A great way to spend almost two hours.

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A working model train is even on display for all to view.

Junee has a lot of history on offer and I could have spent another day here easily. The Monte Cristo heritage house will have to wait for another day. It is rated as Australia’s most haunted house.

Tommorrow Dianne is looking forward to visiting Forbes, just a leisurely 220km drive away.

 

Melbourne to Lockhart

Day one of our 2017 trip to Queensland and things got off to a bad start to our holiday, we had a flat battery and the ute wouldn’t start. The battery was completely flat, the doors wouldn’t even unlock with the remote, apparently the automatic isolator hadn’t switched off. I should have turned the fridge off and disconnected the anderson plug from the ute to the fridge and there is always someone ready with a phone to take a photo.

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The local stevedores are well equipped for flat batteries and before long we were on our way

 Breakfast was at McDonalds, about 65km up the road from Port Melbourne. We caught up with Rod and Maureen Baker from Port Sorell. We had met them watching the football on the Spirits TV’s the night before. They had trouble finding their way onto the Westgate Bridge. A couple of laps around Port Melbourne and they were on their way.

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Maccas at Wallan is a popular stopping point for breakfast for a lot of caravans off the Spirit

Broadford has a free weighbridge for self checking our weights. Authorities are making all grey nomads aware that they are about to start policing.

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All axle groups are on a seperate weighbridge


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Weights with me not in ute

We are well stocked up with frozen food. While my total weight allowed is 5900kg, being within 60kg of my legal weight was pretty good. We can lighten up a little as we travel and if needed we will not fill the water tanks completely and both gas bottles will not always be full. Dianne will have to refrain from buying too much at all the markets she plans on visiting and I’ll only be able to buy beer by the six pack once the slab in van is consumed.

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Weights with me sitting in ute, conclusion I only weigh 80kg

The sun was shining, as we made our way up the Hume Hwy before turning off at Chiltern. Lunch was at Howlong in NSW and it was only 12.15pm. A short drive and we were setup in the Lockhart Showground by mid afternoon. No facilities but a lovely spot.

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Lots of space but the toilets are locked, definitely only for the self contained

The Doris Golder Gallery is part of the local museum at the Tourist Information Centre. There is a collection of portraits of Australian indentities made entirely of wool. It is a shame that they won’t let you take photos in that section. We were so glad that we decided to spend some money in town in return for the free showground camping.

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A very tiny caravan


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The Double Thomas Splint was used on a local young girl who had a severe case of Polio. Thank heavens the Polio vaccine that we have today


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There is also a video interview with Ann-Maree McLeod that anyone who refuses to vacinate their children should watch

 

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Lots of art sculptures around town, like this one at the council depot.

Tommorow we plan to slow down and slowly make our way north looking for for warm weather.

 

Weekend at Devonport

Our last weekend away for the Devil Wheelers and we saved the best until last. We have chosen the Dell Luck Oval, which is part of the Devonfield complex in Devonport. Devonfield is a special needs learning centre. Any camping fees go straight to providing funds to help the centre.

A spacious tv room to watch the footy, the nights are cooling off now and while the firepot does throw out a lot of heat, once the sun goes down, the dew starts to settle and things get damp quite quickly.

A short drive and we are at the mouth of the Mersey River and a flat bike ride makes for some gentle exercise. Susan does cheat a little as she has an electric assist bike

Back at camp the electric bike does create a bit of interest and even my father has a turn

The Devonfield commitee put on a fantasic 3 course meal on the Saturday night. I t impressed us so much that we booked the facility for our Christmas trip in erly December

A Weekend at Turners Beach

The weather has started to cool down and we decided we needed to have some shelter just in case it rained, so for our weekend away with the “Devil Wheelers” we organised to stay at the Veteran Car Club of Australia’s clubrooms at Turners Beach.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the location, fantastic clubrooms and plenty of flat ground to set up camp on. Only 15km from home and I had no idea it was even there. Situated right by the foreshore, right next to the local bike and walking track between Turners Beach and Ulverstone.

Being one of the few that haven’t retired yet, you have to get in early if you want a good spot to set the van up on. I decided to drop the van off as I headed to work, Thursday afternoon. Finally made it to bed at 6.00am, awake and out of bed by 9.30am. I must love this camping stuff, to be this keen.

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The pushbikes travelled very well on the ute and do not get in the way of a sharp turn. The weather did not make for bike riding but we did manage one ride.

Eighteen vans, including six 5th wheelers including 2 from mainland Australia. One of the best things about being a member of the CMCA is meeting up with members from all over Australia who may be touring Tassie and the welcome is reciprocated when travelling on the mainland if you enjoy meeting other groups of campers on their home turf.

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A casserole night and some great clubrooms made for a good feed Friday night

Saturday started off with a 10km bike ride along the bike track into Ulverstone and back again. It was completely flat, much better than my home town of Penguin. One of our plans this year is to take a couple of bikes to enjoy the boardwalks and bike and walking tracks that are on offer around plenty of our country towns.

 

A severe electrical storm overnight would have woken most of us up very early Sunday morning, lots of lightning lit the inside of the van up like daylight. The thunder, rain on the roof and waves crashing on the rocks at high tide certainly made for a broken nights sleep.

Rain was the order of the day on Sunday, some packed up early while there was just a light shower, some packed up after a 10.00am cup of coffee and must of went home like drowned rats. A couple of us waited for the rain to stop and packed up without getting wet and even went down on the beach and cut up a load of driftwood for last years floods for future campfires.

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Wednesday was also Banner Parade Day, almost missed adding the photos

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Thursday day 6 is the start of the disc bowls tournament. The ladies had 1 team make it through to day 2 and the finals. The mixed teams and the mens teams won a couple of games but didn’t progress to day 2. I sadly went out in round 1 in both of my games, maybe better next time.

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Sue concentrating on her shot, while Veronica and I watch on, very serious stuff these disc bowls tournaments

Reno and Jade are tonights entertainment, what a great act, non stop for two and a half hours

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Father and son duo keep the crowd entertained

Friday day 7 and our Ladies disc bowls team lost in a nail biter. Points were level at the end of the game, so a sudden death playoff saw us lose by one shot.

 

Friday night entertaiment is “The Baker Boys” at the Pontville Pink and Purple Party. Our little group did get with the theme a little bit, others went way over the top and everyone had a good time.

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Some of us had a bit of fun with some Halloween masks, not over the top, we did need to remember that were a lot of senior citizens in the audience and some may have “dicky tickers”.

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Saturday day 8 saw things starting to draw to an end. We went to the local bakery for lunch, with a trip to “MONA” filling in the afternoon.

Sue likes to get into the interactive displaysclick on the link for a short video

Sunday day 9 was to be our last as Dianne had to be home before Monday and I did need to go to work on Tuesday. We had a great time and would recommend to everyone to attend at least one big rally. Being in a small group certainly helped make the whole event a little less daunting. We met lots of interesting grey nomads all doing basically the same thing but all just that little bit different.

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Saturday the 11th of March and four of the “Devil Wheelers” are meeting at 10.00am just down the road to all head in a convoy so we can all be sited together. Rally secretary  Col Coleman went above and beyond to help us out.

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Col Coleman getting into the pink and purple theme very early

As long as a couple of us with motorhomes didn’t mind being situated off the main site with the big rigs it would be no problem or so we thought. Volunteers have problems with parking up 5th wheelers and caravans (motorhomes are so much easier), they don’t realise we have to unhook and move forward to be able to walk between and then there are slideouts. We finally got setup once the volunteers had left.

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Check out the motorhome in the background with a popup bedroom above the cab and self tracking solar panels

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Setting up the “Devil Wheelers” outdoor banner

A welcome for 1st time rally attendants in the main marquee at 3.00pm and all formalities were dealt with and we were made most welcome.

Sunday day 2 and big rigs and 5th wheelers and motorhomes towing small cars rolled in. Walking around the outer areas and seeing some of the setups that grey nomads are travelling around Australia, is as good as visiting the best tourist destination. 10.00am is morning tea every day. Activities for the day are highlighted. Just deciding what to do in what order is a big decision, there is plenty to do.

Monday day 3 and today is the first official day of the Rally and all the motorhomes are arriving. Military precision in parking all these rigs. It does seem easy when they are all of similar size. Today is the first official day and walking around all the trade exhibits and food outlets, registering for activities for the rest of the week, seeing what is on offer kept us busy most of the day.

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7.00pm and we are in the main marquee for tonights big act, Bodane Hatten, a magician and comedian. Very entertaining with lots of illusion and funny gags.

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Tuesday day 4, activities to keep us occupied, the trade tents are full to overflowing, food stalls everywhere. Information overload, plenty to do, bring on happy hour at 4.00pm, grab a drink and find a group playing music, two or three small groups located centrally to everyone most nights.

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Bring an instrument and join in or just sit back and enjoy

Wednesday day 5 begins with an early morning walk (most mornings, not just today) with Garry at 7.00am for an hour, finished with an egg and bacon roll in the footy clubrooms for the poets breakfast. A heritage machinery display was setup just for today. Just walking around the grounds, talking to fellow campers and seeing all the different ways people go camping and the time just flies.

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Dianne wants an electric bike, she doesn’t like pedalling uphills

Always have time to check out an Iveco setup looking for ideas.

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Lit up like a Christmas Tree, luckily about 10.00pm it was lights out for most of the lights so we could all sleep

So many photos, trying to remember which order things happened, getting most of our memories down before we forget, a few edits may be in order at a later date, please be patient. Part 2 of the rally in a seperate post coming soon.

Two Week Trip To CMCA Pontville Rally

Dianne and I are heading to the CMCA Pontville Rally, we have never been to anything like this before and don’t really know what to expect. Working a shift roster has allowed me to take 7 days off work, but end up with a 14 day break. We plan to make the most of this time and just relax and see what happens.

Day 1

We have been invited to Cressy to meet up with some 5th wheelers who are in Tasmania from the mainland, one is going to the rally and we think the another may join us as well for just a few days.

Jon and Judy have imported a 5th wheeler from the USA and Jon has done most of the conversion to Australian compliance himself. Included in the conversion was installing lithium batteries and recessing his awning to stay within Aussie width regulations. Jon also follows my blog and this was another reason to call in for a chat.

Giving visitors travel tips and places of interest that may interest them is very entertaining. Seeing their reaction to travelling on Tassie’s winding roads, along with “mainlanders” ideas of day trips. They think nothing of travelling well over 100km’s in all directions to see all the attractions from a base camp, whereas us locals think it is a big trip to go down to the local shop for some milk only 5 minutes away. Trying to convince Doug and Dawn that a drive up Jacobs Ladder to the skiing village of Ben Lomond would be a truly wonderful experience and seeing the look on Dawn’s face was almost priceless.

Day 2

We are off to Hamilton today and are yet to decide whether we take the van to Derwent Bridge or just make it a day trip as we will be returning the same way as the “Wall in the Wilderness” has been on our bucket list for a while.

We set up camp in Hamilton after having lunch at Bothwell. We arrived around 1.00pm and setup with plenty of room. Within 30 minutes the camp was full to overflowing.

Day 3

A trip to the Wall in the Wilderness from Hamilton along the Lyell Highway was a steady drive along a reasonably good road but I was very surprised by the speed of the caravans coming downhill in the opposite direction. While it wasn’t steep, the road had many long decents and travellers, 99% of them with interstate registration plates were travelling way too fast. The brake temperatures would have to have been very hot. If they needed to stop in an emergency it may have been exciting.

I even ran over a snake on the way to Derwent Bridge, I just didn’t see it until too late, it just blended into the bitumen, but I did get a photo on the way home as someone had marked it with a Coke can.

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The Wall in the Wilderness is a truly inspiring experience, a 100m wall of amazing carvings depicting Tasmania through the years. A work in progress, so another visit in a couple of years should show a bit more. I cannot believe that I haven’t been here before, but better late than never.

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We had lunch at the Angry Wombat Cafe and I just had to buy their stubby holder, very quirky.

Day 4

A quick trip to the Plenty Salmon Ponds was just amazing, especially if you are into fishing. Seeing monstrous Rainbow Trout in a feeding frenzy chasing the food pellets we were feeding them. The large Brook Trout were a little uninterested, but the smaller ones in an adjacant pond really had the water boiling. Atlantic Salmon, Brown Trout and Tiger Trout were all on display. To make the site even better was the large array of mature trees within the grounds.

 

 

Rocky Cape Tavern

The Rocky Cape Tavern was the location for our weekend away. The site has free camping and extra features right up to a full service caravan park. Lots of room to spread out, play a few games of disc bowls and have a campfire and not get in any one elses road.

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Just up the road was the Rocky Cape National Park with lots of spectacular scenery, some short walks and even some longer walks over the hills to Sisters Beach for the more adventurous, just not for us.

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Fantastic views in all directions that the camera doesn’t do justice to.

The counter meals at the Tavern were great value for money and no one went hungry and anyone free camping in their grounds is encouraged to partake in some fine food, along with a beer or two.

On the way home, we couldn’t resist to spend a night at Hall Point, Sulphur Creek. The weather was great, I had another day off, Dianne had baby sitting duties early the next day and we were only 5km from home. There was plenty of driftwood on the beach and we found a great spot arriving around noon.

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A quick trip home to get Dianne’s car, as well as the chainsaw to turn this pile of driftwood into “beer barrel firepot” friendly and  we will have another warm night around the campfire. We even had some left over ready for our next trip.

It always amazes us that when we camp alone and get the firepot out who comes over to say hello and enjoy a drink or two. We even had an invitation from one couple, Lloyd and Kerry, to visit South West Rocks NSW on our trip to Queensland this year to return the hospitality, another solo backpacker from Germany had travelled the furthest along with several other vanners from various states around mainland Australia. To top things off two old fellas entertained us with some great music, well into the evening

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Fellow campers with a guitar and a mandolin kept us entertained around the campfire until almost midnight