Gunnedah

We started the day off with a very crisp -3.7°C (feels like -8.1°C), however it soon warmed up to a very pleasant day to make our way to Gunnedah. We basically just headed north to find some warmer weather, always trying to find a way that we haven’t travelled before. We did stop for a look at a sculpture at the turn off to the Wellington caves. Lots of intricate parts to study, basically made from scrap steel and some mosaic patterns all intertwined together, well worth a short stop.

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Looks a bit weird from a distance, but very interesting

We continued through Wellington onto Dunedoo where we stopped for lunch in a large truck rest area. For some unknown reason the GPS did want to take us in every different way from Wellington to Dunedoo, but the way all the sign posts indicated. We followed the road signs and let the GPS catch up, but as soon as we come to a cross road, it would want to take us off on a longer route. We were being diverted via Gulgong and Dubbo at different times, all considerably longer options. We would of arrived at our destination but not the optimum way. Not sure if it was a mapping issue or just a gremlin. We made our way through Coolah and arrive in Gunnedah around 3.00pm.

We saved the highlight of the day until late, however it was well worth the wait. Gunnedah has a water tank painted with a military theme, absolutely stunning. It just makes the normally dull trip north to the warm of Queensland worth a diversion to view all these magnificent works of art, well worth the effort.

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Absolutely marvellous, you need to see them in person to fully appreciate them.

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I couldn’t quite get a good postion for this view. I was on the edge of garden on a very steep ledge

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Very dry and dusty at our campsite. It looks like they may have had some rain, but the locals had had a bit of fun doing some circle work and destroyed any chance of grass taking hold before it dried out again

More silo art tommorrow on our way to Bingara, with Dianne catching up with a friend from home for a couple of days

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Molong

A very crisp -2.6°C morning greeted us this morning, however clear skies and the sun shining, the temperature warmed up nicely. We were on the road at 9.00am heading for Grenfell as our only planned stop for the day. They have a new Silo Art for us to have a look at and a fantastic donation freedom camp, where we only had lunch this time, maintained by the Lions Club and the local mens shed.

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A brand new example of Silo Art that was only finished in March 2019, being in shadow at lunch time was a little unfortunate as it didn’t do it justice in the photo

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The artwork taking shape, taken off an information board at the site

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A well maitained campsite that we only stopped for lunch, definitely worth a stop on a later date

An uneventful day with plenty of driving through the countryside making our way north on our way to the Molong Showground/Golf Club. For $10/night with power in a location that fitted in with our travel plans. We progressed 295km today from Old Junee with 330km tommorrow to reach Gunnedah.

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Room for about a dozen vans with power and bore water (we chose not to use the water). The ninth green in the foreground was almost black, probably for water conservation I would think

No real plans for tomorrow, although we will travel through Wellington and Dunedoo on the way to Gunnedah

 

Old Junee

An early start on day 2 of our trip towards Queensland after a good nights sleep. A slight frost early but when we hit the road it had warmed up to 5°C. It turned out that one of the others camped near us was from Devonport, Tasmania and had arrived in Port Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania, the same as us yesterday morning.

The temperature dropped to 3°C almost as soon as we were on the road and fog reduced visibility to about 50m. We were in no great hurry, so we slowed down to an acceptable speed due to the conditions. It was only 25km to Yarramonga, no chance of us lingering longer here as it was freezing. It looks like a fantastic spot to revisit when the weather is a fraction warmer, we just continued on, also bypassing Oaklands on our way to Urana.

The fog was just starting to lift when we stopped to check out another silo art, this one was a little different, it was a sculpture hanging off the side of the silo.

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Urana is a great place to stop, especially if the weather was a little warmer

Urana would be another town to revisit when the temperature was warmer. There is a small caravan park and $10 freedom camping across the road with a walking track around a small lake on the river with a walking track around most of it with a proposed bridge to link the two. There is also a large bird avairy for everyone to enjoy with a small selection of Aussie native birds inside.

Onto Lockhart to see a water tank in the main street, another fantastic small town that is catering for travelling public. We had lunch opposite the information centre, after which we had a walk down the main street, a little sad really as there were lots of shops either closed or in a sad state of disrepair.

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Very hard to get a good shot as the mural goes right around the water tank, with buildings and trees getting in the way

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Dianne has many layers of clothing on, trying to keep warm. We have visited Lockhart twice before. There is plenty to keep you amused for some time, poking around the streets here

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A fantastic sculpture in someone’s front yard

We had a brief stop in Wagga Wagga, only to see a water reservoir on top of a hill with a mural painted on it. Some great views over the town and country side as well was an added bonus.

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We couldn’t work out if this is a work in progress, a victim of grafitti (out of view of this photo) or this how it was meant to be. Well worth a visit though

We then proceeded on to the Old Junee Recreation Reserve. Dianne was not overly impressed that we had to open and close a gate to access the site, nor the fact that there was a small mob of sheep to keep us company. However when another couple came in for the night and camped 100m away from us, she was a little more relaxed. The camping area was enormous, with a gravel road doing a loop around the interior, lots of trees, but even more open spaces between the trees to give people privacy or small groups to enjoy an area together. We were setup by 3.30pm and had the campfire blazing away and ready to enjoy happy hour by 4.00pm. An added bonus was there was enough limb wood laying around to keep the fire burning for 2 or 3 hours without having to use the supplies we were carrying.

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Plenty of room and firewood, even my new mate Neville is happy

Tommorrow we head to see the Grenfell silo art and stop for the night at the Molong Showground if everything goes to plan. Looks like another cold night coming up, with the diesel heater getting a good workout again.

Tungamah

After a smooth sailing on the Spirit from Tassie, we disembarked to an overcast morning in Melbourne, with the temperature at 8°C. An accident on the Western Ring Rd, slowed us down for around 15 minutes until we crept past the accident site. As we neared the Hume Hwy, we encountered some heavy drizzle. The drizzle cleared before we made Seymour.

We called into the Broadford weighbridge on the Hume Hwy for a quick check of our all up weight with each axle group on a seperate platform.

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Lots of flexibility as we are 490kg under our maximum weights and all axle groups within our limits

We had a quick walk around Benalla, checking out some of the street art. We would of been lucky to have seen half of what is available, but at 5°C, it was very cold and we were soon on our way.

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One of the murals that was easy to photograph. A lot of them are up narrow lane ways and very difficult to get a full photo

Our next stop was Goorambat to check out the first of the silo art on our trip. We had planned to check out a mural inside the local church as well, however we just didn’t remember it was there until we were well on our way, maybe another time. Must be “old timers” creeping in.

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Dianne has made the bold statement, that the 1st example of silo art we encountered, will take some beating. Just awesome, the photo does not do it justice as the silos are round and a little challenging to get a shot that does them justice

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Access around the silos is very limited, making it hard to get some good shots

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A small dragonfly on top of a sign welcoming visitors to Goorambat

Our next stop was Devendish, another railway town with a grain facility next to the rail line.

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A war time theme to Devendish’s silo art

Further down the road, the town of St James had a small collection of silo art

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The first truck to cart grain to the silos at St James

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GJ Coles family come from St James. It would be interesting to know if this predates Wilmot in Tasmania’s claim to fame as the 1st Coles store.

We kept on moving to Tungamah, stopping for lunch, alongside the river in the Lions Park where we were planning to stop the night. We set up, had lunch and went for a walk around town, which included the last example of silo art for the day.

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Our van on the left behind the tennis courts and club rooms, with the river over the back

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Very murky water, probably due to carp in the river, with our van over the back beside the tennis club rooms. Lots of space with only three couples camping here tonight

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Tungamah’s silo art

We were parked up by 1.00pm, just in time for lunch. An early night tonight after a smooth sailing, but little sleep on the Spirit last night. Hopefully after a good nights sleep tonight, we will be ready to head towards Wagga Wagga and Junee tomorrow.

 

Trip Preparation 2019

We are looking forward to heading north again this year. We are travelling by ourselves this year, although we loved travelling with friends last year. Hopefully we will travel with Phil and Sandra again soon. Our 2014 Iveco Daily 50C21 dual cab is proving to be a worthwhile purchase. The extra carrying capacity is a real bonus. The ability to carry a chainsaw and about 3 days supply of firewood for the firepot is a real bonus. (I do love my firepot) . An ATM upgrade of the 5th wheelers weights will prove another valuable upgrade, an extra 500kg of carrying capacity, hopefully we won’t be anywhere near the new ATM of 4000kg. Keeping things legal has always been a high priority for me and now I do not have to be so careful about those little extras.

Our weights are all good, Iveco weighs 4250kg with half a tank of diesel and one person on board, we are allowed 4490kg. The 5th wheeler weighs in fully loaded at 3710kg, we are now allowed 4000kg and 3100kg over the axles, we are allowed 3300kg. All up weight is 7350kg, well under the 7790kg allowed on a car licence, we could add another 700kg if I upgraded the Iveco to a light truck registration.

The Silo Art Trail will play a small part in where we plot our course towards Queensland. Benalla will be one of the first stops to view some street art, Goorambat, Devenish and Tungamah all have some Silo Art. This should fill in the first day. We will be heading to Bingara to catch up with friends for a couple of days. This will allow us to visit several more examples of Silo Art, allowing us to follow another way north away from the Newell Hwy.

Both the Iveco and the Ultima have been polished to make them shine. The Iveco has had a service, I’ve also given the 5th wheeler a grease and adjusted the brakes, so hopefully we will have a trouble free trip to Queensland and return.

Dianne has about 15 precooked frozen meals in the freezer and 10kg of Tassie potatoes. We took 5kg last year and they only lasted about half the trip, so we doubled up this year. After eating Tassie spuds, it’s easy to realise how spoilt we are when we have to eat “mainland” spuds, there is just no comparison.

The weather leading up to our departure has been good and allowed us to leave the gardens all neat and tidy. Hopefully the lawns won’t need mowing for 6 weeks until we return. Hopefully we will have an incident free trip.

The Iveco and 5th wheeler have been weighed at the local weighbridge.

Statistics of 2018 Trip

I used Fuel Map to monitor our fuel usage for our trips each year. It gives fuel economy for individual fills and also fills between any amount of fills between two dates. The screenshots below show total fuel figures, as well as individual fills

Our trip this year was 6284km, up from 5402km in 2017, 5427km in 2016, 6204km in 2015, all four trips were for 6 weeks duration.

This year I have upgraded my Colorado to an Iveco Daily. It is also about one tonne heavier and I thought this would have some bearing on our fuel figures

Fuel economy for our 2018 trip was 6.50km/l or (15.48 l/100km). Fuel economy ranged from 5.76km/l or (17.36 l/100km) to 7.92km/l or (12.63l/100km).

Fuel economy for our 2017 trip was 6.29km/l or (15.94 l/100km). Fuel economy ranged from 5.8km/l or (17.23 l/100km) to 7.24km/l or (13.82 l/100km).

 

 

 

The fuel consumption was started when I filled up in Ulverstone, approximately 15km after I left home and ended in Burnie after I had unloaded and unhooked and driven approximately 15km to a service station.  The Iveco was loaded to around 7000kg, which was checked on the local weighbridge, however I misplaced the weights which were well under total legal limits, except the 5th wheeler was just over its legal weight when I weighed it. I did transfer some weight onto the Iveco, however I never reweighed.

I was extremely happy with the figures, as they were a little better than last year and we were about one tonne heavier. These figures were achieved by driving at 87km/h, checked with GPS. which was 93km/h on the speedo, a little slower than the 90km/h with the GPS in the Colorado. We also slowed down if the road surface deteriorated. There is a lot of very rough bitumen roads once you leave the main highways.

We started fuel consumption at Ulverstone Tasmania on the way to the Spirit with 56641km on the 16th June 2018 and ended after I refilled the day after I returned home in Burnie Tasmania with 62925km. This gives true round trip statistics and was 62284km in total.

Normally I am a big believer in just filling up when getting close to empty or around 1/4 tank when towing, unless we are in the outback. This year Dianne and I travelled with another couple, Phillip and Sandra Cowmeadow. Phil hates to let his fuel tank get under 1/2 tank, even when in populated areas and has access to plenty of places to refill. We even had one time when we were planning to refill early the next morning. Phil then came across a service station, five minutes after our conversation over the UHF, he proceeded to enter the servo and refill even though he still had plenty of fuel left. It was very comical at times. I did try to source cheaper fuel this year, especially when not towing.

As I have now upgraded to an Iveco Daily, a new vehicle and am now carrying a bit of extra weight will make for an interesting read over the next couple of years

Map of Trip

Check out the link below for our trip on Google maps. Feel free to zoom in and click on markers for more details. You can’t alter the map details but you can play with it. I am still adding a few finer details but it is mostly complete.

2018 Trip Details

Map of Our Trip

 

Heading Home

Six weeks on the road and now it is time to head home. While its not a long time, its better than staying in Tassie all winter. Our last day in Melbourne has been wet and windy, and everyone is hoping for calm seas for the sailing home.

We checked out of the Five Ways Caravan Park just after 1.30pm, it is still very early, but we don’t want to be caught in heavy traffic. The route to the spirit is very smooth and the traffic is just nice, leaving it another hour or so could be very different, a risk we weren’t prepared to take.

We planned to meet on Williamstown Rd and wait for boarding time there. However Phil and Sandra decided to stop on the foreshore as there was plenty of parking, although it did come with a nice price tag of over $12.00. We were almost on Williamstown Rd at this stage and being tight arses we decided to go with the free parking. We made a coffee in the van, but Dianne was feeling squeamish every time a truck drove past and rocked the van. Not wanting to to have Dianne sick before she boarded, we moved to the foreshore along The Boulevarde, a very nice spot, although the most direct road to the Sprit terminal has lots of roundabouts and speed humps.

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Our route  from the caravan park to the 2 free parking spots then the “Spirit”

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A close up map, a little blurry. There are 5 roundabouts and numerous speed humps driving between D and E. There are several limbs overhanging the road as well. Care needs to be taking with long and high combinations.

A good decision and still free parking. We were just a short stroll to Princes Pier, from there we could see the “Spirit”.Port Melbourne 2 816 pixels

An added bonus was that we discovered a bus stop that will take you to the Queen Victoria Market. Maybe next time a day trip into the city from here may be an option. You will need a buy a Myki Card to access public transport. I think they can be bought on the bus. We have had a Myki Card for several years now and have used it on the bus, tram and train network. It is a little daunting at first, although most people will help you. Diannes card had plenty of credit, while mine needed to be topped up by $10. We both had $15 credit and this is usually plenty. We used it this year to come from Dingley into the city using a bus and a train. The trams around the city centre are all free.

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This may be an option for next years trip, we could catch a bus all the way to the Queen Victoria Market, there is a stop near the Casino as well. This map while it doesn’t have a lot of detail, does show the individual stops.

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Another map showing stops near South Melbourne Markets, Crown Entertainment Complex and the Queen Victoria Market

 

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A service every 40 minutes on weekdays

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A service every hour on Saturdays, but no service on Sundays and Public Holidays

We finally arrived to check in just before 5.30pm. Check in involves all the necessary checks for quarantine and safety. We then had to wait while all the cars and small vehicles drove past us to board. Dianne and I were first in line with Phil and Sandra parked behind us. More big rigs lined up behind us. The good thing about waiting is we were the first vehicle to disembark, as we parked on a ramp,that is used to load other levels. Once it has been lowered, we drove from the front of the ship, where we load from in Port Melbourne, right to the rear, right in front of the rear doors to be the first off.

Dainne and I  had a new buffet evening meal, coffee and soft drink included, all you can eat for approximately $27.00. The resturant opens at 6.30pm and closes at 9.30pm. We thought it was a little expensive, however we did top up our drinks here for the rest of the night and I went back back for another dessert just before closing. It was quite delicious though.Port Melbourne 37 816 pixels

The crossing was reasonably smooth, with only a short period of swell as we went through the heads leaving Port Phillip Bay. We all slept most of the night, unlike the trip over from Tasmania, as that sailing was very rough. We were off the Spirit right on 6.30am and parked up in the driveway at home before 7.00am ready to unpack and start planning for next year

 

Five Ways Caravan Park Dingley

We left early from Ballina and decided to come into Melbourne from the north. We left the Hume Highway at Seymour. We did have a bit of an issue with a low train bridge at Seymour. We found the truck route around with the help of a couple of truckies. They were very helpful over the UHF. We followed the Goulburn Valley Highway to Yea and then along the Melba Highway, all very nice flowing road. There was one section of about 5km with a slightly slow decent.  We also had a quick stop to check out a free camp on the banks of the King Parrot Creek as a future reference. A few trees with ugly overhanging limbs but also some clear camping spots as well. It would be good for an overnight stop.

 

The traffic for the last 40km was very busy and I’m not sure what roads we were on. There was lots of traffic lights, however they seemed to be synced very well as the traffic did flow pretty well most of the time. Twenty kilometres on the M1 Motorway did help as well, no traffic lights on here. Phil and Sandra have parked their 5th wheeler in the park and left to stay with Sandra’s daughter who lives nearby.

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Now this is different, don’t know if it is legal. A gas bottle, probably off a car, complete with a lpg filler connection to fill at a service station. If it was setup correctly it would be an alternative to two 9kg gas bottles. The fact that the regulator is below the top of the gas bottle suggests that this is an unauthorised setup.

Day 2 was a day in the city. A short bus trip to the Springvale Train Station and a trip on the train to the Melbourne Central Station. A short walk to the Australian Electoral Office to vote for a Tasmanian bi election, then off to the Queen Victoria Market, an annual pilgramage for Dianne. Flagstaff Train Station is the closest station to the Queen Victoria Market and only a couple of blocks away with a short tram ride and this is where we left for the return train ride home.

Day 3 was a catchup with an ex workmate of mine, one of the reasons we have stayed in and around Dandenong for the last couple of years. We met up for a coffee at Garden World on Springvale Rd at Braeside. This place is more than just a nursery, they have an amazing collection of Bonsai Trees, some are for display only, with one over 80 years old, simply stunning.

There is also a collection of “rocks”, an amazing array of fascinating polished and exotic specimans, one had a price tag of $18000. A nice collection of fossils and a several dinosaurs also blending into the surroundings.

Dianne and I then found a strett of display homes within a few minutes from Garden World. There was over ten houses on display, it was information overload and lots of climbing stairs, but we did find a living area that we wuld like to incorporate into a house we may one day build.

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Dianne and I think we can make a living area similar to this fit in a house we plan to build

Day 4 was very windy and with some overnight rain clearing mid morning. This was only our second day of rain on our whole trip. Ironically our other day of rain was leaving Melbourne heading north, six weeks earlier.

Dianne had always wanted to visit Ikea, it was close, so off we went to fill in the day. What a mind numbing experience for me, however Dianne probably has the same experience when she goes to Bunnings.

We had a chance to meet Sandra’s daughter Elisha and her hubby Adam as well as Sandra’s granddaughter Ivy at a very nice Chinese Restaurant.

Our last night in Melbourne tonight as we are heading home on the “Spirit” tommorrow night. Lets hope we have a smoother sailing on the way home, although it doesn’t look promising.

Gulgong, Wallendbeen,Ballina

We had an early start, leaving Branxton around 9.30am, heading for Gulgong. The drive was over some good roads, with only a couple of steep climbs. Very gentle really, I had been expecting a lot of steeper and more winding roads. We had lunch at 500m above sea level, our highest spot for the day, at least when we were watching.

We arrived at the  Gulgong Showground around 2.30pm, parked up, fueled up for our trip tommorrow and had a quick look around town. Gulgong is famous for being on the old $10 note, never knew this before our trip here. A very nice town with a lot of history. We will definitely be back when we have more time.Gulgong 3 816 pixelsGulgong 11 816 pixels

Day 2 was from Gulgong to Wallendbeen, a drive of just over 330km. A very nice drive through some countryside, although the roads were a little rough and we did need to slow down a little. Today was mainly about making distance towards Melbourne, passing through some historic little towns on the way, only stopping for lunch, before parking up for the night around 3.00pm. Sadly our trip is coming to an end. Our camp for tonight is the crossroads of Burley Griffith Way and the Olympic Highway, very busy just on dark, although road noise overnight was minimal. A few trucks from 3.00am could be heard, I suspect that they use the area for fest breaks.

Day 3 was another long drive, just over 350km. We decided to visit and Junee and make some Rocky Road at the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory.

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Dianne and Sandra making Rocky Road Chocolate, everyone adds their own ingredients, absolutely delicious and lots of fun making.

We finally decided to stay at the Benalla Recreational Reserve. What an absolute mongrel of a place to find. The entrance is at the back of a carpark and very hard to find when the location on Wikicamps places it close to another road. You could see the campground, but not get access it. Hopefully moving the pin location helps someone else, at least until they move it again.

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Very small space and very difficult to find the entrance. They only allow three vehicles to use tis site at once though

Tomorrow sees us head to Melbourne for four days, until we board the Spirit and head back home to Tassie.

Branxton

After a chance phone call to Trevor and Diane, looking for some advice on a campsite in Branxton, as the Hunter Valley was a popular haunt for them when they lived in Tassie. Small world they knew the site and they now live within 5km of the  site we were enquiring about. A very easy choice now, we are now off to visit Branxton and catch up with friends of the four of us.

We stopped for fuel at a miniture replica of Ayers Rock, a 1:40 scale to be exact. Dianne and I have passed it several times before, but we never knew the history behind it. It was a fateful decision of the Leyland Brothers into tourism that brought about their downfall and eventual bankruptcies.Aussie Rock 816 pixels

It must have been a slow day as Dianne decided to take a video of me enjoying myself, singing along to some music on the drive down the coast.

To make things even more enjoyable, Diane offered to cook roast pork for us all. What a night, catching up with friends from Tasmania, even when Trevor couldn’t contain his enthusiasm after his AFL team Geelong kicked a goal after the siren for Geelong to come from behind to beat Melbourne by 2 points.

We only planned to stay overnight. Things changed when Phil wasn’t fealing too good, so we just kicked back for another day. All good, I even had a chance to catch up on my blog, as I was starting to fall behind a little.

Off to Gulgong tommorrow, up and over the Blue Mountains, never been this way before.