Darwin – 2023 – To the NT Border.

Since our September 2022 return to base in the Yarra Valley of Victoria, a lot of maintenance and renovations of our home have kept us busy. We decided to update the inside of the family home of 33 years. Every room has a new coat of paint to last another 30 years. Before then, “the box” will have arrived and taken us to our “final resting place”.

The kitchen and bathrooms have been stripped back to empty space, and replaced with all new modern fittings and cabinetry. It’s like a new home. Relearning where things are and where to find them has been an education.

When we left for this trip at the end of April, furniture and clothes were left stacked in piles in their wrong rooms to allow Gary Sprinkler room to complete the wall paint. Let me tell you who Gary “Sprinkler” is. When we re-turfed the lawn in 2021, Gary’s wife offered her husband to install an automatic irrigation system to allow us to water the garden and lawns automatically if it had not rained. We had trouble remembering his name so called him Gary Sprinkler. His name comes up on our phone as “Gary Sprinkler calling”.

Our departure for 2023 came along the day after we originally planned and that was fine; it just meant that we would miss out on a couple of nights stay at Crescent Head near Kempsey NSW. After the winding road towards Benalla, the Hume is a comfort to travel along. At Jugiong is a donation camp just off the highway. We arrived in time to have soup with Chris and Marilyn who had been camped there for a few weeks – I think.

It was at Jugion that we realized that it was time to upgrade to lithium batteries. Our gel batteries were purchased last year and we thought they had failed us. We had to start the motor home motor to put some charge in the house batteries to bring the Slideout in before we could travel further. So an appointment was made with trusty James to have that done two weeks later on the Gold Coast.

Most years, we attend a Grey Nomads Convention at Stuart’s Point. This lasts ten nights and has about 450 attendees; many of them are friends from way back and from various work places over the years. Always a good time bringing back memories. Lyn had been asked to speak at one meeting about her favourite destinations around the world.

After Stuart’s Point, we headed through Coffs Harbour and to Grafton where our daughter lives. They have recently purchased a hybrid caravan and we were able to spend a weekend at a hidden camp called Secret Lake Retreat. All sites are unpowered so our batteries were really “tested”. We had to use the generator during part of the nights to keep the fridge doing it’s job with no food spoiled.

On up towards the Gold Coast where we stayed at Kirra Beach. For Mother’s Day dinner, we enjoyed a Thai meal near the beach. Meeting up with old friends is always good and a couple from Broadbeach managed to be allowed out on parole. Sorry Max and Jenelle. A little after they left for home, it rained, and rained, and rained. In 12 hours, we had 120mm. Packing up to travel further north while it’s raining is no joy at all.

First stop was to get the replacement lithium battery. It was found that the real problem was that the DC2DC charger had ‘retired’ without an approved request. The charger converts solar power into 12v to store appropriately in the battery. Now we are able to “free camp” without running out of power during the night.

From the Gold Coast, we made our way up towards and past Toowoomba and through Dalby to Chinchilla. The country camping ground was a good clean, no rush, camp ground, to do some washing and get to know a few fellow travelers.

On our way to Morven, we stopped at the Bakearoma at Roma. Their beesting is even better than the ones from Beechworth Bakery on a good day; they had drizzled toffee over the top – mmmmm. Marven accommodation was at a donation park at the sports ground; the lithium batteries doing well overnight; a sign of good things for the future.

If you want a bouncy ride, take the road north to Longreach. You’ll have the best milk shake if you had milk for breakfast. The scenery? Barren with hardly any above grass vegetation. The little towns along the way came up each 80km with Tambo the cutest. Barcaldine; fuel up and turn left to Longreach for another 100km.

Longreach caravan park is very large with extensive development of even more sites. It was quite noticeable that campers only stay here three nights to enable visits to both the Qantas Museum and the Stockman’s Hall of fame. We have rarely flown first class but we did here. The first class tickets gave us a tour of 3 early aircraft Qantas used as well as a tour through the 747-200 City of Bunbury. Our first class choice enabled us to a more detailed tour of the 747 with an opportunity to sit in the pilots seat as well as a walk out onto the wing; safety harnesses and closed footwear were a necessity.

If there’s one criticism of the stockman’s hall of fame, it would be, the show needs to become a show, that incorporates a story involving more people and intrigue; one stockman on few different horses is a bit lacking. All is good in the static museum with a “tour in your own time” headset with voice and ditties along the way.

We would return to what seemed a busy and progressive business center. Longreach is a “must stay for a few nights” kind of town.

The distances are vast out here. You pass many entrances to farms but strain to see the farm buildings in the distance; many unable to be seen. Can you imagine the request, “can you go out and get the mail”, and the kid takes a 2 hour trip to the mail box on the highway.

The rest stop turned out to be a great location to put the drone up for a scenic flight. Wow! The color was so much “Australian outback tonings”, I had trouble in my mind to switch to “breakfast is ready” mode. I’m happy that the drone gives such a different approach to landscape movies and photos.

Through Winton, the road is straight for kilometers with little towns popping up at around each 80 to 120 kilometers. We came to a country pub called The Blue Heeler at Kynuna and decided to enjoy a lemon squash while watching the road trains roar past. Behind the pub were 20 or so sites for travelers at $15 a night. We stayed the night and managed to get going by 8:30 for a bit more driving before having breakfast at a rest stop – I said rest stop, not restaurant!

Further up the highway, and the vastness of this typical outback vista, we came across another outback pub. We were too early for opening time but it brought back the vivid memories of that iconic Australian movie “Crocodile Dundee”; the old car from the movie sits outside waiting for photographers to enjoy with the pub in the background. Just a tiny town with a police station that had 7 satellite dishes on the roof – I kid you not.

Our destination for today was Mt Isa. After filling the fuel tank with more diesel at Cloncurry, and driving towards Mt Isa, we had hoped we could tour the now closed uranium mine made famous when the Australian Government was prepared to sell the uranium to overseas energy companies but refused to build clean energy power stations in its “own backyard”. What a saving that would be now in non-renewable materials being used rather than solar panels and wind turbines!

We had an offer to stay at a property in Mt Isa for the weekend but when we drove past, there wasn’t enough room to fit our vehicles, so we drove further west to Camooweal, just 12 km from the Northern Territory border, to a billabong that proved very popular with like-minded Grey Nomads.

190915 A Quick Trip North

Once the feeling of a “nomadic” life gets in your blood, there’s no turning back.

I am reminded of our first “try” at motorhome living. We went to the US of A in 1983 for a three month tour in a friend’s motor home out of Los Angeles. Initially, we were to “see it all” but the PNG government devalued their currency 2 months before our departure which meant our PNG savings reduced by $US1000. In 1983, that was a lot of money. But we went on a significantly reduced itinerary and kept to the west coastal regions of USA and Canada. All went very well.

This trip north was planned 50 years ago as Lyn had graduated from a college course and we were headed for the 50th anniversary of that significant event in her life. Many old friends, whom we hadn’t seen much of in those 50 years, had to be searched out, questioned and hugged. Addresses, phone numbers and Facebook friendships were swapped for later referencing and delving into each other’s past. It was a good time of refreshing, and reminiscing.

After the homecoming (yes, an American Term, but it works for those who have called an education location “home” for their early years), We headed north in search of warmer weather, but we were also headed for ‘delays’ along the way. At the intersection at the end of the M1 heading for Hexham, we were in the right lane with a B-Double on our left. The lights turned green and we both headed for the new direction. However, we became a bit ‘jammed’ and came off second-best, loosing our left mirror in the process when the second trailer gathered it on its way through. We were very fortunate, both that the B-Double didn’t hit any of the bodywork, or us, and that an Iveco Truck Centre was within 100 metres of the scene. In 2 and a half hours, we were back on the road with a new mirror, taken from another truck in their yard, heading to Buladelah free camp-site for the night.

Buladelah free camp is a Lions Project to allow nomads to stop over for the night or sometimes two. There has been a donation box but that was missing this visit. The town pub hosts a lot of the nomads for evening meals.

Our journey to Hallidays Point wasn’t too eventful, but the location at Red Head where I had stayed before on my way north while Lyn was overseas, has changed and the caravan park is in the conversion stage to becoming an over 50s village with just a small number of sites for overnighters. The location is sheltered behind sand hills which border a lovely beach to walk along. On chatting to a few of the new residents there, they all found it to be a pleasant place to live with much activity for the park residents coming in the near future.

While here, we met up with a couple of Lyn’s friends from college days, one from over 45years ago since last catching up. Both these ladies have lived in the area for 12 years and neither of them were aware that they were ‘neighbours’. So a good time had here.

Coastal towns have great markets on a Sunday and Black Head was no exception. There were rows and rows of stalls with Lyn finding an island lady giving massages. A short neck and shoulders turned into a good 45 minutes while the others in our group wandered around the stalls.

From Hallidays Point, we made our way to an area which we frequent on most of our trips north. South of Forster/Tuncury, are a few nice beaches which we find is relaxing for us. The campground nearby, only has 4 sites but we have never had a problem having a few nights or even a week there. There are many kookaburras there and a few enormous goannas that prowl around searching for food. The owners are kind and accommodating too. Lyn had a fall coming back from the beach on the Thursday. Kind friends took us up to Taree Hospital to have two little stones removed and 5 stitches to hold the wound together. (No more visits to the beach).

With a surgery procedure due in a weeks time, we set off for Melbourne on the Monday and made our way to a friends place who was doing some major renovations to his back patio. The first work since his retirement has turned into a big project. While sitting quietly chatting, I felt a sensation that I was entering the bad stage of a menieres attack.  By the morning, I was feeling ok to drive the motor home again.

In the mid afternoon at Yass, we had a problem with the starter motor in the motor home and ended up on a tow truck headed for Iveco in Quenbeyan at 11:00pm.  In the morning, the service centre made up some reason why it wouldn’t start. We were not able to be sure what was wrong until we arrived in Geelong the next day when the same problem reoccured. The Iveco truck centre found that a small wire to the solenoid of the starter motor was doing an on again/off again trick. Now we have a fixed starter motor and can travel with less tension.

After the weekend catching up with the 4 grand children, Sunday was departure day for Caleb heading for Finland for 7 weeks on a private school exchange arrangement. A family has been in Geelong for 2 years and the kids and Jay’s kids got on well. They returned to Finland a couple of months ago and invited Caleb to go over for 7 weeks.

The house hasn’t changed much but the tulips were up on our return. I haven’t been able to do the lawns or the garden and kind Lyn has stepped in to carry that load.


The Re-Birth

Birthing can be a messy, difficult experience or a joyous occasion. Making the decision to go through a re-birthing procedure can be one that brings on unthinkable procedures to enable life itself. No, there was no forceps required, nor was a caesarean section performed in the emergency room. All was completed ‘out in the open’ for all the gloating passers-by to notice and enjoy the elation on the proud parent’s faces.

The smell of new leather and empty cupboards awaits as our new “Great Life” is draped in its big red bow in the “to be delivered stand”. After an all day handover and with Queensland number plates, we set off after transferring all our “stuff” from the ‘old’ great life to the ‘new’. (That’s a story in itself). Heading north towards Bundaberg, we spent our first night about 30km north of Caboolture at a roadside free camping spot (our first of what will become thousands of free nights in the next ten years or so). In the morning, we had a ‘first accident’; not with the vehicle but with us. We had brought some articles for the new motor home up from Melbourne in a cardboard carton. After emptying the carton, I ripped it up and placed it in a pile outside the motor home door. Lyn went outside and stood on the pile and down she went. No injury, but first accident.

Later in the morning, we met up with some other motorhoming friends, Eric and Joy, to travel on to Maryborough for a couple of nights and then on to Woodgate Beach Caravan Park. It appeared that the ‘look around’ was happening at lightening speed with Joy in control of the tour of the local areas, so Lyn and I decided to slow things down by getting out the lounges and setting them up on the beach to enjoy the sunshine for an hour or two looking out over the ocean view. After awhile, Joy commented that it WAS good to ‘feel’ a place, not just breeze through it. We mark this as the start of our grey nomading in the new Great Life. The BIG slow down is on its way.

After a try out at a CMCA members stopover, which turned out quite good, we drove on to Bundaberg and met up with some friends from years ago. That night, we spent at another ‘side of the highway rest stop’. As we were in our first week of our ‘shake-down’ and needed to try various types of locations for a week, we tried most styles of “glamping”. This helps to find any problems with the motor home, or our understanding of how to use the various facilities we were now the proud owners of.

Monday was our day to report back to the motorhome builders for the checkup appointment. There were just a few things to repair, instal or understand, and the builders were very happy to oblige. We spent the spare time at Harbourside Shopping Mall looking for various colours and ideas for the motorhome. The motorhome was ready soon after 2pm and when we arrived back at the factory, we were notified that a couple had just signed up to buy our traded-in motorhome. That made us happy that someone else thought our “old” motorhome would suit their needs in the future.

We needed to get to Grafton before dark and so the journey south had to begin. We stayed with our daughter and her husband a couple of nights during the Grafton Jacaranda Festival. That town sure is painted purple for the occasion.


Each time we are north of Newcastle, we return to the Foster Tuncurry region to spend a few days on our favourite beach. Bob and Lyndal included a visit on their way home from attending a funeral at Port Macquarie. I took Bob’s role when I first started clerical work and he was an usher at our wedding while Lyndal played the pipe organ. Heaps of sunshine and heaps of whales and dolphins, some breaching as they played in the bay. Then it was time to take the long drive home to Woori Yallock.

We broke the drive by visiting some friends we have kept in contact with from our camping summer holidays at Valla. Thanks Judy and Ian. And a ‘show-off’ to long time friends, David and Elaine at Ourimbah. The night was spent free camping at Pheasants Nest.

While traveling the following day, we encountered lots of insects and our brand new motorhome was instrumental in killing them ‘splat’ on the windshield. At Logic rest stop, we needed to refill the windshield washer container. I recall saying to myself at our hand over time, “I must remember where the bonnet latch is”.  Do you think I could find it? Nup. The manual didn’t give a very clear idea as to where it is. I tried YouTube and the movie was very dark and virtually useless. I then went to the makers owners Facebook page and a guy came back quickly with the same YouTube link I had viewed. He then must have deleted it after looking at it himself. Then Helen came back with the comment “yes, it’s hard to find but keep feeling around under the glovebox and you’ll find it”. Lyn tried again, I tried again, Lyn tried another time and eventually found it. (We will not forget). Thanks Helen, the ladies do it again. We arrived home an hour later due to the bonnet latch problem.

Our nice new Paradise Inspiration Supreme Black Edition, now has its new home. It was time for me to stumble and end up on the ground while carrying stuff between the house and motorhome; accident number 2. The proud parents are both well and eager to take the new “Great Life” out for weekends and holidays well into the future.


151022 Trip North to Mullumbimby

As I mentioned on Facebook a month or so ago, my sister, Margaret passed away after a 13 month battle with throat cancer. I am off to attend the event in Mullumbimby. With Lyn in France on a Scenic Tours Travel Agent’s ‘famil’, I’m on my own and so it takes that much longer to get ready each time I leave a stopover spot.

I left home at 7:00am on Tuesday morning after a successful Garden Club Spring Flower Show on Monday evening. I managed to reach Ourimbah by 8:00pm for a well-earned night’s rest.

Along the way, I was being followed or chasing Leigh who was heading north. He delivers motor-bikes up and down the Australian coastline. Would you believe we never met but were in contact via messaging services.

The weather has been fantastic until last night when a cracker of a storm passed through shortly after sunset, and today has turned out overcast. Yesterday, I called into the Halliday’s Point region and with the sun so brilliant, I decided to stop here for the night. What a great place this is to retire. Who knows? It may become our retirement destination.

I took the time to check some of the equipment out on the motor home and found one storage bin quite damp and all the chairs, travel blanket and hammock, needing to ‘hang out to dry’. I’m the only rig in this part of the park and so used the space to lay out and dry all the wet stuff.

I also found the entrance door has a problem and through Paradise Motorhomes Facebook Page, have found out that a tiny spring has broken preventing proper closure of the door. I plan to drive up to the Gold Coast on Monday after the gathering, to have this and a couple of other problems seen to and fixed.

Today, I will drive to Grafton to spend a couple of nights with Sharlee and Paul before Sunday’s gathering.

Memories of our daily morning walks along the beach at Valla when we used to camp for annual holidays have come back after last night’s beach walk and this morning’s view of the sunrise. The only problem? the lady in the red dress was not with me. I hope you are feeling jealous, darling.

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