Warmer Winter – 4

After delivering the motor home to Paradise Motorhomes to complete a service and an accident repair job, we were transferred to a hotel on the Gold Coast just a block from the esplanade. Lyn had a “bank load” of points available so we are living it up in a hotel with a normal Gold Coast view – other hotels with a little peak in one direction at the ocean if you strained your body, and a peak in the other direction to the hinterland which keeps the surf out of inland Queensland.

The hotel has an interesting way of promoting the Gold Coast; inside each lift is a picture suggesting you will enjoy your time here. You may enjoy the pictures too.

Because the motor home repairs are going to take extra time to complete, we will not be able to move back in until Tuesday. This has meant we have had to vacate the QT and walk to The Vibe for an extra 4 nights. Our new view looks over the city to the left and the Nerang River to the right. We’ll miss the great breakfast buffet at QT but have gained a little kitchenette to enjoy at least one meal a day in our room.

It’s been many years since we took our kids to Sea World so OUR chance came again. The “Hopo” ferry took us up the paradise waterways to Sea World at a much more leisurely pace than our kids would have wanted those years ago. Breakfast wasn’t served until 10:30am which connected time wise to the dolphin show. The wander through the kids rides brought back memories of our days at Disneyland and Knotsberry Farm in Los Angeles. A shiver went all over us as we watched people having a closeup time with the penguins and the jellyfish exhibition was colorful and impressive.

Dolphins at Sea World

Warmer Winter – 3

We are now in Grafton visiting our daughter and son in law. Grafton is famous for its Jacaranda Festival. Our daughter had her wedding beside the Clarence River nearly 8 years ago during the Festival – so colorful. Today has been a brilliant blue sky day, just like it was for the wedding.

For many years, the town has been in need of a new bridge to join the north and south regions. The government completed a new bridge a year or so ago beside the dual purpose bridge; the north-south railway shared the crossing with motor vehicles. Traffic chaos reigned at peak hour on the vehicle section with a couple of bends along the way.

We’ll stay here through until Sunday.

Yesterday, we took a short trip to Yamba, north of Grafton but on the coast. The town shares the mouth of the Clarence River with Iluka. There are a lot of cafes and up market shops with up market prices. A lighthouse stands on the headland up from Yamba. The sunshine made the sky a brilliant blue so we are happy with the photos of the day.

When our daughter married Paul, she found that he was a “keeper” of both fish and feather. Paul has a large fish tank and cares for many little fellows. The plecostomus spends a good amount of time puckering up to the glass as if he’s searching for a long drawn out “pash”. At first the bird aviary had to be constructed for a good stock of bush parrots and quaint birds. The numbers decreased a year or so ago from a disease and they haven’t been replaced. Harry is still the king of the aviary and often welcomes us with a “hello. Whatcha doin?”

Paul’s fish tank
Aloo. Whatcha doin?

I have for a long time, wanted to venture into drone photography. Now I can say I’m a happy owner of a DJI Air 2S. It is so easy to get going compared to the $250 drone I bought from China which never worked properly. Just a couple of shots taken at Red Rock so far show what will be my photography and movie work in the future.

One of the main reasons we have come to Queensland is to repair some damage done 18 months ago when driving to Sydney for a funeral. An overtaking motor home cut us off and “pushed” us off the highway enough to brush with a white plastic post. The motor home also needed a service done to many of the components that make living in a Paradise worthwhile. It will be next week before it is ready to continue the “warmer winter” series, so we are having a different kind of luxury for the week in Surfers Paradise.

Warmer Winter 2021 – 2

From living with hundreds of horses, riders and floats for two nights, our next night found us camped at a truck stop on the highway heading north out of Sydney. At times we’re reminded of being a truck when we look at the drivers licence required to drive the motor home, so we took advantage of that for a night. This decision was made after passing a few other rest areas between Goulburn and Sydney. Once you’ve passed the “last” one, there’s nowhere to overnight until you’re through the M7 and on across the Hawkesbury River. There’s a saying in nomadic life that if you don’t get asked to move on, you stay. So we did. This meant we were only 20km from the next planned campground at Morisset Showgrounds.

The Morisset Showgrounds camping area is a little disorganised with the property being used as a COVID-19 testing site most of each day. However, after doing online bookings a week before, we found things fairly comfortable. Monday afternoon and evening and Tuesday were spent catching up with friends from way back. Wednesday we had an appointment in Sydney so took the train trip there and back. For lunch, we found a German bakery. Lots of wholesome breads but a different item we tried was a cheese snail – a rolled dough wrapped in a circle with melted cheese on top. They might see us next time we venture to the Sydney big smoke.

One of our friends turned up to visit. He found his car as a pile of rust down in the Yarra Valley in 1978 and has carted it with him to each address he’s had since then, tinkering as he went. It’s been in a progressive form to 3 states of Australia. We heard this “clapped out horn” noise and outside was what you see in the pictures. Interestingly, his hat was made in Vietnam.

Other old friends arrived during the days we were at Morisset before we headed north, in the pouring rain, for 6 hours or so. We stopped at Nabiac to check out the The National Motorcycle Museum. There needs to be another visit on our homeward journey as there are over 1,000 motor bikes in the museum to view. You’ll have to wait for our return.

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Warmer Winter 2021 – 1

After a year of uncertainty in 2020, we’ve decided to make 2021 a year of certainty – certainly be away from home enjoying life on the road in our motor home in warm weather during the southern winter.

Our departure plans were delayed just 30 minutes which isn’t too bad for a couple of Grey Nomads. The first stop was at the Lake Nillahcootie rest spot on the road between Mansfield and Benalla. The autumn colours were bright red here leading down a path to the lake.

Would you believe our first meal was at Maccas? The non- breakfast turned late lunch became a quick stop as we had met up with another Paradise Owner at Lake Nillahcootie. The conversation took us into the next hour. Much in common.

First it was near Wagga Wagga; then it became Gundagai; then it became Jugiong for our first night. Lyn drove from Glenrowan for about 2 and half hours or so. Arriving at the Jugiong rest camping spot, there were well over 200 horses and their riders to welcome us. I thought they thought we were VIPs from Canberra across the hills, but I succumbed to disappointment. The Jugiong Camp Drafting Championship is on for the weekend. Camp drafting is where the horse rider has to direct a steer around a set course. There were over 190 entries so a long day for the last competitor. Riders came from all over the southern part of New South Wales.

Jugiong is a well used popular traveller’s stop off point on the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s a quiet town that has a few exquisite eating places where many Canberrians come for a weekend drive. At this time of the year, the colours of the deciduous trees make the area a good place to visit when the sky is brilliant blue. Camping is alongside the Murrumbidgee River that flows down to the mighty Murray River through Wagga Wagga to Balranald. We arrived just after dusk so didn’t look around for a spot away from the horses. In the morning, we found there was no spare spots; horses were everywhere. At least we know where we can collect some horse manure for our garden on the way home in four months time. But no, a tad smelly for 7 hour’s drive.

Next post will include our time at Morisset and on to Stuart’s Point

Dando’s Free Camp – Otway Ranges, Victoria

We spent the March long weekend at this interesting free camp in the heart of “the Otways” in Victoria with our son and his family. Basic facilities are provided by the State Forest Department. It’s a great place to be “device free” as there is no signal, both by phone or the internet, to access the outside world. Most sites have a makeshift fireplace to keep you occupied if not wandering the camp ground or nearby tracks by foot or 4WD.

This park is in the heart of the beech forest region so there are many 4WD tracks for the enthusiast to muddy-up their vehicles. I didn’t do a physical count, but there would have been at least 100 vehicles, with many camping in tents and swags with makeshift shelters, in case the weather becomes inclement. Thankfully, only a little mountain dew dampened the ground.

Breakaway from Covid

Yeah! We can get away in freedom and take to the highways and beaches of Australia in our chosen alternative to our home in the Yarra Valley.

It’s probably fair to say, that many grandparents have either made a bee-line to, or made arrangements to, visit their grandchildren in the first week of lockdown freedom. Our grandkids and son and daughter-in-law, have been in semi-lockdown in Geelong which has had less severe restrictions than metro-Melbourne. However, within 12 hours of the lifting of the restrictions, we were making our way toward Geelong. We had washed and polished the motor home two weeks before; we just had to “fill the fridge” and load the clothes and we were on our way. Our first task was the “grand parents task” of collecting two of the kids from school and transporting them to netball, before we could be introduced to their new house of abode which they had moved into a month before.

We had gone to Geelong to also have a repair job done on our generator. We’ve had an intermittent leak coming from the generator area which showed up a little while after switching it on to use for the microwave or air conditioner. Friends directed us to a European Affair mechanic and we now have an extra fuel filter on the breather line. Hopefully all good for free camping in the future.

From Geelong, it’s just a short drive to Portarlington. We had chosen a “right on the coast” site as we couldn’t get the site we wanted at Barwon Heads Campground for 10 days starting on the Friday. Portarlington doesn’t seem to be loaded with vegetation and rather baron. Apparently, the fishing is good if ever you’re interested. There is a fast catamaran that travels to dock lands in Melbourne a few times a day.

Barwon Heads is out towards the coast from Portarlington, just 30-40 minutes away. With the first weekend after Melbourne’s extended state of lockdown, the town became super busy over Saturday and Sunday. Lyn’s sister and husband Rod came down on Saturday to check out the town too. They were both impressed. Our son Jay and his wife and family came down from Geelong for a few hours in the afternoon.

Sunday’s weather forecast was to be 34 degrees. We took some time at the beach but left early afternoon as the wind came, blowing up sand and turning sour for the rest of the day.

Monday was a bit on the “not a beach day” category. Being in a laid back lifestyle, allows breakfast to happen even after 10am. We manage to fulfil that criteria perfectly. It was 1pm when we ventured out to the hardware shop to pick up some silicon to clean up the slide on the toilet canister. Nothing like struggling at 1:00am to pull out the slide locker. Hey, after so many months in lockdown, the drains also needed some draino work to free up the drainage pipes.

Time for another beach walk in the late afternoon. There’s plenty of walking space here when the tide is out. Yes, we still wear masks on walks – it’s the law in Covictoria. It’s also very clear that the mandatory use of them in the state has been a weapon for the reduction of the Covid-19 virus. That and the lockdown have been a saviour to our future really. (Sorry all you anti-maskers – will NOT agree with your opposition to the use of them).

Tuesday, we had to mark it down that we took an early morning walk before breakfast. As our custom used to be, so shall it be in the future.

Our time during Covid

It pains me to see councils allowing a second, or even a third house, to be built “up the backyard”. When this happens, all it does is give psychologists more appointments with people who have become so mixed up from being prevented being able to gain the natural therapy of working their gardens. Take a look and enjoy this short video of the blooms that have shown up this spring.

10 Days Away – Ocean Grove, Seymour, and Gunning

Time for some timeout so we ventured to Ocean Grove for a few days before some more medical appointments.

We woke on the Friday to bad news that a friend of ours from our time in Papua New Guinea days, had passed away. We decided to divert our break and head to Sydney to pay our respects and to make a speech during the memories of Darryl.

Our motor home often manages to find the Free Camp at Seymour for a night or two. As we made our way out of Gundagai, another Motorhome didn’t like ours and tried to run us off the road. Just as he overtook us, he cut across in front of us sending us into a plastic white post which did some damage just behind the front passengers door. It could have been much worse with a culvert just beyond the post. Our journey became a little tainted with anger at the greedy motor home driver.

We had had good reports of a great free camp at Gunning north of Yass on our way to Sydney. So we aimed to arrive early in the day to get a good spot and leave late in the afternoon headed for Sydney. The donation camp was worth the stay with lots of bird life using the reeds across from us as breeding grounds and hide outs from other birds in chase.

On our way back to Geelong, we’ve stopped back at the Seymour Free Camp where it appears they are endeavoring to make the Old Goulburn bridge at least walkable for us campers to get to the town of Seymour using a walking track.