Sea Cliff Bridge

We were on the road just before 9.00am as we wanted to be through Sydney before lunchtime. Everything went smoothly although it is a little stressful, one wrong turnoff or a missed instruction from the GPS and things could get very ugly. Lots of traffic lights, although we sailed straight through 80% of them. Traffic was moderate most of the time, although we did strike a little heavy traffic on a couple of sections. Sticking to the middle lane or at least one lane off the left edge of the road does help as the left lane does tend to be a little narrower a lot of the time and a few trees seem to be just that little bit close for comfort, are overhanging the outer lane as well.

To drive the Sea Cliff Bridge at Clifton has been on my bucket list for a while and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. The road down off the highway was a little steep and winding, we just drove steadily. Dianne doesn’t like bridges or heights, so I failed to mention this as we drove over the bridge hanging out over the edge of a cliff with the Pacific Ocean below. You actually don’t get to see much as you drive over it, the only solution, set up camp at nearby Coledale, have lunch and come back for a better look.

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Dianne was too preoccupied taking photos to realise where she was.

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Dianne was a little apprehensive, with just a little coaxing she had a wonderful time, very high bridge railings to keep everyone safe, Dianne and I walked over and back, nothing to worry about.

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A constant stream of people were walking over the bridge.

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A keen fisherman, rough seas and the tide was about to turn, he was staying well away from freak waves crashing onto the flat rock shelf. It didn’t take much imagination to see how people could get themselves into trouble at times.

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Lots of rock formations walking along the rock ledges along the bottom of the many cliff faces.

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Another coal seam extending right to the beachfront.

Just an overnight stop at Coledale, we are heading to Batemans Bay tommorrow, what will we find there.

Lake Macquarie

We decided to spend 3 days at Belmont Pines Caravan Park on the banks of Lake Macquarie, twenty minutes south of Newcastle. First impressions were positive, absolutely waterfront position.

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The view from the rear of the 5th wheeler.

We had a spot out of the wind, some spots were copping a fair blast from a moderate wind. We didn’t really have a clue what there was in the area to fill in a few days, nothing obvious stood out, did we set up camp in the middle of suburbia. A tour around the park along with a short walk to get the hang of the area filled in the day.

Day two started with a drive into Newcastle, we came across Fort Scratchley, a fortified big gun and cannon batallion used from the late 1800’s through to World War II, a free self guided tour takes you around the outside with 360° views around the harbour, over Newcastle itself as well as up and down the coastline.

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The view up the river

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The lighthouse in the distance along with the breakwalls at the mouth of the river.

An underground inspection of the tunnels and gun emplacements on a guided tour takes a little over an hour and the guide gives a very informative talk, well worth the small cost. Luckily almost all the guns that have been used at Fort Scratchley are still on site.

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Day three started with a trip to the Travelhome 5th wheeler workshop, mainly because we were in the area.

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A frame not long out of the jig in front with an almost finished van in the background.

Just down the road was Cave Beach, luckily the tide was out and I even coaxed Dianne to come exploring. What a fantastic time was had exploring caves carved into the cliff face by tidal action over time.

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Lunch was at the local club, talking to a few locals we were advised that just down the coast was the historic Catherine Hill Pier. We decided to have a look, another good decision. Coal mining right off the beach, along with several mines a little inland and the rusting remnants of a disused pier used to load coal ships.

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A large coal seam right on the beach, there was even a blocked off mine shaft right on the beach just to the right of the picture straight into the coal seam.

The day was getting late, but we were being informed of places of interest to have a look at by the locals, nothing like a little local knowledge. We just didn’t have the time, maybe we will have to have a return visit on another trip, although we had a quick trip out to Warners Bay on Lake Macquarie, not far from the caravan park. I went a for a short bike ride around the foreshore bike and walking track, a very good place to see the sites on the edge of the lake, while Dianne had a coffee across the road in a local coffee shop.

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Some parts of the lake are very picturesque and accessible, while others do not have good access.

An early start for tommorrow as we will be navigating through Sydney on a Sunday. We are heading around the coastline to Melbourne this year, never been this way before. The weather looks as though it will be reasonably warm for the next four or five days, time will tell.

Kempsey

Today we are heading south to Kempsey, planning to drive most of the day. A few rest stops and also check out a couple of free camp areas on the way down, just for future reference.

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Macksville rest area, just off the highway, just for an overnight stop.

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Frederickton, a couple of kilometres off the highway, it would be great to visit South West Rocks.

We treated ourselves to a great value for money counter meal at the South Kempsey Hotel. I actually thought we had the kids menu when I seen the prices.

Only a short drive to Lake Macquarie tommorrow for three days, we plan to drive through Sydney on Sunday and hopefully the traffic will be a little lighter.

Gold Coast

Our holiday budget has just been blown out of the water, luckily not with a breakdown, but with a chance conversation with a caretaker at the Caloundra Caravan Park, we have upgraded the Holden Colorado with a late model Iveco Daily for our tow vehicle. We have been looking for a while, but an extremely well looked after light truck that was almost an exact match for what we were looking for, just popped out of nowhere. It hadn’t even been advertised anywhere. Some quick decisions were made, a deposit made. All I have to do now is get back to Tassie, get on a plane and fly back to Brisbane and drive my new toy 1800km back to Melbourne, another trip on the Spirit of Tasmania and a few modifications and we’ll be set for some camping in the Tassie summer.

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Room for some passengers and some extra carrying capacity

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Deal done.

We met up with Peter and Veronica again and went and checked out the local 5th wheeler seller.

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I down for a finders fee if Peter and Veronica take one of these home.

We like to visit one big ticket item on the Gold Coast each year on the way home. This year we re off to the Outback Spectacular, we have been here before but there is a new show this year and we were not disappointed. No photos are allowed at the show, but we had a great feed and were thoroughly entertained with a fabulous show. If you ever get the chance, you will have a good time.

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Tommorrow we head south, just a long day driving, goodbye Queensland, we have had a fantastic time mostly relaxing with some great weather, certainly warmer than back in Tasmania.

Brisbane

No trip to Queensland is complete without a visit with my sister Alison and her partner Steve. Alison always seems to take us somewhere out of the ordinary. This year we we visited “Eat Street”, a trendy food precinct, very different, but very interesting. I would recommend having a meal here as it is only a few minutes from Brisbane’s city centre.

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Forty foot containers create a colourful setting

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Very busy as we make our way inside.

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Lots of entertaiment and food from every nationality imaginable.

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Plenty of people but the queues were not very long.

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We just had to get a photo with our heads sticking out from behind the caricature.

The Gold Coast is next on the way down south as we make our way slowly home.

Caloundra

We were booked for three days at Caloundra, but scored another 2 days although we had to swap sites. School holidays have finished for Queensland and a few spots are available as we start to slowly head south towards Melbourne.

A former workmate now lives near Caloundra and it is good to catch up while on the Sunshine Coast. Trying to fit in visiting a few friends while in Queensland takes a little juggling, although we do seem to fit most of them in each year.

A few walks, a few bike rides and just general relaxing filled in five days at Caloundra.

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The sea hawk allowed us to get very close for a photo while feeding

We did experience six parachutists come in for a perfect landing on the beach, some were solo and some were tandem. Very interesting seeing them come in on a gusty day. They looked like they were coming in for a fast landing, but at the last moment they turn into the wind for a very gentle touchdown.

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Boardwalks and concrete walkways provide a flat foreshore experience

Checking out the local display homes also filled in an afternoon, it is a nice way to see the latest home designs.

Off to Brisbane tommorrow to visit my sister Alison.

Beerburrum

We had a chance to catch up with Peter and Veronica as it was Veronica’s birthday at a CMCA Member Stopover at Beerburum. What a fantastic idea and one of the benefits of being in the CMCA, many thanks to hosts, Barry and Marlene. There were three couples enjoying the site and we were all from Tasmania. Wray and Jean were on their way north to the Daintree.

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Jean and Wray just leaving on their trip north, fabulous spot just to stop for a day or two.

We went for a drive to Maleny for lunch to celebrate Veronicas Birthday, very busy, however the local pub had room and we had a fabulous feed.

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Dianne needed to check out the shopping centre while I topped up with water at the local sportsground at Beerwah on the way to Caloundra, where I ran into Graeme and Kerry with another Ultima. I always take the opportunity to have a chat with fellow owners. It turns out we had passed each other many times in Tasmania while driving, but each time we were heading in different directions. They toured Tassie for 17 months and were easy to recognise as they were towing with a six wheel Isuzu Dmax.

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Someone is in front of the extra axle on the Dmax.

Eumundi Market

We woke to overcast skies this morning, a bit of fog about but its 17°C at 7.30am. We are on the road around 9.30am. We arrive at Eumundi after driving in drizzle all the way. We get a great spot plenty of room or so we thought.

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Too easy, set up right next to the showers and toilets, all done before the rain set in.

We get set up, have lunch, the rain is getting heavier, all great and then the caretaker says its market day tommorrow and we are taking up too much room. We wait for rain to ease, move back as far as we can, unhook and park as close to van as possible. We just become close friends with the van beside us, we can only get the awning half out

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All nice and cosy, making room for tommorrows market.

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All good, electrical cord up out of the water, the water soon drained away.

The rain finally stops and we can walk to the local pub for a great feed.

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Great feed within walking distance of the camping area.

Dianne is in her element with an early start at the market, she can’t wait for me. Being camped up near the market does have its benefits, Dianne can shop to her hearts content, I can go for a quick look, head back to the van mostly with enough Christmas and birthday presents to last a couple of years, go back for lunch.

Dianne had a great day, I found something that may be the next big thing for grey nomads. Reversible undies, never looked too hard but looks like you turn them inside out and get two days from the one pair of undies, You might even get four days if you wear them back to front out as well. They will be fantastic if you are strapped for room in your van.

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It doesn’t take much to keep me amused.

The market finished around 2.00pm and we had a visit from Keith and Rose, fellow 5th wheelers who we had caught up with in Tasmania earlier in the year. They had been reading my blog and saw we were going to the Eumundi Market. They live nearby and decided to call in.

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It is always good to meet up fellow Grey Nomads that we have met elsewhere in our travels.

We are off to Beerburrum tommorrow, where we will meet up with Peter and Veronica once again, before heading to Caloundra on Monday as school holidays for Queensland will of finished and vacancies have started to open up.

Tiaro

A relatively short drive today to Tiaro, only an hour and a half. We were prepared for a small area to park today, but Tiaro has three free camps, one should suit. We arrived just before lunch. The best site out of the sites left was the hardest to get into, but we were early and only two or three other vans on site. Lots of spectators waiting for me to get knotted up, a little bit of jiggling, a bit more to and froing. All I have to do now is get out.

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We did check out the other two free camp, one by the Mary River and one opposite a pub. We chose the best one but none of them are really suited to big vans. A lot of vans called in but chose not to stay.

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Starting to fill up, 13 vans here before dark. 2 or 3 more whiz bangers came in after dark

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A mid sized bus towing a 4wd and boat on a trailer called in for lunch, then headed off on their way.  It is always great to see how people choose tour Australia, lots of options out there.

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Slow day at Tiaro, even for this Turtle.

We had a quick look around Tiaro, nothing much of real interest but you have to stop and see, if only to say you didn’t just drive through. A good place to stop over for the night, especially if you have a smaller caravan or a motorhome unless you get in real early.

Another short day tommorow on the road, we should be in Eumundi before lunch, ready for the market on Saturday.

Bargara

We  only need to travel just over 60km to Bargara today. We passed through Bundaberg and the sugar harvest is in full swing.

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Sugar cane harvesting in full swing. A small sugar train transporting the harvest to the local sugar mill.

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Lots of cycle and walkin tracks and you can even tone up your body as well. On holidays and plenty of good living, the body does need a little bit of help occasionally.

Fine weather and the temperature well above what Tasmania is experiencing at the moment and I just had to go for a swim, after a bike ride along the foreshore bike track. One local thought I was mad, he had jeans and a flannelette shirt on though and it was almost 30°C. It was quite pleasant actually, but I couldn’t get Dianne to join me.

Lots of nice tow vehicles and 5th wheelers can always be found if you wander around most caravan parks.

On our last day at Bargara, we went for a drive to Burnett Heads, only a ten minute drive, we came across the HMAS Tobruk, being decommissioned before it becomes an artificial reef.

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We also checked out the Hummock Lookout, an extinct volcano plug, giving almost 360° views. Bundaberg was almost covered with smoke from sugar cane burnoffs. The views were quite extensive and I would thoroughly recommend it if you venture into the area.

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Just part of the extensive view of the area

As a added treat the lookout also looked into the backyard of a three level house made out of 40ft shipping containers.

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A very impressive structure indeed, some ingenious design work has been used on an uneven block of land, with million dollar views to boot,

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Tommorrow we are heading for either Maryborough or Tiaro, we will decide as we drive. This is one of the advantages of having no set agenda.