Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday 9 October 2010

As it has been raining all night our plan to go home still stands.  After breakfast we wait for a fairly dry moment to unplug the power and start the van.  Not that we get very far!!! We're bogged!!!  40 Mm of rain during the night hasn't done a lot of good to the grassy area we're on so with the help of 5 pairs of muscled arms we're pushed onto the road and then we can make a move. 

I had a look at Google Earth last night to determine the camping site we had been looking for yesterday.  Fortunately we returned when we did, because without the coordinates we would've never been able to find the spot.  It was on the side road off the road we were travelling, but the name was completely different from the one mentioned in the book.  So, we were glad we hadn't taken our chances in this kind of weather.

Anyway, we were heading for Toowoomba and made for our favorite rest area past Toowoomba on the Warrigo Highway for morning tea.  We stayed inside as it was still wet outside.  As we had plenty of time and weren't in a hurry to get home we decided to take a scenic route through the Brisbane Valley.  Not that we saw a lot, with the top of Mt Glorious and Mt Mee shrouded in clouds, but it still was a beautiful drive.

Very hilly and it really tested our skills with the ten gears and the power brake, but worth its while.  A few of the climbs and descents were 15%, but the van made it to the top, albeit very, very slow. But hey, we're on holidays.  No hurry!  We stopped for lunch alongside one of the fast running creeks (no wonder Wivenhoe dam is 100% full) in beautiful rainforest.  Our next stop in the afternoon was in Mt Mee State Forest.  Again beautiful surroundings, but still wet, wet, wet!  Misty didn't mind.  She enjoyed the view from behind the glass:

After the last stop at Mt Mee it didn't take us long to get home.  From Mt Mee it's a short distance to Caboolture and from there to Bribie Island is roughly 20 minutes.  A bit longer in wet weather probably.  At home it was dry, and appeared to have been dry all day, so we were lucky to be able to unload the van in record time and have a bit of quiet time before dinner.  I still have a picture of our stay at the caravan park near Stanthorpe (from Frank's camera, which I could download on my pc), so that's the last bit for this short break:

Marion updating the blog on the laptop
And that's it folks.  Thanks for your company.  Till next time.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday 8 October 2010

This morning we woke up under a leaden sky heavy with clouds, a cold wind and the start of light rain. It didn’t look promising, so we stayed in bed a lot longer than usual. Even Misty didn’t mind. ;-) We had a late breakfast and went to the camp kitchen to prepare our evening meal in the Dreampot so we wouldn’t have to worry about it later in the day. The Dreampot, if you’re not familiar with it, is a sort of huge, insulated thermos cook pot which contains two inner pans in which you can prepare your meal. You do some brief preparation cooking on the stove and further cooking will be automatically completed inside the pot during the day, so that your evening meal is ready when you reach your destination. Often it’s lovely that you can sit down and relax after a day of driving, without having to worry about cooking a meal.

On a different note, I have edited yesterday’s posting about the caravan park where we were staying. All in all I had been a bit harsh with my comments. What we didn’t know yesterday, and found out today while talking to the owner during our cooking, is that they mainly cater for seasonal workers. The area around Stanthorpe is renowned for its fruit and vegies and a lot of people (by the end of this month probably a hundred or so) stay at the caravan park while working in the field or in the orchards around the area. That’s why the caravans and tents are mainly permanent and look a bit dilapidated. However, it was a bit pricy for what we got and since the weather had turned so drastically we decided to leave and travel on. After a nice hot shower and morning tea we said goodbye.

By then the rain was coming down a bit more heavily and we changed our plan to go to Girraween National Park for a bushwalk. Girraween is supposed to be beautiful in spring with all the wildflowers out, but a walk in the rain isn’t what we’d come for and we’d been lucky enough to see plenty of wildflowers along the roadside and in the fields. We discovered a lovely country road while driving in the direction of Texas and enjoyed the drive as best as we could, although in many places water started to flow across the flood ways in the lower lying areas, which was not a good sign.

We stopped briefly for lunch in a very wet Texas at an Apex park and were soon on the road again. Our next stop was planned at a weir off the Gore Highway to Toowoomba, but without a GPS with coordinates it was very difficult to find. When we finally were going to end up on a long and wet gravel road we decided to turn back onto the highway and keep going to Pittsworth where we knew we could find a caravan park a lot easier.

In the meantime it was pouring with rain. We were lucky to get the last spot at an otherwise fully booked park (nr. 725, Pittsworth Shade Rest Caravan Park; 27 43 02S, 151 37 44E) and enjoyed a hot cuppa in a warmer change of clothes.

No pictures today. They would have been very boring indeed. I have a feeling we’ll be heading home tomorrow. It’s useless to spend so much money on fuel and camping grounds if you have to hover inside around a stove to keep a bit warm. Perhaps we’ll go for another trip later this year or early next year if the weather improves. At least we had a splendid day yesterday, so we won’t complain. We might enjoy a double dose of The Tudors tonight and turn in early. If you’re reading the blog, thanks for keeping us company…

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday 7 October 2010

Today was a better day. The weather was as beautiful as it was yesterday, so no complaints. The sun was out when we got up (rather late, we really felt like sleeping in) and we left again shortly after breakfast. The surroundings were beautiful. It’s spring and all the wildflowers are out and after the recent rains (we had a particularly wet September) everything looked fresh, green and colourful. Look at the purple carpet in the first picture and the yellow one in the next:

Since we were heading towards Warwick we decided to go and see Queen Mary Falls near Killarney. Since we didn’t have the use of the GPS and the maps weren’t detailed enough to find our way around we had to rely on the road signs, which aren’t always the best. However, driving off the beaten track is always a pleasure and eventually we saw the sign for the falls:

We took plenty of pictures at the designated stops and found the waterfalls without a problem. First Daggs Falls on the roadside:

Then some scenic views:

Further up (it was a steep climb and winding road at that) Queen Mary Falls. Here we had to park the van and we went for a mere 2km walk to view the falls. Not only did we see the falls:

but also a few water dragons, warming themselves in the sunshine on the rocks:

and a wealth of wildflowers:

I had heaps more of pictures, but unfortunately I forgot to use my macro setting a few times and the pictures didn’t come out sharp enough.

The walk lead us all the way down to the bottom of the falls and all the way back up again to the top where the falls were fed by a fast flowing little creek:

At the end of our hour long walk it was time for lunch (morning tea we’d had before the walk) and since the weather was still beautiful we had our lunch at one of the picnic tables close by.

After lunch we headed for Warwick, back via Killarney again, because I wanted to look for an Aldi store to buy a slip cover for my laptop, which I new were on sale today. After a short look around we found one and together with some groceries we needed we were on our merry way again.

We were heading for Stanthorpe this time, because I thought I had discovered a nice little camping with an actual address instead of coordinates (remember the GPS problem!) and we would arrive in time for afternoon tea and a bit of relaxation until dinner time. The name did sound pretty enough: The Happy Apple Resort (nr. 751; 28 32 57S, 151 56 50E), but it didn't quite come up to our expectations, particularly for what we had to pay for one night.  Never mind, we’ve got power, a spot for the night and tomorrow is the start of the rest of our holiday. :-)
See you then…

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday 6 October 2010

When you read this we’ve left on another trip again. I got up quite early this morning and from the moment I stepped out of bed I should have know that it wasn’t going to be plain sailing today…

We’d packed most of our things yesterday. Only the cold stuff was left to be put into the fridge and freezer and I wanted to quickly finish some jobs early in the morning. One of them was printing out a form to be handed in later in the morning at the Woodies, because I had a few items for a competition that I wanted to be judged (in the novice section I haste to say), get some books from the library, do some banking and that was just about it.

Well, first of all I found out that only the items for the competition were to be handed in today. The form should have been submitted last Friday! Never mind, I was going to try anyway. Next was the banking. Since we are planning an overseas holiday next year and the exchange rates were in our favour, I wanted to get some money into our Dutch bank account. However, my local bank didn’t like the fact that I wanted to transfer money to an overseas bank account which had an Australian address attached to it, so that was the end of that. Took us a while too before we had all the appropriate details like the IBAN and BIC numbers, but at least I know how it works, albeit we weren’t successful.

Eventually we were ready to leave, so first stop was the library where I was lucky enough to get a loan extended for the second time. I’m not usually such a slow reader, but sometimes other things get in the way. Next stop: the Woodies. Again luck was on my side and my entry was accepted. Some more business was finished in no time and we were nearly on our way. Just a bit of grocery shopping and topping up of fuel and we could hit the road. To top it all of, Frank had forgotten to bring his GPS, which was a nuisance, because my expensive GPS doesn’t work with coordinates, which is also a nuisance! So, hit the road we did (finally at 11.30am), but without the use of our trusty ‘bible’, the book with the 3500 or so campsites in it… We just had to go about this trip a bit differently.

We had a smooth ride towards Brisbane, once we had decided where we were going, because we generally don’t put much effort into planning when we are just going away to relax. We had lunch at a service station along the road, since we had skipped morning tea and kept going into the direction of Ipswich with the general idea of ending up somewhere in northern New South Wales.

And that’s where our plain sailing came to a halt for a while. Before the Gateway Bridge the traffic was banked up because of an accident, so it was slow going. After having cleared the bridge, but before Mt. Gravatt the traffic started banking up again, but not only that, we also heard a big bang and all the warning lights in the van lit up. Frank checked the book, but couldn’t find straight away why that was so and we also thought that a rock had hit the van. Anyway, after taking off from the emergency bay the indicator for the cooling showed an extreme high temperature, so we stopped again and this time Frank realised that the big bang had been the snapping of the V-belt. The clever man he is he carries a spare, so the problem was fixed in no time. We had a cool drink and were soon on our way again, with Misty unperturbed sleeping in the back. She doesn’t have a care in the world…

When we got past the road works the traffic flow improved and we were on our way again. While Frank was driving I planned our stop for the night. It was going to be at the Maryvale Crown Hotel, just south of Warwick, which we reached at about four in the afternoon (site nr. 786; 28 04 18S, 152 14 22E). Not bad for a day like this. I also started working on this posting, since we worked out that we could save battery life if I would use the laptop during our driving time. Just before Cunningham’s Gap I took over for the last bit of the trip so Frank could enjoy the views. As you may be aware by now, every time you go west, away from the coast, you have to cross the Great Dividing Range. I never tire of the beauty of the range, wherever you cross. Cunningham’s Gap is in my opinion one of the nicest crossings I know in the proximity of Brisbane. A long sloping road with beautiful views, particularly in the late afternoon sunshine. Although I have also been on this road at sunrise when the sun casts its first rays on the hills of the Gap. However, that’s probably more then 20 years ago now and I don’t think I have even travelled this road during the last 15 years. So, we enjoyed it at our leisure, because the van doesn’t have a lot of power going up hill…

I don’t have a lot of pictures of this first day, but will try and do better during the rest of our trip. Frank took a few pictures with his camera, but had also forgotten to bring his card reader, so I can’t download them. The few I have taken are of the campsite with a storm brewing in the distance, although this didn’t eventuate.

We’re going to stay the night here, of course. We’ve paid for power so we’ve been able to cook a quick and easy meal in the microwave and will probably watch part of the next series of The Tudors tonight, which Kevin so kindly provided.

So, see you tomorrow…