Sunday, 26 February 2012

21 to 26 Feb 2012 – Armidale, Tenterfield NSW, Bestbrook, North Pine, Coolum Beach, QLD

With regret, we said goodbye to Bretti again, and set off towards Armidale.
The drive from Bretti, up Thunderbolts Way through Walcha to Uralla and Armidale is beautiful.  The countryside is very green, and although some trucks do use the road, it is not overly busy.  We stayed hooked up to van at Pembroke Tourist Park which made for an east pack-up the next morning.  It’s time to stop dawdling, and get serious about QLD.
Tomorrow night will be Tenterfield Showgrounds, and then we’re BACK!!!!  We’ve arranged to have lunch on Saturday with Dad and Denise, and then we’ll bolt out of Brisbane on Sunday.
The management at Lawnton Showgrounds (now known as North Pine Showgrounds) has finally changed.  William and his wife have moved on and the new managers appear to be friendly and cooperative.
Sunday night we picked up a nice little spot at Coolum Beach, before heading out to Terry & Nelly’s home at Lake Cooroibah.

View Larger Map

We’ll be there until the end of July.  Then we’ll have August on the road, followed by another two months there, while T & N head overseas.
Beautiful, serene home and property.  Look out for photos over the next few months.

Monday, 20 February 2012

20 Feb 2012 - Bretti Reserve, NSW

Less than half an hour’s drive north from Gloucester on Thunderbolts Way, Bretti Reserve has basic facilities, but it’s spacious and the river is close by so it’s good for swimming. Pets are allowed here, but preferably not near the Platypus Pool.  You must bring your own firewood and drinking water.
We were lucky enough to see a couple of platypuses(?) last time we stayed, but this time – especially for only 1 night – nothing at all.  Rick didn’t take any photos, but I found this YouTube video (courtesy ‘bigants’ 24 Oct 2007) which gives a good idea of the place.
Just love the quiet!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

16 Feb 2012 to 19 Feb 2012 - Clarence Town Caravan Park, NSW

Clarence Town is about 190km north of Sydney, and is perched on the bank of the William River.  The caravan park has areas alongside the river (unpowered) and on the cliffs overlooking the river.  Pretty spot.  We’ve stayed there before, just for 1 night down by the river.  This time, we were looking for a weekend refuge, so decided to stay on the cliff on a powered site.
It’s kept clean and tidy, and is nothing special, but it suited us down to the ground.  Saw our first green tree snake there.  During Happy Hour, he was just dawdling down the tree near me, when we both spotted each other.  Of the two, he was the more startled.  Do you know how fast a snake can climb a tree when he’s in a hurry?  Didn’t see him again – damn!
The following photos and more can be found on the Caravan Park Photos web site.

Clarence Town Caravan Park

Clarence Town CP

Thursday, 16 February 2012

15 Feb 2012 to 16 Feb 2012 - Patonga Beach Caravan Park, NSW

Patonga Beach is a lovely, tiny little fishing village just south of Woy Woy.  The caravan park is situated at the end of the point, between the river and the sea.  Considering that it was mid-week, there were still a lot of people there.  It’s a council run park and is kept up reasonably well, no outstanding virtues or flaws.  The staff are very helpful, and the locale is of course beautiful.  Lots of ducks, lizards and other types of birds.  Magic for a quiet relax.
From here we’ll follow the coast up as far as Lake Macquarie, and then head inland towards Gloucester, and then Armidale.
Patonga Beach
Patonga Beach
Patonga Beach
Patonga Beach

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

13 Feb 2012 to 14 Feb 2012 - Bulli Beach Caravan Park, NSW

Come Monday, we got out of Shoalhaven Heads in record time.  Another night there and it could have gotten really ugly – I was looking for rocks to throw at passing cars!!!
This was another short day, as we wanted to travel along some of the Grand Pacific Drive – in particular the section that has been built over the cliff edge – between Thirroul and Stanmore Tops.  We decided that we would be best starting that section fresh, because it looked fairly windy and also quite busy.  Also, we (meaning me) really didn’t want to start on the run through or around Sydney after the Pacific Drive.  Speaking personally, I really didn’t want to go anywhere near Sydney, but without driving twice as far, we really had no choice but to do the ring route.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself.
On the trip up to Bulli, we stopped at Kiama for a walk out to the blowholes and a restorative coffee afterwards.  The sea was fairly quiet, so the blow hole only popped off about 1 in 10 times.  Still good though.  When the sea gets too rough, the authorities close off access for safety.  Incautious tourists have been swept off the rocks before.

Bulli Beach Caravan Park is a nice spot, with absolute beach frontage, good walkways along the beach and lots of rabbits.  What’s that?? Rabbits??  Yes, you read it correctly.  There were probably enough rabbits running free between the caravan park and the cemetery behind the park to feed a good size crowd.  First sight was a bit startling though – rub the eyes and look again!!!
We decided to make the run up the Grand Pacific Drive and then return to Bulli the same day.  It was only a short distance, and made it possible for us to use the ring route around Sydney rather than going through.  Good move.  Lovely scenery along the coast, but the actual piece out over the beach was just a little underwhelming.  It’s a great construction job, but you can’t really see anything from it.  The best view of the whole area is from Stanwell Tops.  The area is used by para-gliders, hang-gliders and the like, and provides a fantastic view down the coast.  The place was full of tourists and buses.
Tomorrow, we make the run around Sydney – really looking forward to it!!!!


Sunday, 12 February 2012

11 Feb 2012 to 12 Feb 2012 – Mountain View Caravan Park, Shoalhaven Heads, NSW

OK – so we’ve only moved about 20km down the road BUT, the plan was to avoid the weekend ski boat noise and crowds back at the Ski Park.  As a plan it had some good features.  However, execution was a little more problematic!!!!!!
The particular site we were given, with no other choices, was possibly the noisiest caravan park site we’ve ever stayed in.  It’s on the corner of a main road, and the Shoalhaven Heads Road – AND WE WERE PLACED RIGHT IN THAT CORNER.  We heard every screech of brakes and tyres, every engine rev, and even some shouted abuse (not ours although that did happen) which was entertaining.  Never again.
Fortunately, we were out of the park for most of Sunday, visiting Mick.  Rick and Mick (no – not rhyming slang) first met in 1966 when both were serving aboard HMAS Curlew during the Indonesian Confrontation.  Although Mick is a couple of years older than Rick, they became good friends.  Mick was also a South Australian, so they had a lot in common.  We lost contact with Mick and his wife Hagan in about 1974 when they took off for WA looking for work, and didn’t regain contact until about 2009 when Rick noticed Mick’s name in an ex-service organisation magazine.  Unfortunately, Hagan had passed away late the year before and Mick was alone and living in Moss Vale, NSW (near Bowral).
Rick phoned Mick several times over the couple of years before we headed south towards Mildura in 2011, and we were able to call in and visit with Mick on that trip.
This time, we were able to leave the van in Shoalhaven Heads, and drive up to Moss Vale to spend the day with Mick and have lunch with him.  It was a lovely day, and the two guys got on really well again.  It was almost like there had never been a break in communication.  Like Rick, Mick has buried a lot of his memories about his naval service.  He and Hagan were very happy together, running businesses and travelling – particularly in Western Australia.  Hagan was a fantastic cook and had a great head for business, so they were able to live quite comfortably and were absolutely inseparable.  Understandably, Mick is now lost without her, but he continues to be healthy and in reasonable spirits most of the time.  Rick still checks on him regularly by phone.


Friday, 10 February 2012

7 Feb 2012 to 10 Feb 2012 – Shoalhaven Ski Park,NSW

This is a lovely spot.  Lots of unpowered sites, as well as the usual permanent Ski Park holiday and weekend places.  Perched right at the edge of the Shoalhaven River, we had a lovely view of all the happenings on the water.  Thankfully (more by good planning really), we weren’t in residence for a weekend so the noise levels were very low.  The loudest sound was the odd fisherman running up and down the river in his tinnie!  No problems at all.
Shoalhaven River

Shoalhaven Ski Park
We took the opportunity to go out to HMAS Albatross, which is the home of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
HMAS Albatross is the largest operational Naval establishment and the Navy's only Air Station.  The primary task of HMAS Albatross is to support the three Naval Air Squadrons, which provide air support to the fleet.
HMAS Albatross is also home to the Fleet Air Arm Museum (formerly known as, and now incorporating, Australia's Museum of Flight). The museum is a high profile tourist attraction and a visit is highly recommended.
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and, especially for Rick, the trip down memory (both good and bad) lane.
HMAS Sydney
Friday 10 February was the date of the get-together for the 1963 intake of Junior Recruits at Huskisson.  The organisers (Ron and his efficient team) had chosen the location because this was also the location of the memorial for HMAS Voyager, when she sank in February 1964.  The JR group attended the memorial held that night, which was the 48th anniversary of the sinking.  Although not large, the memorial ceremony was very moving.  For those who don’t know or remember, during the night of 10 February 1964, Voyager and the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne collided off Jervis Bay, when the destroyer passed in front of the carrier during post-refit sea trials. Voyager was cut in two by the collision, sinking with the loss of 82 of the 314 people aboard.

Monday, 6 February 2012

3 Feb 2012 to 6 Feb 2012 – Ulladulla, NSW

Well – the drive from Numeralla to Ulladulla was certainly interesting.  Not so much because of the road conditions, but because of the damned rain!!  We had hoped to find a good free camp spot, but there were none really available for larger rigs – and the one that was big enough was obviously very much in use by the trail bike crowd!  NO THANKS!
Moving right along, we had coffee in Braidwood and then carried on down the range and down the coast to Ulladulla.  The 1963 Junior recruit get-together we would be attending at Huskisson was not until Friday 10 February.  Not having spent a lot of time on the NSW south coast for a long time, we decided to make the most of it and check out a couple of places.  Plus, we didn’t want to spend over a week in a hugely expensive (for us at any rate) caravan park around the Huskisson area.  Once again the weather was a bit suspect!  Showery and very windy – considering this is summer!!!
Ulladulla Harbour
Mollymook Beach
Consequently, we tootled around Ulladulla, checking out the scenery and local coffee shops, and just relaxed for a couple of days before heading a little further north.
Bannisters Point Lookout
In checking out caravan parks and Camps 6, we decided the best thing we could do would be to camp at Shoalhaven Ski Park in Nowra North ($22 per night), and then drive down to Huskisson just for the day of the gathering.  A much more economic proposition.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

02 Feb 2012 - Badja Creek Reserve, NSW

Following the Snowy Mountains Highway south from Yachting Point to Cooma, we stopped for a brew-up (as you do) at the Kiandra Rest Area.  It’s an interesting spot with a lot of history which is slowly being restored.  Lot of work has been done with still a lot to do.
05-_IGP4566 07-_IGP4574
Rather than going up to Canberra from Cooma, and then across to the coast, we decided to head through the mountains and have a bit of adventure.  The plan was to follow the Numeralla Road east out of Cooma and then cut up towards Braidwood on Badja Road.  We stayed overnight in Numeralla at the Badja Recreation Reserve.  Once again, a beautiful, free little spot just on the outskirts of Numeralla.  Lovely and green and the creek was flowing well.  There are no facilities there except for some Porta Loos which had definitely seen better days.  But what can you expect for nothing?
Fresh start tomorrow on the dirt road to Braidwood.  There are a few free camps which we’ll check out – most of them look fairly small though.  And now the rain has started again in earnest – the road should be fairly interesting.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

01 Feb 2012 - Yachting Point Campground, NSW

We’ve stayed here before, and it’s a lovely spot – especially mid-week when the crowds are at a minimum.  All we had for company was the lake, birds and kangaroos.  Just beautiful – the ‘roos kept us entertained for most of the afternoon.

Yachting Point

Snowy Mountains Highway

Boys feeling their oats

Peace at last